I like to think of myself as a decent photographer. I don’t know everything and am fairly sure that I never will, but every day I take photos and hope to get a little better. Continuing to learn new techniques and getting a better feel for light and how to compose shots is one of my primary goals as a nomad. Gear, talent, and timing, that is what is needed to make good photos. Today there is no shortage of good photography gear available to help capture that amazing shot. Below is what I use and what I recommend. This is my nomad camera gear list.
Canon EOS 60D (90D)
I have been a Canon guy for seventeen years. I love the control surface layout of their pro/prosumer cameras. (Pro + Consumer = Prosumer.) The 60D is an older model and it has been my workhorse for the past 8 years. The 90D is the latest version in this line of rock-solid prosumer cameras.
EOS R6 or R5: The Mirrorless Future
I am ready to upgrade to a slightly lighter mirrorless unit which would be better for backpacking and even long days out in the field. Luckily, Canon has finally started to really compete in the mirrorless realm and the EOS R5 & R6 are top-notch devices. Both have larger full-frame sensors and lighter bodies, these are both great options for those looking to get into higher-end photography. The IBIS (In-body image stabilization) combined with lenses that also have stabilization and out of this world face and eye-tracking autofocus makes taking a crisp image almost to easy. The hardest choice is deciding if the extra megapixels (45 vs. 20) is worth the extra $1,000.
Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R
The EOS R series cameras have a unique mount that is designed for the new RF lenses. There is a good reason for this as the smaller camera body allows for a shorter focal length off the back of the lens. However, if you have an assortment of EF lenses you will need an adapter ring mount in order to use those older lenses with the EOS R. There are several adapter mounts available. The link I have provided is the one that will allow the camera to best utilize the full potential of all of the EF lenses.
EOS M Series Cameras
Canon has also released several M series cameras with EF-M series lenses. Most of the M-series isn’t worth recommending but the EOS M5 looks like a nice prosumer camera. It is an affordable option for those looking to get into the mirrorless photography realm. Be aware however that the EF-M series lenses (one comes with the camera) are designed for the M cameras and as of yet they will not work on the EOS R or any other EOS camera body. There is an EF-M Mount Adapter available which will allow EF or EF-S lenses to be used on the M series bodies.
Canon EF Lenses
I prefer prime lenses. For those unfamiliar, prime lenses are lenses with a set focal length. There isn’t a zoom function in the lens. Prime lenses are sharper than zoom lenses because they have fewer pieces of glass in them that the light needs to pass through. Some people will sacrifice clarity for versatility and I understand that but for me, I typically prefer clarity although I do have a zoom lens in my bag.
Canon’s 300mm f/4L IS USM lens
This is a rock-solid lens and my go-to for wildlife photography. It is a heavy piece of glass but when compared to lenses with similar or longer focal lengths this lens seems like a feather. It is sometimes a bit short for wildlife photography. Adding Canon’s 2x extender is a great way to get more distance for a fraction of the price for an equivalent 600mm lens.
Canon’s 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens
This is hands-down my favorite lens. It is the sharpest lens I have ever owned. The focal length is perfect for macro photography which I love. It also has a very nice weight to it. I typically carry this into the backcountry for wildlife photography rather than dragging my heavier 300mm lens.
Canon’s 50mm f/1.4 IS USM Lens
This is a good affordable starter prime lens. It is a nice lightweight lens to have but I find that I don’t use it often. A 50mm focal length isn’t wide enough to make a good landscape photo and doesn’t have enough zoom for wildlife photography. It is long enough and does have a good depth of field for portrait photography which I don’t do much of.
Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4.0 Lens
3rd party lenses can be hit or miss but many are very nice and much more affordable then their manufacturer counterpart. However, I have owned two Tamron lenses and have loved both of them. I am hard-pressed to drop prime lens money on a 3rd party lens but when it comes to cheaper zoom lenses I have liked Tamron. My 17-35mm has been my wide lens workhorse for over a decade. I have used it in driving snow, windy desserts and even underwater (in a housing) and it has held up very well.
Other Main Camera Gear
Think Tank Digital Holster
Think Tank makes quality bags. I like this one as it is very portable and flexible. I can use the strap to carry the bag with a single lens. The holster expands so it can accomadate my large 300mm lens mounted on the camera body. I can use the clips below to easily connect this bag to the front side of my backcountry backpack. I can even use the velcro belt strap on the bag to attach it to my bike when riding.
The Think Tank Digital Holster allows for this lens case to be easily strapped to the side. This lens case is capable of housing any of my lenses other than the 300mm allowing me to carry an additional lens when hiking.
Camera Bag Backpack Clips
I use these for carrying my Think Tank Digital Holster when backpacking or on a long day hike. This allows me to carry my camera bag without adding cumbersome camera straps when I’m already carrying a backpack or a water pack with straps.
If you are looking for the lightest and most versatile tripod out there go with the carbon fiber unit from Peak Design. This tripod is perfectly engineered for carrying it on long-distance hikes and backpacks. If you don’t have $600 and need a more affordable option this Flexzion tripod is a good choice.
Another great lightweight option when heading into the backcountry is this Jobi Gorillapod. Unlike traditional tripods, this mount can stabilize a camera in unusual situations allowing for some unique photographic angles.
