Landscape Photography Tips

My Ideal Landscape Photography Kit

I often receive emails querying the suitability of a particular camera body or lens for landscape photography. To be honest my landscape photography set up is pretty simple and hasn’t changed very much over the last few years.

I was going to name this article ‘8 Essential items for Landscape Photography’ but considered the days I go out just with the X100s in its leather case. Therefore the following list are the things I normally take with me and my advice is to keep your gear simple and as light as possible. Heading out for a ten kilometre trek over rough ground means is challenging enough so I tend to keep things as minimal as I can.

The Photos Tell a Story

Note: Each of the images links to a related article that will detail the location, settings and camera used. Click on any of the images for more information. For this article I thought I would document the  key elements and I don’t suspect there will be too many changes in the years ahead.

Long Exposure Photography - Fujifilm X-M1

1. The Camera Body

You will probably already know that even since I purchased my first X100 in 2011 I am completely smitten by the Fujifilm X range of cameras.  The X-Trans sensor is amazing and to be honest all of the Fujifilm X Series cameras are ideal for landscape photography.

The X-M1’s tilt screen is particularly handy in awkward, long exposure, coastline situations where it isn’t easy to get behind the screen and if the idea of a multi lens system is daunting, fear not, both the Fujifilm X100s and and X20 perform brilliantly as landscape cameras. This is one of the first photos I captured with the X2o, Christmas 2012.

Fujifilm X20 Copyright Flixelpix.com

X-Pro2

The ultimate landscape camera has to be the Fujifilm X-Pro2 , not only does it offer a remarkable specification it comes with dust and weather sealing which is perfect/essential for the Northern Ireland climate.

Getting my gear wet is an all consuming anxiety on the hills. I have tried freezer bags; towel wraps have been packed specifically for my camera and the fear of getting my gear wet is a distraction from taking photos. The X-Pro2 has to be the ideal landscape camera, removing the fear of getting wet to  allow photographers to concentrate on their craft.

Also handy for the landscape photographer, like the X-M1 and X-E2 cameras the X-Pro2 offers wifi which allows you to geotag your image with location information. This is great if you want to document where you have been and applications such as Lightroom automatically add your images to a visual map. You can read a little more about this feature in the Freedom Through Photography post.

2. Lenses

I tend to pack three lenses for landscape photography, 14mm, 18-55mm and the 35mm. It is important to remember that landscape photography isn’t always about shooting ultra wide. The Fujinon lenses are excellent right out to the edges and are portable enough for long hikes.

The Millican Christopher bag (see below) has a great insert for carrying a camera with a lens attached and two spare lenses.  The following image was shot with the 14mm lens on a beach in County Down.

FlixelPix Top Photos, The Mournes

I have a couple of screw on filters for the 35mm which work really well and the f/1.4 aperture means you can get creative with bokeh in landscape photography.  For general reportage landscape photography I will tend to pack the 23mm lens or X100s.

NOTE: These lenses are not weather sealed. Fujifilm have promised dust and weather sealed lenses to towards the middle and end of this year.

3. The X100

The Fujifilm X100 goes everywhere, it is my favourite camera of all time and I tend to take it as a second camera to keep me entertained during long exposure photography. I carry the X100s in the official case that offers a great deal of protection out on the hills. You can read my full one year X100s Review here.

Mourne View

4. Filters

I am big fan of the Lee Filter Seven5 system. I know a few photographers complain about the price of filters but actually it works out more cost effective that you may think. The Seven5 system can be used with different lenses with the purchase of a low cost adaptor, typically about £25. I have also found that some of the Fujinon lenses have the same filter thread size so an adaptor can work with multiple lenses.

I carry the Lee Filters everywhere and use a couple of graduated filters and the ND110. Top tip, the darkest filter closest to the lens.

Castlerock, County Londonderry

5. Travel Tripod

I haven’t quite found the perfect travel tripod. I’ve tried a few but the problem with living in Northern Ireland is that you can’t easily see or evaluate the weight of a tripod before purchase. A good tripod is an essential piece of kit, I won’t recommend a particular model until I have found one I am totally happy with. That quest continues.

The Mourne Wall, County Down, mist

6. Lens cloth

When walking in the hills or capturing long exposure images on the coast of Northern Ireland can mean the lens can get wet from spray or mist. Don’t be tempted to use your sleeve! pack a low cost lens cloth to keep your lens and filters clean between exposures.

I find a local optician is the most cost effective way to purchase plain lens clothes and I tend to keep them in a zipped pocket in the bag to protect from sand and dust.

St John's Point Lighthouse at Night

7. Head Torch

Aiming to capture photographs during the ‘Golden Hours’ can often mean setting out early in the morning or coming home late at night.A low cost head torch can, not only be a handy accessory when adjusting settings on your camera but also essential for safety while walking in the dark.

I actually received my torch free with a subscription to a photography magazine but it is definitely worth getting a reasonable good torch that offers red and white light. This the Petzl torch I use. Tip : I have used the beam from my head torch to allow the camera to find focus but remember to turn the torch off when you are shooting to avoid distracting additional light.

