I am not a diehard fan of any brand in particular. I use equipment that give me the results I like whilst feeling comfortable and being within range of my budget. Here’s what I’m currently using.
The Fuji X100V is in a way, my least versatile camera but it is also the most liberating one to use. Its 23mm (35mm full frame equivalent) f/2 lens is fixed so you don’t need to worry about whether you should be brining the ultra-wide angle, the telephoto, the macro, the low-light prime or your complete arsenal with you on that trip. Once on location, you’re not worried about which lens to put on for that specific situation either. This is a grab and go camera.
The X100V has an APS-C sensor and produces fantastic images. The Fujifilm simulations are perfect for certain scenarios and will make you want to stick to JPEG only. Its compact size allows you to carry it all day without causing fatigue and thus keeps you in the mood to actually be taking photographs. This beautiful piece of engineering is what you take with you when you want to keep it simple and fun.
This is the full-frame big boy I take when I want the best “image quality” and size/weight are not an issue. The Z5 is considered to be Nikon’s entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera but it’s quite sufficient for my needs. The camera works beautifully well, has weather-sealing, 1/8000 mechanical shutter and for those who care, two memory card slots. Since I was familiar with Nikon’s system and the fact that the Z5 was considerably cheaper than any other full-frame system, the choice was a no-brainer for me.
If you’re considering a full-frame system, keep in mind the extra weight and size of everything. A bag filled with a full-frame camera body and a few lenses (especially those f/2.8 zooms) can quickly become a burden.
Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S
I really like the 50mm field of view. I remember a few trips where the 50mm was my primary lens for most of the journey. Every camera system has some version of a cheap nifty-fifty and it’s most likely the first prime lens of many beginner photographers. The f/1.8 versions are usually small and light. However, this Nikon S-Line version is neither cheap, nor small and light. It does make up for it by producing superb images.
The lens itself is very well built, has weather sealing and focuses well. This is an excellent lens for isolating your subjects and creating beautiful bokeh.
OM-D E-M5 mark II
The E-M5 mk II is equipped with a Micro 4/3 sensor that is much smaller than that of the Nikon Z5 and even the Fuji X100V. Many people dislike the Micro 4/3 system for that reason alone. I on the other hand, find it to be a very capable format. Once again, it all depends on your requirements and the type of work you are doing. The real advantage of Micro Four Thirds lies in its size and weight. Since the sensor is much smaller, the corresponding lenses are also smaller.
The E-M5 mk II is a great little camera that has never let me down. It is light, responsive, has all the buttons and functions I need, has fantastic in-body image stabilization (IBIS), takes beautiful pictures and is fairly cheap. Furthermore, its weather resistance is a key factor when travelling. When combined with a weather-sealed lens, this becomes a small and versatile kit that can follow you on any adventure.
This is my favourite travel lens. The 12-40mm range (24-80 full-frame equivalent) covers everything I need when I’m abroad. Its f/2.8 constant aperture is great for letting in all the light and combined with the Olympus’ industry leading IBIS and high ISO, the 12-40 can even be used at night.
I have taken this lens on adventures in very humid tropical zones, in snowstorms, under torrential typhoon rains and on sandy beaches. It is still working line new. The images obtained from this lens are detailed and sharp.
Olympus’ version of the nifty-fifty. This 25mm is equivalent to a 50mm in term of full-frame focal range. This little lens is my preferred companion for night time shooting. Its f/1.8 aperture combined with some good IBIS (which all Olympus cameras have) will get you sharp images almost every time.
This lens is tiny compared to say the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S but it is not as well built. It also lacks weather sealing so you will have to be careful with the elements.
The Olympus 75mm f/1.8 is regarded as one of the best lenses in Olympus’ fleet. It is renown for its sharpness. The 75mm on Micro 4/3 is the equivalent of 150mm on full-frame so this lens is perfect for portraiture but can also be used for landscape as well.
The lens itself is beautifully well built but it is missing something that could have made it even better: weather sealing. The other particularity of the 75mm is that the lens hood (sold separately) is a big piece of metal that attaches on with a tightening screw. Not my favourite. This is not a lens that I would normally carry on every trip due to its focal length but using it correctly will give you some exceptional results.
40-150mm f/4.0 – 5.6 R
This is a lens that I rarely use. I should but I don’t. It has served me very well on one specific occasion: a safari in South Africa. With its 80-300mm full-frame equivalent reach, it was perfect for capturing images of the big five whilst keeping a safe distance in the jeep. This focal range can also be used in landscape shots with fantastic results.
So why did I buy it? It cost me 99$ CAD (on sale) brand new. This was years ago before lens prices rose dramatically. For that price, it’s definitely worth it. The lens is extremely light due to its plastic construction. At this price range, you obviously get a variable aperture and the lack of weather sealing. Don’t get me wrong though, the 40-150mm R is quite good for its price. I think it’s the best bang for your buck in all of Olympus’ lens lineup.
Flipside Trek BP 350 AW
LowePro is not a company that needs introduction. They’ve been around for quite some time and make some very good products. The Flipside Trek BP 350 AW is one of those great products. The main reason I opted for this specific backpack, was the marketed ability to be able to “flip” the bag around and have it hang horizontally in front of you thanks to the waist strap. This allows you to open the camera compartment and do your thing without having to lay the bag on the ground. Very useful for those times where you find yourself in wet, muddy or simply dirty conditions. I love this feature. In all my years travelling with this backpack, I’ve never used this feature a single time. I have however fallen in love with everything else about it though. I absolutely love it’s compact and sleek design. Everything is nice and tight. The straps aren’t flailing around everywhere and nothing gets caught up when storing or removing it from airplane compartments or form under the seats. The camera gear is well protected. There’s a smaller version as well as a bigger capacity one. The straps are well positioned and functional. I often carry my tripod, water bottle, jacket or even umbrellas thanks to them. The bag comes with a rain cover but I have used it in very light rain and snowy conditions.
The Flipside Trek BP 350 AW is the pack I use when I know I’ll be wandering around with all of my gear. It is versatile, comfortable and does not look like your typical black camera bag.
I have had the Airport Essentials for almost a decade and it’s still in perfect conditions despite having been on various trips around the world. I opted for the Airport Essentials for one main reason: security (peace of mind). The bag itself is simply a rectangular bag with customizable dividers inside and a “tablet/laptop” compartment on the outside. Very simple. The feature that sets it apart though, is the steel security cable that wraps around the frame of the bag and is stored in a little side pocket. At the end of this cable is a number based lock pad. This allows you to not only lock the zippers but also secure your entire bag to another immovable object. This can provide peace of mind be quite useful when your bag is out of sight and filled with thousands of dollars worth of equipment. For example when the plane’s overhead compartments above you are full and you have to put your bag 5 rows behind in the other aisle since you want that leg room on the 10-hour flight. You can easily lock those zippers and even attach your back to your partners bag in the same compartment. This way, you’re sure that nobody will be snooping around inside and it cannot be easily taken. The Airport Essentials has also been designed to fit the requirements of almost all airline carry-on specifications.
The Airport Essentials is not a bag you want to be lugging around across town and across your hiking trip. It wasn’t designed for this. As the name implies, it was mostly designed to keep your valuables safe during the actual transportation part of your trip.