Packing for a beautiful destination? Here’s my complete list of travel photography essentials that new photographers just can’t miss!
Photography is an expensive hobby and often you’ll have to make a lot of difficult decisions between equipment. I’ve been shooting portraits and travel photos since 2013 so believe me when I say, I’ve had my share of mishaps and have learned since how to make sure that your photos are never compromised. With that said, let’s dig in!
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Travel Photography Essentials Every Photographer Must Have:
Travel Cameras That Fit Your Photography Style
A great camera is the ultimate travel photography essential but it all depends on what you want to do with it! I have included a couple different options depending on your travel plans and photography goals:
Do you travel light? Then one of the most important things on the travel photography essentials list is a small compact camera that gives you enough flexibility while giving you some playroom. Then you’re choosing between a point & shoot, a mirrorless camera or an action cam.
If you’re looking to combine a point & shoot with vlogging capabilities, check out the Canon G7X for a fantastic photo quality plus a flip screen which could be invaluable if you ever wanna take up vlogging or even the occasional selfie. This is my camera of choice – although I got it primarily for combining photography on the go with vlogging, I’m really happy with its quality.
The only thing to consider is the cost. I also recommend that you buy a good camera case to protect it from damage. I got a tiny scratch on the lens and the cost of repairs would be half the cost of a new camera, so take care of your equipment and avoid this problem!
Other alternatives to this type of camera include the super premium Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100. Canon G7X also has a Mark II edition which is more enhanced and very competitive compared to the Sony one so do your due diligence.
If you’d like a light camera but also the ability to change lenses, check out mirrorless cameras. There’s the more budget-friendly Olympus Pen E-PL8 or something more robust like the Canon M6. Both come with flip screens, advanced modes, and good quality.
You can’t go wrong with an action camera if you like adventure travel and want to capture the most fun moments of your travel experiences. The GoPro HERO5 is currently in the top 5 most purchased cameras on Amazon and it is by far the biggest player when it comes to fantastic action cams.
This type of camera is totally worth the investment if you expect to do a lot of adventure experiences and wanna document your biking, surfing, climbing, zip-lining moments or just explore the world around you. There are some more affordable options depending on whether you’re looking for 4K footage and amount of pixels.
Don’t forget about the big DSLRs if you’re into your lenses and are looking to break into serious photography. If you’re just starting out get a DSLR + Kit which usually includes a wide angle lens and zoom. For your go-to lens, I would wholeheartedly recommend a 50mm. I’m using a Canon 6D kit plus 50 mm. 1.4 which is bordering on professional equipment while still being affordable. Although when it comes to photography equipment, affordability is a very relative term. So if you don’t want to break the bank and just want to dip your toes in, go for Canon 800D which is a very strong camera that has a flip & touchscreen, films videos in 1080p and will get you to great pictures in no time.
Lenses & Accessories
Lenses are arguably the most important thing when it comes to the end result. They can also be expensive so it’s always best to start out with a universal lens until you understand its limitations and work from there.
There are a couple of accessories you can’t miss from the very beginning though!
Lens filters for better photography
For amazing landscape photos that include both the sky and the ground, you will need a Graduated Neutral Density Filter. It helps with making sure that the sky’s brightness is lowered. That way all the beautiful sunset colors actually appear on the photo. As with every filter, make sure that you’re choosing the right filter size for your particular lens!
A UV filter is a great solution to protect your camera from accidental damage. It’s basically an extra piece of glass which would protect the lens itself should you drop the camera. I actually had an accident recently, after years of usage where the camera fell down. The UV Filter was broken into pieces but the lens itself was perfectly all right.
With current prices for photography equipment, it’s an honest recommendation of mine to splurge for the filter once and save yourself the tears you will shed over the loss of your favorite lens.
If you plan on photographing waterfalls on long exposure to achieve that effect of long falling water, you might want a Neutral Density Filter. It limits the amount of light going into the camera which allows for long exposures without losing any precious detail.
