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Gear for landscape photography:
Landscape photography is the type of photography where, "take your time but get up early" should become your motto
- The start: Well, we all start somewhere in photography. The basic kit should be a camera (some will choose a compact and that is fine).
- A wide angle prime or zoom allowing focals between 20mm and 28mm is the first lens to look for: primes like 21, 24 or at the extreme, 28mm, or zooms in the 24-70 or 24-105mm focals will allow you to capture a very good range of possibilities for full frame cameras. For APS-C (starter or mid range cameras like Canon 20D to 60D, rebels or Nikon SLRS that are not full frames), a zoom lens in the range of 18-55mm or 15-85mm will be the equivalents.
- A good tripod. No one can pretend taking well composed and sharp photographs without a good and stable tripod. For thoses with the means, a carbon tripod would do great as they are stable and lighter.
- Camera wired trigger is also a must in the basic equipment. If you also have to choice and means, a camera with mirror lock up would also be a wise choice and preference.
- Filters: one filter is mandatory to your starting kit: the circular polarizer that will serve you in bright days, as well as to add colors in sunrises and sunsets and also will serve you well in fall colors shooting and cascade(rivers) photographs
- Evolving, by expanding the choice of lenses:
- the next choice of lenses will be zoom lens in the 16-35mm focales (For those who prefer primes, an 18 or 20mm would do great.)
- Also, a good 70-200 would complete the kit. For landscapes, stabilized lens is not mandatory since we are working with a tripod.
- Additional filters, extremely uselful in landscape photography, will be the Neutral density filters. There are 2 kinds: the solid and the graduate (grad) The first will be used to reduce the general light because it is too hard or simply because you would want to slow down the speed and create movement in your shot. A good example would be when photographing a water cascade and you want the water to look like a film (or cotton), showing movement instead of freezing the movement. The neutral density filters (NDgrad) will be used to reduce the light in some part of the pictures, like the sky that is often too luminous and therefore allow you to have a better exposed photograph.
- The last step when you know well how to use use all the previous:
- For the experience shooters or those ready to carry a load, a 300mm 2.8 or a 400mm DO would complete the lens list. There is also the new Canon 70-300mm L IS that could cover the 2 later lens range being the 70-200 and the 400mm. In 2015, Canon revamped it's 100-400mm to a point where this new jewel is really performant.
- Tilt Shift lenses,
- they are the summum in precision for 35mm landscape photography. The tilt-shift lens is a replica of the large format view cameras principle which allow the photographer to modify the angle of the plane and control depth of field and perspective. These lenses allow indeed to modify the angle of the lens and by doing so, moving the plane of focus in relation to the sensor plane. This allow you to maximize the depth of field in focus without having to use smaller aperture and being affected by the loss of sharpness. So you would be able to shoot at f/8 or f/11 and obtain a maximum depth of field in focus. The tilt function will also allow you to adjust the perspective when doing architectural photography. Nikon(PC) and Canon(TS-E) manufacture these lenses. Canon offers TS-E 45mm, 90mm, the new TS-E 17mm f/4L (a jewel) and my favorite landscape lens, the TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II which is probably the besr 24mm that exist.
- The shift function of the tilt shift lenses will allow you, between all, to make panoramas without modifying the angle of the camera.
I will discuss in more details some application of the above material at a later time.
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