What’s in my camera bag?
My photography gear collection is the beating heart of my creativity. When I set off on this longterm photography trip, it was about the freedom to focus on my own creative self by using various cameras to create images and videos of the places I visit. With this creativity comes gear and I’m heavily invested in my gadgets to explore new fields of photography and videography. Along the way I bought a foldable drone for aerial photo/video, an Osmo for motion video/timelapse and most recently a small 360 photo/video camera and a Syrp pan tilt bracket for 2-axis motion timelapse. It is a hassle to go around with that much equipment and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoying traveling. But since for me almost every day revolves around shooting, I wouldn’t want to miss a single piece of gear.
I love technology and read the news on a daily basis, but even more than reading about it, I love buying it. I love doing the research, seeing what’s available, reading the tests and reviews, deciding on what item is best for me and then buying it for a good price. Aspects such as size and weight are particularly important since I (air)travel a lot. Sometimes the cheapest product is just fine, sometimes it’s worth investing in quality. I’m quite proud of my collection of gear and I can recommend almost every item by experience. The items listed on this page are all items that I travel with, have traveled with or simply recommend, except for a few items that I recommend, but don’t use at the moment.
All photography gear listed (scroll down for more info):
- UV filter by B+W
- Polariser filter by B+W
- 6 stops ND Filter by B+W
- 10 stops ND Filter by B+W
- Hoya Infrared filter
- Mini Tripod: Cullman mini tripod
- Tripod: Sirui T-2205X
- Ballhead: Sirui K-30
- Videohead Sirui VA-5 Video Head
Action – & Underwater camera:
- Large camera bag: Pacsafe Venturesafe X40
- Camera insert for bag: Pacsafe Camsafe Insert M
- Small camera bag: Lowepro Urban Photo Sling
Check out the other travel and photography tools I use:
Photography gear reviews and alternatives
Small Camera: Sony RX100iv
This little powerhouse Sony RX100iv is absolutely amazing. I have even shot some of my favourite lightning and Milky Way timelapses with this ’tiny sensor’ camera. It blows photographers mind when I tell them I shot it with a … drums please … compact camera! Until recently it seemed impossible for such a small sensor to capture those low-light scenes. But Sony has done it. It performs well in almost every situation, the auto modes are spot on, it is fast and sharp. The RX100iv has a tiltable display, f1.8-2.8 Zeiss lens with 24-70mm zoom. It shoots 20mp RAW/JPG/TIF photos at 16 frames per second, 4K video, has a great digital viewfinder, built-in ND filter, flash, wifi, what more do you want? Out of all my photography gear, this is one of my favs.
It’s usually the camera I recommend to people, one of the RX100 line; RX100, RX100ii, RX100iii, RX100iv or RX100v. All models have different properties and you should decide which are important to you. Unless you want some fancy features, one of the early models will be fine. I chose RX100iv because of the wifi option, finally allowing me to use the camera for timelapse photography. Also the 4K video sealed the deal to me. If underwater photography is your thing or something you’re considering, the RX100 is also one of the best choices with a variety of well-priced housing available. So unless you have specific reasons to use a DSLR camera (lenses likely), you’ll be able to do almost everything with this. It’s smaller, easier and lighter to use and ultimately more fun, because it’s easy to take out compared to a large DSLR.
I use this camera for many of my timelapses and videod and it performs great. It is important though to know how to use the camera well to get the most of it, but that goes for all technology. It’s a great camera for when you want to travel light or when you don’t want to pull out the big guns. If you’re shooting photos of people, the RX100iv is much less intimidating. It also draws less attention from thieves. When it comes to small size and weight versus great performance, you can’t go wrong with this line of hi-end compact cameras. This little pocket camera lets you shoot the Milky Way, you really don’t need a big DSLR and expensive lens for it to be able to capture it. There it is, no excuses! Buy it and go out and shoot!
PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR: DSLR CAMERA
I started off with my old Nikon D700 and D800, 14-24mm, 28-300mm, 50mm and 16mm fisheye lens. First my D800’s shutter broke, then my D700 with 14-24 fell kaput. I then bought a D750 and 20mm, had my D800 fixed and returned to fail again shortly after. Sent it for repair again to find out it’s messed up. Then I discovered all of my other lenses had serious fungus issues. Repair was too expensive, costing me €300 for just the research… A complete set of gear ruined in 2 years time, which was supposed to last me many more years… Ouch.
Doing without a proper camera set was no option for me, so I simply had to re-invest. I had my new Nikon D750 and 20/1.8, but needed a second camera and some new lenses. This seemed a good time to take a look at Sony, as so many other photographers are doing. But after doing extensive research and comparing all options, there were more reasons to stick to Nikon. Battery life was a big issue for, sticking with Nikon also saves me huge on accessories and lenses turned out much cheaper and lighter, in my selection.
I have now been able to insure my gear for all the above problems, something I hadn’t been able to do before. I had insurance, but not for these problems. To prevent my camera from getting wet (and getting fungus problems) I now use rain-covers. Also I often pack my gear in a ziploc bag with silica gel pockets to absorb the moisture. Take your lesson from this 🙂
Main camera: Nikon D850
The Nikon D850 is a beast of a camera: full frame, 45mp photos, 4K video, 8K timelapse, automatic focus stacking, electronic shutter, ISO invariance, great dynamic range, wifi, tilted display and many more great specs. It is rightfully named one of the best cameras ever made. The D850 is an all round camera suitable for many types of photography. For me, doing mostly landscape photography and timelapses, this is the ultimate camera. Not just the specs are great, but it holds very comfortable and is easy to use thanks to all buttons that let you quickly access/change settings. It’s built as a tank and has incredible battery life, letting me shoot up to 2000 shots or 5 hours of Milky Way long exposure timelapse. Sony’s battery life is probably the worst of any brand, shooting roughly 300 photos per charge. Battery life alone was dealbreaker to me.
Second/backup camera: Nikon D750
The Nikon D750 is an incredible camera as well. Compared to the D850, it’s half the price and much smaller and lighter. With 24mp photos and HD video, it’s more than enough for most work and keeps your workflow much much faster than working with the D850, which should especially not be understated if you’re working on the road on a laptop! The wifi is great for timelapse, because it lets me use the QDSLdashboard app to manually shoot without touching the camera. The camera is also weather proof, has a tilted display, is fast and accurate.
The feature that really blew me away, is the ISO-invariance. This means that it actually doesn’t matter if you shoot nighttime shot at ISO3200 or ISO100. The letter will give you completely underexposed image, but in your RAW editor you can adjust the exposure to give you the same result as the one shot at ISO3200. Some change in white balance might occur due to different colour rendering at different ISO. This means that even when you have messed up exposures, there is still enough information in the RAW file to adjust the exposure without loss of quality. That is amazing. Note that blown-out highlights have lost all information, so this goes more for underexposed photos than overexposed photos.
A great alternative to the FX D750 and D850 is the Nikon D500, one of the best DX Crop sensor cameras ever. It has all the bells and whistles you can wish for, shoots 21mp photos at 10fps up to 200 shots, 4K video, great in lowlight, wifi, tiltable screen etcetera. I seriously considered this camera when buying my other cameras and if the D850 hadn’t been out, I would have bought this camera.
When it comes to mirrorless cameras, the popular Sony A7 models are the best alternatives. The Sony A7Sii is best for video, the A7Riii best for photography and the A7iii is somewhere in between. Excellent choices that, with the right adapter, let you use almost any kind of lens. Lens stabilisation won’t function with an adapter though. Be sure to get one that allows for auto-focus. When it comes to investing for the future, I do believe Sony is a better choice than any other brand. They are dominating the market and are developing in an incredible pace.
I currently travel with a carefully selected set of 4 lenses: 16-35/f4, 28-300/f3.5-5.6, 20/f1.8 and 50/1.4. These are all fantastic lenses for a very reasonable price and fairly compact and light. With this collection I have a 16-300mm zoom range, so I’m able to capture pretty much anything, distance-wise. All lenses except the 50 have a 77mm filter thread, allowing me to use the same screw on-filters. The 16-35 is ideal for landscapes and is incredibly sharp . The 20 and 50 are great for lowlight, the 50 excels in as well and the 20 at nightskies. I use the 16-35 for that as well, in combination with my D750 and D850 it performs really well at f4. With this set I’m prepared for almost anything. No set of gear is perfect though, it’s always a matter concessions, unless you’re able to buy and carry whatever you want.
