All the essentials and some items to step you up to Professional
Whether you are looking to capture your exotic overseas adventure for friends family and social media, or you’re an aspiring professional looking to break into the fast paced landscapes of travel & adventure photography, We have put together a comprehensive list of must have travel photography gear from essential to advanced.
With so many amazing products available in today’s market it feels like a new gadget is being released every other week which can make it incredibly hard for you to know exactly what you “need” and what can wait.
To help you filter through all the options we’ve broken down this list into 3 easy to follow tiers. From the bare essentials that will get you started in the world of travel photography to the professional kit we now carry around for most of our content creation projects & adventures.
1- THE ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT
2- CAMERA LENSES
3- MEMORY CARDS/ READERS
4- SPARE BATTERIES & CHARGERS
5- TRAVEL ADAPTERS
6- ACTION CAMERA
8- VARIABLE ND FILTERS
9- LAPTOP/ GNARBOX/ EDITING SPFTWARE
11- EXTERNAL HARDDRIVE
12- CAMERA BAG
13- CABLE & ACCESSORY MANAGEMENT
14- GUERRILLA POD, TRIPOD OR MONOPOD
15- CLEANING EQUIPMENT
16- PORTABLE BATTERY PACK
18- SPARE BODY/S
19- THREE AXIS GIMBALS/ STEADICAMS
20- PORTABLE LIGHT SOURCE
21- BACKUPS, BACKUPS, BACKUPS!
22- MULTI-PORT USB ADAPTERS
23- ACTION CAMERA MOUNTS & ACCESORIES
24- EXTERNAL RECORDING DEVICE
25- WALKIE, TALKIES
26- UNDERWATER HOUSING
THE ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT
1 - CAMERA BODY
From Canon & Sony to Nikon & everything in between there are so many different options available in today’s market knowing where to start is potentially the most daunting decision you’ll have to make.
It is inevitable that our inspirations in the world of travel content will always heavily influence the kit you eventually amass but starting out, 9 out of 10 times you will be restricted by budget.
To be perfectly honest if your brand new to the world of video and photography you wont need a camera with all the bells and whistles. Not only will you not know what to do with it but at this stage you probably don’t know if this will become a career or remain a hobby.
Pretty much if you can shoot in full HD 1080p then your good to go. Most entry level DSLR’s these days come equipped with a 24mp sensor which is more than enough to take some incredible photos with a little bit of practice.
In terms of which brand is best. Well, there are arguments to be made for and against them all. We use Canon but Sony and Nikon also put out some fantastic machines.
Deciding can be tough so we have listed two great entry level Bodys that won’t break the bank, click the images below.
2 - CAMERA LENSE/S
Your lenses are by far the most important and potentially the most expensive purchases your going to have to make. It’s really important to leave enough money in the budget for at least 2 if not 3 lenses for your travel kit.
There are so many different things to consider when buying camera lenses “which you can read about here” but for your entry level travel creator you really only need to look at covering 4 key bases.
Focal length; We could go into all the technical jargon but simply put governes the distance/s your camera can operate at, Prime lenses work ar one distance whilst zoom lenses cover a range, there are pros & cons to both but when it comes to travel content you are going to need a zoom lense that covers a wide focal range not to mention carrying around 10 prime lenses is not an option and were willing to bet you won’t want a bar of the price tag that accompanies a full suite of prime lenses if your just starting out
Aperture; once again simply put this refers to how much light the lense will let into the sensor, it also determines how much depth your image will have, lower aperture lenses are great for portraits whilst higher apertures are great for landscapes and long exposures
Budget; if you thought camera bodies were expensive, well, wait until you see what the top of the line lenses go for. Don’t worry because well include some recommendations on some great entry level lenses that cover all the bases but you need to keep in mind that good lenses cost, a lot. So if your looking to pick this up full time then down the road you're going to need to be prepared to spend a bit on some quality lenses, and, if you take good care of them, you'll have them for life.
Portability; seeing as this blog is based around travel then your going to want to tick all the boxes in as few a lenses as possible, as we mentioned earlier lugging around a repertoire of large expensive lenses won’t usually be an option for you.
Odds are if you’re creating travel content you're almost guaranteed to be shooting a variety of subjects and crossing over between a range of disciplines.
