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5 Best Cameras for Landscape Photography in 2021 (With the Lenses)

5 Best Cameras for Landscape Photography 2021


Look:

I firmly believe that buying specialized photo gear should be a fun process. And to make your life easier, I created this list with the 5 best landscape cameras for 2021 (across various price points). 

It gets better:

I included the best lens for landscape photography that is recommended for each mirrorless and DSLR presented in this article.

So, this buying guide should be useful, especially if your primary task is travel and still-life photography.

Here is a quick overview of what to expect today:

5 Best Landscape Cameras This Year (2021)


  • Nikon D5500 – Sweet beginner DSLR for portrait and landscape photography.
  • Pentax K-1 – One of the best budget full-frame DSLRs for shooting landscapes.
  • Nikon D810 – Great landscape camera (plus an alternative option for scenery).
  • Sony a7R II – One of the top rated mirrorless cameras for landscape photography.
  • Nikon D850 – Best DSLR if you need an uncompromisingly high image quality.


FYI: When choosing which product to include, I didn’t focus on the ‘latest and the greatest’, but rather on great price-quality ratio options, even if they are older models.

In any case, whether you’re a complete newbie or an enthusiast, bootstrapped or not, you’ll find a good option that works best for your needs, skills, and budget.

Here’s a table that’ll give you a quick look of my roundup and the reasons to buy the product. For further details, simply click ‘review>’ in respective row.

Product

Image

Reasons to Get It

1. Nikon D5500

Best landscape DSLR for newbies

  • accurate Auto mode work

  • articulated touchscreen

  • high image detail and AF

  • great price/quality ratio

2. Pentax K-1

Budget full-frame landscape camera

  • excellent image quality

  • 5-axis stabilization

  • unique tilting LCD screen

  • full featured Live View

3. Nikon D810

Best "FX" value in the Nikon lineup

  • advanced ergonomics

  • amazing color rendering

  • 36 MP & 5 fps burst rate

  • highest detail of images

4. Sony a7R II

If you're nerdy for all new features

  • high resolution = 42 MP

  • no OLPF = better detail

  • great for variety of genres

  • top quality photo & video

5. Nikon D850

High end gear for pro level photos

  • highest resolution = 45 MP

  • fast & tenacious focusing

  • burst rate of 7 fps

  • best for all photo purposes

Now…

Let’s start with the one at a low-price point that will allow you to take pretty awesome photos – the Nikon D5500.


1. Best Starter DSLR for Landscape Photography


Nikon D5500 DX-format Digital SLR Body (Black)

Nikon D5500

  • Type: Compact SLR
  • Weight: 420g
  • Sensor size: APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
  • Resolution: 24 MP
  • LCD: Fully articulated
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Weather resistant: No
  • ISO: Auto, 100 – 25600

 Reasons to Buy

  • accurate work in Auto mode
  • articulated touch screen
  • fast autofocus & decent burst rate
  • low noise level up to ISO 3200
  • good color rendition & image detail
  • built-in Wi-Fi
  • in-camera image processing
  • best affordable camera for landscape photography in 2021

 Reasons to Avoid

  • no built-in GPS
  • not weather-sealed
  • not too much buffer space when shooting in RAW + JPG


Look:

If you’re looking for the best budget Nikon camera for scenery photography, especially as a beginner, then this DSLR might be your best bet.

I would say that it’s an entry-level option for advanced beginners that came to replace the Nikon D5300, and it was the first Nikon model equipped with an articulated touch screen.

If you end up picking up the D5500 model, you will realize that this one is capable of shooting different scenes and all images do come out great.

Just like with all modern Nikon cameras, when shooting in low-light conditions, you can rely on this model’s confident work.

Now:

When it comes to landscape photos, you can boldly raise ISO up to 1600 without worrying about loss of detail and the image noise. This is the case where D5500’s autofocus, along with continuous shooting, demonstrates decent speed and accuracy. 

Being their first DSLR with a touch screen, Nikon company succeeded at making this implementation a successful one. Its touch screen reacts very quickly, and navigating through the menu has become faster and easier.

The only thing that bothered me a little (and probably will you too) was the lack of a GPS in this model.

Let me remind you that one of my recommended DSLRs for beginners, the Nikon D5300, does have it. (This model also made the list of my top 9 list of the best Nikon lineup in 2021).

