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If you’re anything like me when you’re travelling, taking amazing photos will likely be very important to you. Whether you are looking to capture memories to look back on, document your trip for your friends and family or even just looking to grab a few cheeky photos for Instagram, a decent camera is a vital piece of equipment for any serious globetrotting individual. With any decent camera set-up I believe there are a few key additions that can make taking photos that much easier and more importantly, enjoyable. If I’ve got your attention, keep reading to find out the must-have photography accessories that I carry with me on all my travels.
This list of must-have photography accessories has been compiled after nearly 2 years on the road. During my time travelling I’ve discovered some photographic accessories that I absolutely could not live without, and others that have made it possible for me to capture moments I otherwise would have missed. So rest assured that this list of nine accessories has been well and truly tried and tested. Let’s get straight into it!
Must-Have Photography Accessories
1. A Good Camera Bag
Travelling with camera equipment isn’t always the easiest of tasks, you don’t want any of your expensive gear to get damaged in transit, which is why it’s a good idea to invest in a decent camera bag. There’s no point spending a bunch of money on an amazing camera only to cheap out on a bag to protect it.
Back when I first started getting into photography there were very few options when it came to camera bags, and Lowepro ruled king. A lot of the designs were very generic and it was very easy for bags with expensive camera equipment to be singled out by ordinary people. Nowadays there are plenty of choices and a lot of brands are choosing to create stylish bags that look more like regular backpacks than camera bags with expensive gear inside.
One of my favourite camera brands, Peak Design has done just that. Amongst a number of products, they have a selection of sleek, ergonomic bags and backpacks for all your travel photography needs. One bag that I’m a particular fan of is their everyday backpack, which has everything you could possibly want in a travel photography backpack. It has well and truly been designed for those of us that travel a lot with our equipment, and do it in style. Although the everyday backpack is definitely my choice of camera bag there are plenty of others out there, check out these great bags from Manfrotto, Gitzo and Incase.
2. Third Party Camera Strap
A third party camera strap was one of those must-have photography accessories I had no idea I needed, but since I changed from the camera strap that was included with my camera I have never looked back. Although the camera straps that are included with your camera are adequate for the job, there are now a lot of companies that provide specially designed camera straps to suit all your photography needs. These range from hand straps all the way up to camera harnesses, each are designed with a specific purpose in mind.
Obviously, with such a large range of camera strap designs it can be hard to find the right one to suit your needs. For instance, a camera harness strap is great if you’re shooting a wedding, however isn’t the best option if you’re travelling because of its bulkier size. Don’t worry though, after much testing I have found a strap that is truly great to travel with.
The strap in question is another product from Peak Design, and although they offer a few different camera strap designs, I am a particular fan of the Slide and Slide Lite straps. Both straps are essentially the same, the only difference is their size; the Slide is mainly for use with larger DSLR’s and the Slide Lite which comes in a smaller package for Mirrorless and smaller DSLR’s. The strap uses a unique anchor link system that attaches to the camera – this design allows you to wear the Slide or Slide Lite as a sling, neck or shoulder strap. The best aspect of the camera strap though is the dual quick adjusters which allows the length of the strap to be quickly reconfigured, I’ve found this to be a super helpful addition for a camera strap to have.
3. Lens and Camera Cleaning Kit
Although a lens cleaning kit doesn’t sound like the most interesting addition to this list, I can assure you it’s definitely one of the most important must-have photography accessories. Cameras, and lenses in particular tend to get dirty if they are not well maintained – this is especially apparent while travelling with your camera gear. While I have been travelling, I don’t think there is another photography accessory I have used more. There always seems to be something to clean, whether it’s fingerprints on your lens or dust on your sensor. Not only is it good practice to clean your equipment to keep it working for longer, but your images will be substantially better if your lens and camera are free of dirt.
There are plenty of optical solutions to choose from when it comes to cleaning kits and most will do the job just fine. The one I like in particular is a cleaning kit from Zeiss which is a brand that is well known for high quality optical solutions. The kit has everything you would need to keep your equipment in tip top condition, this includes an air blower, dust brush, lens cleaning solution, microfibre cloth and cleaning wipes, which all come in its own little Zeiss bag. The only thing this kit doesn’t specifically cater for is sensor cleaning but don’t worry, if you need a sensor cleaning solution I’ve found Visible Dust to be very reliable. Visible Dust sells kits that allow you to professionally clean the camera sensor yourself instead of having to pay a fortune for someone else to do it.
