travel-photography-gear-guide

A complete travel photography gear guide

I’ve been involved in film or photography throughout my career: initially as a camera operator, video editor and AV engineer, later as a teacher in digital media, and now as a travel blogger. I’ve sold stock images for several years on Shutterstock and iStock by Getty Images, and my photography plays a prominent role throughout our travel blog and social channels, particularly Instagram.

I continue to learn and improve my work and expect to do so indefinitely. I’ve learnt most by watching and reading about how other photographers work, professional or amateur. The more I’ve learnt, the more I have refined the gear I use. As with many things it often comes down to personal preference: what works for one person may not suit the next, but it always helps to see what peers are using. As such, I’ve put together a complete travel photography gear guide to share the details of what I use.

Travel photography gear guide

There’s still a lot of gear I’d love to add, but photography is an expensive hobby so I use what I can afford and look forward to the day when my budget can stretch to accommodate my next toy!

Camera bodies

Nikon D610
When I studied photography at university and picked up a digital camera for the first time it was a Nikon and I’ve never looked back. I’ve tried experimenting with other brands, but there’s something about the interface and the way the lenses slide home that make Nikon the camera for me. My first DSLR was an entry-level Nikon D40 and my next camera will be a Nikon too.

When you’re spending this sort of money there’s not too much difference in quality among the main brands. What’s important is what feels right for you. You want to be able to adjust your camera, access pre-sets and swap lenses without thinking too much about it and fumbling to drive them home. For me, Nikon has always been the most fluid but everyone is different.

Lomography Diana or Kodak disposable
Nothing will ever replace film. Even though it’s been many years since I’ve spent an afternoon in a darkroom I still love to capture some travels on either a Lomo 35mm Diana or a simple Kodak disposable. There’s something so unique about the grainy exposure on 35mm that no Instagram filter will ever be able to replicate. These are some of my favourite shots from a trip to Jordan in 2013 taken on a disposable.

Lenses

I’ve use the following three lenses and never find myself wanting.

Nikkor 18-300mm
Nikon’s all-in-one zoom lens is an extremely versatile piece of kit that covers almost all situations from wider landscape shots to long-distance wildlife photography. The lens is lightweight, fast and delivers consistently exceptional performance in any setting.

Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D
If I could only ever have one lens for my camera it would be this prime lens. The compact and fast f/1.8 lens works well in low light, is versatile and creates that desired and fashionable bokeh effect.

Sigma 10-20mm F3.5
I use this ultra wide-angle zoom lens for interior and architecture photography. It has a maximum aperture of F3.5 throughout the entire zoom range, making it suitable for low light despite not being compatible with full frame cameras like the D610.

Filters

It didn’t take me long to learn that a landscape photographer primarily needs a glass polarizing filter to help reduce reflections from water and glass as well as rendering blue skies darker and making clouds more defined.

I also have a Tiffen neutral density (ND) filter kit. ND filters are essentially grey-toned filters designed to absorb light as it passes through the lens, allowing you to shoot at wider f-stops in brighter conditions.

Tripod

Slik Sprint Pro II
I spent years trying to find the trade-off for a suitably large and sturdy collapsible tripod that was also lightweight and small enough to fit into backpacks and be carried around the world. In 2015, Kia bought me the Slik Sprint Pro for my birthday and since then I’ve loved her just that little bit more!

I also have something similar to this flexible Gorillapod for my tough cam.

Toughcam

Olympus TG Tracker 
We’ve been searching for a resilient action camera ever since the waterproof casing on our GoPro HERO 3+ failed a couple of years ago. More recently, during a climb on Mount Elbrus, several members of our team were unable to use their GoPros because the batteries failed in the extreme cold.

Olympus toughcam gift for travellersOlympus

This Olympus 4K camera is ideal for adventure travellers

After dalliances with other makes, I tried the Olympus Tough! TG Tracker. This 4K action camera is waterproof to 30m without needing external casing, freezeproof to -10°C, shockproof to 2.1m, and crushproof to 100kg. We’re not sure in what circumstances we’d need the last feature, but it’s good to know that this toughcam lives up to its name!

Smartphone

Google Pixel 2 XL

We’ve just upgraded to a Google Pixel 2 XL, widely regarded as having the best smartphone camera. It also comes with free and unlimited storage for all your photos and videos in original quality.

The Pixel 2 XL comes with up to 128GB hard drive space – ideal for 4K video

The sensor handles image resolution extremely well with excellent colour resolution, has an aperture of F/1.8 which means it works well in low light situations and the improved processor provides 4K video. The Pixel 2 XL also has one of the largest hard drives for a smartphone with up to 128GB available – ideal for 4K video shooting.

Bag

I’ve got two camera bags: one for everyday use around town and one for hiking.

Domke Chronicle (by Tiffen)
This is my go-to professional photography camera bag. It is super-functional, safe, secure, and very accessible. It’s ideal for when you need your camera regularly or need to change lenses quickly. It even features a “quiet” system to keep the level of noise to a minimum when opening and closing – ideal for photo journalism or when on safari. No wonder it’s the official camera bag of the White House News Photographer Association!

f-stop kenti travel photography gear guideF-stop Kenti
I’ve used other backpack-style camera bags in the past but was either unable to fit everything in or found it difficult to access my gear as quickly as I needed. I love the laptop compartment of the F-stop as it’s safe and secure, while the whole backpack remains geared towards the adventure photographer with all-important over-the-shoulder access. There’s a waterproof cover as well.

Memory card

Eyefi Mobi Pro 32GB
For years, I used to buy the cheapest and largest-capacity memory cards available and back up manually. However, as the years went by and I started shooting in the thousands (and tens of thousands) across multiple cameras, I needed a more thorough and reliable system. The Eyefi system syncs wirelessly across all your devices and simultaneously backs up your photography to the Eyefi Cloud (an SD card comes with a year’s free subscription).

Storage + Backup

Transcend Storejet 2TB hard drive
travel photography gear guide transcendI’m a clumsy guy (Kia has nicknamed me “Bumble”) and have a knack for breaking expensive electronic gadgets, so a portable external hard drive that has a “three-stage shock protection system that meets US military drop-test standards” is going to be Peter-proof too! Additionally, the hard drive is small, compact, lightweight and comes with built-in power-saving – all ideal for outdoor and adventure travel.

Hardware and software

MacBook Pro 13‑inch laptop
I’m a Mac man – always have been, always will be.

Adobe Photoshop
Still the industry standard for advanced image editing. I use it religiously.

Adobe Lightroom
This is an excellent piece of image cataloguing software that comes with plenty of powerful effects and editing tools.

Apple Photos
An easy-to-use, everyday image library which works well with your other Apple devices. Improved editing tools have made it more versatile, but it’s still some way behind Lightroom.

Lead image: Dreamstime

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