It is said ‘it’s not about the gear but the photographer behind it’. Although this might be true there’s no secret that a photographer relies on having the best possible equipment. In reality, some techniques are not possible without specific equipment, at least not if you want to maintain the high quality of your images.
The best, most expensive camera does not guarantee you will take outstanding landscape photos. Successful images are the result of planning, good light, the photographer’s own creativity, a lot of patience, and camera-handling skills. So, if you think buying the latest kit is going to make you a better photographer, you would be wrong. However, having a decent camera certainly helps, and there are some useful items of camera equipment that will greatly aid you in your photography journey and maximise the opportunities that you are presented with.
Below is a list of the photography gear that I use, and not every item is essential, but each one benefits my landscape photography in one way or another.
Just as a sub-note, not all my equipment is new. I tend to purchase my equipment from reputable retail outlets and the items are either refurbished or second-hand, and to date, I’ve never had a problem with my camera gear and saved a great deal of money over the years. If you need advice when purchasing your camera equipment, please feel free to email me.
My main workhorse is the Nikon D850, a full-frame camera with a 45.4mp sensor which is neither small nor lightweight. But it’s built to last, it can handle high humidity levels, rain, and low temperatures and it is utterly reliable. To prove this point, it has been fully submerged in water with a Nikon AF-S 16-35mm lens, and after a night on a hot radiator, it was good to go the following morning. It is also a dream to handle and the lenses available for this system are extremely well-built and deliver great results. The colour rendering of this camera is also excellent, which is very important to me.
My other camera is a full spectrum converted Nikon Z7, a mirrorless 45.7 MP full-frame camera. As with the Nikon D850, the image quality is excellent, and it is an incredibly well-built camera. This camera is used for all my Infrared images.
The Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f4, 1:4G ED is my most used lens. As a landscape photographer, this lens is very seldom off my camera because of its quality and its 16mm wide angle ability.
The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR is my other most used lens. This has outstanding image quality, with the 70mm top end being great for mid-range landscape photography.
The Nikon AF VR 80-400mm 1:4.5-5.6D is the largest zoom lens I carry with me in my bag. It’s not the best zoom lens I have (the Sigma 150-600mm Sport takes that mantle), but it’s fairly light, and when in manual focus is quite useful for getting those hard-to-reach images!
With the Sigma lens in mind, I also carry the Sigma 105mm 1:2.8 Macro lens, another sunning lens by Sigma.
For ultra-wide images the Laowa 12mm is one of my least used lenses but one that I love. This is just another lens that is ultra-sharp and has manual focus and is an ideal companion for seascape and landscape photography when you have an excellent foreground subject.
Another lens that is in my bag is the 24mm Nikon tilt-shift lens and is a lens which is ultra-sharp, has manual focus and can be used for panoramic photography as well as traditional architectural photography. If you have never used a tilt-shift lens for landscape photography it's worth hiring one just to try, you’ll be hooked!
All of these lenses can handle rain and bad weather conditions, which is very important to me.
My gear is carried around in a Lowepro, Pro Trekker, BP 550 AW ii backpack, which I really like and the best I’ve owned so far. It distributes the weight of everything nicely and it also carries my tripod and is amazingly sturdy.
I use a couple of tripods, but my main workhorse is the FLM CP34-M4ii with a Sunway GH-Proii head. A great combination and bombproof in all weather and sea conditions. When using the tripod on the beach or in the sea there are a set of spikes that can be screwed to the end of the legs to stabilise the tripod in shifting sand.
Another essential is my Kase filters (Kase Armour ND64000 – 16 stop Neutral Density filter to an ND8 3 stop and polariser), I’ve both magnetic and square depending on the lens I’m using at the time, these filters are of very high quality and they tend to stay clean without any effort. I did use Lee filters for a while; however, I was never impressed with them for breaking or getting chipped, and although it’s an easy fix in Lightroom the colour cast used to drive me mad….!
The Kase polariser and ND filters are used for seascapes, rivers and waterfalls when I want to smooth images of water and lengthen the shutter speeds. I couldn't achieve these images without these filters, and they are always in my bag with me.
And last but not least are my Infrared filters, I have several ranging from 590nm – 850nm, also an IR Chrome, and a Hot filter to convert my full spectrum Z7 back to a normal spectrum camera.
The Giottos Rocket Blower is always in my backpack as well as two microfiber cloths. The Arctic Butterfly is essential for keeping my sensors clean.
A very important part of my kit are my Aigle Actigrip wellies, they are the first ones I have found that I can hike in for hours. Most of my photograph is in or around water so I wouldn’t be without them.