The Guide to the Best Travel Photography Gear
Taking photos while traveling is what started The Lost Passport, even way back when it was called JShep-Photography. Over the past five years I’ve figured out what the best travel photography gear has been for me, and I’m sure it will relate to you.
This guide to the best travel photography gear covers; cameras, lenses, tripods, camera bags and other essential travel photography accessories.
This article contains affiliate links to equipment which I personally use and highly recommend. Any purchases made via the links provided will send a small commission to The Lost Passport. The commission is paid by the supplier and does not increase the price, which you pay for the product. In fact, the prices suggested here are lower than in the store.
Essential Travel Photography Gear
Firstly, you need a decent camera. There are travelers out there taking selfies on their iPhones, but honestly, it just won’t give you the same image quality and flexibility as a really good DSLR does.
You don’t have to go with the most expensive camera first. The first 3 years of The Lost Passport were shot with a Canon 60D which uses a crop sensor. I highly recommend this camera for any beginners or intermediate. The picture quality is fantastic and you get all the controls of a full pro DSRL.
Recently I have upgraded to a full frame sensor on a Canon 6D. This is my first camera stepping into the professional league. If you have a few years photography experience and want to go far then you should really consider this camera.
If you’re not looking to go DSLR yet, then I also recommend the Canon EOS M10. I use this camera for producing a lot of my vlog content on YouTube. It has a nice flip screen, which assists in setting up each of your shots, solo.
If you want to take awe-inspiring photos then a tripod must be in your travel photography gear.
A tripod is incredibly useful in so many situations. Getting long exposure shots is almost impossible without a tripod. Think waterfalls or rugged coastlines with the super smooth, foggy looking water. Even shooting motion fire shows or fireworks events. If you want to be serious about your shots, then you need a tripod.
The second major use of a tripod is taking better travel selfies. The standard iPhone selfie shot is a time gone by. You won’t build followers doing that. With a tripod, you can set the scene up, move into the shot, then take the photo with a remote trigger. Easy.
I recommend using this Manfrotto tripod. It is made of lightweight aluminum which is great for getting around and uses a ball head which adjusts much quicker for your shot.
Now let’s talk real business. Camera lenses are where travel photographers spend the most on gear. Far more than we spend on a camera body or accessories. Before coughing up a few thousand dollars on the best lens you can get, you need to consider what you are shooting.
Landscapes: Wide Angle Lens are essential for capturing the 3 primary elements; foreground, mid and background. I recommend the Canon 10-22mm lens for a crop sensor or the Canon 16-35mm lens for a full frame sensor.
Street Photography: In street photography, you want to get up close and personal to capture the emotion in a scene. Whether you go for a 35mm or a 50mm (nifty-fifty) is personal preference. I find the Canon 50mm f1.4 is a comfortable lens on a full frame sensor. For a crop sensor, it feels jurist a bit too telephoto and would opt for the Canon 35mm f2.0.
Wildlife and Journalism: here you need a quick telephoto lens that can keep you inconspicuous while getting the perfect shot. As a rule of thumb, more focal length combined with a wider aperture is going to result in a higher price tag. But a serious travel photographer cannot go past Canon’s 70-200mm F2.8. This lens will perform quickly in low light and add a real creamy bokeh to your shots at a wide aperture.
What type of travel photographer are you? Consider which subjects you want to shoot. This will help you determine which lenses you need to build the best travel photography gear for your travels.
Don’t go thinking you’re only #nofilters. Real camera filters have much more use than those you find built into photo apps. Long exposure shots, sunrises, sunsets and deep green jungle shots are achieved by filters.
Neutral Density 8 Stop (ND8): This filter reduces the amount of light reaching your camera’s sensor and allows for longer exposure shots during the day. I recommend going with a Hoya ND8 Filter. Different size filters are made for different lenses, be sure to choose the right one for your needs.
Circular Polarising Filter (CP): This filter either permits or cuts off glare depending on which way you spin the glass. If you want to get those shots of crystal clear water at the beach then you need this filter. I recommend going with the Hoya range of CP filters.
Graduated Neutral Density Filters (ND Grad): These filters reduce the amount of light reaching your camera’s sensor on either the top or bottom. These filters are necessary if you want to shoot amazing sunrises or sunsets. Shooting without will blow out the highlights in your shots and lose any detail or contrast that was in the sky. I recommend going with this set of ND Grad Filters from Cokin.
The Best Travel Photography Accessories
Wireless Shutter Trigger
Play this scenario, which I’m sure you will have run into. You set up the scene on your tripod, enable the 10-second timer and run into the shot. When checking the shot you find that you are caught still running into the photo.
Let’s eliminate that with a remote trigger by Yongnuo. At just $30 this is money well spent. A remote trigger is one of the best travel photography accessories to add to your kit. You won’t regret.
The worst thing about being a travel photographer is when you reach an amazing destination at the end of a long day out, and your battery is dead. Once you get into film, the camera draws your battery even quicker. This is why you need to carry spare camera batteries. I carry a total of four camera batteries everywhere and make sure they are all fully charged by the start of every morning. Check here on Amazon for the best prices on all Canon camera batteries and Nikon camera batteries.
Spare camera batteries are one of those travel photography accessories that you cannot live without.
Multi-Country Battery Charger
Ever arrived in a new country, gone to charge your batteries and realized you just can’t fit the charger on the wall? Instead of carrying an adapter for every country, I use a universal battery charger from Hahnel. They are about $20 cheaper than an original Canon or Nikon charger and always fully charge my batteries. They are compatible with multiple battery types too.
With a huge bag of the best travel photography gear around, you will need a decent bag to carry it all. What is the best camera bag for a travel photographer?
As travel photographers, we get around a lot. Long days out in the sun, hiking through the jungle, maybe riding a motorbike or just getting around town. From my experience, the best camera bag for a travel photographer is a backpack style with a waterproof cover. Ideally, the bag will offer some pockets for additional accessories, not only your camera gear.
What do you rate as the best travel photography gear? Let me know in the comments below.