Travel Photography Gear I Take on a Trip Around The World
What travel photography gear should you pack for a trip around the world? Difficult question because everybody has their own style and gear packing list. Some people like to travel with a small camera while others take a big DSLR and heavy zoom lenses.
There is no such thing as 'the best' travel camera or lens but as a professional photographer I do have my favorites... Over the years I've bought and sold quite a bit of photography gear and I found out what equipment I really love to work with. There are some cameras and lenses that are on top of my favorites list...
I've explained already what I look for when buying a new travel camera or lens and what my favorite travel photography tips are but apparently you guys really want to know exactly what gear I use so, this is my travel photography gear packing list.
Scroll down for more information on each item.
Other important gear and accessories
Camera Bag: Think Tank Retrospective 6
Peace of mind: PacSafe TravelSafe 12L
Laptop and External HDs
Basic Rain Cover
Spare Memory Cards
1. My Travel Camera Equipment
As I said, there is no such thing as 'the best' camera for travel photography in general but for me this is it. I love to work with the impressive Pentax 645z and it has everything I ever wanted: medium format quality, incredible dynamic range and what's really awesome...? It handles like a full frame DSLR!
Heavier and slightly larger than I was used to with my Canon 5D Mark III but that doesn't bother me at all. I’m impressed with the results every time I come back from a trip and open those beautiful, rich RAW files... Even a dark cave is no problem for the 645z.
Canon 5D Mark III and IV
My first digital camera was a Canon 350D with a plastic 50mm prime. After a year in college studying photography I moved on to a Canon 5D and I replaced that one with the Canon 5D Mark III a few years later.
That was and still is my favorite full frame camera for travel photography. The focusing system, dynamic range and handling are all top notch and it went with me on assignments and personal projects all over the world. Last year I sold the Mark III to be able to buy the Pentax 645z but the 5D IV is on my list...
My favorite travel lenses and focal lengths
Pentax-D FA 645 55mm f/2.8 AL[IF] SDM AW
I’m not kidding if I tell you I only use primes for traveling. I wouldn’t mind if someone glues a good prime on my camera and the Pentax D-FA 645 55mm is amazing!
This lens came with my Pentax 645z and I loved it right away. 55mm on a medium format camera comes close to 43mm on full frame. Around 40mm is my favorite focal length for traveling.
I bought a few extra second hand lenses like a 35mm, 75mm and 120mm but the 55 stays on most of the time. Wide enough to be a superb all-round focal length without weird distortions when shooting a portrait.
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 A
When I started to take photography more seriously, I always used a 50mm prime on my Canon 5D. First the cheap plastic version and later on a proper one. After my graduation, I switched to the Sigma 35mm 1.4 A - (Nikon mount); my number one lens for travel photography on a full frame camera and I shot a lot of assignments with just this lens... it literally never came off.
Like the Pentax 55mm, it’s wide enough on a full frame for my style. The perfect all-round lens for traveling with only one downside: no weather sealing. Something you must keep in mind when traveling but I never had any problems with it and if you really need it, go for the (more expensive) Canon 35mm f/1.4. (Nikon Mount)
Canon 85mm f/1.8
Whenever I need to shoot a portrait on my travels this is my go-to lens for a full frame camera. I use f/1.8 for most portraits which gives me a super shallow depth of field and the results are always beautiful and sharp. The Canon 85mm f/1.8 is a superb and afforable portrait lens.
Travel photography accessories
Based on the purpose of the trip there's some other travel & photography gear that's on my essentials list. Here are the most important items:
Check out my photography guide and other eBooks if you want to learn more about my work. Each guide contains tips, advice and lots of examples including my camera settings...
Think Tank Retrospective 6 - Camera Bag
I don't like to carry too much stuff around so, most of the time when I go out, I take just my camera + lens and sometimes one extra lens. Since I switched to the mighty Pentax 645z, I needed a bag that's slightly larger than what I had. It doesn't have to have special features for me, though. It needs to be really comfortable and yeah, also look nice of course...
The Think Tank Retrospective 6 is not super cheap so it took me a while to decide but I'm traveling with it for a few months now and... wow! Best bag ever. It easily fits my Pentax 645z with lens and two other lenses. On top of that I can put some extra stuff in there like a bottle of water, an external HD or a viewfinder for shooting video. It's not waterproof but it has a rain cover and it just looks damn good!
What I love is that it doesn't look like a camera bag so no one will think there's expensive gear in there. Definitely a plus in some areas of the world.
The Think Tank Retrospective 6 is available in 3 different colors!
Pacsafe Travelsafe 12L
Yes, I admit, I was very sceptic when I read about this 'gadget' but then I decided to buy it, and oh my god, I'm so glad I did! It gives me peace of mind every time I don't want to take some of my gear and I'm staying in some dodgy guesthouse or hotel.
Also, when traveling on a night train for example, the Travelsafe 12L is keeps my belongings safe while I sleep. It easily holds my Pentax 645z, a laptop, an iPad, an extra lens and external HD.
I know it won't keep professional thieves from stealing my camera, lenses or other photography gear if they would really set their minds to it but it keeps opportunistic thieves from just grabbing my stuff and that's more likely to happen when traveling. The peace of mind I have when I leave my gear behind in a shady hostel is priceless!
Laptop and external hard drives
No need to explain why you have to make backups of your pictures. I use Lacie hard drives but I'm pretty sure there are other good brands. The LaCie is compact and can take a hit. I always have two so I have two copies of every single file and I try to keep them in seperate bags in case one gets stolen! One stays always on me.
There's a million options when shopping for laptops but I use a MacBook Air. I'm used to edit my photos using MacOS so it's an obvious choice.
Even editing the large files I get from my Pentax 645z are no problem for the MacBook Air and it's lightweight and thin!
First thing to think about then you're off to a new destination: Will there be electricity all the time? These days it’s difficult to find a place without electricity but they still exist in a lot of countries so if you’ll be traveling without electricity for a few days you’ll need spare batteries. Based on how much your camera needs (do you film a lot?) maybe even 3 or 4...
I usually have 2 but because recently I started filming more I think I'll buy an extra one.
When there is electricity, make sure you can plug everything together. Find out if you need an adapter or even a surge protector. Some countries like India might not have a reliable electricity network and you don’t want to fry your batteries, laptop or phone...
I use the surge protector all the time and it's really convenient to charge multiple devices together on one outlet.
Basic rain cover or rain sleeve
Either for rain or dust. A basic plastic rain cover or sleeve can always come in handy. For example on an open boat ride with a lot of wind and water spray.
Spare SD cards
It happened to me once: a corrupt memory card. If your camera can write to two memory cards then I suggest to do so. It might never happen but when it happens to a card with pictures for a client... let's just not let that happen!
I'm not someone that shoots on burst all the time. If I come home with 50 pictures after a day of shooting than I had a busy day, so a few SanDisk Extreme 64Gb SD Cards have more than enough capacity for me.
What do you think? Want to add something to the list?
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Joris Hermans is a portrait, documentary and travel photographer based in Belgium. For the last ten years he has been combining personal and freelance work and won several awards among which the Nikon Press Photo Award in 2017. In 2018 he set off on a journey around the world with his girlfriend documenting everything on The World Ahead Of Us...
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