In this page you will find a list of the best travel photography gear (cameras, lenses and other tools) I’ve used on a regular basis or thoroughly researched.
At the top of this best travel photography gear list is the Fujifilm X100F (Amazon). It is very light, inconspicuous, extremely capable (despite being a fixed lens camera), full featured and has great IQ (read why I think it’s the best travel camera of 2018).
I also own a Fujifilm X-E3 (Amazon) which I purchased before the X100F (Amazon). While the X-E3 is an excellent camera too, the X100F does everything I need in a more useful way. I will soon be replacing the X-E3 with Fujifilm’s newly released X-T3 which will be my rugged weatherproof workhorse when discretion and weight aren’t as important.
Update: I now have the Fujifilm X-T3 (Amazon) and it is excellent. My X-E3 is been sold as it is was with the X100F. Read about my first impressions here and my experience shooting the Fuji 35mm f/2 and Mitakon 35mm f/0.95.
Before moving to Fujifilm, I used Sony’s full-frame system. The Sony A7rII combined with m-mount rangefinder lenses (and a modified sensor) made for an incredible IQ kit. However the files were just too large for my needs and the camera was somewhat slow and unexciting. The Sony native lenses are also too large to my taste and using solely manual focus m-mount lenses that don’t communicate with the camera gets a little old. Sony has been upgrading their system with more and more capable A7 cameras (Amazon) and if you think you need full-frame, have at it! Their older models are also still available, excellent tools and can be much more affordable (Amazon).
There are of course, plenty of other choices out there. Specializing in travel photography, I value weight, size and ease of use over other metrics (even IQ to an extent). DSLR’s are basically going extinct so I won’t list any of these. Nikon and Canon finally seriously stepped into the mirrorless world and only time will tell if their first pro-level full-frame mirrorless cameras are good (they should be). Unfortunately I feel like most manufacturers out there chase the “full-frame” dream often at the expense of lens size. That is one major reason why I favor Fujifilm’s APS-C approach. I have worked with the great Olympus OM-D E-M1 but just didn’t like the IQ as much.
Of course, since I currently mostly shoot the X100F, the 23mm f/2 will be a favorite. Funny thing is that even though the X100F has a 23mm lens permanently attached to it, Fuji makes an excellent tiny weatherproof Fujinon 23mm f/2 (Amazon) lens which could be the ideal lens on the X-T3.
While I haven’t shot the X-E3 much, the lens that is usually attached to it is the amazing Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 (Amazon). This 50mm equivalent lens funnels huge amounts of light to the APS-C sensor and makes backgrounds melt away in delightful bokeh.
For wider shots and astro photography, you’ll find the cheap and capable Samyang 12mm f/2.0 (Amazon) wide angle mounted on the Fuji.
Even wider is the amazing Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D (Amazon). This teeny tiny lens is smaller than the Fuji 35mm f/2 and creates a field of view equivalent to a 13.5mm on a full-frame body. Lenses this wide on APS-C sensors are usually fisheye lenses, with massive amounts of distortion. This little gem keeps straight lines straight!
For macro work, I use the affordable Meike 85mm f/2.8 (Amazon) which has a reproduction ratio of 1.5:1!
Last but not least, the Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4 (Amazon) kit lens that came with my X-E3 is actually very good! I don’t often carry zoom lenses around but this particular one is a good mix between size, weight, image quality and price. Of course, you could go with most native Fuji lenses (Amazon) and never look back!
I used to shoot on Sony but mostly with M-mount rangefinder lenses. Sony lenses, while excellent, were just too large for my taste and defeated the reasons why I picked the A7 system in the first place. To read more about my selection of rangefinder lenses on the A7 system, read the What’s in my camera bag post I wrote back when I shot only Sony.
I tend not to use tripods anymore unless I’m shooting a waterfall or doing astro work. Often, while on the move visiting someplace, I just don’t have time to set up a tripod. Even so, I rarely walk around without my teeny tiny Really Right Stuff Pocket Pod. Combined with their BC-18 tiny head and a threaded clamp (Amazon), I can set up on top or attach my camera to almost anything (as long as I don’t require tripod height).
If I ever need a sturdier tripod, I carry around a MeFOTO Roadtrip Air Tripod (Amazon).
I never use the original straps from the cameras I purchase, instead leaving those in the box, unused for resell value. The strap system I fell in love with is Peak Design’s strap and anchor system (Amazon). They designed a quick release system that allows you to securely attach a strap to a camera and easily remove it when not needed (for tripod use for example). Since I keep my camera gear light, I can use their smallest strap comfortably, the Leash Strap (Amazon).
