We are often get asked by our readers what photography gear we use while on the road. So I thought I would take the time to share the details all of the photography gear that travels with us on a regular basis, and why we choose it.
Sony A7 – This is the body we use for the majority of our photography. The Sony A7 Series are a great set of cameras that suit just about any type of shooter. They are great for traveling and have a lot of neat features you simply won’t find in Canon or Nikon. Our body is the first generation of the A7 series and is likely the cheapest full frame camera you can get your hands on brand new.
Sony A6000 – This body is a fairly new addition to our photography kit. We bought this body just before Christmas taking advantage of a mega sale (camera body, kit lens, 32gb SD card, camera bag, and 2 Sony batteries only cost us $550) and have been really impressed with its focusing systems and its light weight and portable size. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better travel camera at the price!
Note: The Sony A6300 recently got released with rave reviews, but at over double the cost for focus and video upgrades, we suggest you skip it. (Unless you specifically focus on 4k video)
GoPro HERO3 Silver – This GoPro has been in our kit for over 3 years now. It was the first camera we used for underwater video and photography, but over the years, we’ve found tons of other uses for it. Today, it’s our go-to camera for selfie shots and action videos. But we do feel like after so many years it’s getting a bit outdated and we are looking forward to upgrading it to GoPro Hero 4 later this year.
Parrot Bebop 2 Drone – I got this drone as a Christmas present from my mother 1.5 years ago. The thing I like about it is that it is compact and does not require a separate bag. We are able to slot it into our existing camera bag and take it with us anywhere we go. Unfortunately, without an additional $300 controller, this drone doesn’t fly very far, which limits my ability to capture amazing aerial footage. It’s a great entry level drone, so we’ll continue using it until we can find an alternative that offers the same portability and better quality.
Sony A to E Adapter – Before I get into the lenses we use, I wanted to highlight that most of our lenses are not native E-mount. Meaning that they require an adapter to fit onto our A7 or A600 camera bodies. We decided to buy this used Sony A to E mount adapter (which we scored for an amazing deal of just $200AUD), which allowed us to choose from over 422+ fixed, zoom, and macro lenses across a variety of brands, some dating back to before Sony bought Minolta.
Minolta 35-105mm f3.5-4.5 – When we first got the A7, I spent hours researching what legacy A-mount lenses we could get on a budget to add to our kit. I spent a lot of time researching various options on a consumer ratings/reviews site, Dyxum, and eventually settled on this gem. We spent a mere $70 on our Minolta 35-105, but it turned out to be a pretty stellar lens. It’s our main walk around lens, but it also offers extra reach and macro abilities.
Sony 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 – This lens has overlapping reach with our Minolta, but we bought it purely for underwater use. It fits perfectly into our Meikon case (see below) and produces some great underwater footage. When comparing it to the Sony Zeis 24-70 f/4 (which costs over $1000 brand new) the cheaper brother holds its own quite well for the cost.
Sigma 17-35 f2.8-4 – This is our landscape lens and another great find from the Dyxum database. It’s rated well, performs well across the board, and is a great piece of equipment for the price (we bought it for just $100 on Ebay).
Minolta 70-210mm F/4 – This telephoto zoom is another E-mount lens is that’s adored on the Dyxum database. We don’t shoot a lot of wildlife that requires a long zoom, so it made sense for us to find a cheap telephoto alternative for those rare telephoto opportunities that we come across in our travels. We bought this lens used for just $75. What a steal!
Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 – This little prime is probably one of our all-time favourite lenses. We bought it used for $250 about a year ago from a film student who had used it once to shoot a movie. We didn’t think much of it at first, but we more we shoot with it, the more we love it! The lens is manual and you need this A to M mount adapter, but the shots it produces are spectacular.
Jupiter-8 50mm – While in Ukraine last September, I picked up a cheap Russian manual lens ($10) at a flea market. It’s completely manual and in some ways similar to our Voigtlander 40mm f1.4, but it’s really light and offers some beautiful bokeh.
Sony 16-50mm f/3.5 – This is a kit lens that came with our Sony A6000, and while we still have some use for this lens as a walk around lens for our cropped body camera, it’s not an essential lens in our kit. In saying that, if you can get this lens as a part of the package it is a decent average lens that is compact and can fit into the underwater cases.
Neewer Macro Extension Tube Set – These cheap extension tubes are a great tool that reduces the minimum focusing distance for any lens. Since we don’t have a macro lens, we use the tubes to get that macro effect from our existing lenses.
Accessories: Filters, Tripods, Flashes, Bags, and More!
To be completely honest, we are torn on filters. A part of us thinks that are just marketing and that if you take the time to use post processing you can get away without using them. But for now, to save time on processing and get a better photo straight out of the camera, we still have a set that we carry with us at all times.
Tiffen 58mm UV Protection Filter – We aren’t too fussed with our UV filters and usually pick up whatever is cheap and well rated on amazon. These days we are working with a set of Tiffen thin bezel filters.