We travel and shoot with the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 it has a wide angle as well as a great focal length so it's great for shooting landscapes. We also use a Canon 50mm, 1.8 prime lense. The low aperture makes it great for low light, not to mention it really melts the background so it’s perfect for shooting B-roll, 50mm is an awesome focal length for shooting portraits so it’s a must have for your photography arsenal and 50mm is also the most alike to the human eye. This makes footage shot with a 50mm very familiar to the viewer. We have learnt a lot from our lense purchases however. Our next lense purchases will be Prime lenses (this means they don’t change focal length), they just have far better clarity and result in a much crisper image or video. Want to zoom in haha just walk forward!
Now don’t worry because you won’t have to spend thousands on your initial purchase/s. There are some really great second hand options that you can pick up online to get you started. Honestly though we would recommend getting new lenses to avoid running into problems. We have included some links to a few quality affordable lenses that would make some great first pick partners in crime for your DSLR body.
3 - MEMORY CARD/S READER
Whatever camera you decide to go with & whatever storage cards it takes, make sure you buy 3 or 4. Odds are you wont need them all but it's always a great idea to have backups incase one gets lost or fails.
If your travelling for extended periods of time then there is a good chance you may go days at a time between towns or cities so if something were to happen to your memory card & it’s the only one you have, well, your camera becomes pretty useless pretty quickly. We say this because we have been caught out in this trap before so don't relive our mistakes, buy lots of memory cards.
If you’re like us and are obsessed with editing then odds are you’re going to want to edit on the run in your down time. make sure you have the right card reader handy so you can get all of that amazing juicy travel content onto your editing device.
4 - SPARE BATTERIES & CHARGER/S
It should go without saying but creating travel content usually means your camera is on all day every day so it pays to have spare batteries and lots of them. There’s nothing worse than spending a day Hiking that incredible mountain then getting to the top &, oh, what’s that? Your camera has just gone flat and you don’t have another one.
We usually carry a couple spares for each camera with a charger for each type. This has worked pretty well for us so far. As the trips get longer and more frequent than the larger our collection of batteries will get.
It is best to go through your local camera shop when buying spare batteries and chargers, sticking to the branded batteries gives you a guarantee that the battery will last and perform. You can read more about cheaper options HERE.
5 - TRAVEL ADAPTOR/S
Traveling to exotic locations to capture their amazing beauty means you’ll be exposed to different cultures all which have developed with different infrastructures. A universal travel adaptor is a must. We generally carry about 2 or 3 of these bad boys but dont stress, if you don't have one then you can usually pick one up for the country your visiting at the airport you fly in to.
6 - ACTION CAMERA
Sky diving, snorkeling, diving, jumping off cliffs, quad biking & just about every other extreme situation you can think of that you wouldn't want to throw your DSLR into, an action camera is just begging to jump in and save the day.
There are so many action cameras on the market these days, but after having one in our arsenal for over 3 years we just can’t recommend anything other than a GoPro, not that there's anything wrong with the other alternatives but simply because the GoPro has been such an amazing product we haven't needed to try anything else.
Even though there is a 6th rendition of the action camera available on the market, We still carry a Hero5 Black and would highly recommend investing the $400 it costs to pick one of these bad boys up. Here are some GoPro options (hint- Click on the image).
7 - MIC
By far one of the most overlooked aspects of content creation is sound, slightly subpar video quality can usually be forgiven and overlooked by your audience but, when it comes to sound, well bad audio is really noticable and can easily ruin an otherwise great travel creation.
We use the Rode Videomic Pro which is perfect for travel vlogging as well as capturing unique sounds from the surrounding locations we visit.
The battery life on these things is excellent but don’t forget to turn off the mic when your not using it tho, these bad boys are hungry and if your not careful you’ll chew through that precious battery life.
8 - VARIABLE ND FILTER/S
A Variable Neutral Density Filter has to be one of our favourite accessories for shooting. This simple but incredibly effective piece of gear allows you to limit the amount of light that comes through the lense of your camera.
This can be great maintaining a shallow depth of field with a low aperture in what would otherwise be an overexposed, unshootable locations.
