What Gear Travel Photographers Have in Their Bags

What Gear Travel Photographers Have in Their Bags

I’m going to be traveling soon. I’m going to Paris for a project documenting the city, its people and exploring its intangible nuances that emit emotion. Travel photography. I enjoy traveling, and I love photography. Can we put these two together? Yes. There is no other reason but the enjoyment of moving though the city that's got me excited. 

I’ve been doing the research on the gear I’d need. I don’t have my Canon 5D Mark III anymore; I’ve passed it on to my wife who shoots fashion and beauty with it. In my opinion, the camera suits this use better. When it comes to my photography, I’m on the move. I want as little between me and the subject as possible, and I must have almost no effect on the environment as I pass through it. When I’m going out to shoot urban street shots, the camera is in my hands, but not really there. I don’t draw attention to me or the fact that I’m shooting. When I’m shooting landscapes, I need the kit to be as light and compact as possible, while still giving me top-quality images. 

Venice Canal

I enjoy shooting natural landscapes; yet the urban city environment has been pulsing through my body since the first time I went to New York. I remember getting on the subway from the airport and reaching Times Square Station and walking up stairway into the city, its energy hitting me hard. It was pumping fast and with force. Since then, I’ve been doing whatever I could to go travel, mostly to cities. I’ve been to Paris, London, Shanghai, Beijing, and Berlin, to name a few. I love the city landscape, the urbanites, and the moments between the actions. I need to be there, looking from the outside in. For me, it’s the best place to be. 

Berlin

I’ve been to Paris a couple of times. It’s a beautiful city, and the people are very proud of their city, country, language, and the city's place in history. They don’t like speaking English, but that’s part of the experience. Don’t think the train driver will take the blame when he just parked the train for the night and you’re still in your seat because you didn’t understand the announcement informing everyone that the previous stop was the last stop. The imperfect makes it experientially and visually beautiful. 

I like taking photos and exploring the cities like anyone would. But it's the actual taking of great photos, ones a client can use for their purposes, where I need to improve upon. I'm constantly trying to learn as much as possible about post-processing techniques and to develop my own style. 

Shanghai

Enter Elia Locardi. He is one of the guys whose images have inspired me. And luckily for me, he has just launched his second video tutorial series on Fstoppers. It covers cityscape photography and post-processing. For me, having this as a resource to devour and take in is a massive boon for my passion for photography. He gets to spend time in the most beautiful places in the world and documents them in such a gracious, magnificent way, which is why I bought the tutorial video pack. I want to be able to do that. From the start, he covers all the gear he uses. 

Elia is a guy who travels most of the time. He doesn’t really aim to call any place home; the world out there is his home. He’s in constant motion, exploring, visiting, and shooting cities and places around the world, and I want to do that. So, what does he have in his bag? What tools does he use to make the images he makes? We’ll go through the gear he uses. 

He uses two cameras. He travels with a Nikon D810 and Fujifilm X-T1 kit. In the first videos of the tutorial, he mentions that he uses the Fujifilm Kit most and states that in future he might move to only Fujifilm. The only place where it’s lacking in capability when compared to the Nikon D810 is in low-light environments. The advantages of the Fujifilm Kit are firstly in weight and size. It is also weather-sealed, so he can take it anywhere, and when it comes to the cost of one, it's considerably lower than the D810. For me, the best part of the Fujifilm XT-1 is the digital viewfinder that mirrorless cameras offer, with the ability to see the shot you are capturing before you take it. It allows for a what-you-see-is-what-you-get photography style that makes it fun and teaches you what settings have which effect on a photo. It's great for pros and photographers just starting out. 

We’ll focus on the Fujifilm kit, and based on his list, build a starter kit from it. You can see the whole list, with his comments on each piece of gear. 

The Gear

The Fujifilm X-T1 

It’s not full-frame, but Fujifilm doesn’t believe you need it. The images are great, and the lenses are sharp, top-quality glass. 

Fujifilm Lenses

The lenses he uses are for landscape and cityscape photography. He doesn't really focus on portraiture and doesn't need the lenses best used for that type of photography, although he does have the 56mm f/1.2, which gives beautiful bokeh, but doesn't use it too often. The lenses he mainly uses are:

You can view the other lenses he uses here.

Tripods

Tripods make the multiple exposures style of shooting that Elia uses possible. Even in the harshest environments with wind and water, these are the ones that have stood the test of time — exactly what a tripod is supposed to do. He makes it clear that when it comes to tripods, it is best to buy the best. Tripods are mainly carried on the outside of the bag, and the material used to make them needs to have longevity. The tripods he uses have outlived the time he thought they would, and he travels to the harshest places in the world. In other words, tripods you can trust will deliver. The list can be found here.

ND Filters 

Elia wants to get the shot in camera. He controls the natural light, especially when the sun comes down hard. He does this using the ND and polarizing filters. It's all part of a kit you can get here.

The ones he uses are:

You'll need the adapter ring and 100mm filter holder. These filters have a 15-layer coating and are scratch resistant.  

The bags

He's a ThinkTank fan, and I can surely identify with him due to my ThinkTank bag saving me in Venice. His advice is to have one backpack, as it isn’t as noticeable when checking in for a flight. Although the weight might be above what it should be, the check-in staff don’t really pay attention to that. But, you have to get the tutorials to see how he packs. Check out the bags he uses.

