My Camera Gear

rated for travel

So, you’ve booked your trip and you’re starting to plan. But how are you going to take awesome photos / videos of your adventures? Don’t worry, I’ve broken it down for you. Below, I’ve listed the different types of cameras I’ve used throughout my adventures and how they can work for you and your photog needs!

1. DSLR Camera

I’ll start with the popular and, potentially, most expensive option first: a DSLR. These cameras are the most common ones you’ll see photographers use, from the amateurs all the way up to the best of the pros. These cameras range in price, from $300 for a kit (the body plus a beginner lens), all the way up to $4,000 for the body alone (without a lens). Obviously, the more you pay, the better the results. There are many great brands, but you ‘ll find the best results in the industry leaders, Canon or Nikon.

Canon 5D Mark II

There are plenty of options for DSLR cameras and my weapon of choice is the Canon 5D Mark II. It’s an older (released in 2008) professional camera that sports a 21 megapixel full-frame sensor, takes photos at 4 frames per second, and films 1080p / 30 frames per second. If you’re not familiar with camera specs, that’s perfectly fine! I’m only listing them to show how the other camera options stack up against each other.

Landscape: Canon 5D2 / Sigma 35mm

Portrait: Canon 5D2 / Sigma 35mm

My Canon 5D2 was my workhorse for most of my earlier trips. The two photos above are both taken with the 5D2 and the Sigma 35mm lens. As you can see, the Canon 5D Mark II body and the 35mm focal length can produce some amazing results for both landscape and portrait photography (although it helps having a super photogenic girlfriend/model)!

While the photo output for some of the higher-end DSLR cameras is pretty incredible, there are some significant issues with a DSLR camera when it comes to travel photography:

  1. Weight: DSLR camera bodies can weigh several pounds on their own, not including lenses.
  2. Price: As stated before, the camera bodies range from cheaper, consumer starter kits to professional bodies, and good lenses can cost upwards of $1,000.
  3. Ease-of-Use: Some of the consumer grade DSLR cameras have preset modes for those not familiar with standard camera settings. Those presets are ditched once you move up the ladder and get towards the higher-quality DSLR cameras.

If you’re serious into photography and don’t mind the extra weight, a higher-end DSLR camera will produce some absolutely stunning results. If those aren’t as important, then some of the options below might suit you better.

  • Photograph Quality
  • Battery Life
  • Price
  • Ease-of-Use
  • Portability

2. Mirrorless Camera

Mirrorless Cameras function similarly to DSLRs, but have a significant, primary difference: size. As you might have guessed from the name, these types of cameras don’t use mirrors to relay information to the camera sensor. They’re purely sensor-driven, which means they can be much smaller and lighter! I think you see where I’m going with this; a lighter, smaller camera means much better portability!

Fuji X-T20

Sony a6000

I’ve owned and shot with two different Mirrorless cameras from two different brands: the Sony a6000 + 16-50mm kit lens, and the Fuji X-T20 with both the 18-55mm kit lens and the 23mm f1.4 lens. These two cameras come at different price points, with the Sony costing around $550 with the kit lens. The Fuji, on the other hand, costs about $1,000 with the kit lens.

The Fuji X-T20 has a 24 megapixel crop-sensor, shoots photos at 13 frames per second, and films 4k/29 frames per second. The Sony a6000, on the other hand, has a 24 megapixel crop-sensor, takes photos at 11 frames per second, and only films at 1080p/60 frames per second.

Landscape: Fuji X-T20

Portrait: Fuji X-T20

As you can see with the shots above, Mirrorless cameras can take excellent photos as well. The overall picture quality might fall behind their DSLR counterparts a bit, but you can still produce some magical shots with these diminutive cameras! Keeping that in mind, there are caveats with Mirrorless cameras as well:

  1. Battery Life: Since mostly everything in the camera is electronically powered, the smaller batteries are drained much faster.
  2. Photograph Quality: While there are some incredible Mirrorless cameras on the market, the photo quality is still a step behind DSLRs in my opinion.

Mirrorless cameras are seemingly made for travel photography. Between their compact nature, assortment of lens and accessory options, and rapidly improving technology, it’s hard to go wrong with picking up a Mirrorless camera for your adventures.