Variable ND Filters can also be a useful tool to help you capture even more detail in those day time long exposure landscape shots that would otherwise end up overexposed and blown out. Be sure to get the right ND filter to match your lens dimensions.
9 - LAPTOP / GNARBOX / EDITING SOFTWARE
If your like us and you’re all about using your travel downtime to edit some of your fresh content then your going to need a laptop & some editing software.
We use the Adobe Suite which costs around $40 a month but if your not prepared to spend the money then their are a range of free options available. If you are serious about content creation we would highly recommend spending the money on a subscription. The adobe editing software is without a doubt streaks ahead of any other product on the market.
We use a macbook pro but this is completely down to personal preference. you will however need to take a couple things into account before you commit to purchasing one, if you don’t already have one of course.
Your budget and what kind of editing you will be doing are really the main questions you need to ask yourself
Obviously if your only going to be editing photos you won't need something nearly as powerful as if your going to be editing videos. The same applies again, if your only running Premiere Pro you won't need as powerful a machine as if your rendering in after effects.
Laptops are optional and completely down to personal preference, even if you aren't planning on editing they sure do make a handy file management tool when backing up your SD cards.
For those shorter, weekend trips that your not to keen on lugging around your shiny expensive laptop then we have stumbled upon an awesome product that works as a portable storage device
10 - DRONE
A revolution in drone technology has seen their popularity sore, excuse the pun, which is both good and bad. Good because as a products popularity & demand increases so does its affordability and availability. Bad because now everyone with a spare couple hundred bucks has one in his or her back pocket, so drone footage no longer has that “Wow” factor that it used to.
Not to say that you shouldn't have one, nothing comes close to capturing incredible travel landscapes like a drone can.
Like we said, with popularity comes availability, the drone market is saturated with a million different products and 90 percent of them are, well, quite frankly garbage. DJI & GoPro do however have it right.
GoPro have the Karma drone which is great if you love that fisheye GoPro look for your travel content.
DJI, well, they are undoubtedly the kings of commercial, quality & affordable drones. We carry the Mavic Pro in our camera bag at all times simply because it’s amazing 4k video capability and small footprint make it very portable & perfect for traveling with.
DJI have recently raised the bar yet again with the release of the Mavic Air, this drones footprint is barely bigger than your phone and if that doesn't impress you, yep, you guessed it, it shoots in 4k as well.
Our recommendation is definitely either the Mavic Pro or the Mavic Air. Their combination of size & quality put them as our clear favourites for your travel drone companion.
11 - EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE
Can’t you store your footage on a laptop?
Well yes you can but, most laptops only have a maximum 500gb storage capacity. Let me tell you right now, if your travelling for any longer than 5 days, shooting every day and, potentially even in 4k, you're going to run out of room really, really quickly.
Not to mention traveling can be a bit treacherous for a fragile laptop. The more you move around the higher the odds are that you going to bump or drop it & the more prone the hard drive will be to failure, if that precious footage isn't backed up, lets just say there will most likely be some tears when you realise it's all gone and ain't coming back.
We recommend you carry a couple 1TB solid state hard drives with you wherever you go and back everything up at the end of each day. Sure you can store it on your laptop for convenience but make sure it’s on one if not both of those hard drives as well. Were speaking from experience here, there's nothing worse than losing a weeks worth of footage simply because you stored it on one device that ended up failing.
Furthermore, if it's paid work for a client, make sure you back it up twice if not 3 times. Otherwise it could turn into a very expensive lesson. Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to data storage.
A good 1TB backup hard drive retails for around $100 - $150 dollars so it's really a small price to pay to ensure you content is safe.
12 - CAMERA BAG
Now that you have a whole lot of equipment, where do you put it? Pile it in your luggage and check it in, yeah sure, if you trust the guys throwing the bags into the airplane's cargo hold then why not? Were not as trusting as others might be, so we like to store everything in our Lowepro, Protactic 450 aw camera bag.
It's not that we don’t think there aren't a whole bunch of great options on the market, but simply because it houses our flagship Canon 1DX, and is capable of housing a 15 inch Laptop. The backpack is also super hearty and feels like it's built to withstand a missile from an apache helicopter. Whatever equipment your shooting with you should consider durability, storage and comfort. Can that travel bag withstand the elements and terrain your going to be traveling in?
