What's in our camera bag - the travel camera gear we love

One of the most commonly asked questions we get (and one of the biggest searches on our site) is about the photography gear we use. Whilst we are no photography experts, we have compiled a pretty full backpack of cameras, lenses and other gadgets to ensure we can get the best shots possible. For the record we haven’t received any kit for free so we’re only recommending the gear that we have tried, tested and paid for in full.

Our love for photography stemmed from a trip to Borneo in 2010. Back then we turned up at this wildlife paradise with just a cheap digital camera (you remember those $100 USD point and shoot ones that prioritised bright colours over image quality!). We got up close to endangered animals in the wild like Orangutans and Pygmy Elephants to later find our photos were terrible. We had amazing memories, but the images were shocking.

We’ve vowed to never let that happen again and our love for photography has grown ever since.

Shot using Canon 5d MkIV and EF 25-105mm, f.4


What’s in our camera bag

I’ve always sought experts’ advice on camera kit and there’s no one better than The Digital Picture. I still don’t understand 90% of what he says, but you can tell that few people understand kit better than him. Using advice from the experts like this we slowly built up our kit over the last six years.

This is the kit which we use and that works for us. We’ll also give some other recommendations depending on what your priorities are.

Shot using DJI Mavic Pro

Shot using DJI Mavic Pro


Which brand?

We’ve been Canon fans for over a decade as it’s famous for making kit that lasts for years, “workhorse cameras”. We’ve always found that the cameras take beautiful images and are easy to use.

The only brand we would consider looking at if we were to switch allegiance is the Sony Mirrorless range, purely because they are a lot lighter (perfect for hiking and travelling in general). However, we’ve heard that the batteries run out a lot quicker and that the image quality isn’t quite as good. So for now, we’ll stick with our current somewhat bulkier set up.

Shot using Canon 5D MkIV, EF 100-400 f.4-5.6


Best Travel Camera body: Canon 5d Mkiv

After running the 5d mkiii into the ground, we upgraded to the 5d mkiv. Although it wasn’t a huge step up, I have noticed the images are better and I’ve found myself very attached to it. It’s a camera I won’t swap until it dies on me!

A lot of photography tutorials will tell you that unless you master all the skills you shouldn’t buy a professional grade camera. I disagree: it would be like saying that only formula one drivers can buy a Ferrari.

Yes, you’ll get more out of a high quality camera if you know how to use all the features but I’ve always found the best way to learn is by having a camera that is capable of taking the best photos and trying to raise my game to meet the gear you own.


What we love

Simply put, this camera takes beautiful, crisp and clear photos that are easy to take. Even on auto, the 5d MkIV takes stunning photos with any lens.

There are three reasons why we love this camera:

  1. It’s a full frame camera (meaning it can take really wide pictures - perfect for landscapes and tight spaces) and the image sensor is phenomenal. It has the same sensor as the 1DX without the whopping price tag, which means it is as good as you can get in this price bracket.

  2. It also has a lot of focal points, so you can be more creative with your composition. The battery lasts for days - which is great for multi-day hikes - and it is reliable.

  3. It takes a lot to break these cameras. I’ve dropped it, had it rained on, been through snow, deserts and the kinds of environments which will ruin most cameras. This one keeps going. Even when it did have some water damage, it came back to life two days later (obviously try not to get it wet though!). This is the Lazarus of cameras!

Add in touches like in-built wi-fi, a really good screen, a slot for a flash card as well as an SD card.

Monument Valley, shot with a Canon 5d MKiv

What we don’t love

It is big and it is heavy. You can’t be inconspicuous with a 5d Mkiv and the weight will take a toll on your shoulders if you like to go hiking.

The alternative we’d pick

Personally, I wouldn’t choose to have an alternative unless I had a blank cheque and wanted a camera just for hiking. Then I’d kit myself out with either the EOS-R (Canon’s new mirrorless camera) or the Sony A7RIII. But this is purely because of weight.

Personally, I can’t see myself justifying the huge price increase for the 1DX and have too many lenses and gear to switch brands!


General purpose lens: Canon L EF 24 - 105mm, f.4-5.6

The L series (the ones with the red ring) are the peak of Canon’s lenses. Whilst the 24 - 105mm came with the camera, it is a great general purpose lens.

If I could only take one lens with me, it’d be this one.

Canon 24 - 105 mm, f4-5.6

What we love

Why would this be the only lens I would carry? It has a huge focal length range, meaning I can easily get the composition I want. Whilst there are wider lenses, this one will cover everything you need unless you are in a really tight space or want to do a fine art style landscape shot (then you probably won’t be only carrying a lens and the camera!).

The image quality is good and it comes with image stabilisers - something I always look for as I shoot handheld 99% of the time.

