Agnes Caruso Photography

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12 Essential Photo Equipment Items for Travel

Packing up for a trip can be difficult even when you are not taking your photography equipment. However, if you are planning holidays and want to take some of your equipment it can become even more difficult. So let’s look at what you may need on your trip. I will try to divide items into must have, good to have and nice to have. Many items are very basic and you will wonder why I even mention them, but trust me they can be forgotten. The more obvious something is, the more likely we are to forget it. In order to ensure you pack all that is needed you can make a list and follow it when packing the gear.

The lists below are intended for general purpose trip, family holiday or sightseeing trip not a photographic expedition.

Must have items:

  • camera body of your choice, ones with swivel back screen have an advantage as you do not have to crawl on the ground in mud, water or some other enticing place to take low angled shots
  • zoom lens allowing you to take decent distance and close up pictures, e.g. 24-105mm lens
  • charger for the battery and if you have spare, charged batteries; for overseas trips pack also an adapter for the power points
  • rain protector for the camera and lens, they come in different sizes depending what lens you are using
  • memory cards with a hard shell case for storage, if you use mini cards, they can be shared between your camera and phone
  • tripod, a mini one such as GorillaPod works in a number of situations fairly well
  • backpack or a bag and a lens case, good to invest in ones with rain protection
  • lens cleaning solution and a cleaning cloth
  • camera manual – Yes, you may need it

 

Good to have items:

  • a set of filters – UV filter, circular polarizer and at least one ND filter, while some people swear against filters, I found them useful to keep sand and dust away from the lens while shooting in poor conditions
  • second camera body, so you can attach your second lens to it as changing them while shooting pictures becomes tiresome and can lead to problems, especially in windy and dusty conditions
  • second lens with a lens case, depending on your interests and destination – macro lens, wide angle or a powerful zoom lens
  • actual tripod – good size, sturdy and lightweight. Yes, such things exist but you may need to spend some serious money if you want a top line tripod. Yet, it is one of the most important items you need in your bag

Nice to have items:

  • remote release
  • speedlight, can come handy in full sunshine when taking portraits or in dark interiors
  • third lens for any special objects
  • closeup filters, while not a substitution for a macro lens, can help you take close-up pictures without a need to change lenses, make sure they fit your largest diameter lens

When choosing lens for travel, you need to consider the weight of the lens as well as its optical quality. I have a Tamron lens 18-270mm, covers a perfect zoom range, takes good quality pictures in bright light, it is light, has a lock to prevent is extending when it is carried around. If I am forced to take a small photo bag and only one lens, due to luggage restrictions, it is a good choice, but a heavier lens with a low aperture f/2.8 or so can give you fabulous images at low light or inside buildings. The choice is really depending on where you going and what you like photographing.

When traveling on holidays, you may need to carry your gear with you, so weight is a big consideration, as is ability to quickly pull it out or put it away. Leaving your gear in cars or hotel rooms can end up with it being stolen, so having only what you can comfortably carry around a city or on a hiking trail is very important.

I have also created a travel checklist which you can download from the Resource page on my website.


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Let’s get started – the basic gear you want to have for your photography needs. Picking a camera.

I have been asked a few times as to what kind of camera and gear to buy for young budding photographers. If the person is serious about learning photography, a phone or a super compact camera is not going to be the best option. On the other hand, choosing the most expensive camera is also not helpful. You can compare this to giving a 16 year old a Ferrari as their first car. While there is nothing wrong with it if you have plenty money, it is probably much more sensible to have them perfect their skills on something more economical.

What features should you be looking for in a first camera?

  1. A viewfinder is a great option, as trying to stare at the LCD display to take pictures can be really difficult in bright sunlight.
  2. Camera that offers manual mode adjustment. Shooting automatic is not something that will teach a user how to adjust ISO, speed and aperture to get light just right.
  3. Good optical zoom for a point and shoot camera. Do you need 50x zoom or will 10x zoom be enough? For a first camera 10x zoom will be just fine. It also depends what kind of subjects is the person likely to be photographing.
  4. If choosing an SLR camera, picking a lens can be a challenge and I will post a separate blog on that.
  5. Ability to attach a tripod is important
  6. Ability to attach a speedlight. While a lot of compact cameras come with a built-in flash, being able to add a high power flash allows you to expand the capabilities of the camera
  7. A nice feature to have is being able to shoot in RAW format, which will allow to save maximum image information. Jpegs are OK for starting out, but they are compressed files and some information is lost.

The next question is should it be a digital or film camera, point and shoot or SLR, how many megapixels are needed for a good digital camera? Which brand should I buy?

Film or digital is a personal preference. Being able to develop film could be the limiting factor here. I shot both, and actually started with film and have no strong preference for either, both have their merits. Point and shoot vs SLR? Again that really is not a critical point for a young starting photographer, a point and shoot could be an advantage as exchanging lenses while not hard may not be the thing for every youngster.

Next, famous megapixels, what is more important is the size of the sensor not just the number of megapixels. A small sensor capturing a lot of megapixels like your phone camera will not deliver the same quality of image as a camera with a larger sensor and same number of megapixels. Most of the 18MP cameras will be perfectly fine to start with. There is definitely no need to buy a 50MP camera for a starting up photographer.

As to the brand, that is a very personal opinion, there are people using only one brand of camera or using multiple ones. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fuji, Leica, Panasonic, Pentax are among some of the most popular brands. The best is to visit a good camera store, such as NYC-based B&H or Adorama, or VA-based Ace Photo, and check out a few different brands.

Here are some images from a point and shoot Canon PowerShot A430, Canon Powershot SX100IS, Canon Rebel EOS3Ti and Canon 5D mark III. Quality of the image is only an issue when you printing large images. The aim of the first camera is to develop the eye and learn how to harness the light. And to do this effectively, you do not need a top of the line camera.

Canon PowerShot A430

Canon Powershot SX100 IS

Canon EOS Rebel 3Ti

       

       

Canon 5D Mark III

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