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(Last Updated On: August 18, 2022)

Summary: What I have in my hiking camera bag for travel photos, lenses I use, Camera bodies I use, where to buy used camera gear, camera kit suggestions, Best travel blogging camera gear. *I use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Thanks for your support!

When I started travel blogging in 2016, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I used my iPhone for the majority of my shots, which is becoming more and more a solid option. But I wanted to take my blogging and photos to the next level AND work with brands!

I’ve changed camera gear 4 times now in the past year and a half and finally feel like I’ve locked in what works the best for me after learning SO much. So I want to share what I’ve learned about travel blogging camera gear!

Check out a few of my camera kit recommendations at the bottom of this post!

Meet the Co-Writer!

My partner, Johnathon DeSoto, has been creating as a videographer since grade school and has taken it up full time in the last few years. Check out his work on Instagram @jdesotoart or on his website www.jdesoto.com

My Travel Blogging Camera Gear Guide

Why I switched from Canon to Sony

I started with Canon and now shoot with Sony. The reason I made the switch was because of the compact options Sony has for my lifestyle of hiking and backpacking, and also because all camera companies are moving away from DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex), or a mirrored camera, to mirrorless cameras and currently Sony has some of the best mirrorless options for photos AND video.

I am mostly using my camera for photos that you see on social media and here, where my partner Johnathon uses his camera for video (which is where Sony outperforms Canon currently). It is nice to be able to share lenses, batteries and other accessories by both shooting on Sony. As of July 2020, Canon has announced that they were no longer going to be making any DSLR or mirrored camera bodies going forward.

But What About my iPhone or Smartphone?

shot on iPhone

Phone cameras are becoming incredibly capable of producing high quality images and videos that have enough data to allow for editing. The newest iPhone, the iPhone 13 pro, has the technology now to create legitimate looking depth of field and has impressive stabilization for video, as well as different frame rate options. If you only plan to use your images on social media and/or a blog, the iPhone is a perfectly viable option.

The other really nice feature of shooting on an iPhone, is that apple airpods work as excellent, super easy setup lapel mics. Just pop one in one ear and get shooting.

Phones do have their limitations, however. They do lack a lot of manual and creative options as compared to dedicated cameras. The ability to control depth of field, use lenses to compress or expand your image and over image quality. If you are looking to go beyond just social media and blogging to work with tourism boards, brands, or sell your photos – keep reading for our gear recommendations.

Travel Blogging Camera Bodies

We are going to list a few different cameras we have used and currently own and what we like about them and what their limitations are. These are the camera bodies we use to create all of the photo and video content you see on our channels

Travel Blogging Camera Gear list of recommended camera bodies
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Sony a6400

Travel Blogging Camera Gear demonstrating use of the Sony a6400 with sigma 24-70 f/2.8 lens at Sparks Lake at Sunrise
Shot on Sony a6400 with Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 lens

Things I enjoyed:

  • Compact Size. The size of the body is comparable to a point and shoot camera, which is SO nice for travel, backpacking, hiking. This camera weighs in at 14.3 ounces.
  • Great Autofocus, touch to focus and object tracking made it an excellent camera for capturing candid moments on the trail.
  • 4K Video – works well for vlogging and other video needs
  • More Affordable – This camera runs you around $900 new. I’ve seen them used for as low as $700

This camera was a great first experience with Sony for me. It was easy to use and had features that fit my needs for traveling. This camera is a cropped sensor however, which means that there is a smaller sensor, capturing less data which results in less depth of field. For blogging/social media purposes and even working with brands – this is not a dealbreaker.

Sony a7III

Best Camera gear for Travel Blogging. This photo shows the use of the Sony a7III with a Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 lens in the redwoods for a perspective that makes the trees very tall.
shot on Sony a7III with Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 Lens

This is the camera we primarily use to get our photo content.

