Would you like to find out what kind of photography gear we carry around? If you want to start creating beautiful and especially diverse content, you need to have certain travel gear. There is no secret to that. We learned on the way and that means if we can do it, you can do it too. Here, we are sharing all our travel must haves we use to take our travel photos and videos. But just to be clear:
You don’t need the best or most expensive cameras and gear in order to create amazing photos and videos. The magic is what you do with the gear.
OUT TOP 16 TRAVEL MUST HAVES FOR PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEOGRAPHY ADDICTS
We are self-taught professionals who learned all of it on our own, by watching Youtube videos and by simply asking other bloggers. We know how important it is to know what photography travel essentials are out there, especially for beginners who have no idea what travel gear to get. That is why we put together a list of all the photography gear we (mostly Nico) carry around in our backpacks.
We use a Sony Alfa 58 (get the updated model Sony a68) and we use it since day 1 on the road. It is a great mid-range camera with around 20MP and we are very happy with it. Having a reliable camera is one of the most important travel gadgets. If you love to travel and if are serious about photography then start with purchasing a capable camera.
In our opinion, it is great value for money and a good starting point for beginners, but also for more experienced photographers. Once you understand the focus, it is very nice to work with. A big advantage is how robust the camera is. It was exposed to sand, saltwater, heat, cold and a lot of bumpy rides it also almost got stolen in Chile, yet it still functions flawless and shoots wonderful pictures.
It is a DSLT camera that uses a translucent mirror, unlike a DSLR that uses a reflex mirror. That is a good thing in regards to image quality as there is no mirror flipping (like in a DSLR) that causes vibration. Only Sony produces DSLT cameras at the moment.
However, at around 500g it is quite heavy at least in comparison to mirrorless or compact cameras. But all comparable DSLR cameras have higher weights in common. Nevertheless, we probably would go for a smaller/lighter version for our next camera. Another aspect to consider is that it does not take the best pictures in the dark which is a disadvantage of the translucent character of the mirror, as less light gets through in low light situations.
Overall we can say that there so many types of cameras that it’s easy to lose oversight. What works for us might not work for you if you need a bit more help to consider getting help and make sure to test the camera thoroughly you intend to purchase. A good point to start your research is Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Photography.
There are many lenses you can choose from. We assume that you will want to use yours for traveling and that you don’t necessarily want to invest a fortune which certainly is possible. We choose a SIGMA 18-250 mm 1:3.5-6.3 Macro HSM. Sigma specializes in lenses and makes lenses for all camera manufacturers. Hence, make sure to choose the right mount.
Generally speaking, it’s a great allrounder lens. And that is exactly what you should go for as it will allow you to cover most pictures while you travel. As the wide range from 18 to 250mm indicates it allows you to zoom in quite a bit which allows you to take great wildlife pictures but at the same time the ability to photograph landscapes and cityscapes. Most importantly it is a very affordable lens that won’t break the bank as other lenses (in our case Sony/Zeiss lenses) would. The lens is neither too big nor too heavy which makes it great for traveling.
Our tripod is one of the most important travel must-haves. Many times people ask us, how we take pictures of both of us. Well, it’s our tripod who does the work. The good things are that entry-level tripods are really affordable. We traveled with our tripod through 4 continents. It is robust and has a great height (125cm), solid stand. But the best thing is that it is great value for money. It’s a Rollei Tripod S1. The S2 stands at 150cm and is just a bit more expensive. All tripods under $50 are bargains. If you want a professional tripod you quickly pay over $100.
Often when we shoot a lot and don’t have enough time to recharge or have no access to a power source, a second battery comes in handy. We do recommend to have a spare battery just in case the first battery gets damaged and you won’t be able to buy another battery for a while when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
CAMERA SHUTTER REMOTE CONTROL
Before the remote control, we would be setting our camera on a 10-second timer. Which is great but sometimes we just ran around like idiots. Then we got this and our life changed forever. The only downside is that we have to make sure to hide the remote on the pictures. It is very simple to use, just attach it to the camera and start shooting. Just make sure the version you chose is compatible with your camera model/make.
If you follow us on Instagram or read some of our articles you have probably noticed that our drone is one of our coolest travel must haves. This is such a great travel asset in our life. We use the DJI Mavic Pro and we choose 3 years ago as it was the best drone on the market (definitely for our purposes). It is high quality and allows us to shoot in RAW and record 4k videos. Besides it is big enough to fly steadily but small enough once folded to store it away easily in your hand luggage. You cannot do much wrong and it is very easy to pilot (even Gigi can do it but she is still scared).
OUR TIP: We highly advise you to get travel insurance but we also recommend you on owning DJI product DJI care. Things can go wrong and it’s a great comfort to know while you fly that you are covered. We also know many travelers who crashed it (several times, we won’t say names :D) and got it fixed. You have a couple of days after purchasing a new drone to add DJI Care.
Just make sure you comply with general aviation rules and make sure to check legislation for every country you intend to visit. In some countries, it might go as far that drones get confiscated. Once in Myanmar we were on our way to a domestic flight in Yangon and returned halfway to bring our drone back to the hotel where we stored our big luggage. During our ride, we found out that some other travelers got their drone confiscated on a domestic flight in Myanmar.
EXTRA BATTERY FOR DRONE
A DJI Mavic Pro battery holds only for about 25 minutes (depending on the weather conditions and the way it is used) that’s why we decided to buy a second battery. In Australia, we even could have used a third battery. If you go for a cheaper or smaller drone the battery will last even shorter.
