D-SLRs For The Landscape

Choose the best camera for your landscape photography

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Large-format landscape artist Ansel Adams once described his 35mm camera as “an extension of the eye as used freely in the hand.” And the late Galen Rowell, a world-class mountaineer and landscape photographer, did most of his amazing work with 35mm SLRs, again for the freedom they provided. Today, many photographers are turning to digital SLRs for landscape work. Image quality is outstanding, and the cameras provide the same speed and portability as their film brethren. You can easily handhold a D-SLR for shots from any angle or put it on a tripod to lock in a composition, especially handy when using live-view mode.

While you can shoot terrific landscapes with today’s D-SLRs, the “sweet-spot” models—those in between the compact entry-level cameras and bulky pro bodies—are our favorites. Of course, pro D-SLRs are superb landscape tools, but they can be costly and heavy—carrying a pro D-SLR on a long hike isn’t much fun.

These D-SLRs address the meticulous nature of most landscape photographers. All of them let you adjust the color balance to match the light at the scene and allow you to play back just-shot images to confirm that the shot is there and—with the aid of a histogram—to check exposure. Of course, you can spot-meter and set everything manually whenever desired. All of these D-SLRs allow you to shoot in high-bit RAW format for maximum image quality, and do image editing at your computer afterward—Adams would have readily embraced it.

D-SLRs accept a wide range of interchangeable lenses, allowing for tremendous control over field of view and perspective. All the major manufacturers produce fine lenses in wide focal lengths and are optimized especially for smaller-sensor cameras, making true wide-angle shooting as easy as with a 35mm film camera.

Other features that landscape photographers will enjoy include:

  • Sensor-Dust Removal. Uses high-frequency vibrations to shake dust off the image sensor, especially handy when you change lenses frequently in the field.
  • Image Stabilization. In-camera sensor-shift stabilization works with all lenses, but stabilizes only the recorded image, not the viewfinder image. In-lens stabilization stabilizes both recorded and viewfinder images, but obviously functions only with stabilized lenses. Both types let you get sharp images handheld several shutter speeds slower than is possible without stabilization and work well with a monopod.
  • Dynamic-Range Extender. Helps maintain highlight and shadow detail in high-contrast scenes.
  • Grid Lines. Grid lines in the viewfinder (sometimes built in, sometimes via an optional focusing screen) or on the LCD in live-view mode help you keep that horizon truly horizontal.
  • Live View. More and more D-SLRs are providing this feature, which is standard on compact digital cameras. With Live View, you get a bigger image to examine and focus, as well as easier odd-angle operation.
  • 14-Bit A/D Conversion. 14-bit provides a lot more data than 12-bit—16,384 tones or colors vs. 4096. This provides smoother gradations/colors and more leeway when doing levels adjustments in the computer.
  • Lots Of Megapixels. At the heart of a landscape image is detail. With digital, detail is provided in large part by lots of pixels. All else being equal, the more megapixels, the better for landscape work, and the better off you’ll be making big prints.

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Canon EOS 40D
Sometimes, it’s the simplest things. The EOS 40D has lots of great features, and one of our favorites is the ability to set exposure compensation merely by rotating the Quick Control Dial on the camera back—no need to hunt for and press an EC button first (although sometimes it would be helpful to have more than the ±2 stops of EC provided). The multi-controller above the QC dial makes selecting menu items and AF points quick and easy.

Beyond that, the 40D turns out excellent image quality, thanks in part to its 10.1-megapixel Canon CMOS sensor, DIGIC III image processor and 14-bit A/D conversion. There’s a Landscape PIC mode, which sets the camera for typical landscape shots, but most landscape photographers will use the Picture Styles instead. Picture Styles let you start with a preset (Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful or Monochrome); then you adjust contrast, sharpness, color saturation, color tone, filter and toning to your taste. A handy Picture Styles button accesses the PS menu at a touch. (If you shoot RAW format, you can change the Picture Style later in the computer using the supplied Digital Photo Professional software.)

