I’m often asked what camera gear I use to create my travel and landscape images. While I’m a big believer that it’s persistence, timing and vision that create great photographs (not gear) I thought I’d show you all what I have in my camera bag when I’m traveling the globe!
Disclaimer: I’ve placed amazon affiliate links to the products mentioned in this article. The small commission I get if you decide to make a purchase helps to keep me this blog alive and me traveling and I certainly appreciate it!
While I shoot a couple different camera systems, I almost always tend towards packing my Sony A7Rii mirrorless camera when traveling. The A7Rii does a ton of things really well, aside from being a compact system; it also offers 4K video, stabilization & RAW files with outstanding dynamic range. It’s a perfect travel camera for what I do!
I’ll admit it right here, I’m a bit of a gear geek. I love quality kit that makes my life easier! Because of this, I have a hard time when it comes to pairing down my lens selection. When traveling I find a basic K.I.S.S kit is almost always the best choice. My focus is on broad, storytelling travel images with a side of landscapes so I typically pack the following:
Wide angle zoom lens
This is my go-to for landscape, cityscape and travel images or even tight indoor spaces. A Sony 16-35 F/4.0 does the job for me! Care needs to be taken to ensure you use a wide angle only when necessary as distortion and the perspective shift can make important compositional elements look odd or smaller than when seen with the eye.
Wide Angle Prime Lens
With my focus on Landscape and travel images and when the slower but more versatile 16-35mm lens just doesn’t quite cut it I like to pack an amazing fast & sharp prime lens. Nothing quite compares to the images I get out of my Zeiss Loxia 21mm F/2.8 when paired with the Sony A7Rii!
A Normal Zoom or Prime
Depending on my destination I’ll pack either a “normal” zoom (24-70mm) or a normal prime (50mm) lens. I use a Sony 24-70 F/4 lens or a Nikon 50mm F/1.8 with adapter when packing light or a Nikon 24-70mm F2.8 if I can deal with a little extra heft.
A Telephoto Zoom
A lot of the shots I get wouldn’t be possible without a quality telephoto lens; the compression it offers gives photos a really appealing look that stands out from the crowd! Earning its place in my camera bag is a Nikon 70-200 F2.8 lens coupled to a Vello lens mount converter so I can shoot it on my Sony camera body.
With these four lenses I’m able to comfortably tackle pretty well any situation I’m faced with while trying to get the shot!
A tripod can be the photographer’s best friend or worst enemy. On one hand you’ll get the best images from you gear by having a rock solid tripod; on the other, tripods tend to kill off your creative flow by locking you into single, thought out compositions. Regardless, I definitely suggest a decent Travel sized tripod for your adventures, you’ll be more likely to take it with you and have it when you need it! I use a quality but inexpensive Sirui T-025X carbon fibre tripod while traveling with my lightweight kit.
Another great thing is a Joby Gorilla pod, you’ve all seen them and their octopus like arms that you can wrap around the closest tree branch, railing, flagpole or cannon. While not in the same class as a proper tripod my Gorilla-pod has been a great addition to my gear that I’ve never regretted throwing in my camera bag and taking along!
Overlooked and dismissed by many digital age photographers I believe filters can still play an important role when shooting. A Polarizer is mandatory equipment in my mind; you simply can’t re-create the effect in post! I use 10 stop Neutral Density (ND) and graduated ND filters regularly in my shooting. Even with the advent of exposure blending and HDR and these effects able to be recreated in post I prefer the lazy-man workflow of just getting it right in camera. Singh-Ray & LEE filters earn their spot in my camera bag!
Editing & Computing:
How can you travel long term and call yourself a travel photographer, let alone do any editing or business without a laptop? My 15”MSI WS63 is an amazingly powerful “thin and light” style portable workstation. With Fast SSD storage, enterprise class graphics capabilities and a 4K screen that makes photo and video editing easy its a pleasure to use! The top travel laptops aren’t cheap but they are light & powerful!
Every camera bag has a few odds and ends that make capturing a better image easier, A few of my favorites are:
This simple and relatively cheap accessory acts as a remote shutter cable for when you’re trying to get the sharpest shot possible, a long exposure timer and a timelapse controller for your camera. A cheap Chinese version won’t break the bank at less than $20.
Occasionally a risky hero shot is called for but risking an expensive camera setup doesn’t sound like a great idea. The GoPro offers decent still and video capabilities in a nearly (by comparison) disposable package to get those crazy shots! On the plus side it’s also nearly indestructible and even waterproof! My GoPro Hero 4 gets used a lot to capture time lapses while I’m photographing the sunrise or sunset with my main camera! It takes up almost no space in my camera bag so it gets taken everywhere!
If you do anything with video ditch the camera’s built in microphone and step your production quality up tenfold with a decent external microphone. I use a Rode Video-Micro on camera and a Zoom H4NPro digital recorder in more serious productions.
Drones are the new “in” thing. While I’ve been flying aerial cameras for a while now it was never really practical to bring them traveling; travel is all about being compact, light-weight and multi-functional. Recently I was able to upgrade my drone to the DJI Mavic Pro. With its folding form factor and light weight that’s all changed. I haven’t taken it on any long trips as of yet but am planning to pack it on my adventures going forward.
Drives & Cards
it only takes the loss of one epic shot to turn you into a true believer and habitual backer-upper. These days I’m not satisfied until my day’s images are imported, cataloged and backed up into three separate locations. I backup to the local disk drive, an external drive (like my Lacie Rugged 2TB) and the cloud. If for some reason internet isn’t available or too slow I’ll keep images on my memory cards until I can ensure that I have a cloud copy as well! I shoot on only SanDisk and Lexar Pro cards and have never experienced a failure.
Everything above tucks snugly into my ThinkTank Streetwalker Harddrive backpack. This camera bag meets the carry-on requirements (aside from weight Shhhh…) for all the international flights I’ve had it on and its comfortable too! A real quality piece of kit, the Think-tank bag is made by photographers and features a ton of great additions that make life easier. I love the clear pockets that let me dig out the right cable the first time every time! Rolling backpacks make up my oversea’s luggage and the Thinktank wears just fine on my chest when i need to carry both!