MY TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR: A DETAILED GUIDE
For the last three years, I have been traveling all around the world taking photographs and writing travel blogs and guides. Throughout this time I’ve tried a lot of different camera gear and also different backpacks and organization methods to keep it all sorted efficiently. I only use reliable products because this is my profession and I can’t afford things to go wrong when I am working on a campaign. All of the camera gear and equipment in this blog post are items that I have in my backpack as I travel around the world as a professional travel blogger.
The most important piece of equipment for a travel blogger is a camera. The main things to consider about a camera is the weight and size of the camera because you’re going to be carrying it around on your back every day. Secondly, you want to make sure you buy a camera you are comfortable trekking with, taking on boats and into risky situations. If you purchase an expensive camera and are too afraid to take it on your adventures you are missing the shot. For me, the Sony A7 series is the best for combining performance and quality within a lightweight, mirrorless camera.
Sony A7ii Mirrorless Camera
I wanted a light camera, one that I would be able to carry on hikes and all of my travel adventures. The Sony A7 series does a great job at competing and often outperforming Canon and Nikon but in a smaller camera. Mirrorless is the way of the future for cameras and for travel bloggers it is a no-brainer to go for a mirrorless camera as they are sometimes half the size. A great part about the Sony A7II is being able to use the Sony PlayMemories Apps. There are lots of free apps you can install on the camera such as the Time Lapse app and Sky HDR app. The Sony A7iii is now available, which means the Sony A7ii has been reduced dramatically in price to less than $1000.
16-35 f4 Sony Landscape Photography Lens
The Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar F4 Lens is on my camera 90% of the time. It is my go-to lens for my Instagram, blog and just about everything. The focal length of 35mm is equivalent to what you see with a naked eye. A focal length of 16mm is much wider and enabled me to capture an entire scene, a vast range of mountains or an entire beach in one shot. The Sony 16-35mm is my primary lens and It enabled me to shoot some portraits but also the flexibility to fit an entire landscape into my frame. It’s perfect for travel photography, especially if you are in nature a lot.
55mm f1.8 Sony- Zeiss Portrait Lens
A prime lens has a fixed focal length and a much wider aperture, which enables low light shooting and a much smaller depth of field. I purchased the Sony 55mm F1.8 Sonnar T FE ZA Prime Lens. I ended up doing a few paid jobs and paying off this lens quickly. My favorite time with this lens was in Indonesia where I tried my hand at travel portrait photography for the first time, which turned out to be really fun especially with the small depth of field the Sony 55m F1.8 delivered. Taking portraits is something I do now in every country I visit and it is because of this lens.
Hoya Polarizer Filter
All of my landscape photos involved the sun and often the ocean. The harsh light from the sun often blows out the water with awful reflections. I bought a Hoya 72mm HRT Circular PL Polarizer and with a small twist before taking a photo I was now able to reduce or eliminate the reflections on the ocean. All of a sudden I could see the reef below the water and bring out the turquoise color of the Pacific Ocean. Even on hikes the polarizer really brings out the greens of the trees and is so handy when shooting a waterfall. My polarizer is on my camera 90% of the time and is one of my favorite accessories. It also protects your expensive lens glass from scratches.
Dji Mavic 2 Drone
Buying a drone is the single best thing I’ve done during my travels. I absolutely love flying my drone at all of the amazing places I get to visit. The Dji Mavic Pro 2 is super compact and fits in my backpack quite easily. I love the idea that I get to have an aerial tour of each location I visit. It is like a free helicopter experience all around the world. The drone allows me to really show the landscape of a location to my blog readers in a way that a regular camera just can’t capture. I love getting to the top of a mountain on a solo hike, chilling out for a bit and then sending the drone up for an aerial view.
Hoya ND Filter
I began looking the work of many talented landscape photographers and decided I wanted to try my hand at long exposures. I did hours of research and finally decided to get a Hoya Pro 72mm 1000x Neutral Density Filter, which is a 10 stop ND filter. This allowed me to smooth oceans, waterfalls and show motion in the water. It also helped to show motion in the sky especially with cloud movement and during sunset/sunrise.