Features
Sensor: 10.1-megapixel CMOS, 1.6x
LCD: 3.0 inches/Live View Anti-Dust: High-frequency vibrations
Stabilization: Via IS lenses ISO Range: 100-1600, plus 3200
Spot Metering: 3.8%
Estimated Street Price: $1,150

Other features of interest to landscape shooters include Highlight Tone Priority (which maintains detail in high-contrast situations), a 3.0-inch LCD monitor with Live-View capability and handy grid lines (you even can route the live image to a laptop monitor and operate the camera from the computer using Canon EOS Utility software), a self-cleaning image-sensor assembly that keeps dust spots out of your images (especially important when shooting stopped down and including large sky areas in shots), a mirror lockup custom function to eliminate blur due to mirror slap and a 3.8% spot-metering mode.

The exposure lock and AF selector buttons on the EOS 40D double as magnification in playback—great for checking critical focus The control dial makes it easy to set exposure compensation The accessory power booster doubles shooting capacity The 3-inch LCD is bright and vivid and features Live-View The mode dial offers instant access to all of the shooting modes. On the other side of the camera, the LCD panel illuminates for
edge-of-day landscape shooting

Canon offers more than 50 lenses for EOS cameras, and the 40D can use all of them. Focal lengths range from a 10-22mm superwide zoom (equivalent to 16-35mm on a 35mm camera) and 15mm fish-eye (24mm equivalent) to an 800mm supertelephoto (equivalent to 1280mm on a 35mm camera), including three true macro lenses and three manual-focus TS-E tilt/shift lenses that add some of the perspective-control capabilities of a view camera.

Alternative Landscape D-SLR

Camera: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III
Sensor: 21.1 MP/FF
LCD: 3 inches/Live View
Anti-Dust: Vibration
Stabilization: With IS lenses
ISO: 50-3200
Spot Metering: 2.4%
Estimated Street Price: $8,000

Lineage: The EOS 40D is Canon’s latest mid-line model, improving on its excellent EOS 30D predecessor in many ways, including 10.1 megapixels (vs. 8.2), a 3.0-inch Live-View LCD monitor (vs. a 2.5-inch LCD without Live View), a maximum shooting rate of 6.5 fps (vs. 5 fps), a self-cleaning image sensor, a DIGIC III image processor and 14-bit A/D conversion (vs. a DIGIC II and 12-bit conversion), and all nine AF points are now cross-types (only the central point was in the 30D).

Cool Factor: The top Canon model that can use all EF and EF-S lenses, the EOS 40D can handle everything from wide-angle vistas to distant details.


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Nikon D300
The D300 delivers on its promise of terrific image quality. The camera is remarkable at higher ISOs, and its Active D-Lighting preserves detail throughout high-contrast scenes. Another great feature for landscape photography is the 920,000-dot, 3.0-inch LCD monitor with two Live-View modes: Handheld, which employs 51-point phase detection AF; and Tripod, which uses focal-plane contrast-detection AF. You even can route the live image to a laptop monitor and control the camera from the computer using Nikon Camera Control 2 software. You also can focus manually in either Live-View mode.

Picture Control settings let you start with four presets (Standard, Neutral, Vivid or Monochrome) and then modify sharpness, contrast, brightness, color saturation, tone and monochrome filter effects as desired, while Nikon’s new EXPEED processing concept and your choice of 12- or 14-bit A/D conversion result in excellent image quality (in-camera processing is 16-bit). On-demand viewfinder grid lines help you align image elements, while Nikon’s first self-cleaning sensor keeps dust off the sensor assembly.


Features
Sensor: 12.3-megapixel CMOS, 1.5x
LCD: 3 inches/Live View Anti-Dust: High-frequency vibrations
Stabilization: Via VR lenses ISO Range: 200-3200, plus 100 and 6400
Spot Metering: 2%
Estimated Street Price: $1,800

Build quality is excellent, with a strong magnesium-alloy body and enhanced sealing against moisture and dust. Mirror-up mode lets the camera settle down before a tripod-mounted exposure, 2% spot-metering lets you meter individual scenic elements, and a battery capable of up to 3,000 shots per charge means worry-free field operation.
Nikon offers a host of lenses for its D-SLRs, ranging in focal length from a 10.5mm fish-eye (equivalent to 15.75mm on a 35mm camera) and 12-24mm superwide zoom (equivalent to 18-36mm) to a 600mm supertelephoto (equivalent to 900mm), including three 1:1 macro lenses and two manual-focus tilt/shift lenses that provide some of the perspective control capabilities of a view camera.


