When you tell someone you’re a photographer or they see you with a fairly decent camera, the first thing they ask is whether or not you will teach them how to use a camera. I usually oblige and give a few helpful hints and tips. Thinking about this gave me an idea for a series of blogs centered around travel photography guides, tutorials and helpful hints. I hope this is something that will be useful to lots of you. For my first entry I have decided to start at the beginning and go through all the gear in my camera bag. So check out this post to see all the gear I carry as a travel photographer.
What’s in my camera bag
I’ve been thinking about writing this blog for a while. A lot of people ask me what camera gear I travel with and what camera do I shoot all my travel photos on. I thought I’d make a list here showing everything that I use and give a little explanation about each product. I highly recommend all of these products. I do a tonne of research before I buy anything and I definitely wouldn’t recommend anything I didn’t personally use and like. So lets take a deep dive in to my camera bag and see what we can find.
My Camera Bag – The Lowepro ProTactic 350 AW Backpack
First of all lets start with my camera bag. If you are hauling around a load of gear you need a good bag. After a lot of debating I chose the Lowepro Protastic 350AW Backpack. It’s a super sturdy rugged backpack. Perfect for hauling around your camera, drone, batteries, accessories and a laptop. I carry my 13” Macbook Pro in here along with all the gear listed below and it does great.
Depending on the hike I do I may take some stuff out and add food or water to the compartments where there are gaps. This little bag has served me proud for over 2 years. I’d hate to think how much of my sweat is trapped in the padding on this thing.
My main Camera – The Canon m50
I remember when the Canon M50 was announced back in 2018. It seemed like the perfect camera for me and I had to have it. I’d previously downsized from a Canon 5D Mark ii to a Sony A6300 Mirrorless camera and I just couldn’t get on with it. I much preferred Canon cameras but at the time they had no good mirrorless options. Then the M50 came out and answered all my problems.
I’ve been using this camera for 2 years now and it’s great. Light and compact but powerful enough to do most of what I need it to do. It has a great timelapse movie mode feature and can shoot video in 4k. The only downside is it’s crop frame sensor. I wish It could capture a little more information, especially with astro photogaphy.
My Main Lens – The Tamron 18-400mm
When I knew I was setting off on my travels I decided to downsize my lens collection. I didn’t want to be dragging around 4-5 lenses whilst traveling around and hiking. I spent ages looking for the best lens for shooting both Landscape photography and Wildlife photography.
The solution I found was the Tamron 18-400mm F3.5-6.3. This lens is amazing. It can shoot super wide and super zoomed in. Perfect for the New Zealand Landscapes and New Zealand birds that I love to capture.
This lens uses Canons EF lens mount system but the camera I use has the Canon EFM lens system. I bought a handy adapter which lets me use the lens with the camera. The Canon EOSM Mount Adapter is a great and cheap converter. It crops the image slightly but it’s definitely worth the payoff.
My Second Lens – The Canon 50mm F1.8
I bought this Canon 50mm F1.8 second hand but you can get them pretty inexpensively brand new. It’s a great little prime lens which is great for portrait photography and shooting with a shallow depth of field.
I use it mainly for low light photography but I have to admit I haven’t used it as much as I should. I tend to just stick with the Tamron so much because it’s a great all round lens.
My Filters – The Tiffen 72mm Variable ND and The Hoya 72mm PRO1 Circular Polarizer
Filters are really important to help you step up your photography game. The main two I think you should carry are an ND filter and a polarizer filter. I chose variable options for both as it would limit the amount of gear that I had to carry around with me. But you could easily get a whole set of each.
The Tiffen Variable ND filter is great for shooting images with long exposures. So for low light shooting or more importantly shooting waterfalls. It allows you to give the water that movement feeling that always look so cool in waterfall shots.
The Hoya Circular Polarizer is great for reducing glare from surfaces such as lakes or the sea. So if you are shooting marine wildlife this is a must have accessory.
My Drone – the DJI Mavic Air
Drones have become really popular and clients love it when you can add drone shots to a promotional video. Drone photography is also a great way of seeing an area with a different viewpoint. If used correctly and respectfully a drone can be a great tool in any camera bag.
I try to be respectful when using my drone. I always check local restrictions and rules before I take it out with me. I also try to judge the situation, nobody wants the buzzing of a drone above their head in a really peaceful scenic location. So I try to be courteous and only fly it when I think it’s safe and won’t annoy other people too much.
I chose the DJI Mavic Air for its compact size and capabilities. It did exactly what I required in a drone and more importantly it was light and small. Meaning it would fit perfectly in my backpack.
My stabalised Camera – The DJI Osmo Pocket
The DJI Osmo Pocket is a fairly recent edition to my camera bag. I used to carry a gimbal for my GoPro but I found I never used it as it was big and cumbersome. This little camera solves that problem. It’s so small. It’s pocket sized even.
I can throw this in my pocket on a hike and know that I can rely on it to get some awesome footage and some fairly decent still images. It all depends what I want to shoot on the day but somedays this is all I take with me. It’s an amazing powerful little camera.
When paired with the Polarpro Cinema Series ND filters you can get a really nice image with it. I’ve also got an adapter to hook it up to my iPhone 11 so I can really concentrate on what I’m shooting with the big screen of the phone.
My Action Camera – The GoPro Hero 6
This isn’t the latest GoPro and lacks the Hypersmooth capabilities but it does exactly what I need it to. I take it swimming, surfing and bridge jumping.
This thing has been to the top of mountains with me, in helicopters, in planes and more importantly it went for a swim with me in Doubtful Sound.
Combined with floaty sticks, bike mounts, tripod mounts and mouth mounts the GoPro Hero 6 is a great addition to any travel photographers gear. It’s great for getting those awesome shots of you swimming in crystal clear water. Or do something stupid.
