Today I’m going to share the camera equipment I use for my favorite genre of travel photography. Although I prefer using prime lenses when I’m close to home, for travel, you can’t beat the utility of zoom lenses. The kit below is meant for a mix of landscapes/hiking and more urban/city photography. I’m not as concerned about the weight of my pack because I’m not a backcountry camper, so it’s not a minimalist kit. With those things in mind, let’s take a peek into my bag!
Table of Contents
Shimoda Explore V2 35L
Whether I’m driving, flying, photographing the Brooklyn Bridge, or hiking in Yosemite, the Shimoda Explore V2 is the bag I have with me. If I’m packing light, then I’ll have the 25L version of this same bag. It is extremely comfortable and adjustable, and it has about a million pockets. I can wear it all day without thinking about it. Once in a while, I’ll bring a different bag, and I almost always regret it by the end of the first day.
My bag is all Fujifilm gear. After a decade of shooting Canon, it was the Fuji X100 that convinced me to switch, and this camera has greatly improved with each new version over the last 10 years. The newest X100V is the camera that is with me 100% of the time when I leave my house. Even when I have a full bag of gear – or when I’m just running errands near my house – I’ll find a pocket for the X100V. If nothing else, it’s a backup, but it’s surprising how often I take some of my favorite images from trips with this camera. Maybe that’s just because I always have it, even when I’ve left the rest of my gear behind thinking I’m done photographing for the day.
Fujifilm X-T4 and Fujifilm X-H2S
Until recently, this header would have had the X-H1 instead of the X-H2S! And that might be more accurate, since I haven’t taken many photos with my X-H2S yet. But I’m glad I traded up from the H1 series, and I’m already enjoying the better autofocus on the X-H2S.
When I travel, I usually bring along three cameras: the X100V, the GFX (see below) and one of these two APS-C cameras. It depends on the particular trip, but I’m mostly going to take the X-H2S these days in order to maximize the strengths of all three cameras (the X100V for portability, the X-H2S for speed, and the GFX for image quality).
Fujifilm GFX 100s
The GFX 100s medium format camera is an amazing camera, and I love it for travel and landscape work. Fortunately, despite being a medium format camera, the Fujifilm GFX100s is relatively small and portable. The GFX almost always accompanies an X-series kit in my travel bag.
Fujifilm 10-24mm f/4, 16-55mm f/2.8, & 50-140mm f/2.8
These three zoom lenses are my workhorse travel zooms. Because the Fuji X-series cameras are APS-C cropped sensors, the lenses have equivalent focal lengths of about 15-35mm, 24-85mm, and 75-210mm. This would be a pretty standard trio on full frame. All three are weather sealed, the 10-24mm and 50-140mm also offer image stabilization, and the image quality on all three is amazing. They’re certainly not Fuji’s smallest zoom lenses, but due to the fact that the X series is an APS-C system, they’re still fairly portable.
Fujifilm 18-55mm f/2.8-4 and 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8
If you are packing light or just getting started with Fuji, the 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses are good alternatives to the f/2.8 zooms above. For the first three years that I used Fujifilm, these two lenses were my travel kit, and I still pack one or both of them as an alternative to the above lenses when I expect to be traveling light.
Extension Tubes (MCEX-11)
The Fuji 80mm macro lens is amazing, but it’s not small, and I usually can’t justify the space in my travel bag. By comparison, the MCEX-11 extension tube takes up almost no space in my bag, but it gives me the option of photographing macro if the opportunity arises. (Fuji also offers the MCEX-16 which gives you a bit more magnification, but I find the MCEX-11 a little easier to use, especially when hand holding).
GF 32-64mm f/4
The 32-64mm f/4 lens, approximately 25-51mm full-frame equivalent, is a fantastic all-purpose lens for the GFX 100s. It’s not especially large, considering the fact that it’s a medium format lens, and it is my standard go-to for landscape work with the GFX cameras. I’m strongly considering getting the new 20-35mm f/4 ultra-wide zoom that was announced in Fuji’s recent X-Summit when I need to go wider. Until now, I’ve been using Fuji’s APS-C cameras and 10-24mm zoom for that purpose.
Tripods and Camera Mounts
Really Right Stuff TQC-14 and BH-30 Ball Head
I know the advice is never to cheap out on the tripod, but I’m apparently slow to learn, because it took me a long time to finally invest in a really good tripod and ball head. The Really Right Stuff TQC-14 is one of the hardest working pieces of gear in my kit, and I agree with everything Spencer said about it in his review more than 7 years ago. It’s an excellent balance of weight and stability, and I expect to get decades out of it. The BH-30 ball head is equally well made and designed. Even though this combo is supposedly “travel” size, it is sturdy enough to hold the GFX 100s without issue.
