My Camera Gear

What you pack in your camera bag when you travel (or at home) will dictate the breadth of images you’ll 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 requires.

Below are the essential components of my camera kit, plus some equipment I’ve used and loved but don’t own. 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.)


Camera Bodies

Canon 5D Mark lll

Canon 5D Mark lll  

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 its 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?


Canon 5D Mark lV

Canon 5D Mark lV

I’ve also used the Canon 5D Mark lV on assignments and I love it. If I could buy both I would. If you’re looking for something more affordable and great get the lll, if you can afford the lV, do that.


GoPro HERO7 Black — Waterproof Digital Action Camera

GoPro HERO7 Black — Waterproof Digital Action Camera

I took this on my trip to the Sea of Cortez and loved it. I used it to take video throughout my trip–stabilizer is incredible–but I especially loved it to capture underwater video when I swam with sea lions and whale sharks. (The accessories I used are below)


Lenses

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

This baby is a wonderful lens. It has a beautiful bokeh that makes images really pop. The autofocus is fast and it has image stabilization, which rocks. It’s an 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.


Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

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.


Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens

That said, I have my eye on the 24-70mm f2.8 lens. 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.


Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Wide Angle lens

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.


Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L ll USM Zoom Lens for Canon EF Cameras

I love this lens. 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.


Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard – Fixed

A great, big bang for your buck kind of lens. Not too expensive and great for portraits and food shots. It’s not heavy and no matter how packed my kit is I can always find room for this lovely.


Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x

I don’t own this lens but I either borrow it from Canon or rent it when I’m going on safari. When you can’t bring a lot with you, this lens gives me a lot of versatility for wildlife photography. It’s heavy and takes a little getting used to but I would definitely invest in this baby if I was shooting wildlife exclusively.


Tripods

Benro Carbon Fiber Tripod

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.

Get 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.

My model is no longer available but I am happy with the brand.


Camera Bags

Lowepro Passport Sling lll

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, tablet and other *everyday* stuff.


Gura Gear Kiboko 2.0 22L Backpack (Black)

Gura Gear Kiboko Camera Bag 16L, 22L,30L

Years ago I bought the original Kiboko 22L camera bag, but soon after I fell in love with the brand it was phased out when the owner acquired Tamrac. Photographers like myself bitched and moaned and I am happy to say Gura Gear is back with a new and improved Kiboko 2.0—now in three sizes: 16L, 22L, 30L.

It’s not cheap, I know. Consider it a splurge for that special person in your life (maybe yourself?) who is a real photography enthusiast. Its design features butterfly wings—two side-by-side compartments—which make it easier to organize your gear. It has plenty of room, it’s lightweight and very durable. Each side has a buckle and pocket to secure a tripod and/or a water bottle. There’s also a rain cover and a handy-dandy zippered side compartment for a 15″ laptop, plus interior and exterior zippered pockets to carry memory cards, batteries, lens cleaners and the like.

This post has a more detailed review of the Gura Gear Kiboko


Accessories

BlackRapid Breathe Curve Camera Strap

BlackRapid Breathe Curve Camera Strap

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.


BlackRapid Breathe Hybrid Camera Strap

BlackRapid Breathe Hybrid Camera Strap

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.


GoPro Fusion Grip (Official GoPro Mount)

GoPro Fusion Grip (Official GoPro Mount)

On a trip to Kenya, a friend of mine used this GoPro stick and I got one for myself. It’s compact, hearty, telescopes, and acts as a tripod.


Go Pro floatable stick

GoPro The Handler Floating Hand Grip (GoPro Official Mount)

A floating mount for snorkeling and underwater video. I wish it were longer or telescoped but it did the job.

GoPro Suction Cup Mount (GoPro Official Mount)GoPro Suction Cup Mount (GoPro Official Mount)

GoPro Suction Cup Mount (GoPro Official Mount)

I used this in Saba to capture a time lapse of a drive up a mountain with over 23 curves. I mounted it at the front of the vehicle and it stuck like glue.


