One questions that we get asked pretty often is: “What camera gear do you guys use?” And to be honest, when we started to use photography, we didn’t look into any special or particular camera to work with. Britte bought a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex camera) back in 2013 for college. She just looked for a good deal, checked the reviews and ended up with a Nikon D3200. Over the last couple of years, we extended our travel camera gear bit by bit, and we want to share it with you!
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: you definitely don’t need a fancy and expensive camera to take stunning pictures! Even the fanciest camera won’t give you good quality pictures if you don’t know how to use it. The knowledge of your camera, your creativity, and your editing skills are the three main ingredients for a stunning picture. With technology nowadays, you can even shoot breathtaking pictures with a decent compact camera, also known as a point-and-shoot camera. As the name already explains: it’s easy to use, so you can focus on improving your skills without tons of settings to drive you crazy.
But now, let’s dive into this blog’s topic: what travel camera gear do we use during our travels?
Do you prefer an overview instead of text? No problem, we’ve also made an overview of our gear!
Our first camera – Nikon D3200 (the new model is the Nikon D3500): As I mentioned before, Britte bought her Nikon D3200 for college, with barely any knowledge about cameras and photography. After college, her camera ended up in the box and stayed there for years. On one of our first holidays together, I took it with us and just started to play around with it, just for fun. I didn’t know anything about cameras or photography at all, so starting with a DSLR was a pretty big step; so many buttons and settings! I was really enjoying trying to capture whatever I was seeing on my screen (all on auto-mode, you got to start somewhere, right?!). Back home, Google and YouTube were my best friends to help me figure out what I was doing, what I shouldn’t be doing, and of course, what I SHOULD be doing. I kept on teaching myself (which I’m still doing) up to a point where I decided I wanted to do more with photography than just capturing some nice photos for ourselves, and invested in a (professional) full frame DSLR camera.
Taking it to another level with our Nikon D810: I wanted to stick to a Nikon camera. First of all, because I was feeling comfortable with it due to all the self-teaching with the D3200. Besides that, Nikon is known for their top of the game camera sensors, which results in great high-quality photos. After doing a lot of research, we found a second hand Nikon D810 which had barely been used, and for a very reasonable price! At first, I was quite overwhelmed by all the settings and buttons. But after spending some time practicing (once again, thanks Google and YouTube!), I felt comfortable with it pretty quick. And I’m still loving our camera! It can take a beating, has a lot of options and I’m still learning more and more about it every day. No regrets at all!
For all the action – a GoPro HERO6 Black: We were very lucky by just winning this GoPro. We mostly use it for taking underwater shots and to record some videos now and then. This camera was such a huge step forward from our GoPro HD HERO2! The most important differences for us (besides from the big quality improvement compared to our previous, almost medieval GoPro) were that is has a touchscreen on the back and that it can shoot RAW photos. Without getting too technical: RAW photos contain all the original data, which gives you much more control when editing. JPG files are compressed, which means a loss of some data. More on that in another blog! You can manage all your settings on the touchscreen on the back, and for the first time, we were able to see what we were shooting on our GoPro!
Let’s talk about drones – DJI Mavic 2 Pro with Fly More Kit: We also wanted to be able to take those epic shots from the sky we saw everywhere on the internet! We started looking into it, and decided to go for a DJI Spark Fly More Combo. A small drone which would be easy to take with us, recommended for beginners: perfect for us! Unfortunately, it didn’t seem so reliable. We had some issues with losing signal, which made our heart skip a beat several times. And besides that, we did miss the fact that it didn’t shoot RAW photos. We felt comfortable with flying a drone by now, so decided to make someone else happy with our Spark, and look for a new drone. We’re stoked with our current DJI Mavic 2 Pro! This drone has got all the functions we want, and even more. But most important: it is very reliable, the batteries last longer than our DJI Spark did, and it can shoot in RAW! At first, we were doubting about the size and weight. It’s quite a lot heavier than the Spark, but we decided to just accept that a better drone will be heavier. A big difference compared to the DJI Spark, is that it has foldable propellor arms. Which means the carry size is comparable to the size of the DJI Spark, perfect! Besides all that, the drone comes with an adapter to attach your phone to the batteries. This way you can use them as a power bank.
And let’s not forget: our phones! We have an iPhone 8 and an iPhone 6S. We use them most of the time for Instagram Stories. But sometimes we also shoot some photos with it. Adobe Lightroom Mobile, which I will talk about later on, let’s you shoot in RAW. So that’s a perfect backup in case we’re not able to use our camera!
An even harder decision than choosing a camera is choosing a lens. A good quality lens really makes a difference, much more so than a camera body. We already had an AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G for our Nikon D3200, which is actually a full frame lens. So we were not using the full potential of it, but we were still able to take some very nice pictures with it. It’s great for creating blurry backgrounds, which helps you to isolate your subject to really make it stand out in your photo. But with just a 50mm lens (also known as a prime lens, not able to zoom), we were very limited with the possibilities. We wanted to have a zoom lens, which would give us more flexibility while taking pictures. We ended up buying a Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 SP Di VC USD Nikon (which is also available for other camera brands). A very nice all round lens with both a wide-angle and a decent zoom. For breathtaking wide land- and cityscapes, a serious wide-angle lens still is on my wishlist. Hopefully, I can get my hands on an AF-S NIKKOR 14–24mm f/2.8G ED someday 🙂 .
