What’s In My Camera Bag | Photography Gear Guide

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One of the most frequent questions I get asked is what photography gear I use. The answer to that has changed a lot over the last few years, so here’s the latest update of what’s in my camera bag.


I’m always getting questions about my photography gear. When I remember, I even put my gear and settings on my Instagram posts. Having said that, I really don’t believe it’s the equipment that makes you a great photographer. It’s the way you see the world.

So if you can’t afford this gear, that’s ok. I started out with something simple, learning what I liked to create before upgrading. Maybe some of this stuff isn’t right for the sort of photography that you love to do, and that’s ok too!

This is simply what works for me. I hope you use it as a guide to find out what works for you. Don’t be afraid to try something new – long exposures, macro, astro. It’s all a great way to develop your eye and your own style. The more time you spend taking photos, the better you’ll get.

Remember – if you don’t have the means to get all of this equipment, that’s not going to stop you from creating amazing photos. Having said that, I finally feel like I’ve nailed the setup that works perfectly for me. So here’s what’s in my camera bag!


WHAT’S IN MY CAMERA BAG


Camera Bags

Travelling frequently and hiking a lot means that you’re going to be carrying a lot of gear on your person. Having a bag that not only fits your gear but is comfortable for you is vital.

I’ve hauled my photography gear up and down mountains, through rainforests and cities, and pretended it weighs nothing whilst shoving it into overhead lockers on planes. Yes, I’m that girl.

So obviously, the most important thing is the bags that make everything seem effortless!

F-stop Gear Mountain Series

Having used (and discarded) loads of camera bags, I feel like I’m kind of a pro when it comes to picking one. You should choose them like any backpack you’d use for hiking. Find one that’s right for both your frame and your gear needs. For me, that’s the F-stop Lotus.

The lotus is 32L in volume, and more like a hiking backpack for photographers than a camera bag. Adjustable straps, an aluminium frame, rear opening and loads of pockets makes it perfect for photographers on the go. You put your gear in a separate insert to keep it secure and easy to locate inside your pack.

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I have a medium insert to store my gear, but you can also get small, large and extra-large versions depending on your needs. I like to have an insert for my camera gear and one for my drone so I can move things around with ease.

ONA bag

I adore my Ona Bowery bag, particularly for city photography. It looks just like a handbag, but it’s big enough to fit my camera body with a lens attached and either an additional lens or wallet and personal paraphernalia. It’s genuinely my most used bag of all time.

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I have the leather version, but they also have canvas and other materials if you’d prefer something different. There’s a range of alternative styles, so I’d definitely recommend having a browse if you’re in the market for a new bag.

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Camera Bodies

For the longest time, I shot on a Canon DSLR. I learned to love taking photos on a crop sensor Rebel T3. When I decided to switch up to a full-frame, my criteria included lightweight and cutting edge. I wanted mirrorless and, at the time of me changing systems, the only really viable option was Sony.

I’ve been shooting on (and loving) Sony gear ever since!

Main body – A7riii

Virtually every image that you see here on the blog or on my Instagram was taken with my Sony A7riii. It’s awesome in low light, it’s super light to carry, and the image quality is wonderful. They’re not even paying me to say that (although hi Sony, let’s talk).

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The highlights of this camera for me are the stabilisation, sharpness of images, and the ability to shoot at ISO6400+ with virtually no noise artefact. You can even get perfectly useable images at 64000 – yep, a whole extra zero on there.

Second body – A7iii

Now, having sung the praises of the A7Riii, I have to acknowledge that it’s expensive. Unless you’re printing billboard-size images, all those megapixels aren’t needed about 90% of the time. The resolution is wonderful, but the files are huge. This makes for longer import, editing and stitching times, not to mention the need for additional storage space.

For web images and printing up to A1, the A7iii is honestly perfect. I use it primarily as my back-up camera body, but if my Riii gave up the ghost, I’d have no qualms about using it as my primary camera. It’s much cheaper, still performs incredibly in low light, and the image files are considerably smaller.

