One of the most frequently asked questions travel photographers including myself receive is “what camera do you use?” So I decided to not only answer that question, give you a peek inside a travel photographer’s camera bag at all of the photography gear I bring when traveling!
Over the past two years, I have obtained more and more photography gear, and while my packing skills for my clothes is finely tuned, I often struggle to decide what gear to bring along and what gear to leave at home. There are two photography backpacks that I typically use, one for longer trips where I’m not sure what I’ll need, and the other if I know exactly what and how I am going to shoot so I can streamline my gear.
When I’m not sure what I’ll need, the photography backpack I use is the Lowepro Pro Runner BP 450 AW II DSLR Camera Backpack. The bag is huge and can easily fit two pro-level DSLR cameras and plenty of lenses. It also has a separate pocket where your 15″ laptop and a full-size iPad can easily slide in. This is the photography backpack to took to Bali, and it definitely weighed me down!
My streamlined photography backpack is still a pretty large one, the Lowepro Protactic 350 AW. The description says it can fit a 15″ Laptop, but when I had my gear and laptop in the bag one of the zippers came off the track, so I now only have one to close it up.
I get so excited to talk about photography gear! I’m always interested to see what other creators that inspire me use to shoot their wanderlust-inducing travel photos. I say cameras in the heading because I never just take my DSLR, and I don’t think a travel photographer’s camera bag could be complete these days without a few “extras”.
I want to preface this by saying the gear I use isn’t what it takes for you to create amazing photos! There are plenty of cameras out there that cost less than $1000 that you can take incredible photos with, and the quality of our phones’ camera is better than 90% of the professional cameras from 10 years ago! The camera I use for my travel photos and all photos that you see posted on my Instagram is the Canon 5D Mark IV. I plan on creating an entire post about cameras for travel photography so stay tuned!
Until the recent release of the Mavic Air, the DJI Mavic Pro was by far the most convenient high-end drone you could get. It is small enough for me to fit it in either of my camera backpacks making it a very easy drone to travel with. I bring my Mavic Pro with me where ever I go because it is small enough and light that I’m not worried that if I travel with the drone what other stuff I could possibly miss out on bringing. I do also happen to have the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, which is a great drone but not very convenient to travel with, I pretty much only use that one around home or if we did a road trip.
I always bring a GoPro with me because they are tiny, sturdy, and you never know when you might want or need one. It can be great if you’re shooting video and want a different angle of the same shot. The photo quality on the most recent GoPros is actually pretty good! I’m looking in to getting the newest Hero 6 but currently use a Hero 5 in my camera bag.
Nearly everyone has one and its camera is likely pretty damn good. I have the iPhone X, and I have to say going from the 7 Plus to the X was tough because I lost a lot of screen real estate, but the camera is crispy.
I carry anywhere from 2-4 lenses with me when traveling depending on the terrain, and the type of shots I plan on getting.
Probably my favorite lens, and the one that you’ll find on my camera more than 75% of the time is the Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art Lens. It’s wide enough to shoot big landscapes, but also sharp and fast enough to get razor sharp portraits and great low light performance. I know a lot of travel instagramers that have this lens in the gear bag because it is all-around fantastic and about half the price of what you’d pay for Canon L-series glass.
All of the animal shots from our safari in South Africa were shot on the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 II, I rented that lens multiple times and nearly bought it, but after reading some review I ended up going with the Tamron 70-200mm f2.8. The price was right and the image quality is still impeccable. I really love shooting with this lens, but it is big and heavy!
The same time I bought the 70-200mm I also got the Tamron 15-30mm f2.8. A great range for capturing big landscapes, astrophotography and not terrible for vlogging since it is optically stabilized. This one has a couple downsides though, It is quite heavy and there is no filter ring, so you either have to buy a huge ND system to put on the front or use a different lens for long exposures during the day.
Even though I rarely bring it along anymore, the Canon 24-70mm f4 is a pretty great starter kit lens. If you have the means to go to the f2.8 version you are better off, but the f4 version I have is useful for vlogging, and most conditions with decent lighting.
A few things to keep everything running smoothly when out in the field shooting all day.
I bought a set of Tiffen ND filters for my 24-70mm, but since now I rarely bring that lens, I use an adapter to have them fit on my Sigma 35mm lens. The ND filters let you shoot at a lower f-stop making your subject pop from the shallow background more. These are a must if you are doing any portrait work in harsh conditions. Also useful if you want to get the motion effect on waterfalls or other moving objects.
The tripod I use is the Neewer 66 inch carbon fiber tripod. It folds up to a manageable size and I can strap it on the front of both my photography backpacks.
It is inevitable, you will get some dirt or a really bad fingerprint on the front of your lens. I don’t know what I did before I started carrying these with me, but these alcohol moistened lens wipes are lifesavers. I bought a box of 200 on Amazon and use them daily either for cleaning my lens or my glasses, they’re a must.
The company called Aputure makes really great portable lights for photographers. Some small enough to fit in your pocket, and perfect for lighting food photography or a small flat lay and others that you may need to pack in your carry-on that can change brightness and temperature!
So this one doesn’t always fit in my camera bag, but I really had a lot of fun with it in Bali and during a recent shoot at home, so I think I’ll be finding space for it more and more often. The housing I use is the Aquatech Elite Housing made specifically for the Canon 5D Mark IV.
I hope this what’s in a travel photographer’s camera bag gear list was helpful for you to see the gear I use when traveling. Keep an eye out for another post around the best camera for travelers. This weekend we are up in Vermont for a long weekend of skiing with some of our best friends! I’m bringing my photography gear, so expect some mountain shots on Instagram in the near future! Make sure you’re following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest so you never miss out on any travel inspiration!