Do You Really Need All That Gear?

Landscape photography, with its sprawling vistas and majestic scenery, often captivates us with its beauty and challenge. However, delving into this genre requires careful consideration of the equipment you bring along. In this article, let’s explore the essential gear for landscape photography, emphasizing the principle that less is more. Contrary to the notion that a vast array of equipment is necessary for capturing stunning landscapes, we'll discuss how a minimalist approach can lead to more focused and rewarding experiences in the field. Let's look at the essentials.

Camera Body: Quality Over Quantity

When it comes to choosing a camera body for landscape photography, the emphasis should be on image quality and functionality. High-resolution sensors, dynamic range, and weather-sealed bodies may be crucial factors to consider if you are going to put yourself and your gear through tough weather conditions. However, you can also do very well with the camera you have, even if it doesn’t have all the latest bells and whistles. You don't need the latest and most expensive model; rather, focus on a camera that suits your budget while meeting the essential criteria for landscape photography.

Lenses: The Power of Versatility

Instead of carrying an extensive collection of lenses, opt for versatile focal lengths that cover a broad range of scenes. A wide angle lens, such as a 16-35mm, is ideal for capturing expansive landscapes, while a standard zoom lens like a 24-70mm can handle various compositions. A telephoto lens like a 70-200mm can be one of the most versatile lenses to have, as it more or less forces you to think differently and find the shot in the bigger landscape. The added bonus of this lens is that your shooting location may not be immediately evident, which can add a sense of mystery to your shots.

Tripod: Stability Is Key

A sturdy tripod, for many, is a non-negotiable accessory for landscape photography. It provides stability for long exposures, helps maintain composition precision, and allows for capturing multiple frames for panoramic shots. Look for a lightweight yet durable tripod that suits your shooting style and terrain preferences. It is worth also bearing in mind that perhaps you don’t need a tripod; you already have one called your feet and arms, and if you intend on taking fast shutter speed shots, then the tripod can especially get in the way.

Filters: Enhancing the Scene

Filters play a crucial role in landscape photography by controlling exposure, managing reflections, and enhancing colors. A circular polarizer can reduce glare and boost color saturation, while neutral density (ND) filters allow for long exposure techniques, capturing the motion of water or clouds. Graduated ND filters help balance exposure in scenes with varying light. Do you need all of these? Perhaps yes, or perhaps no; it again depends on what you intend to photograph, the available light, and the type of shot you want to take. You can take long exposure shots without filters; you just need to wait until the light is low enough to achieve them. So, that’s worth considering, plus also considering why you should embrace the minimalist approach.

Weight and Mobility: Lessening the Load

One of the primary advantages of a minimalist approach is enhanced mobility. Carrying less gear allows you to navigate challenging terrains more comfortably, making it easier to access remote locations. A lightweight camera bag with just the essentials promotes a more enjoyable and sustainable experience in the field. I, for one, can attest to that, having for many years carried my camera bag on many adventures, packed full of all my equipment. I even had chargers for my batteries at one point in my bag, as well as one of those crystal balls just in case I needed them or should the opportunity arise. Looking back now, I wish I had learned that these totally useless items weren't going to help me get a better shot, and my back has thanked me ever since.

Focus on Composition: Quality Over Quantity

By limiting your gear, you can shift your focus from changing lenses and adjusting multiple settings to honing your composition skills. Instead of rushing to capture numerous scenes, take the time to understand the landscape, experiment with different angles, and create more thoughtful compositions.

Connection With the Environment: Uninterrupted Experience

A minimalist approach encourages a deeper connection with the natural environment. Without the distraction of excessive gear, you can immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the landscape, fostering a more profound appreciation for your surroundings. This heightened awareness often translates into more meaningful and evocative photographs. You can also use this extra space in your bag that you now have for snacks, which will enable you to relax in the environment for longer and make a deeper connection as such.

Reduced Decision Fatigue: Streamlining the Process

When you carry only essential gear, decision-making becomes more straightforward. You can focus on the creative aspects of photography rather than being overwhelmed by gear choices. This streamlined process allows for more spontaneity and creativity in your shots. It will also improve your photography without a doubt, as you will begin to see things from a different perspective, and once you find that composition, use your legs to move and get what you want in the frame.