The dial on the top, left of the camera gives you one-touch control over shooting quality, ISO, white balance and the camera’s drive modes The selector switch accesses the AF area modes, and the multi-selector allows you to choose an AF point. These are particularly useful when setting up a landscape shot that has critical elements in both foreground and background The bright, 3-inch LCD monitor features Live-View The LCD panel on top of the body gives a full readout of settings and is illuminated via the on-off button.


Alternative Landscape D-SLR

Camera: Nikon D3
Sensor:
12.1 MP/FF
LCD: 3 inches/Live View
Anti-Dust: Vibration
Stabilization: With VR lenses
ISO: 50-25,600
Spot Metering: 1.5%
Estimated Street Price: $5,000

Lineage: The D300 is the successor to the D200, although the latter remains in Nikon’s D-SLR lineup as of this writing. While the D200 is an excellent camera, D300 improvements are numerous, including a 12.3-megapixel CMOS sensor (vs. a 10.2-megapixel CCD in the D200), 3.0-inch 920,000-dot LCD panel with two Live-View modes (vs. a 2.5-inch 230,000-pixel LCD with no Live View), self-cleaning sensor unit, 51 AF points (vs. 11), 6 fps shooting (vs. 5 fps), 100% viewfinder (vs. 95%), EXPEED image processing concept with Scene Recognition System, in-camera retouching features, Active D-Lighting, improved auto white balance and more.

Cool Factor: Ideal for low-light and harshly lit landscapes, the D300 produces very low noise at higher ISOs (it goes to ISO 6400), while Active D-Lighting tames contrasty scenes.


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OLYMPUS E-3
The rugged splash- and dustproof E-3 features a rarity in a D-SLR: a tilting/swiveling Live-View LCD monitor that makes shooting from unusual angles easy. The 2.5-inch unit shows 100 percent of the actual image area, provides white balance and exposure previews, and works with manual focusing and single-shot autofocusing.

Picture Mode presets (Vivid, Natural, Portrait, Muted, Monochrome and Custom) can be modified for contrast, sharpness and saturation in five steps and gradation in four steps in Custom. SWD sensor-shift image stabilization works with all lenses, while Olympus’ pioneering (and very effective) Supersonic Wave Filter keeps dust off the image-sensor assembly—no need to fear changing lenses in the field.

Features
Sensor: 10.1-megapixel Live MOS, 2x
LCD: 2.5 inches free-angle/Live View
Anti-Dust:
High-frequency vibrations
Stabilization: Sensor-shift
ISO Range: 100-3200
Spot Metering: 2%
Estimated Street Price: $1,700

Like all Four Thirds System cameras, the E-3 can use all Four Thirds System lenses. Currently, these range in focal length from the Olympus 7-14mm superwide zoom (equivalent to 14-28mm on a 35mm camera) and 8mm fish-eye (equivalent to 16mm on a 35mm camera) to Sigma’s 300-800mm supertele zoom (equivalent to a 600-1600mm on a 35mm camera. The Olympus 300mm ƒ/2.8 supertelephoto is equivalent to 600mm on a 35mm SLR, but much more compact, lower-priced and a stop faster. The high-end Olympus lenses share the E-3’s splash- and dustproofing, handy when shooting in harsh conditions.


The Olympus E-3’s fold-out, articulating LCD monitor is a fantastic feature for composing landscapes with a unique angle or from a particularly challenging camera position Menu navigation, AF points and metering modes all can be set via the arrow pad Exposure modes and AF modes are selected by depressing these buttons and rotating the various command dials. While many photographers eschew a pop-up flash, it can be ideal in low-light situations when one wants to add a little extra pop to a shot The E-3 has a robust series of accessories, including macro-flash attachments.


Alternative Landscape D-SLR

Camera: Olympus E-420
Sensor :
10 MP/2x
LCD: 2.7 inches/Live View
Anti-Dust : Vibration
Stabilization : None
ISO : 100-1600
Spot Metering : 1%
Estimated Street Price : $500

Lineage: Olympus introduced its first D-SLR—and the world’s first Four Thirds System camera—in 2003, the pro E-1. That was followed by eight more models, including the first D-SLR with compact-style Live-View capability (the E-330) and the E-1’s successor, the E-3 (there was no E-2). The E-3’s improvements over the E-1 include 10.1 megapixels (vs. 5), a tilting/rotating 2.5-inch Live-View LCD monitor (vs. a fixed 1.8-inch LCD with no Live View), maximum shooting rate of 5 fps (vs. 3 fps), built-in sensor-shift image stabilization that works with all lenses, improved image quality (especially at higher ISOs) and super-quick autofocusing with the new SWD lenses.

