The Optimum Landscape Photographer’s Gear List

This article considers the optimum gear list from two perspectives:

  • Recommended gear to enable dynamic photographic shooting opportunities during day and night;
  • Ultralight options to lighten the load when the desired photo is in  a remote location and you don’t want to wear yourself out

For this article, I will approach building a gear list using Sony A7R3 mirrorless cameras as the primary camera solution, because that is what I own. The key with any gear list is building around the camera and lens requirements. Example is that the camera and lens weight is a key factor in picking a tripod. Especially when going ultralight to get to remote areas. This article isn’t aimed at covering all the landscape photographic conditions or situations, but on what most photographers might want with them on site in a typical landscape shooting setting in various weather conditions. It doesn’t mean that all this gear should go on each shooting event.  It is expected a photographer will grab what is needed for the shooting conditions expected.  It will address some personal gear that is useful for shooting outdoors in a variety of situations.  This article will only cover gear and tools needed onsite.  Planning and preparation tools as well as post processing tools will be covered in a different post.  Drones aren’t part of that, as it would be considered under aerial photography.

So let’s get into the gear list.

A weather-sealed high dynamic range camera

Sort of a no brainer, but trying to get and use a weather-sealed camera will go a long way in protecting your investment.  Making sure you select a camera with high dynamic range can reduce your bracketing requirements. The top Sony mirrorless cameras with the best dynamic range are the Sony A1 and the new Sony A7R V.  An exceptional ultralight full size sensor option is the Sony A7C, which comes in at a mere 1 lb. 2.0 oz with battery and memory card. This is over a 1/2 lb lighter than the Sony A7R V and 3/4 lb. lighter than the Sony A1.

A Smartphone Camera

This is perhaps one of the most useful tool to use in scouting a sight or in considering your compositional layout.  For scouting you not only record what the sight looks like, but you get the pinpoint GPS location and other EXIF to use in planning the shot.  While onsite with your gear, using this tool to give an idea of what the composition might look like and help to identify distracting elements that you would want to remove.  Of course the real extra value has to do with a Sony smartphone app that allows Sony camera users to remotely adjust camera settings and take pictures.


Here is where the debate gets going on such issues as zoom verses prime lenses. I carry both, but mostly shoot with two zoom lenses and the prime. Here again, weather-sealed lenses should be a feature you look to have when seeking a new lens.


This is another area where there is a lot of debate, which centers around use of UV filters and graduated neutral density filters. Then the other debate here focuses on screw on verses slide in and now they have added the drop in or rear filters that are added between the lens and camera. For the later, consider that option on ultra wide angle lenses that don’t provide a screw on treaded lens mount in the front. Outside of that, then the preference between slide in, magnetic or screw on is a mater of preference and what you are willing to carry in your pack. The key here is buying good quality cast neutral filters and filters with warranties. A went with the NiSi 100mm square filters are to match up with their smartphone app to use in determining camera settings and exposure times. My other recommendation when buying filters is to buy the speciality filters at the diameter that fits your widest lens and purchase step down rings to attach them to the smaller diameter lenses. So here is my list of filters.

A Sturdy Tripod

In order to protection your camera investment, a sturdy tripod is needed. You might even consider having more than one tripod, like an ultralight one if you have to hike into the shooting location. You might even consider having a small table top one to use in getting low to the ground. In selecting any tripod, consider these additional needs:

  • If you are hiking a lot, then go with the lightest tripod that is still stable for your camera, heaviest lens, and any other accessory like a gimbal you plan to attach.
  • Determine if a center post tripod offers you the options needed to meet your shooting requirements.
  • Select a tripod that offers you add-on spikes to help anchor to the legs firmly, like in a river bed with swift water.
  • Twist leg locks or a flip lock.
  • How many leg extensions are required.
  • Ability to dismantle the tripod to clean it.
  • Compactness to meet the airplane carryon luggage limit of 22 inches.
  • Ability to detach a leg to become a monopod.

Tripod Head

Just as a sturdy tripod is a necessity, so is a functional solid tripod head. A ball head typically is the norm, but here are a few other features to consider:

  • 360-degree panning with markings
  • Does it use the Arca-Swiss Quick Release System
  • Lever or twist release nob for the Quick-Release System
  • A base leveler option

Camera L-Bracket

A truly convenient accessary that allows you to minimize tripod head reset as you alternate between landscape or portrait modes. You will need to select a bracket that matches your tripod head camera mount. I use the Really Right Stuff Modular Plate specifically designed for my Sony mirrorless camera.

Remotes and Shutter Releases

An essential item to avoid camera vibration when taking a photo or to aid in long exposures beyond the bulb mode. Features to choose from are wireless, wired, timer, or enhanced remote trigger options. These remote triggers offer additional capabilities to assist with: timelapses, startrails, HDR, sound triggers, laser beam break triggers, lightning triggers, droplet sensing triggers, smile detection triggers, and motion detection triggers. With the addition of Bluetooth and WiFi functionality added into cameras, several manufacturers offer smartphone apps. It is advisable to go out with at least a wired and wireless option that were both tested prior to heading out. Here are my options use:

Camera Bag or Carry Systems

An essential item needed to carry your gear is a bag. There is a lot of recommendations out there, but by far most photographers recommend a dedicated photography bag that can carry your gear comfortably. Here is a link that could be helpful in determining you carrying systems options. I employ several options. I am found of carrying my gear in a hiking bag that offers a back venting. The option depends on the distance, but if I am transporting my gear to a location, then you’ll see the specific camera bag listed below along with the two hiking bags I use.

Photography Accessories

Here is a listing of my supporting photographic accessories that I depend upon.

Personal Gear

The following are useful personal gear that are worth considering to having available.

Besides relying on experience, credit goes to these additional web sources for reminders and inspiration in useful accessories that offer tremendous payoff. Since I am a Sony gear guy, this wonderful B&H video by Colby Brown is most helpful.

Websites referred to for this post are:

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