Note: this post contains affiliate links to products we love and have purchased ourselves on Amazon. Clicking these links doesn’t cost you any extra money, and you’re supporting us by doing so. You can view our disclosure page for additional details.
Choosing the right travel camera can be a challenge. We’re constantly receiving questions about what travel photography gear we use and how we shot a specific photo. For us, the camera and lens we carry around should work for as many situations as possible – landscapes, portraits, and low light. We also don’t want our day-to-day camera bag to be too heavy, so we try to prioritize the most practical items and brands to take along with us.
For this breakdown, Jacob (the travel photography expert!) weighs in on how we chose which camera brand to go with, what we carry now, and what items we use for specific travel photos. While we consider this set up to be perfect for us, we also have advice on choosing the right camera and lens for your own travel photos. You can click on any of the images below for direct links to the travel photography gear we mention.
Two years ago we switched from Canon to Sony (very reluctantly) after holding out for a long time. I finally caved after hearing so many good things from friends using the A7 series. We first bought the Sony A7RII and then upgraded earlier this year to the new version, the Sony A7RIII. The A7RIII made some huge improvements. The battery life is great and the load time (read/write speed) is much quicker.
One of my other motivations for switching to Sony was to have a more compact setup for video and photo. The Sony’s smaller size and lower weight allows us to carry an extra lens with us when we travel. It also helps when we shoot video, since it’s not as heavy when we need to use it on a stabilizer or for hand-held video work.
I always encourage people to prioritize investing in lenses over cameras because great lenses will long outlive your camera. Of course, if you switch camera systems (for instance, from Canon to Sony like we did) you have to start a new collection. When it comes to choosing the right lens for you, it really comes down to the types of photos you want to take.
The Sony 25mm f/2.0 lens is the first lens we purchased after getting our Sony camera. It’s a great travel lens because it’s lightweight and small. It’s perfect for landscapes and city shots like the ones you see below. I also use it often when shooting video since it’s not heavy on our stabilizer.
Many of my favorite photographers have mentioned the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 lens as their favorite. I held off on getting this lens for years because I wasn’t sure if I would use it enough to justify the cost. It has quickly become our favorite lens, we use it for almost all the photos you see on our Instagram. The focal range is perfect for our travels, it’s diverse enough that we can use it for wide shots and closer-up shots.
We recently purchased the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 lens because I wanted to start shooting more portraits and detail shots. Sony also makes an 85mm lens, but I had heard so many good things about the Sigma Art series lenses (and this one is significantly cheaper than the Sony), so I went for it. Even though the lens is a different brand, it’s an E mount just like Sony so it works perfectly. This lens adds a completely different feel to the types of photos we usually take. You can really emphasize the background of photos and bring them closer to your subject, or create really soft, out-of-focus, backgrounds in your images. It’s a great lens for portrait shots.
I’ve had several drones over the years, but my current (and favorite) drone is the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. The camera has really improved from the previous version and it still folds up and fits into my camera bag with all my other photography gear. We use this drone for aerial photos and for video. It still blows my mind how incredible this drone is whenever we take it out to get shots.
Similar to the drone, it’s pretty mind blowing what you can create with such a small device. We started using the GoPro Hero 7 with this GoPro dome for over/under shots in the water (where half the image is above water and half is below, like this photo) and they’ve turned out great. The most recent underwater shots on our Instagram have been taken with a GoPro, and we use it all the time now. The dome is a must if you’re shooting underwater with a GoPro.
We really wanted to start taking underwater photos, so this was the original underwater housing we purchased. We can use it directly with our Sony A7RIII camera. Shooting underwater takes practice and patience. The Aquatech underwater housing is a great housing, but it’s bulky and heavy and can be a challenge to use when floating in the ocean. However, the major benefit of the Aquatech over a GoPro is being able to take really high quality raw images with a shallow depth of field. GoPros are designed so everything is in focus, but that’s not always what I’m looking for when we’re taking photos.
Samsung SSD (Hard Drive)
A solid state hard drive or SSD has no moving parts. This means that if it’s dropped or bumped it’s not going to be damaged. Since we travel all the time and having a hard drive crash and losing our photos while traveling is our worst nightmare, I decided to try one a couple years ago. Now, this is the only type of drive we use while traveling and it’s the best. Selena has a 2TB & 1TB drive and I have two 2TB Samsung SSD drives for all our video work. We’ve never had an issue with these drives. When we are home, we backup all our photos to two 32TB Raid drives and empty the SSDs so we can continue to use them. Honestly, if you only buy one accessory I would recommend buying this drive!
Whenever you see a photo of the two of us, it’s usually taken with this tripod and our remote. This tripod is extremely light and small enough to fit into a carry-on. We use our remote with a 5 second timer delay to take multiple photos, or the Sony app, to take photos of the two of us together when we stumble on an amazing view.
DJI Ronin-S (Stabilizer)
Back in the day, the only way I could get smooth video was to use a steadi-cam which was bulky and hard to travel with. These new stabilizers really changed the way I’ve been able to shoot video and allow me to capture complicated moves while traveling that would have been impossible 10 years ago. I’ll also use the DJI Ronin-S stabilizer on boats and in cars to smooth out a shot.
We travel with spare batteries for all our gear. The number of batteries depends on how long they last and how often we use that piece of equipment. For instance, if we’re shooting heavily with our Sony camera we’ll need two or three Sony camera batteries. We travel with three drone batteries, which allows us around an hour and a half of flying without needing to charge. That’s really useful when we’re shooting in remote areas all day. The GoPro goes through GoPro batteries fairly quickly, but we typically don’t use it for long periods of time so one extra battery is enough for us. I always like to have one battery more than what I usually need just to be safe. It always alleviates our stress having a back-up and makes traveling much easier.
Before I bought this backpack I had an Ona Brixton satchel for a number of years, but I could no longer fit all my gear in it. I spent weeks looking for the right camera bag before settling on this one. I really wanted something that didn’t scream “Camera Gear”, but that was still functional. This bag stores my 15” laptop, our Sony A7RIII, two lenses, drone + controller, GoPro + dome, hard drives, cables, chargers and all of my batteries. You can’t tell at all from the outside that it’s carrying equipment, which is key. Selena carries a camera, lens and batteries in the brown leather Ona Bond Street Bag. and is considering upsizing to the Ona Bowery Bag. Ona bags are an investment, but they haven’t let us down yet.
Looking for a travel camera and still not sure what to buy? Check out our guide to choosing the best camera and lens for travel, or leave us a comment below. You can also visit this post for tips on how we shoot and edit photos!