In conclusion, choosing the right gear for landscape photography is a delicate balance between having the essentials and avoiding unnecessary distractions. A minimalist approach not only lightens the physical load but also opens up opportunities for a more immersive and enjoyable experience in nature. By prioritizing quality over quantity, photographers can hone their skills, connect with the environment, and capture truly impactful landscape images. So, the next time you head out to photograph the great outdoors, remember: less is more, and you don't need to bring the kitchen sink to create stunning landscapes.

What are your thoughts on this approach? Is it something that you do, want to do, or have tried and totally disagree with?

Let's continue the conversation in the comments below.

Darren Spoonley's picture

Darren J. Spoonley, is an Ireland-based outdoor photographer, Podcaster, Videographer & Educator with a passion for capturing the beauty of our world.

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10x zoom and stitch for wider. Carry in top-load zoom pouch on chest for protection and easy access.

I definitely don't want to hear one more person to talk about it Darren! It is so painful... All the years and effort we've put in to have all the great gear we've dreamed about when we started the journey.... And now you telling me that I don't need it... You know what? You don't need camera at all today! 🤣 Put smartphone in your pocket and make sure you are shooting raw lol

But end to the jokes.. I always said that upgrading your gear could be contra productive as new gear is more expensive and you won't take the risk and miss all the great view angles others are missing... When I had 6D back in the days I was doing crazy stuff with it knowing that it won't cost me a leg to get another one if it ends up in sea...

Today with 12-24, 35-150, 150-600... you won't hardly find any situation where those lenses are not giving you view wide enough or not having enough reach... In case of canon gear 14-35, 24-105, 100-500, 1.4 x Teleconverter... And when you really aim on light gear 24-240 for travel?

The GAS is strong I see :-) :-) you’re right for sure as it works for you, if you didn’t have something then getting that specific type of shot won’t be easy, possible perhaps but not easy! Glass is the long lasting investment that will always be there should you need it but bringing the entire family of gear out on every adventure perhaps may not be always the right option ? I’m trying to currently use my 70-300 more and it’s forcing me to think different and outside my comforts zone of the wide angle! I feel bad leaving my 16-35 in the bag and I’m sure it feels bad too but I guess it knows that someday I will take it back out on adventures :-)

Seems like the use of telephoto lenses in landscapes is new trend... I see more and more people going the same way... I'll need to get 600/4 with 2xTC to make some difference lol

Most photographers have a genre they work with but a hobbyist goes about with can I get that or yes and carry only what is needed. As a hobbyist yes I look at YouTubers when they open a bag and go WHAT but they also have video gear. Ok I do night landscapes with Milky Ways but also cityscapes at night. Also when birding season I use a different camera and several lenses. If I told you how many tripods I have collected, even I am amazed. So I have two bags one for day and another for night. I am in the US not in Europe and there are extras never seen, Snake Boots (glad I had in Az.and leafing in Pa.), a pistol and ammo, Armor under clothing, Bear spray, a hat with eyes looking backwards for the big cats (yes, no one thinks about). I have had deer walk up behind be while doing MW's, you just never know. The Grand Canyon is full of big cats signs all over.

The accessories can be a whole new ball game for sure ! Never even thought of the cat eyes hat! That’s wild for sure

Is there a deeper philosophical meaning to the camera gear in the sink in the backpack? "Everything but the kitchen sink"?

You don't need to bring all of your gear out, and often times you'll use very little of it or feel like you need to use some in order to justify bringing it.. but I don't see it as a bad thing.

I've brought TOO MUCH gear more than I "wish I brought X with me!".. but there have also been many times I wish I brought that extra gear with me. Whether it's a flash or FX lens filter, a lens, a portable tripod/grip or some LED Lights.. I've had some idea come up that I wasn't able to capture.

You can get away with much less.. forget the tripod entirely and just use a higher ISO. Forget the camera and use your phone. Use a wide lens and just crop in. But having the options to create better work is worth the added weight and hassle to me ok those times I've needed it

Good points! What would the law of averages show you regarding usage v carrying ?