I’m by no means a professional photographer and don’t really have the expertise to review travel photography gear in depth. However, I do really enjoy taking photos and have learned a lot over the years about what gear works well, what is convenient, and what can help you get some amazing shots. Photography is a great way to capture those beautiful moments that eventually roll over into many more and quickly fade away. For me, it’s the best way to remember places I’ve been, people I’ve met, and interesting stories to tell.
I love telling stories and sharing my travel experiences through my photographs.
Many people have asked me about what kind of camera I use during my travels. Well, I use a lot of different stuff. Now, we are in the age of smartphones, which can produce some pretty good quality images. After many years of research, I have finally found the right photography gear that works for me. Here is a list of my favorite travel photography gear:
Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera
When I first started traveling, I carried around a really big, heavy DSLR. My Nikon D80 served me well for many years, but over time I realized how inconvenient it was to carry around with me on-the-go.
The Sony Alpha a6000 is a compact and lightweight camera that takes really high quality photos. This new technology incorporates an electronic viewfinder which eliminates the need for a mirror inside the camera, thus allowing the design to have a smaller and lighter body–perfect for travel! The live view inside the viewfinder allows you to see the exposure of your image as you make adjustments to the settings so you know what your photo will look like before you even take it! It’s amazing. It also has great features like wifi, HD video, interchangeble lenses, full manual controls, good low-light performance (think sunsets, party/concert, or indoor shots), in-camera stitch panorama, and lightning fast continuous shooting (to capture fast-moving objects like babies or car races!). The 16-50mm kit lens that comes with the camera is also pretty great and it’s my go-to lens when traveling.
I can’t say enough about how much I love this camera. I’ve already convinced like 4 or 5 people to get one and they love it, too. *Note: There is a newer version of this camera, the Sony a6300, which has a weather sealed body and 4k recording. If money isn’t a factor I’d recommend upgrading, otherwise the a6000 is still a fantastic option.
If you’re on a budget or don’t necessarily need all the manual functions of a more professional camera, the Sony Alpha a5000 is a great alternative. It looks pretty much the same, is a couple hundred dollars cheaper, and has some of the same great features of a mirrorless camera. It doesn’t have a viewfinder, but it does have a “selfie” mode where you can flip up and tilt the screen so you can see your pretty self.
GoPro Hero4 Silver
I absolutely love the GoPro Hero4 Silver! It’s small enough to fit in your pocket, rugged enough to withstand any harsh weather conditions or activity, and it’s packed with features like a touch screen back to view your photos on the spot, timelapse, and wifi. You can buy mounts to attach it to various surfaces depending on the activity. I’ve taken mine scuba diving, canyon swinging, kayaking, cliff jumping, and skiing. This is a must-have for any adventure traveler. *Note: The GoPro Hero 5 Black is a newer version of this camera that has a waterproof design without the housing.
For budget travelers who do not need all the bells and whistles, I recommend the Hero Session. It’s super easy to use, waterproof with no housing, and very compact. The best part is that it’s half the price of the more professional models.
Apple iPhone 6s Plus
I’ve taken some pretty great shots with my Apple iPhone 6s Plus. The larger 5.5″ screen is great to visualize your shots. It’s like having a giant viewfinder. Also, it has optical image stabilization which helps avoid those blurry shots from camera shake. You have lots of options, for example the front face camera, flash, slow motion, or burst mode to capture that perfect jumping shot. It’s convenient to be able to share photos immediately on social media and to pull it out of your purse or pocket.
They say the best camera is the one you have with you.
I’ll venture to guess you always have your phone with you. I do, at least, and I love having my iPhone on hand to capture fun photos and videos, whether posed or candid.
This Waterproof Telescopic Pole and Floating Hand Grip is my favorite grip for my GoPro. If you accidentally drop your camera when you’re surfing or snorkeling, for example, it will float so you don’t have to worry about it sinking to the bottom of the ocean abyss. It also works as a telescopic pole, so you can adjust it to any length to capture yourself and whatever amazing scenic background you’re standing in front of. There’s a spot to put your wifi remote, as well as storage space inside the grip itself to put cash, keys, lip balm, or other small things you want to keep dry. Comes in yellow and orange.
