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BEST CAMERAS FOR TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT GEAR

So you're getting ready to take off on a trip and want to capture some photos, get some video footage, or maybe both. Whether you're an aspiring travel blogger, or just wanting to document your journey, the question of what kind of camera gear to travel with is always a difficult one.

Obviously size and weight are key factors. You want your camera gear to take up the least amount of space but still be able to capture high quality photos and videos. As a travel blogger and vlogger who's been on the road for the past year, I've bought, sold, and swapped out some of my gear to optimize my camera bag. I now feel confident that I've found the best setup and I want to share it with you guys. I'm going to give you a thorough breakdown of exactly what's in my camera backpack (and yes, everything I list below fits into one backpack), and why...

Camera for Photos

Type: Mirrorless   Specs: 24.3 MP Full-Frame Exmor CMOS Sensor, 5-Axis SteadyShot Image Stabilization, Fast Auto Focus and 5fps Burst, Full HD Video, Weather-Resistant Body, Built-In Wifi, 3″ Tilting LCDMain 

Price: $1,098.00 Body Only or $1,299.00 with Kit Lens

This is my go-to camera that I bring with me everywhere. It's lightweight and compact making it much easier to travel with than a DSLR. The photo quality is outstanding and it's super user-friendly, making it a great camera for anyone, regardless of your skill level. 

Lenses: I personally stay away from kit lenses. I think for how powerful of a camera it is, having a good lens is key. My go-to lens that I take everywhere is the Sony 16-70mmI love this lens because it's a wide angle zoom, which allows me to take a wide range of shots. The other one I travel with is the Sony 35mm prime. The sharpness of this lens is unbeatable, making it great for both portrait and landscape photography. Although investing in a better lens is more expensive than using a kit lens, I think its well worth the money to have sharper, high quality images. 

Accessories

Lens Filters: Note: None of these filters affect the actual coloring of photos. When I first started shooting I never made use of lens filters, but after having enough photos compromised due to various lighting conditions, I realized how big of an effect they can have on the outcome of a photo. If you're not familiar with lens filters, think of them as eyeglasses for your lens. They are very easy to use, they simply screw on to the front of the lens, and are also stackable- meaning you can layer one on top of another. And good news- you can get exactly what you need at a very low cost (I'll link to the ones I use below). These are the three that I use: 

1. I keep a UV Filter on my lenses at all times in order to protect them from damage (compare this to a pair of clear glasses). A UV filter is essentially just a clear covering that helps keep the glass from getting scratched or broken, but has no effect on the image.

2. For bright, sunny days I shoot with an ND filter (Neutral Density), which helps to control the exposure (think of it like a basic pair of sunglasses). One of the main reasons I love using this filter is to maintain the deeper, darker blue skies from looking blown out in photos. 

3. Lastly, I use is a circular polarizer (same effect as polarized sunglasses). It basically keeps the photos from picking up the suns reflection when shooting water or windows. I can't tell you how many times I've shot beautiful turquoise waters in the tropics and ended up with photos that don't pick up any of the coloring due to the glare- this lens is a savior for those situations! 

Keep in mind that different lenses require different size filters- but don't worry you can easily find out which ones you need by doing a quick google search. 

Tripod: As a solo traveler, I find this is absolutely essential for getting the shots I want when I'm off on my own. Before I set off traveling I struggled with the decision of whether to invest in a high quality, more expensive one, or go the budget route. After over a year on the road, I've found that my $24 AmazonBasics Tripod has done the job. You could go for a well-built, sturdier one like the Manfrotto BeFree, but if you're trying to cut costs, I don't think its a necessity since the tripod doesn't directly effect the photo quality. 

Strap: I prefer a wrist strap over a neck strap, as it gives me more flexibility for shooting at different angles. I use the $6 Maveek Braided Paracord Wrist Strap and it's been perfect.  

Camera for Videos

 

Canon G7xii

Type: Compact  Specs: 20.1MP 1" CMOS Sensor, DIGIC 7 Image Processor, 4.2x Optical Zoom f/1.8-f/2.8 Lens, 24-100mm (35mm Equivalent)

Price: $649.00

Whether you're just looking to shoot video footage or become a vlogger, this camera is perfect. For how compact this camera is, you wouldn't believe how high the video quality is. It has incredibly fast and accurate autofocus and Optical Image Stabilization, which tremendously helps in compensating for hand shake and camera movement. Its f/1.8 lens is great for capturing the bokeh effect (sharp subject, blurry background) in your videos and photos. It also does amazing in low-light, so filming at night is easy. The feature that really sets this apart as being an ideal vlogging camera is the flip screen, which allows you to see yourself while you're filming. It also has a touchscreen so you can change the focus point with the touch of a finger. Additionally, it can record up to 60 fps making it great for shooting slow motion. If you end up deciding to have this as your go-to camera for photography as well, it gives you the option to shoot in RAW format which is great for post-processing. Lastly, it has built in Wifi, so sending content directly to your devices is no problem! 