L-brackets are another one of those camera accessories that I always knew I should be using, and once I did, I couldn’t explain why I waited so long. Because the brackets are custom to each camera body, the doors, battery compartments, etc. still work with the bracket attached. There are a number of companies that make L-Brackets, but I have found SmallRig to have good build quality for the price.
This little camera support takes up essentially no space in my bag but has saved me more than once when photographing somewhere that tripods were not permitted. It would be vastly more useful if it didn’t require a tripod head, but I just move the RRS BH-30 from my tripod when I need to use the Platypod, and it works fine.
Neutral Density and Polarizing Filters
I use the Haida M10 filter system and could not live without a 10-stop Neutral Density filter. More often than not, at least for daylight long exposures, I even stack an additional 6-stop ND with the 10 Stop.
As for the polarizer, that’s one filter you just can’t replicate in post-processing.
Peak Design Camera Straps
I am not a fan of camera straps and rarely keep one on the camera. What I love about the Peak design straps is that they attach to the camera using anchors, so they clip on and off. I can swap between the wrist cuff, the slide, or just no strap at all. On the GFX 100s and the X-H2, I often use the clutch hand strap.
After forgetting random accessories (some more essential than others) when I would switch bags, I finally started keeping all these little accessories in a pouch that moves between camera bags. Most of these accessories are fairly self-explanatory, but they are all indispensable in the field:
- Cable release
- Extra batteries and memory card
- USB power strip (this particular power strip is convenient and takes up very little space in my bag)
- Mini flashlight
- Leo Photo MPL multi tool (this has saved me in the field more times than I can count. If you use a tripod you should have one of these clipped to your bag)
- Cleaning supplies: Rocket blower, lens pen, lens wipes
- Gaffers tape
- Matador pocket blanket (I bought this to have a dry spot to sit or kneel during long exposures. But it makes a clean and dry space to lay out equipment, protect your camera from the weather, etc. Worth the couple of inches it takes up in my bag!
I’ve been a Microsoft Surface user for years, but the Laptop Studio might be my favorite iteration yet. It’s a great balance of portable and powerful, and it fits perfectly in the laptop sleeve of the Shimoda 35L. (It does not fit in the Shimoda 25L; if I’m traveling light, I bring a Surface Go instead).
Sandisk Extreme SSD Drive
I find SSD Drives to be much more stable for travel than traditional hard drives. These Samsung drives have been very reliable so far. They make an Extreme Pro version if you need something even more robust, but the Extreme have worked really well for me so far.
Thanks for taking a peek into my travel photography bag. If there is any gear here that we haven’t already reviewed that you would like me to review let me know in the comments. Also, is there anything in your bag that you just can’t live without or that makes your life easier in the field? Feel free to share below!
You can see my full gear list here:
I have had the X-T2 for 5 years with the 35mm f2 and 50mm f2. Just got the X-H2S mainly because of the better AF. I am considering zoom. Either
XF 18-120mm f/4 LM PZ WR -> internal Zoom but won’t work with the X-T2
XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR -> weakness will be no OIS with X-T2
XF 16-80mm F4.0 R OIS WR
I do extended traveling and will carry one camera and one lens only. There will be limitations but weight + equipment security will be the most important. I carried the XT-2 with the 35mm f2 everywhere (almost) for 2 years. The bummer was the camera button stopped working before the Everest trek. Now I need to return.
Comments & suggestions.
Thanks much for the interesting and helpful article. I will definitely be buying the multi-tool as it sure beats the loose Allen wrenches and screwdriver that currently roam around in my bag!
Please keep the articles coming! I am interested in following your experiences with the x-h2s.
Glad it was helpful! That tool is great, it has come in handy more times than I can count. And I’m finally starting to get comfortable with the X-H2s, so I will share my experience so far in the near future.
I like the USB power strip, but where I live in Japan there are no 3-prong outlets. It would be nice if they had a 2-prong version as well. An adapter would be one more thing to worry about. That blanket looks good too. I may have to get one! :-)
Too bad there isn’t a 2 prong version. I have occasionally run into situations where a 2 prong would fit an awkwardly positioned outlet better, so I wouldn’t mind one myself. But the blanket is for sure worth the money!
You might be able to find a small grounding adapter. I kept one in my laptop bag for years since most of my gear had 3 prongs and many of my clients had two prong outlets. Be careful using it as 3 prong equipment is designed to have a ground and this defeats that, but for low current devices, it shouldn’t be too bad.
What’s unique about Fuji that you like vs say Nikon or Canon?
I think choosing any camera system is really personal preference. I shot Canon for years before I added some Fuji gear for travel. The small size was the initial attraction, and at the time Fujifilm was farther along in developing its mirrorless system than many other camera brands. But even with all the great mirrorless options out there now, I haven’t really considered switching back, mostly because I love the ergonomics (especially in the Pro and T line), the X-trans sensor, and there are a number of lenses I don’t think I could give up!