I can’t even remember the number of times that I have arrived on location for a shoot and realized that I forgot something vital, like the memory card or battery for example (and yes, this happened more than I care to admit). Without further ado, here are the things that I always make sure to keep inside my camera bag at all times. Spoiler alert: you need a camera bag.
Camera and Lens
First of all, you’ll need a camera and a lens. The camera isn’t a big deal. The most important part is the lens. For the best results and more composition opportunities, use a wide angle lens. With wide angle lenses, there’s a chance for vignetting and slight distortion on the corners. I prefer using prime lenses because they offer more creative potential. especially for achieving the highly sought-after Bokeh effect. However, having zoom ability offers more flexibility, which can always be helpful.
My Recommendation: AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 ED
This lens is one that I have wanted for a long time, but its near-$2000 price tag has made it hard to justify. If the price tag makes your wallet a bit nauseous, Sigma does make a similar 15-30mm f/3.5-4.5 wide angle zoom lens for about $700 on Amazon. For other lens options, I would highly recommend fast prime lenses like the Nikon 50mm or Canon 50mm equivalent.
Filters are an incredibly useful tool. UV filters are great for shooting in bright daylight, graduated filters can create great color effects in the sky, neutral density filters hlep with shooting running water and waterfalls by regulating the amount of light that gets into the lens. There are so many filters that I can’t possibly include them all in this article. You also have to keep in mind that not all lenses have the same sized front element and not all lenses can hold a filter.
There are two main types of filters; screw-on lens filters and filter holders. The screw on filters are small circular filters that you physically screw onto the front of the lens. Filter holders work in a similar fashion in that they screw onto the front of the lens but they simply hold the filters, but the filters are interchangeable. I highly recommend the filter holder instead of the made-to-size filters because if your lens can’t fit the filter, you can always hold the filter by hand and achieve a decent effect.
My Recommendaion: Neewer Versatile Square Filter Holder System
Neewer is my go-to budget equipment supplier. Their products are significantly cheaper than name brand products and, while you do sacrifice a little quality, their products are not in any way poorly made. I recommend Neewer for any non-essential accessory needs such as filter kits, battery grips, etc. Speaking of filter kits, this particular filter kit allows you to use up to 3 filters at the same time with 360 degree rotation. You have the buy the filters separately but it’s a worthwhile investment to get higher quality filters. The Neewer filter holder can be found on Amazon.com.
A tripod is a necessity for most photographers but it’s especially useful for landscape photographers because you’ll often find yourself shooting at longer shutter speeds to achieve certain effects such as smooth waterfall lines, time lapses, self portraits, etc. The sturdier your tripod, the better because it will be able resist swaying in the wind and stay standing on more precarious locations such as the side of a steep mountain. However, as landscape photographers, we’re often traveling on foot to remote locations so having a large, heavy tripod might not be the best option. You’ll want to find a tripod that is both light, compact, and has thick, sturdy legs.
My Recommendation: Manfrotto BeFree Lightweight Travel Tripod with Ball Head
The Manfrotto BeFree tripod is a great tripod with a very compact folding design that makes it easy to store or clip onto the side of your camera bag. Manfrotto’s products are of incredible quality. If you’re looking for something a bit more versatile with the ability to swap tripod heads, look at Manfrotto’s 055 Carbon Fibre 4-section tripod. While the 055 is quite a bit pricier than the BeFree, it’s much lighter and stronger, as well as giving you the ability to choose what kind of tripod head to run. For a more cost-effective option, look at the Neewer’s Lightweight Carbon Fiber tripod with 360 degree ball head and detachable monopod. At approximately $110, it offers great bang-for-your-buck but will most likely not last as long as the Manfrotto tripods.
You’ll need to take your camera equipment with you when you travel and having a pelican case for each lens and camera body, while safe, will not be practical (not to mention the carry-on fees when you fly). Having a good camera bag that has room for your camera, lenses, straps for carrying your tripod, space for filters, microfibers, extra memory cards, and whatever else you might want to bring with you will make life much easier.
My Recommendation: Lowerpro Fastpack 350
The Lowerpro Fastpack 350 is the largest of the fastpack series of backpacks and has ample space for your DSLR, lenses, as well as regular backpack space for your extra goods. It’s design allows you to easily and quickly access your camera gear. It’s relatively cheap and is extremely high quality. While Amazon Basics does offer a few camera bags that can hold plenty of equipment, they tend to warp and wear out easy and they don’t give you space to carry other things besides camera gear. Skipping the cheap camera bags and getting a large, high quality bag early on will save you the trouble of having to get another bag when you begin to expand your camera equipment.
A shutter remote is a very cheap investment that every photographer, not only landscape photographers, should invest in. It allows you to take photos without ever touching your camera, therefore reducing any camera shake and making your photos as clear as possible.
My Recommendation: Amazon Basics Wireless Remote
This shutter remote is small and easy to use. All you have to do is set your camera to remote mode and point the remote at your camera. It is affordable and comes with a protective pouch. The only downside to its small size is the fact that it’s really easy to lose (which I’ve done more than once). More versatile shutter releases will have time-lapse features as well as shutter hold features but will cost a bit more. however, you shouldn’t have to spend more than $40 on something like this.
Additional equipment you might want to have include:
- Microfiber cloth for cleaning your lenses when shooting in poor weather
- Rain cover for those wet, rainy shots
- Vertical camera grip and backup battery
- Camera holster, preferably a backpack attachment so you can easily store the camera out of the way of the rest of your gear