We often get asked what camera gear we use to take pictures. Obviously, a camera is no good without a photographer, but the opposite is also true!
I’ve been shooting with Canon SLR’s since I was around 12 years old, when I started my photography journey with the film AE-1. It’s still in the attic actually. Maybe one day when I have a burst of nostalgia for shooting film, I’ll dust it off and bring it down. In the meantime, this is what we’re currently packing.
My Travel Camera Equipment
Camera Body – Canon EOS 6D
After a long while shooting with a crop sensor Canon digital SLR (the 400D, an amazing bit of kit for it’s time), I figured it was time for an upgrade, and I went down the full frame sensor route with the Canon 6D.
This camera is a stunning bit of kit, with spectacular ISO performance, built in GPS and wi-fi, and outstanding image quality. It is missing a few features of its bigger brother, the 5D mk3, but really, for the price difference, you’re unlikely to notice. I carry two, to save on lens changes.
I wrote a full review of this camera from a travellers perspective here.
The 6D is a bit long in the tooth now, so if I was buying a new camera today I’d likely go for the full frame mirrorless Canon EOS R, or the 6D successor, the 6D Mark II. See our full guide to the best cameras for travel here.
Camera Body – Panasonic Lumix GX8
I haven’t switched to a mirrorless setup yet, but I do love this mirrorless Panasonic Lumix GX8. It has incredible image quality in a relatively compact form, as well as a host of features, from an innovative 4K Photo mode, through to WiFi, sensor-based image stabilisation, a touchscreen LCD and a host of manual controls.
It’s perfect for when I don’t want to stand out too much in the crowd, and the silent shooting function is amazing for street photography. For examples of photos I’ve taken with this camera, check out these posts.
Wide Angle Lens – Canon EF 16-35 f/4 IS L
I love taking landscape shots, and also photos where I can really play with perspective, and get everything in shot, and this lens delivers that in spades. Also good for interior shots, shots of buildings, and for taking pictures of people that make them look totally insane.
For a long time I used the cheaper Canon EF 17-40 f/4 L as my go-to wide angle lens. However, the 16-35 is a much sharper lens, especially at the corners, and includes image stabilization. We think this makes it a better all round choice if your budget will stretch to it.
Canon also does a 16-35 f/2.8, which is heavier, more expensive, and faster, but as I generally shoot from a tripod for this kind of photography, I’ve not found a need for it yet. However, if you are planning on doing a lot of event photography of moving subjects, or astrophotography, this is one to consider also.
If you’re on a crop Canon body, then I can highly recommend the Canon EF-S 10-22mm. This was my absolute favourite lens for a number of years. It just doesn’t fit on a full frame body.
Prime Lens – Canon EF 85 1.8
Shooting with a prime lens is a great way to make you think more carefully about your photography, and also comes with the benefit that these are often a lot faster (read, the aperture goes bigger and lets more light in), meaning you can shoot when there is less light.
This lens is perfect for portrait work and night shooting, that 1.8 aperture both letting plenty of light in and giving fantastic depth of field. Almost too much depth of field at 1.8 to be honest – it’s worth stopping down a bit to 2.2 so everything you need is in focus!
If you’re on a crop body, then you need to buy the Canon 50mm 1.8. It’s the cheapest and lightest lens that Canon makes (under $100), and there is no better value Canon lens. For portrait work on a crop sensor it is outstanding, and that gorgeous aperture makes low light photography possible – even if it can struggle a bit to focus if it’s particularly dark. It’s also not very robust – so don’t drop it!
Telephoto Zoom lens – Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8 IS II L
Widely regarded as the best telephoto zoom lens that Canon makes, it is incredibly fast all the way through the focal length and sharp as a tack. It might be heavy, but I absolutely adore the image quality.
Four stops of Image Stabilisation make my tripod almost unnecessary, and it’s my go-to lens for anything that needs that bit of extra reach. It shines for portraits, event work, wildlife and sports – pretty much everything really.
It does weigh an incredible amount, and the price is fairly eye popping too, but fear not, Canon has a host of other lenses in this focal range to meet every need and budget, including the original version as well an f/4 and an f/4 without image stabilisation. There’s also a newer version 3 of this lens available as well.
Macro Lens – Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM
We sometimes like to take close up photos of subjects – either products for some of our posts, or flowers and insect just for fun. The best way to get these really close up images is with a macro lens, which allows for 1:1 magnification of our subjects.
There’s also a more expensive “L” version of this lens, but we don’t do enough macro photography to really justify the additional expense.
Extender – Canon EF 2x II Extender
We don’t do a huge amount of wildlife photography, so we aren’t currently able to justify a dedicated super telephoto lens. Instead, we use a Canon 2x extender, which when attached to our Canon EF 70 – 200 f/2.8, turns it into a Canon 140-400 f/5.6.
