Want to know what travel photography gear we use on our trips? From iPhones to drones, SLR’s to storage, it’s all in this post.
Hey there! It’s Cormac, Sarah’s husband 🙂 I just wanted to pipe in on some questions we have gotten over the past couple of weeks and months about the some of the gear we use to make and edit our videos and photographs. We get asked quite a bit about the photos we capture and also the equipment we use. So I thought I’d give you a brief run down of all the gear I have to lug around when Sarah, the kids and I travel. Before I do, a little background on me. I was a professional photographer for seven years so with plenty of landscape photography (what I started doing first!), over two hundred weddings and a lot of commercial shoots for clients including Unilever, Brown Thomas and Bank of Ireland behind me, I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to getting the shots and videos that feature on The Travel Expert.
So lets jump straight into my go to camera gear when travelling!
The Big Camera.
The main camera I carry is a Canon 5D Mark II along with three lenses that have served me well over the past number of years. Whilst the camera body is now just beginning to show signs of age, it has consistently produced top quality pictures and also shot its fair share of video footage too. This camera has proved bulletproof for me. Whilst it has been upgraded and overtaken by the Canon 5D Mark III and the Mark IV, I have not had a reason to change to date. I am considering its retirement now though and upgrading to the Canon 6D Mark II as Sarah has a lot of travelling planned for us in 2019 and I am going to need the reliability of a new camera.
This is my main camera and the one that takes the heaviest hit (or shutter count). I thought long and hard about its purchase but I wanted the very best in picture quality at the time of purchase. I have also added a Canon BG-E6 Battery Grip to prolong performance and battery life. Three reasons I love this camera:-
- Excellent Resolution
- High ISO performance
- Full 1080p 30 fps video usable in low light conditions, with very good quality and full manual control if needed.
Whilst Canon 5D Mark II and its newer siblings are fantastic cameras, they are really just (very) smart chunks of plastic and are pretty useless without a beautiful piece of glass attached to them. My go to lens that is normally on this camera is my trusty Canon 24-70mm F2.8 L which is terrific and with it’s wide aperture (f2.8), works brilliantly in low light and even night time conditions.
Also in the bag is my Canon 17-40mm F4 which I use primarily for landscapes and sometimes quirky shots. It is a wide angle lens and allows me to get expansive landscapes. The last of the three lens that I use is Canon 70-200mm IS (Image Stabilizer) f2.8. This is weighty in the bag when walking around a city but I can’t leave it at home. It produces the most beautiful people shots and portraits with a fantastic blur (bokeh) behind those in front of my camera, when set to its widest aperture of 2.8.
The Pocket Cameras.
Also in the bag are two smaller cameras, both of which pack a punch though! The first is my Canon G1X which is a really great camera for its size. It shoots RAW files, which is important for me as they retain the most detail as opposed to a JPEG, which doesn’t! It also shoots full 1080 HD video at 24 frames per second so is ideal when we are going out in the evening for a wander and a meal. When my shoulders are tired from a long day exploring and carrying the big camera and lenses above, this is my ‘go to’ camera most evenings when abroad. I can shoot quality stills and video and fell confident that I have captured the quality I want.
When I always want to have a camera with me, the other camera in my pocket is always the Canon G9x. Whilst smaller, it stills shoots RAW images with all the detail and full HD 1080 video too. Sarah loves this camera, as it has WiFi and she can have great quality pictures on her phone from the camera in no time for Instagram.
The Action Camera.
I’m never keen to bolt any of the cameras above to a rental car, take them near water or into the air when Sarah decides to paraglide or something! For this reason I opted for the Akaso EK7000, which is a brilliant (and cheaper!) alternative to the GoPro serious of cameras. I had a GoPro for a while but the batter life was absolutely appalling and eventually it broke. For the amount of use that the action camera gets, I could not justify replacing it with another GoPro and opted for my NoPro, which does a great job for less than €100!
It shoots up to 4k video (if you want that) and also has WiFi and a remote control. I bought it on Amazon and it arrived with a tonne of accessories for pretty much every eventuality. I have had it scuba diving, paragliding, stuck to the bonnet of a car and clamped to a motorcycle. You just press the very simple remote control for either a photo or to start/stop video recording and it just works!
The Flying Camera.
One of my favourite new toys is my DJI Mavic Pro drone. This is an astonishing piece of kit, allowing me to shoot aerial video and photos up to seven miles away (though I have never really let it go beyond my line of sight) and with the three batteries I have, I can fly the drone for up to an hour. It has a safe return mode, so when it determines that it has run low on battery and only has enough power to get back to where it took off from, it just flies home to me!
It uses GPS signals to figure out where it is. It has smart modes to perform complicated manoeuvres at the press of a button and gives me a new and really dynamic way of shooting video and photographs. It is easy to learn and as long as you are careful, it can produce terrific results. Just don’t crash it and always remember to fly it safely away from people and do I have to say it….airports!
I need a bag to haul all this stuff around with me and I use the Lowepro Mini Trekker AW as my camera bag when travelling. Despite its diminutive size, I manage to fit all of the above into it. Its ‘carry on’ friendly and comfortable enough to wear all day exploring cities and places. It has a weather cover tucked away that you can pull out and cover the bag with when you’re at the beach or caught in a rain shower which is handy. I also have a some clamps for mounting cameras onto various objects like cars and bikes or boats and balconies as I don’t tend to bring a tripod with me on trips.
Another favourite gadget of mine is the Joby GorillaPod. Sort of a tripod with bendy legs which will hold any of the cameras above and allow us to get the family selfies when there isn’t some other person around to hand the camera to.
The Phone Cameras.
Sometimes there isn’t time to pull whatever camera out of the bag. When this happens, we do what every other person on the planet does and whip out our iPhones. The quality of the cameras in phones now is still some way away from the dedicated camera but not by much. We can record full HD video or get pretty good photographs too.
We also use a FeiyuTech SPG 2 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer to shoot handheld video footage on the phones to prevent shakiness and my sanity when editing the videos!
I always opt for 32GB or 64GB Sandisk Extreme SD cards and Micro SD cards for all the devices as they are the best. You might not get a second chance to get that shot, so I want peace of mind that the memory cards are reliable and will just work! I also have a SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD 500 GB drive that I transfer the footage onto periodically during our trips.
Once home all the photographs and video footage are stored locally on Western Digital NAS Drive and Seagate external hard drives and also then archived in the cloud using Amazon Web Services (AWS) because it is the most reliable and inexpensive cloud storage around. For immediate access between computers Sarah and I use Google Drive shared folders. This means I can work on them on one machine and they are available to Sarah on her laptop too. If you have a Gmail email, you have Google Drive already at your disposable. As a side note, it is also great for keeping scans of important travel documents if you lose the real thing, a digital copy is only an internet connection away!
The Post Production.
I use Adobes Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC to edit the photographs and Apples video editing software, Final Cut Pro to edit video running on iMac. The Adobe software is a monthly subscription but offers you all the updates for free when available as well as some cloud storage. Final Cut Pro is a once off purchase from the Apple App store but you also get the updates for free. When travelling we both use Macbook Air‘s as they are powerful enough for when we are travelling and are also pretty rugged and lightweight too.
I know that this post is probably only for all the geeks (like me!!) amongst you, but I hope this has answered some of the questions sent to Sarah over the past few weeks and months about the photographs and videos on The Travel Expert website. If you have more questions, please feel free to comment below or send a message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and I’ll do my best to answer it.
Keep snappin’, keep travelling…