Workshop Preparation – Flying Straight & Level

In landscape photography its the little things that count. One of the most important aspects of creating a well composed landscape image is knowing where “level” is. This is especially true when your background is hilly or mountainous. We use our sense of “level” so much every day that a person will look at an image on the web or in print and instinctively know if it’s not perfectly level.

Nikon's Virtual HorizonFinding the perfect “level” has always been fairly easy for Nikon shooters since inclusion of a Virtual Horizon in the D3, D300 and D700 firmware and now owners of Canon’s EOS 7D have the same thing.

Before you run out and buy a new camera, there is a simple answer that works for all of us. The folks at Adorama sell a great little Hot Shoe Bubble Level 337 made by Manfrotto that takes all the guesswork out of finding a perfect “level” in our landscape images. For $32.00 it’s an inexpensive tool that every landscape photographer should carry with them in the field and it’s a required accessory during the Texas Landscape Safari.

Hot Shoe Bubble Level

Hot Shoe Bubble Level
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon Powershot G9 hand-held at 30mm, f/4.0 for 1/320th of a second at ISO 200 on SanDisk digital film. All post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2.

4 thoughts on “Workshop Preparation – Flying Straight & Level

  1. Jeff, I have two of these levels that I have had for some time. I used them on my original Canon Rebel, 20D, and 40D. Now that I have my 5D MkII I have a problem getting it to stay in the hot shoe. Have you heard of this and do know of a fix. It falls out of the hot shoe when I carry the camera on my tripod. I don’t think they are worn out because I still have my 40D and it is snug on it.

    • Harold,

      Yes, they do fit a bit loose but I haven’t had one fall out yet. I don’t usually leave them in the hot shoe when I’m not shooting.


  2. Leveling is something I struggle with as I get older (go figure). I use bubble levels all the time.

    By the way, that exact same bubble level can be had on eBay for around $5 with free shipping from Hong Kong.


    • Hey Mark,

      I’ve used the eBay knock-offs before and found the plastic they are made from is not UV stabilized and yellows over time. I switched back to the Manfrotto units and haven’t seen this issue.


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