Tripods and stabilizer
FEISOL Tournament Tripod CT-3442 Rapid: If you’re a solo traveler or a travel couple like us, you just can’t go without a tripod. Unless you constantly want to ask strangers to take your picture or put your camera on tricky surfaces. Our first tripod was a Manfrotto Compact Action aluminium with hybrid head. We loved it! It was easy to handle, especially with the ergonomic handle to rotate the camera. Unfortunately, our Nikon D810 was too heavy for it. So we started looking for a new tripod. We now have a FEISOL Tournament Tripod CT-3442 Rapid. It has no problems with any weather conditions, it can stand in rivers or in the sea without any issues, and weighs just a little over 1 kg.
GoPro Karma Grip: For our GoPro we have a GoPro Karma Grip stabilizer. Although we don’t do a lot with video (yet), we’ve had a situation where we wished we did have a stabilizer. We recorded a video for Visit Greece before we had a Karma Grip, and the shaking and other movements were just too uncomfortable to watch. So we decided to invest in a GoPro Karma Grip. Not so long after we bought it, GoPro launched their GoPro HERO7, with a built-in stabilizer! If we would have done our research a little better, we probably would have sold our HERO6 and bought the HERO7. It would have saved us a lot of space in our backpacks, as the Karma Grip is kind of awkward in its size.
PEDCO UltraPod II Lightweight: We use this small tripod for our GoPro. Great for recording timelapses or just taking pictures from a creative point of view. It’s a very lightweight and compact tripod which you can attach to street lights, small trees, or whatever you want.
How we take our travel camera gear with us: Bags
Tenba BYOP 10 DSLR Backpack Insert: Finding the right bag for our travel camera gear was a serious challenge. We first looked into several camera bags, but we came to the conclusion that a real camera bag doesn’t work for us while traveling. We also do multiday hikes with our tent and need to bring all our own food, we didn’t find a camera bag that fits all that gear. But we did find the perfect alternative: the Tenba BYOP 10 DSLR Backpack Insert, a compact camera bag to take with you ínside your actual backpack. So now we can just take our camera gear, along with whatever we want in our backpack!
Osprey Farpoint 40 Travelpack: It’s not an actual camera bag, but it works just perfect for us! Our Backpack Insert fits in easily and there is plenty of space left for other equipment or stuff. We can attach our tripod to the outside of the bag, so we don’t need to be carrying it in our hands all the time. Besides that, this bag is designed to be the perfect hand luggage bag. With its size, it should fit most airline’s hand luggage rules. So even if you’re not using it for your camera gear, it’s a great bag if you want to travel with just hand luggage!
The final step: Editing
Lightroom: To edit our photos, I mostly use Adobe Lightroom, which is part of Adobe Creative Cloud. It’s slider-based software, which means all the adjustments you want to make can be done by moving the slider. There are tons of options to edit your photos the way you want. It does take some practice, but getting the hang of the basics is doable. You can even download the Adobe Lightroom Mobile app for FREE in the App Store and Google Play Store, to edit your photos on your phone. It’s a great option when you want to edit a photo quickly for Instagram for example.
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Essential travel camera gear: backup systems!
What’s the worst thing that can happen after you took tons of awesome photos? Right: losing them! We store our photos on at least two different places: on an external hard disk and in the cloud. Ideally, we would store our photos on our laptops as well, but then they would run out of space in no time while traveling.
LaCie DJI CoPilot BOSS: This piece of camera equipment keeps our photos save and available, wherever we are! It’s a 2TB hard disk that you can use anywhere. You can use it on your laptop, but also with your phone. Just plug it into your phone (it has all kinds of connectivity options, so it will fit your phone for sure), launch the app and you’ll have full access to all the files on the drive. If I need a quick edit for a photo, I can just download it from the drive to my phone, load it into Adobe Lightroom Mobile and edit it wherever I want. So easy! Another great thing is that can read SD cards. When we’re in a remote area without our laptops and our SD cards are full, we can just insert the SD card into the drive, press one button to let it copy all the content from the SD card and we’re good to go! Besides all that, you can also use it as a power bank to charge your phone.
TransIP Stack: When we started using cloud storage, we used Google Photos at first. Unfortunately, Google Photos compresses photos quite a lot. Right now, we’re using TransIP’s Stack, which we’re very happy with. What we really like, is that it prevents us from wasting valuable space. When you upload a file with the same name, you will get a notification that asks you what you want to do with the file before it starts uploading. Google Photos just uploads it, without notifying you.
Travel camera gear that makes life easier: accessories
3 Legged Thing QR11-LC Universal L-bracket: This piece of gear makes life so much easier when using a tripod. If you want to switch your camera from landscape mode to portrait mode or the other way around, all you need to do is release your camera from your tripod, turn it 90 degrees and you’re good to go! No need to level your camera or tripod again, just turn your camera and continue shooting. The good thing about this L-bracket is that you can still plug in all your cables and other accessories without having to remove it.
Nikon MC-30A Remote Trigger: To be honest, we don’t use our remote trigger that much. Most of the time we use the self-timer on our camera to take pictures. It’s a wired remote, so would be pretty silly to see one of us holding it on a picture, right? And the cable is not particularly long. Of course, you can buy a wireless one if you’d like. Having a wireless remote trigger would be great for us, as it would prevent us from running back and forth between the camera and the place we want to take a picture. Having a (remote) trigger is very useful when you want to shoot really long exposure shots. Most cameras can go up to an exposure of 30 seconds. But if you need it to be longer, we plug in our remote switch, lock the button, and run a timer on our phone to stop the exposure on time.
Cleaning kit: Indispensable in your travel camera equipment! It’s just such a shame when you’ve shot an awesome picture, and you notice a nasty spot on your photo. So before you take photo’s: always check if your lens is clean. Even dust can really screw up a photo. A blower, small brush, some liquid, and wipes will prevent you from those major disappointments when you get home.
Do you want to see an organized overview? You can find it here 🙂
What does your travel camera equipment contain? Is there something you never leave at home when you travel? Let us know!
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