I have to admit, this is the sort of blog post I love reading, as I’m always curious about what gear my favorite bloggers are using and I’m also just a bit nosey like that. But even though I get a lot of questions about what photography equipment I travel with and what I use to edit my photos, I always just figured people would be better off reading about what real photographers use.
I mean, I don’t use the fanciest or latest equipment – it’s very rare you’ll even see me changing my camera lens – and I definitely take some shortcuts. But it works for me. I love my camera so much, and I’m lazy enough to know exactly how little photography gear I can get away with packing while still being able to capture my travels in a professional(ish) way.
So here’s a peek inside my camera bag:
My camera bag
Uh, so I don’t actually use a real camera bag anymore. I do have a waterproof foam insert thing that I put at the bottom of my backpack to keep my camera [sort of] protected.
I just find it so much easier to carry my camera with me in my Burton daypack or purse, and while maybe that means my camera takes a bit of a beating sometimes (luckily my camera can totally handle it), it also means I’m much more willing to take my camera with me everywhere – even though that thing is a beast.
Canon 5D EOS Mark II
I say my camera is a beast because it is big and it is heavy, but I will happily lug it with me wherever I go if it continues to take such pretty pictures.
I got my Canon 5D EOS Mark II a couple of years ago, and while this is a super fancy professional camera, because I bought a used older version it ended up being cheaper than most of the new Canon DSLRs I had been looking at.
I know a few bloggers who have the most recent Mark IV and it is really, really nice with lots of cool features, but even the old versions are way better than any non full frame camera. At least I think so.
Like, I know smaller mirrorless cameras are totally trending right now, but honestly, I just don’t find their photo quality anywhere near as good! In fact I have several friends who are talking about going back to DSLRs because they’re frustrated by their mirrorless cameras (though I also have friends who love using smaller cameras, so to each her own!).
I remember thinking that buying the 5D meant that I’d really have to learn how to use it properly, since it’s what so many professionals use. Except even on auto this thing takes amazing photos.
Don’t worry, I don’t shoot in auto anymore.
Canon 24-105mm f/4L lens
I bought the 24-105 mm f/4L lens as an upgrade for my old camera under the advice of a photographer friend, and it was such a good choice because 1. it’s a perfect lens for travel photography, wide enough for landscapes but also with a pretty good zoom and 2. it fits on both a crop and full frame sensor, so I didn’t need to buy a new lens when I bought the full frame camera.
I love this lens so much and it’s what I use for probably 80% of my photos.
You can also often find really good deals on the Canon 5D Mark sold together with this lens as a bundle.
Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II lens
I bought Canon’s 16-35mm lens in November 2018, mostly to be able to better capture northern lights, because it’s a wider angle and the 2.8 aperture is great for low light. But I’ve also loved using this for capturing landscapes, cities, and the indoors, as often I just can’t fit everything I want into the frame of my 24 mm lens.
Canon 75-300mm f/4-5.6 lens
Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens
This was the first lens I bought and I think it’s especially great for beginners. It’s really affordable, tiny, and takes really sharp photos. The quality is just so, so much better than the kit lens most cheaper cameras come with.
It is a bit tricky to use because it doesn’t zoom in and out, but that forces you to move around a lot to get the right angles, which I found to be a helpful training exercise. Plus since it has such a wide aperture it’s really good for lowlight photography and for giving a nice blurry background on photos.
A camera remote
If you’re going to want to take photos of yourself while traveling alone (or of you and your travel buddies together) then I cannot recommend a camera remote enough! It’s probably my #1 camera accessory.
In fact most of the photos of me that you’ll see on Instagram were taken with my remote because I feel so awkward asking people to take photos for me.
You’ll need to get a remote that’s compatible with your camera – I use a Canon RC-6 with my 5D Mark II camera.
A lightweight tripod
I basically only travel with my tripod when I know I’ll be taking photos at night or trying to capture the northern lights. Otherwise I’ll just balance my camera on my backpack or a rock or something.
I did love traveling with my compact joby tripod as it’s so lightweight and versatile, but now my camera and lens are too heavy for the one I have – though I think they now make a version for heavier cameras, so maybe I will check that out and report back!
DJI Osmo Pocket
I film most of my videos on my DJI Osmo Pocket. I love that it’s tiny so I can take it with me anywhere, plus it’s discreet so I don’t feel embarrassed filming in crowds, and it has a gimbal so the footage is super smooth. And the quality is really good! I’ve used a lot of different video cameras in the past, but this has definitely been the best.
DJI Mavic Air Drone
I also have a DJI Mavic Air Drone, which to be honest I don’t use super often, but I always love the footage when I do. I also really appreciate that this drone is quite small and light, so I can bring it in my daypack without breaking my back.
GoPro Hero6 Black
GoPro sent me the GoPro Hero6 and I like to use it when I need a waterproof camera, or one that can really take a beating. I shot all of this video footage on my GoPro:
Okay, this one isn’t technically in my camera bag, but Lightroom is such a crucial part of my photography that I thought I should include it. I use Lightroom Creative Cloud to edit all of my photos.
I’ve used a lot of different programs in the past for processing my photos, and Lightroom definitely is the best, plus it can process RAW files. And it’s actually quite intuitive – I mean, I’m still learning about some of its more advanced features, but it’s really easy to get a handle on the basics.
I love that I can save my edits as presets (kind of like filters), so if I’m editing a bunch of photos from the same location or with the same lighting, I can just save the changes I want to make as a preset and then apply it to the whole batch. So right now I have presets saved for snowy days, cloudy days, the beach, indoors, northern lights, etc, so I usually only have to make a few tweaks when I’m editing new photos.
And if you’re unsure of where to start you can buy presets from places like VSCO, and even some bloggers and Instagrammers are selling their presets. Or you could just download some free Lightroom presets (this site has some nice ones).
And that’s it!
I’d love to hear if you have any other photography essentials you pack on your travels.