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Alternatives | if you’re looking for an entry-level camera then you should investigate the A6000 series – the A6100 is best for those just starting out, with the A6600 the higher-end option. If you can afford it, then the additional features of the A6600 definitely make it the best value for what you get.

Camera Lenses

Whilst the camera body is important for the ultimate quality of the image, the lenses are where you get your creative juice. I think it’s worth saving a little in the camera body if it means you can get a great quality lens to pair with your camera.

For travel photography, you’re going to want to cover as much of the 16-200mm focal lengths as possible. I always recommend getting the widest aperture that you can – that’s usually going to be f2.8. That allows you to get those beautiful out of focus backgrounds in your images.

The wider the aperture though, the pricier the lens, so decide where you want to put your money. The Sony f4 lenses are still great quality and will allow you to cover more focal lengths for the same spend.

If you’re planning to do a lot of wildlife, portrait, macro or astrophotography then you may want to consider some specialised lenses, which I’ll discuss too.

Here are the lenses I love, in order of what I think are the most useful focal lengths for general travel photography. Below those are the lenses I use for more specialised situations.

Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM

This is my most used focal length for general photography. If I’ve decided to jettison the gear and just take a single body and lens, this is it. The wide aperture of the Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM allows you to get the most out of the low-light performance of the Alpha series as well as giving a beautiful bokeh effect.

If you can only afford a single lens to start with, make it this one.

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Alternative One | for a considerably cheaper (but still excellent) option, the non-native Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 is a great little lens. It’s much lighter than the Sony GM, a fraction of the price and, despite the fact that it doesn’t feel that robust, it’ll actually survive being thrown halfway down an Italian mountain.

Alternative Two | if you can’t afford the GM series and still want to stick with native lenses, then consider either the Sony 24-70mm f4 or Sony 24-105mm f4. Consider the weight and whether you’ll be taking other lenses when deciding which is right for you.

Sony 16-35mm f2.8 GM

This lens is great for landscapes but really comes into its own for street photography and interior shots. When you’re in a narrow lane and really want to be able to capture the front of a building, the 16mm will get you there. With its wide aperture, you can even use the Sony 16-35mm f2.8 GM for astrophotography, so it’s incredibly versatile.

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Alternative One | again, I recommend the non-native Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 as a great option here. The autofocus is slightly slower than the native lens, but you’re unlikely to notice it in the situations where you’ll be using these focal lengths.

Alternative Two | if you’re set on sticking with a native lens but can’t afford the f2.8 then there is a Sony 16-35mm f4 option. I’d really advise going for the Tamron over this for the price though.

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Sony 70-200mm f4

This is a great focal length for travel that’s often overlooked. Sometimes you just can’t get close to where you want to be, so the zoom is invaluable. The Sony 70-200mm f4 is really great for both wildlife and portraits. These are situations you often haven’t planned for and regret not having the right gear for when they happen.

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Alternative | for this focal length, I personally don’t think it’s worth the additional cost (and weight) to get the Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM version. If, however, the price isn’t an issue and you won’t be straying far from the car, then it’s a stunning lens.

Single Lens Option | Sony 24-240mm f3.5-6.3

If you really only want to take a single lens that’s going to cover almost all of your needs, then this is it. Whilst you won’t get the extreme wide angles of 16mm, you’re unlikely to miss them when you consider what you’re getting at the other end of the range.

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Whilst you won’t get the same depth of field as you will with the f2.8 or f4 lenses, the Sony 24-240mm f3.5-6.3 is still a great option. I’d particularly recommend it if you’re not sure what sort of situations you’re going to be photographing since it covers a huge variety of options from “tiny person, huge landscape” to telephoto detail.

Wildlife Telephoto | Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6

I adore my Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 and bust it out at every available opportunity. In fact, I usually have a 24-70mm on one camera body and this on the other and just swap between. Although I originally purchased this lens to use on safari, I now also use it for macro-style images as well as landscape detail and taking endless photos of the moon.