The best features of this camera:

  • Full Frame Sensor – Captures a lot more information including color and color detail. This also provides a smoother gradation of colors and between shadows and highlights. Allows for higher manipulation in post production. This is also true for video quality.
  • Better durability and quality of the camera body. This camera body has weather sealing, meaning it can withstand moisture and other elements. In general this camera has a beefier build than the a6400, making it larger. * Important to note that just because your camera is weather sealed doesn’t mean your lens is. Using a lens that is not weather sealed on your camera in the elements could cause damage to the camera body.
  • REALLY good all around camera for both photos and video.
  • Higher quality and quantity input and outputs. The a7III has a built in headphone jack, a mini HDMI port, USBC and a multi port.
  • Built in Image Stabilization! This is important for video, using long lenses, and allows you to shoot at a slower shutter speed while handheld.
  • Dual memory card slots. This allows you to have a backup, more storage or separate your photo and video files.
  • Improved Autofocus. This camera has more autofocus points which allows for better object tracking and faster autofocusing.

This camera has definitely been an upgrade for me. It is an investment, as it is double the cost of the a6400, but allows me to have high quality photos and videos that I can use for blogging, vlogging, brand photography and more. I HIGHLY recommend this camera if you are wanting a great camera on every front.

Desert Camping Guide including the BEST Desert Camping in the Southwest, Essentials, safety, hygiene, and tips for any budget.
Shot on Sony a7C

Sony a7C

This is the camera I currently use for most of my content. We sold the Sony a7III to add this one to our gear! It is a smaller build than the a7III and a7sIII. It is a good hybrid of photo and video features that made this a good upgrade for me and performs better in low light than the a7III and has upgraded autofocus features. When helping Johnathon on video shoots, this camera is great for second shooting. This is a great all around camera that I have thoroughly enjoyed the results of photos and video shot on this. This runs around $1800 new.

  • Decently Compact size – this is my go-to for backpacking and traveling
  • Full Frame Sensor – Captures a lot more information including color and color detail. This also provides a smoother gradation of colors and between shadows and highlights. Allows for higher manipulation in post production. This is also true for video quality.
  • Great Autofocus features
  • Performs well in low light

Sony a7sIII

This is the camera we primarily use to get our VIDEO content

In addition to the features mentioned above in the Sony a7III, here are some ways the a7sIII is different/improved

  • Double the ISO range and increased light sensitivity
  • Image processor is 8x faster

 The Sony a7sIII is decidedly a camera built for video from the bottom up. 

A quick note on the letter scheme for Sony Alpha Cameras. The S in a name (a7SIII) is for sensitivity mastered. In short these cameras are designed for video and low light. 

The R in Sony cameras (a7RIV) stands for Resolution. These are cameras with big ol’ sensors that deliver large images and are geared towards photography. The cameras with no additional letters (a7III) are designed to do both video and photography well. 

This camera has immense video capabilities, for super slow motion video in 4K to professional video codecs. super fast autofocus that can detect faces and particular eye balls. It’s built for the run and gun video professionals that require high end video capabilities in a small package.

Travel Blogging Camera Gear: The Camera Lenses We Use!

Now, we are here at lenses. This is actually the most important part. It’s literally the eye balls for your camera. If you can’t see well, there’s little to be done to improve the image quality. 

On the other hand, lenses don’t get updated as fast as camera bodies. I actually have some old Canon L Series Lenses that I still love and use. Camera bodies will change every year and they’ll lose some value just the same as any piece of technology. But a good piece of glass, you can continue to use it as you buy better camera bodies.

Travel Blogging Camera Gear list of recommended camera lenses
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Make sure you buy the right type of lens. Of course you need the right mount. All of the cameras we have listed in the blog are Sony E-Mount lenses. But that’s not the whole story. For example the Sony a6400 is a cropped sensor lens (or APS-C). Being that it’s a smaller sensor, it can use lenses that are smaller in diameter. They are cheaper and you can certainly but some really nice cropped sensor lenses. But you will not be able to use them on a full frame camera. There will be a big black circle around your image. 

I would always recommend putting a majority of your camera budget towards a lens. If I had $1500 to spend on a camera setup I would spend $500-700 on a camera body and $800-1000 on a lens. 

Now to the lenses themselves. Since the mirrorless world is young, there aren’t a ton of lenses available, though that is changing really quickly. For run and gun adventure videography and photography, we love to carry versatile zoom lenses in our travel blogging camera gear.

Travel Blogging Camera Gear with use of depth of field to show use of Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 lens on a cute dog in the woods.
Shot on our Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8

Simga 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens

Sony makes really nice lenses but can be quite expensive, especially the G Master Series. I’ve owned a lot of different brands of lenses, but to save you time, I am just going to shortcut to my current favorite lens manufacturer.

