- Smaller camera with all-in-one lens
- Travel tripod
- Tripod alternative like the Octopad
- Compact LED light
- Extra battery
- Microfiber lens cloth
- Versatile camera bag
Photo by Vasyl Dolmatov via iStock
Do you have a lot of photography gear? If you’re anything like me, you likely have more cameras, lenses, and accessories than would fit in even a very large camera bag. There’s nothing wrong with that, it gives you options for your creativity or your photo work.
But when you want to travel light or just go out for a quick photo trek, you only want to take what you really need.
Sometimes, traveling light means adjusting our thoughts of what we really need for that photo outing. Here are some photography gear choices to consider for traveling light:
Before You Choose Your Gear
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Before you even choose your photography gear for travel photography, you should make some choices of what you’re intending to do. Anytime I go out on a photo jaunt, I consider it travel photography, though I may simply be walking or biking to a nearby park. I will choose my gear based on what I think I’ll be photographing.
If I’m actually traveling, I like to be on the lookout for anything interesting, whether natural or manmade. It could be large scale or small. So, an all-in-one lens with wide angle to very telephoto might be my lens choice. These lenses generally are kind of large compared to your original kit lens, but they replace 2 or 3 lenses so consider that in size and weight comparisons.
Perhaps I’m at a festival of some sort or wanting to take advantage of flower blooming season, I might choose a wide angle zoom or the original kit lens with macro focusing.
Photo by rez-art via iStock
The option of shooting video or not will also impact my choices as I would need to take extra batteries for the camera and have a small video light. The bag choice would be based on whether I’m packing a couple of lenses or just one.
So now, here are some photography gear options for travel photography that I have made which you can adapt to your own needs and what current gear you already own.
Smaller Camera with All-In-One Lens
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You may only own one camera so that would obviously be your choice. If you already have a couple of cameras, perhaps your beginner camera and then an upgrade, I would recommend the smaller and lighter camera unless there is a feature set you really need to use.
In my case, I often opt for the APS-C camera format instead of the full frame I use for most of my pro imaging. The APS-C format and MFT format cameras have excellent resolution and quality, many pros use them as primary cameras. Plus, they are substantially lighter than most full frame DSLRs.
Canon EOS Rebel T7 with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens
As for lens choices, you really can’t go wrong with the kit lenses available and that you probably already have even if you’ve added other lenses to your gear. Kit lenses are small and light, the only real limitations are maximum aperture and their inability to survive dropping from elephant riding height. All-in-one lenses are good possibilities, too, since they can replace 2 or 3 other lenses.
Alternatively, you can invest in a do-it-all action camera like the GoPro Hero 8 Black.
What's so nice about the Hero 8 Black is that it pulls double-duty as a great still camera and obviously as a video camera.
It can shoot 4K video at 60fps if you're after high-resolution footage or if you want to slow things down you can opt for 1080p at 240fps.
I have to mention HyperSmooth 2.0 as well...
This image stabilization system is breathtaking, to say the least. With HyperSmooth 2.0 enabled, you can get incredibly stable videos that are beautifully smooth.
The GoPro Hero 8 Black also includes many other features that make it a great travel companion. This includes digital lenses to give you multiple views from narrow and wide to linear and SuperView. It also has SuperPhoto, which gives you improved image quality through HDR techniques.
Add to that LiveBurst Mode to take 1.5-second images before and after the shutter is pressed, face detection, built-in GPS, and tons of other features - including a variety of add-on mods (like this Media Mod) to extend its functionalities - and you have the makings of the perfect camera for packing light.
I will combine travel tripods and tripod alternatives since they both will take the place of your regular tripod. Besides looking at a small travel tripod you could also consider an option like the Octopad camera mount which is a weighted small pad that is non-slip and can hold a light or your camera. The Octopad is great for situations where spreading out any tripod legs is not in the picture.
If I am considering video for my camera outing, I will definitely tote along an Octopad as a tripod alternative for placing my video light where I need it to be since I put it on just about any surface, doesn’t even need to be a flat surface.
Compact LED Light
Any time I’m shooting video for my travel photography, I take along a compact video light. I always end up needing more than ambient light for best results and creative control.
The battery powered LED lights that fit in the camera shoe or on a mount like the Octopad are so small and lightweight that it’s a virtual no brainer to pack in at least one. You will be limited by how long the charge lasts, but some LED lights can be charged by USB or in an automobile.
Possible choice: LitraTorch 2.0
Versatile Travel Bag
You will need a bag that’s durable, protective, and easy to use, as well as being compact. Regardless of the brand, I have really come to appreciate the sling pack style of camera bags for travel photography. In fact I often use a larger sling pack bag for on location paid photo shoots.
Sling packs combine the shoulder saving of a backpack with the ease of access of a waist pack and the gear security of a regular shoulder bag. Choose one that’s big enough to hold your intended travel photography gear plus a little more so you won’t be tempted to take too much extra photography gear or leave important stuff out.
Possible choice: Lowepro Passport Sling III
Rounding Out Your Gear
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Rounding out the minimum photography gear necessary for travel photography or camera outings are important items like extra batteries already charged, extra memory cards with large file capacity so you aren’t changing out too often but never “out of film,” and a high quality microfiber lens cloth.
The batteries and memory cards will depend on which camera system you use, but a nice microfiber cloth for the inevitable smudges, spray, or light dust encountered in travel photography is the Adorama 6x7 inch cloth.
Add these to your Octopad tripod alternative, all-in-one lens, and small video light, stuff them in your bag and head out.
Photo by ksandula via iStock
This list is a good start, be sure to add in or take out according to your camera brand, shooting style, and how long you’ll actually be gone. Each situation is a little different, but you will be well-equipped for taking photos.
Try not to fall off of the elephant, though. Trust me!