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beginner landscape photography camera

Best Beginner Landscape Photography Camera in 2021

If you are a beginner looking for the best beginner landscape photography camera, prepare to have your senses overwhelmed with choices, information and recommendations.   There are going to be plenty of people out there trying to sell you on certain brands, features, capabilities and accessories. 

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Please note that this post may contain associate links to various products or services. If you use one of these links to make a purchase I get a small fee from them, at no addition cost to you

Let’s start off with a brief discussion on what you are actually trying to achieve with landscape photography.  Then we will map some features and budget considerations onto that.  From there we can propose some solid choices for the best beginner landscape photography camera.

Colors and details are key for landscape

When it comes to landscape photography, photos should be all about a sense of being there.  The wide-open space with familiar outdoor objects.  The sky with puffy white clouds.  Leafy green trees big or small. Bodies of water or mountains, desert colors or rainbows, etc. 

You’re going to need a camera capable of capturing the colors, dynamic lighting and the magnificent detail of the scene.  That’s going to add up to a higher pixel count, at least 20 megapixels.   Also, picture style settings that account for and adjust to the colors in a typical landscape scene.

Lens type and quality are going to be a major factor as well.  We’ll talk more about that further down.

beginner landscape photography camera
Sunrise in Terrebonne, Oregon

Best Beginner Landscape Photography Camera in 2021

Best camera settings for landscape photography

Some discussion of the best camera settings for landscape photography will help to understand the capabilities you will need.  If you are going to get the best beginner landscape photography camera, it should have many of the capabilities you will eventually need.

You can start taking photos in an automatic mode.  Where the camera makes all the decisions about shutter speed, sensitivity (ISO), aperture and so forth.  And it’s a great place to start.  Eventually you will need to take some control over your camera to optimize for the opportunities at hand.



One very handy setting is the ability to change the auto-focus trigger away from the shutter button.  This is usually mapped to a different button on the back of the camera.  This is usually referred to as “back button focus”.   This allows you to lock the focus to a certain point of the scene you are shooting and then take a bunch of exposures.  This prevents the auto-focus system from re-engaging every time you press the button.  This setting is useful for all types of photography in addition to landscape.

Another handy function is the ability to shoot bracketed exposures.  Multiple images with varying degrees of exposure.  Hard as we try, we may not get the perfect exposure on every shot.  Having bracket images gives you addition ones to choose from.

Smith Rock State Park
Phoenix Buttress a large rock feature in Smith Rocks State Park, Oregon

Related Post: 5 Best Tripods For Every Budget

Buying into a brand, why does this matter

Once you take the plunge and buy into a brand, examples include: Canon, Nikon & Sony.  What comes along with that choice are all the lenses, peripherals and accessories designed to work with that specific camera brand.  Once you get one or two thousand dollars invested in equipment that only work with your brand, you are not likely to choose anything but that brand next time you upgrade and get a new camera.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just something to keep in mind when making your first purchase.  It’s a decision likely to influence many other future decisions.

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Budget is usually an important factor for a beginner

When you are just starting out, you are highly unlikely to go out and plunk down $3,500+ on a camera and lens.  So, the challenge at this point is to get good quality and feature sets with a modest outlay.  Probably in the $400 to $900 price range.  

There are several good options in that price range that will get you started now and set you up for nicely the future.  Also, with a lower cost option, don’t sink a ton of cash into lenses and accessories, changing brands if you desire on the next upgrade is far less painful. 

Several cameras come with a kit lens that will get you started and keep you going for a while.  On the other hand, a bit of extra investment now can forestall an upgrade as the camera will satisfy the need for a few years.  Only you can decide what’s right for you as you choose your beginner landscape photography camera.

Beginner Landscape Photography Camera
Foggy Morning at Trillium Lake in Oregon

Best Beginner Landscape Photography Camera in 2021

Best Beginner Landscape Photography Camera 

Here we go!  I am going to give you 3 choices.  I will also provide the pros, cons, and key features.  These will be listed in the order of preference based on what I personally believe to be the best choice.  All are between $450 and $500 which is the sweet spot for a beginner camera.