Cool Factor: It’s easy to frame dramatic, “huge-foreground-object” wide-angle landscapes with the tilting/swiveling Live-View monitor on this D-SLR.


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Click To EnlargePanasonic Lumix DMC-L10
One of two D-SLRs with a fully articulated Live-View LCD monitor, the DMC-L10 makes it easy to shoot at odd angles for more creative landscape images. In Live-View operation, the 2.5-inch LCD shows 100 percent of the actual image area for accurate compositions and provides movable guidelines to help align the horizon or other objects. You can shoot in any of three aspect ratios— 4:3, “35mm” 3:2 and HDTV 16:9—to suit your vision for a specific image. Nine Film modes (six color and three monochrome) provide different “looks,” which you can modify by adjusting sharpness, contrast and color saturation in five steps.

Features
Sensor: 10.1-megapixel Live MOS, 2x
LCD: 2.5 inches free-angle/Live View
Anti-Dust: High-frequency vibrations
Stabilization: Sensor-shift
ISO Range: 100-1600
Spot Metering: Yes

Estimated Street Price: $1,200

A sensor-dust remover uses ultra-high-frequency vibrations to shake dust off the image sensor, while optical Mega O.I.S. stabilization in the Leica 14-50mm zoom lens sold with the camera steadies handheld (and monopod) shots.

As a Four Thirds System camera, the L10 can use all Four Thirds System lenses, which range in focal length from the 7-14mm Olympus superwide zoom (equivalent to 14-28mm on a 35mm camera) and 8mm fish-eye (equivalent to 16mm on a 35mm camera) to Sigma’s 300-800mm supertele zoom (equivalent to 600-1600mm on a 35mm camera. These certainly cover the needs of the landscape photographer

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A mode dial is positioned near the shutter button. The dial is reminiscent of a film camera with the various modes selectable by rotating it instead of having to navigate through menus The fold-out, articulating LCD monitor is the ideal tool for composing with a difficult camera position. It’s also a great feature for getting an unusual perspective on a scene. Even a grand landscape can be viewed differently when the perspective is changed by just a few feet in height, for example. The arrow pad gives you one-touch access to ISO, metering modes, white balance and AF area.


Alternative Landscape D-SLR

Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1
Sensor: 7.5 MP/2x
LCD: 2.5 inches
Anti-Dust: Vibration
Stabilization: Mega O.I.S. in lens
ISO: 100-1600
Spot Metering: Yes
Estimated Street Price: $1,500*
* includes Leica 14-50mm ƒ/2.8-3.5 zoom lens

Lineage: Panasonic’s second D-SLR, the L10 follows the DMC-L1, which remains in the line. The L1 is the top-end model, with a more rugged build and sold with a higher-end Leica 14-50mm zoom lens for about 50 percent more, although the L1 has a 7.5-megapixel Live MOS sensor vs. the L10’s 10.1-megapixel Live MOS.

Cool Factor: Nine film modes are designed to mimic the characteristics of a variety of color and black-and-white films to let you choose the ideal “look” for a specific scene.


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Click To EnlargePentax K20D
Landscape photos tend to look good big, and the K20D’s 14.6-megapixel CMOS sensor provides the resolution to print them that way. Featuring the most megapixels you can get in an APS-C-sensor D-SLR and a weather-resistant and dustproof body, Pentax’s flagship model lets you shoot in the harsh field conditions that accompany many great landscape photo ops without fretting about your gear. The new SDM lenses share the camera’s weather-resistance and dustproofing, so they’re great choices for such work.

