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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

Gitzo Traveler Tripod
3 High-End Landscape Accessories. With large budgets, a top-tier tripod should be your first purchase. One made of carbon-fiber (or similarly exotic materials) will provide better stability and strength than aluminum, yet weigh considerably less. Higher-end tripods are better sealed against the elements and often quicker to set up. You can find sturdy tripods that collapse into more compact packages for easy carrying. You also might consider a wooden tripod—while heavier than carbon fiber, wood suppresses vibrations well, and the material isn’t uncomfortable to pick up in very cold or hot weather.

Tamrac Expedition 9x Backpack
A high-end landscape filter kit will still include a polarizer (and/or a warming polarizer) and perhaps a full set of graduated ND filters in both a soft- and hard-edged type. You might want to add a variable neutral-density filter, which allows you to change the degree of ND by rotating the filter ring, handy when you wish to use a long exposure time to blur moving water or to make passers-by “disappear” from a scene. Some landscape photographers who work in black-and-white might prefer to use colored filters over the lens in the traditional manner, saving image-processing time later. In a black-and-white photo, a colored filter will lighten objects of its own and similar colors and darken objects of its complementary color. You can use a red filter to lighten red flowers and darken green leaves, so the flowers and leaves don’t photograph as the same shade of gray, or you can use a yellow or red filter to darken a blue sky so that white clouds really stand out. A high-quality clear glass or UV filter can protect the front element of your costly high-end lens against the elements.

Of course, a big budget allows you to carry your gear in style via a top-tier camera bag or backpack, plus a hard case for protecting your expensive gear when traveling. Memory cards at this level offer extremely quick operation for fast file writing and transfer, as well as huge capacities, although they still fill up because the image file sizes are so large with these cameras.

Also Consider

These cameras are the best of the best, offering large, high-resolution sensors for large, high-quality landscapes.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
The EOS-1D Mark IV is the only non-full-frame model in our high-end category, featuring an APS-H 16.1-megapixel CMOS sensor with a 1.3x focal-length factor. Besides the excellent image quality, landscape shooters will appreciate the rugged, well-sealed pro body, live view on the 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor, automatic vignetting correction, enhanced full HD 1080p video shooting at 30 or 24 fps, and the ability to nail any sudden wildlife action that presents itself.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III
Canon’s flagship model has been surpassed in image quality by the EOS 5D Mark II and in “flash” by the new EOS-1D Mark IV, but it’s still a great landscape camera, with 21.1-megapixel resolution, a rugged and well-sealed pro body, and excellent image quality.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
The first full-frame DSLR to offer video capability, and the first DSLR with 1080p full HD video, the Mark II features an upgraded version of the EOS-1Ds Mark III’s 21.1-megapixel Canon full-frame CMOS sensor in a lighter, more compact package for less than half the price.

Nikon D3X
Nikon’s highest-resolution DSLR, the 24.5-megapixel D3X shares the D3S’s extremely rugged and well-sealed pro body and excellent AF and metering systems, with twice the pixel count.

Nikon D700
Nikon’s full-frame, 12.3-megapixel D700 offers excellent high-ISO image quality (and low-ISO image quality, too), AF and metering performance, in a more compact and lighter body for about half the price of the D3S. The D700 also has a built-in sensor-dust remover.

Sony Alpha DSLR-A850
The full-frame DSLR-A850 features the same 24.6-megapixel Sony Exmor CMOS sensor, excellent image quality, sensor-shift image stabilization and body as Sony’s flagship model, the DSLR-A900. That makes it a real bargain. There’s no live view, but you can preview the effects of exposure, white balance and the five-level Dynamic Range Optimizer on the 3.0-inch, 921,600-dot LCD monitor via the camera’s Intelligent Preview feature.

Sony Alpha DSLR-A900
The DSLR-A900 includes all of the advantages of the DSLR-A850, as well
as a remote control, and also can shoot at a fast 5 fps. The DSLR-A900 incorporates an optical viewfinder that shows 100% of the actual area compared to 98% in the DSLR-A850.


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