The thing is that for travel and landscape photography, location matters.

On the other hand, advanced amateur photographers will always be able to purchase an external GPS module if they wish to. For those who do not need it, the D5500 will cost less.

  • Recommended Lens for Nikon D5500

Usually the kit lenses aren’t that sharp, that’s why Sigma 18-55mm f/1.8 lens is being recommended specifically for landscapes. I mean, this lens is incredibly sharp.

Important: Make sure you pick it up in a Nikon mount!

At a low price point you are going to get fantastic images out of Nikon D5500 and Sigma 18-55mm f/1.8 lens combo.


Best Affordable Camera for Landscape Photography 2021


Arguably, Nikon D5500 is the best affordable camera for landscape photography (for beginners).

I’ll say more:

For hobby photographers, it will be a real godsend. Accurate and confident work in auto mode will produce high-quality images even for inexperienced amateurs.

The presence of built-in filters and the possibility of in-camera image processing will improve your images even without using a computer.

In favor of the D5500 also speaks its universality.

(It is equally suitable for most genres, stably producing quality photos.)

Now…

If you use use Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 lens, then this entry-level DSLR will be a great option for landscape photography at the lowest price possible

==> Read my full review on D5500.



2. Top Rated Budget Full-Frame Camera Today


Pentax K-1 Mark II 36MP Weather Resistant DSLR with 3.2

Pentax K-1

  • Type: Mid-size SLR
  • Weight: 1010 g
  • Sensor size: FX (35.9 x 24 mm)
  • Resolution: 36 MP
  • LCD: Tilting
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Weather resistant: Yes
  • ISO: Auto, 100-204800
  • Built-in GPS: Yes

 Reasons to Buy

  • excellent image quality: low noise, the widest dynamic range
  • 5-axis stabilization
  • unique tilting screen
  • two SD-card slots
  • full-featured Live View mode
  • Pixel Shift, AstroTracer feature, anti-moire
  • convenient shooting in RAW (PEF), JPEG, and in the universal DNG format
  • built-in GPS and Wi-Fi
  • low price for this category

 Reasons to Avoid

  • not the most advanced AF for a FX DSLR
  • small coverage area for phase AF
  • low speed of continuous shooting (for sports/action photographers)
  • when using Pixel Shift, HDR shooting and other technologies that load the processor, will make it work a bit slower


I’ll say this:

Pentax K-1 certainly is suitable for any type of shooting. (If you can afford the Mark II model, even better.)

Basically it will be appropriate in your hunting for landscape frames, and for artistic portraits alike.

It is also a great option for other professional photography genres, including wedding, interior, and product photography.

I also feel that Pentax K-1 will be interesting for those who are choosing their first full-frame DSLR. To such photographers, this Pentax model will offer a lot for a relatively small price tag.

Why?

Because we have a camera that offers a very effective optical stabilization system, the image quality of is magnificent (!), offers the widest dynamic range and low noise level, it’s flexible in RAW processing… (just to name a few).

Aren’t these qualities the most important thing to photographers?

Pentax K-1 Mark II 36MP Weather Resistant DSLR with 3.2

Without doubt, its fairly affordable price is a HUGE advantage.

In the segment of the top full-frame DSLRs, the Pentax K-1 is one of the best budget FX cameras for landscape photography that you can find in 2021.

(You know how expensive they can be!)

Now…

What are the disadvantages? – you may ask.

I personally think that the design and interface seem to be a bit “damp”.

What I mean by that is that:

  • controls duplicate each other,
  • a strange choice of functions for the Smart Function,
  • and many “superfluous” modes, differing from each other only by the possibility (or impossibility) of using auto-ISO.

Truth is:

All this requires optimization and rationalization. The abundance of “unique technologies” also makes Pentax K-1 quite difficult mastering. 

I’m not trying to scare you away from Pentax K-1 but please understand that if you plan on getting it, you’ll need some time to get used to it. It needs to be adjusted for you.

  • Recommended Lens for Pentax K-1

If you want to create sweet landscape shots, it is recommended that you pair up your Pentax K-1 with Pentax 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.

On a full-frame DSLR like the new Pentax K-, this lens captures an angle of 74º in the horizontal direction when you set it at 24mm.

And that is GOOD for landscape photography.


Great Budget Friendly Full-Frame Option


A big step up from Nikon D5500 is Pentax K-1, which has an amazing sensor stacking technology, paired with the Pentax 24-70 f/2.8 lens.

