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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

Pentax K-7
Landscape Photography
On A Modest Budget

When looking at midrange gear, you’ll see some perks and extra features that will make landscape photography that much easier to produce, like more durable construction, smarter cameras and plenty of unique features to assist you in making your landscapes as amazing as they can be.

Manfrotto 190X Series
1 Midrange DSLRs. Midrange DSLRs have larger buffers, so they can shoot more consecutive images at top speed—you can shoot sequences of incoming surf to catch just the right moment, for example. Midrange models also are more rugged and better able to handle heavy use and harsh outdoor conditions (although not all are able to withstand rain). A surprising number of pro landscape photographers use midrange DSLRs.

The Pentax K-7 packs a lot of useful features into its very compact and water-, dust- and cold-resistant body. There’s a 14.6-megapixel CMOS sensor with a dust reducer and sensor-shift Shake Reduction that provides Pentax lenses with up to four stops of compensation. An electronic level is an incredible tool for helping you to keep your landscapes aligned, even when the horizon doesn’t appear in the image. Three-frame, in-camera HDR capability is a big help with scenes that have too much contrast, while in-camera correction for lens distortion and lateral chromatic aberration also enhance final image quality. Despite the camera’s tiny dimensions, there’s a big 3.0-inch, high-resolution 921,000-dot LCD monitor with live view and an optical SLR viewfinder that shows 100% of the actual image area. The camera also can shoot HD video.

B+W Warming Polarizer

Heliopan Grad ND Filte
2 Midrange Landscape Lens Kit. A midrange landscape lens kit would include the same range of focal lengths as the entry-level kit, but these can be higher-quality optics for a step up from the “kit-lens” class. You also can go for wider and longer focal lengths. As you’d expect, midrange lenses are sharper and built better than entry-level lenses, but don’t offer some of the benefits that pro-level glass does, such as a constant fixed aperture. Midrange DSLRs are all APS-C (1.5x to 1.7x focal-length factor) or Four Thirds System (2x factor) cameras, so take that into consideration when looking at focal lengths.

The basic zoom kit for APS-C cameras would include a wide zoom (10-20mm, 10-22mm, 11-16mm, 12-24mm, etc.), a midrange zoom (17-50mm, 17-70mm, etc.) and a telezoom (70-200mm). Of course, if you just “see” wide-angle landscapes, you won’t need the telezoom, but you may want to add an inexpensive ultrawide or fish-eye. A single-lens “kit” that covers most landscape needs would be a zoom of 15-85mm, 16-80mm, 16-85mm, 17-70mm or even 16.5-135mm.

Tamron AF18-270mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 Di II

Tokina AF 16.5-135mm ƒ/3.5-5.6

Pro-Optic 8mm ƒ/3.5 Fish-Eye CS

For Four Thirds System cameras, a good midrange landscape lens kit would include the 9-18mm, 10-20mm or 11-22mm wide zoom, the 14-54mm, 18-50mm or 12-60mm midrange zoom or maybe the 18-180mm wide-range zoom. The Olympus E-3 is a pro body, so a high-end landscape kit for it would include the 7-14mm, 14-35mm and 35-100mm SHG lenses.


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