Features
Sensor: 14.6-megapixel CMOS, 1.5x
LCD: 2.7 inches/Live View
Anti-Dust: High-frequency vibrations
Stabilization: Sensor-shift
ISO Range: 100-6400
Spot Metering: Yes
Estimated Street Price: $1,300

Other features of interest to landscape shooters include sensor-shift Shake Reduction that works with all lenses for much sharper handheld and monopod-mounted shooting, high-frequency vibrations that remove dust from the image-sensor assembly each time you switch the camera on and an Enlargement of Dynamic Range function that provides more detail throughout the image in high-contrast shooting situations. The 2.7-inch LCD monitor has a Live-View function that shows 100 percent of the actual image area for precise compositions and provides digital preview capability. You even can activate reference grid lines to help keep that horizon horizontal. The two-second self-timer includes a mirror-lock function that lets mirror vibration settle down before exposure is made. Unique to Pentax, the K20D (like its K10D sibling) lets you record images in either of two RAW formats, Pentax’s PEF or Adobe’s “universal” DNG. A RAW button lets you instantly switch from JPEG to RAW recording at a touch.


The LCD monitor features Live-View composition The dial (AF point switching dial) on the camera back is used to choose the AF point. It can be set at auto, user selection or center spot. The K20D has built-in anti-shake, which you can turn on with the shake-reduction switch beneath the AF point switching dial. Because anti-shake is built into the body, it works with a range of lenses. The body is weatherproof, which many landscape shooters will enjoy in misty or rainy conditions. The mode-selection dial and metering-mode level are positioned on the top, right of the camera

Current Pentax lenses range from a 10-17mm fish-eye zoom (equivalent to 15-25.5mm on a 35mm camera) and 12-24mm superwide zoom (equivalent to 18-36mm on a 35mm camera) to a 300mm ƒ/4 supertele, including three 1:1 macro lenses. The K20D can use virtually all Pentax lenses, even old screw-mount models and lenses for Pentax medium-format SLRs, via adapters, albeit with the loss of some operating features.

Alternative Landscape D-SLR

Camera: Pentax K200D
Sensor:
10.2 MP/1.5x
LCD:
2.7 inches
Anti-Dust:
Vibration
Stabilization:
Sensor shift
ISO:
100-1600
Spot Metering:
Yes
Estimated Street Price:
$720

Click To EnlargeLineage: The K20D shares many features with the K10D, including weather-resistant, dustproof construction and dual RAW formats, but ups the resolution to 14.6 megapixels (vs. 10.2), features a 2.7-inch LCD monitor with Live-View capability (vs. 2.5 inches) and adds new Custom Image and Expanded Dynamic Range functions.

Cool Factor: Sensor-shift Shake Reduction works with any lens mounted on the Pentax K20D, enabling sharp, handheld shots two to three shutter speeds slower than would be possible otherwise.


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Samsung GX-20
Many landscape professionals agree that it’s best to shoot landscape images in the RAW format because you’ll get better image quality and can do more with them after the fact. The GX-20 uses Adobe’s “universal” DNG RAW format, so images can be edited in recent versions of Photoshop and other RAW-converter programs.

Features
Sensor: 14.6-megapixel CMOS, 1.5x
LCD: 2.7 inches/Live View
Anti-Dust: High-frequency vibrations
Stabilization: Sensor-shift
ISO Range: 100-6400
Spot Metering: Yes
Estimated Street Price:
$1,300 (with 18-55mm zoom lens)

A close cousin of the Pentax K20D, thanks to a partnership between the two companies, the attractive GX-20 features the same 14.6-megapixel Samsung CMOS sensor and the same feature set except that the 14-bit RAW images are DNG only. RAW files can be converted to JPEG right in the camera. The 2.7-inch Live-View monitor, weather-resistant and dustproof construction, optical (sensor-shift) image stabilization that works with all lenses, sensor-dust remover and great performance add up to a camera that can handle just about anything you’ll encounter in your travels.

The GX-20 can use Pentax K-mount lenses, as well as the Samsung and Schneider lenses Samsung markets for it. Available focal lengths currently range from a 10-17mm fish-eye zoom (equivalent to 15-25.5mm on a 35mm camera) and 12-24mm superwide zoom (equivalent to 18-36mm on a 35mm camera) to a 300mm ƒ/4 supertelephoto, including three 1:1 macro lenses.

