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Good options for used camera and lens for landscape

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by KarlMan, Jan 16, 2020.

  1. KarlMan

    KarlMan New Member

    I'm recently retired and looking to get back into photography as a hobby (it’s been a long time!), and landscape is my target field (please forgive the awful pun). To be more precise, you can think of my use-case as wanting to produce great shots from halfway up a hill overlooking a beautiful valley on a misty morning (I know, romantic huh!, but it’s the kind of photography I like best).

    Sometimes I’ll be using a tripod and sometimes handheld. I expect that occasionally I’ll want to get some photos professionally printed, but probably no larger than 12x36 or thereabouts.

    I’m now looking for a good used camera and a wide angle zoom (maybe later I’ll look for primes but right now I think I need the flexibility of zoom to help get me re-started) up to a max budget of £1,500. I have a good tripod already and other accessories such as bags etc., so this budget is just for the camera and lens combo.

    I’m completely brand agnostic and have no legacy lenses to consider, although it would be great when I buy more lenses in the future that there’s a good used market to choose from. I don’t care about video, superfast shutter speeds, tracking focus, face-recognition or dual card slots etc, but won't complain if I get them anyway. Some weather sealing would be nice but not absolutely essential, and I’m open to DLSR or mirrorless, full frame or cropped. I’m assuming medium format is out of my budget, and maybe a bit too hefty for handheld and hauling up hillsides.

    OK, sorry my first post is a long one! But if you were me, what camera/lens combos would you be considering?

    Thanks in advance!
    daft_biker likes this.
  2. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    That's such an open question that there's no useful answer possible. The nearest thing to a useful answer is probably: go to camera shop and hold a few cameras. If one of them appeals and you can afford it: buy it. If you're happy to buy secondhand you have about 90% of the market to choose from.
  3. Bazarchie

    Bazarchie Well-Known Member


    Have a look at a Canon 5D iii and a Canon 17-40 L f4 or a Canon 16-35 L f4.
    EightBitTony likes this.
  4. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome. There aren’t any “bad” cameras really, especially if you stick to the last 3-5 years. The standard advice is that the “best” camera is the one you like to hold and use.

    I’d suggest looking at Fuji. There is lots of choice and the XF lenses are both very good and reasonably priced. Earlier Fuji’s (broadly the nomenclature X?-1 and X?-2 where ?is E for rangefinder style and T for SLR style) were a bit slow at focussing and processing. I have an XE-2 which is fine for landscape but not for sport. The latest XT-3 is very highly rated for everything. I also have an XH-1 which bombed in the market place but was launched as the top model. For me it feels pretty close in use to an SLR. Before Christmas they were giving them away at less than £1k new with grip.

    My preferred system is Canon but in my view the results from Fuji are just as good for landscape and the cameras are lighter and cheaper. I haven’t put it in the scales but 2 Fuji bodies +grip + 3 zoom lenses covering 10-200 mm between them fit in a bag that will just about take a Canon 5Ds + 24-105L and feels about the same to carry.
  5. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    Firstly, Andrew makes a good point - when I got back into photography I made the mistake of buying a camera without handling it first and despite the fact that there was absolutely nothing technically wrong with it, it was just too small for me to hold comfortably and as a result I didn't use it very much (that was a Fuji mirror-less camera).

    That said, I'm going to fly in the face of reason and make a recommendation based on nothing other than my own personal preferences!

    For a camera I'm going to suggest a used Nikon D810 (approx £850 - MPB). It's full frame (FX) and has a 36.3 megapixel sensor which captures a lot of detail and consequently allows you crop images without losing much in terms of quality. If the body alone is too small for you to comfortably handle, then a used MB-D12 battery grip (approx £90 - MPB) is a useful addition as well as doubling the battery capacity of the camera.

    As far as a lens is concerned, personally I'd go for a Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 lens (approx £730 - Ffordes) or if that's too much wide-angle-ness for you to bear and you want something a little more versatile, then the 24-70mm f2.8G (approx £650 - MPB or £620 - Ffordes) is also a very good choice.

    Both of the lenses I've suggested have excellent optical qualities and pair really well with the D810.

    I hope my horribly biased suggestions are of some help!

    Cheers, Jeff
    Learning and daft_biker like this.
  6. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    The most important thing you can do is handle the camera/s that are within your budget, with a suitable lens, and determine which is the most comfortable. If the camera has an optional grip, try it with and without said grip, it may make a difference.

    You may also want to consider whether you want to use a larger capacity battery; the D810 mentioned above can, with the grip, use a high capacity battery but battery and charger need to be purchased separately (third party battery and charger can be bought for under £100) a spare battery is also pretty much essential in my opinion. Additionally, you will need memory cards, a card reader and other minor accessories, you mention a tripod.

    I have a Pelican 1020 box full of odds and ends including sensor swabs, cleaning fluid and some spare parts etc. the contents are there because I have needed them in the past. Sooner or later you will need to clean a sensor and it will inevitably be somewhere that you can't buy the bits to do it. Budget for a sensor cleaning kit at least.