Pelican 0945 Compact Flash Memory Card Case (Black)

Pelican CompactFlash Memory Card Case

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.


MindShift Gear House of Cards Memory Wallet (CF and SD Cards) 

I also use this foldable memory card holder when I’m also carrying along SD cards and I don’t feel like I need the ruggedness of the pelican case above.


Silicon Power 2TB Rugged Armor A80 IPX7 Shockproof, Waterproof USB 3.0 2.5 Inch Military Grade External Portable Hard Drive

If you’re on the road, having an 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.


Borrowlenses

Borrowlenses

Renting equipment is the best thing since… you know. I love renting because you it enables anyone to photography with amazing equipment and not have to invest in at full price. It’s also a smart way to try out something before you buy it.

I rented the Canon 200-400mm 1.4x lens to photograph wildlife on my first trip to Kenya. It’s not a lens I need any other time so I’m certainly not going to spend $11K on it. But rent it? Yes indeed. (I recommend adding the insurance coverage they offer. Heaven forbid you should drop something and have to buy it. That would really defeat the purpose.

For a more complete guide to the items I use and love peruse my Amazon store. I have lists based on safaris, cruising, essentials, and more.


Post Processing and Presentation

Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan

Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC

I edit and organize all my images with Lightroom Classic. I love it. There is a learning curve at first but not a crazy difficult one. I love it. Lightroom is one half of the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan . The other half is Photoshop. Together, they are $9.99/mo. You can’t get one without the other. I know how to do two things with Photoshop. I prefer Lightroom for everything I need in my post production.


Smug Mug

SmugMug

For my photographic portfolio, I use SmugMug. It was recommended by a few friends and I like it. I don’t use it to sell images via the site only as reference and request that interested parties contact me directly. I prefer to print images on different paper.

I use Smug Mug mostly for branding and to market myself to potential photography clients. I also use it to set up private client galleries.

If you want to give it a whirl you can try the site free for 14-days and save 15% for new accounts.


Canon professional services logo

I want to thank the team at Canon Professional Services for all their help when I am on assignment.


Looking for photography tips?  You may find something helpful here.

8 Reasons You’re Taking Bad Photos – And how to make them better

Learning Street Photography from Renowned Photojournalist Peter Turnley 

Photography Workshop and Tours: Are They Right For You?

Seven Questions to ask Yourself Before Choosing a Travel Photography Tour

Essential Gifts for Travel and Travel Photography Lovers

A Lesson in Light from Famed Photographer Timothy Allen 

Pro Photographer Shares 9 Tips for Taking Great Portraits when You Travel 


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Camera equipment that I use when I travel

23 replies »

  1. your travel, your photographs are amazing! it is liberating even just to get a glimpse of your journey to different places. looking forward to more of your posts about new things & cultures. this is also an amazing guide for the use of lenses. what camera & lens do you recommend for beginners that want to take landscape and nature photographs? (hoping to start with a less pricey one)

    • Hi! Thank you so much for your kind words, I really appreciate it. In regards to a camera. Do you want a point and shoot or a DSLR?

      • i was looking to get a mirrorless camera or dslr (although dlsr’s are a bit bulky and i prefer to go with a more compact one first). in terms of point and shoot, can you also give a recommendation? thank you so much!!

      • Hi there –
        Sorry for the delay. Unfortunately, it’s been forever since I used a point and shoot. I wouldn’t know what to suggest but I can ask some photographer friends if you like. 🙂

  2. What kind of a camera would you recommend to a beginner who wants to get into photography – but also wants a camera that is fairly easy to use, not too heavy and not super-expensive? I’m looking into a Sony a6000 mirrorless. I just wondered if you had any other recommendations. Thanks.

    • I haven’t used it so I can’t speak from firsthand experience. That said, I’ve heard good things about it. It also kind of depends on what you mean by wanting to get into photography. What do you see yourself doing? Ie.. Just for great vacation photos. You want to shoot and hopefully sell them someday? Where do you want to take your skills?