Lens cleaning kit
Lenses get dirty, misty, or smudgy. The best way to correct that is to use a specific lens cleaning kit which usually includes a pen, a handkerchief made from the right fabric and spray. Take care of your lenses regularly and you’ll keep your pictures smudge-free.
Smartphone lens kits
Phone photography shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you like using your smartphone for photographs on the go, consider getting a set of Clip-on smartphone lens kits to compensate for the fact that you can’t exactly switch a lens the usual way. These lenses will help you with fish-eye effect, zoom, and many other variations.
Memory cards are your best friends from now on. You can expect to constantly be running out of space so make sure to get 2 different cards, preferably 32GB or 64GB. 16GB can run out pretty quickly if you’re shooting large images! Also, cards can get corrupted once in a while so always keep a backup.
If your laptop or computer doesn’t have a memory card slot I suggest you choose a card reader with a USB port, like this Transcend Compact Card Reader or a budget option from UGREEN. Get a Micro SD with an adapter from SanDisk and keep it handy as it will make your life easier! It doesn’t seem like one of the obvious travel photography essentials but there’s nothing worse than having a full memory card and no way to free it up.
Power bank portable chargers
If you rely on your phone as much as I do, you’re in dire need of a portable charger. Once you go crazy with taking pictures, editing them and looking up all those gorgeous geolocations on your phone, the battery on your phone is going to go down like a sinking ship.
There are several options that are very affordable and will save you from getting lost in a foreign country when a socket is nowhere to be found. I use the Belkin charger but I’ve heard from several bloggers that Anker is the most awesome thing there is and I’m inclined to believe them.
Durable and light tripods
Regardless of your plans, a great tripod is an absolute must-have. Whether you plan to take pictures of yourself in touristic spots or dabbling in night time photography, a tripod will be your best friend. Figure out is the optimal size first based on your goals. Keep in mind the weight of your camera when you choose a tripod. It’s important to make sure that it can handle the weight.
For mobile shots, vlogging cameras and other light equipment, Joby is the go-to tripod for the whole world. It is a bit of a splurge but the best thing about it is its sturdiness, size and the ability to twist and fix it any way you like. You can literally wrap the legs around a porch and take an amazing shot without worrying about your camera. They also make Joby GorillaPods for big DSLR and heavier mirrorless cameras.
If you’re planning to take landscape shots you do need a high and steady tripod that you can rely on. For a cheap version, you can consider this Hama tripod. The tripod is pretty light and depending on the wind it might be unable to stand its ground.
My favorite tripods are definitely Manfrotto, although I own both Manfrotto and Hama. Manfrottos are durable, lightweight, easy to use. If you want to be ready for anything, that’s your best bet.
Remote shutter, selfie sticks, small selfie drone, plastic bags
When it comes to photography you want to be ready for anything. A remote shutter is great to avoid camera shakiness while a selfie stick will add to your flexibility, as long as you don’t poke other people with it.
Recently a lot of small selfie drones have flooded the market, making it possible to take a quick snapshot from unlikely angles for a very low cost. Don’t expect the camera to be mind-blowing but it’s definitely a fun accessory to try!
And don’t forget the plastic bags. Rain is a real hindrance to travel photographers. Get a plastic sleeve or a bag to make sure your camera stays free of water.
Camera backpacks & cross-body bags
Now that you’ve got all the travel photography essentials, you really need a great camera backpack. When choosing a backpack, consider what you’ll be using it for. A good backpack has space for a laptop and tripod. There should be slots for different camera equipment and the option to re-arrange your stuff.
Here are some beautiful backpacks that are made specifically for photographers:
If you’re not into backpacks, consider cross body bags. Here are some messenger bags that are perfect for going on assignments and exploring the city.
Photography equipment isn’t an end all be all for travelers! It’s time to research the best travel gadgets that you can’t afford to leave at home. You don’t want to leave your house without a USB cable or an extra pair of earphones for sure.