It’s become easier to travel and capture photos without carrying tons of gear, especially thanks to smartphones. But if travel photography is your passion, more than just a hobby, we’ve created this exhaustive list of all the items you could pack. This includes your camera options, protective cases and all the accessories.
If you’ve got a piece of travel photography gear we didn’t mention, be sure to leave it in the comments below!
There are dozens of types of cameras that are great for travel and it’s no longer limited to the fancy body cameras with multiple lenses. There are many types of cameras to choose from, including smartphones and basic point-and-shoots, but we’ve listed just a few here that we recommend.
They come in all price ranges, and they are certainly an investment. You also should consider all the gear you’ll need to go with a DSLR and the added weight, but you can’t argue with the photo quality. Canon and Nikon are the two most popular brands and the most entry-level friendly.
The newest trend in lightweight cameras for travelers is mirrorless, also known as micro four-thirds. It has many of the desired qualities in a DSLR, namely ability to change lenses and shoot in RAW and with high image quality, while also being lightweight.
They’re also much smaller in size, saving you essential room in your bag.
Olympus is just one of the brands entering the market with mirrorless cameras. As of now, they’re fairly expensive due to the new technology, comparable with some top name DSLRs, but that may change as time goes on.
Another option is sports cameras like GoPro. While the photo quality isn’t always the same as standard cameras (and you can’t zoom), it’s perfect for shooting active adventures.
Waterproof cases allow you to bring it when you’re doing activities like scuba diving, paragliding and rock climbing. You can purchase special mounts to go on your car, onto a selfie stick or onto a chest or helmet mount.
The GoPro shoots both video and photos, and newer versions have LED screens and remotes. The two button system is user friendly and it’s very lightweight.
Filters, Lenses and Accessories
If you’re traveling with a DSLR or even a mirrorless camera, you’ll want to have a few accessories at bare minimum. Other accessories are best for special situations that you’ll want to plan for in advance like capturing the Northern Lights.
A filter is great for keeping the light from being too harsh as well as protecting your lens from bumps and dings. I learned this firsthand when dropping my camera! It broke my $10 filter rather than my $100 lens. An Ultraviolet Multi Haze filter* is a good one to start with.
Most cameras that use interchangeable lenses come only with the body or with a basic starter lens, generally 18-55 millimeters. This lens works for most of your photos you’ll take when traveling, especially those landscapes and close ups.
But if you want more options, there are also macro, long range zoom and wide angle lenses. Unless you’re taking photos for your business or are prepared to carry all your lenses and accessories, I would recommend only bringing two. I bought a 75-300mm lens to capture the orangutans in Malaysian Borneo and a horse race in Kentucky, but I definitely don’t bring it on every trip.
Even if you’ve decided to primarily use your smartphone as your camera, you can still buy lenses for it to take a wider range of photographs. Most kits (like this one*) come with multiple lenses, such as fish eye, macro and wide angle, and a clip to attach them.
Straps and Holsters
Your camera will probably come with some sort of strap, but you can also purchase camera straps that are padded, theft proof or come in cute designs. PacSafe makes slashproof camera straps* and a chest harness that allows you to shoot without being at risk for theft.
If you’re traveling and shooting with multiple cameras, especially at a large event or festival, you can get a holster that gives you a place to put your one camera, either attached to your backpack or belt, while shooting with the other.
You might want to get an external flash to add to the one that comes with your camera for dark spaces. They range in price, starting around $30, and going up from there depending on brand and features. It slips into the hot shoe on your camera, no matter the brand.
Adapters, Chargers and Memory Cards
Once you’ve decided what cameras and accessories you’re packing, you have to think about how to keep it all charged, especially in hotel rooms with limited outlets. You’ll need an adapter for each charger, but I recommend bringing a travel surge protector or power board, which allows you to plug in multiple items while only needing one adapter. And if you want to charge on the go, try a solar powered charger that absorbs energy without requiring an electrical outlet.
You also should bring more than one memory card so that you don’t have to delete photos before you’ve had time to upload them. This is also good in case one gets stolen or corrupted (plan for the worst!).
Cards like EyeFi* use WiFi to upload on the go, backing up from your memory card to cloud services. These are great for light packers since you could potentially leave your laptop and additional cables or card readers behind.
Tripods and Monopods
Stabilize your images and use the timer feature with tripods. They can range from basic, like those made by Gorillapod*, to top-notch, like those made by Manfrotto*. Gorillapods are flexible and can wrap around poles and other items while the Manfrotto tripods are high-quality metal but also super lightweight. And if you don’t want to commit to lugging around a tripod, a monopod offers the stability of a tripod while folding up as small as an umbrella.
Camera Bags and Protection
Consider how you will pack your camera and photography gear for your trip, as this can be problematic when it comes to packing light. There are specifically made camera bags that have protective inserts and accessories like PacSafe and Lowepro. Some that can be used as backpacks as well as purses. Ona Bags are fine leather purses that have camera protection inside.
Photography Software and Storage
You won’t be able to show off all those amazing travel shots if something happens to your camera before you get home. Storage and backing up is an important part of travel photography. Upload them to your laptop as you go and take advantage of cloud services or an outside source like an external hard drive, CDs or USB drives.
Do it regularly, at least every few days if you’re shooting often, so that your memory card doesn’t fill up.
When it comes to editing, you can either wait until you get home or do it as you go if you’re traveling with a laptop. There are dozens of photo software brands, all in different price ranges, so it depends on what your needs are. Photoshop and Lightroom are popular with professionals but iPhoto works fine for beginners. And even online services like PicMonkey will do the job on the go.
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