My Main Tripod – The Manfrotto BeFree Advanced Travel Tripod
If you’re going to start taking some cool photos on your next travel expedition you need a good travel tripod. I use the Manfrotto BeFree Advanced Travel Tripod. With its compact and lightweight design it’s great for taking on hikes or just setting up near a waterfall.
Tripods are a must for shooting long exposure shots. So if you want to get shots of water moving down a waterfall this is what you need. It’s also a must for astro photography. Without a tripod you won’t get very far.
The Manfrotto BeFree is light enough and compact enough that I can strap it to the side of my bag and take it on hikes up mountains or deep in to the bush. If you need a little sturdyness in high winds you can even clip your bag to the underside of the tripod to keep it anchored down.
My other noteworthy Accessories
When shooting video it’s a good idea to have a decent microphone and light. I use the Rode Videomicro as my main microphone. It’s small and compact and doesn’t require any extra batteries to operate. I can also plug it in to my phone if I just want to record some voice overs for videos. The light I use is the Aputure AL-M9, this cool little light is great for lighting subjects in low light. It can also be used for light painting when shooting astro landscape shots. It’s also helped me find my way home in the pitch black on a number of occasions.
Some other cool accessories which I think are worth their weight in gold are The Peak Designs Camera Straps. I use both the Camera Leash and the Wrist Strap. The great thing about this camera strap system is that you can take them off your camera body super easily. So when you are shooting a timelapse or a long exposure shot and it’s windy you can take the strap off so it’s not flapping in the wind and creating camera movement. Such a simple idea but so valuable. Another little must have gadget is the Manfrotto Pixi Tripod and the Manfrotto Phone Clamp. Phone cameras have gotten so good in the last few years that it’s stupid if you don’t use them for at least some of your travel photography needs. This little handy set up is also great for Facetiming friends back home as well. You can set up your phone and speak hands free! I’ve used it on countless occasions.
If you want to check out a full list of my photography equipment or buy any of the gear I’ve mentioned you can find a list below along with my Amazon Affiliate links. Don’t worry it won’t cost you anything extra if you use the links!
What did you think of my first Photography guide? What’s in your camera bag? Comment below!
My main camera. Small and compact – Canon M50 – https://amzn.to/2ThgG8L
My camera strap. Easily removed – Peak Design Camera Leash – https://amzn.to/3e0vsso
My wrist strap. For when I don’t want my camera round my neck – Peak Design Wrist Strap – https://amzn.to/36cSzxe
My main lens. So versatile. Can almost do everything I want – Tamron 18-400mm – https://amzn.to/2WL1SBc
My polarizing filter. Great for shooting reflective surfaces – Hoya 72mm PRO1 Digital Circular Polarizer – https://amzn.to/2WMHEaw
My ND filter. A must have accessory – Tiffen 72mm Variable ND Filter – https://amzn.to/2AD7Tay
My batteries for my canon – A must have accessory. You always need more – Canon LP E12 Battery – https://amzn.to/2yl68y1
My lens adapter. So I can use my main lens – EOSM Mount Adapter – https://amzn.to/2yizxZR
My second lens. Great for low light photography – Canon 50mm f1.8 – https://amzn.to/2LL2px0
My drone. Fantastic for getting those sweet drone shots – DJI Mavic Air – https://amzn.to/3cRGgJa
My drone accessories. It’s always good to have extra batteries – DJI Fly More Package – https://amzn.to/2XmmD5E
My drone filters. Always helpful to have multiple filters – Neewer 6 Pieces Pro Lens Filter Kit for DJI Mavic Air – https://amzn.to/36m4Krt
My gimbal alternative. It’s so small – DJI Osmo Pocket – https://amzn.to/2zVLLaZ
My Osmo Filters. Because you need filters for all your cameras – Polarpro Cinema Series for Osmo Pocket- https://amzn.to/2AHIeO0
My action camera. Tough and ready for anything – GoPro Hero 6 – https://amzn.to/3cOjyBI
My GoPro accessories. Essential for getting those crazy shots – GoPro Accessories – https://amzn.to/36gL2gQ
My GoPro Batteries. Batteries. Like I said you need loads – GoPro Dual Battery Charger + Battery – https://amzn.to/3g9ME0s
My microphone. Small and compact. Perfect for traveling – Rode Videomicro – https://amzn.to/2zV1k2I
My video light. Again small and compact. You get the idea – Aputure AL-M9 – https://amzn.to/2zULPrw
My lens cleaning kit. Does what it says on the tin – Giottos Rocket-Air Blower – https://amzn.to/3g921Gt
My memory card case. So important. Keep those cards safe! – Beeway Tough SD Card Holder – https://amzn.to/2WM9QKq
My SD cards. For use in my Canon m50 – Sandisk Extreme Pro SD Card – https://amzn.to/2TmOgKE
My Micro SD Cards. For use in all my other cameras – Sandisk Extreme Pro Micro SD Card – https://amzn.to/2zQCQI1
My powerbank. Great for charging gear on the go – RAVPower 26800mAh Power Bank Battery Pack – https://amzn.to/2LJj8R1
My Travel tripod. Strong and sturdy but lightweight and compact – Manfrotto Travel Tripod – https://amzn.to/2Xh77bb
My mini Tripod. It comes in handy more than you think – Manfrotto Pixi Tripod – https://amzn.to/3bMwaIf
My phone holder. Great for taking advantage of your phones camera – Manfrotto universal phone clamp – https://amzn.to/3e2Dz7M
My phone. Such an amazing camera – Apple iPhone 11 – https://amzn.to/3bQhGXZ