The GoPole Bobber is a simple floating handgrip for any GoPro. It comes with a carabiner, wrist attachment, and direct GoPro connection.
The Joby GorillaPod tripod is amazing. They sell different versions depending on what camera you have, whether point and shoot or DSLR. This one is for DSLR and mirrorless cameras. You can easily attach your camera to this tripod for steady long exposure shots, timelapses, or even just to capture group photos or selfies. You can place it or hang it anywhere! The legs are bendable so you can even wrap them around a pole or accommodate it evenly on any surface. Also, it’s travel-friendly and won’t take up much space in your bag. Another must-have!
A good memory card is more important than most people realize. If you tend to take a lot of photos and videos like me, especially when shooting in RAW or high quality setting, memory cards fill up rather quickly! There’s nothing worse than running out of space on your memory card and missing the opportunity to take a great shot. Also, the speed with which the photos are written to the card should be high enough especially when shooting continuous photos. The SanDisk Extreme Pro 95 mb/s card is great for this purpose. I recommend buying at least 34 gb, but I prefer 64 gb.
The SanDisk Extreme 32GB microSD Card with Adapter is also a good quality memory card, and is a smaller size that is compatible with GoPro camera models. You can fit the microSD card in the adapter which changes the size to a normal SD card to use with your laptop or SD to USB accessories.
So, I don’t actually own this Camera strap, but I think it’s adorable and that everyone should have one. Also, it has great reviews. How often do you see an average of 5 out of 5 stars on amazon reviews by hundreds of people? And the price is pretty good, too. Fits most DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
The Sony E 55-210mm is a great zoom lens for those times when you are at a far distance and need to zoom in on something really close like animals on safari, for example. It’s also great for street photography when you want to photograph people without them noticing. Fits the Sony a6000.
This is my favorite affordable portrait lens. The Sony E 50mm F1.8 is a prime, or fixed, lens which means you can’t zoom. However, you can physically move closer or further from your subject. It allows in a lot of light and gives you that beautiful blurry look in the background or your subject in focus. I use it for portraits of people and close-up shots of food. Fits the Sony a6000.
The Sigma 19mm F2.8 is a great value. It performs really well and is quite affordable. A wide angle lens is great for landscape photography and for shots that require more light, for example sunsets or starry night shots. I took this lens with me to Iceland to capture the Northern lights and I was really impressed with it. It’s also great for street photography. This is a fixed lens with no zoom capability. Fits the Sony a6000.
This lens pen cleaner is a must-have accessory to keep your camera lenses clean. One side has a brush to brush off any dust or particles and the other side has a soft, flat surface to clean off any water spots or fingerprints. It’s important to keep your lenses clean so that your photos don’t end up with any dark spots on them.
I don’t have as much gear as a professional photographer, so I just need something to protect my camera and a few lenses without having to buy an extra camera bag. The Ona Roma Camera Insert and Bag Organizer can fit your camera, an extra lens or two, and some small accessories. This camera insert/bag organizer is great. You can fit the insert into a bag or purse you already own and love not only to protect your camera gear, but also to turn it into a camera bag! Also, your bag won’t be an easy target for thieves like other conspicuous camera bags and you can keep things stylish. Score!
Photo Editing Software
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
I’ve tried using a lot of different photo editing programs. I don’t like Apple Aper Adobe Photoshop is too expensive and too confusing for me and Photoshop Elements is too basic, but Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for Mac or PC is the perfect balance of essential editing tools with an intuitive layout, perfect for amateur photographers like me. There are many tutorials for Lightroom on YouTube to learn tips and tricks and best workflows. You can even purchase or create your own actions and presets to apply to selected photos with one click. Click here for a detailed review of Lightroom from PCMag that describes many of its features.
I hope you find these recommendations useful. If you have any questions about any of the photography gear I currently use or have used, let me know. Also, if you recommend any other products, feel free to leave a comment! I’m always looking for the best gear out there. Photography is one of my favorite hobbies and I hope to inspire other budding photographers or iPhoneographers out there to pick up their cameras more often and start documenting their travels and life adventures!
“Let your camera be your art, and its images your history.” -Katie Thurmes
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