Shot using the Canon EF 25-105mm f.4

What we don’t love

To get that huge focal range you will compromise on a few things: you can get better image quality with other lenses, you won’t be able to take huge, wide landscape shots and the aperture only goes down to f.4 , when others go down to f.2.8 - something that is great for low-light and artistic shots.

However, this is a solid lens and is the centre-piece of our gear. This is a great all rounder, meaning you can get travel photos, portraits and some landscapes. If you want to specialise in other types of photography, then you’ll need to get other lenses alongside this one.

Shot using the Canon EF 25-105mm, f.4

Shot using the Canon EF 25-105mm, f.4

Alternatives we’d pick

It’s very expesnsive, but I’d love the Canon 24-70 f/2.8. It offers the best image quality for a zoom lens, that f.2.8 aperture I want and a a decent focal length range to cover the majority of photos I want to take.

It doesn’t go up to 105mm sadly, but you can’t have it all can you?!


Our favourite budget lens: Canon EF 50mm, f.1.8

The nifty fifty is a lens every Canon user should have. For $125 USD you can get this tiny lens which fuels creativity with great image quality and a low aperture which fuels all kinds of creativity.

With this focal length and the ability to go as low as f.1.8 you’ll be able to create artistic photos with a beautiful background blur all for an incredible price.

What we love

That f.1.8 aperture means you can get incredibly creative! Not only can you shoot in the lowest light, but you can create beautiful background blurs for travel photography. The focal length is also good for street photography and portraits.

We love how small, light and fun this lens is. You can put it in your bag and barely notice it’s there.

Shot using the EF 50mm, f1.8

What we don’t love

It is made of plastic, so can feel a little cheap and easy to break. It is also quite noisy when trying to focus, which isn’t always ideal.

The other problem (but this is probably specific to me) is that we seem to frequently lose it as it is pretty small and seems to just disappear! But at $125 USD per time, it isn’t as devastating as losing some of our other kit.



Our favourite landscape lens: Canon EF 16 - 35mm, f.4

A couple of years back we realised that we needed a wider lens, primarily because we kept getting to lookouts and not being able to capture the entire scene.

After doing a bit of research, the 16-35 f/4 stood out as a good balance between beautiful quality without breaking the bank! The image quality was unbelievable and it was the addition we were looking for.

Landscape lens - Canon 16-35

What we love

Out of all our lenses, this produces the best image quality. It is consistently sharp and it produces beautiful photos. It also has image stabilisers, which is always important if you don’t want to have to carry around a tripod all the time.

It is also one of the widest angle lenses you can attach filters to for those dreamy landscape shots.

Shot using Canon EF 16-35mm, f.4

Shot using Canon EF 16-35mm, f.4

What we don’t love

It is pretty limited in range, so this is a wide landscape lens. Whilst that is good for when things are quite close up, it can be limiting when what you are looking to shoot is a bit further away.


Telephoto for wildlife lens: Canon EF 100-400mm, f.4-5.6

The kit bag is getting quite bulky, but the 100-400 is my go to for wildlife, otherwise it stays at home.

However, this lens is brilliant for the crystal clarity you want when shooting wildlife. I owned a few telephoto lenses that disappointed before settling on this one which I’ve now owned for seven years. I won’t give this up until it stops working!

What we love

That focal length! Having a telephoto that stretches to 400mm is great on wildlife trips, especially if you have a full frame camera (APS-Cs will make it even better at an equivalent of 600mm).

The image quality is also really good and it has image stabilisers - a must for shooting wildlife as they don’t always stay still and it also enables you to shoot without a tripod.

I’m also not a fan of fixed focal lengths for wildlife photography. Whilst there may be some lenses that are stunning for $10,000, I like the freedom of being able to vary the focal length, even if it does slightly compromise the image quality (something I haven’t noticed or had a problem with).

Shot using Canon EF 100-400mm, f.4-5.6

What we don’t love

This is by far the biggest and heaviest lens we own. It feels solid, but your shoulders will hurt after a couple hours of using it.

It is also not necessary unless you plan on shooting wildlife or sports, so it only serves that very specific purpose. However, it is a must for anyone who shoots these kinds of photos regularly.


NISI ND filters for dreamy landscapes

Our recent investment has been in filters to bring a new dimension to our landscape photography - especially for shooting waterfalls or moving water or clouds.

Whilst filters aren’t cheap, they will take your shots up a level.

Shot using a NISI 6 Stop ND Filter

What we love

A whole new type of image! With filters you can get light trails, silky water or streaky clouds, making those landscapes really dreamy and artistic. Filters can help take your photography up to a professional standard.

Shot using a NISI 6 Stop ND Filter

What we don’t love

They are big, fragile and a bit of a fiddle!

To put them on your camera, you’ll need to carry around a big box full of glass and start screwing stuff onto your lens. Then it takes over 30 seconds per shot, meaning your shoot will be pretty long.

