If you are into landscape photography, you might be wondering which camera on the market today is the best. With so many great cameras out there, it is hard to pick a winner. We decided to put together a detailed guide that shows the top cameras we recommend for your landscape photography needs. It is important to note that every single tool in the list below has been tested extensively by our team members, so we only provide recommendations based on our real world experience.
While most digital cameras can work great for landscape photography, some are going to be better than others based on such metrics as total megapixels, dynamic range, in-camera features and lens selection.
Landscape photographers often desire cameras that have as many megapixels as possible, as wide of dynamic range as possible, great battery life, in-camera features such as focus stacking, as well as ability to withstand tough weather conditions. Often times, high ISO performance, high frame rates, deep buffers and fast autofocus systems are of little use for landscape photographers.
At the same time, other features such as in-body image stabilization (IBIS) can be quite helpful, especially when cameras are able to take advantage of sensor movements in order to track stars or to create high-resolution images using pixel shift technology. Ability to capture more dynamic range when shooting at higher ISOs, as well as ability to focus easily in low-light conditions can also be vital for those who shoot the night sky. So if you are into astrophotography, you might need to evaluate such criteria separately when picking a particular camera or camera system.
Lastly, it is important to point out that a good camera for landscape photography requires a solid selection of high-performance lenses. A landscape photographer should be able to pick lenses based on their particular needs and their budget.
Although many photographers continue to rely on DSLR cameras that have a proven track record for landscape photography needs, some are shifting towards mirrorless systems. Both certainly have their advantages and disadvantages, and depending on your needs, you might want to evaluate each to see what works better for you.
Lastly, sensor size is going to dictate the size of the overall system, its weight, as well as its overall cost. While medium format digital cameras offer the best overall image quality for landscape photographers, they are often large, heavy and very expensive. For these and other reasons, most enthusiast and professional landscape photographers often choose full-frame DSLR and mirrorless cameras for their needs. Still, even full-frame cameras can end up being too heavy and expensive for many hobbyists, which leaves APS-C and smaller sensor systems as the best choices. In this article, we will first go over our top camera picks for landscape photography, then go over some of the budget options.
As of 2020, there are many mirrorless cameras available from a variety of different manufacturers, including Panasonic, Olympus, Fujifilm, Hasselblad, Sony, Nikon, Canon and Leica. Most of these cameras are capable of exceptional image quality, thanks to their high resolution image sensors, wide dynamic range and superb built-in features, making them all perfectly suitable for landscape photography. Let’s take a closer look at the six cameras we picked from different manufacturers. The below list is sorted by our order of preference, although every camera we present is more than capable of yielding exceptional images.
Fujifilm GFX 50S
Our top pick is the Fujifilm GFX 50S, the only medium format camera that we decided to include in our top cameras for landscape photography. The Fujifilm GFX 50S is a superb choice for landscape photography for many reasons. First, it has a high resolution 50 MP sensor that produces images with very wide dynamic range. Second, it has a wide selection of exceptionally good lenses suitable for landscape photography, as well as all kinds of useful accessories and bellows from both Fujifilm and third party manufacturers. And lastly, Fujifilm provided plenty of in-camera tools in the GFX 50S specifically for landscape photography needs such as easy to use focus stacking, bracketing, focus peaking and on-screen histograms to assist photographers in yielding optimal exposure.
Its cheaper and lighter brother, the GFX 50R is also an excellent camera, but we favor the GFX 50S over it due to its superior ergonomics and better balance when using GF-series lenses. The camera that we expect to top this list once we use it in the field is going to be the new Fujifilm GFX 100, which looks better than the GFX 50S in almost every way.
See our detailed review of the Fujifilm GFX 50S for more information about this camera.
Although mirrorless cameras have been gaining quite a bit of traction lately for a number of reasons (see mirrorless vs DSLR), they still have some catching up to do with DSLRs when it comes to things like battery life and lens selection. For landscape photography needs in particular, none of the camera manufacturers have made tilt / shift lenses yet, so one has to either use adapters with them, or resort to bellows systems to be able to tilt the plane of focus. Nikon has a wide array of tilt / shift lenses available today and although they are quite expensive, they are among the many lenses available for the system, giving lots of different options for landscape photographers.
After testing out the Nikon D850, our team at PL agreed that it is the most complete DSLR on the market today. Thanks to its phenomenal 45 MP sensor with the capability to go down as low as ISO 64 and yield class-leading dynamic range performance, proven Nikon ergonomics and easy to use menu system, rich lens selection, excellent in-camera features, great weather sealing and amazing battery life, the Nikon D850 is our top recommendation among all full-frame cameras on the market today for landscape photography needs.
For more information, see our in-depth Nikon D850 review.
Another Nikon DSLR that we highly recommend is the older D810, which is another phenomenal camera for landscape photography needs. We did not include it in this list because of the D850 that replaced it. Personally, I decided to keep shooting with my Nikon D810 even after the D850 release, because it was such a phenomenal camera. I later sold it off in favor of the Nikon Z7, which I talk about below.
Sony A7R III
While both the original Sony A7R and its second revision suffered from a number of issues, Sony really came around and addressed most of our concerns with the release of the A7R III. Thanks to its superb 42 MP BSI CMOS sensor that yields excellent dynamic range, great battery life and rich lens selection, the Sony A7R III is our top pick among full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market today. While the initial version lacked a built-in intervalometer, Sony went back and added it in its firmware 3.0, which is something many landscape photographers anticipated for a while. Getting rid of the store in the A7-series to buy extra features was a great move on behalf of Sony, as it is something that irritated us for a long time.