A tripod is one of those must-have photography accessories every photographer should have in their bag no matter what they are taking photos of. If you’re looking to take photos of beautiful sunsets, super sharp landscapes, dreamy waterfalls, amazing astrophotography or low-light shots, then a good tripod is crucial. I used to travel around with a large heavy tripod, which although guaranteed my photos were sharp and in focus, wasn’t the easiest to travel with. Luckily nowadays there is a lot of choice when it comes to tripods and lots of companies are producing products that are very easy to travel with.
Although there are lots of reputable companies that are creating great tripods such as Gitzo and Benro, I have always stuck with one that I know well, which is Manfrotto. Manfrotto have been creating quality tripods since the 1970’s so they know a thing or two about making quality tripods. For the avid traveller I would recommend the Manfrotto BeFree collection of travel tripods with ball heads. The BeFree line of tripods are very compact and portable meaning you can easily fit them into your backpack or suitcase. You can choose between a BeFree tripod that is made from either aluminium or carbon fibre, these tough materials mean the tripod can handle any situation you throw at it. If you like the sound of the Manfrotto BeFree, check it out here.
5. Circular Polarizing Filter
When it comes to the world of photography filters it can be a little confusing, so it can be a good idea to keep it simple. Although I own a lot of photography filters including neutral density and neutral density graduated filters, when I’m travelling I have found my circular polarizer is the filter that gets the most use by far. If you’re not aware of what a polarising filter is or what it does, do not despair.
A circular polarizing filter attaches to the front of the lens, normally by screwing on. When the filter is attached you can rotate the glass freely in order to achieve the desired outcome that you’re after. The filter allows you to achieve results that are almost impossible to reproduce with post-production techniques. By adjusting the position of the filter you can darken certain colours such as blues, this works great when shooting blue skies, creating a much more interesting image. It also proves to be a vital component when shooting objects such as water, rocks or foliage that can have reflections or produce glare. A polarizing filter can cut out these reflections and glare which means you end up with images with far more clarity.
So with a circular polarizing filter it is possible to take your photos from average to amazing with very little effort involved and that is why it has made this list of must-have photography accessories. When it comes to circular polarizing filters there is an abundance of options, some which are amazing and others that leave a lot to be desired. It is very important that the circular polarizer you are purchasing is made of good quality materials as a poorly made filter can actually decrease the quality of imagery.
If you want to learn a little more on how to successfully use a polarizing filter, check out this very informative article.
If you’re not sure where to start when choosing a circular polarizing filter don’t worry, I have three great options that will all help to take your photos to the next level. The first filter is the Hoya Pro1 Digital CPL, which is a polarizer I have had a lot of experience with. It produces really great image quality which is why it has been my go to filter for a while. If your budget doesn’t stretch too far, a great option would be the Gobe circular polarizing filter. Although this comes in at a much lower price point than the other filters it is still a quality option, certainly one to think about if you’re looking to get your feet wet in the world of camera filters.
My last choice is for those that are looking for the best of the best, which I believe is the PolarPro Quartzline polarizer. This filter is made from the best quality materials to create a filter that produces outstanding image quality. It is constructed from quartz glass which means it is extremely durable, something to keep in mind if you’re looking for a filter that is going to last.
One final thing to think about when buying a polarizer is to ensure that you get one that fits your lens. You need to get a filter that has the same thread size as your lens otherwise it won’t fit. To find out the thread size you need look at the front of your lens and look out for a circle with a line through it, next to this will be the dimensions of the lens thread.
|Hoya PRO1 Digital Circular Polarizer||$$||★★★★☆|
|Gobe 2 Peak Circular Polarizer||$||★★★☆☆|
|PolarPro QuartzLine Circular Polarizer||$$$||★★★★★|
6. Remote Trigger
Next on our list of must-have photography accessories is the remote trigger or remote shutter release. This is a must-have for all those solo travellers out there, or couples that love to get epic photos together. A remote shutter release is a trigger or button that allows you to take photos from your camera without actually pressing the shutter button on top of the camera. This means that you can set up your shot with the camera on your tripod and take the photo yourself which works out perfectly, especially when you’re travelling somewhere remote. Also if you’re into your photography, you’ll know a remote trigger can be super helpful when shooting images that require a long exposure. This is because when you use a remote trigger instead of the shutter button, you prevent your camera from moving mid shot which can result in blurry images.
