Photography Photography Gear

Travel photography – what’s in our camera bag

What's in our camera bag - Kolmanskop, Namibia

Hands down, the question we’re asked the most on Instagram is “what camera and lenses do you use?”. It’s funny, because for a long time when asked this question, our response was always “does a chef get asked what oven he uses?”.

Now, as Instagram and interest in photography has grown, we get the fascination. We’re now also obsessed with gear and finding out what lens or settings an amazing photographer used to get a certain image (well, Mark is!).

Over the past year, we’ve invested a lot of money into photography – from full frame mirrorless cameras to zoom lenses, and a lot of time and effort into building our photography skills to make use of the gear we have. Now, we love nothing more than getting out and shooting epic landscapes, amazing street scenes, or playing with long exposures.

Read more: Our best travel photography tips and tricks to help you improve your photography skills

With the fascination around our photography kit, we thought we’d share what’s in our camera bag. Depending on what you want to get out of photography, we hope this post helps you give you ideas for your own photography kit.

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY – WHAT’S IN OUR CAMERA BAG 

OUR CAMERAS

SONY A7RII

We started our trip with the Canon 70D and Canon G7X and after months of Mim’s frustration with Mark stealing her camera, Mark decided it was time to upgrade to a full frame while we were in Bangkok. Mark wanted a camera that produced brilliant stills and video, and so after hours of research, the Sony A7RII was the final choice.

Is he happy with his choice? You betcha.

PROS

The A7RII produces incredible image quality; the 42.4 megapixel sensor can produce stunning images at both low and high ISOs.

The low light capabilities are what sets this camera apart from its competitors – you can photograph at high ISOs up to 25,600 and the image retains detail and colour. This is perfect if you don’t have a tripod, or for variable light scenes, such as markets.

The Sony A7RII features a 5 Axis stabiliser system, built into the sensor. It will allow you to shoot at lower shutter speeds and in lower light with reduced blur caused by hand movements. Again, this is great for travel as it can alleviate carrying a heavy tripod.

The video capabilities are almost best in class. It’s the first full frame mirrorless camera to shoot 4k internally. The A7RII performs very strongly up to about ISO 12,800. For super slow-motion filming, you can drop down to 1080p and shoot at 60 or 100 frames per second, which will give you that beautiful, cinematic look.

Finally, it uses an electronic viewfinder, which allows you to make changes to your settings (exposure, aperture, ISO) in real time, which is super duper helpful.

CONS

Firstly, the Sony A7RII is a very expensive piece of equipment, which isn’t a con as such, but rather quite inhibitive to those trying to live the nomadic dream.  

The A7RII has awful battery life, which is sometimes less than a third of the Canon 5DmkIII. This is never more evident than when filming, so you will need make to purchase extra batteries.

Sony lenses aren’t quite as good as Canon lenses, which means you will need to purchase a Metabones adaptor to use Canon glass (or if you have Canon lenses already). While this isn’t too much of an issue, the Metabones adaptor does add extra weight to your camera and can cause issues with autofocus. Which leads us to the next issue…

We’ve had a lot of autofocus issues using the A7RII, Metabones adaptor and the Sigma 17-70mm lense. The focus issues have also carried over to some of our Canon lenses, although not as bad. If you’re looking to purchase it, we would recommend getting native (EF mount) lenses. 

OVERALL

If you have the money to spend and are looking for the best camera in its class, the Sony A7RII is for you. You’ll be able to capture stunning stills and video, use a range of lenses (with Metabones) and the size and weight makes it perfect for travelling.

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Photographing sunset over London using the Sony A7rII in timelapse mode

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CANON 5D MKIII

For two years, Mim worked on her photography skills using the Canon 70D, which unfortunately started to suffer from an array of focus issues. Finally, after saving every penny, we took the plunge and purchased the Canon 5D MKIII.  Do you think she’s happy? You betcha!

The Canon 5D MKIII is widely regarded as one of the best still camera’s out there (although it’s since been superseded by the Canon 5D MKIV), with its full frame 22.3 megapixel sensor producing strong, sharp images, coupled with the exceptional Canon colour profile. Images look great straight out of camera, and the RAW images house a large amount of data for edits.PROS

Like all Canon’s, the 5D MKIII is sturdy, reliable and easy to use; it just feels like a camera! Although it is expensive, it’s a brilliant piece of equipment that comes packed with all the features you’d expect from a full frame DSLR.

The battery life is second to none, which is great for travel. You can use the 5D MKIII for two or more days and still have battery life – perfect for multi-day adventures in nature.   