We have the GoPro HERO5 Black, which we don’t use it as much as our other travel gear but still, it is very handy and comes into play when it’s too risky to use phone or camera to film or to take pictures. It shoots RAW (12MP) and records 4k video. There are several newer versions up to 8 by now. However, they are also more expensive. Also, be careful when acquiring knock-off products that cost little but promise to be 4k cameras. The one we tested some years ago was clearly not filming in 4k.
UNDERWATER CASE / RED FILTER FOR GOPRO
Diving and snorkeling are great but have you ever taken pictures underwater? They mostly suck! You see so many great colors but once you look at your photos they are all blue. Why?
This is because there is no sufficient light and colors. That is why you need to balance it with red filters. Especially while scuba diving, it is essential to use a red filter (or an original GoPro. It is tricky to get the right one as not every red will do the job. Rather go for a trusted brand/more expensive product over some no-name cheap filter. We tried it and it didn’t work out at all. Cheaper ones will also get scratches quickly that likely ruin every shoot even if the red filter did its job well.
Also, make sure to get a waterproof case. For snorkeling, the GoPro HERO5 (and later models) is safe without a case but once you go scuba diving make sure to use a proper case to protect the camera. Once again be careful with cheaper products. That might save you money but they might not perform as well as you might like them perform.
EXTRA BATTERY FOR GOPRO
Batteries for the GoPro are not necessarily long-lasting so make sure to have a spare one on board. The battery that works for the HERO5 also works for the HERO6 and HERO7.
DOME & PISTOL TRIGGER
This is the latest addition to our travel essentials and we absolutely love it. It is quite tricky to use though. But once you figure it out, you will have great underwater pictures. For every beach lover, this is the perfect tool and one of the coolest travel must-haves we have recently purchased.
PRO TIP: Whenever you use any gear in saltwater make sure to rinse it afterward with fresh water. Otherwise, your equipment’s condition will deteriorate quickly.
STABILIZER OR GIMBAL
This is so important if you don’t want to have shaky videos. Stabilizers can be tremendous difference makers. If you are into travel videography or you just want to improve your Instagram stories, then you need to get a stabilizer. Our Zhiyun Smooth Q is
- very affordable,
- easy to use and
- it has a durable battery
Only a few downsides: a bit heavy and slightly too big. But this has been improved with the newer and handier Smooth Q. The application that comes with it is quite useful but you don’t necessarily need to use it.
A nice solution that keeps your smartphone “free” and its batteries less drained is the rather expensive DJI Osmo Pocket with an integrated camera (12MP, 4K). However, it is so handy that you can easily fit it in your pocket. If it would have existed 3 years ago we definitely would have gotten it.
This sounds like an easy on. Just buy any that is big enough. But not so fast. There are of course differences and if you take photography or videography serious those differences will make all the difference to the content you create. In the end, it’s all about the SD cards’ reading and writing speeds. If you plan to record 4K videos (which you should), take RAW pictures and/or burst pictures with your camera/drone/action cam you need a fast(er) SD card. Thus, if you would like to record 4K videos or shoot in RAW use a UHS speed class 3 (U3) SD card or risk stuttering videos or a slow shutter when taking pictures.
We don’t want to go into the technical details here but if you like to learn more click here. We can recommend this SD card for your camera. We decided to rather have several 32GB cards than a single big one. Hence, we would like to reduce the temptation of not backing up regularly. If you record a lot of 4K videos with your camera or your drone, rather go for the bigger 64GB SD card.
EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE
If you travel without an external hard drive, you are making us nervous. Creating content without a backup to store your content is a dangerous game to play. Once you start shooting in RAW or 4K videos it will be not enough to leave it on the SD card. Backup your content regularly on a hard drive and store it securely there. We have in total 3 separate ones and each holds 1TB. Rather get several ones than only one with a lot of storage. What do you do if your only hard drive fails? Which is possible if you are on the move a lot.
PORTABLE CHARGER FOR IPHONE & OTHER DEVICES
I think this one almost everyone has and you don’t need any explanation. It is really great to charge your phone and other equipment while you are on the go. Get one that has at least 20.000mAmp to make sure you have several charging cycles ready to keep your electronics running. We can recommend the Anker PowerCore:
- it is robust (Nico dropped it all the time and it still works)
- gives you several cycles
- is not too heavy or big and fits in your hand luggage (never put it in your check-in luggage)
SMARTPHONE & COMPUTER
2 items that almost every traveler has packed. Depending on what you do a smartphone that records 4k video is great. Combine with a stabilizer and you can shoot footage like a pro. We both use iPhones that have 12MP and record 4K. On top of it is worth considering how much storage you want to go for. Naturally the more the better but also the more expensive. If you use a smartphone other than an iPhone you are likely able to extend your storage capacity with a big (micro) SD card. If you like to edit pictures there are plugins that allow you to shoot RAW with your phone. Check, for instance, Lightroom.
And any computer makes sense to backup photos and videos or even better as a tool to transfer and backup your content on an external hard drive.
BACKPACK FOR OUR TRAVEL GEAR
It is very nice to carry all your gear in a secure backpack. We have almost all our gear in one bag which makes it really easy and this is how we protect it as much as we can. The backpack we recommend can be used as a carry-on item and yet is big enough to contain almost all travel gadgets we talk about in this post.
Never put any valuable gear in a bag that is not secure. Make sure to secure all bags with a lock.
After writing about all our gear, we realized that we have quite a lot of stuff 😀 However, we love it and make it fun as we can choose what kind of content we would like to create.
Hope you will find our article helpful and that you will create a lot of beautiful content.
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