Whats in my camera bag?
Hey guys, Carson here. I want to preface this by saying Zowie is usually the writer while I take all the photos, but we’re switching things up a little since this is all about what’s in my camera bag! You’ll be getting the inside scoop about all my travel photography gear and accessories, straight from the horse’s mouth.
I started solo backpacking in 2017 with nothing but an iPhone 7 and a GoPro 4, which means there’s nothing stopping you from doing the same on your travels. But if you’re looking to make travelling a career, which is exactly what I did, then you’ll need to invest in some quality camera gear. Aside from everything you’ll need for photography, I’ve also included what I use for vlogging since I do a bit of both. Hopefully you’ll find whats in my camera bag helpful and inspiring for your own adventures!
Regardless of the equipment you end up with, the first thing you’ll need is a sturdy, reliable camera bag to keep everything safe. I opted for the Lowepro ProTactic BP 450 AW II, having recently upgraded from the slightly smaller 350 model. It’s capable of fitting all of my camera gear (except my gimbal) so it’s great for everyday photography and video adventures.
Depending on what equipment you have, you can organise how you like since the separators can be easily adjusted to fit. External zips give you easy access to the different compartments, so you can quickly grab your camera out without having to open up the main zip. Plus, it’s made out of seriously sturdy material that handles life on the road and even includes a built-in rain cover for an added layer of protection.
I use my Pelican Air 1535 Case to carry all my underwater camera gear. I needed something lightweight for my travels but also something very durable to keep my gear safe, and the Pelican Air 1535 has been perfect for me!
I have loved my case so much that I am planning on getting another one for the rest of my travel photography gear. I definitely recommend getting the TrekPak Dividers as it will make your life so much easier with all the added organization.
As a full-time travel Vlogger and photographer, the Sony a7iv is the perfect hybrid camera for my needs. I have recently switched from a Sony a7iii to Sony a7iv in early 2022. Below are a few reasons for my upgrade and why I’m completely satisfied with my decision.
- There is a new dial that allows me to switch between photo and video really quickly. You can customise your settings differently for photo and video which is super nice not having to change your settings manually every time you switch between the two modes.
- The new rear screen flips out which helps me frame my video a lot better whilst vlogging or shooting a sit-down video. The flip-out screen is also very helpful when shooting vertically.
- 33 Megapixels is the perfect sweet spot allowing me to crop in on my photo and keep the quality without giving me insanely large files like the a7riv would do.
The Sony a7iii was my first full-frame camera and what helped me transition from being a hobbyist to shooting professionally. If you are new to photography/videography and need a reliable camera, I highly recommend the Sony a7iii.
Now that I have upgraded to the a7iv, my a7iii lives in my Aquatech Underwater Housing. I only use this camera now when I shoot underwater or if I need a second camera for any reason.
If you’re only going to vlog or make simple videos, I would recommend the Canon G7 X Mark III. It is extremely light, shoots 4k and you can attach an external microphone to it.
If I have one piece of advice for anyone wanting to up their photography game, it’s to ditch the kit lens. There’s nothing wrong with starting out on this lens, but if your aim is to take epic travel shots, I’d recommend investing in at least one good zoom lens. Whilst prime lenses are notably sharper, zoom lenses are way more practical and convenient when you’re travelling.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it pretty much means prime lenses are set to one focal length, whereas zoom lenses cover a range. I’ve invested in quite a few zoom lenses, but you can absolutely just start with one.
I mainly use my 12-24mm lens for two occasions:
- Shooting underwater, as you generally want to get really close to your subject or;
- Shooting real estate. Shooting from the corner of a room at 12mm really makes the room look large and spacious.
There are other occasions when I use this lens, especially when capturing really wide landscape photos, but for the majority of the time, these are the two main reasons.
The Sony 16-36mm f/2.8 lens is what I use the most for vlogging since it’s wide enough to fit both of our heads in the frame easily. I love using this wide-angle lens to help establish the location so that our viewers can really get a feel for where we are. The 35mm end of this lens is great for lifestyle photography and the aperture of f/2.8 is great for low-light conditions.
If I can only bring one lens on an adventure then I’m choosing the 24-70mm f/2.8. I use this lens the most out of all my lenses as it’s so versatile and is great for both landscape and portrait photography, meaning I can get a variety of shots without having to swap lenses.
The 2.8 F-Stop is also a huge plus since it’s great in low-light situations and creates some beautiful bokeh (blurred background). If this lens is out of your budget then a great alternative is the 24-105mm f/4 which lets you zoom farther, is lighter and around half the price – it just won’t perform as well in low light situations.
I recently sold my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and replaced it with the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens. Although I do miss the sharpness of the 70-200, I thought the sacrifice of a smaller aperture was worth the longer focal length.