ND 1000 Neutral Density Filter – We bought this filter before our RTW trip last year and I can definitely say that its worth the $30. We use it to take long exposures at midday or against a setting sun. We have noticed occasional colour casting, but nothing that can’t be handled in post processing.
AmazonBasics Polarizing filters – We have just purchased a new set of Amazon Basics polarizing filters for our lenses. They are multi coated and come well rated by the Amazon community.
Neewer 55mm Full Red Color Filter – We use this filter on our Sony 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 lens when shooting underwater to recover some of the reds lost at depth below 5-10meters. This filter saves us lots of time in post processing.
GoPro HERO 3+/4 Dive Filters – Red filter for our GoPro
Dolica TX570B150SL Tripod – This is the second travel tripod that we have had to purchase. Our first one was a cheap Chinese brand that only lasted for a few weeks. After a year of use, this Dolica Tripod has proven to be significantly better. It was decently priced and offered great portability and it still travels everywhere with us.
Miggo Splat Mini Tripod – We use this tripod on those occasions when we don’t want to carry around our bulky Dolica Tripod. We have used it a few times for the Sony cameras, but it has primarily become a tripod for our GoPro, a perfect accessory to stabilize the camera for time lapses or strap it to a branch or pole.
Neewer® Speedlite Flash for Canon – This is a great budget flash for anyone using the Canon system. It was our only flash in the kit for years, until we made the transition from Canon to Sony early last year. We kept in the kit, and to the day use it as an off camera flash using manual settings and a transmitter.
Neewer NW320 TTL Flash for Sony – This is now our go to travel flash for those situations when we need a little bit of extra light to catch the shot. We don’t use it often, but it’s a good budget aftermarket flash.
GoPro Selfie Stick – Over the years, we’ve gone through our fair share of selfie sticks. They all seem to break under the stress of salt water and sand (we often use these for underwater footage or on the beach). This one is fairly new as we have only been using it since Christmas, but unlike many others we’ve tried in the past it’s holding up well.
Floating Wrist Strap For GoPro – Another great accessory for underwater GoPro photography/videography.
CamDive® Underwater Case for Sony A7 – We got this underwater case shortly after we bought our Sony A7 as we knew that we would continue to shoot underwater while scuba diving. The case is plastic and definitely inferior quality to what the pro’s use, but at only $250, it’s actually exactly what we need. It doesn’t leak and it keeps the camera safe as deep as 40m underwater. We’ve used the case on more than 20 dives without any issues.
Bags & Straps
Lowepro Flipside Sport 20L Camera Daypack – With only 20L capacity, this camera bag may appear pretty small, but don’t let that deceive you, it can hold a lot. On the road, this bag holds all of our camera equipment: 7 lenses, both bodies, GoPro with selfie stick, drone, flash, my Macbook 12”, a 2L water pack, tripods, filters, extra batteries, and memory cards. When filled the bag gets heavy, often approaching check in weight limits, but it still looks small enough on my back to pass as a free personal item.
Ruggard Streak 15 Shoulder Bag – We got this bag for free with the A6000 kit. For the most part this bag doesn’t travel with us outside of Costa Rica, but we do use it for day trips to the beach and the surroundings. It fits a camera body and two medium size lenses.
Peak Design Slide Camera Shoulder Strap – I have never liked the straps that come with the cameras, and the Sony was no different. It wasn’t long before I did some research and found a cool shoulder strap from Peak design. It offers a better shoulder grip and a quick-connection system that makes it easy to take off and put back on the camera.
Seagate Backup Plus 4TB Portable External Hard Drive – We shoot around 5-8k photos a month and store all of them in RAW, so it’s no wonder we’ve filled up several hard drives with backups of our photos and videos from travel over the last 2 years. We currently have two of these Seagate drives that we use for backing up while we are on the road. We keep a copy of all of our photos on each drive and keep the drives in separate bags, so if one gets lost/damaged/stolen, we won’t lose all of our work.
Amazon Cloud Storage – Keeping our work on hard drives while we are on the road is a temporary solution, so as soon as we have a small break from traveling and good internet, we upload all of our photos to the Amazon Cloud Storage, which acts as our long term storage solution. We invested in a Premium Amazon Cloud Drive account that allows us to upload an unlimited amount of photos, videos, and documents to the cloud for just $59.99/year.
Our Advice for the Best Travel Camera
As you can see we have quite a lot of gear that travels with us anywhere we go, but all the items listed above have their uses on every trip. And while we are generally happy with our photography kit as it is (pending a few upgrades), we wouldn’t recommend a lot of our lenses and accessories to someone who is just starting out in the world of travel photography. Our kit is complex and is best suited for an intermediate skill level.
If you are fairly new to photography and looking for advice on the best travel camera, we recommend that you invest in Sony A6000 with 1-2 basic lenses and start your photo journey from there.
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