After 8 years of traveling and capturing my travel moments, I have lived the highs and lows of travel photography. I have learned the importance of investing in quality photography equipment and the difference it can make when you want to share your travel moments with others.
There is a famous quote from Ansel Adams where he said, “It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” This is, for the most part, true, but having a good camera will make your life easier and give you the necessary tools to harness your creativity.
Since traveling and photography are my two passions and I love sharing my travel experiences through photography, I wanted to share my photography gear list.
Here is a list of all the travel photography gear I use, whether I am hiking, camping, or traveling.
My Photography Gear
Before deciding on a camera, I prioritized four criteria: 1) Quality 2) Durability 3) Price 4) Weight.
In the beginning, I focused on weight and durability, since I spend the majority of my time outdoors. But, once I started carrying photography equipment, my bag just got heavy.
It took me a long time to find the right combination of my deseried criteria. In the end, I focused on quality and durability. I wanted a camera that would survive the outdoors, take great pictures, and last more than a year.
Main Camera Body – Nikon D810
Nikon D810 Specifications:
- Sensor: 36.3 MP FX
- Native ISO Sensitivity: 64-12,800
- Processor: EXPEED 4
- Dust Reduction: Yes
- Weather Sealing/Protection: Yes
- Storage: 1x CF slot and 1x SD slot
- Autofocus System: Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX with Group Area AF
- Battery Life: 1200 shots
- Weight: 880g
After a lot of research, I settled on the Nikon D810 – a full-frame DLSR camera. There is an endless debate on mirrorless vs. DLSR, and most travelers will choose mirrorless because the camera bodies are lighter.
However, when I looked at the current top of the line mirrorless cameras, Sony was the clear leader – a company that has not been committed to photography. So, I decided to wait before investing in this area. I prefer the durability and reliability that comes with a Nikon DLSR camera. When mirrorless technology is further along, I might reconsider, but not anytime in the near future.
I also purchase my camera equipment used, which allows me to purchase high-end gear at a much lower cost (more on this below), and used mirrorless cameras from Nikon are far too expensive at this moment.
While the Nikon D810 is on the heavier side, the pictures are stunning and I am happy with nearly every photo. It is a very reliable and durable camera. The battery life is remarkable (which is great for hiking), and it is weather sealed. All-in-all it is an outstanding camera that I purchased used in excellent condition at a reasonable price.
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR – Main Lens
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR Specifications:
- Max/Min Aperture: 2.8/22
- VR (Vibration Reduction) Image Stabilization: Yes
- Autofocus: Yes
- AF-S (Silent Wave Motor): Yes
- Internal Focusing: Yes
- Weight: 1070g
This is one of Nikon’s best lenses. It produces stunning pictures, and it’s a tank. It will outlast everything. The 24-70mm f/2.8 is the lens that’s on my camera 95% of the time. As a landscape photographer, this gives me a beautiful wide-angle with the option to zoom. Since I spend the majority of my time in the outdoors and I am often in extreme weather conditions, I need a lens that is durable, and this lens has passed the test.
The 24-70mm f/2.8 can be pricier than some of Nikon’s other lenses, so the 24-120mm f/4 is an alternative option. I had this lens for several years and I was able to capture some really beautiful photos.
Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED – Ultra-Wide Angle Lens
Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED Specifications:
- Max/Min Aperture: 1.8/16
- Autofocus: Yes
- AF-S (Silent Wave Motor): Yes
- Internal Focusing: Yes
- Weight: 355 g
The 20mm f/1.8G ED is a superb lens and yields sharp photos with beautiful colors. This is my ultra-wide angle lens. It is more towards landscape photographers and is great for astrophotography. The 20mm f/1.8G ED might not have the heft or build quality of some of the Nikkor classics, but its overall performance, especially relative to its price tag, makes this lens an excellent value.
Nikon 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR – Micro Lens
Nikon 105mm f/2.6G IF-ED VR (Mirco) Specifications:
- Max/Min Aperture: 2.8/32
- Magnification Ratio: 1:1
- Weight: 556 g
The Nikon 105mm f/2.8G Micro lens is a long reach macro shooting lens. It delivers crisp and natural images in any genre of photography. In general, this lens is used for capturing tiny insects or flowers, it can also be used as a prime zoom lens. I don’t always bring this lens, as it is more of a specialty lens, but I find macro photography really fun.
Action Camera – GoPro Hero 8
I’ve only been using a GoPro for the past two years, but I wish I would have started earlier. Currently, I travel with the GoPro Hero 8.
GoPro cameras are great at capturing hands-free action and you can attach them to almost anything. Plus, they are waterproof and shockproof! This is really ideal for anyone who is big into outdoor adventures.
I use my GoPro for mountain biking, hiking, paragliding, ATV, interior and exterior moving-vehicle footage, and more.
Need help deciding if the latest GoPro is right for you? Check out this awesome GoPro 9 vs 8 vs 7 comparison guide.
Just owning a GoPro is not enough to get great images and videos. The magic of these cameras is in the plethora of accessories that are available!
From handheld sticks, to head straps and mouth mounts — there is pretty much every accessory for every kind of adventure.
Granted it’s not possible to own or carry them all, but there are a few that I find very useful and use on every trip.
Dual Battery Charger + Spare Battery
3-Way (includes selfie stick with adjustable arm length, tripod, and tripod mount)
Curved + Flat Adhesive Mounts (there are several that come with any GoPro)
Since I just traded in my GoPro 6 for a GroPro 8, I am currently updating my equipment and adding new accessories. I will keep this list updated as I acquire new accessories.