The Mournes

8. Packing the Bag

Camera protection is essential. The Millican Christopher bag is excellent for carrying cameras, lens, accessories, lunch and water. The bag is of an exceptional quality and comes with a rain cover, key holder and enough protection to keep your expensive gear safe out on the hills. You can read more about the bag on Freedom Through Photography.

Millican, Christopher Bag

Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is as much about getting out into the great outdoors as it is about capturing images. It can be a great way to relax by heading out to the coast or  hills and just looking around and documenting what you see. If you need a new creative challenge then why not check out the Long Exposure Photography ebook to offer a new perspective. The first two images of this post were captured in the Lake District and the remainder are from Northern Ireland.

Also if you have any recommendations for a high quality, ultra portable, ultra light tripod then please post your suggestions in the comments.

Links

The Long Exposure eBook
X100s Review
The Lee Seven5 System
The Fujinon 23mm Lens Review
X-M1 Review



Comments

  1. I actually have just bought the befree but at the minute I am unconvinced as it is heavier than my main full size tripod. I think if they made a carbon fibre befree I would be happy 🙂

  2. Looking forward to your thoughts about a light weight tripod David. I have a Gitzo carbon 3531 I think that’s a bit overdone for my lighter gear. I’ve been thinking about selling it and buying a Gitzo Traveller but, like you am on the fence about which one might be best.

  3. I’d be curious to know what sort of remote shutter releases you use for your X-series bodies. Thanks!

  4. Great tips. Thanks David.

    I’m curious about how you use the 35mm and the top end of the 18-55mm for landscape photography. These are roughly 52mm and 27-82mm in 35mm full frame equivalence. I’ve never thought of above 50mm as a landscape lens.

  5. When hiking, do you find that a messenger bag can be a bit cumbersome? I feel as though a backpack would be a better way to go. Maybe thats just me.

  6. Have you tried the Feisol range of tripods? They’re extremely light, carbon fibre legs with very sturdy ball and socket heads. They hold my Canon and a telephoto zoom completely steady and are far more than adequate for a little Fuji. I have several tripods, but this is the one I always end up using, especially on the hills.

  7. I’m considering the switch to Fuji (from Nikon) .. I’m all but sold except for landscape, your images look great on the web … Do you make large prints? What’s the largest you’d be happy with using your X-T1?

    Thanks,
    Michael

  8. Michael, I don’t make any difference between the X-T1 and my DSLR when printing. I’ve recently had a 40 x 30 inch print made up and it is stunning.

  9. Why do you still have your DSLR? There has to be a difference between the Nikon D810 36M pixel and the Fuji 16M pixel images … As a landscape photographer do you notice any of the ‘paintly’ stuff that some folks talk about with green landscapes and processing raw?

  10. I have a DLSR for video and music photography although even for the music work the Fujis are coming to the fore but I need a 70-200. I am sure there is a difference between the image capability but I haven’t printed anything yet I have had an issue with. I actually had a portrait printed and framed up and the photo actually looks far better on paper than it does on screen. The guitar case will give the scale (see image).

  11. Nice to hear some technical background stuff. As for the tripod question: I used a Manfrotto 718B for 7 years of landscape photography. My gf managed to break it(yeah!), so after a long search I bought a Manfrotto BeFree half a year ago. In weight and size it is very similar to my old 718B. I’m pretty happy with it currently. Both are not designed to stand winds more than 5 bft, but these are conditions I very rarely shoot. Traveling lightweight but still with enough stability was more important to me.

  12. for your wide lens, would you ever consider the 10-24? also please review the 16mm/1.4 WR when it comes out eventually

  13. Hi David
    I emailed you recently about locations in N Ireland and I’ve just bought a 3 Legged Thing ‘Brian’ tripod. It has a removable centre column and goes down to about 15cms off the ground. It is remarkably light and folds down to 42 cms. I taking it with me when I go over to Ireland at the beginning of May. If you want to try it out let me know and we can meet up somewhere 🙂

  14. Beautiful photos, especially the snow covered mountain.
    I use the Fuji X-E2, and recently bought a monopod while in Germany made by a company called Cullmann, excellent built quality and light enough for taking up the mountains of Scotland. At 50 euros (34£) it wasn’t expensive

  15. David (great site by the way… I have outlaws, sorry, inlaws, in Donegal).

    I’m curious to know what your current landscape and documentary set-ups are, given that I’ve seen more recent entries on newer lenses. I’ve owned and developed little love for both the 10-24 and 16-55 zooms. I’m happy with the 14, 18-55 and 35 for architecture and documentary work (I’m a designer, but do about 20 photographic jobs a year). If I get more into landscape I’ll add a 55-200, because for my tastes you can go too wide, but never too long.

  16. I pack three lenses as well for landscape photos. I shoot on full frame the 20mm/2.8, the 40mm/2 and the 85mm/1.8 These three take care of what I want. All excellent lenses. At least that’s what the photo editors I shoot for tell me.

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David

David is a documentary and landscape photographer covering everything from dramatic long exposure landscape photography through to live music. David is a former Official Fujifilm X Photographer.

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