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Camera gear packing list

Packing gear for a photography trip requires advanced planning. You want to ensure you bring everything you need because purchasing camera gear during a trip is usually difficult or impossible. At the same time, this is not like photographing at home. You can’t bring every lens you own. You need to be able to carry your camera pack along trails and in airports.

You should carry your essential camera gear in your carry-on luggage. Replacing camera gear in lost or delayed baggage is often impossible at your destination.

Below is a general camera gear packing list that applies to our trips. However, different trips may have specific requirements, and we’ll be sure to outline those recommendations when we prepare you for the trip.

We have used and tested all sorts of camera gear and are happy to help with guidance and recommendations. Just contact us.

Required Gear

  • Two camera bodies: While you could pack just one camera, we always recommend bringing a backup. You don’t want to be on a once-in-a-lifetime trip where you damage your camera or have an equipment failure.
  • Lenses: Depending on the style of photography, each trip may have different lens recommendations. Here are some general lens recommendations for different types of trips. Note that we’ll refer to full-frame focal lengths in this list. If your camera has an APS-C crop or micro four-thirds sensor, you should translate these focal lengths for your camera system. If you don’t own the needed lenses, renting from Lens Rentals is easy, and you get a 15% discount using the code AKARI15.
    • Wildlife: You’ll want a long focal length for most wildlife workshops. We like the flexibility that zoom lenses offer, and there are many good options in the 100–400mm, 100–500mm, and 200–600mm range. You may be able to add to that range using a teleconverter. Big prime lenses create fantastic images but are often impractical. You are welcome to bring them if you can carry and hold the lenses for extended periods. You should also have a medium-angle zoom lens, like a 24–70mm, 24–105mm, or 24–120mm, to capture more expansive scenes, including the landscape.
    • Landscape: For most landscape workshops, you’ll want a wide-angle lens, like a 16–35mm or 14–24mm, a medium-angle lens, like a 24–70mm, 24–105mm, or 24–120mm, and a telephoto lens, like a 70–200mm.
    • Night Sky: Night sky workshops require fast, wide-angle lenses. By fast, we mean lenses with an aperture of f/2.8, f/1.8, or f/1.4. Most night sky images require wide-angle lenses, so you’ll want something like a 14–24mm f/2.8 or a 20mm f/1.8 prime lens.
    • Portraiture: Portraits are often more flattering with nicely blurred backgrounds. Bringing a prime lens with a wider aperture, like f/1.8 or f/1.4, can help. 50mm and 85mm are popular focal lengths for portraiture.
  • Tripod: Many, but not all, of our trips require a sturdy tripod. We’ll advise you before the trip when a tripod is or isn’t needed. It should be sturdy enough to hold your gear yet small enough so that it isn’t difficult to pack and carry.
    • Tripod ball heads and quick-release plates: To quickly take your camera on and off your tripod, you’ll want a ball head for your tripod and quick-release plates for your cameras and lenses. We like Arca-style quick-release plates and ball heads, but other systems work, too.
  • Backpack: You’ll need a comfortable backpack to carry your camera gear. We recommend backpacks with a waist strap for better weight distribution. Bring the rain cover that came with your backpack.
  • Camera strap: A camera strap is often handy to carry your camera in the field. We like the ones from BlackRapid and Peak Design, but the one that came with your camera would work, too.
  • Batteries & charger: Bring enough camera batteries for at least a full day of shooting, perhaps more. Pack your battery charger. If you visit remote areas without electricity, you may need a power bank to recharge your batteries.
  • Memory cards: Bring a good supply of memory cards. We recommend having enough memory cards so you don’t have to format and reuse any cards during your trip.
  • Plug adapters: If traveling internationally, you may need plug adapters.
  • Camera rain cover: We sometimes photograph in the rain or snow, and your camera needs protection. Expensive rain covers can be cumbersome to use. We like ThinkTank’s Emergency Rain Covers as a less expensive option. Simple plastic covers from Op/Tech are a cheap and effective option.
  • Lens cleaning cloths: Bring a few to keep the front of your lens clean and dry.
  • Camera manual: Download your camera manual to your smartphone before your trip.
  • Water bottle: Bring a water bottle to reduce single-use plastics.

Recommended Gear

  • Filters: Not every trip requires filters, but they are essential for certain types of photography. You should have filters that match the filter size of the lenses you are bringing. Step-down rings can help fit the varying filter sizes of your lenses. Learn more about using filters.
    • Neutral density (ND) filters: ND filters can help you blur the motion of waterfalls or clouds. We bring a set of 3-stop, 6-stop, and 10-stop filters with us for this purpose.
    • Circular polarizer: A circular polarizer helps to cut glare on wet surfaces and foliage. It can also cut through atmospheric haze, darken skies, or brighten clouds.
  • Wired trigger or intervalometer: When shooting from a tripod, a wired trigger can help you release your shutter without moving the camera. You may be able to use your camera’s self-timer for this same purpose.
  • Headlamp: A headlamp is helpful for night sky workshops or trips when we hike for sunrise or sunset. Your headlamp should have a white and red light mode.
  • Sunscreen/sun hat: Sun protection is essential when spending extended periods outdoors. Even in the winter, sun reflecting off of snow can cause sunburn.
  • Mosquito repellent/bug head net: Beautiful scenery sometimes includes many bugs.
  • Bulb blower: Bring a small bulb blower to clean dust off your camera’s sensor.

Optional Gear

  • Monopod: In many shooting situations, a tripod is impractical. The flexibility of hand-holding your camera is more important. If you have a heavy lens or difficulty supporting your lens, consider bringing a monopod.
  • Trekking poles: Bring walking poles if they help with your stability on uneven trails.
  • Knee pads: Getting low often improves your photographs. Knee pads can help keep you comfortable.

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