Accessories

Selfie Stick: The $10 Luxebell Selfie Stick is an essential. If you're looking to vlog, its extendable selfie pole stretches from 6.1-18.1 inches, making it great for capturing yourself doing whatever you're doing. Even if selfies aren't your main priority, this stick acts as a great base for holding the camera and capturing whatever's around you- I find its a more stable base as opposed to just holding the camera in my hand and filming. And it's mount has an adapter for just about every type of camera, so you can use it with a GoPro, DSLR or whatever else you shoot with. I've also brought it underwater several times and had no problems- just make sure you rinse it after saltwater exposure. Of course its compact and lightweight (3.4 oz) so bringing it everywhere isn't an issue.

Gimbal Stabilizer: Investing in the Zhiyun Crane Gimbal Stabilizer has hands down been the biggest game changer in my video making career. It has absolutely made a world of a difference in the quality of my footage, bringing it from an am-mature level to a more cinematic, film-quality style, even before editing. If you want to record smooth video that gives the feeling that the camera is floating, you need this gimbal stabilizer. Before investing in this particular one, I thoroughly researched my options and found that there were very few suitable for this camera. I hadn't heard of the brand Zhiyun before purchasing this product, so took a chance on it and have been very happy with my decision.  

Lens Filters: Since this camera has a self-retracting lens (making the UV filter unnecessary), I only use an ND filter and circular polarizer. Because the lens is self-retracting, you will need to get an adapter to mount onto the front of the camera and then attach the filters to. Note: this adapter is fitted for a 52mm filter.

Aerial Photography (Drone)

DJI Mavic pro best drone

DJI Mavic Pro

Type: Drone  Specs: 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, Folded Size: 7.7×3.2×3.2 inches, Weight: 25.92 oz, Battery Life: Up to 27 minutes, Max Horizontal Speed: 25mph, Max Range: 4.3 miles, Resolution: 4K, C4K, 2.7K, FHD, 12.7-megapixel still photos, 3-axis gimbal

Price: $999

Portability and capability are the two most important variables when considering buying a drone, and until the Mavic Pro was released, most drones on the market were lacking in one of the both areas. Fortunately, DJI has managed to come up with a drone that's not only extremely portable, but is packed with all the features every drone pilot is after. Folded, it's a little smaller than a brick, but of course weighs much less. Its 4K camera and 3-axis gimbal allows for super smooth video recording. It has a battery life of 27 minutes (I recommend purchasing a spare battery for extra flight time), can fly up to 25mph and has a range of 4.3 miles. Never flown a drone before? No problem. I hadn't either before I bought this. Its remote controller allows you to plug your smartphone in so you can manage the entire flight from your screen. In addition, it has obstacle avoidance to help prevent crashes, and a built in GPS that allows you to fly in different modes as well as return home at the press of a button. Whether you're a newbie or professional, the Mavic Pro is the way to go. 

Accessories

Filters: If you plan on flying your drone over any body of water, having ND and polarizing filters is a necessity. It dramatically decreases the glare and reflection that the drone would pick up without them. I recommend Sandmarc's Aerial Filter Set. It's a great little 4-pack that includes the essentials: ND4, ND8, ND16 & Polarizer Filter. Sandmarc is one of the leaders in drone accessories, specifically for DJI, so you can always be sure you're getting top of the line products. 

Underwater + Action Camera

GoPro 5 Action and Underwater Camera

GoPro HERO5 Black 4K

Type: Action Camera  Specs: 4K video & 12MP photos in Single, Burst & Time Lapse modes, Waterproof to 33ft (10m) w/out housing, Time Lapse Intervals: 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60 seconds. Preview & playback shots, change settings & trim footage in camera

Price: $249

I love the simplicity, durability, and versatility of this camera. You can literally take it anywhere- underwater, down a ski slope, across a zip-line... you name it. Its 4K camera produces amazing quality photos and videos, making you feel like you're there. It shoots smooth, stabilized video, crystal clear audio, and has GPS and voice control. It has one button that controls everything, making it super user-friendly. It also gives you the ability to upload footage directly to your devices using the GoPro Cloud, and if you download the app you can easily create videos on the spot. I recommend this for anyone who needs a 1-stop-shop as far as a camera goes. If you're not looking to get into the technical aspects of photography and simply want to document your travels, this is the way to go.

Camera Backpack 

Lowepro Camera Backpack for Drone DJI Mavic Pro

Lowepro ViewPoint BP250

Price: Check Here on Amazon

Let me start by saying, this backpack is my baby. It fits all of the camera gear I mentioned above, plus my laptop! What attracted me to this backpack from the get-go was that it has a built in slot specifically designed to fit the Mavic Pro. The bottom half has a zipper that allows you to slide the case right in. On the other side, you have a pocket with a buckle that carries a tripod perfectly. In the back there's a laptop sleeve. And the top half is where I fit the rest of my cameras and lenses. I've been very impressed with the overall quality, especially given the weight it holds. It's made from rugged 600D polyester, so it would take A LOT to rip or wear through. The zippers are strong and durable. The buckles are far from flimsy. And the back has a built-in padding, making it comfortable to carry for long periods of time.