Beginner Landscape Photography Camera – #1 Choice

Canon T7

Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR digital camera

  • Current retail price was listed as $449.99 (at the time of this writing)
  • See on Amazon: Canon T7

Key Features:

  • 24.1 Megapixel resolution for crisp detail
  • Wifi & NFC connectivity for transferring images from camera
  • Remote control with SmartPhone
  • Capable of back button focus & exposure bracketing

Pros:

  • Canon is the leading brand when it comes to a full product line.  Especially lenses.  They have been around a long time and they know what they are doing.  No one has ever made a bad decision by going with Canon.
  • This is a full featured interchangeable lens DSLR camera.  Amazing capabilities for the price. The T7 shares many of the same features and capabilities as higher end professional models
  • Uses Canon’s full line of EF mount lens, which is the largest lens catalog of any brand.
  • Great price for a really nice camera!  Excellent beginner landscape photography camera.

Cons:

  • In order to keep the cost down to an affordable level, there are some compromises on specifications, but only a few.
  • Camera body is mostly high-grade plastic.  This keeps both the cost and the weight of the camera low.  But it is not as durable over time as the metallic bodies of higher end camera are.
  • APS-C cropped sensor not optimal for landscape but is still perfectly acceptable for a starter camera.  Read more about APS-C vs Full Frame


Beginner Landscape Photography Camera – #2 Choice

Sony A6000

Sony Alpha A6000 mirrorless digital camera

  • Current retail price was listed as $498.00 (at the time of this writing)
  • See on Amazon: Sony A6000

Key Features:

  • 24.3 Megapixel resolution for crisp detail
  • Wifi & NFC connectivity for transferring images from camera
  • OLED Electronic Viewfinder
  • Capable of back button focus & exposure bracketing

Pros:

  • Fast Autofocus system with continuous tracking mode
  • 11 frame per second continuous shooting mode (not really needed for landscape)
  • Low noise, higher ISO mode for better low light photography
  • Sony Alpha is generally highly rated camera for image quality
  • Solid choice for a beginner landscape photography camera

Cons:

  • APS-C cropped sensor not optimal for landscape but is still perfectly acceptable for a starter camera.
  • Sony’s line of “E” mount lenses is limited in selection and very expensive
  • Sony Alpha is generally poorly rated for the clumsiness of their camera settings menu system


Beginner Landscape Photography Camera – #3 Choice

Nikon D3500

Nikon D3500 DSLR digital camera

  • Current full retail price was listed as $449.99 (at the time of this writing)
  • See on Amazon: Nikon D3500

Key Features:

  • 24.2 Megapixel resolution for crisp detail
  • Wifi & Bluetoooth connectivity for transferring images from camera
  • Remote Trigger with SmartPhone
  • Capable of back button focus & exposure bracketing

Pros:

  • Nikon is another ubiquitous camera brand.  Many people love Nikon cameras, and they are a strong choice
  • Uses Nikon’s full line of F mount lens larger and cheaper than Sony
  • Good price for a good camera.  Reasonable choice for a beginner landscape photography camera

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive the same feature sets than Canon or Sony
  • Nikon has been struggling in the marketplace in 2020.  Unknown at this time if they will rebound or start to fade.
  • Lens catalog not as extensive as Canon and slightly more expensive
Challenge Photo St Johns Bridge
St Johns Bridge, foggy morning in Portland, Oregon
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Best Beginner Landscape Photography Camera in 2021

Accessories you should have now

There are a few things you are going to need right away, as these things will make your life much easier in the long run.  One is a spare battery for your camera.  Second is a sturdy tripod.  Third is a camera bag

Stay away from other sexy looking and sounding accessories for now.  They have their place, but that’s for later after you have some hours under your belt.  Experience will inform your accessory buying as you bump into capability limits and desire to explore beyond them.

Related Post: Best Canon Lens for Landscape Photography

Conclusion

My own first beginner landscape photography camera was the Canon T3.  All of the landscape photos in this post were taken by me using that exact camera.  At the time, the T3 occupied the same space that the T7 does now.  Aimed at beginners, priced approx. $450.00

I hope I’ve provided some good information for you and given you the right things to think about while choosing your beginner landscape photography camera.  All of the cameras above are good solid choices.  Based on my personal experience, I highly recommend taking a hard look at the Canon T7.

Best of luck to you on your camera choice and upcoming photography adventures.  Thanks for taking the time to read my opinions on the topic.

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