The Most Essential Travel Photography Gear You Need to Think About
Whenever you travel, there is absolute excitement. You can’t wait to get to the new and exotic place you’ve booked. As your fingers quickly slide across your keyboard making plans of what to do, panic hits you. What essential travel photography gear do you need to take?
It can be really difficult packing for travel photography. It seems like airplane regulations are consistently shrinking your available carry-on baggage size, limiting you to just a few pieces of photography gear to take.
And then there’s the camera bag issue. Is there a right or wrong camera bag to take?
No worries. I’m here to help. Just look to this blog post as direct guidance for packing for your next big photography journey.
THE CAMERA BAG
Let’s tackle your camera bag first. You are, after all, using your camera bag as a vessel to transport your camera gear to another place, so the bag has to be just right. There are a few things that I like to look for in a camera bag for travel photography that make going through airports easier and make your trip more comfortable, while also giving your more space for other things. In fact, I try to only take a carry-on bag for everything… including clothes.
Look for a camera bag that can fit in overhead storage on an airplane. This will typically max out at a 45 liter backpack.
The backpack should be pretty bland in color. I prefer black because it tends to blend in with the other bags. Brighter colors attract attention and I don’t want a bright orange bag catching the eye of the flight attendant and they think that my bag is way too big. I’m not doing anything illegal with my bag, I’m just playing their luggage size game.
A great travel photography backpack should have the laptop slot accessible from the OUTSIDE! This is most important for me. Going through security can be awful. The last thing I want to do is have to open up my bag’s insides to dig down to my laptop slot.
The best travel photography bags have an aluminum frame. The frame makes the bag sturdy, allows it to stand up (usually), and aluminum is very light. Light and sturdy is always a win.
Lastly, the interior compartment of the bag that is used for your camera gear should be spacious enough to pack your essential travel photography gear, but also small enough that you still have at least half of your photography bag left for clothes.
I’ve found only one photography bag that has checked all of these boxes and it’s the MindShift Gear Backlight Elite 45L camera bag. Now, travel photography bags and outdoor photography bags can be different. This backpack is definitely an outdoor photography bag, but I think it’s well suited for travel as well. It also gives you ease of mind if you encounter any rain or bad weather on your trip as it is pretty weather resistant, has a rain cover, and it is extremely durable. If I’m going on standard day hike, I use a different bag, but if I’m traveling, this is my go to travel photography bag.
ESSENTIAL TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR
You want to take enough photography gear with you to get the shots you want to get, but you don’t want to take so much that your bag is consumed by photography gear. Limiting yourself and planning your shots will allow you to pack just a few lenses and other essentials.
I always try to take just enough lenses to cover what I might want to capture. That means I’m typically hauling three lenses with me, and two camera bodies. Here’s a list of what I usually bring.
Fujifilm X-T30 - An extremely small and light camera body that is capable of shooting everything your throw at it.
Sony a6000 - Like the Fuji, this camera is small and light. It’s pretty old, but it definitely still gets the job done.
Fujifilm 50-140mm f/2.8 - This lens is for those long telephoto shots on your trip. When packing, I leave it attached to my Fujifilm X-T30 to reduce space and have it ready when I need it.
Rokinon 12mm f/2 - Wide angle photography is always useful when traveling. I keep this lens attached to my Sony a6000 to have it ready to shoot when I need it.
Fujifilm 35mm f/2 - This lens is tiny and light which means it’s easy to fit anywhere in my camera bag. Not only that but it gives me a lot of mid-range photography options.
If I have any space left, I will usually take a couple of filters for creative photography options and long exposure shots.
Like I mentioned, I leave my two camera bodies attached to my telephoto and wide angle lens because I like to have them ready to go when I need them. It’s so much easier to pull a ready to go camera out of your bag than have to change lenses and get prepared.
The last thing remaining is a tripod. You definitely need a tripod no matter what you’re photographing. I like a very small and lightweight tripod. Usually, travel tripods are awful… just being honest. However, I have found a lot of success with the Vanguard VEO 2 tripod. It’s relatively sturdy, lightweight, and extremely compact. It does the job. The only downside is that the ball head can’t be removed.
I’ve traveled to multiple different countries, been through hundreds of airports, and gone through numerous customs checks. From my experience, the packing checklist in this blog is the most efficient way to pack the most essential travel photography gear for your next trip. Even planning your travel photography gear takes a lot of effort, but if you fail to plan you plan to fail.