Essentials: The Traveling Outdoor Landscape Photographer

Essentials is a series where we round up specially curated kits for different photographers in different situations. Other items could surely be substituted, but these are what we personally recommend at the moment. These aren’t sponsored at all; if they were we wouldn’t have any trouble saying it.

Now is as great a time as any for us to bring back this long dormant series on the Phoblographer. In our Essentials series, we put together special kits for photographers to use in specific situations. You’ll find that lots of these are appealing for one reason to another.

If you’re a traveling landscape photographer always in the great outdoors, you typically need something lightweight with solid image quality that is very reliable. Sure, some folks may love their DSLRs, but once you go mirrorless it’s just so tough to go back. With that said, here are some items that we really digg right now.

zKin Yeti Backpack

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If you’re out for a few days or nights, then the zKin Yeti backpack is a very reliable bag for you. You can pack a load of clothing, toiletries, and things like water bottles. In addition, you can store camera stuff.

In our review, we state:

“Overall, this is a very easy bag to use. If you’re on public transport, you’ll want to put it on the floor and grab onto it due to crowded conditions. What really was incredible is just how nice the shoulder straps are. At one point, I needed to go up a seven floor walkup in Chinatown and loved how comfortable the back felt. It didn’t at all dig into my skin despite being packed with gear.”

Olympus OMD EM1 MK II

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We’re still working on our review and it’s mostly finished as it is, but the Olympus OMD EM1 Mk II has to be one of the best cameras on the market right now. Sure, it’s around $2,000. But you get access to a huge lens system, durability that survives a storm in Iceland and being run under a faucet, the ability to handhold the camera for up to 15 seconds, super fast autofocus that is almost 100% reliable, etc.

The image quality is more than good enough to be able to survive lots of what nature throws at you. Especially when you consider other things that our kit includes.

Buy Now: Amazon $1,999.00

Neewer Graduated ND filter set for Cokin P

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For $20, you’ll get a load of great graduated ND filters that are incredible for mirrorless cameras and lenses. Neewer makes them at a super affordable price point too.

In our review, we state:

“The filter rings themselves are built surprisingly well. They’re not Sigma, Hoya, or B&W quality, but they’re far better than anything that you’ll get out there for super cheap. The Filter holder seems like it will eventually break when I put too much pressure on it. So, you’ll need to be fairly careful with it and apply pressure to just the right areas vs unleashing all the Super Saiyan powers that have been dormant in you and your bloodline for millennia.”

Buy Now $20: Amazon

Pro Tip: Graduated ND filters work very interestingly with an EVF. You'll be able to see the details recovered, but not exactly where the filter is in the scene.

Pro Tip: Graduated ND filters work very interestingly with an EVF. You’ll be able to see the details recovered, but not exactly where the filter is in the scene.

VisibleDust Arctic Butterfly Camera Cleaner

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For many years, the Arctic Butterfly has been a wonderful tool in my camera bag. It can ensure that your sensor stays clean at all times–just don’t let the brush spin while touching your sensor. But also check out Dexter’s Vac-o-Matic.

In our review, we state:

“This unit did wonderfully for me when I had an Olympus E-510. As it was, that sensor always kept clean because of the SSWF. The Arctic Butterfly just kept my sensor cleaner. My only problem was that eventually, the bristles in the brush would bend out of place. This wasn’t a major problem though.”

Buy Now $125: Amazon

Olympus 25mm f1.2 PRO

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We’re still working on our review, but so far we’re very impressed with what the 25mm f1.2 is capable of doing. It’s weather sealed, focuses super fast on the new EM1 Mk II, and provides super incredible image quality. In fact, Olympus tells us they actually over engineered it.

Buy Now $1,199: Amazon

Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95

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The Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 is perhaps one of the best lenses ever designed for Micro Four Thirds cameras. It has both a clicked and clickless aperture, gives you a true 35mm field of view, and has lots of light gathering abilities.

In our review, we state:

“A word of caution though: if you’re not one to love manually focusing a lens, then this isn’t a lens for you. In fact, sometimes the focusing is so smooth that there will be times when one can’t even get to a certain spot in time to focus on a candid moment. For the record, this lens focuses from 6 inches to 4 feet away. Covering all that distance is quite a feat.”

Buy Now $899: Amazon

Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 PRO

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Olympus’s 12-40mm f2.8 is the essential 24-70mm lens, but it goes to 80mm instead. It’s compact, weather sealed, fast to focus, and delivers beautiful image quality overall.

In our review, we state:

“There is absolutely no reason to buy a lens this expensive and complain about its build. The build quality of this lens is stellar, solid, and exquisite. When you hold it, you’ll know that it was meant to do some serious work.

We took it out in the rain once, and it never seemed to malfunction.”

Buy Now $999: Amazon

Panasonic 12mm f1.4

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We’re also still working on our review of the Panasonic 12mm f1.4 lens, but we’re super happy to talk about both its build quality and image quality. With an Olympus camera, it doesn’t focus as perfectly as it would on a Panasonic camera, but that is bound to change with firmware updates.

Buy Now $1,297.99: Amazon

A Blanket Scarf

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So here’s something a bit different and not necessarily photography related. Something that I really love bringing with me when I travel is a giant blanket scarf. These can keep you warm, be used to separate things in a bag, keep you dry, etc. The only other things that I would really take are a knife and a torch.

Buy Now: Amazon

A7NYC Leather Camera Straps

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No, this isn’t at all based on the Sony camera. Instead, A7 has been around since before that camera system came out. They made quality leather and canvas straps and one of my favorite is the Lincoln. It’s well built, feels great in the hand, and doesn’t get wet while out in the rain.