The Travel Photography Gear Guide: Essential, Suggested and nice to have
 

Travel Photography Gear Guide: Essential, Suggested and Nice to have

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It’s that time of the year when you are planning your holiday and you are looking into your photography equipment. Last time you forgot that piece and sure it would have been better to have more of that. But I can’t remember what!! I have built this Travel Photography Gear Guide in the last 5 years or so, improving it with any trip and new requirement.

The IT industry is giving us also new solutions and gear which help greatly our travel photography experience. I used to take always with me a point&shoot camera (just in case), now the phone works great for that as well. The right equipment will make any travel photography experience more enjoyable

Every trip is different and it may require different equipment. Just think at the difference between a trip in the raining season in India and in winter in Scandinavia. You will have problems of humidity in one case and low temperature in the other. You may need a different set of gear and solutions to common problems (silica gel pack or rice in one case and more batteries in the other)

landscape photographer

Travel Photography Gear Guide – Essential equipment

There is obviously gear that you cannot absolutely give up like your main camera of course and a set of lenses but also the tripod and much more. I like to categorize this equipment as Essential.

Here is the quick list that is replicated later on in a Google Sheet (you can access it and download a copy, easy)

  • Main camera (DSLR or Mirrorless)
  • Zoom Lens (generic to cover 24-28mm to 105-120mm)
  • Memory card #1 – 64GB
  • Memory card #2 – 64GB
  • Clear filter (to protect your lens)
  • Sturdy light tripod
  • Camera batteries (on top of the one you already have) : +1
  • Camera charger + power cable
  • Power adapters
  • Lens & Camera cleaning kit
  • Main camera bag
  • Laptop
  • USB cable 2m (in case you experience problems with wireless transfer of your photos)

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Suggested Equipment

There is equipment that I like to call Suggested. This gear will help you to reach the best results. It is not essential as such, it will just help to capture the photo I want without too much post production or with less effort, generally speaking. Filters are a typical example. You can definitely live without it but you will need more post production later on (I love working on my Laptop but I prefer to spend my time doing photos than post producing my photos). A second lens, wide angle, can be used to create unusual views and, of course, it is the best solution for interior photography. A gorilla tripod is what you want where the usual tripods are not allowed and I can keep going in this direction with other gear. Here is my list (you can access it and download a copy, see link at the end)

  • Wide angle lens (to cover 12-14mm to 20-24mm)
  • Polarizer filter
  • Collapsible 5-1 small reflector (it works magic for portaraits and food)
  • Gorilla tripod
  • Remote trigger
  • Power board/strip (you never know what you have in your hotel room)
  • Small camera bag (to use when hiking)
  • External Hard disk (256GB), or the internet if available
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • Multiport USB charger, so handy with all these mobiles, tablets, chargers we have nowadays

Nice to Have Equipment

At the end there is the Nice to Have gear. Yes, you can leave this gear behind you at home unless…….there is a special need. The instant printer is a typical example. I would never take it if I visit a series of cities, however it is in my bag if I visit a remote area, for example some villages in the remote Sichuan. This is where I can make a photo of the locals and give it to them as a gift. I tell you, that opens a thousand doors, it is a passport to the local community.

  • Silica Gel pack (useful in humid environments but it can be replaced with small bags of rice)
  • Headlamp/flashlight (again useful but it can be replaced with the mobile light)
  • Memory card #3 – 64GB (a third memory card, you never know)
  • Instant Printer (Polaroid Instant Print Digital Camera)
  • External Flash (if I am planning situations where I will need it, otherwise I will not take it)
  • Spare Camera (the second camera is always a dilemma, should I take it or not, I usually don’t unless I use a place as a base to visit the area and I will not need to transport it around too much)
  • Action camera (only if I plan to do some videos where water may damage my camera)

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The full list

You can see this list directly on a Google sheet on this link. Obviously feel free to copy or download it for your trips.

I have added also few columns that may help to determine the value of your gear in case you want to make an insurance on it.

In the column Need? you will decide if the equipment is for you Essential, Suggested or just Nice to Have

Feel in the Unit Value column to have a final idea of the total value of your gear

The Serial Number column may help in future in case you need to use your warranty or for insurance purpose

The Total Gear Value section is calculated automatically base on your Need? selection.