CONS

The Canon 5D MKIII is still a wonderful camera, but has been superseded by rivals such as Sony in terms of size and specs. That being said, the specs are still good, and the output exceptional.  

If you’re stepping up to the 5D MKIII, it can be a bit of a technical jump, but that’s more reason to get out and shoot with it.

OVERALL

Despite being superseded by the not-so-recently released Canon 5D MKIV, the Canon 5D MKIII is still a brilliant camera for any situation. With it’s incredible 22.3 megapixel sensor, this camera is a beast for stills, and its battery life is second to none (something Sony could learn from!). Second hand options are affordable, and despite it’s age, we highly recommend this camera. 

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What's in our camera bag - a Canon 70D

CANON G7 X

After Mim bought her Canon 70D, Mark suddenly had an interest in photography. After watching too many Fun For Louis and Ben Brown vlogs, he also decided he wanted to make videos.

The Canon G7 X was the solution.

PROS

The best thing about the Canon G7 X is its size. Having a camera of this size and quality is invaluable when going into places where a DSLR is impractical, like a market. As a result, we were able to get some of our favourite photos from this little camera.

For a point and shoot, the image and video quality is exceptional, allowing photography using a 20MP sensor (and RAW capabilities) and filming up to 60fps at 1080p. The camera also has inbuilt features including astrophotography, background defocus and creative shot mode.

The G7 X has a LCD flip screen which also allows touch focus, which is perfect for vlogging and selfies.

CONS

If we had to fault it, it would be the battery life. Unfortunately due to the size and processing power, the G7 X battery life isn’t great. The solution is to simply buy a spare battery, so it’s not all bad.

Although obvious given its size, it does struggle a little in low light situations.

OVERALL

The Canon G7 X really is a great little travel camera. The image and video quality is brilliant, and it’s size wins us over every time. Given the flipscreen, it’s the perfect vlogging and selfie camera when you don’t want (or like) that GoPro style.

While there have been upgrades since, namely the Sony RX100 IV and the Canon G7 X MKII, it’s still excellent.


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OUR OTHER CAMERAS

FUJIFILM INSTAX MINI 90

We’ve got a soft spot for polaroid photography, and while digital is wonderful, sometimes we want keepsakes from our adventures.

That’s why we invested in the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90. We take this everywhere, although we’re notoriously bad for actually getting it out and using it. So, this year is the year of taking photos of everything we do!

The Instax Mini 90 can be hard to get used too and we’ve had many an over exposed film. Film is also super expensive, but in our minds worth it.

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A Fujifilm Instax 90 is in our camera bag

GOPRO HERO 4

The GoPro Hero 4 is one part of our kit which doesn’t get used enough. Why? The photo and video quality isn’t DSLR standard, so we tend to use our other equipment before our GoPro. That being said, it serves its purpose, especially for filming underwater or for a super wide selfie!

The new GoPro Hero 5 has much better capabilities and can be used underwater without a casing, and coupled with a GoPro gimbal, is a pretty sweet piece of kit for those looking for photograph or film their travels and a relatively cheap cost.

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OUR SELECTION OF LENSES

CANON 70-200MM F4 

The Canon 70-200mm f4 is our favourite lens, hands down. After months of deliberation, our trip to Africa was the catalyst for purchasing this beauty and we haven’t looked back.

Firstly, it’s as sharp as any lens we’ve ever used. Secondly, the image stabilisation (although seriously loud), works a treat, even at 200mm. Thirdly, this lens allows you to really find amazing photos and not be obtrusive, which we’ve found particularly helpful shooting portraits.

It’s the perfect option zoom lens for travel as it isn’t that heavy, and can fit into a normal size camera bag. While the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 might be the holy grail, this lens is the best investment we’ve made.

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CANON 24-70MM F4.0

This is a recent addition to our camera bag, and one we’ve wanted for a long time. While the f2.8 version was our desire, the size makes it a little large for travel photography.

The Canon 24-70mm is known as one of the best zoom lenses on the market, and with good reason – it’s exceptionally sharp, while the colour profile is typically great. It’s also quite small and lightweight, which makes it perfect for travel photography.

The only downside is its performance in lowlight – f4.0 isn’t the best aperture range for shooting at night – especially astro photography – however it does have inbuilt image stabilisation which does add a stop or two.

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SIGMA 17-70MM F2.8

After purchasing the Sony A7RII, there wasn’t too much money left in the kitty for an expensive Canon 24-70mm f4, so the Sigma 17-70mm f2.8 zoom lense was the next best alternative.