Who is this product for?

It is clear that professionals are unlikely to abandon their camera systems that they use now and go for Pentax instead.

However, K-1 has everything to be a professional tool:

It not only gives excellent quality of images, but it has huge shutter speed, and is weather sealed (which I find to be important for landscape photographers).

Definitely worth it for enthusiasts landscape and creative photographers, looking for their first full frame DSLR.

==> Read my review here.



3. Best ‘Full Frame’ Value in the Nikon Line-Up


Nikon D810 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body

Nikon D810

  • Type: Mid-size SLR
  • Weight: 980g
  • Sensor size: Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm)
  • Resolution: 36 MP
  • LCD: Fixed
  • Touchscreen: None
  • Weather resistant: Yes
  • ISO: Auto, 64-12800

 Reasons to Buy

  • the highest detail of the images & excellent color rendering
  • quality picture up to ISO 3200-6400
  • high burst of rate considering its resolution
  • large buffer when shooting in JPG
  • excellent autofocus
  • advanced ergonomics & extensive control settings
  • dust and moisture protection
  • video shooting up to 1080 @ 60p
  • microphone and headphone output
  • working with 2 memory cards

 Reasons to Avoid

  • relatively high cost
  • the possibility of moire (occasionally)
  • a small buffer when shooting in RAW and S-RAW


Here’s the deal:

Nikon D810 is a modern full-frame DSLR, designed primarily for those photographers who need uncompromisingly high image quality.

(Which sure is the case with landscape/nature photography.)

Thanks to the 36-megapixel sensor without an optical low-pass filter, this Nikon model provides the highest detail among all digital SLRs.

I must warn you though…

The control interface of the D810 is designed for an experienced photographer, and amateurs may find it way too complicated.

This being said, it may take quite a long time for a beginner photographer to learn the tips and tricks of the cameraBut the efficiency of control is at an altitude thanks to the abundance of individual buttons and selectors, as well as the possibility of fine-tuning many of them.

Here’s the kicker:

Its pretty high burst rate and excellent autofocus allows you to use the D810 for reportage and documentary photography too.

(In case landscape photography isn’t the only favorite genre of yours.)

A word on resolution.

Don’t be afraid of high resolutions. When shooting with insufficient lighting, it allows a more effective noise reduction.

In addition to that, you always have the opportunity to take pictures with a lower resolution, including in the S-RAW format.

The advantages of D810 include:

  • excellent ergonomics,
  • a waterproof body,
  • an ability to work with two flash drives, and,
  • a convenient optical viewfinder with an exhaustive set of output parameters.

On a separate note, I want to mention the video mode. Nikon D810 is maximally adapted for professional video shooting.

It allows you to use external microphones and headphones, record uncompressed stream from the HDMI-output, and save on the flash drive rollers up to 1080 @ 60p.

There is even a special Picture Control profile, which gives the maximum color correction capabilities for post-processing of video – Flat.

But any, even the most expensive tech gear, has its drawbacks. What are those?

In my opinion, the disadvantages of the Nikon D810 include a relatively high cost, the possibility to face the moiré effect (in rare cases), as well as not too much buffer capacity when shooting in RAW.

  • Recommended Lens for Nikon D810

While there are many lenses that you could use for this genre, you might want to start with Nikkor AF-S 16-35mm f/4 G and then go from there in the future.

Now, I know that Nikon D810 might be a bit pricey, so there is a great, cheaper alternative: Nikon D750 with Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 lens.

==> Check out my Nikon D750 review (a cheaper alternative to D810)


Best Camera for Nature Photography in 2021


Without a doubt:

Nikon D810 with Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 lens sure is a great option. You will find that it will be especially useful in:

  • landscapes,
  • wedding, and,
  • advertising photography. 

Thanks to the 36-megapixel sensor without an optical low-pass filter, this Nikon model provides excellent color rendering and offers the highest detail of the image. 

FYI: D750 is a fantastic DSLR and lens (and significantly more affordable than D810 with Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 lens).

I’ve written reviews on both, so I highly suggest you check them out.

==> Click here to read my FULL review on D810.