Inside the focus-mode selector is a four-way selector that controls drive mode, flash mode, white balance and ISO. Pressing the Fn button and one of the arrows accesses the feature. On the top, right of the camera is the mode dial and the metering-mode selector with the bracketing button placed on the back, adjacent to the viewfinder. Most of the buttons are flush-mounted on the camera back. The Live-View LCD is 2.7 inches. Here, anti-shake is chosen on the bottom, right of the back.


Alternative Landscape D-SLR

Camera: Samsung GX-10
Sensor: 10.2 MP/1.5x
LCD: 2.5 inches
Anti-Dust: Vibration
Stabilization: Sensor-shift
ISO: 100-1600
Spot Metering: Yes
Estimated Street Price: $750*
* including 18-55mm zoom lens

Lineage: The GX-20 builds on the GX-10, upping the resolution to 14.2 megapixels from 10.2, increasing the LCD monitor to 2.7 inches from 2.5 and adding Live-View, plus a host of digital filters, including HDR (high dynamic range), B&W and color effects.

Cool Factor: Samsung’s 14.6-megapixel CMOS sensor lets you record landscape images with great detail and turn out huge prints.


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Sony DSLR-A700
With a new 12.24-megapixel Sony Exmor CMOS image sensor, 14-bit A/D conversion, on-chip noise reduction before and after A/D conversion and a Bionz imaging engine to tie it all together, the A700 turns out beautiful image quality—at ISO 6400, it’s better than ISO 1600 film. That gives the landscape shooter lots of versatility in handling all kinds of lighting conditions, from predawn to postdusk, and even moonlit landscapes at midnight.

Features
Sensor: 12.24-megapixel Exmor CMOS, 1.5x
LCD: 3 inches
Anti-Dust: High-frequency vibrations
Stabilization: Sensor-shift
ISO Range: 160-6400
Spot Metering: Yes
Estimated Street Price: $1,400

Super SteadyShot sensor-shift shake reduction works with all lenses, for much sharper handheld and monopod-mounted shots, while a sensor-dust remover vibrates dust off the sensor assembly each time you switch the camera off. Four Creative Styles (Standard, Vivid, Neutral and Adobe RGB), plus three switchable Image Styles (Portrait, Landscape and B&W, by default), let you select a “look” for each shot, and you can modify contrast, saturation and sharpness to suit your taste. Five-level DRO (Dynamic Range Optimizer) is very effective on contrasty scenes.

Like all Sony D-SLRs, the top-of-the-line (for now) A700 accepts a wide range of Sony and Minolta Maxxum lenses, plus Zeiss T* lenses designed for the camera. Currently, Sony lens focal lengths range from an 11-18mm superwide zoom (equivalent to 16.5-27mm on a 35mm camera) and 16mm fish-eye (24mm on a 35mm camera) to a 300mm ƒ/2.8 supertelephoto and 500mm ƒ/8 mirror lens.

The mode dial allows you to choose the various shooting modes and scene-selection modes. When the camera is rotated, as is often the case when shooting a landscape, the menus are displayed in that orientation. No more tilting your head! Super SteadyShot, Sony’s name for anti-shake, is built into the camera and selected by the switch on the lower right of the camera back. White-balance and ISO buttons on the top of the camera are conveniently placed. The pop-up flash can be quite useful in low-light landscape situations.


Alternative Landscape D-SLR

Camera: Sony DSLR-A350
Sensor: 14.2 MP/1.5x
LCD: 2.7 inches/Live View
Anti-Dust: Vibration
Stabilization: Sensor shift
ISO: 100-3200
Spot Metering: Yes
Estimated Street Price: $

Lineage: Sony introduced its first D-SLR in 2005 after obtaining D-SLR technology from Konica Minolta when that company left the camera market. That A100 model now is out of production, and the Sony lineup includes the A200, A300 and A350. The A700 currently is the top model in Sony’s D-SLR lineup, although a new pro model should be announced by the end of the year.

Cool Factor:
Five-level Dynamic Range Optimizer and DRO bracketing deliver beautifully detailed sunrises/sunsets and contrasty forest scenes.