Its combination of extended focal length range and faster aperture offers useful extra flexibility compared to a kit lense, and the optics are sharp. Its F2.8-4 maximum aperture range means it gathers more light, which offers advantages for both low light shooting, and getting blurred backgrounds when shooting subjects like portraits.

It’s not perfect, and in particular may not be the best option if you shoot a lot at wideangle or close-up. But it’s very good indeed, and a great choice for SLR owners looking to expand their horizons beyond the kit zoom.

In our opinion, the Sigma 17-70mm f2.8 is a great travel lense as it gives great variety, including zoom, macro and low light capabilities while being quite small and light. However, if you’re pairing it with a full frame DSLR and have money to spare, go with the Canon or Sony lenses.

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SONY 35MM F1.8

Mark wanted a prime lens for his Sony A7RII and didn’t want to break the bank, and the Sony 35mm f1.8 was the perfect option.

This wide-aperture normal prime lens is compact, well-built, sharp, and (best of all) affordable. And unlike most fast primes, goes the extra mile by offering optical image stabilization. If you’re after those lovely street scenes, or decent bokeh, this is a practical solution.

It’s not the best lens in Sony’s lineup, it does the job.

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CANON 50MM F1.8

The Canon 50mm f1.8 was the first prime lens we purchased for the Canon 70D and it’s been a real winner. It’s super cheap, and the image quality is surprisingly good (almost as good as the more expensive Canon 50mm f1.4 prime).

We’ve used this for a lot of street photography, especially in Nepal, with some strong results, and we really think the price:performance ratio of this little lens is hard to beat.

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What's in our camera bag? Sony A7RII, Canon 70D, Fujifilm Instax 90

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OUR ACCESSORIES

ZKIN YETI CAMERA BAG

Before leaving on our round the world adventure, we knew we needed a functional camera bag, but also wanted something that looked good (what can we say, we like to be a little bit fashionable).

Cue the Zkin Yeti camera bag. It’s got capacity for one DSLR and with mid range zoom attached, compartments for two extra lenses, a quick release tripod mount, space for a 13 laptop and an area for personal belongings. It’s also water repellent and comes with a waterproof cover, just in case the heavens open.

While we’ve subsequently realised this probably wasn’t the best investment when travelling the world, it’s still an awesome solution for short tips or photography expeditions in your home town.

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SANDISK MEMORY CARDS

Obvious! We’ve got a million of these (well, not quite) but mainly use the high end Extreme Pro versions, as they are the most powerful SD cards on the market. They deliver maximum speed for performance, reliability, image quality and support 4K video from our DSLR. It can handle burst mode, rapid shots and RAW with ease.  

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JOBY GORILLAPOD SLR ZOOM

The Joby GorillaPod SLR Zoom is our go-to tripod when we’re on the road – it’s flexible, stable, portable and lightweight – everything you need in a travel tripod!

It’s strong enough to hold both of our DSLR’s with a heavy lens, and it is also perfect for vlogging, giving that extra length when filming yourself.  
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MANFROTTO COMPACT ACTION TRIPOD

When we’re after something a little more stable, or we need more height, we use our Manfrotto action tripod.

It’s the perfect travel tripod as it folds up into a super small size, but provides decent height and stability.

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ZEISS LENS CLEANING KIT 

It’s important, especially when on the road, to keep your camera and lenses clean.

We learnt this the hard way, and had a few too many dust spots on our photos, so we invested in the Zeiss lens cleaning kit which has all the you need including an air blower, brush, wipes, moist cloth and cleaning fluid.

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waiting for a train in Sao Bento train station, Porto

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Sophie Nadeau
    February 24, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Oh my goodness: the SONY A7RII is literally my dream camera. All of your pictures and edits are so beautiful 🙂 Cant’ wait to see what you do with the drone!

    • Reply
      The Common Wanderer
      March 6, 2017 at 11:36 pm

      Thanks Soph! You’d love the Sony A7RII, it’s the best camera! It’s a totally worth robbing a bank for!

      The drone is now our best friend! It’s absolutely amazing!

      Mark and Mim x

  • Reply
    Caitlin
    March 22, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    This is a really interesting post! It’s interesting to see the difference a camera makes and with a recent popularity in photography people are becoming more interested in the particular details of lenses and brands. It’s so great how you capture your adventures, it’s really fun how you can experiment with different shots and images and also how it gives you a snapshot of something you can keep forever.

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