This has proven incredibly useful for things like photographing puffins in Iceland, as well as other wildlife encounters around the world. It’s not very large, and it’s relatively inexpensive, and has been well worth it in our opinion as an investment.
Walk around lens – Panasonic X-Series Lumix 12-35 f/2.8 OIS
With a focal equivalent of 24-70, and an aperture of f/2.8, this lens is an absolute beauty, and the perfect lens for just wandering around, offering a real sweet spot of focal lengths, from slightly wide through to slightly zoomed in.
Combined with my wide angle and telephoto lenses on my Canon gear, I have the perfect collection of lenses for 95% of the situations I find myself shooting. I only have the one lens for this camera, and I am so glad it’s this one!
Waterproof Camera – Akaso V50 Elite
I love my SLR, but it’s not particularly fond of more extreme photography or video. For that, I pack the Akaso V50 Elite action camera. I love the compact size, incredible quality it produces, and the fact that it goes everywhere.
Other bonuses are that it charges via USB, can be controlled via wifi from a smartphone, and this particular edition comes with the waterproof housing and remote. Recommended if you’re doing anything at all that requires a bit of rough and tumble, or environments you wouldn’t want to risk your SLR.
Compact Camera – Sony RX100 V
Sometimes you just want a camera that you can slip in your pocket that isn’t obtrusive. The good news is that you don’t have to compromise on professional level features these days, even with a compact camera.
We use the Sony RX100 compact camera, which has had many versions since its first release. We chose the fifth edition as it had all the features we needed, including a large 1″ sensor, fast f/1.8 aperture, full manual controls, incredibly fast autofocus and support for shooting in RAW.
If you’re looking for a compact camera for travel, see our full guide to the best compact cameras.
Drone – Mavic Pro
Despite not doing a lot of video, we have invested in a drone because it lets us get photos that would otherwise be impossible. It’s incredible how small and light this drone is, and how stable it is. Learning how to fly it has taken a bit of time, but it’s a remarkable tool, and one that we love having in our toolkit.
It can even shoot in RAW, which gives us a lot of control over the images it produces. If you’re looking for a drone, we can highly recommend the latest version of the Mavic Pro, or, if you’re on a tighter budget, the smaller and lighter Mavic Air.
360 Camera – Insta360 Air
Sometimes it’s fun to get a different type of shot, and I love to play with my 360 camera, which lets me create all kinds of interesting shots, from tiny planets to fisheye shots.
Camera Strap – Peak Design straps
The strap that comes with your camera is generally ok, but it is a bit limited in terms of carrying options. I prefer a sling style strap, and have tried a variety of options. My first choice was a brand called Carry Speed, but unfortunately they have gone out of business.
Currently I use the excellent Peak Design straps, which are tough, flexible, backed by a lifetime warranty, and let you choose how you want to carry your camera. My Peak Design equipment currently consists of a Peak Design Slide Camera Sling/Neck and shoulder strap, a CapturePRO camera clip and a hand clutch strap.
Camera Bag – Vanguard Alta Sky 49
I often get asked what camera bag I use to cart all this gear around. I’ve tried a lot of options, from standard backpacks with a camera bag insert through to shoulder bags.
The Alta Sky 49 has an incredibly well thought out design, and it lets me carry all of the above gear, with lenses attached, plus a tripod, and I’ve worn it for hours at a time with no discomfort. It’s been up hills, in the mud and rain, and survived everything I’ve thrown at is around the world. It’s a fantastic bit of kit, and very much recommended if you have a fair bit of kit and want to fit a few other handy items with you as well.
If you don’t need quite this much storage space, Vanguard have a variety of other bags at different price points, so do check them out.
Clear UV filters come in all shapes in sizes, but they aren’t created equal. I’d advise against putting a cheap filter on your expensive glass – currently I use the B+W 77mm XS-Pro MRC UV filter which is easy to clean and has little to no impact on image quality. Other B+W filters are available for other sizes of filter thread.
I also use a polarising filter a lot for my landscape photography – it brings out the skies and makes clouds really pop! They can also be used to reduce reflections, and make portraits less “shiny”. Very much worth the investment. I use a B+W 77mm polarising filter.
Finally, to achieve those lovely fluffy waterfalls, mythical cloud shots and to just give you a lot more control over the light coming into your camera, you will probably want to consider some neutral density filters, which let you reduce the light coming into your lens.
These come from all sorts of brands, with Tiffen, Singh Ray and Lee being known as creators of quality filters. Budget is a factor as with anything, and I personally use Haida ND filters – a lesser known brand who have received some solid reviews. I picked up a kit which came with a 3 stop, 6 stop and 10 stop filter, which can be stacked to give me up to 19 stops (!) of light reduction.