If I wouldn’t be on the road as much as I do right now, carrying all that I do, weight would be much less of a factor. In that case I would be using the ‘trinity’ of lenses, Nikon 14-24/f2.8, 24-70/f2.8 and 70-200/f2.8. These are among the best lenses you can buy, but together weigh 3,5kg. When it comes to shooting (candid) portraits, nothing beats a 70-200 zoomlens, in my opinion. When it comes to landscapes, the 24-70 is great (just do panorama for wider views) and when it comes to shooting nightskies, nothing beats the 14-24.
The Nikon 16-35/f4 VR ultra wide zoom is one of the most popular landscape lenses for a good reason. It’s supersharp, handles really well, has Vibration Reduction, and at $1100 is great value for money. The 16-35/f4 is still pretty large as well, the Nikon 18-35/f3.5-4.5 would be smaller alternative, but has no VR and isn’t as wide. 16mm or 18mm might not seems very different, but at such a wide angle it actually make a big difference.
The Nikon 28-300/f3.5-5.6 VR is an incredible superzoom lens. It actually replaces 2 or 3 other lenses. Sure it all comes at a price, so much glass comes with some distortion (fixed with a click though) and sharpness won’t be as great as other lenses, like a 70-200. But for traveling, when money, weight and size are a factor, this lens is thé solution. For less than $1000 and only 800gr this is the ultimate travel lens. If I could take only 1 lens, this would be it.
If you’re a Nikon DX user, the Nikon 18-200/f3.5-5.6 would be the lens of choice, with the crop factor you’d have the roughly the same focal length. You can use the FX lens 28-300 on a DX camera (just not the other way around), but a 1,5 crop factor will turn it into a 42-450mm lens. If zoom is what you want, that’s pretty sweet!
The Nikon 20/f1.8 is a super-fast,-sharp and -easy to use ultra-wide lens. Although it’s not among the most popular lenses, this is a fantastic lens and very underrated lens. It’s relatively small and light at 350gr and costs only $800. It performs great at lowlight situations and I love to use for it nighttime timelapses, but when it comes to Milky Way shots you’ll really want a wider angle.
The Nikon 50/f1.4 is one of the best buys you’ll ever make. There is no reason not to have it, and you when you have it will quickly become one of your favourite lenses. I choose the old version, because it’s even smaller and cheaper. The newer Nikon 50/f1.4 is an improved version. The lenses are small, easy to use, fast and sharp. They perform great in all kinds of situations, are among the best you can get for lowlight, excellent for portrait photography and very little lens distortion. Together with the 35mm they give the most realistic image.
I own or have owned the following lenses and can only highly recommend them, despite not carrying now because of their weight:
- Nikon 14-24/f2.8 is one of the best lenses ever created, an ultra mega super wide angle, razor-sharp. It’s a huge badass looking lens, heavy as hell and expensive at close to $2000. But when you’ve used this lens, you can’t help but fall in love with it. Using it for landscape photography, it really allows you to include the foreground and drag the viewer into the image. Wide angles as these aren’t just for getting as much as possible in your frame. It’s not easy to use it correctly and I actually mis-used the lens for a long time. It’s a great and fun lens to use. It performs like no other at Milky Way shots and timelapses. If it hadn’t been so expensive, I would have re-bought this lens over the 20/f1.8.
- Nikon 24-70/f2.8 is Nikon’s best mid-range zoom and of one of the most versatile lenses to own. Most of what you’ll shoot will probably fall within this range. At a constant f2.8 this lens is great for lowlight situations as well. It is many photographer’s favourite. The new Nikon 24-70/f2.8VR is improved and has Vibration Reduction, obviously a very welcome addition.
