photo by Boyloso via iStock
While nobody is doing much of anything nowadays, let alone participating in travel photography, I’ve definitely spent quite a few sleepless nights frantically Googling when researchers think it will be safe to travel again.
I’ve also spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out where the next trip is going to take me. And I don’t think I’m alone. Although I’ve recently heard a lot about how the coronavirus pandemic is going to create a huge boom in domestic travel, I know I’m excited to leave the country again.
So, since I’m already doing all of this research, I figured I may as well share some of the info I’m collecting. Since I obviously can’t recommend which trips to take just yet, one thing I can recommend is photography gear for your next vacation.
Keep in mind all of this travel photography gear is gear that I have either already used on a solo trip or plan to just as soon as all this madness is over. So, in order to make the cut, the photography gear had to be lightweight and easy to carry, relatively inexpensive (except for my main camera), and sturdy.
Let’s dive in.
Top Travel Camera: Sony a7S II
I’ve written a full review of the first item on this photography gear list and you can read it here.
The Sony a7S II is a full-frame mirrorless camera with a 12MP sensor and 4K video. While it’s best known for being a great low-light shooter, it’s also one of my favorite pieces to pack for all of my trips because of its weather-sealed body. It’s built with more magnesium alloy than any other Sony a7S, so it’s also really sturdy.
It also lasts for forever. This camera is rated at 500,000 cycles, which is plenty to last you for years of traveling.
It’s 3” tilting LCD screen comes in handy when photographing people on the street, or when photographing in crowded tourist areas.
It comes with 100% viewfinder coverage.
Some other specs include its ISO range of 100-102,400 and its 5fps burst mode.
Plus, it weighs just over 1.3 lbs so you can throw it in your carry on and not even realize it’s there.
Unfortunately, all of these specs do come at a price. Since this is one of those essential photography gear pieces, I allowed myself to pick something a bit more expensive. The Sony a7S II is $2,400 if you opt to purchase it new.
But, no travel photography tips list would be complete without a few money hacks. Instead of buying the Sony a7S II new, you should purchase it off of MPB used.
Inexpensive Backup Camera: Sony a6000
Okay, your photography gear bag definitely needs a backup camera when you’re traveling and let me tell you why: problems happen all the time, and if something goes awry with your primary camera (or God forbid it gets stolen), you don’t want to be on your trip without a camera.
The Sony a6000 works really well for me as my backup because it’s incredibly inexpensive. I purchased my used Sony a6000 off of MPB for a little over $400, but prices have fallen since then and you can now pick one up for as little as $325.
And I know that this camera is 6 years old and that’s why it’s so cheap, but this mirrorless camera comes with all the specs I need for traveling (except 4K video).
It features a 24MP sensor, 11fps burst mode, and a 3.0” tilting screen with 921.6K dots, which is just a step down from the screen on the Sony a7S II. While the screen isn’t a touchscreen, this really doesn’t bother me if I’m not going to be shooting with it very often.
It’s also really small, which means I can leave it in a locker at my hostel or hotel until the moment I need it.
Small But Mighty Tripod Alternative: Octopad
I talk about the Octopad a lot on PhotographyTalk (I did a full review a while back that you can read here) because I’ve yet to find a tripod that does as much as this does for this price point.
Obviously, my favorite part of any inexpensive photography gear is its price. The Octopad is just $27. At that price point, you’re going to be finding tripods that will break within the month and won’t do a great job of doing much else in the meantime.
The Octopad, on the other hand, is incredibly small and lightweight while maintaining complete balance. Since it’s bottom heavy, you will never have problems shooting with it in extreme weather conditions. It’s sturdy as you need in a small package like you want for traveling.
You also don’t have to use the Octopad to hold your camera because it works well with a GoPro, or simply as a way to support an off-camera light to light the scene absolutely perfectly.
The only downside to the Octopad is that you aren’t going to be using it to keep your camera at eye level since it only works to hold your camera in place.
But, I don’t know of any tripods that can hold your camera or light at a 45 degree angle on any surface without tipping over.
It also weighs just 1.6 lbs and is 6.5” in diameter, so you can easily stick it wherever you need to in your luggage.
It definitely helps to have an Octopad in your photography gear bag when you need to shoot while hanging off of a cliff or participating in any other action sports.
A Bright, Portable Light: Hakutatz Pocket Size AW RGB LED Light
There’s no way for me to do a travel photography gear tips list and not include a pocket-sized light.
The Hakutatz Pocket Size AW RGB LED Light has got a name to match its capabilities. This light features amber, white and RGB LEDs so you can add drama to any scene with millions of possible colors.
It also comes with an app so you can adjust the lighting from your phone, which comes in handy when you’re watching your photography gear like a hawk.
You can also change the saturation or brightness from your app, which means you’ll have more room in your luggage for souvenirs since you won’t need to drag diffusers or softboxes with you everywhere you go. There’s a reason why I named it one of the best lights of 2019!
Something to Carry It All In: HEX Back Loader Backpack
You’re obviously going to need a bag to carry all of your new photography gear in and the HEX Back Loader Backpack is just the one.
For starters, I’ll never recommend a bag that I don’t think is aesthetically appealing. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that my parents always said you should look your best because first impressions last, but I find I get more jobs when I look put together.
This bag is a sleek and modern black. It also happens to be pretty discrete, so nobody will know it is filled with thousands of dollars of photography gear.
I also won’t recommend a bag that isn’t comfortable because there’s nothing worse than running around London with a shoulder strap digging into your skin.
This bag features shoulder straps that are well-padded, a chest strap to more evenly distribute the weight of your photography gear, and, most importantly, really fast access to your gear.
It’s also water resistant, so you won’t need to be worried about freak storms.
If you want to pick up a HEX Back Loader Backpack, they’re currently available for $190.