Does it fit, and protect all of your equipment correctly? There's no point buying a camera bag that is specifically designed for equipment you don't have.
How long is it going to be on your back and how heavy is all of your equipment? Make sure you choose a bag with the right amount of support. There's no point buying a single strap equipment bag for all of your gear if your going hiking through the amazon for 3 days.
13 - CABLE & ACCESSORY MANAGEMENT
Building a killer gear collection for content creation means your going to also amas a whole lot of cords, cables, accessories and everything in between.
Unfortunately these little devils are a necessary evil when it comes capturing and creating content on the run.
To avoid tearing your hair out over lost chords, chargers, plugs, caps, filters slides and every other little annoying but necessary accessory we recommend you keep these all neat tidy and well organised.
We store every cable and accessory in a simple nylon pouch along with the rest of the accessories from the specific piece of equipment it belongs to. For example our GoPro Chords/accessories and cables stay together as do our laptop Chords/accessories and so on and so forth.
Being well organised, storing things neatly and knowing exactly where everything is will save you so much time in the field as well, nothing worse than realising you need an accessory to get the shot that your after and then wasting 15 minutes digging through your pack to try and find it.
14 - GORILLAPOD, TRIPOD OR MONOPOD
Do you need all three? Nope definitely not. This kind of boils down to what your going to be shooting as well as personal preference.
If your going to be doing a lot of vlogging then a gorilla pod is awesome. Its small, portable, lightweight and tough as nails. Not to mention you can wrap it onto low hanging branches and mount your camera up high.
One of its upsides is also its down fall, it’s small. Its legs don't extend so you wont get nearly as much range as you would with a mono or tripod especially if there are no branches around for it to mount to.
Mono & Tripods are very similar and yep, you guessed it, a monopod has one extendable leg whilst a tripod has three.
Monopods have a few advantages of their own; they are smaller, lighter and easier to pack away traveling than their tripod cousins. They do have their limitations though so don’t go snapping up a cheap mono straight away. Sure mono’s will give you extra stability and reduce camera shake but they are very limited when it comes to low light/night time photography. To put it simply you are not going to get a very smooth image on a 30 second exposure with this sucker. You can use a mono in conjunction with a wall or weight it with sand bags but honestly you are going to have less troubles if you just invest your money in a tripod.
If you are just wanting a little bit more stability for those selfies or slightly longer exposures without camera shake then monopods are great.
Tripods, as the name suggests, are a three legged version of the monopod and if you are interested in taking long exposures, landscape photography, night photography … actually any style of travel photography seriously. Then, you need to invest some money in a reliable tripod.
Tripods will allow you to drastically reduce camera shake, open your world to the realm of long exposure photography and give you a great tool for solo film making.
15 - CLEANING EQUIPMENT
If your like us then you'll want to make sure your thousands of dollars worth of sensitive Camera equipment is in the best possible condition it can be in when you go to use it.
Travelling can expose your equipment to harsher environments than your used to. Large amounts of particulates in the air can quickly build up on lenses and sensors so it's important you carry the right tools to keep your gear clean after a solid day shooting out in the elements.
You don't need much to keep your gear in tip top shape, some basic lense cleaner, a lense cloth and a little manual air blower thingy, (were not sure the technical term but you'll see what we mean in the image below), should be more than enough to get you and your gear through your travel adventures.
16 - PORTABLE BATTERY PACK
A good quality portable battery pack can be an absolute lifesaver when your traveling. More often than not, you'll find that these little beauties swoop in and save the day.
Whether it’s your phone, camera batteries, sound recorder or any other chargeable device, its almost a certainty that at some stage your going to need a bit of extra charge to get you through the last leg of your adventure.
Portable battery packs are relatively inexpensive but also incredibly useful for any travel adventure. If your going to be traveling to remote locations for extended periods of time I would even consider packing two or three.
17 - INSURANCE
Building up your kit takes time and a lot of money, like a lot of money. Traveling to weird, wonderful & exotic locations can be awesome but at the same time there are so many things that can go wrong.
So you have all this amazing gear so it's time you invest in some decent travel insurance. Depending on where you are in the world/ where you are traveling to will directly affect how much your insurance will cost and/or what level of coverage you need.