- Nikon 80-200/f2.8 is still a very popular model, despite being over 20 years old. Sure, the Nikon 70-200/f2.8 and Nikon 70-200.f2.8VR are improved and better versions. But for a fraction of the price this lens is almost as good.
Although you can do a lot in postproduction, filters let you do things you can’t replicate. You can make the people disappear from a scene by using a ND filter and soften the water and clouds as well to create moody images. You can alter reflections with a polariser filter. There are even filters to create spiky flares from lights and gradual filters to darken skies. The Infrared filter is an interesting one, it captures a different kind of reality by capturing a different spectrum of light from what our eyes can see. Using this technique, you can take shots that will be radically different from what we see with our eyes. You can make tropical scenes look like winter wonderland. Finally, UV filters are used to protect your lens. They can cause flairs if light hits the lens from certain angles, so it’s best to shoot without then.
I don’t use my ND and my polariser filters enough, I should use it much more and I’m really planning from now on. It just requires such a setup, and usually when I’m willing to, I prefer to shoot a timelapse. The weird thing with an IR filter is that some lenses (most that I own) get this white area in the centre. These lenses just can’t be used with such a filter.
There are a lot of filters available, cheap to expensive. You should use good filters with equal good lenses to avoid image degradation. I use screw-on models, because they are more compact to travel with. Many pros use a filter system that allows for sliding in square resin filters, such as seen at the popular Lee system. If you’re not too worried about it needing to be compact, I’d invest in one of those systems to be honest.
I own and recommend the following the filters:
Flash: Nikon SB-400
The Nikon SB-400 is a small flash that packs a punch. This is great small flash that can improve your photography a lot, it’s great at parties or any low light situation. You rotate the flash to reduce the effect or bounce light of a wall. I also have the big SB-800, which is huge and has endless functions. I find it hard to use (I just don’t use it enough to get familiar) and when comparing both flashes I found the SB400 to often give even better results. It’s been replaced by the newer model Nikon SB-300 which is great as well by the look of the reviews.
A lot of cameras come with a small flash on tip. It’s useful, but very limited. It’s useless when you’re using a big lens, because it causes a large shadow. There’s a lot to say for using natural light, but a little bit of flash light can work wonders on a photo. It brings a sparkle in the eyes of people and can turn an amateur shot into a pro-looking shot. It can light up a foreground or a room. Experiment!
Tripod: Sirui T-2205X
When you’re getting serious about photography, you’ll need a tripod. Only then can you shoot at maximum quality setting and use multiple and long exposure for all kinds of stunning effects. No one likes to carry a tripod, but once you see that amazing shot you captured thanks to a tripod, you know what you’re doing it for. You don’t always need a tripod of course, it depends on what you’re shooting and how much light is available.
There are many types of tripods and it may be hard to choose. My main tripod is by Sirui, an excellent brand that offers great value compared to the big brands. Buying a proper tripod is a good investment, the cheaper ones simply don’t last for long if you use them much. Choose the correct head, if photography is your mean thing, a ball head is best. For video, get a video head.
The Sirui T-2205X is a carbon tripod of 4 segments, ideal for travel and lightweight. It’s really well built and comes with a short centre column to get your camera close to the ground. The legs fold 180 degrees and can be used in 90 degrees, something many can’t do. It also comes with a nice bag, ideal for travel. Keep in mind you pay a lot more for carbon, the weight difference really isn’t that much compared to aluminium. I use it with 2 heads: a Sirui K-30 ballhead and a Sirui VA-5 Video Head. Both are relatively cheap and lightweight options in their class. They perform great for their price I guess. After one of traveling my first K30 was stuck though, apparently dirt had ruined it, so I had to buy a new one.
Mini tripod: Cullmann
The Cullman mini tripod is a small, strong tripod that can handle a DLSR with a medium sized lens. The little ballhead is great and it allows for precise control, even after having this tripod for more than 5 years. When I shoot timelapses, it’s important the tripod and camera are stable. For that, this camera is great. Don’t do it in heavy winds of course.