This lens is definitely one of my favourites as I love the compression it gives at 400mm. Compression basically means the subject’s background moves closer. You can get some seriously cool photos with this lens and I highly recommend it for landscape and wildlife photography.
My DJI Air 2s drone is without a doubt my favourite camera to use for the unique perspective it offers. It adds a whole new element to travel photography now with the ease and availability of drones. Whilst not everywhere allows you to fly a drone freely, enough places do which makes it more than worth your while.
If you’ve never flown one before, it’s perfectly normal to be scared to fly at the start. In fact, Zowie’s still yet to fly it! It took months for me to use it without a near panic attack every time, and I wasn’t completely comfortable until I got it insured with StateFarm (US residents only), which came in handy since I crashed my first one in the mountains of Banaue, Philippines. Thanks to my insurance, I was sent a check for the exact amount I spent on the drone.
DJI has a whole range of drones perfect for travellers and aerial photography enthusiasts, however, I recently upgraded to the DJI Air 2s from the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. It has a 1-inch sensor, shoots in 5.4K, and is super lightweight which is perfect for travelling!
UNDERWATER CAMERA GEAR
If you want to take underwater or surf photography seriously, I highly recommend investing in underwater housing for your camera, specifically the Aquatech EDGE Pro Water Housing. I’m new to this kind of photography and it is currently a work-in-progress, but it gives so much new excitement to photography. The quality of photos and videos is SO much better than when taken from a GoPro. Being able to edit Raw photos from my camera has been the biggest upgrade, as underwater photos usually require a lot of post-production work.
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If you plan on investing in underwater housing, you’ll need a lens port to go with it. For my underwater shots, I use the PD-140 Lens Port paired with the Sony 12-24mm Lens. This lens port is also perfect for those popular half-over, half-under water photos you’ve probably seen on Instagram.
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For surf photography or portraits above the water, I use the P-135 Lens Port paired with the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens. You can check out the Aquatech website to see which lens port you need for your specific lenses.
Click here to find out which lens port is needed for your underwater housing.
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This is probably the most convenient underwater housing that I carry on all my adventures. Ever since I got an AxisGO housing, I’ve been leaving my GoPro at home. It’s so much more convenient to shoot video and photos using my phone, which I can then instantly upload to my IG stories without the hassle of transferring footage.
If you want something easy to use and carry on your adventures, I 100% recommend the AxisGO.
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Like I mentioned before, when I first started travelling all I really had was my phone and a GoPro. I’ve upgraded since then to the GoPro Hero10 Black, but there’s nothing stopping you from travelling with just a GoPro! One of our good friends @JordenTually travels the world full-time taking mostly GoPro selfies! You can go check out his page for inspo.
We find the GoPro Hero 10 great for vlogging since it is extremely lightweight, unlike my Sony, and now includes a front screen so you know you’re framed up correctly. You can also get a whole bunch of accessories to up your GoPro game, like a floating handle, dome or seriously long selfie stick. You can even take it a step further and get the GoPro MAX which can shoot in 6K and 360 degrees but comes at a higher price point.
If you’re a landscape or travel photographer, one of the first things you should invest in is a Circular Polarizer for your lens. I’d been shooting landscapes for over 3 years before I purchased my first polarizer and I can’t believe I went so long without one.
Circular Polarizers cut down glare from the sun and also increase the vibrance of colours, especially blues and greens. The photo above shows how big of a difference a polarizer can make, especially if you are shooting at midday.
To put it simply, ND filters are like sunglasses for your camera. When you’re shooting video, your shutter speed should always be double your frame rate.
Example, if you’re shooting at 24 frames per second, your shutter speed should be 1/50. This becomes a problem when it’s super bright outside and you want to use a low aperture like f/2.8 (for blurred background), so you’ll need to throw on an ND filter to maintain the correct settings.
In terms of photography, you’ll need these anytime you use a slow shutter speed in bright conditions in order to achieve blurry waterfalls or waves for example.
I have ND filters for my drone for the same reason I use them for my camera, but they also double as polarisers to help reduce glare off the ocean as well as saturate blues and greens. Drone filters are an absolute must if you really want to improve your aerial photography and capture banger shots.
A walkie talkie radio, in my opinion, is the most underrated accessory for travel photography gear. Instead of trying to scream at my model from far away, I can easily talk to them through my radio.
I found this to be the most convenient when flying my drone because my subject is too far to communicate with. Now I can make sure Zowie, or whoever, is in the exact spot I want them to be in when flying my drone or while using my telephoto lens from a distance.
If you’re planning on shooting a lot of video throughout your travels, then I’d recommend getting a gimbal to create smooth, cinematic footage. I chose the Zhiyun Weebill S because it’s the smallest and lightest gimbal that can support my heavier zoom lenses. I tried a friend’s Zhiyun Weebill Lab but it didn’t support the heavier lenses.
