Photography Equipment Essentials
At a minimum, I suggest that you bring a digital SLR or mirrorless rangefinder body and one general-purpose high-quality zoom lens. I travel with a full-frame Sony and carry a 16-35 f4, 24-105 and 100-400. I am not a big fan of heavy, 2.8 lenses for travel. Please call or email me with suggestions on equipment if you don’t know what to bring or purchase.
A sturdy tripod with a ball head (Mandatory. We do a lot of low-light photography). If you want to spend the money, the carbon fiber tripods are a pleasure to carry around and use. Expensive, but should last you a lifetime. Try to keep the tripod minus the head weight below 3.5 lbs. You will get better images overall if you travel with and “USE” a tripod. Please watch my video on tripods, Choosing a good travel the condensed version.
Plan to pack your tripod in your checked luggage when flying. Remove the head and wrap it in some garments and make sure that the tripod legs will fit in your checked luggage. When I bought my latest Gitzo tripod, I was somewhat limited by the long dimensions of my luggage.
Quick release mechanism for the tripod and corresponding plates for the camera body and or lens. It is a good idea to get “Arca-Swiss” compatible plates. I use Really Right Stuff L Brackets on all of my camera bodies which makes it easy and stable to switch back and forth between horizontal and vertical.
Cable release. I think that it is worth having a backup cable release. They are small, easy to lose, and essential. I feel lost without one. You can also use your self-timer but if you need to go into bulb mode you will need the cable release to use its’ lock function.
Camera manual. Download it to your laptop.
Camera batteries, at least 3.
Camera battery charger & converter for European plug-in.
CF or SD cards, at least three, 32 GBS, or larger if you shoot the higher megapixel cameras. Some people like to avoid using large cards in case the card fails. If a smaller card failed you would lose a lot less data. I like the Sandisk Ultra Cards. I find them fine for video as well. If you are using only SD cards make sure that they are Class 10.
Circular polarizing filter. I like the B+W Polarizers. If you will be using the polarizer on a very wide lens you may need the slim version to avoid vignetting.
SD card reader if shooting digital and bringing a laptop. I use and like this dual-slot Lexar USB Card Reader. Accepts both SD and CF cards.
Lens cleaning cloths. Mobile Cloth is heavy-duty and good for wiping water and spraying off of your lens. Microfiber cloths are good for cleaning your lenses.
Camera Bag. I greatly prefer backpack camera bags. Much less stress on the body versus an over-the-shoulder model. I like the LowePro Backpacks and Slingbags products as well as F-Stop. I am currently using an F-Stop Loka UL and Magrit is using a similar but made-for-woman, Kashmir UL. We really like these packs. Plenty of room for our camera equipment and extra clothing, plus they are comfortable and lightweight. My camera backpacks have sleeves in them for my laptop. I always “Carry On” my camera and computer equipment. The airlines are getting stricter about your carry-on luggage. Restrict your carry-on to your camera bag and your laptop. Check with your airline. I pack my tripod with the head removed in my luggage. Lithium batteries are not allowed in your “checked luggage” so you must have them in your carry-on.
Headlamp. For in the field and also handy for hotel rooms for reading at night or if the power goes out. Get one that has the red light mode so that you do not pollute your fellow photographer’s images while doing long exposures.
Hood Loupe. If you are shooting with a mirrorless camera this is not needed as you can playback your photo in the viewfinder. For digital SLR cameras you must use the LCD on the back of the camera to check for exposure, sharpness, etc., and at times if it is bright out it is difficult to see the image. The Hood Loupe will allow you to analyze your photo during bright daylight.
Photography Equipment That’s Nice to have
Camera Protection. There are a variety of rain covers out there for our camera. At a minimum, bring along a couple of shower caps to protect your setup during rain.
Filter wrenches in case your filters get stuck on your lens. Make sure you get the right size for your lenses.
Neutral Density Filters. I travel with 82 mm ND filters, a 10-stop, and a 6-stop. I use step-down rings to adjust to my smaller lenses. I do not use this often but at times, I am glad that I have it for fast-moving clouds or silky water.
A manual dust blower, Giottos Rocket Air Blower is a good one.
Trash compactor bag for sitting on or kneeling in the field.