Drone: Mavic Pro
The DJI Mavic Pro drone is one of the greatest gadgets I’ve ever had. To have a ‘flying camera’ is utterly amazing. To see the world from the sky and to have the freedom to fly around for miles explores areas is one of the greatest things ever. I can’t rave enough about it. I bought the combo pack and use Lipo Safe Bags during flights (it’s a requirement). To adjust shutterspeed during video recording I have the Polarpro filter pack. They’re great when shooting video, but when shooting photos I prefer to do without. They are a hassle to attach and detach. You have to do it very carefully, or you might mess up your gimball.
Motion video: Osmo+
The DJI Osmo+ is a motion controlled, stabilised camera. It lets you shoot photos, videos and timelapses. The latter was one of my main reasons to buy this. If it worked, it would have been a cheap and great way to create motion timelapses. The issue lies in the 2-section stick and tripod, which is too unstable, resulting in a video with a ridiculous amount of shake. I then got the DJI Osmo base, which gives better results, but only lets you shoot from the ground.
Nevertheless, this is a great device offering you heaps of options for creativity and cool motion video shots. It is not super easy to use though. First you have get it out of the box, rotate the smartphone holder, place your smartphone, turn on Osmo, connect via Wifi, open the app and you’re ready to go. Shooting itself is easy, but trying to record nice smooth motion is a real challenge. Mine had a faulty lens, which I only found out much later, so all the footage I shot was useless. Apparently this is a common factory error. You’ll want to inspect the quality of your image for sharpness when you buy it.
To adjust the shutter speed and avoid jerky footage I have the Caruba filter set.
Action – & Underwater camera: GoPro
I bought the GoPro Hero 4 (when it came out) to have a waterproof camera able to capture snorkelling and deep diving. GoPro was one of the few offering that. I must say I’ve been rather disappointed with the quality of the footage. I’m no longer traveling with it. In hindsight I wish I would have bought one of the cheaper action cameras, like the Yi Discovery. Or maybe a proper waterproof camera like the Olympus TG-5 Tough.
Motion timelapse: Syrp Pan-Tilt
The Syrp Genie Mini Pan & Tilt system lets me add 2-axis motion to my timelapses and video. It is a cheap and lightweight solution to having this 2-axis control, but I’ve found it works great. I only bought this recently, wish I had bought it before. I did buy a Genie Mini first to try out, which only allows 1 axis motion. Motion adds a lot to a scene. Ideally I’d have a slider, which actually give even better results, especially in combination with a 2-axis system like this. I own a Dynamic Perception slider and Emotimo dolly, but it’s impossible to go backpacking with that or any other proper motion controlled slider system that I’ve seen.
Light: Lume Cube
I have a few sources of light to help me with my photography, mainly when doing nighttime shots. Sometime you want to accentuate certain elements in a dark area when there is not enough light. The LumeCube is a great little remote controlled light, it’s even waterproof. It has 10 strength settings and you can control it via Bluetooth. I carry a flashlight to find my way in the dark and it works great to light up scenes as well. A headlamp is really useful as well for many occasions. I have one with a red light that doesn’t give as much light pollution when your shooting and want something from your bag.
Camera remote: JJCWT-868
The JJC WT-868 wireless remote is a great option for a wireless remote. I can shoot from a great distance or set my camera up for a timelapse. Nikon’s timelapse mode isn’t as accurate as a remote, so it’s preferred to use one. The wireless version does require you to attach a a receiver on the camera. But at least now I can chill nearby and still check my remote.
I also use some old iPhones to take timelapses with my camera via wifi. Since weirdly enough you need 2 phones for the D850 to do it, I use a ‘hacked’ wifi extender to create the wifi instead of a phone.
