Beginners: Nikon D7000
Priced at under $450 for the body, this Nikon DSLR camera is highly recommended if your budget is keeping you at below the $500 level.
If budget is not a concern, I suggest you jump down to the “intermediate ” or “professional” recommendations. However, if budget is your principal concern, then no worries; this Nikon is the way to go! One great thing about it is that all the lenses that you get for this camera can also be used if and when you decide down the road to upgrade to the full frame (for the most part) model below.
Intermediates: Nikon D7200
Starting at below $999 for the body. It most a little bit that this one the latest in the Nikon D7XXX line and next to the latest in the Nikon line of semi-professional cameras. I currently use one myself!
The Nikon D7200 is the latest and greatest in APSC cameras. It features, amongst other great features, enhanced autofocus speed and 24.2 MP of resolution. You can read my complete Nikon D7200 review. The main advantage of the Nikon D7200 over the D7000 when talking HDR is the increased resolution and the auto bracketing within the camera.
Professional: Nikon D810
Starting at just over $3200, this is for the serious photographer (or the children of Donald Trump). It is not cheap but it is probably the best camera in the market in the 35mm space. The next step up is medium format and the prices increases dramatically.
A full-on Nikon D810 is here on the site that is full of a ton of sample photos. This is a beast, shoots 36MP, can handle about anything I throw at it and is fully weather sealed. This is my go to professional camera.I absolutely love it. It has all the power of expensive Nikon D5 DSLR systems at a fraction of the price and size.I love all this full frame goodness and it one smart camera inside too.
Mirrorless option: Sony A6000
You can get into one for about $800 these days and I am pretty impressed with it. I use the A5000 for shooting vlogs but if I were to get one for serious HDR Photography, this would be the one that I would use!
The A6300 is the latest evolution of the high end Sony APS-C models. It features, amongst other great features, enhanced autofocus speed and 4K movie recording. The a6000 series has a number of advantages over the lower-priced a5000 models. It has a built-in electronic viewfinder, more focal points, and faster continuous shooting (11 fps vs 6 fps).
Medium Format option: Phase One IQ 180
If you have alot of cash and are super serious about getting the best image possible, the Phase One IQ 180 is the way to go. It has a 645 sensor. What that means is that you are gathering almost double the light that a traditional 35mm camera like the Nikon D810 will.
I have used one and they are a total dream to use but they also are the price of a cheap home! They can easily get over $40,000 for a Phase One system. The other thing to be mindful about is medium format cameras can be very temperamental. It is worth noting that Hasselblad has come out with a mirrorless camera so we will see how that works out.
Nikon Lens for HDR Photography
I would recommend using three lens from Nikon and then a few from Samyang for those cash strapped.
- Nikon 10-24mm for APSC cameras ($900)
- Nikon 16-35mm F/4 for full frame cameras ($1100)
- Nikon 10.5mm fisheye ($775)
- Nikon 18-200mm for general use ($650)
For those of you that can’t spend $2,500 for lens from Nikon; Samyang lens might be perfect for you. They do not auto focus and you have to manual change the aperture on the len. I do not see that as much of a problem since landscape photography is a process to capture. It is not like sport photography.
- Samyang 10mm F/2.8 ( $399)
- Samyang 14mm F/2.8 ($299)
- Samyang 8mm F/3.5 ($199)
- Samyang 85mm F/1.4 ($250)
What about tripods?
If you are going to shoot HDR Photography, you are going to need a tripod. Period. There is no way around that. It is best to spend alot on one to start than it is to use less and have to upgrade later.
- RRS (Really Right Stuff) TVC-45 is amazing but it is also $1,500.
- Gitzo Mountaineer rocks but it is $995!
- Manfrotto BeFree is a great budget option at $300.