And that’s the Sigma DN (full frame) Art Series. They are sturdy with some models being weather sealed. The image quality is great, I actually think they’re even a bit more sharp in the center of the image than Sony. Best part of all, they are WAY cheaper. For example my Sigma 24-70 2.8A lens costs $1000 a Sony 24-70 2.8 GM is twice the price at $2000. I’m not saying that Sigma lenses are better, I just don’t believe that the slight improvements of the Sony lenses warrant the price difference.

We use this lens to get wide angle landscape shots and portrait shots. The range of this lens allows us to get a variety with one lens, which is SO useful when backpacking, hiking or trying to keep your gear minimal. Also the f/2.8 allows us to shoot with a range of depth and also night photography with more ease.

Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 Lens

Travel Blogging Camera Gear
Example of Compression in a photo

This is our newest edition and allows us to both use lenses with variable ranges at the same time. Like the lens above, this allows for wide angle and portrait shots. We both like to shoot similar things and we both are carrying lenses that we share. This 24-105 is a great for getting that little bit of extra compression (making the background appear closer to the foreground). It is a slower lens at f4 than our sigma 24-70 f2.8 but that extra 35mm at the upper end of it’s range is great for compression.

If someone made a 24-105 in f2.8 or faster, we definitely would have bought that and something else for the other camera. Sigma has announced a 70-200 f2.8 which should come out sometime next year, which we will be buying to replace the Sony 24-105. That way we can cover a whole range from 24-200 at f2.8 and only have to carry two lenses!

Drones We Use

Drone Travel Blogging Camera Gear
Shot on our Mavic Pro 2

We also carry a drone. I’ve used a bunch of drones, but in my mind DJI is by far the best. Love the build quality, camera quality and they have great customer support. We have two, the Mavic Pro 2 which is our high quality, high range preference. We also have a Mavic mini 2. This is a great super light drone that is small and light enough to go backpacking with! Please make sure that you’re aware of the laws as to where you can and cannot fly a drone. It disturbs the natural wildlife and can come with hefty $10K fines. 

Accessories in our Travel Blogging Camera Gear!

Travel Blogging Camera Gear

Here’s a list of accessories we bring in our camera bag or on road trips (Depending on what content we need and the light conditions!):

  • Memory Cards
  • Extra Camera Batteries
  • ND (neutral density) Filters
  • Tripod
  • Gimbal
  • Film Camera or Polaroids

Memory Cards in our Travel Blogging Camera Gear

We also have Memory cards. I mean, what good is it to have a camera and not have a card that is capable of recording what you’re shooting? I’m going to strike a familiar note here. Sony Cards are incredible, they’re tough and fast. But not entirely worth the price tag.

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There are different classes of Memory cards that you should look at. All of the cameras take SD cards. There are three distinct speed classes of cards. V30, V60 and V90. A camera like the Sony a6400, which is less demanding does everything with a V30 card. The Sony a7III uses video modes that can all be recorded on a V60 card and I’ve had no issues. If you’re shooting in burst mode, you may have to wait for the photos to record a little while before you can start shooting again. A V90 card helps eliminate that problem.

The Sony a7sIII is a totally different large file size beast. It can use SD cards and Sony’s new CF Express Type A. If you’re shooting photos on it, you can use V60 cards, but if you’re shooting in burst it could be beneficial to have a V90 Card. A v90 card can shoot in almost every mode, except for the coveted 4K at 120fps. That requires their super expensive CF express type A which goes for a whopping $400 for 160gb of storage. I have opted to utilize the a7siii’s dual card function and shoot my high res slow motion onto a CF Express type A card (Slot 1) and photos and less demanding frame and quality rates (Slot 2).

Extra Batteries

Maybe it’s obvious, maybe it’s not, but bringing extra batteries is very important. So many things can drain your batteries faster than usual (especially weather) and you want to be prepared!

Neutral Density (ND) Filters

Travel Blogging Camera Gear ND filter
ND filter used for this full sun shot to reduce overexposed highlights

ND filters are another necessity. They help soften up your image and give it a more cinematic look. They can also really balance the highlights and shadows when you’re forced to shoot in full light situations. With photography it is easier to get away with not using one. But video is very difficult to get around.