Remote triggers are very affordable so you really have no excuse not to add one to your camera bag. One thing to keep in mind is that not all remote triggers will work with all cameras, for instance some may only work with Canon cameras, some with Nikon and so on. If you are looking for a remote trigger for your Canon DSLR, I have found Canon’s own brand shutter release to be a great option. AmazonBasics also make a trigger that works well with Nikon DSLR’s, which is worth checking out. Unfortunately I haven’t had much experience with triggers for other branded cameras so if you’re looking for a remote trigger for a Sony, Fujifilm or any other camera check out Amazon, there’s a ton of choice there.
7. Outex Covers
If you’re going to be spending any time in the water on your travels, then the next must-have photography accessory is for you. During my travels around the world I have discovered a love for the water and whether I’m snorkelling, free-diving or just spending time at the beach, I make sure I’ve always got my camera with me. Although I love taking photos above the water I have found that some of the most incredible photos and experiences have come when I’ve been beneath the surface of the water. There are obviously lots of companies producing waterproof cameras nowadays such as GoPro, but if you wanted to use your existing DSLR or mirrorless camera I have good news, you can.
Under normal circumstances, if you wanted to take your camera underwater it would mean spending thousands on a waterproof housing. This obviously isn’t very realistic for the everyday traveller, however there is now an alternative made by a company called Outex. Outex have created a rubberised underwater housing at a very affordable price, that allows you to take your camera down to depths of 10m. They have a selection of different sized rubber housings that will fit pretty much any DSLR or mirrorless camera, allowing photographers of any skill level to shoot underwater. Also, as the housing is made of rubber it is very easy to pack away, this means travelling with it is a doddle. If you want to find out more about Outex or have a look at any of their products check out their website.
8. Tablet or Laptop (Plus Lightroom)
After your camera maybe, this is likely one of the most important must-have photography accessories that you need to take with you on your travels. It is of course either a tablet or laptop to edit and retouch your images with. Although I would much rather edit my images with my laptop, when travelling I opt to take my tablet to edit with. Not only does it take up a lot less room in my backpack, but if for any reason it got lost or stolen while travelling it wouldn’t be such a big deal.
So you’ve got your tablet or laptop ready, now all you need is a program to edit with. There is a lot of choice when it comes to image editing software, however the best option on the market is Adobe Lightroom. You can either download Lightroom as an application for your tablet or to your computer via the Creative Cloud. Lightroom allows you to import, view, edit and organise all your images with ease. Whether you are looking to apply small edits or do something a little more advanced, Lightroom has got your back. If you want to learn a little more about Adobe Lightroom and how to use it, check out this amazing article that explains everything that you need to know.
9. External Hard Drive or Cloud Storage
Now the last must-have photography accessory is a bit of a bonus for all those that are looking to travel for an extended amount of time. If you’re going to be travelling for a while, you are likely to be taking a lot of photos so you obviously need somewhere to store those photos. The best ways I’ve found to store a vast quantity of images is either by using a large external hard drive or on the cloud.
As well as having a space to store your large collection of photographs, it is important to have your photos backed up somewhere. If you’re not backing up your photos you are risking losing months worth of travel memories. This is why I opt to store my files to a cloud based storage system, it is an affordable way to make sure all your files are safely backed up. Although there are many options when it comes to cloud storage, I personally use Dropbox and have found it to be a great solution. For a very small monthly fee you can get 2 TB of storage, which is even enough space for travellers with the itchiest trigger finger.
If however you prefer to keep your images with you while you travel, I have found LaCie to make the best hard drives to travel with. Their Rugged line of drives are made to survive the toughest of situations so are perfect for travelling with. Although the Rugged drives can’t protect you from loss or theft, they are an extremely reliable option for those that are looking for a more tactile option. You can check out some LaCie hard drives here.
I hope that you enjoyed reading this article and you found some value in what I have to say. This list of must-have photography accessories has been compiled over two years of travelling and I have found value in each and every one of these products. Each of these photography accessories has helped me in some way to capture some amazing photos during my time travelling, whether it be my tripod that allowed me to shoot some unreal photos of the Milky Way or my Outex cover that allowed me to shoot underwater. Hopefully this can help you and allow you to shoot some great photos too.
If you have any questions about anything I have said please leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to help you, thanks for reading.
We have tons of other resources as well to help with your photography gear needs. Check out our extensive photography equipment list if you’re looking for some great gear inspiration.