Your options include:
-Your travel agent: This is convenient and removes the stress factor but it can be quite expensive if your journey is a long one.
-Your bank/credit card: Banks do insurance to but be careful they can often be quite unreliable.
-World Nomads: World Nomads is freaking awesome and you can book your insurance from anywhere in the world. You can also select exactly what you need cover for from activities to equipment, the convenience is amazing! But that convenience comes at a cost, in my experience it is well worth the peace of mind.
-Your local Travel agents: Always a good option but you need to know exactly how long your journey is going to be, most local agents cannot be dealt with overseas.
18 - SPARE BODY/S
Spare camera bodies can be accumulated for a number of reasons, as you graduate to the professional world of film and photography it’s inevitable your going to end up with a collection.
Odds are as you upgrade your camera, by default you will end up with a backup, now having a backup is great but don’t go blowing all your money on one straight away. Get the basics first.
A few things you need to think about when getting a back up body are:
What Lenses do you have?
Ok so your lenses are all purchased with the idea that they will fit to your full frame camera body (or crop frame sensor if that is what you have). Then you go ahead and buy yourself a camera body that only fits lenses for a crop frame sensor… umm! Now none of your lenses fit your spare camera body. Not really the smartest move is it.
If you are going to get a spare body do your research and/or save a bit more money to get the spare body that works for your lense collection. It will save you pain and money in the long run.
19 - THREE AXIS GIMBALS OR STEADICAM
3 Axis Gimbals
Gimbals are incredible tools that can drastically improve the quality of your video footage. From unique camera angles to super smooth camera movements they really are an incredible aid. The catch? Well they are pretty damn expensive and getting them set up can take a bit of time.
Gimbals will allow your camera to hold its position and angle while moving, they achieve this through a combination of three motorized gimbals working in conjunction with each other to ensure your camera holds the position you require. Like a gyroscope or a compass.
You have a multitude of options but here are two of the best (linked in the images below). The Crane is excellent for travel but the Ronin is on another level when it comes to stability, depending on what you need will depend on what your purchase will be.
Steadicam is actually a brand of camera stabilizers but has been adopted by many filmmakers as the slang term for a gyroscopic free stabilizer. Basically it has no motors to keep the camera steady and relies on counter-balance and gravity sliding to create steady camera motion.
Steadicams are a great option if you are on a budget, they are also a great option if you are after something that can get the job done fast. Motorized gimbals will often take longer to set up than their non-motorized cousins.
20 - PORTABLE LIGHT SOURCE/S
9 times out of 10 you are going to be relying on natural light for your travel films but don’t rule out artificial lighting. Artificial lighting can allow you to film when natural light is too harsh or not harsh enough. Artificial light, when used properly can also give you some amazing cinematic looks and really sharpen (and pretty up) your subject.
Portable lighting can compact pretty small for travelers but it is an extra item to throw in your bag. So before you get all excited and drop some cash on that new light source have a think about what you are wanting to create and assess whether you are going to need artificial lighting.
Here are some great options for you.
21 - BACKUPS, BACKUPS, BACKUPS!
EVEN MORE LENSES, BATTERIES, SD CARDS & BACKUP STORAGE
Here is the thing about film and photography in general, if you are in it for the money then you are in it for the wrong reasons. Like any passion driven career you should be doing it because you love it. When it comes to film and photography you need to re-invest so don’t hang on to tightly to those hard earned pennies. Take that money and throw it straight back into new gear that will help you improve your work. The better you and your equipment get the more work you will pick up, the more money will come your way and most importantly. You will get better at creating the content you love to create.
So what should I invest in?
New Lenses- As you improve you will find gaps in your film capabilities, gaps that you could fill with specific lenses. You might need a super wide angle to create awe and grandeur, or an 85mm fixed F1.4 to capture those incredible distant portraits that just allow the background and foreground to melt around your subject. Do your research and make wise purchases.
Batteries, SD Cards & Backup Storage- You are always going to need more power, more storage & more backup. Don’t skimp on these items they are the bread and butter elements of travel film and photography.