      • Good question. At the moment, I am looking to take great travel photos and build a travel blog. Right now I’m blogging as a hobby, but I am hoping in the future it can lead to some side income or other writing opportunities. I want to make the leap from the quality of photos I can take on my phone to the quality of photos I can take with a camera without to much of a learning curve and without too much of an initial investment. The two specific things I want are to be able to take zoomed in photos and low light photos that look good. I am thinking that I might buy other gear in the future (like different lenses), but I want a camera body that I can use for a long time.

      • I’m hesitant to suggest anything I haven’t used but it sounds like a mirrorless will do well for you. I’ve heard good things about the Sonys in low-light. That said, if you really want to up your game in photography, you’ll probably need to invest down the line and you’ll definitely want to have a couple lenses at least. But to get you started, its probably a good option. In passed, I’ve used the Panasonic Lumix cameras and loved them. Mirrorless too. But they don’t have the hype of the Sonys or Fujis.

  3. Very nice gears…and i love all your pictures…
    Im just curious
    , do you also use any pocket camera? Im not good in using SLR camera, but I really want to take good picture with minmalist gear, such as pocket camera. And I would like to know if you’re having one and taking good pics with it. Thanx…

  4. Hi!
    I also like photography, but unfortunately not so professionally like you!
    I will follow you because your stories and photos are very good.
    If you would like to know something more about Switzerland…please feel free to visit (and maybe follow) my poor blog about the “Confederation”.
    All the best!

  5. Hi Susan, I’m interested in the Lowepro Passport Sling Camera Bag that you have. I like that fact that it doesn’t look like a camera bag. I have a 5Dmk3, 24-70 f/2.8 (only 5mm bigger all around than your 24-105) and a 70-200 f/2.8. Although I think it might be a bit heavy, do you think that the camera and both lenses would fit?

  6. I just stumbled upon this blog and I already love it. It seems as though not only do you travel and say LOOK AT ME! but that you view from the eye of a truly sympathetic, open, and wise journalist. It seems you travel to give and take and not just take. Beautiful blog and I look much forward to reading much more!

    • Hello! Welcome to the blog. I’m thrilled you stumbled upon it. I do try to be open to each place and do it justice. No image would work if I just took and didn’t give a little something back. Thank you for your kind comments and I’m glad you’ll be back.

  7. Hi, Susan. I came across your blog on Facebook. And I must admit I love your images and admire your work, in particular wildlife shots in Kenya and Tanzania, as I live in Tanzania between Serengeti and Lake Victoria for the past 25 years. Being a total and true amateur and Canon gear user I take courage, reading your way up the level you are now, that I can and should also improve myself, even if my windows of opportunity in the wildlife are mostly limited to times when I host guests and take them to Serengeti, Ngorongoro or Lake Victoria for a day or two. All the best in your future endeavors!

    • I envy your proximity to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro. Incredibly beautiful places. I hope some day to return. Don’t worry about working up the canon ladder. At the end of the day it’s about your eye and your heart. Some people take breathtaking images with iPhones nowadays.

      Thank you very much for taking the time to comment and review my blog. 🙂

  8. Hi Susan, Got the link to your blog, from the article you wrote for WildEye. Very interesting… I’ll be travelling with WildEye next year. Any suggestions on the lens for the migration safari? (I’m a Canon user too!)

    • Hi! That’s great, what trip will you be taking with Wild Eye? I’ve found that using the 200-400mm with the 1.4 has been the most versatile for my needs. That being said, it’s very expensive to buy. Renting has been a great option, and while not the cheapest that way either I haven’t been disappointed in the investment yet. Wild Eye has a 200-400mm, among other lenses, it can rent you, but I would put whatever you choose on hold asap if you decide to go through them. It makes things quite easy since you don’t have to lug the heavy glass with you when you travel.

  9. Thank you for your post. I started getting into photography after leaving Peru as well. I have a long way to go and still working on how my camera works. I bought a few books for beginners. And every night, i would watch , “YouTube” for tips on photography. I will sign up for classes, for sure. But thanks for you inspiration.

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