Cameras, just like anything else, need to be cleaned. A good cleaning cloth and glass cleaner go a long way to keeping images crisp. A camera with interchangeable lenses also needs its sensor cleaned to keep dust particles from creating dark spots on the image. For this, I use an air blower bulb.
Shutter Release Remote Control
Shutter release remotes are a must have when wanting to do long exposure photography. There are many types of remotes. Most are camera specific so make sure you choose one that works with your camera model. The wired model I use is no longer manufactured, but wireless models like the Pixel model I have a link for here are now very affordable.
I have a UV filter on all of my lenses. They are great to use for protecting that expensive lens glass. The one you will need will depend on the diameter of the lens you choose.
Polarizers are a great way to pull out the blue hues in the sky or soften the glare off of water. Again the size needed will depend on the lens diameter.
Action Camera: GoPro Hero8
Action cameras are a great option for people looking to shoot high-quality video. They are small and lightweight with an absurd amount of options for mounting. The GoPro Hero line is waterproof making them great for underwater video and photography. The wide-angle lens also adds another tool to my photography bag. The touchscreen technology makes switching between camera settings, ratios, and frame rates extremely easy. I have the GoPro Hero6 Black which I love but with the hyper-smooth technology of the GoPro Hero8 Black available, I recommend getting the Hero8.
Like all cameras, the GoPro needs a memory card however GoPro requires a specific speed of memory card and some would even say brand. GoPro’s major flaw is that it doesn’t work optimally unless you purchase the recommended memory cards. The one I have listed here, the SanDisk Extreme 32 GB, is the one GoPro recommends for the Hero7.
GoPro Accessory Kit
There is literally a GoPro mount for everything you can think of. They have them for vehicles, bikes, surfboards, helmets, wrist straps, body straps, head straps… the list goes on and on. I have a cheap accessory kit that was hit and miss so I won’t list it here. What I will say is that a good selfie stick is needed. Not for selfies per se but rather getting the GoPro closer to the action. I also find that a good selfy stick just makes for a good camera mount in general. I also use my swiveling wrist mount a lot so I would recommend finding a good one of those.
Often the best camera is the one you have on you at the moment when you need it. I always carry my iPhone so therefore it is often the best camera I have. If you have Lightroom you can also download the app and shoot RAW images directly on your iPhone.
I also tend to use my iPhone for any video that needs quality audio as the GoPro’s audio isn’t great… it is built for underwater video so I give them a pass on audio quality. To get better audio on my iPhone I have this Rode VideoMicro microphone which I can also use on my Canon 60D as well.
Phone Mic/Headphone Adapter
In order to use a mic with an iPhone or on a laptop with only one 3.5mm (headphone) jack, you will need a splitter and a device that has mic input capability. All Mac products have this capability although the new iPhones need a lightning to 3.5mm adapter as well.The technology behind this is that a headphone jack utilizes 2 electrical conductors. A microphone uses 2 conductors as well. In order for a single port to be able to do both, they have added a 3 conductor. The adapter assigns the microphones positive poll to that 3rd conductor. Without the adapter, the phone thinks the mic is an output rather than an input.
Zhiyn Smooth 4 Gimbal Stabilizer
Since I use my iPhone for most of my video shots I wanted a gimbal. Gimbals make a huge difference in video quality although with GoPro releasing hyper-smooth technology I don’t know how long gimbals will be needed. I have the Zhiyn Smooth 3 which has been great. The improvements the company has made on the Smooth 4 look amazing. This is a great, affordable gimbal.
DJI Mavic Pro Drone
Modern photography includes land, sea, and air. I have the original DJI Mavic Pro and I love it. This foldable drone changed the game in UAV (Unmanned Arial Vehicle) photography. I can easily put this drone in a bag and carry it anywhere… that it is allowed. The downside of drone photography is that they are increasingly banned from many places. UAV technology has come a long way in a short period of time. The Mavic Pro is capable of practically flying itself. They are a great tool for modern photography. I wasn’t sure how DJI would improve upon the original Mavic Pro but with the Mavic 2 Pro, it looks like they might have. It has a better camera, longer battery life, and more sensors for better obstacle avoidance.
There are many cases available for the Mavic Pro, but I didn’t want another backpack or luggage piece to haul around. These small waterproof cases protect the drone/controller and can easily be slipped into my backpack.
The RavPower is not only a USB battery backup but a great way to back up images and video files while away from my computer. When I am backpacking I take a lot of images. The RavPower allows me to back up these files without a computer. All I need is my smartphone, a small portable hard drive or flash drive and the FileHub Plus app. The RavPower copies the files onto the storage drive via USB and is controlled by the phone through the wifi generated by the RavPower. This is also a great option for those looking for storage solutions beyond the cloud for iPad and iPhones.
These Seagate hard drives are what I use to back up my photography while on the road. There is a saying that I live by when it comes to digital photography “it doesn’t exist until it exists in two places.” Backing up your photography is essential. I actually backup all my RAW photos and I also backup all my edited photos but that might be overkill.
Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop
The art of processing photos has been a part of photography since the invention of the camera. The modern digital age is no different. Only the tools have changed. Processing is needed to produce the best photos possible. Adobe makes the best photo processing software on the market. Lightroom is not only an incredibly powerful photo processor but the file system is very well thought through. Add in the editing power of Photoshop and the Create Cloud Photography Plan is second to none. Please be aware that this is a subscription plan and only good for one year.