I quickly figured out that carrying a tripod everywhere was not fun at all. In fact, I often left it at the hostel because I didn’t want to hike with it. So when I did need a tripod I didn’t even have one. I decided to buy myself a GorillaPod, which is super small, lightweight and fits inside my backpack easily. It is bendable and you can attach it to almost anything. Unlike the tripod, which has a maximum height, you can attach the camera to poles, tree branches or street signs to grab a steady shot. It’s perfect for vlogging and setting up photos of yourself if no-one else is around.
GoPro Hero 7
The GoPro Hero 7 is serious bang for your buck. There is nothing else that compares to it on the market right now. It allows you to take amazing underwater photos at a very affordable price. Pair this with a selfie stick or a dome port and you’ll be able to capture some incredible angles. GoPros are also extremely durable, they’ll be able to take a lot more hits than you will so you don’t have to be afraid where you can and can’t take it.
LifeProof iPhone Case
Whether you’re island hopping or tip-toeing behind enormous waterfalls, it’s a wise investment to get yourself a waterproof phone cover. I use a Lifeproof Waterproof Case, so I never have to worry about dust, water, sand and scratching my phone. It also handles being dropped all the time. Not only do they keep your phone safe from water damage, you’ll be able to take photos on the move too. If you want to use your phone near water a cheap phone pouch or case will do the job, but one of them is a definite must.
A few hours on Google Maps is a sure way to drain your phone battery, alas, a power bank is a necessity for me. This year I started using an Anker Powerbank and it was a life-changer. It stays charged when I’ve charged it, is super reliable and gives me 3-4 cycles of phone charge or camera battery charge. It guarantees I always have the battery charged on my phone, plus it has another USB point for other electronics like your GoPro. If you are a photographer, digital nomad or just love your tech this is a necessity.
Victoria Tourist Camera Backpack
If you’re really adventurous and heading out for some multiple day hikes, it pays to have something supportive, spacious and comfortable. I use a VictoriaTourist backpack and I have used this bag for the last 3 years. It isn’t a special brand and just something I found on Amazon but it suits my needs perfectly. I can fit a laptop, clothes, water, drone, GoPro and DSLR with lenses all for a day of adventures. It is one of the only bags in the world that fits a laptop, 3 liters of water and has your DSLR camera and lenses in a zippable front pocket rather than in compartments inside the bag. I always watch other photographers take their bag off or reach around into the side of their bag to reach their camera and wonder why they paid $200 or more for such inconvenience when the VictoriaTourist bag provides a better option for just $60. It also has a rain cover, which has saved me multiple times. I could go on forever about this bag as it has been through so much with me. From the top of Everest Base Camp to the waterfalls of the Philippines!
Worldwide Power Adapter
Charging all your gear can be difficult enough in the Philippines, it pays to get yourself a good quality adapter that will plug into any wall without fail. If you get yourself a worldwide adapter, it will come in handy for the rest of your travels too. There’s nothing worse than traveling around Southeast Asia and having to buy a new adaptor for every single country. Get a universal adaptor and simplify your travels.
I have two SanDisk Extreme PRO SD cards, which has worked perfectly for me. They come in different storage amounts but the 64gb or 128gb means you will literally never run out unless you are shooting insane amounts of video.
Sandmarc Extra Long Selfie Pole
Don’t be ashamed of using your selfie stick. They capture some of the best and most engaging angles. I use the Sandmarc GoPro pole because of a couple of reasons. The Sandmarc pole is longer than the default stick GoPro sells and it also doesn’t have the three arm bend. It is for holding out during a cliff jump, on a moped. It doesn’t bend or need adjusting just whip it out, get the shot and put it away before anyone notices!!
EarthPak Waterproof Dry Bag
You got it, another tropical essential. When you’ve seen as many people lose their phones or camera gear to water damage as I have, you’ll understand why I place so much importance on a waterproof dry bag. A quality dry bag will do as it suggests by keeping your belongings air-tight even if the bag happens to become fully immersed in water during snorkeling, a boat trip or waterfall adventures.