Today's digital landscape photographers can choose from a great variety of DSLRs. Full-frame DSLRs have the advantage of larger sensors that can capture more light for better image quality and offer room for more pixels of any given size or larger pixels for a given pixel count. APS-C cameras have a cost advantage while still having a relatively large image sensor. Four Thirds System sensors can deliver excellent landscape images, as well, and cameras made with this format sensor often have a significant size and weight advantage for their camera bodies and lenses.
In this article, we present landscape outfits that consist of a camera and a three-lens kit of a wide-angle zoom, a normal zoom and a telezoom. This provides coverage for the majority of your landscape photography, plenty of compositional flexibility and excellent image quality. The popular wide-to-tele "superzooms" are compact and versatile, but the design and production challenges of correcting aberrations and distortions throughout such a wide range at an affordable cost make our three-lens kit a better choice for serious landscape work.
On these pages, we visit some excellent DSLRs (and mirrorless models) for landscape photography, including the newest cameras with next-generation technology, and we provide our recommendations for the best landscape zooms for each DSLR. Two of the DSLRs in this article weren't available in stores as we went to press. The Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800 are two of the most eagerly anticipated cameras for landscape photography, and based on our preliminary information and limited hands-on experience, they look like they will be among the best cameras for landscape photography ever developed.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Other Important Features For Landscape Shooters
The viewfinder now shows 100% of the actual image area, with a superimposed display of AF points, gridlines and shooting data that you can switch on or off as desired. You also can compose and focus using the 3.2-inch, 1,040,000-dot LCD monitor in Live View mode. A new HDR mode merges three bracketed frames into a single image in-camera for improved detail from shadows through highlights. An automatic alignment function allows for doing HDRs handheld.
The EOS 5D Mark III improves on the EOS 5D Mark II's video features in terms of image quality and function. It uses new H.264 video compression formats (editing-friendly ALL-I and space-saving IPB) and two ways to embed SMPTE-compliant time coding (which syncs separate cameras and audio recorders). You can shoot individual clips as long as 29 minutes, 59 seconds, adjust audio level manually and even use headphones to monitor audio thanks to a new jack. The Mark III shoots 1080 full HD video at 30p, 25p and 24p, 720 HD at 60p and 50p, and 640x480 SD at 30 and 25.
A new AF system, which is the same as the one in the new flagship EOS-1D X, features 61 sensors, up to 41 of them cross-types able to read both horizontal and vertical contrast: 15 to 21 cross-types (depending on lens) at ƒ/5.6, 10 to 20 at ƒ/4 and 1 to 5 ultra-high-precision cross-types with lenses of ƒ/2.8 or faster. The AF system works in light levels as low as EV -2 and features the same high-performance AI Servo III AF tracking algorithm as the EOS-1D X.
More durable than the 5D Mark II, the Mark III features improved weather sealing and a locking mode dial. The sensor-dust remover also has been improved. There are now two card slots, one for CompactFlash and one for SD/SDHC/SDXC.