Photography Equipment Essentials
At a minimum I suggest that you bring a digital SLR or mirror-less rangefinder body and one general-purpose high quality zoom lens. If you are looking at a camera body-lens kit, I would advise to not get the kit with the cheap kit lens, but to get the body and then upgrade to a better quality lens. For example, you can purchase a Canon Rebel with a kit lens at Costco, but I am suggesting to avoid this purchase and buy the Rebel body somewhere else with a good quality upgraded lens. You can see some good reviews about lenses on Fred Miranda.com. Please call or email me about suggestions on equipment if you don’t know what to bring or purchase.
Sturdy tripod with ballhead (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 to 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 tripod-the condensed version.
If you are doing a lot of panoramas you may want to consider the Acratech Leveling Base. This makes it very easy and quick to level your panning base which is essential for doing panoramas. For panoramas, an L-Bracket is also a preferred option. Make sure that you choose the correct thread size for your tripod, 1/4″ or 3/8″. 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 you 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 and easy to lose and are 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. (I will have an inverter so that we can charge in the van if needed).
CF or SD cards, at least three, 16 gbs, or larger if you shooting the higher megapixel cameras like the Nikon D850 or the Sony A7r3. 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.
Compact Flash 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 spray 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 the 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 the 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.
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 to analyze your photo during bright daylight. We like this one.
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.
Camera level: Double axis spirit level for camera hot shoe/used for shooting panoramas. Many of the new cameras have this built in so you don’t need this external level.
Filter wrenches in case your filters get stuck on your lens. Here is a set for filters from 67mm to 86mm. Make sure you get the right size for your lenses.
Manual dust blower, Giottos Rocket Air Blower is a good one.
Trash compactor bag for sitting on or kneeling in the field.
Laptops: If you can bring a laptop, do so, with a minimum of Adobe Lightroom.
Computer Software: These are suggestions only. At a minimum, I would suggest Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Elements. You can use the Nik plugins with both. If you are interested in doing some serious post processing then you should consider Photoshop as well.
- Adobe Photoshop | CS6 was the last version available to own. After CS6 you will have to rent a Photoshop and Lightroom Package on the Creative Cloud for $9.99 per month.
- Photoshop Elements 12 for Mac & Windows(download)
- Adobe Lightroom 5 for Mac & Windows(download)
- NikSoftware. Now that Google owns Nik you can get the complete suite of Nik plugins for $149. NikSoftware. The Nik Collection is compatible with Mac® OS 10.6.8 through 10.8, and Windows Vista®, Windows 7, Windows 8 as well as with all the following host applications:
- Apple® Aperture® 3.1 or later
- Adobe Photoshop CS4 through CS6
- Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 through 11, (apart from HDR Efex Pro 2, which is not compatible with Photoshop Elements)
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 through 5
- Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud
- The Photographer’s Ephemeris The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) helps you plan outdoor photography shoots in natural light, particularly landscape and urban scenes. It’s a map-centric sun and moon calculator: see how the light will fall on the land, day or night, for any location on earth. Free for computers and $8.99 for Smart Phones.
Additional Equipment That’s Nice to Have
Portable hard drives, for backing up from your laptop. Redundancy is prudent. The LaCie Rugged Triple Interface USB 3 Hard Drives are popular.
USB Memory Stick for photo sharing. If you want to share your favorite images with the group we will be showing them from Jim’s laptop.
Smart Phone Apps:
- Focus Stack. For photographers employing focus stacking to achieve astonishing depth of field in landscape and architectural photography. How many shots do you need to take? On what distances should these shots be focused? What is the ideal aperture to use?
- Long Time. This app. is used for calculating your exposure when using very dark neutral density filters which your camera meter will have a hard time reading through.
- Opitimum CS Pro. This is a great app. for determining your hyper focal point for achieving maximum depth of field.