I also use their Cuff Camera Wrist Strap (Amazon). Unfortunately, they don’t sell the previous version anymore (which I own) and I’m not a huge fan of their newer model. It’s a fine product, but I prefer the version I currently own.
If you like belt and backpack shoulder strap clips, Peak Design also has you covered with their nifty Camera Capture Clip (Amazon).
As far as bags go, it depends on what I decide to carry. As with straps, I really like Peak Design’s offerings (Amazon), however they don’t produce a bag small enough for my needs. Since I walk around with the X100F most of the time, I use the Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 10 (Amazon), which fits the camera, some cards, batteries, the RRS tripod kit and a few other small items. If I need to carry more, I use my Lowepro ProTactic SH 120 AW (Amazon).
For an entry level camera that won’t break the bank and that you can grow into, I strongly recommend Fujifilm’s X-T100 with its 24 megapixel APS-C sized sensor (Amazon). It is full of features, portable, versatile, has a flip-screen, built-in flash and even exposed dials which are often missing from entry level cameras.
These dials allow you to easily tweak settings as you slowly work your way away from AUTO-modes. It is currently priced at $599 with the 15-45mm kit lens (Amazon).
Another way to learn with this camera and keeping your budget low is to use one of the cheap manual primes currently available with Fuji X-mount. For example, Neewer makes a 25mm f/1.8 lens for $65.99 (Amazon) and a 35mm f/1.2 lens for $99.99 (Amazon)! I wouldn’t hesitate buying one of these two lenses to carry along with the X-T100 w/XC 15-45mm lens (Amazon) for low light situations, artistic shots and portraiture. Their image quality isn’t perfect of course, but for the price, they are hard to beat!
If you are looking for a wider prime on the cheap, Meike makes a 12mm f/2.8 lens for under $200 (Amazon). It’s not quite as fast as or as high quality the Samyang 12mm f/2 (Amazon) listed above, but the Meike is 33% cheaper and almost as capable when it comes to astrophotography.
To complete your budget kit, especially if you are looking to do some astro work, you would need a tripod. A good affordable option is the Rollei Compact Traveler Aluminum Tripod (Amazon). Despite being under $70, it packs plenty of features such as a panoramic Arca compatible ball-head, folds tightly, gets low and can even be turned into a monopod.
It took me a while to find the right everyday carry pocket knife and thanks to the help of my great friend Gabe (a knife and flashlight nut), I settled on the amazing featherlight Zero Tolerance 0450CF (Amazon). It’s been in my pocket ever since I bought it!
If I didn’t know about the incredible ZT, I would’ve purchased a Spyderco Paramilitary 2 (Amazon) pocket knife. Picking between these two was tough as the Spyderco is cheaper and of great quality but just looks a little funky to my eye. The ZT’s weight and style ended up winning even though the knife is more expensive. I’m sure I wouldn’t have regretted any choice!
Not quite a knife but also often in my pocket is the tiny Leatherman Style PS Multitool (Amazon). It’s so small I’ve lost it a couple times and it’s so good I keep buying it again. The main reason I buy it is because it’s the most useful tool I’ve found that is TSA approved! There are no “blades” except for the scissors.
Another multitool I love is the Leatherman Skeletool CX (Amazon). It’s as lightweight as it is capable.
The flashlight that is always in my pocket is the Olight S1R Baton Turbo S (Amazon). This tool is a tiny light 900 lumen cannon! I used to own a few excellent ZebraLight flashlights (Amazon) but Olight’s magnetic USB charging system changed the game. The Olight R series come with a proprietary battery (ok, ok, that’s not the best thing but they work with standard equivalent batteries, they just don’t recharge) and a little magnetic USB cable. Just put the flashlight near the end of the cable and it snaps right into place, charging your light!
Olight makes other flashlights that also use the same charging system. Just like with cameras, once you pick glass, you are somewhat bound to a camera brand. Well the USB magnetic charging system of these little powerful lights is somewhat the same. For a headlight, I use the tiny and bright 600 lumen Olight H1R Nova (Amazon).
Andy while the S1R and H1R are quite powerful, if I need more power, I use the Olight H2R Nova (Amazon). With a wide 2300 lumen beam, it’s perfect for late night bike riding and lighting up large areas with minimal hot spots.