I wish it were as easy as keeping all of my equipment on a shelf in my room. I would have extra camera bodies, loads of lenses, and tons of camera accessories and other equipment. Unfortunately, as a travel photographer, I have to be very careful about the camera equipment I have, because the more I have, the more I have to carry.
That being said, we’re lucky that, in this day and age, much of our camera equipment is digital; a lot of camera gear goes beyond physical items. Post-processing travel photos is just as important as using the right equipment to shoot them, so some of the best camera equipment for travel is no heavier than the laptop I carry.
When picking the best camera equipment for traveling, it’s important to choose wisely, based on size, functionality, and of course, price. You don’t need one of everything—just one of a few, select items. I use each of the products below, and they have been hand-picked for my travel camera kit for very specific reasons.
Tenba DNA 8 Camera Messenger Bag
Tenba makes great bags, and their new DNA 8 Messenger is no exception. Built specifically for bike messengers, this travel photography bag is decidedly small and carries my Canon EOS Rebel SL1 and two extra lenses just perfectly, though they do have larger sizes available for larger bodies and camera kits.
It’s great for exploring a new place when I don’t want to carry a full bag with me, but it also slips right into the main pocket of my backpack, acting as a protective insert for my camera.
It’s full of pockets that fit various types of camera equipment. From pouches for memory cards to filters to batteries and chargers, there’s no shortage of storage. What makes this bag uniquely special, though, is the easy access zip opening at the top. And, if you want to leave your camera kit behind and use the DNA 8 as a regular messenger bag, the lining is actually an insert itself, so you can pull the whole thing out at once and leave your photography gear behind.
Induro AKB0 Adventure Series Tripod
Tripods are perhaps the most cumbersome of photography gear to travel with, but they are also one of the most necessary for anybody wanting to take long exposures, photos at night, or timed photos of themselves. Finding a quality tripod for traveling was no easy task, but the Induro AKB0 Adventure Series checks all the boxes.
At just 2.6 lbs (1.2 kg), this tripod won’t weigh you down, plus it’s only 20.5 in (52 cm) long when collapsed, so it should fit right into your bag. It’s made of magnesium alloy and has a maximum height of 56.1 in (142.5 cm) when extended. It’s not the tallest on the market, but it has all of the features of any other full-sized tripod, so you're not making much of a sacrifice in the name of size.
Eyefi Mobi Pro 32GB WiFi SD Card
Camera WiFi might be one of the most useful features for the mobile photographer. With the need to upload high-quality images in real time, it’s not always possible to edit my photos on my laptop before posting them to social media. The 32GB Eyefi Mobi Pro lets me download my photos from my DSLR to my smartphone, where I can use apps like Snapseed or Camera+ to edit them on the go.
Eyefi also has a fantastic Cloud service which syncs your photos across multiple devices. It's more than just a storage application–it keeps all your photos in their original resolution, provides a bulletproof backup, lets you edit photos on the go, and organizes them in a multitude of ways. Using automatic processing, it scans your images and categorizes them using smart tags so you can more easily locate photos based on physical attributes. Were they taken indoors? Outdoors? Is the primary color purple? Is it a photo of an animal? The Eyefi app already knows, and categorizes everything accordingly.
Price: $90 | App: $5/mo
Langly Paracord Strap
The stock camera strap just doesn't cut it–it's boring and uncomfortable. The Langly Paracord strap is not only comfortable and unique, but for active photographers, the stretchy quality of the strap absorbs any shock when running or jumping with your camera around your neck.
And at the seemingly insane price of just $35, there's almost no reason not to get it.
Hoya Variable Neutral Density Filter
Anybody wanting to take long exposure shots in the daytime will need a neutral density (ND) filter. A long exposure is perfect for creating that silky and smooth effect with running water like rivers and waterfalls. It captures the movement of the water over time to create a more magical feel. But, during the day, because the shutter stays open for longer, too much light will enter the lens, turning your entire photo white.
An ND filter uses dark glass to reduce the amount of light that enters your lens, allowing you to open your shutter for longer periods of time without blowing out the image. For complete versatility in all situations, I recommend the variable filter by Hoya, which lets you adjust the darkness of the glass based on your shooting environment and desired effect.
Tiffen Graduated Filter
When shooting landscapes, there is often a large contrast between the brightness of the sky and the darkness of the earth. It's very difficult to capture details in both areas, especially when shooting during the best light–at sunrise or sunset. If the earth is exposed properly, the sky will be too bright, and if the sky is exposed properly, the earth will be too dark.
A graduated filter darkens the sky to bring out the details in the highlights, so the light levels can be more balanced on both sides of the horizon. There are a few great companies that make graduated filters, like Hoya and Lee, but Tiffen makes excellent grad filters at really great prices.
WD My Passport External Hard Drive
I always recommend shooting in RAW rather than JPG. This gives you much more control over the editing process, but the files also take up a lot more space. There’s no way that thousands of photos will fit on your computer, so an external hard drive is unquestionably necessary.
As a former IT technician, back when I used to work in an office, Western Digital was always the hard drive brand of choice. They are made from quality materials and they have a higher rate of reliability than any other drives on the market. I’ve had a 1TB WD My Passport for Mac (also available for PC) for more than 18 months and it’s served me very, very well.
Adobe Creative Cloud (Lightroom + Photoshop)
There is no better photo editing and management solution than Adobe Lightroom, hands down. Not only is Lightroom a powerful editing tool, but it is a flexible photo management tool that keeps your shots organized in a comprehensive and cohesive way. It can be complicated to learn at first, but as with all things, once you learn how to master your tools, you can begin to harness their power. I learned many of my post-processing Lightroom skills from Ben Willmore's Lightroom Mastery on CreativeLive ($129).
For further edits and retouching, Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard. These are the only two programs that most photographers will ever need. Again, it may be confusing to learn at first, but there are plenty of online tutorials to help you learn how to use them (like this Photoshop 101 class for $99).
PhotoTraces Lightroom Presets
As someone who takes a lot of travel photos, the process of editing each and every one eats up a lot of time. Lightroom presets are a really easy way to apply a preset formatting to a batch group of photos (consistency is really important), or even just to stylize one or two of them in a unique way.
Viktor, from PhotoTraces, has been a high-profile photographer for many years and he takes (and edits) stunning travel photos. Now, he’s created three stellar packs of Lightroom presets: one for landscapes, one for portraits, and one for cross-processing. Presets are a great jumping off point for editing photos, and his landscape pack is my go-to when I need to edit a photo quickly. He also has a free pack of presets to get you started, so you can try before you buy.
Price: $40 each
Magic Lantern Firmware
Here’s one for the more advanced users out there. If you find that your Canon EOS isn’t isn’t cutting the mustard, you can actually expand the functionality of it by using custom software to take your photos. This installs directly onto your camera, replacing the entire user interface and adding all kinds of new, custom, expanded features that weren't factory-built by Canon.
Be warned, things can get a little hairy once you start messing with the internal features of your camera, but if you’re confident and comfortable with technology, this might be worth looking into.
What are your favorite pieces of travel photography gear? Would you add anything to the list? Let us know in the comments below!
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