Take your best vacation photos: the essential gear you’ll need

Your summer vacation can provide incredible opportunities for award-worthy travel photography. And with powerful cameras built into phones like the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Galaxy S22 Ultra, plus a plethora of amazing mirrorless cameras from Canon, Sony and Fujifilm, getting great images doesn’t mean carrying a huge bag with you on your travels.

Here I’ll walk you through the essential gear you need to take with you on your trip, whether you’re riding a jet to a tropical island, hiking snow-capped mountains, or spending a long weekend. -end in your local campaign.

I’ll also recommend a few extras to consider if you want to come home with some creative artwork, rather than just vacation snaps.

Read more: I traveled the world for years. These 7 things are always on my packing list

Choose the right camera

Choosing the right camera is essentially a balancing act between overall image quality and the physical size of the camera. Your phone, for example, is small and fits perfectly in your pocket, but while high-end phones have multiple lenses and can take amazing photos, the enthusiasts among you will probably want to upgrade to a proper camera system that allows to change the objective. If you decide to use just your phone, be sure to check Phone photography from CNET 101 page for a wide variety of shooting tips.

A person carrying a photography bag

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Traveling photographers have more choices than ever these days, with mirrorless cameras offering much smaller body sizes than traditional DSLRs of years past. Micro Four Thirds cameras like the Fujifilm X-S10 are easily worn around the neck and are quick to use, so you never miss a shot. I like to shoot with full frame cameras, which have larger image sensors that provide better dynamic range – great for removing highlights from those sunset shots or increasing shadows in those images nocturnal gazing at the old Italian avenues.

My favorite option is the Canon EOS RP, a full-frame camera with an incredibly compact body size that makes it ideal for keeping in your backpack. Paired with a 24-105mm f4 lens, it can take wide-angle shots of sweeping landscapes and also zoom in to focus on smaller details. Having a wide zoom lens means you can probably do your whole trip with just one lens and not feel weighed down by extra kit.

If you want to travel exceptionally light, Canon’s recent 50mm f/1.8 lens (often referred to as the Nifty Fifty) is incredibly small and light, and when paired with the EOS RP makes for a superb setup. street and travel, with a quick opening. which offers beautiful bokeh. If possible, take a look at the camera you’re considering at a camera store and see how it feels in your hand or hanging around your neck. If you do a lot of hiking or long walks around town, every weight counts.

A person holding a Canon EOS RP

Canon’s EOS RP offers full-frame quality but in a very compact size, especially when paired with the tiny 50mm f/1.8 lens.

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The best travel tripod

A tripod isn’t essential for all travel photography, but when the light fades and you have to slow the shutter speed down to several seconds to get a good exposure, you’ll need one to secure your camera. You’ll definitely need a tripod if you want to shoot those night shots overlooking a beautiful bay, capture the stars above those snow-capped mountains, or shoot those nifty long exposures of waterfalls.

A bridge over water with wispy clouds in a blue sky in the background

Using a sturdy tripod I was able to slow down the shutter speed to capture the movement of the water and clouds over the Forth Bridge.

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Again, size matters and you should look for a compact travel tripod that can easily slip into your backpack or attach to the outside of it. Modern materials like carbon fiber will reduce weight, but they also tend to be more expensive, so you’ll have to decide how much you’re willing to shell out.

As the name suggests, the Peak Design Travel Tripod is a great tripod for traveling, thanks to its small size when folded and its light weight. I hiked all day with this strapped to my back and barely noticed its presence – something I can’t say for most tripods. Be sure to check out my comprehensive roundup of the best tripods you can buy in 2022. Or, if weight is really an issue, you could even try using your own DIY tripod.

A person wearing a backpack style photography bag

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A real adventure backpack

A dedicated camera bag should be high on your list – after all, you don’t want your fancy new gear knocked over and broken, do you? A good bag will have compartments to keep your camera safe but also allow you to access it quickly. It’s also important to find one that also has enough space to store other items you’ll need on the go.

If you’re going to be out all day, I recommend a backpack with two straps, rather than a single-strap messenger bag. It will distribute that weight over both of your shoulders and keep you comfortable for longer. Look for things like side zippers so you can quickly pull out your camera when inspiration strikes; plenty of extra pockets for batteries and snacks; weather resistant materials; and mounting points to help transport your tripod.

I have done a lot of hard work for you in gathering my best photography backpacks for 2022. There are options for all kinds of photography, from short city breaks to multi-day treks with lots of gear. Read carefully and make sure what you are taking is suitable for where you are going.

Passers-by in the foreground of a beautiful cityscape

Always keeping your camera handy means you’re always ready to snap when you see a good opportunity.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Important Extras

The list above is really the essential gear that you will need to carry with you. What more you bring will depend on how seriously you take your photography. Always remember to have several spare batteries and a charger, as even the best cameras will tend to only give you a day’s worth of photos. There’s nothing worse than arriving at a beautiful destination in the afternoon only to find yourself exhausted in the morning. Keeping a spare in your bag will allow you to swap it out and continue filming into the evening.

If your goal is to capture stunning landscapes, filters called graduated neutral density filters are worth considering. These will only darken the top half of a photo – to help control overly bright skies – allowing you to capture an evenly exposed scene. Shop around for square filter sets that allow you to use adapter rings for a variety of lens sizes.

A marker in the water

By using a neutral density filter, I was able to blur the movement of the water until it became a silky smooth surface.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

If you want to experiment with long exposures, you will benefit from strong neutral density filters. These will soften the light across the entire scene, allowing you to use longer shutter speeds without resulting in a completely washed out photo. The Big Stopper from Lee Filters is a superb filter, so dark that it can take photos lasting several seconds — or even longer — in broad daylight. To capture streaks of clouds streaking across the sky, it’s worth checking out, although it’s not cheap.

Looking for more photography tips? Check out these five phone camera tricks that will add style to your instagram. Here is our roundup of best action cameras of 2022more the best free and paid photo editing apps for iphone and android.

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