Conclusion

We are lucky to have these resources available to us as Fstoppers readers. The resources and tutorials offer you the best in photography. I highly recommend them. There are great travel photographers out there. Elia is one of them. I've made the decision: I'm going Fujifilm. I'm getting the lenses and filters Elia uses. It just makes sense. With regards to tripods, I'll stick with the ones I have. They seem to do what's needed for now. I already have my ThinkTank bag, which I think is great, because it also takes a laptop.  

Follow him on Snapchat and Instagram, check out his site, and get the Astrophotography and Cityscape tutorial and the Landscape Photography and Post-Processing tutorial. They're the most in-depth step-by-step tutorials from shoot, to post-production, to delivered you can get on the web. 

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14 Comments

Anonymous's picture

I hate to say this but I don't understand the point of your post. I think it would have been a lot easier to link to a page listing Elia's gear list, if such a thing exists. Done.

Andrew Houser's picture

Agreed. Was this a blatant pimp of the FStopper/Locardi product, or a "just use what he uses and I'll get good shots" post? There are a litany of other lenses for Fuji (23mm f/1.4, 35mm f/2, etc) all suited to style and taste. The 16mm is agruably better than the 14mm, and then there are other options - Olympus, Pentax, etc. the point of the post shouldn't have been "I'll just use his gear", but instead "here are so me considerations, and how this fits my style"

"We are lucky to have these resources available to us as Fstoppers readers."

Felt weird reading that in a post rather than a comment. I agree with Patrick OConnor, this is a strange post. A little too much of an ad for Fstopper's tutorials. I'd be more into a full blown advert than something that comes off as trying to slip something past us. . .

I'll also add, this title is very misleading. You gave us Elias' take. I was looking forward to a variety based on the photographer and where they travel (make that a series) rather than one person's opinion.

If I'm bringing a change of lenses, I always bring a rocket blower for sensor, lens, memory card, and camera body cleaning. Sensor dust is a bitch on the road.

Anonymous's picture

I tend to pack too much. :-) I always include, along with the blower, my VisibleDust sensor magnifying glass and eyelead sensor cleaning kit along with lens cloth, lens wipes, ...
I hate spending hours, over the course of a trips worth of photos, getting rid of dust spots.

Anonymous's picture

A friend recently came back from Georgia (the country, not the state) and took a lot of photos with his smartphone. Given the abundance of light available for his shots, I'd be hard pressed to say he needed anything else. Personally, I wouldn't travel without a FF dSLR but I'm kinda anal and I never wear jeans. :-)

Anonymous's picture

I can compare anything I want to anything else I want. And you can disagree with my conclusions. Anyway, not all smartphones are equal.

My anality (is that a word?) has little to do with image quality. It's mostly about what I want to do and how I want to do it. While, of course, I want good image quality, I think the art of the photo is too often forgotten in the quest for technical perfection. As for having a photo rather than no photo, that's understandable. For me, however, anything worth doing is worth doing right. If I can't do it right, I won't do it. Again, this is based on how I want to do it more than the final results.

I don't like to put things in my pants pockets. I usually wear one of my photography vests, even when I'm not carrying a camera, just to be able to put my keys, wallet, etc. in the vest's pockets. :-)

Anonymous's picture

I appreciate anyone doing what they want, in the way they want. I hope you get a lot of great photos with your camera.

I love how compact my RX100 M4 is. But, I do find the controls and setting awareness is more difficult given how small the camer is. I have more fun operating my Fuji cameras like the X100s.

M D's picture

This is just an advertising post with a bunch of referral links. I typically don't bother commenting, but the language is so weird. It's like when someone writes their own post about themselves and then hastily changes it to make it seem like someone wrote it about them.

"We are lucky to have these resources available to us as Fstoppers readers. The resources and tutorials offer you the best in photography."

I agree that a simple link to his page would be more efficient, but then this is all about referral revenue I guess.

Wouter du Toit's picture

Hello M D, the approach was not to sell. It was to provide valuable information to the reader who is seeking for insight and advice. I'm learning about travel photography and the work it takes. I've done a lot of research, went to shoot the attractions in Cape Town to exercise my eye, but when it gets to gear and post production, this is really the best resource I could find. If you have any other resources like this, please share them? I'm taking your advice and I'll work on improving language use and how I share information. Thanks for letting me know.

Anonymous's picture

As there are a lot of photographers unaware of Elia Locardi, the post is generally okay. The biggest problem is the title. While there are probably other travel photographers using the Fuji system,
1. Elia is a traveling photographer and not necessarily a travel photographer;
2. He is the only photographer you cite in your article so again, it's misleading;
3. The fact that he is homeless (sorry... "location independent" :-)) is very probably a large factor in his choice of gear and something he has admitted; and
4. As you stated, it isn't the only camera he uses and, despite his druthers, I doubt it ever will be.
On a separate note, I think Elia is a wonderful post processor but, to be honest, while he's a very good photographer, his skill behind a camera isn't nearly as notable as his editing skills.

P.S. Joel Sartore, who shoots for National Geographic, did a video tutorial for "The Great Courses" on travel photography in which he says to use whatever you like but he's using a Nikon D3, the 28-300 and 14-24 lenses for that purpose. Of course his kit is very different on assignment for NatGeo.

Pedro Pulido's picture

Fuji Xt1 + Samyang 12mm F2 + 23mm + 56mm + 18-135. That's my travel kit.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Two Panasonic GX7s, Panasonic 7-14 & 14-140 mounted, 20/1.7 & Oly 45/1.8 for low light, Metz 28 CS-2 for off-axis slave flash in left hand. CP-L, LensPen & several batteries. All fits in a Tamrac Rally 4 with room to spare. During the day, no lens swapping.