Sony has also done an amazing job with its lens releases, giving plenty of options from ultra-wide angle to super telephotos for landscape photographers. Its willingness to open up the E mount and work with third party lens manufacturers resulted in addition of many third party lens options in a relatively short amount of time, which is an amazing achievement on behalf of Sony. Our biggest criticism of the Sony A7R III lies with its ergonomics and poorly organized menu system, which can make it painful for photographers to use the camera in the field.
Pentax K-1 / K-1 II
Another well-rounded DSLR in our list is the Pentax K-1, which rightfully earns its spot, thanks to its 36 MP CMOS sensor with 5-axis IBIS that is capable of taking high-resolution images with pixel-shift technology. With pixel-shift, the Pentax K-1 is able to yield highly detailed, noise-free images up to 42 MP. While 42 MP might not sound like a lot when we have 45 and 50 MP cameras on this list, it actually yields more pixel-level details compared to other cameras. In addition, the ability to move the image sensor also allows the Pentax K-1 to capture moving stars with its “AstroTracer” feature, making the K-1 arguably the best camera in the list for astrophotography needs. The Pentax K-1 comes with a great set of in-camera features for landscape photography, including built-in GPS and Compass which automatically get written into every captured image, which can be helpful for tracking movement and position of the camera.
Pentax replaced the original K-1 with the K-1 II in early 2018, which provides even more features such as hand-held pixel shift mode, superior AF tracking algorithm and other improvements to its pixel shift feature. All this makes it worthwhile to upgrade to the latest version.
While the Z7 might be Nikon’s first attempt at a high-resolution mirrorless camera, it is a strong contender in our list of best cameras for landscape photography needs thanks to its strong overall performance. It mirrors the Nikon D850 sensor and its ISO / dynamic range capabilities, comes with very effective in-body image stabilization (IBIS), and packs everything (and more) the D850 has to offer in terms of in-camera features designed for landscape photography, all with a smaller and lighter footprint. Its biggest negatives are comparably poor battery life, limited native lens selection, awkward to use FTZ adapter and a single XQD card slot. Spencer and I do not consider these to be deal breakers, which is why we included the Z7 in our list of top cameras for landscape photography.
So far we have used the Nikon Z7 extensively for local and international travel, and aside from a little wear on the rubber grip, we cannot identify any serious issues that would prevent us from recommending the camera to our readers. We absolutely love Nikon’s implementation of IBIS, which allows us to hand-hold the Z7 even in very low light situations, and we have been praising Nikon’s Z mount lenses, which have all been exceptionally good (for the most part). With the recent $600 price drop on the Z7, it has become an even more attractive option for landscape photographers. Still, we do want Nikon to pay more attention to firmware updates, so we created our detailed wishlist of camera features we would like to see on Nikon Z-series cameras. Lastly, we really hope Nikon continues to push for high-quality Nikon Z lenses and releases more lens options for landscape photography needs (Z 70-200mm f/2.8 / f/4, Z 20mm f/1.4 / f/1.8, Z 24mm f/1.4 / f/1.8, etc).
Canon EOS 5DS R
Last, but not least, is the Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR. The 5DS R is a top choice for Canon shooters, thanks to its 50.6 MP CMOS sensor and lack of low-pass filter, which results in extremely detailed images with enough resolution to print billboard-sized images. In addition to excellent ergonomics and easy to understand menu system, the Canon EOS 5DS R has a tough magnesium alloy construction, superb weather sealing and great battery life to make the camera a very practical tool for landscape photography. Similar to Nikon, Canon has an extensive choice of top quality lenses for landscape photography – everything from ultra-wide angle and tilt / shift, to super telephoto. My personal favorites for landscape photography are the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM and Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, as well as Canon’s excellent line-up of tilt-shift lenses like the Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L and Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II.
Unfortunately, Canon has not updated the 5DS R for several years now, making it look somewhat outdated compared to its competition (and even its own DSLR and mirrorless cameras). It is unclear whether Canon is going to discontinue the 5DS R line in favor of its new mirrorless offerings in the future, as we have been seeing a rather aggressive release of high-quality RF-mount lenses, which would all work great in a future high-resolution mirrorless camera body. Either way, the Canon EOS 5DS R is still worthy of being listed as one of the best cameras on the market today for landscape photography needs.
Best Budget Camera for Landscape Photography
If you are not ready to spend thousands of dollars on a medium format or a full-frame system, you might want to consider a few budget-friendly options with smaller sensors that offer a bit less resolution. Many photographers who do landscape photography as a hobby might want to consider these cameras, which we have had good experience with:
- Fujifilm X-T2 / X-T3 – Our top picks among APS-C cameras are the X-T2 and X-T3, both of which offer great image quality with a relatively small footprint.
- Nikon D7500 – Nikon’s enthusiast-grade DSLR with an APS-C sensor offers wide dynamic range and a solid selection of Nikkor lenses
- Nikon D5600 – Another great choice for those on a lower budget is the Nikon D5600, which is capable of amazing image quality, even when coupled with kit lenses
- Canon EOS 80D – A strong 24 MP camera from Canon that can be coupled with an extensive list of Canon EF and EF-S lenses to deliver stunning results
- Canon EOS T7i – Sporting a similar 24 MP sensor as the 80D, the T7i is another great camera from Canon
- Sony A6000-series – Sony’s A6000-series cameras are all very good mirrorless options for landscape photography needs
What camera do you shoot landscapes with and why? Please let us know in the comments section below!