When you start photography, you don’t often realize how much implication is actually required. We all think it’s just about having a DSLR or Mirrorless camera and some lenses. As we progress in photography, we become aware that camera accessories are important, even essential in some cases. In this article, I focus on travel photography and more particularly, which camera accessories to choose for travel? Are you looking for any camera accessories maybe in particular for a safari?
The purpose of this article is not to give an exhaustive list of all the camera accessories necessary or essential for travel, but rather to offer you an overview of the 10 accessories that I consider very useful when travelling.
Leaving you free to judge what utility some of the camera accessories will have for you when travelling. Do not hesitate to leave comments if you think I forgot some useful accessories for traveling! Some people also prefer to choose a tablet for travel, what do you think ?
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I am of the opinion that they are one of the main camera accessories to consider when you go on a trip. I don’t travel without them anymore! To put it simply, filters are external elements, variable in size due to the different diameters (and their quality), which are screwed in front of the lens for various reasons! The main filters are:
- The UV filter: transparent in color, is used to protect your lens. In all honesty, I don’t have one, and I don’t think it’s very useful when travelling….
- The polarizing filter: is for me the most essential filter, and even a necessary camera accessory when travelling. Its main use and benefits are: improving the contrast and saturation of colors (making the sky bluer for example) and eliminating reflections (water, glass, metal, etc.). I have been using it when travelling since the beginning and now have two of them (one my Canon 70-300 L and one for my Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8). If you want to know more about the polarizing filter, I wrote 3 articles on the subject, explaining in detail 1 – What is the purpose of a polarizing filter 2 – How to choose it? 3 – How to use a polarizer?
- The ND filter (Neutral Density filter): these are more or less opaque filters (depending on the desired use). They make it possible to «loose light » during the shooting and are useful for: shooting long exposures (waterfalls, sea, cloud, fireworks, etc.), blurring people on pictures (this is true, I promise you), or shooting with a low depth of field when the light is very strong.
Personally, I choose the very popular “Big Stopper” from Lee’s and it never leaves my travel bag! I also own a B+W 106 (ND64) for long exposure at sunrise/sunset.
I wrote a complete article that explains what an ND filter is used for in photography.
- GND (Graduated Neutral Density) filters: it uses the same principle as ND filters. These are graduated filters that are more or less opaque on one part of the filter (usually the top). The main objective is therefore to reduce the light on a part of the image (often the clearer sky in landscape photography).
Ditto, mine never leaves my bag when travelling, and even less the camera when taking a landscape picture. I especially us the LEE brand and a GND 0.9 SE (soft edge).
If you are looking for a very useful camera accessory to take on a trip in addition to the filters, there is the tripod. It is up to you to judge according to the type of pictures you want to take if it is worth taking one or not.
There are hundreds of them, from the tripod at 30€ or to the one at 1000€, heavy or very light, more or less high, more or less solid, resistant to wind, cold, or a certain admissible load (camera weight + lens).
In short, it is difficult to advise you precisely on a type of tripod without knowing what you are going to do with it, the type of photos you are going to take, your desires, your budget, etc. You can refer to my post on how to choose a tripod!
Nevertheless, if you want to bring a tripod when travelling, I recommend either a small Gorillapod (which I personally own), a monopod (one foot) or a tripod (lightweight and suitable for your equipment, example: Manfrotto MKBFRC4-BH).
Well, I agree, it’s not an accessory in itself, but I strongly recommend that anyone who goes on a trip bring a second camera in addition to your main camera.
In case of theft, problems with your main camera (DSLR or other), or to take pictures in a more delicate situation, a small solid compact camera, will be perfect!
I have already mentioned the subject in the article that explains how to backup your photos while travelling. This is indeed one of the backup options. There are hundreds of them, of varying sizes, formats and speeds. It will be a matter of choosing those that are adapted to your practice of photography.
By the way, here is everything you need to know about choosing a memory card for your camera.
In any case, I recommend bringing at least 3 or 4 per person. The idea is not to put everything on the same card because it can be a disaster in case of theft, loss, or a technical problem with the card.
Afterwards, I seriously recommend that you look at other solutions to store your photos while travelling.
If you’re still wondering what camera accessories to choose, extra batteries are clearly one of the things to think about!