4. Sweet Mirrorless Camera for Landscape Shots


Sony Alpha a7II Mirrorless Digital Camera - Body Only

Sony a7R II

  • Type: SLR-style mirrorless
  • Weight: 625 g
  • Sensor size: Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm)
  • Resolution: 42 MP
  • LCD: Tilting
  • Touchscreen: None
  • Weather resistant: Yes
  • ISO: Auto, 100-25600 (expands to 50-102400)

 Reasons to Buy

  • highest resolution = 42 megapixels
  • absence of optical low-pass filter
  • low noise up to ISO 6400
  • wide dynamic range
  • effective stabilizer
  • silent shutter
  • advanced ergonomics with a customizable interface
  • improved hybrid autofocus
  • large viewfinder
  • 4K-video shooting
  • WiFi & other additional features
  • two batteries and a charger included

 Reasons to Avoid

  • relatively high price tag
  • not instant switch-on time
  • unusual interface for old-school (SLR) photographers


As of 2021, the newer Sony a7R models are probably THE best hybrid (mirrorless) camera, but I decided to include the Mark II version here as a cheaper alternative. 

So, this section here is for those who are looking for the best mirrorless under $5000, including the lens recommended here.

With Amazon deals, you might even get a better price. (Speaking of which, see my guide on how to find good photography deals.)

Anyway…

Sony Alpha A7R II is a symbolic model which has gathered all of Sony’s most advanced technologies.

This product has amazing photo and video capabilities, as well as presents one the latest developments in the field of microelectronic production.

The sensor has 42 megapixels which is not the record one but it was the first full-frame sensor in the world, created using the BSI technology.

Note

In a classic CMOS sensor, the photosensitive element is surrounded by “strapping” and numerous conductors. The real area of the photosensitive element is never equal to the area of the pixel.

A bit of history here:

The use of BSI-technology some time ago allowed tiny smartphones’ sensors to reach such a high level of quality that they were able to compete with cameras.

Then BSI-sensors then came to be introduced in point-and-shooters, significantly raising the bar of quality. And now we see this technology being introduced in one of the world’s best mirrorless body.

Back to our topic…

The Sony Alpha A7R Mark II sensor has no optical low-pass filter. As a result, this further increases the detailization of images.

And by the way, you won’t see a lot of moire in the photos. (The specificity of multi-megapixel sensors is that it’s really hard to get moire on them.)

In a nutshell, Sony a7R II has…

  • well-developed ergonomics,
  • finely tuned interface,
  • professional video shooting with a resolution of up to 4K,
  • and an effective optical stabilizer,

… all of which are enclosed in a really compact body.


Add to this combo an excellent speed and hybrid autofocus (compared to previous Sony models).

Are there cons with Sony Alpha A7R II?

Certainly.

The main one is its price tag. Something unique simply cannot be cheap.

Also, an unusual interface may confuse the “old-school” (DSLR) photographers when testing out this mirrorless monster for the first time.

  • Recommended Lens for Sony a7R II

Sony 24-70 and 16-35mm f/2.8 are absolutely stellar lenses for landscape photography.


Awesome Mirrorless for Nature Photography


Truth is…

Sony A7R II is the perfect choice for those photographers and videographers who need the highest possible technical quality.

If you’re involved with:

  • stock photography business,
  • nature/landscapes and wildlife,
  • advertising,
  • work in a studio,
  • and are a travel photographer (videographer),

… then Sony Alpha A7R Mark II is for you.

This camera can always be at hand and provide excellent results in any conditions. What else can you ask for?



5. Best DSLR for Landscape Photography 2021


Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera Body

Nikon D850

  • Type: Mid-size SLR
  • Weight: 1005 g
  • Sensor size: Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm)
  • Resolution: 45 MP
  • LCD: Tilting
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Weather resistant: Yes
  • GPS feature: None
  • ISO: Auto, 64-25600 (32-102400)

 Reasons to Buy

  • high resolution 45.4 Mp
  • excellent work at high ISO, low noise level up to ISO 6400
  • wide dynamic range, flexibility in processing RAW files
  • ease of use: improved grip, button illumination, high resolution inclined display
  • touch screen & optical viewfinder with 100% frame coverage
  • quiet shutter & noiseless Live View shooting
  • fast and tenacious focusing
  • high speed of continuous shooting (7 fps), capacious buffer
  • 30 fps 4K video shooting
  • support of modern fast memory cards XQD and SD UHS-II

 Reasons to Avoid

  • a bit slow focusing of contrast type in Live View mode
  • challenging for beginner photographers


Truth is:

If you want to go more with an old-school options then Nikon D850 is the best DSLR all around that you can get in 2021.