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Alternative | if it had been available at the time, I would probably have opted for the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3. Despite the slight loss of aperture, it’s still an incredibly fast lens and many bird photographers swear by it (high praise, in case you were wondering – they’re a hard bunch to impress!).

Portrait Prime | Sigma 135mm f1.8 ART

Whilst this isn’t necessarily the first focal length to come to mind for portraits, the Sigma 135mm f1.8 ART is my absolute favourite. The wide aperture creates dreamy bokeh, and the fact that you can be slightly further away from your subject tends to put them more at ease. It’s definitely not a lens you need in your arsenal, but it’s probably one you’ll want!

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Astrophotography Prime | Samyang 14mm f2.8

For lovers of astrophotography, this is a great option to pair with your Sony camera. If you’ve splashed out on the wide-angle f2.8 then it’s less necessary, but if you’re working with an f4 then the Samyang 14mm f2.8 will make a huge difference. Of course, you can also use this for landscapes during the day too.

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Filters

There are several circumstances in which I tend to use filters. The first is when I want to cut out glare and reflections on water where I use a polarising filter. The second is to create long exposure images, smoothing out the surface of water, magically removing people from images, or creating movement in clouds. The final use is when shooting sunsets, darkening the sky to allow for a more even exposure in an image.

I have the NiSi V5 Pro Advanced kit that I use for everything. The kit had filters for the most common uses and comes with a variety of adaptors, cleaning gear, carrying pouch and even a night filter. Unlike a lot of other filters I’ve tried, they don’t create a yellow effect on your images either. Highly recommended.

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Tripods

I don’t always take my tripods with me, but when I don’t I tend to wish that I had. They’re great for shooting in low light, taking self-portraits or, in a pinch, using as a walking stick. Having hauled a really heavy tripod around for years, I really recommend just spending extra for a carbon fibre model in the first place.

I really love my Sirui tripod and take it everywhere, including on pretty extreme hikes. It stands up well to high winds and has a bag hook so that you can weigh it down if needed. It’s also really easy to put up and down which means that I actually use it, unlike my previous tripods!

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For those days when I just can’t be bothered to carry my big tripod or think that I’m probably not going to need it, I take my Joby Gorillapod with me. That way I don’t get caught out wishing that I had somewhere stable to put my camera, and it weighs next to nothing.

Accessories

There are a few extras that I absolutely swear by. The first is my Peak Design capture clip. This attaches to my backpack and means that my camera is constantly in reach. The end result is that I end up taking far more photos than I would if my camera was tucked away in my bag. Life-changing, honestly.

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A woman with an orange rucksack crouches down and takes photos of flowers in a woodland
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Number two essential accessory is also from Peak Design and is their Slide Lite camera strap. It has a clip system that’s really secure but also extremely easy to undo. I have a set of clips attached to my camera body and also to my telephoto lens, so I can share the weight distribution without damaging my gear.

I have 5 camera batteries, which may seem excessive, but was just about enough for a week of subzero temperatures in the Russian Arctic without power! I recommend getting a Sony dual charger to speed up the process of recharging all those batteries!

SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB SD cards were my storage card of choice for many years. I’ve recently started using the Sony Tough SD cards which are also great. Since I take quite a lot of wildlife shots I like to make sure the cards have a fast write speed to reduce the amount of time buffering during continuous shooting. Mine are usually 170 MB/s. I keep my cards safe and organised in a waterproof case.

A dust blower, lens cloths and brush are all cleaning essentials, especially if you’re shooting mirrorless in any sort of dusty environment. You can get an inexpensive kit that contains everything you need.

Drone

I recently upgraded my Air to the Mavic Air2S and can’t say enough good things about it. I love being able to get new perspectives on familiar places, and I think that the images that you can capture from above are second to none. I’ve taken my fair share of scenic helicopter and plane flights, but there’s just something about having the ability to put a drone up that makes me really happy.