I’m a huge fan of Apple products, mostly for convenience. It’s just so easy to send files back and forth from devices if everything is Apple.
At the end of 2021, I made a big decision and invested in the new MacBook M1 MAX, which has made my workflow so much smoother! It’s incredibly nice being able to edit 4k video and not have any problems or feel like my laptop is about to explode.
If you’re a content creator and want to invest in an amazing laptop, I recommend the following configurations below:
• Apple M1 Max
• 10 core CPU
• 32-core GPU
• 16-core Neural Engine
• 64GB unified memory
• 1TB SSD storage
This is a huge one for vloggers. When it comes to vlogging, sound is arguably more important than video quality, and you won’t realise the massive difference a mic makes until you try one. Nothing is worse than spending a whole day vlogging, only to edit and realise your voice was muffled by the wind most of the time. A good mic, like the Rode VideoMic Pro+ will solve this problem.
One of the biggest reasons I chose this particular mic was for its auto on/off function. You don’t have to try and remember to turn it on every time you shoot something, since it automatically does this when you turn your camera on. It might be a little pricier than other mics, but I promise there is nothing worse than shooting an entire day’s worth of footage with zero audio.
Because my photography usually involves a lot of hiking and travelling, I decided to splurge on the Peak Design Travel Tripod. This tripod is made out of Carbon Fiber so it doesn’t add a ton of weight to my camera bag. It is also extremely compact, which makes it that much easier to travel the world with.
The Peak Design Camera Clip is my all-time favourite camera accessory. I used to always carry a camera strap around my neck while hiking but hated how it would swing around. This camera clip secures my camera tight against the strap of my backpack and is seriously so nice keeping my hands free whenever I’m not actually shooting.
Before I used the Peak Design Camera Clip I would wear the Peak Design Camera Strap. This is easily my favourite camera strap as you can take it on or off in seconds, unlike others that are super fiddly.
The only time I find myself using a camera strap nowadays is when I am shooting handheld video and want to stabilize my footage by pulling it tight against my neck. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I recommend searching camera strap stabilizer on YouTube.
It’s super important to make sure your camera sensor and lens are clean and dust free, otherwise, you’ll end up with dust specks on your photos. This Rocket Air Blaster is something that should always stay in your camera bag.
You’re going to need at least a couple of memory cards for your main camera and a microSD for a GoPro and drone. The SanDisk 64GB Extreme Pro SDXC is plenty fast enough to shoot 4K, as is their microSD.
Photos and videos take up A LOT of space, so you’ll need somewhere to store it all. I use the SanDisk 2TB SSD to store and edit my photos and videos. Because there are no moving parts in this portable SSD, I have less anxiety that my files will get corrupted and lost.
It is also pretty incredible how fast files transfer and upload with an SSD vs an external hard drive. If you haven’t used one of these before, it is definitely worth the investment.
Please please please back up your photos and videos on at least two devices! It sucks spending money on multiple hard drives, but is so worth it when one of them gets corrupt. The Seagate Portable 5TB External Hard Drive is plenty big and is super affordable, which is why I use this as my backup and my SanDisk SSD as my main storage.
Your editing software is a super personal choice, but most photographers you ask will recommend Lightroom & Photoshop. I mean, what else is there really? Not to mention, if you want to use popular Lightroom presets by other creators or maybe one day make your own, it’s best to use software that everyone else is using as well.
There’s nothing stopping you from using basic free software to edit vlogs, I have some friends that even edit on their phones. But, if you’re wanting to make cinematic travel videos, you’ll need a little more than iMovie. I use Adobe Premiere Pro, which can be a little intimidating to start with, but there’s plenty of YouTube tutorials to help you out. If you’re not down to pay a monthly or yearly subscription, a good alternative is Final Cut Pro if you have a Mac.
If you’re planning on using more than 3 programs, you’re better off getting the entire Adobe Creative Cloud Package. Maybe you want to up your cinematics with After Effects, or try your hand at graphic design like Zowie who uses InDesign and Illustrator as a side hustle. Whatever the reason, if you end up needing more than 3 apps, then getting the full package will save you money.
Aside from my camera bag, I also have my main backpack that I live out of. It’s a 70 litre Osprey Fairpoint which fits everything I need for life as a full-time backpacker. You can read about it, as well as learn about packing hacks in our How To Pack a Backpack article.
Well, there it is! Everything you need to know about what’s in my backpack. From my camera all the way down to my editing software. Hopefully you found this interesting, and maybe it even answered your questions about what to gear to get. If there’s anything I left out or something specific you want to know, feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading my writing debut and enjoy your photography journey! I’m gonna stick to taking photos and leave the writing to Zowie.