    Some people like to use a specific type of strap, my wife uses OP/TECH straps, not terribly expensive but something to consider.

    Finally, many landscape photographers use filters of various types, probably best to see how you get on and budget for these later if you need/want them.
    daft_biker likes this.
  7. pixelpuffin

    pixelpuffin Well-Known Member

    Hello Karl
    A big welcome from me

    lots of suggestions from other members

    I’ll base my suggestion if I were in your shoes.
    Walking and carrying a camera can be amazing...or it can be a heavy burden that stays at home.

    I would buck the trend, stay away from camera shops unless you want to be sold something right to the limit of your budget

    Me, I’d buy a used canon 70d off eBay
    Buy mint/boxed with low shutter count
    Pick up both the canon ef-s 10-18 is stm and 18-55 is stm lenses. They both should cost no more than £200 mint boxed for the pair off eBay

    I'm bias to canon as that is what I use.

    The 70d is still amazing, very lightweight
    Foldout touch screen. Can be controlled remotely by your phone once canon app is downloaded. This would be a huge bonus. If you have found your “view” you can set up. And then switch to remote handling and wait whilst the image comes together. Brilliant.

    As for full frame cameras and heavy L lenses. I’d leave that for now.

    If by the end of summer you don’t enjoy it, the kit will easily sell for your initial outlay.

    I can’t recommend high enough to keep it all simple.

    Have fun

    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
    daft_biker likes this.
  8. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    The problem with that approach is that if Karl doesn’t like the handling of Canon cameras he has to sell what he has bought before buying a Nikon to see if he prefers that. When visiting shops you have to keep quiet about the budget and just handle cameras based on some research e.g. MPB’s web site. I can’t over stress the importance of handling the various options before buying.
  9. pixelpuffin

    pixelpuffin Well-Known Member

    I realise that, and I also know that shop keepers will do their utmost to sell him a camera when he visits. Besides the massive depreciation he may or may not be allowed to return, especially if it gets scuffed. ( I just bought canon 80d used for £400 it was bought new off amazon May 2019 for £968. It is immaculate. Still under warranty.

    I don’t know Nikon, do they offer anything like for like??
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
  10. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Who said anything about buying new?

    Of course they do! As do Pentax, Fuji, Olympus etc.

    Sorry to go on but, if you buy a camera that you don't like using it will stay in its bag. It is really important to buy a camera that you really want to get out and use and you can only do that by handling them.
  11. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    All of the above but I would just point out that 16mm on full frame allows one get both ends of a rainbow into the shot and occasionally that makes a respectable shot into a cracker. Obviously scale for different formats.
    be careful or I will post one
  12. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    For lenses it is a matter of taste really. The basic thing is to try some lenses while in the shop trying the different cameras so that you can see the fields of view you get and judge what you need. Your vision of misty valleys shot from the hillside probably needs a short telephoto. I’ve always found that camera shops will let me take a camera/lens outside to test.

    It is especially important to try camera and third party lenses together before buying. Sigma in particular are good quality but can have compatibility problems between older lenses and modern bodies.

    My personal entry into digital was a Canon 5D in 2007. This is a full frame (35 mm) camera that came with a 24-105 mm kit lens. I still find this an extremely useful focal length range for landscape and general photography. My second buy was a 70-200 mm zoom for taking pictures of the kids while they played. My third was a 17-40 mm for “landscapes” motivated in part by the pictures that were appearing in magazines - almost every landscape shot using strong foreground and sharp back ground seemed to be taken with this lens. Mainly though it was because I was taking a lot of pictures of churches and the 24 mm wasn’t wide enough. I later bought a 24 mm tilt-shift lens for this purpose. I replaced the 17-40 with a 16-35 which is a better lens. I regard it as specialist and don’t that often go out with just the 16-35. I changed the 5D for a 5Ds a couple of years ago. This is a 50 MP camera and the detail is incredible.

    Fuji have a 1.5 crop. The standard lens is an 18-55 and you’ll see this as a standard lens across all the APS-C crop sensor cameras. Personally I find this lens frustrating (not wide enough, not long enough) because I am used to the 24-105 Canon. I aim to replace it with the new 16-80 mm. I have yet to see a used example for sale and AP haven’t renewed it yet. I carry a 10-24 mm for wide angle landscape. At 10 mm (fov 15 mm at full frame) I find the results a bit artificial but only at this extreme. I carry a 55-200 mm for longer focal lengths.

    I don’t know anything about the micro 4/3 cameras. They have a crop factor of 2.

    As you suppose medium format is not really that accessible price wise and isn’t properly medium format in film equivalent terms as the sensors are about twice 35 mm area. New a DSLR from Phase One is going to be upwards of 30k - they don’t much publish prices. I’d still expect used backs on Hassleblad or Mamiya bodies to be a few k. Fuji brought the entry barrier down to under 10k (body only). They have two models, one with 50 MP the later with 100 MP sensors. The lenses are reckoned excellent. Although the Fuji prices are high they aren’t stratospheric. The new Canon 1Dx iii launches at £6.5 k (body only) and I expect Nikon will follow. The mirrorless 35 mm cameras from Canon and Nikon that we’re launched last year are priced quite high and the lenses are more expensive than their 35 mm stablemates.
  13. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    You don't say much apart from '12x36', so I assume inches and not centimetres.