The Beauty of this Google Sheet is that you can see it on your mobile and you can update it on the go, meanwhile travelling. After few trips you will have you perfect list, always updated with the value and serial numbers. Download or copy the spreadsheet for your personal Google or Excel file

As for my case I tend to travel quite a bit during the year and I have therefore decided to use an insurance to cover all my gear, from the essential to the nice to have. The full travel photography equipment list 🙂

Gear List
Total gear value
Essential $5,500
Essential + Suggested $6,675
All $9,155
What Why How many Need ? Unit Value Total value Serial Number
Main camera (DSLR or Mirror Less) My main camera, having two is a plus but I need to compromise on the weights 1
Essential
$2,000.00 $2,000.00
Zoom Lens (generic to cover 24-28mm to 105-120mm) Landscape, Street, markets, portraits and when I think I may need a zoom 1
Essential
$1,200.00 $1,200.00
Wide angle lens (to cover 12-14mm to 20-24mm) Landscape with a different/wide corner and interior of building and places of worships 1
Suggested
$700.00 $700.00
Memory card #1 – 64GB Essential 1
Essential
$70.00 $70.00
Memory card #2 – 64GB Essential as backup (in the second slot in my camera or as a second storage) 1
Essential
$70.00 $70.00
Clear filter Repair my lens (sometime they cannot be mounted on the wide angles) 2
Essential
$60.00 $120.00
Polarizer filter Control the exposure, blue skies, avoiding window reflections 1
Suggested
$70.00 $70.00
Collapsible 5-1 small reflector This can take your photo to another level, especially portraits when the light is not enough and you need to drive it from somewhere else. When travelling light I take a small one. Great for food as well 1
Suggested
$20.00 $20.00
Silica Gel pack Not essential (can be replaced with small rice bags in the humid countries) 10
Nice to have
$5.00 $50.00
Sturdy light tripod Essential for landscape photography (better if carbon fiber made) 1
Essential
$250.00 $250.00
Gorilla tripod Essential in small places (buy a sturdy one based on the weight of your camera, otherwise it will be useless) 1
Suggested
$100.00 $100.00
Remote trigger Essential for the long exposure photos 1
Suggested
$20.00 $20.00
Camera batteries (on top of the one you already have) Better be safe. It’s not as easy to buy a new one in some remote places 1
Essential
$50.00 $50.00
Camera charger + power cable The power cable ca be the same as the one used for the computer 1
Essential
$0.00 $0.00
Power adapters Buy an international one for peace of mind 1
Essential
$15.00 $15.00
Power board/strip Instead of having 4 adapters just buy a power board that can be connected with just one power adapter 1
Suggested
$15.00 $15.00
Lens & Camera cleaning kit You will need that every night to cheal you lens and take it with you in case of rain/fog/mist/humidity 1
Essential
$15.00 $15.00
Small camera bag To put your DSLR in case you go for hiking/trekking and you don’t want to carry your main camera bag 1
Suggested
$45.00 $45.00
Main camera bag Big enough to carry all of the above and to use around the city/location you are visiting. DO not take a bag that is clearly marked Canon/Nikon etc, otherwise you become a clear target 1
Essential
$200.00 $200.00
External Hard disk (256GB) Backup, essential and not expensive nowadays 1
Suggested
$145.00 $145.00
Laptop Working on the photos 1
Essential
$1,500.00 $1,500.00
USB cable 2m Even if you can usually transfer your photos through wi-fi take a cable with you, you never know what can happen when travelling 1
Essential
$10.00 $10.00
Swiss Army Knife You never know what you need 1
Suggested
$40.00 $40.00
Headlamp/flashlight Not essential (can be replaced by your phone, although battery may be an issue) 1
Nice to have
$10.00 $10.00
Multiport USB charger I usually take one for mobiles, tablets, etc (one for all) 1
Suggested
$20.00 $20.00
Bonus Material
Memory card #1 – 64GB To be used for backup or new storage 1
Nice to have
70 70
Instant Printer (Polaroid Instant Print Digital Camera) The new small format printer you can carry with you (size of a 3.5″ HD). Print and leave the photo, it’s the perfect way to leave a gift to the locals 1
Nice to have
300 300
External Flash Only if I really plan in advance to use it otherwise I do not take it with me 1
Nice to have
600 600
Spare Camera As alternative to Main Camera 1
Nice to have
1200 1200
Action camera For quick video 1
Nice to have
250 250

Can you help me?

Do you think I am missing anything in this list? Would you suggest any gear to add to my equipment list?


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Stefano Ferro
Stefano is a cycling, movie and life style photographer with a big love for landscape & travel photography. When in Melbourne, his hometown, you will see him cycling around at sunset or sunrise looking for the best spot for a photo of this beautiful city. It is quite amazing how much photography gear he can pack on his bike :o

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    • Deborah Tobin
    • March 9, 2016
    Reply

    This is great. One problem I keep having- hot countries, camera fogged up in the morning because of AC. I can’t just rush out the door and take pics in the morning. Ok if there’s a balcony to leave the camera out on overnight, but otherwise….

      • Stef
      • March 11, 2016
      Reply

      Hi Deborah, that is a common problem indeed, especially in Asia. I personally would not leave my gear in the balcony. Two main reasons: safety (it may be not an issue) and the less you leave your equipment in high humidity environment the less with be the probability to have growth of fungus inside your gear.
      To reduce the effect I use a hair drier and I warm up the equipment to take it to almost the same temperature as outside (never hot, just warmer). I still have some condensation but minimal 😉
      I guess it’s impossible to solve the issue, but at least to keep it small enough that is not a problem.
      I hope I was able to help 😉 Enjoy your travelling 😀
      Stef

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