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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Build A Landscape Kit On Any Budget

Great photographs don’t always depend on the price of your equipment. OP takes a look at the advantages and disadvantages of entry-level, midrange and top-tier gear.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Nikon D3S
Landscape Photography
On A Pro Budget

With a big budget, you can get high-end gear, and you really can’t go wrong with the top DSLRs and lenses. A bigger budget gets you the best image quality, larger sensors, extreme ISO capability, extensive gear possibilities and all the in-camera features that you could ever need for adding subtle or not-so-subtle tweaks to your landscape images.

1 High-End DSLRs. High-end pro cameras are very rugged, built to withstand heavy pro use in harsh conditions. They also have the best sensors, more and/or larger pixels, the most powerful image processing, the fastest shooting rates and produce the best image quality, even at a given megapixel level—especially at higher ISO settings (due, in part, to bigger pixels in the full-frame models and, in part, to more powerful image processing). This high-ISO capability opens up creative landscape opportunities film photographers could only dream about, including high-quality post-dusk/predawn shots and moonlit landscapes. Keep in mind that pro cameras are much bulkier and heavier than even the midrange models, a factor when you’re carrying the camera in the field all day.

Sigma 8mm ƒ/4 Fisheye

PC-E Micro Nikkor 45mm ƒ/2.8D

Canon EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L II

Canon TS-E 24mm ƒ/3.5L

Lexar 32 GB Professional 600x

SanDisk 64 GB Extreme Pro CF
The Nikon D3S features excellent image quality at higher ISO settings, great for dusk and dawn shooting. It has 12.1 megapixels, and no 35mm-form-factor DSLR produces better image quality at higher ISOs. Landscape shooters will appreciate live viewing on the 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor, the extremely rugged and well-sealed pro body, long battery life, dual CompactFlash-card slots, a Dynamic Integrated Dust Reduction System to keep images free of dust spots, and the ability to shoot 720p HD video at 24 fps for cinematic videos to accompany images of your scenes.

Tiffen Scenic Enhancement Kit
2 High-End Landscape Lens Kit. A big budget means you can go for the pro zooms, fast primes and tilt-shift optics. The pro zooms and primes are sharper than less expensive lenses and better corrected for distortion (especially important when composing with the horizon high or low in the frame with a wide-angle lens). Pro lenses generally have larger maximum apertures, so you can shoot in dimmer light and really throw distracting backgrounds out of focus. Top lenses also produce optimum image quality throughout a wider range of apertures. Pro zooms feature fixed maximum apertures, meaning that a 28-70mm ƒ/2.8 lens is ƒ/2.8 at all focal lengths, while a midrange 28-70mm ƒ/2.8-4.0 lens slows to ƒ/4 at 70mm. Pro lenses are often better built and better sealed against the elements (but not all are weatherproof; check the manual).

Singh-Ray Vari-ND
Start with a superwide zoom: a 14-24mm ƒ/2.8 or 16-35mm ƒ/2.8. Add a 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 and a 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 if you like the telephoto point of view; it’s also a great tool for capturing skittish game from afar if you see wildlife. Full-frame fisheyes (generally, 15mm or 16mm) are great for producing a 180-degree angle of view (measured diagonally), handy if you like that specialized distorted, yet frame-filling look.

Canon TS-E and Nikon PC-E manual-focus tilt-shift lenses are definitely high-end and offer excellent optical quality. They provide view-camera-style tilt and shift movements, which allow you to correct converging vertical lines when desired and provide more control over depth of field.


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