  • Photograph Quality
  • Battery Life
  • Price
  • Ease-of-Use
  • Portability

3. Drone

Now we’re moving into uncharted waters! Drones have only recently become popular, with companies like DJI and Parrot releasing popular, consumer-grade quadcopters. The DJI Mavic is my aerial photography companion and I couldn’t be happier flying it around. This ‘copter effortlessly links a controller to your smartphone of choice and you’re off! The legs fold into the body and the blades fold against the body, so it’s incredibly compact and transportable.

DJI Mavic Pro

The DJI Mavic Pro has some impressive tech for such a compact drone. The built-in camera shoots 4K footage / 30 frames per second! It also has a 12 megapixel sensor and outputs in Adobe DNG Raw as well! There’s a host of other features as well, such as obstacle-avoidance sensors, Follow-Me features, preset flight patterns, and more. The 3-axis gymbal swivels, so you can get some interesting top-down shots such as the one below. 

Landscape: DJI Mavic Pro

Drone technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the past years, and the Mavic Pro is an impressive addition to any traveler’s backpack. There are three primary setbacks of note though:

  1. Battery Life: The battery only lasts for up to 26 minutes in the best conditions. 
  2. App Updates: The firmware always needs to be updated on the phone app and drone itself or the flight mode is severly hindered.
  3. Ease-of-Use: Some of the initial setup can be a bit confusing.
  • Photograph Quality
  • Battery Life
  • Price
  • Ease-of-Use
  • Portability

4. GoPro

The GoPro has been the staple camera for action-based photography and videography since its inception in the mid-2000s. The newest model, the GoPro Hero 6 Black boasts some impressive hardware: 4K/60 frames per second video, 1080p/240 frames per second super-slo-mo video, a waterproof body down to 33 feet, and upgraded image stabilization. I don’t have the newest GoPro, I use the Hero 4 model, but any of the recent models will perform well under most situations.

GoPro Hero6

The GoPro series is an impressive camera and gives stellar results, but in limited uses. The built-in lens doesn’t zoom and you can’t control the exposure or aperture, so it’s closer to a point-and-shoot camera than any of the other options in this list. The lens itself is very wide. That means it’s very good at capturing action shots up close, but not much beyond that. The real benefit of the GoPro camera comes from the super slow-motion, the waterproof body and casing, and a plethora of attachments.

Landscape / Action: GoPro Hero 4

The GoPro is an incredibly portable, high-definition camera that has limited uses. Because of those limitations, the tiny camera can produce some impressive results, but in a relatively capacity.

  • Photograph Quality
  • Battery Life
  • Price
  • Ease-of-Use
  • Portability

5. Smartphone

Surprised to see your smartphone on this list? You shouldn’t be! Several different smartphones are making very real, impressive strides into the photography world. What’s the phrase, “The best camera is the one you have with you.” When do you not have your smartphone with you?

iPhone 7

While there are several brands of smartphones that have great cameras, I’m an Apple user. I know, boo and hiss, but I like the phone and the ecosystem they’ve created. All of the mobile shots scattered around this site (I won’t tell you which ones) were taken with an iPhone 7+. The 7+ has two built-in cameras, a wide-angle f1.8 lens and a telephoto f2.8 lens. It also sports a 12 megapixel sensor, as well as a, “Portrait Mode,” that digitally blurs the background to mimic a shallow depth-of-field. Where the iPhone struggles, however, is in both quick-moving shots and night photography. The shutter isn’t fast enough to keep up with fast-moving subjects, and the sensor isn’t good enough to take really solid night photos.

Landscape: iPhone 7+

Portrait: iPhone 7+

Your smartphone can truly take some pretty good photos, if you have a knack for photography and can work around the limitations. There are a few issues you can run into in using your phone as a primary camera:

  1. Battery: Since this is your smartphone we’re talking about, your battery is going to die from extraneous use.
  2. Price: Have you seen what the iPhone X is going for? Enough said.
  3. Photo Quality: Sensor and lens limitations make other cameras a better alternative for image quality
  • Photograph Quality
  • Battery Life
  • Price
  • Ease-of-Use
  • Portability

What’s your travel photography gear combination?

Mine is my Mirrorless Fuji X-T20, paired with a Mavic Pro in my backpack and my iPhone as backup. Do you have a different combination? Comment below and let me know!

Until next time!