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Sigma SD14
The big feature of the SD14 is its unique Foveon X3 image sensor, of course. The X3 sensor records all three primary colors at every pixel site by taking advantage of the fact that different light wavelengths penetrate silicon to different depths: blue, not very far; green, farther; and red, the deepest. So the Foveon sensor stacks three layers of pixels, recording blue in the top layer, green in the middle layer and red in the bottom layer. In effect, that’s how color film works. There are three light-sensitive layers, the top one recording blue light; the middle, green; and the bottom layer, red. There’s no interpolation, no demosaicking, no need for a blur filter. The results are more accurate, purer colors and greater sharpness for a given horizontal-by-vertical pixel count. Color and sharpness being key elements of landscapes, the SD14 is certainly worth a look by any serious landscape shooter.

Other SD14 features of particular note to landscape photographers include a large SLR finder that shows 98 percent of the actual image area, a sensor-dust protector that can be removed for infrared photography and a 7.5% center-area metering mode.

Features
Sensor: 4.7x3-megapixel Foveon X3, 1.7x
LCD: 2.5 inches
Anti-Dust: Removable protective cover
Stabilization: Via OS lenses
ISO Range: 100-800, plus 1600
Spot Metering: 7.5%
Estimated Street Price: $800

The SD14 accepts a wide range of Sigma lenses, ranging in focal length from a 4.5mm circular fish-eye (equivalent to a 7.65mm circular fish-eye on a 35mm camera) and 10-20mm superwide zoom (equivalent to a 17-34mm in 35mm camera terms) to an 800mm supertelephoto (equivalent to a 1360mm lens on a 35mm camera). So whatever your landscape vision, there’s a lens for it and the SD14.

Lineage: The SD14 is Sigma’s third D-SLR. All have featured Foveon X3 sensors, the first two—the SD9 and SD10—utilizing lower-resolution (3.4x3-megapixel) versions and shooting in RAW format only.

Cool Factor: Mirror lockup, a tool many pros use for landscape photography, is instantly accessed by a dial on the camera rather than having to scroll through complex menus.


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Canon EOS 5D
For some, the Canon EOS 5D is the ultimate landscape D-SLR. For one thing, it’s the lowest-priced “full-frame” D-SLR by a goodly margin. That means it makes the major advantage of the full-frame camera available to a much wider range of photographers. Each lens used on the 5D will frame just as it does on a 35mm SLR; there’s no magnification factor. True wide-angle photography can be done using Canon’s best L-series wide-angle lenses, and you can get the most from Canon’s TS-E tilt/shift lenses.

The Canon-produced sensor’s 12.8-megapixel resolution is exceeded by only four current D-SLRs, and the 8.2-micron pixels are the largest in a current Canon D-SLR. That, and the complementary Canon DIGIC II image processor result in excellent image quality. The EOS 5D is the camera that introduced Canon’s Picture Styles, presets that simulate the characteristics of different films, including Landscape, which provides vivid blues and greens and increases sharpness. You can revise the contrast, sharpness, color saturation and color tone in the color settings, and filter and toning effects in monochrome.

Features
Sensor: 12.8-megapixel CMOS, full-frame
LCD: 2.5 inches
Anti-Dust: No
Stabilization: Via IS lenses
ISO Range: 100-1600, plus 50 and 3200
Spot Metering:

Considerably more compact and lighter than the other full-frame D-SLRs, the EOS 5D is easier to carry and use in the field. While not quite up to the all-out pro EOS-1 series build, the EOS 5D is sturdily built, with magnesium-alloy body covers. There’s no Live-View feature, but the big SLR viewfinder shows 96 percent of the actual image area, and an optional focusing screen with grid lines is available.

Lineage: Based loosely on the EOS 20D/30D form factor, but enlarged for the big sensor, the EOS 5D is Canon’s first “affordable” full-frame D-SLR. Canon also has produced three generations of full-sensor pro models—the 11.1-megapixel EOS-1Ds, 16.7-megapixel EOS-1 Ds Mark II and current 21.1-megapixel EOS-1Ds Mark III. All use Canon-designed and Canon-produced CMOS image sensors.

Cool Factor: Less than half the cost of the next lowest-priced full-frame model, the EOS 5D is much lighter and easier to carry in the field.

14 Comments

    I have been using the new Canon 7D and love it- super sharp with the 24-105 L series lens. I’m a sharp nut and this does it for me- I could not ask for better landscapes and the 1.6 sure helps in other uses besides the landscapes!! I still believe that Photography is what is between the “EARS” and not the equipment- altho good equipment helps in many circumstances!!

