As many of you know this fall’s Texas Landscape Safari is scheduled for later this month (October 18 – 21, 2009) and I thought I’d help folks get ready by discussing some “tools of the trade” used by every good landscape photographer. So over the next two weeks I’ll be posting images of the gear I use along with some shots made possible by this gear. (Honestly, it’s just plain fun to “gear geek out” every once in a while)
A set of light-weight, good quality tripod legs is an essential tool in any landscape photographer’s rig. A tripod is the most important accessory a serious amateur photographer will invest in and one which should be chosen with great care. A good tripod can make the difference between a shot that “looks” tack sharp on the camera’s LCD and one that “is” tack sharp when printed at 24×36″. Remember, the number one cause of soft images isn’t poor focus, it’s camera movement.
Good quality tripod legs are not cheap and you can expect to pay somewhere between $400 – $800 (USD) depending upon the materials of construction, size and weight.
My favorite set of tripod legs are Gitzo’s GT1541T Traveller. They are made from carbon fiber and are very light-weight (2.1 lbs) but extremely strong and durable. They fold up to only 16″ in length, making them very easy to carry in a backpack but will support up to 17 lbs of camera and lens, which is just about any lens of 300mm or less with my Canon 5D Mark II body.
I’m an unabashed believer in Gitzo tripods (probably the only French product I’ve ever bought) and highly recommend them to any photographer. My set of Traveller legs has seen the extremes of heat, humidity, mud, sand, gravel and just plain dirt and they work as well now as the first day I bought them.
At $575 (USD) they’re not cheap but they’re light-weight, compact and durable as hell. You may buy four or five cameras over your lifetime as a landscape photographer but you’ll only need one Gitzo tripod!