You’ll also need a sturdy tripod so you’ll be carrying a lot more gear than usual.

But that’s a pretty fair price to get artistic, professional quality landscape shots.


Drone - Mavic Pro

Owning a drone has brought another new dimension to our photography, being able to shoot top down photos or epic landscapes from angles that were previously exclusive to helicopters.

However, owning a drone comes with responsibility. Don’t be one of those people who will fly it anywhere at any time as that will lead to a complete ban, ruining it for everyone. We always choose to do it at quiet times (sunrise) or in areas where there’s no one around. Nothing makes us more annoyed than when we see someone flying a drone over a busy Bondi Beach in the middle of the day.

If you really want a deep dive into what drone to buy, check out our posts all about the best travel drones.

The drone we use

What we love

New angles and seeing a landscape in a way you can’t from the ground. We love being able to see the contrast of a beach and sea from above, or truly witnessing the vastness of the outback.

The majority of people think of drones to just take “top-down'“ photos, like you’re looking down to earth from a plane. However, you can do so much more, including landscape shots from a higher angle, like the shot below. You can get really creative with a drone.

Taken by DJI Mavic Pro

When we bought the Mavic Pro, it was the smallest on the market and comfortably fit into our camera bag. This was perfect as it was awkward lugging our first drone around in a huge box.

We really like the Mavic Pro as it is easy to use and removes a lot of the fear about flying a drone. It won’t go anywhere unless you tell it to, flies back if you lose control (by simply pressing a button) and uses your iphone as a screen. DJI are reliable and by far the best brand on the market.

Taken by DJI Mavic Pro


What we don’t love

The image quality isn’t perfect, especially in low light situations. The Mavic is also pretty noisy and we’ve also had issues with the gimbal breaking quite easily (you only have a flimsy plastic dome to save it).

Shot by DJI Mavic Pro

Alternative 1: Mavic Pro 2

If you have the budget, the new Mavic looks amazing. This is mainly due to the Hasselblatt sensor that’s been put in and a much better gimbal (they’ve heard my complaints!). It looks like a major step up, but that is also reflected in the price.

Alternative 2: Mavic Air

If size and weight is important, then the Mavic Air is the best option. It’s only the length of a mobile phone and not that wide either. However, it still takes decent shots - perfect for a traveller.


Essential Drone Accessories: A case

A case for your drone is essential if you plan on flying. We learned the hard way when one day we saw the gimbal stopped working and we had to pay for it to be repaired (what an expensive lesson that was). Ever since, we wrap up our drone in cotton wool with a case, clamp and everything possible to ensure it doesn’t get damaged.

Drones are surprisingly delicate and even though they are getting better, you will want to spend a few dollars more to ensure you don’t get stung with an expensive repair bill.



Go Pro Hero 5 Black

We’d toyed with getting a GoPro for a long time, but finally decided to dive in and get one. As it is so small, it always sits in our camera bag, waiting to be used if needed.

What we love

Having a camera for snorkelling or out on the water! We no longer have to risk our expensive kit on any boat trips or kayaking. The video quality underwater is particularly good and means you can explore and film all kinds of things like the Sardine Run in Moalboal below.

It is also really small and durable, great for adventures.

What we don’t love

Image quality. I have no idea who makes the marketing material for Go Pro, but I’ve never been able to shoot photos with the quality and clarity of those who are regularly featured by GoPro!


MacBook Pro

After our PC slowed to a crawl after only a year - something I find happens with virtually all PCs - we converted to Apple and bought the MacBook Pro, something we don’t regret.

 

Controversially, we got the touch bar version and love it (I don’t know if you’re meant to say that on the internet).

Editted on our MacBook Pro

What we love

The screen is stunning, the computer is reliable (it never runs slowly) and it’s so easy to use. We can edit photos very quickly now and get a good representation of our edit because the screen quality is so good. The touch bar also makes things a lot easier, especially with transferring images by airdrop, email, text message or facebook.

Editted on our MacBook Pro

What we don’t love

It was flipping expensive. Apple products come with a premium and although it is reliable, we paid for the brand.


External Hard Drive: Lacie 3 TB

External hard-drives are an unfortunate necessity for photography and we’ve collected quite a lot over the years. We’ve fully converted to Lacie recently and won’t look back.

What we love

The biggest problem we’ve had with external hard drives is that they stop working at the slightest knock. Whilst on the move, it is really easy for a camera bag to be hit, or for a hard drive to fall on a hard floor (something I am particularly good at).

Lacie hard drives are designed to take small knocks and keep working. I’ve dropped them a couple of times and - touch wood - they still go.

What we don’t love

Using the new MacBook Pro, it would be ideal to have the USB-C version, but they cost a lot more money. As we have to use an adapter, they seem to frequently unplug which is frustrating.


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