In video, as a rule, your shutter speed must be twice your frame rate, or your video will look jumpy. For example if you are shooting at 24fps, your shutter speed needs to be at 48 at the minimum. In video, unlike photography, you want to have motion blur. Once you go up to 80-1000 shutter speed, you will start to lose motion blur. We as humans naturally have motion blur. You can test this out by simply waiving your hands in front of your face. 

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Here’s a situation to illustrate some of the uses of an ND filter. 

Say you’re outside in the late morning and it’s very bright. You might close your fstop all the way down to 22 put your iso at 100, shutter at 80 but it’s still too bright! What do you do? Add an ND to fix it. Say you’re in the same situation but want a very shallow depth of field, an ND filter is the only way to compensate. It’s also useful for balancing out a situation where your foreground or background is much brighter than the other. 

Tripods in our Travel Blogging Camera Gear

Using our Benro Tripod

Tripods are another super helpful item to carry. We use them for interviews, timed photos, smooth pans and for using long lenses for video (Note the longer your lens, the more shake there will be. It’s not always a big deal for photos, but it is a super big deal for video).

I used to be a Manfrotto person. But I had an incident where a part was broken on it. I found out that Manfrotto uses proprietary threads on their equipment. So, I couldn’t go find a replacement piece in a pinch and they charged me $50 for what was essentially a wing nut and the part arrived in 3 weeks.

Travel Blogging Camera Gear
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Benro Tripods on the other hand is a total different story. I think they have superior build quality and smoother video heads. When I did have a part break, they use standard threads, so I was able to run to the hardware store and find a temporary replacement part. Even more, they overnighted me the proper part totally FREE! I will never ever buy a tripod that is not a Benro. So, here are our choices for Benro Travel Tripods for photo and video. We have the carbon fiber versions which are both stronger and lighter. The aluminum ones are also just as good, they just weigh more. 

Gimbals

Gimbals are really super handy. Especially if you’re not the steadiest hand held person or if you wish to do follow shots or more complex movements. They have lots of fun programmable features such as moving timelapse and object detection.

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We have the Ronin RS2 which is a fantastic gimbal for medium sized cameras with the strength to add a few accessories and heavier lenses. If you are just using a body and a lens and want to save a little money, the Ronin RSC2 is the perfect thing.

Film & Polaroids in our Travel Blogging Camera Gear

I love shooting with film as an accessory camera and to bring an element of creativity into some brand work. Although it’s a great addition, using a 35mm film camera like my Minolta X-700 requires time to send my film in to get processed and then scanned (which I’ve started doing myself!).

Check out my Beginners Guide to Film Photography:

Polaroids like the Instax take quick photos that develop within minutes that you can add to a flat lay or incorporate into a brand shoot! I love the extra bit of character it can give.

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My favorite film to shoot on my Minolta X-700 is Portra 400. I find that the colors are the best for what I’m usually taking photographs of and the 400 ISO gives me some wiggle room to shoot at most times of the day.

Travel Blogging Camera Gear

Starter Kit Recommendations

Feeling overwhelmed by all this gear talk? Here we will share our recommended kits.

Sony A6400 Kit

  • Sony A6400 camera body
  • Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 lens
  • extra battery
  • SanDisk 32GB Extreme PRO SDHC UHS-I Memory Card
  • Tiffen 82mm Variable Neutral Density Filter
  • Benro Travel Tripod (photo or video depending on your needs)

Click Here to Shop this Kit!

Sony a7III Kit

  • Sony a7III Camera Body
  • Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 lens
  • extra battery
  • Lexar 128GB Professional 1667x UHS-II SDXC Memory Card
  • ProGrade Digital 128GB UHS-II SDXC Memory Card
  • Tiffen 82mm Variable Neutral Density Filter
  • Benro Travel Tripod (photo or video depending on your needs)

Click HERE to Shop this Kit!

Sony a7sIII Kit

  • Sony a7sIII Camera Body
  • Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 lens
  • extra battery
  • Sony 80GB CFexpress Type A TOUGH Memory Card
  • ProGrade Digital 128GB UHS-II SDXC Memory Card
  • Tiffen 82mm Variable Neutral Density Filter
  • Benro Travel Tripod (photo or video depending on your needs)

Click HERE to shop this Kit!

Stay tuned for more photo and gear guides! As always, let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

-Melissa & Johnathon

Need Road-trip inspiration? Check out my complete Itinerary in Oregon HERE!

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