A tripod is an essential piece of photography equipment (see why you need a tripod here), although your back muscles may disagree. Holding your camera still isn’t a trivial task, and for landscape photography at higher apertures, you absolutely need one.
It also comes in handy for night-time photography, including capturing images of the stars, time-lapse photography, and has the added benefit of making you really think about the composition of your shot.
I’m a Vanguard Ambassador, which means Vanguard sorts me out for my gear. So I actually have quite a few Vanguard tripods. However, the two main ones I use arethe award-winning Alta Pro 2+ 264CT and the VEO 2 Go 256HCBM.
For the former, I pair that up with a Vanguard BBH-200 head, which is Arca compatible, meaning I can get my gear on and off the tripod super quickly.
The reason I have two main tripods is that one is primarily for travel. The VEO range are smaller and lighter, making them ideal for hiking and trips where weight is a consideration. For regular travellers, this is the tripd I recommend. You can see a full review of the VEO 2 Go 256HCBM here.
The Alta is the tripod I use for when weight is less of a concern. It’s still relatively lightweight, but isn’t something I’d want to take on a prolonged hike. It’s great for road trips from home and other situations like that.
Vanguard do a whole range of products, from tripods, to heads, through to bags and optics – you are sure to find something you’ll like. A tripod is an essential piece of photography gear, so don’t skimp on the cost as you’ll come to regret it later!
Even better, with my discount code you can get 20% off everything in the Vanguard US store. Just enter the coupon code FindingTheUniverse (FindingTheUniverseUK in the Vanguard UK store) (all one word, case sensitive) at checkout to get the discount!
Wireless remote – Pixel TW-282/N3
When shooting longer exposures where even the press of the shutter can cause a wobble, for taking pictures of myself, or for time-lapse, a wireless remote is the way to go. This lets us control the camera wirelessly from up to 100ft away, and is perfect for all sorts of shooting situations.
Shooting in RAW takes up a lot of memory space (but you need to be doing it!), so I use 64GB memory cards.
I’ve always found SanDisk to be a reliable brand, and are currently using the SanDisk class 10 45MB/s extreme cards. There are faster cards available, but as the camera can’t write to them any faster, there’s no point wasting money on them.
The GoPro uses microSD cards, and I use class 10 64gb cards in that as well – Amazon US link here.
Miscellaneous Travel Photography Equipment
Running out of battery power at a critical moment in shooting is not cool, so I always carry at least one spare battery for each camera. For the Canon 6D, that’s a Canon LP-E6. For the Lumix, that’s a DMW BLC12e. And for the drone, that’s the DJI Intelligent battery.
Shooting in RAW takes up a lot of hard drive space, more than my ultrabook has when on longer assignments. Plus, having my photos in only one place is a serious risk in case of technical failure or theft.
For this reason I travel with three ruggedised external hard drives. Having tried a variety (including some from ADATA which turned out not to be quite so rugged), I’ve found the USB 3.0 Transcend 2TB to be both reliable and very fast.
Ok, this might seem a bit odd, but when you’re out shooting all day in places where the weather isn’t always so reliable, or you want to take your gear on boat trips in the Galapagos, or up waterfalls in Thailand – keeping it dry is important!
For this reason I travel with relatively inexpensive dry bags that keep my gear totally dry in all conditions.
Selfie Stick – Anker Bluetooth Selfie Stick
So, not every photo we take is with our serious cameras – sometimes we’re just out and about and want to capture the moment. For that, we will sometimes use a smartphone, and to get a photo of the two of us together, yes, we’ll use a selfie stick!
Our recommended selfie stick is this bluetooth model by Anker. Bluetooth means you don’t need to fiddle with wires, and this particular selfie-stick folds up really small, making it perfect for travel.
Now for something a little bit fun! Sometimes you want to be a bit creative when shooting, and this 80mm glass lensball is a great way to do just that, turning scenes into fun 360 degree-like images.
Photo Editing Software
All the above only counts for half of my photography workflow. Post-processing is a critical part of digital photography, and for that I recommend Adobe Lightroom, which comes as a package with Photoshop – an excellent deal and everything you need for your photo editing. I also have a guide to other photography editing software here.
That photo editing software will also need a capable computer to run on. For that, I’ve written a guide to the best laptops for photo editing.
Photography Learning Resources
And finally, having all this camera equipment is no good at all if you don’t know how to use it. That’s why I decided to write my own travel photography course – to share everything I’ve learnt, and help you take your photography to the next level.
I’ve had amazing feedback from all the students on the course to date, and would love to help you achieve your photography dreams. Find our more about my courses, right here.
And that’s it! You can find this list on Amazon here for quick reference.