#3 – A Weather-Sealed DSLR Camera
Generally speaking, for various reasons, I still much prefer a DSLR (such as the Nikon D810) over a full-frame mirrorless camera (such as the Sony A7r) for landscape photography. One reason is that certain DSLR models are significantly more rugged and weatherproof than mirrorless.
Eventually you’re going to drop a camera. It happens to all of us (at least that’s what everyone told me the first time I dropped a camera), especially those of us who are out in less than perfect weather conditions. DSLRs made from composite magnesium handle some rough treatment much better than the plastic-bodied entry level DSLRs. My first full-frame DSLR was the Nikon 700. That camera could survive being run over by a small truck. A perfect companion for the clumsy, just-starting-out landscape photographer that I was then.
Also consider investing in a quality raincoat for your lens/camera. I don’t recommend getting one of the cheap, flimsy, clear plastic covers made from recycled sandwich bags…they will tear easily and won’t stay put in windy conditions. Get a cover that is heavy duty…one good coat will last a long time, and they aren’t pricey.
#4 – A Sturdy Tripod
To handle poor footing out in the muddy, rocky, sandy wilderness, and to protect your camera lens setup, a tripod is one item you don’t want to mess around with. In fact, this is the one item more than any other that I would recommend you consider heading to the northern end of your projected budget in order to select a high quality tripod.
A flimsy tripod could end up costing you a chunk of a paycheck in repair bills. It only takes one good gust of wind to knock over an unstable tripod. Having a nice camera and lens, but an entry-level tripod is like putting four worn down, old tires on a Ferrari. It won’t run properly and it’s dangerous for the rest of the setup.