Travel Photography Gear Cameras And Accessories For Holidays
With any luck you might be planning to take a break and go on holidays, whether that be abroad or enjoying the best that the UK has to offer. You’ll no doubt want to photograph your trip, but travel photography has its own distinct style, requirements and constraints. In this article we look at how to travel with photography equipment and talk about the best photography accessories to help you perfectly capture your highlights, travel light and keep your gear safe when away.
The Best Cameras for Travel Photography
By its very nature travel photography demands that the photographic equipment used is portable, robust and fast to use so that you always bring the camera and never miss a moment. For these reasons, most of the best travel cameras tend not to be digital SLRs. Instead, good cameras for travelling usually fall into the mirrorless, bridge, compact, or action camera categories.
You’ll want a robust, simple to use system and ideally a versatile lens to capture diverse subjects which you’ll encounter. Travel subjects which catch your eye might include family portraits, street photography and the food you’re eating, through to landscapes, sunsets and other scenes specific to where you are visiting. Having a versatile focal width lens, or a couple of different lenses allows you to capture subjects from near to far without carrying too much weight.
Compact Cameras – Portable and Lightweight
You could pick a lightweight compact camera with built-in lens to bring along. The lighter the gear, the higher the chance you’ll bring it with you everywhere you go and catch those perfect moments from your trip. An all-in-one point and shoot compact camera could be the best choice if you’re buying a camera primarily for travelling.
Compact cameras nowadays have powerful capabilities, but are smaller and lighter than interchangeable lens cameras. You can get them with fixed focal width lenses or with zoom lenses, both of which have their own advantages. A fixed focal width helps you to engage in making the photograph and you’ll often find you stand closer to your subject. On the other hand, a zoom lens will allow you to shoot nearer to further away without having to move around as much. It’s worth considering what type of subjects you like to photograph if you’re choosing a point and shoot, as you won’t be able to change the lens. We’ve listed some of our current favourite models for travel here:
- The Fujifilm X100V Silver is as competent as it is beautiful to look at. Yes, the lens is a fixed focal width equivalent to 35mm, but 35mm is an absolute favourite amongst all sorts of photographers. The camera captures amazing quality images as well as 4K/30p video. It is also small and weighs just 478g, so you can always have it on hand. This is a compact you can enjoy at any time - not just for travel - although it won’t quite fit in your pocket.
- The RICOH GR IIIx compact camera is on par with the Fujifilm above, bringing a 40mm lens to the party, rather than 35mm. This creates distortion-free realistic pictures, similar to what our eye’s see naturally. The GR IIIx captures similar image quality to the Fujifilm, but is even smaller and lighter, weighing a minuscule 262g and fits into your pocket.
- The Sony RX100 VII is the latest iteration of their hugely popular RX series and rightly deserves a closer look, thanks to outstanding features along with a versatile 24-200mm zoom lens and its pocketable size. If you love shooting a wide range of subjects this makes an excellent option from Sony and has brilliant tracking capabilities to boot.
The biggest downside to a compact camera is the inability to change lenses, which is why a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera could be the way to go for you.
Mirrorless Cameras – Compact and Versatile
Mirrorless cameras that let you change lenses afford a number of benefits for travel photography. They tend to be reasonably lightweight, are often fully featured and very capable of capturing brilliant photos and usually videos too.
The downside is that you’ll need a camera and a separate lens or two, rather than being all-in-one like a compact camera. We recommend considering what type of photography you most enjoy shooting when choosing lenses, much the same as when choosing a compact with an attached lens. A zoom will give you more flexibility, while a prime (fixed focal width) tends to be more engaging, lighter and often better in low light.
Aside from size and weight, other features to look for in a camera for travel photography include:
- Does it have stabilisation? If the camera and lens are stabilised you’ll be able to handhold and get sharper shots in low light situations. This means you won’t need to bring a large tripod, but can still photograph sunsets, landscapes and cityscapes, for example.
- Good battery life is useful so that you don’t need to bring too many spares with you. One or two spare batteries are always recommended (along with a charger), but more can be cumbersome if you’re travelling light.
- Weather resistance is very useful if you’re shooting outdoors where there’s water, sand, dust or it’s particularly cold. A weather sealed camera and lens are a must-have if you’re travelling in these sorts of conditions.
- A great autofocus system can be really useful when you’re photographing moving subjects. On your travels these might include street portraits, photographing the kids jumping in the pool, or maybe wildlife which you encounter on the trip. Most manufacturers have excellent autofocus (AF) systems these days, with a variety of advanced subject detection available. The most advanced cameras offer human face and eye detection, animal eye and sometimes vehicles. Check the camera has these AF options available if you lean towards any of these subjects.
- Selfies, anyone? We all love a selfie taken in front of somewhere amazing from our travels. If you’re a selfie aficionado, we definitely recommend looking for a flip-out LCD screen so you can check your comp before pulling the trigger.