Almost everyone has one these days, so this is a no-brainer, but still it deserves mention. If I could bring only 1 gadget, it would be my smartphone. It is the most multi-functional device and especially when traveling you can’t live without. But also for photography it has many uses and serves as a remote for almost all my gear. I currently use 3 iPhones (4, 6 & 6S) to be able to use my equipment properly. Using my phone for almost all my gear (and to navigate while driving), I struggled to keep my phone charged. Now I can setup a timelapse or two and still fly my drone 🙂
Memory cards & Card reader
When it comes to buying memory cards, make sure you buy the right card for the device. Some require fast cards, some don’t. Without the proper card your device isn’t functioning optimally or you’ve paid too much for a too-fast card. When shooting high resolution video such as 4K you’ll want a proper card. Sandisk is one of the best brands around and most of my cards end up being Sandisk Extreme and Extreme Pro cards. I prefer to use 64 and 128gb cards and have cards dedicated to their cameras. Timelapse takes up so much space, I prefer to have enough. Other prefer multiple smaller cards.
Get a proper card reader for the type of cards you use. You don’t want it to break down on you when you need it, especially on the road.
PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR: LAPTOP & MEMORY
My MacBook Pro 13” (mid 2015 model) is my working horse and I make it sweat like no other laptop. I have rendered way over a million alone for my timelapse scenes in the past 2 years. It spends weeks on end rendering scenes and movies, editing huge (often 2-3gb each) photos and all sorts of stuff. I’m a multitasker when it comes to computer stuff and this machine is up to anything I throw at it. It’s the first laptop I’ve ever owned and I was way impressed. The 512gb flash drive is crazy fast and it outperforms my iMac in many tasks.
Many photographers and designers love to work with a drawing tablet. Personally I’ve been long time fan of using the Logitech trackball. I even take it with me when traveling. I find it gives more comfort than a tablet when working for many hours. You don’t have the precision though.
To store all my data I use some different types of drives. The LaCie 4TB Rugged Raid is my main drive on which I keep my most used data and projects in progress. I use a Seagate Backup Plus Fast 4TB as a backup drive of the LaCie, which I keep in a different bag. The Seagate wasn’t out when I bought the much more expensive LaCie. Now, I would buy two of the Seagates to save some money, they’re both almost equally fast.
I have a few Seagate Backup Plus 4TB drives for other data and finished projects. These regular drives are painstakingly slow if you’re copying large folders. I use them for data I don’t move around much, like finished projects.
If you don’t need drives larger than 500gb, consider the 500gb SSD drives. They are great value drives, superfast and very small & lightweight. They are available in 1 and 2TB as well, but they’re just much more expensive per GB.
Your camera gear doesn’t come cheap. If you want it to last, you need to take care of it and clean it properly. There are a couple of items I use, a bunch of Microfibre cleaning cloths to keep my screens and lenses clean. It’s best to use an air blower first to remove dust and sand, which can cause scratches on your lens and coating. A lenspen has a brush to remove sand from your camera and lens. The other side lets you clean remaining spots on the lens. You’ll get a much better deal buying a cleaning kit which includes all these items and more for a better price.
When using a camera with interchangeable lenses you’ll end up with dust on your sensor, which even the camera’s sensor cleaning can’t remove. Although you can (usually) easily remove dust in postprocessing, it’s best avoided. To get it removed you can try the air blower, but often it’s a case of moving around dust. If that doesn’t work, you have 3 options. Get it cleaned at a shop or do it yourself. Doing it yourself there are 2 methods; the wet method, using swabs and a wet solution to remove the dust or using the Sensor Gel Stick. I have never had the guts to try the wet method, many will say it’s doable, but it’s risky as well. Safer feels the Sensor gel stick, which you press onto the sensor and then use sticky paper to get the dust off the gel.
PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR: OTHER ACCESSORIES
I use a Black Rapid Strap to carry my camera around my neck. I have one extra attachment to be able to connect both cameras to it, in case I get charged for my overweight bag. It’s a lot more comfortable than the standard strap than come with the camera.
I use a LensCoat RainCoat to protect my camera from rain and dew. I also regularly pack my lenses and cameras in a ziploc bag with some reusable silica gel pockets to absorb the moist. You can dry them in an oven to use again, up to 20 times. I’ve used dry rice before as well. I’ve learned these things the expensive way when all my lenses got ruined in 18 months southeast Asia.
You can’t live without a powerbank anymore these days, especially when traveling. It’s not just for charging your phone, but any USB device.