22 - MULTIPORT USB ADAPTOR/S
Cables, cables & more cables! The more equipment you accumulate the more chargers you will have crowding your camera bags and work spaces. The more connections you will need to make and adapt to different country plug in points. It is going to become a nightmare but don’t be afraid there are ways to keep those connections in order. One way to reduce the amount of adaptors and connections/reconnections needed is through a multiport usb adaptor.
A multi-port adapter brings all of your connections to one hub allowing you to easily manage your connections between different devices and outputs. A multiport will generally have several different types of connections ranging from micro-sd cards through to USB connections. You can check out a few options below:
23 - ACTION CAMERA MOUNTS & ACCESSORIES
Your main film making camera is most likely going to be your DSLR but there are going to be some situations where an action camera (like the GoPro) is more appropriate/ less dangerous for your precious equipment.
So here is a question for you.. You have purchased all these accessories to help smooth out and enhance your DSLR footage, so wouldn’t it make sense to do the same for your action camera?
Yeah probably. Guess what the accessories are going to be cheaper to so it makes sense to make the investment when you get the money.
There are a range of accessories that you can purchase so don’t go crazy, write a list of the accessories you actually need and stick to it. Here are a few items you may want to consider if you are a GoPro user:
-Karma Grip Stabilizer
-Additional Batteries, SD cards & Chargers
-Mounts for helmets, objects or bodies
-Extendable grips/ floatation
-Remotes, cases & adaptors
Here is a One Stop shop link to get you sorted.
24 - EXTERNAL RECORDING DEVICE
You might be thinking right now.. ‘Haven’t we already covered sound with the mic?’ You're not wrong but your not right either, mics are a great tool for recording your voice but voice and music are not the only sounds that you will be needing. A dedicated external recording device will allow you to record natural sounds like; river water, birds chirping, leaves rustling, footsteps, splashing, insect sounds & the list goes on.
External recorders will also allow you to capture better quality audio than an on camera mic’s so if you have the time to to spend in post processing it can be more beneficial to record your audio separately. Check out these options below.
25 - WALKIE TALKIES
Walkie Talkies (2 way radios) are so fun! Anyone remember using these gadgets as kids pretending to play war games or just cheating during hide and go seek? No? Just me.. ok , well on to the relevant stuff then aye. Walkie Talkies are incredibly handy accessories to have as a travel creative especially if you are working on some large landscapes with talent (the people you are shooting) placed at locations far from where you are shooting or operating. Here are a few examples:
-Large drone shots that involve your subjects being out of vocal range, walkie talkies will allow you to communicate effectively to ensure you get the right shot fast to save that drone battery and get more out of your shoots.
-Distant Portraits with fixed focal lengths like the 105mm or even the 85mm and/or large scale landscape shots with a single subject can be nearly impossible to get perfect without constant communication. This can be achieved easily with walkie talkies and don’t worry about them ruining your image. Walkie Talkies are tiny and can easily be hidden in pockets or behind a small object.
Want to get those epic shots that perfectly match your artistic ideas? Time to invest in a walkie talkie.
26 - UNDERWATER HOUSING
Unless you are based solely in the mountains then chances are your travels will involve ocean based activities. As you create better content you will realise that your action camera has its limitations. To capture those truly incredible underwater images or that awe inspiring whale footage you are going to need to bring your DSLR underwater.. But its not waterproof.
Enter the underwater housing. We live in an amazing time for technology, this allows us to purchase almost anything to suit our projects. No matter what DSLR you use the chances are very high that you will be able to grab yourself an underwater housing. An underwater housing for your DSLR works in the same way that your GoPro case does and they have been around much longer meaning they are pretty damn reliable.
Think about all those incredible surfing photos you see, those jaw dropping humpback whale videos or that smile carving portrait of a sea turtle that just looks so real. All of these images/videos are captured on DSLR’s using an underwater housing. They are expensive but if this is your passion then it is 100% worth the investment.
Here are some options for you.
As you can see, no matter how serious you are about adventure, travel & content creation, there are so many different tools to help you capture, create and share your vision/s with the world.
Just to be clear, although everything on this list is awesome to have, you don’t need it to get started creating amazing content. We only started this journey with the cash we scraped together for a second hand DSLR and a GoPro.
As your passion for adventure, travel & content creation grows, so will your kit. Remember, to start a fire you only need a spark(maybe you can start with a DJI Spark hahaha).