    I would select the lens first and then get a camera body to use with it. I have an old model Sigma 10-20 mm zoom which is designed for use with half-frame (APS-C) sensors, and have had decent 50x75 cm prints from it when used with a 16 megapixel camera body.

    Given your budget, a higher megapixel camera body (perhaps 24 megapixel) and a current version of Sigma's 10-20 might suit you.
    These lenses are most readily available secondhand in Canon and Nikon mounts, and a mint condition secondhand lens and secondhand 24 megapixel body would probabyly only use 30 or 40% of your budget, leaving funds for travelling to places where you can use them. I would also suggest a decent carbon-fibre (less heavy than metal) tripod, a cable release and a graduated neutral density filter because you can get a lot of sky in wide angle landscape shots. And a spare battery too.

    Since your subjet(s) won't be fast moving, you wan't need any fancy autofocus facilities. In fact, most of the time. my 10-20 is used on manual focus because otherwise it spends lots of time trying to focus on gthe sky.

    Have a look at the websites of AP's regular advertisers for some secondhand prices. It's a mug's game buying new if you don't need the latest models.
  14. cliveva

    cliveva Well-Known Member

    Fishboy’s suggestions of a D810 is an ideal tool for the job, it will be heavy, I take a D800 out for many hours of walking, but the quality of image it can produce makes it well worth the carry. May I suggest the 24-120f4 as a very versatile landscape lens, giving wide, normal and telephoto view. When I want a super wide view I use a panoramaic shot.
    Yours Clive
    Learning likes this.
  15. Snorri

    Snorri Well-Known Member

    The eos 600D can be bought very cheap now, excellent camera given that you like the handling of the Canon. Another interesting option is Olympus Pen range, I picked up a E-PM2 with the 14-42 and a VF2 viewfinder for just around £100. It has Most of the features of the OM-D’s but without the bulk and price,,. A camera that I actually carry around, but again check the handling.
  16. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    I must admit that a long time ago I carried a Bronica to the top of a Scottish mountain and when I got home decided that the results not good enough to really justify the effort so I reverted to my AE1, if I had been richer I would have gone out and bought an Ol y pen. Nowadays I have a Pen F and it goes everywhere with me, but I do use my full frame when I am doing serious work.
  17. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    My initial thought was similar to Jeff and Clive. A D800 or D810. I am also a Nikon user and used a D800 for a time. Certainly for landscapes a full frame high pixel count camera is to be preferred, but to remain in budget will have to be pre used and not a current model. The AF system will not be ideal for highly active subjects. I notice that in the latest AP (25th January) that the merits of the Sony Alpha 7R are proposed. Again this is no action camera but the owners chosen to comment were all landscape photographers. I don't like Sony's menus or ergonomics but some people do do. That's just a matter of personal preference and possibly familiarity. An advantage of the Sony is the ability to use a large range of lenses with an adapter, albeit with manual focus. I would avoid the use of legacy zooms on such a high pixel count camera but the quality of many classic primes, even as old as real Pentax Super Takumar m42 lenses is well up to the job, especially when stopped down to f8 or so.
    AF performance does not matter for much landscape photography, often one places the focus point manually to achieve a compromise between near and far. Exposure is often chosen to be different to that suggested by the automatic system. This is a genre of photography in which the advanced features of the newest cameras are of least use.
  18. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Whilst I agree with what you say I have to question the wisdom of having a D800/D810 as ones only camera. It is inevitable that Karl will find situations where AF performance may be an issue. If he is to buy only one body I would suggest that a more general camera might be appropriate, such as a D750 or the Canon equivalent. However, Karl will need to make his own determination as to which he prefers.
    Learning likes this.
  19. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    I suspected that the above suggestions ignored KarlMan's budget of £1,500 maximum for a camera body and wide angle zoom lens, so I had a look at the used stuff on the LCE website, where I found good condition D800 body for £650 and a Nikon 16-35 for £580.
    So, even with a cable release and ND graduated filter, going full frame may be possible within the budget.

    But this kit will be much larger and heavier than an APS-C DSLR and a Sigma 10-20 (equivalent to a 15-30 on the full frame body), so perhaps it's time to ask if KarlMan wants to carry it. This is a serious point: if returning to photography after a 'long time', he may not be aware how much larger a full frame DSLR can be than a manual 35 mm film SLR.
    Learning likes this.
  20. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Cable release, on a D800? It will be a wired remote release or he could get this https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Neewer-N...d=1579379449&sprefix=neweer+re,aps,150&sr=8-7 for £22. There are two versions for Nikon depending on the connector and additional ones for other makes of camera.

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