I use a Powercube and a Skross USB Hub to charge my gadgets, as I often only have 1 outlet available in the rooms I stay at. The Skross World Travel Adaptor is great thanks it’s extra 2x USB charger, but mine actually ‘blew up’ at some point. It made a bang and died. I then got the USB Hub with 4xUSB. There are many versions of the Skross adapters, look around to see what suits you best if you’re not interested in the extra 2x USB charger.
The Bose SoundLink Micro Bluetooth speaker is one incredible little bluetooth speaker. It is a lot more expensive than most other small speakers, but when you hear the difference in sound, you will understand why. The sound quality is amazing, even at a really low volume it still has a rich sound. If you’re not such a sucker for sound quality and bass, like I am, you’ll be fine with any cheap speaker. However, a speaker really is great to have when traveling or for when you’re out taking photos. The strap on the back allows this speaker to be attached to the shoulder strap of my backpack (or belt or whatever), so I can play it while driving. Awesome!
Some of my gear comes with really long power cables which take up unnecessary space, so I bought some short 30cm/1ft power cables.
PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR: CAMERA BAGS
Large camera bag: Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 Multi-Purpose Backpack
Considering I’m on the road most of the time and sometimes have to leave my bag unattended, a theft-proof camera bag has become my priority. One of the few brands that offer anti-theft bags is PacSafe, but none are dedicated camera bags. With the Pacsafe Venturesafe X40 Multi-Purpose Backpack they solved that by creating ‘inserts/compartments’ in different sizes for the top and bottom section. Strangely enough these inserts don’t fit ideally. I tried all 3 bottom compartments and found that only the Camsafe Anti-Theft Protective Camera Insert size M is useable, but only when turned 90 degrees to improve access to the insert.
That problem being ‘solved’, this bag is close to perfect. It is a very well designed bag with everything you might need, comfortable to wear, easy to access and most important: theft-proof. To keep your stuff safe, the bag uses exomesh (can’t slice the bag), secured zippers (can’t be opened with a pen), security hooks to hold zippers together, special design zippers (you can lock with padlock) etcetera. The bag is pretty much like a mobile safe that keeps my photography gear safe. Thanks to the compartment and this not being a fully dedicated camera bag, I can use my backpack for other side-trips as well.
Pacsafe offers a large line of anti-theft bags. I also own their Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP 29 80L wheeled bag and their Pacsafe Venturesafe EXP 65 65L backpack, which you’ll find at My Travel Gear. I highly recommend these bags, not just for being anti-theft, but they are great bags to use. If you’re carrying around some equipment, you’ll want it to be safe. If you’re backpacking and staying at hostels, you are at risk. Using a hostel locker is not a good choice, most theft reports I’ve heard, come from things (especially laptops) being stolen from easy-to-break-in lockers. Keep in mind as well that the often used cheap combination locks with 3 numbers are easily opened. Even I can open it within a minute by carefully feeling when a click is different. Padlocks with keys are safest.
For many years I’ve used the Vanguard Skyborne 53 camera bag, which is one of the finest bags I’ve ever used. It has all the bells and whistles, is super sturdy and is as comfortable as it gets. If anti-theft isn’t a priority, I can really recommend this bag or one from the line up. The only drawback is that you can’t lock the bag, which goes for every other non-theft bag…
Small camera bag: Lowepro Urban Photo Sling 150
For times when I want to travel light I use my Lowepro Urban Photo Sling 150 Camera Bag, a great little bag with 1 strap for quick access to your camera. It lets me pack a DSLR with a few lenses, a small tripod in the side pocket, some cleaning things in the front with extra batteries and a powerbank. It is large enough to fit a DSLR with a 70-200 zoomlens attached to it and can even fit a medium sized tablet.
I own a few small camera bags, but this is by far the most comfortable and most handy one. It’s a strong, lightweight bag with plenty of room for photography gear and accessories, without being too big or getting too heavy. It functions as a ‘handbag’ during flights to reduce the (over)weight of my daypack. This bag also allows me to always keep my camera and lenses close to me for times when I can’t have my daypack next to me, as is often the case when you’re traveling to other places.
Check out the other travel and photography tools I use: