Top 10 Essentials for Travel Photography – Seth’s Favorite Gear
Seth K. Hughes is a professional photographer and filmmaker. You may recognize him as the host of the Campendium Youtube channel. As a visual storyteller, Seth believes the best way to produce extraordinary imagery is to cultivate curiosity and do extraordinary things. He’s been a full-time RVer and nomadic photographer since 2014 ― living, working and traveling with his wife and their home on wheels, a 25 foot, Airstream Safari which serves as their off-grid, mobile creation station.
When asked to share a gear list for the Campendium blog, it only made sense for him to outline his trusted photography and filmmaking arsenal. Seth has been an official Fujifilm ambassador for four years and life on the road has made the ideal proving ground for testing this equipment in every situation. His kit is lightweight, robust and a joy to use. It has never failed to deliver as a pro-level camera system.
This is my all-around favorite camera for travel and adventure photography.
Fujifilm has been in the photography and film industry for decades. They’ve always been synonymous with quality from the “olden days” of film to the modern era of mirrorless cameras. After all this time they’ve not only managed to stay relevant (RIP Kodak), but also pushed the limits of digital imaging and set the benchmark for user experience. I realize that sounds like a bunch of marketing B.S. but I am so impressed with Fujifilm’s legacy and contribution to the photographic community that I am whole-hearted “lifer.” The X-T4 is Fujifilm’s current flagship camera. It’s a hybrid camera meaning that it excels at both photography and video. A shortlist of features includes a weather-sealed body, image stabilization (IBIS), a fully articulating swivel screen, and a 15 fps mechanical shutter. For more information visit Fujifilm-X.com.
The same incredible user experience and image quality of the X-T4 applies, but in a compact, fixed lens body.
The genius behind this camera is its minimalist footprint and discrete form factor without sacrificing any image quality or performance. The weather-sealed X-100V is billed as a street photographer’s camera because it’s designed to emulate the classic rangefinder-style used by photographic legends such as Henri Cartier-Bresson. It has both an electric and optical viewfinder making it an extremely unique and fun camera to shoot with. But at the end of the day it’s just a great option for throwing over your shoulder to walk around town, snap family candids or take down the wilderness trail. More info.
The perfect mid-range zoom for minimalists and travel photographers.
I tend to prefer prime lenses most of the time due to their speed (wide apertures) and sharpness. However, for travel when weight and versatility are a primary concern, this compact zoom is the new gold standard. The 16-80mm range (24-120mm full-frame equiv) covers so many situations and the image quality, contrast and sharpness throughout are excellent. Initially, I frowned upon the maximum f/4 aperture, but the upshot is it’s constant (non-variable) and I was won over by the 6 stops of image stabilization making it great for hand-holding in low light. It has a stepping AF motor which is quiet and smooth for video shooters. It’s also weather-sealed and lightweight. More info.
Simply put, it’s telephoto magic.
Regardless of where I’m going or how much stuff I’m allowed to pack, I always make room for this lens. The is designated a “Red Badge Zoom” (as is the 16-80mm) due to its rugged build and unrivaled performance. Yet, it’s half the size and weight of the full-frame equivalent. Its versatility for shooting everything from portraits to landscapes and wildlife is just incredible. The clarity and sharpness of this lens are in a league it’s own and at f/2.8 with optical image stabilization, I really can’t say anything bad about it. Talk to anyone who’s had the pleasure of using it and you’ll get the same glowing feedback. It’s truly a joy to shoot with. More info.
Shoot stable video and motion time-lapses with one small gimbal.
Even with the in-body image stabilization of the Fujifilm X-T4, there is no substitute for a proper gimbal when it comes to shooting video. What I love about this set up is how lightweight (do you notice a pattern here?) and minimal it is. Yet it’s capable of producing professional-looking pans, dollys, push-ins, and crane shots. But don’t just take my word for it. Some examples can be seen on my Youtube channel.
The other thing I love about the Weebill S is that it’s very easy to set up, balance, and use on the fly. I handed it to my wife to do some b-roll shots and I was floored to see her produce amazing footage with zero experience! More info.
Tiny drone, huge impact.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re here to stay. Drones can be a touchy subject for some. Haters would just prefer that they didn’t exist but the truth is they’re an amazing tool for creating extraordinary images and perspectives that would not otherwise be possible. It just so happens that they’re an ideal companion for travelers because of how well they capture the scale and beauty of any given place. This particular model is so lightweight, affordable, and astonishingly capable that it’s a no-brainer. More info.
Unfortunately, there has been no shortage of knuckleheads crashing drones into geysers, terrorizing the public, and disrespecting others’ right to privacy and quietude. This gives all drone pilots a bad name. Any drone over .55 lbs is not a toy and for the sake of everyone, please learn the laws and fly responsibly.
If you’re looking to ditch the bulk of a laptop and embrace a truly minimalist workflow, the iPad Pro (3rd or 4th gen) will not disappoint. The processing speed and graphics of these newer iPads are vastly improved over previous generations and they will likely even outperform your computer. Whether you’re photo retouching, video editing, or just sketching, the user experience is second to none. Especially when combined with the Apple Pencil (2nd gen) and the Magic Keyboard. And with the new iPad OS, file sharing is much easier between devices. More info.
Download and edit files on the go.
Okay, if you’re still reading this then chances are you’re like me and very interested in technology and gear. Be aware that GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) is a serious affliction. It can drain your bank account and weigh you down all too quickly. On that note, the Gnarbox 2.0 is a bit of a luxury item but it’s at least worth considering depending on your situation. Ostensibly, it allows you to travel for days on end without needing to download SD cards to a computer. Making for an ultra-lean workflow. Insert your card to download, store, and backup redundant copies of your photos and videos. From there you can use the powerful Gnarbox apps to view, edit, keyword, process, and deliver your files with just a smartphone or tablet. Pro tip: get the tiny, fast, Samsung T5 SSD for added external storage. More info.
When you drive as many back roads as I do, keeping your electronics dry and dust-free is critical. I’ve been using Nanuk cases for over four years and they’ve never let me down. To my horror, I watched one fly out of a moving truck bed on a bumpy road and tumble into the ditch. The camera gear inside was unscathed. These cases are absolutely bomber. What makes them better than Pelican cases you ask? Well, the strength and durability are the same, but Nanuk cases have options for precision, laser-cut, foam inserts to custom fit your firearms, drones, or photography equipment. I’ve found Nanuk cases to be more competitively priced as well. More info.
Heavy-duty, versatile backpack.
My backpack for general travel purposes was designed by the small, Utah-based, crowd-funded company called Wandrd. They’ve put their heart & soul into creating the best all-around pack for photographers and it shows. The attention to detail, build quality, versatility and the sheer amount of pockets is enough to keep any gear junkie organized. I love the three access points (back, side, and expandable rolltop) as well as the removable gear cube and separate sleeves for a laptop + iPad. The bag uses waterproof nylon and did I mention all the pockets? More info.
Website: Seth K. Hughes
YouTube: Seth K. Hughes
Campendium: SKH Photo
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