The Nikon D850 is not just an upgrade of the good old D800 (which, in fact, was the D810). It’s a completely new model with a lot of interesting and practical features.

Here’s the thing:

This type of gear can often be found in the hands of professionals as they have proven themselves in various types of shooting such as wedding, studio, and/or landscape.

So…

If you’re a beginner, you might want to consider entry-level DSLRs instead, such as:


Anyway:

Despite the avalanche of various innovations, the main intrigue in the Nikon D850 remains its sensor. This was the first time that a BSI-CMOS sensor was used in Nikon products. 

As I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s designed to provide better results when working at high ISO.

Also, for the first time the sensor has such a high resolution of 45 MP. At the output, we get images up to 8256 × 5504 pixels. There is no low-pass filter on the sensor (which is a good thing).

You might ask… 

“Why do I need so many megapixels”? Well, it’s like with time and money: you can’t have it too much. 🙂

Here’s how it works:

  • More image detail – the more freedom you have in everything.
  • High resolution allows you to print photos in large format, gives room for framing and greater flexibility in processing.

For example: Retouching a portrait or a subject photo becomes much more convenient if the shot is taken in high resolution.

That is why cameras with higher resolution are so loved by studio and landscape photographers.

However…

Classic studio DSLRs are rarely equipped with an equally powerful autofocus and do not have such a fast continuous shooting.

This means that Nikon D850 will give a high resolution not only to photographers working in the studio and with landscapes, but also to all those involved with the reportage shooting.

It’s absolutely worth mentioning that the DSLR combines high speed with incredible detail of images, and allows you to make high-quality shots in any conditions, including in poor lighting at high values of ISO.

Now…

While this product is great, it’s for a specific target audience, that is, the experienced pros. So I don’t recommend it for total beginners, as there are no guide modes available and it will definitely be challenging for them to master.

  • Recommended Lens for Nikon D850

As a landscape photographer you will want to get the 24-70mm f/2.8 VR lens to pair it up with Nikon D850.

An Amazing High-End Landscape DSLR


Without doubt:

Nikon D850 is a universal creative tool and positioned by the manufacturer as a model for professionals and advanced enthusiasts.

(More professional in the Nikon lineup is only the Nikon D5, but it is oriented to a different field of application: it is a quick burst-rate SLR in a killer body, created for reporters.)

Generally speaking…

The Nikon D8** series are associated not only with an amazing resolution, but also with versatility and reliability.

D850 is also protected from moisture and dust.

(After all, being environmentally sealed allows this DSLR to work in the most difficult weather conditions.)

Bottom line:

If you get Nikon D850 with 24-70mm f/2.8 VR lens, you’ll have an amazing tool for your landscape photography masterpieces.



5 Best Landscape Cameras Right Now (2021)


The best camera to use for landscape photography for 2021. Examples of beautiful landscapes.
Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park, California, USA.

All the aforementioned products are absolutely great for landscape photography, whatever your budget is.

The fact is:

All of the above were/are used by professional photographers and it shows that the quality really is top-notch (especially Sony a7R II and Nikon D850).

Almost all of them are environmentally-sealed which means that as a landscape photographer, you will be able to shoot in any weather condition. And all the lenses chosen here are great for this genre.

Note: As many of you may know, it’s the lens you have that’s more important.

So:

If you are on a budget, it might be a better idea to get a cheaper option but a stellar lens. (For example, getting Nikon D5500 and a Sigma 15-55mm f/1.8 lens with it).

And if you are a beginner, check out Photography Pro online courses to build a solid foundation for your future as a photographer.

Anyway…

I really hope you enjoyed this list of the best cameras and lenses for landscape photography and let me know which one you found most suitable for you.

One last thing to mention:

If you are into sports, action or wildlife, keep in mind that unlike landscapes, sports and action requires fast focusing and high frame rate.

Therefore you’ll need different digital cameras and lenses for sports.


Choosing the Camera for Scenery Photography


Now…

I’d like to hear from YOU:

  • What is your level of photography skills?
  • Are you more into DSLRs or mirrorless options?
  • Which of the aforementioned digital cameras appealed to you the most for shooting nature/landscape photography in 2021?

Let me know in the comments below!


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