    “Bang for the buck,” I’ve shot Nikon, Canon, Pentax, and Minolta in film and Nikon, Canon, and Sony in digital and beauty seams to be in the eye of the user, whatever your comfortable with, When the Nikon D40x came out I bought that for it’s size and portability while hiking and shortly there after the Sony A350 came out with it’s 14+ MP and the ability of live view, tilt screen and ability to use older high quality Minolta optics without breaking the bank. I used the 10.2 MP Nikon for about a year as a back-up before selling it and purchasing more optics for the Sony. There are so many arguments for any and all the name brand cameras out there, but when it comes right down to it, cost, Sony has many beaten hands down, and if I have a major mishap while on the trail and a rock or lake gets in my way I don’t have to drop a couple of grand to replace it.

    Hello everyone. It is never too late to give up our prejudices. Help me! I find sites on the topic: Absolutely free antivirus software. I found only this – seo software. Badly, the verdugo and raymond consumers intend through the information’s anti and supplemental testers, antivirus software. Antivirus software, one laptop antivirus owns the zlob trojan. With best wishes :confused:, Sandia from Moldova.

    I have to agree ,the Sony A900 is a fantastic camera for landscape,it might not have live view or as capable of high ISO’s like the Canon 5D but then for landscape you don’t really need either.
    I use a A900 with Carl Zeiss lens and iam often surprised by the quality of the images,often they look similar to photos taken with my Mamiya 7 !

    I would add that a fully articulated hi res LCD should be among your criteria for a mid-level landscape/nature ready camera. One with a stiff or lockable hinge so that a Hood viewer, with magnifier, can be mounted on it. Like a Rollei twin-lens with snap-up lens??? or going way back, to an Exakta.
    Which mfg will be the first to offer it?
    And then an artificial horizon line to compliment the grid lines you’ve already mentioned.

    The Canon 5D MKII is currently the canons top image quality dslr, and I can personally swear by its capabilities as a landscape photographers best friend.

    Not knowing when the article was published, it is remarkable that the Sony A900 is not being mentioned as a camera for suberb landscape photography.

    Yha know, I really don’t know what the big deal is about the Nikon & Cannon DSLR Camera’s. It’s true that the Nikon and Canon Camera’s are very good, but I don’t have any trouble with my Pentax K100D. It shoots a very good Image and will do more than I will ever use. I can inter-change it with all different types of Lens. I have 4 different Lens now and use them frequently.

    However, since Pentax has decided to dis-continue the K100D and step up to the K10, the K20 and probably more than what I know, I don’t really need a more expensive Camera. What I have is just fine for me. As far as I’m concerned, the Pentax has done an excellent job and I will stay with it, rather than change over to Nikon or Canon.

    the art of the photograph is in the eye of the photographer. The camera is merely the instrument used to create the image. We each have our preferences and it is always an interesting discussion to compare reasons for those preferences. I presonally prefer Nikon because I have used a Nikon, starting with a Nikon F in the late 60’s.

    The most important characterist for me is for the designed to share a philosophy that the photographer is in control, and Nikon does a great job in that respect.

    The 5D MII is a fine camera. It has one rather silly design flaw: The program button has no lock and its position can easily be changed. That happens me often in the heat of the photo-battle. Struggling to find the right position of the clouds’ shadows, the ideal formation of the clouds. All of a sudden you see it. You slam the brakes, grab the camera, aim and shoot. A split second later the ideal situation has gone. Then you realize the program button has changed position! It happened when you grabbed the camera. Sh.t is the friendliest way to get rid of your anger.

    I’m a recent convert to…FILM!!…for really good landscapes. In particular, a Pentax 645N (which you can get for ~$400 nowadays in pristine condition) shooting Fuji Velvia 50. North Coast Photo Services produces high-quality scans during processing….love it!

    Having used Just a variety of Nikons over the years before switching to the Canon EOS-1V, I still find that I think of focal lengths in a film sense. The EOS-5D Mk11 seems to fit that bill in every way, and when matched to an all-round lens like Canon’s 28-300mm L series lens, there seems little need to ever remove the lens from the body unless extreme wide-angle is essential. It’s a very fine camera in every way, and I have no complaints thus far. The combination produces stunning landscapes.

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