My Camera Accessories
Camera Lens Filters
Lens filters help you achieve certain photography effects that just aren’t possible with software yet. In general, they act as sunglasses for your camera.
I carry a Hoya Pro-1 Polarizing Filter to help reduce glare & reflections on water, glass, and to darken up the blues and clouds in the sky.
One of my biggest fears is running out of battery power during an unforgettable moment! Luckily, the batteries for my Nikon D810 last for a very long time. I do, however, carry an extra battery just in case.
I own 2 batteries for my Nikon D810 and 2 batteries for my GoPro.
Since my area of photography focus on landscapes (which I shoot mostly when I am hiking), a solid yet lightweight travel tripod is a key piece of photography equipment. And, after a lot of research, I decided to get the Peak Design Travel Tripod. While there are cheaper tripods available, they are either too heavy, not sturdy or a combination of both.
The Peak Design Travel Tripod is ideal for travel and landscape photographers alike.
Peak Design Capture Clip
This is a lifesaver! The Peak Design Capture Clip allows you to “clip” your camera onto your belt or on the shoulder straps of a backpack, for easy access. It keeps your hands free and eliminates the need to use a camera strap, which can strain your neck and shoulders.
It is a great tool for day hiking, walking around cities, and anywhere I know I’ll want quick access to my camera.
Given the size of my camera, I also have the Peak Design Pro Pad. This makes carrying heavy photography equipment more comfortable.
Memory Cards and External Hard Drives
I shoot in RAW with a 36mp camera, which generates very large camera files. That means I need fast memory cards. I found ScanDisk Extreme Pro to be the most effective and reliable. I use 128 GB for both my Nikon D810 and my GoPro. This way I am sure to have enough space for all my pictures during a trip.
For external hard drives, anything over 500 GB is ideal. It’s better to have one large hard drive than lots of hard drives with limited space.
Micro Fiber Lens Cloth
There’s nothing worse than a foggy or smudged camera lens, and you certainly don’t want to use something that could damage the lens. I pack no less than 2 microfiber lens clothes on every trip.
The problem with changing your lenses is that dust can fall on the sensor if you are not careful. Dust on your sensor leaves you with “dust spots” on your photos or worse your video. Since I have a DLSR camera that is dust resistant I have never had any major issues, except when I spent 10 days in Jordan and visited the Wadi Rum.
A few quick bursts of air with a camera air blower on your sensor can help remove the dust. I, personally, use Rollei Tornado Camera Air Blower.
Before attempting to clean your camera, please use this how to clean your sensor and keep your camera gear clean guide. If you damage your sensor it will be very expensive to fix, so please double-check before attempting any type of cleaning.
LowePro Whistler 450
It took me some time to decide on a camera backpack. The two most important aspects for me are weatherproofing and comfort.
I ended up choosing the LowePro Whistler 450. This bag holds everything I need it to, sits comfortably on my back, and has the perfect amount of weatherproofing. It comes with a rain cover, but you really don’t need it because the bag itself is so water-resistant.
There’s a dedicated laptop pocket, room for a jacket, snacks, and a water bottle. Plus it opens from the back, which provides both easy access and additional security for my photography gear.
How To Improve Your Travel Photography
So, you’ve made it this far.
While I have and continue to build an extensive amount of photography equipment. Remember, gear is not everything.
The best way to improve your travel photography is to practice as much as possible and learn new skills.
There are plenty of websites that offer free online courses that can help you improve your photography. PhotographyLife is an excellent place to get started. They have step-by-step guides, reviews, and even videos for both beginners and pros. They even have a gear guide to help you decide which photography gear is right for you.
I spent a lot of time gathering opinions and reading online reviews before I made my decision. Take your time to find what will work with your needs and style of photography.
How To Save Money When Purchasing Camera Gear
Purchasing travel photography equipment can be an investment. However, there are a few tips and tricks that I have learned over the years that have helped me save a lot of money.
Much of the equipment I have purchased is used. There are several sites that sell good to high-quality used equipment at a reasonable price.
I used MPB to purchase my camera body, lenses, GoPro, and backpack. It’s great if you are new to photography and don’t want to invest a ton of money just yet or you want to upgrade your gear.
If you are looking to upgrade your gear, trading in old camera gear is another great way to save money. As an example, I traded in my GoPro Hero 6 for a GoPro Hero8 (on MPB), and paid less than 100€. The shipping was also totally free. The GoPro Hero 8 was listed “like new” and came in the original box. A new GoPro Hero 8 is over 350€, so it was a huge savings.
For a long time, I traveled with a point-and-shoot camera, and I slowly invested in my travel photography equipment. I could not have purchased everything at once or even in the same year. I stayed current with trends and watched prices carefully so I could get the best deal.
Useful Tip: When companies like Nikon and Canon come out with new cameras or lenses, photographers sell their old gear on the sites I mentioned above. Keep this in mind if you plan on using my strategy.
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Check Out My Recent Travel Photos
Hope you enjoyed my post about my travel photography gear and found it useful. Here are some of my recent posts that highlight my travel photography.
- Fun Things to Do In Guatemala
- Hiking Switzerland’s Best Unknown Trail – The 66 du Doubs
- The Best Things to Do in Colmar
Have questions about travel photography equipment or travel photography, in general? Send me a message in the comments below!
Interested in more travel photography tips? Check out my other posts for more travel photography tips.