Preparing for the long-awaited trip can come off as a fickle thing. There are millions of things to forget, and each department has to have allocated its own sufficient space in your vintage portmanteau. However, more than anything else, traveling revolves around capturing the emotion. As gazillions of spare lingerie won’t help the matter, it’s important to gather all the photo gadgetry you might find necessary for each specific travel location. Whether you’re crossing the Great Wall of China, holding the Leaning Tower of Pisa or exploring the Melting Pot in the NYC, this is what to take with you on your next trip to make the best travel photos!
Where to Start
Unlike many other sub-genres of photography, travel photography puts you in an interesting position, as the potential environments and situations you might encounter can change radically with every new mile you go. The equipment has to be as versatile and adjustable as possible to make sure you get the best of any situation.
Here is a clear case of Captain Obvious. Despite your smartphone being pretty much capable of capturing truly artistic shots of any peculiarity you might encounter, a regular camera won’t do any harm. As the weight really does matter in consideration of travel photography, the most convenient option would be to limit yourself to a single compact camera. Here’s a bit of why compact cameras, despite what some may say, are still worth a check, especially if the trip is right around the corner.
There are many compact cameras that are better than ever. Check out this National Geographic article dedicated solely to the top 10 best cameras for travel photography! In the ever-rough competition with the market of increasingly advanced smartphone cameras, manufacturers have assured that compact devices still seem appealing to the general audience. Capable of impressive zooms, 1080p videos, armed with touch-screen function, and equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity, compact cameras are as cool to have as they were in 2004. And they can easily slip into your pocket only to be pulled out as the photo-worthy moment strikes! The results can then be transferred to your phone and, in no time, adorn your Facebook wall.
What looks like a regular DSLR, functions similarly, but is actually much more simple and comes off as a borderline perfect solution for travel photography? The answer is a bridge camera. A rather fair designation for it can truly be viewed as the bridge between DSLR and the compact camera. The pros? They’re really inexpensive (in comparison with their DSLR siblings) while providing a reasonable functionality. Cons? You can’t remove the lens and the image quality depends on the sensor, which usually is considerably smaller than that of a DSLR. So no lens swapping as the whales make waves near your tourist boat. However, if there’s any doubt about the capabilities of these convenient devices, just check out the technical specs of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000. It might as well be the perfect travel camera solution.
Travel photography revolves around constant changes in light, changes in photo subject (portraiture/landscapes) and constant shifts in surrounding conditions (usually out of one’s control). This means that the lens has to be as versatile as it gets, capable of impressive zooms and with quite a range considering its speed (the number of F units – the lower the number, the faster the shutter speed, allowing more light to reach the image sensor). What it begs for is a lens (keeping in mind that we still have to be ergonomic) that has an adequate range of focal length, one that would allow you to shoot both 28 mm close-up portraits as well as distant shots of foreign architecture using the full force of at least a 70 mm focal length.
Although this is a rather pricey option, Canon EF 24 – 105mm is practically the only lens on the market with such an amplitude. However, with this one, no lens swapping will be necessary, so you might actually consider it a good investment. If, however, the price still doesn’t seem to be too compelling, a much cheaper (twice as) option would be Canon EF 28-135 mm. It actually has even longer focal length. However, it’s not qualified as class L lens (its 24 – 105 mm sibling is); thus, the general quality obviously lags behind the former lens.
The golden mean could be Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II. A glorious price/quality ratio and quite a lens speed in general, this can come off as a great first travel lens. It doesn’t take much space and is good for taking photos in low light conditions, qualities that will seal the deal for most.
Other Important Gadgets
- Photographer’s Bag. All right, acknowledging the cargo weight limits, this can be an issue. Furthermore, constantly carrying around a full-sized photographer’s bag can be a seriously uncomfortable experience. A good alternative would be the shooter’s bag, a wonderful thing that will provide the space for the most essential of equipment.
- Cleaning Stuff. It might seem like one of the things you can actually skip but wrongly so. Depending on your traveling route, there’s always a chance your lens will get smudged. And it will.
- External Hard Drive. This will also turn out to be handy, for the constant snapping will result in gazillions of photos that need to be stored. Western Digital Passport series are an amazing option that seems to be designed specifically for travel purposes.
- External Flash or an LED Flash. The former will always turn out to be handy while the latter is a very simple alternative. By attaching it to the top of your device, you’ll be able to light up a place sufficiently enough to take solid photos. It’s the weight thing again.
- Extra Batteries and Spare SD Cards. This is pretty much self-explanatory.
- Tripod. This one highly depends on your intentions. If you’re up to classic long-exposure shots of a Tokyo skyline or the Australian sunset, this will come in handy. Mini tripods are a travel-friendly, inexpensive and reasonably operating alternative to their bulky equivalents, so you might check them out.
Hot and cold, dry and wet, high and low. You need a camera companion that will withstand the dynamic nature of the voyage. Pick the most optimal version and enjoy your trip!