- Does the camera make great JPEG images you can use immediately? It’s worth considering whether the camera has built-in subject styles, which let you capture great results with minimal editing. If you intend to shoot and post while you’re away, you’ll probably want perfect JPEGs straight out of camera and keep RAW files for editing later if you choose to. Fujifilm has some of the most desirable colour science in the business for ‘straight out of camera' goodness. This leads us on to connectivity…
- Connectivity is important if you want to share your pictures with minimum fuss while you’re away. Look for WiFi speed, 4G or 5G, free camera apps and Bluetooth® connectivity so you can use your preferred way of sharing pictures when you’re away. Having phone connectivity could be a bonus if the WiFi is down or you’re off the beaten track.
- Budget is of course a driver in most purchases and it’s worth thinking about your budget for the entire camera system you’re bringing. Make sure you allocate some of your budget towards essential accessories.
Some travellers know they’ll be doing water sports while away, perhaps snorkeling or diving and still want to capture epic pictures and videos from the water. If that’s the case, you’ll need either a waterproof camera, or a suitable action camera with underwater housing.
We can recommend the RICOH WG-70 to get you as deep as 14m underwater and the Panasonic Lumix FT7 gets down to 31m. The latest DJI Action 2 Power Combo is a crazy good modular system with optional Action 2 waterproof casing.
The Best Travel Photography Accessories
Travel photography isn’t only about the cameras themselves, of course. To truly capture your holiday highlights, it’s often also necessary to bring along some photography accessories, including something to carry all your camera equipment in! As with the camera you’ve chosen, it’s a good idea to go lightweight, robust and easy-to-use with your accessories too.
Airport security is another consideration if you’re flying, with secure bags, hidden passport pockets and carry-on sizes available. Thief-resistant features might need investigating if you’re visiting crime hotspot cities where tourists can be a target. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best travel photography accessories currently on the market:
- At the top of the list we have spare camera batteries and spare memory cards, which are essentials when travelling. As we’re thinking about weight, two or three of each should be plenty for most trips. You’ll inevitably need to re-charge your batteries too, so remember to bring your camera charger.
- If you’re away for longer, or shoot a lot of photos and videos, copying files to a portable hard drive can be very useful to clear off your memory cards as they get full. Something like the G-DRIVE ArmorATD 4TB is a great choice, as is the G-DRIVE SSD 1TB from SanDisk Professional, which is ultra compact and super-fast to use.
- We all have additional power requirements while away and the Ansmann Powerbank 20.0 can be used to charge all sorts of devices.
- You probably won’t want to bring a full-sized tripod, but a mini tripod gives you all of the benefits without the weight penalty. JOBY make some very clever options, including the Joby GorillaPod 3K Flexible Mini-Tripod With Ball Head Kit. This lets you frame and shoot better photos and videos, holds gear up to 3kg, but only weighs 393g. making it highly recommended for travelling
- The Lowepro GearUp Pouch medium is a great organiser for all of your bits and bobs, both at home and when away. If weight is a premium, then the Lowepro GearUp Wrap is smaller and lighter, but just as useful.
Once you’ve got all your camera gear and accessories together, you’ll need a safe and secure camera bag to carry it all in. We’ve got a world of choices depending on how much equipment you have and what your budget is.
On the whole, a camera backpack or shoulder bag are the best choices for travel photography, as both leave your hands free and let you carry more than just the camera itself, such as a laptop or tablet. Some bags are convertible between a camera and regular bag or hip belt, giving you more carrying options when away.
Here are some of our top photography travel bag suggestions:
- At the smaller end of the backpack scale, we have the popular Lowepro Tahoe BP150 Black, which holds just enough for a day’s outing, including space for a tablet.
- The Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 10 Pewter Shoulder Bag is a high quality compact messenger-style bag, which holds a smaller mirrorless system and converts to a convenient belt pack.
- We are massive fans of English brand Billingham and their Hadley Small Pro Shoulder Bag in Black FibreNyte / Black is as stylish as it is functional. It features a travel-friendly luggage trolley strap and has removable inserts to convert to a regular shoulder bag, which is a versatile touch.
- The second generation Lowepro Nova SH 200 AW II Shoulder Bag Black is a popular choice for anyone bringing lots of camera equipment, but still want to travel light.
- The Manfrotto Street Slim Backpack is a modular system that you can add onto and convert, perfect for content creators bringing lots of gear. It has removable inserts and a contemporary urban design, so you can mix and match how it’s used while looking the part.
- The Think Tank Airport Essentials Backpack is one of our most popular choices for anyone bringing a laptop and flying. It can double as a daily bag by removing the padded inserts and includes a shock-resistant M-Guard™ protection system from one of our favourite bag manufacturers.
These are the top things to consider when buying the best travel photography equipment to make sure you capture amazing memories from your trip. We recommend that you have a compact camera system to stay light and nimble, keep your camera safe with a secure bag and bring some essential photography accessories to ensure you have everything you need for the duration. If you’re planning a trip now, why not explore our extensive range of photography accessories right here, with everything you need to make it a trip to remember.
By Park Cameras