What you pack in your camera bag when you travel (or at home) will determine the breadth of images you can capture. You don’t want to bring the kitchen sink but you do want to have the right tools to give you the flexibility to be as creative as your imagination allows.
Below are the essential components of my camera kit. I don’t bring everything with me on every trip, I usually consider the situation (street, portrait, wildlife) and pack accordingly. Below I talk about what I own plus how and why I use them.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
(I have no paid relationships with these brands. However, if you buy something using the links below I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you.)
When I first decided to purchase a full-frame DSLR, I made my decision between Nikon and Canon very simply. Which one felt better in my hand. I know that people will argue the virtues of their favorite brand for days, competitions abound, but that was it frankly. I held the two bodies and the Nikon felt wide for my palm. I figured it would be a strain to hold on to it for a long period of time. That was three years ago, and I love my Canon. I’ve put it through it’s paces. It’s scraped and worn ( I had a little issue with a stone wall during a storm in Cuba) and it’s been great. And I’ve loved the images I’ve taken since then so that’s pretty much the most important, right?
This baby is a wonderful lens. It has a beautiful bokeh that makes images really pop. The auto focus is fast and it has image stabilization, which rocks. It’s a f2.8 so it works well in low light situations. This is the original version, version 2 is even better I’m told (though a tad heavier, and this is not a light lens by any means), but I haven’t shot with it. I’m good with this until it falls apart. It’s great for portraits, street photography, nature and wildlife as well. Landscapes if the area you want is far away. Believe it or not, I’ve used it for some macro photography of flowers, though I admit, it wasn’t easy.
This was my *starter* lens, so to speak. I wanted something versatile and yet still give me great shots without breaking the bank. I still wasn’t clear how far I wanted to take this hobby, which is now a full-fledged passion. It’s an f4, so I have to watch it in low light. I use it a lot for street photography (it’s one of my lighter lenses) and portraits. I’ve used it for cityscapes and flowers as well.
That said, I have my eye on the 24-70mm f2.8 lens (below). It’s versatile, will pair well with my 70-200mm, and fast. The image quality is outstanding. I’ve used it a few times on trips and I want one. It’s on my to-get list for sooner rather than later.
You can never really go wrong with a prime lens. I was nervous about being limited at first—not have the flexibility of a telescopic lens—but I found that the limitation was a good one. It forced me to really think about how to approach a shot and be more thoughtful with composition. The fact that it’s a f1.4 means I can really be creative with depth of field. I use this a lot for street photography when I’m in more of a *photojournalistic* mood. I think it’s because I originally bought it on the recommendation of some photojournalists I admire. It’s a fast lens too, so, again, it’s great for low light situations.
I love this lens (though recently it was dropped—not by me—and the lens is shattered.) Big sad-faced emoji….. It’s wonderful for big imposing landscapes like mountain ranges and astrophotography. I also used it a ton in Cuba. I found the 16mm was perfect for inside homes and down narrow alleyways, and the 35mm was perfect for classic street photography. The fact that it was a fast lens too, made it one of my favorites. I hear the updated version is phenomenal. My v2 had a little bit of warping and focus issues at the sides, I’m told the v3 (below) is flawless.
Carbon fiber tripods will inherently be more expensive. They’re also considerably lighter than other metal tripods and you’ll appreciate that when you’re lugging it around. Also, flip-locks, flip-locks, flip-locks! Don’t get the legs that you have to unscrew. What a pain. Especially if you’re not paying attention and the leg sections come apart (been there). Screwing them back together is a nightmare. Trust me.
This has been an awesome bag. It’s perfect for walking around NYC when I want choice of lenses, provides plenty of protection and isn’t too large. I use it for travel, when I know I only need one body and a couple of lenses.
This bag has is a bloggers’ best friend. I learned about it from a blogger and I know a few other bloggers that own it. It’s expandable, comfortable, and perfect when you’re bipping around and don’t want to use a backpack. It has room for extra camera gear (batteries, memory cards, etc) but also for my wallet, sunscreen and other *everyday* stuff.
I’m a big fan of Gura Gear brand. For a while, it kind of disappeared. The owner bought Tamrac and originally they decided to phase out the Gura Gear name. However, recently they’ve decided to bring back the brand and I couldn’t be happier. The bag above if officially a Tamrac but has most of the design elements I love from the Gura Gear bags I’ve bought in the past: It’s got a lot of room but isn’t too big of an overall profile. There’s a front flap that allows you to see everything at once that can also be opened one side at a time for easy handling. There are interior and exterior pockets, a slot for a 15″ laptop (this was crucial for me); you can hook a tripod to the outside; there’s a rain cover; and if you want to hide the straps and waist belt you can. My only complaint is that this new bag is a little deep. I was able to put the bag under the seat in front of me, but not in a small plane’s overhead bin. I could before this updated design. It’s not a deal breaker for me but it was a little annoying. (Full disclosure: the company sent me this bag but the sentiment is my own.)
Every camera comes with a shoulder strap and its free, so I understand when people look at me as if I am crazy when I suggest buying a strap over $70.00. But, I stick by my recommendation. It’s the best strap I’ve ever used. It’s comfortable and has a sliding ring that allows me to move my camera easily from my hip where it hangs up to my eyes in a flash.
This version of the BlackRapid strap enables you to carry two cameras easily at once. And if you don’t have two cameras, you can detach one of the components to use it for one.
Pelican is the leader in hard cases and it’s no different just because this can fit in your pocket. It holds 6 CF cards (you can get one for SD cards too), as it a great way to ensure that your valuable cards remain safe and sound while you travel.
If you’re on the road, having a external backup drive for your images is essential. A friend recommended this to me and I love it. It’s sleek, slim and durable and I’ve yet to need the 2TB of storage it comes with. Makes me feel good to know I have plenty of space. Don’t want to delete files to make room for others. I have a couple and keep one of them in my camera bag at all times.
Looking for photography tips? You may find something helpful here.