For people using DSLR’s, the minimum in my opinion would be to have two of them. Depending on your type of travel, you may consider bringing more (example: long trekking over several days/weeks without electricity, or travelling in the cold).
You should know that cold weather considerably reduces battery life, so be careful to protect them properly.
I recommend batteries from brands (e.g. for my Canon 6D) rather than sub-brands (which you are never really sure…)!
And yes, it’s an accessory that you’ll have to buy sooner or later, especially if you shoot with a DSLR or a mirrorless camera. At first, you will probably think it is unnecessary, but as soon as you have 3/4 lenses (including a telezoom), some filters, batteries, cleaning kits, etc. you will realize that you no longer have a choice. I spent a while without one and now it’s no longer possible!
There are a lot of different type, large or small, more or less bulky, expensive, protected against impact/sun/rain/cool.
The objective will therefore be for you to find a bag that suits you and is adapted to your camera equipment, your types of travel (cold or wet for example), and your budget.
Personally, I have adopted a bag with a special system that consists of a detachable photo compartment from the rest of the bag. It’s very practical because it allows me to have a backpack to store my photo equipment, but to also store what I need to travel for the day.
Many camera bags do not necessarily allow you to store your photo equipment and your equipment for the day. So be sure to think carefully before you buy your camera backpack.
Indeed, when you are traveling you are bound to dirty your photo equipment and at the price it costs, it is better to be able to clean it! This means cleaning your photo equipment whenever it is needed.
From personal experience, I always clean all my equipment:
- After a photo trip to the sea (due to salt, sea spray and sea water),
- Every evening during a photo safari (dust, sand, etc.),
- After each weekend, trip or vacation return where my camera has been used.
There are countless materials available to clean your camera. I have adopted these for years:
- A cleaning pen (actually I have two), perfect for removing dust and other small particles on the front of the lenses and between the lens and the camera;
- A cloth suitable for lens cleaning, which I use mainly to clean the lens of the lens. A word of advice, at the price it costs, I recommend having two or even three. You will take turns using each other, especially in dusty conditions;
- A blower bulb that also removes dust in corners where the cleaning pen is less practical. It doesn’t take up any space and I find it very useful.
With these three elements, I am always ready to be able to clean my camera.
When it comes to protecting your photo equipment, there are a few options different available. I recommend for my part:
- A protection for your camera made of silicone (e. g. Canon 6D), perfect to protect against knocks in general,
- Silicate gels, you know what you get in shoe boxes? Worst case scenario, you can buy a few packages, they don’t cost much and are perfect for absorbing moisture,
- There are also lens covers that allow you to protect mainly against dust, very practical on safaris for example,
- Finally, a rain cover to protect your camera and lens should be considered if you are going to be in wet and rainy areas (check beforehand for weather conditions).
With these four elements, you are efficiently protecting your photo equipment.
I’m actually talking about gadgets here, but these are elements to consider depending on your passion for photography, what you plan to photograph while travelling and also your budget. I recommend four of them here:
A remote control: This last one will be particularly necessary for you in:
- Performing long exposures (waterfalls, sea, clouds, etc.);
- Taking your picture alone or in pairs (without disturbing passers-by);
- Taking pictures in difficult conditions to avoid blurred movement (e. g. at night, in low light, etc.);
If you are not in one of the three cases below, you should not miss out on one when travelling!
- A pocket printer, which will allow you to directly print your photos live while travelling. This is a very interesting approach to leave a trace behind, especially in areas with little tourism and where children will be amazed by the gift!
- Optical complements: there are many of them and they can be useful depending on your photography practice. For macro fans, a conversion lens or extension tubes for example, or for those who want to zoom in more, a teleconverter (x1.4 or x2);
- A flash, which I will recommend only for people who have a technical knowledge of the subject and who see a real interest in travelling. In most cases, the one on board will do the trick for a lot of people.
And yes, finally, very few travellers today leave without a laptop. Here again, everything will depend on your budget, your photo needs (RAW processing for example or not?).
During my South-East Asia trip, I personally chose an 11-inch HP Pavilion DM1 that was very good (model that no longer exists), but which was essential to me, even if it was only to work on post processing and storing my photos.
So that’s it for this article, I hope you have a better vision on which photo accessories to choose for a trip now? Which ones do you think are essential? What accessories do you usually use when travelling?
See you soon,