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Of course, the careless actions of a few have seriously impacted where you’re allowed to fly these days. Always make sure that you check local drone rules and regulations before you fly.

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Underwater Gear

As if getting into photography and travelling wasn’t expensive enough, add in underwater photography and you’ve got an almost unlimited number of ways to spend your money! It’s definitely a challenge, but I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a fan of the water.

There are several ways to approach your start in underwater images. You can just begin with your phone, which is definitely the cheapest way to do it. I own and love the AxisGO waterproof case for oPhonesand use it all the time. It’s a great option for snorkelling and capturing images/video of watersports. The only downside is that you can’t take it any deeper than 10m.

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I use Nauticam housing for my camera. The inbuilt safety functions that show me if there’s any water leaking into the system are great for peace of mind. It’s incredibly robust and capable of being taken down to recreational diving depths without any issues. There’s an endless combination of ports and domes for a variety of lenses and it can get confusing, so I recommend finding a local store to go and discuss your purchase.

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Alternative | for surf photography, the Aquatec system is a really good option. It’s not as convenient for diving, but its easy of use near the surface makes it a great choice for anyone getting into surf photography or freediving.

Laptop & Hard Drives

An essential part of my photograpy gear, my Apple MacBook Pro 13″ laptop comes everywhere with me. The screen is a scratched mess, the exterior more dents than not, but it’s still going strong. Honestly, I’m well overdue an upgrade. Catch me salivating over a new M1 option whilst my bank balance stares into the abyss.

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Since I take an obnoxious number of photos and am one of the world’s best procrastinators (or should that be worst?), I need a lot of hard drive space for storage. I’ve got a variety of external hard drives, backing up all my images to at least 2 different places when I’m on the go. My favourites are the LaCie Rugged drives, which come in a variety of sizes. I always get the largest I can afford at the time.

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I’ve recently started using Samsung SSD drives since they’re a more secure option if you’re travelling. The constant motion and microshocks can damage the internal mechanisms of normal drives, so these are a safer bet. They do come at a higher price point however.

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I also keep meaning to invest in proper cloud storage for my images too, but haven’t quite gotten around to it yet. My top pick is iDrive and I’ll let you know once I’ve finally stopped procrastinating that!

Editing Software

I believe that learning to edit is an integral part of being a photographer. My photography improved almost instantly once I stopped shooting jpeg and started using RAW images that were post-processed. Your eye will always see more than the camera can capture, and editing software allows you to recreate what you remember seeing and feeling when you pressed the shutter.

My images are always processed with Lightroom and I often use Photoshop too. I have a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud which includes both programs for a monthly fee. I use the mobile version of Lightroom on my phone when I’m on the go too.

Insurance

With all that expensive photography gear, you’re going to want to make sure that it’s insured. The regular insurance policy with Safety Wing won’t cover any really big budget items, and that’s true for the vast majority of travel insurance policies.

You should make sure that any big ticket items are specifically listed in your insurance policy and, if you have a significant amount of gear with you, consider taking out insurance specifically for your photography gear. In the UK Aaduki are well worth looking at, and in Norht America check out some of these options.

Is there anything else you’d like to know about my gear, or any recommendations for gear that you use regularly? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment or visit me on social media to get in touch!

TRAVEL INSURANCE | Don’t go anywhere without it! I use and recommend Safety Wing.

THOUGHTFUL TRAVEL | No matter where you go, try to always be aware of the fact that travel impacts the place and people that live there. Being a thoughtful traveller is more important than ever. Here are my top tips to make your trip a mindful one.

PHOTOGRAPHY | Love my photos and want to know how to take better shots on your own trips? Then my photography guide is for you. Here’s all the photography gear I use too. Want to buy one of my images? Head to the Print Store.

ESSENTIAL GEAR | You’ll find my travel essentials here, and a complete guide to all my hiking gear here.


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