Ever since we started The Bucket List Narratives, we have been accumulating a various assortment of gear that we’ve been fine-tuning to fit our needs. Everything that we’ve purchased has been the result of time spent pouring over blog articles and product reviews, and it’s safe to say that we get good use out of the majority of our purchases. So if you’re in the same boat as us and have a love for travel photography, or if you’re just curious on what we use, here’s what’s in our camera bag.
1. Nikon D3200 DSLR
Let’s start with the work horse, our Nikon D3200. Although the D3200 is Nikon’s entry level DSLR, we’ve been able to get some great results after upgrading the lens a few times. For those of you thinking about getting into DSLR photography, the D3200 is a great way to get your feet wet. And at $450 on Amazon, it’s a lot less of a daunting blow on your bank account than the majority of DSLRs.
Here’s what we’ve found from using the Nikon D3200 for over a year: you definitely get what you pay for. More times than not, it’s done a fantastic job of capturing what we wanted, and only rarely has the result been lacking. The times that we’ve run into problems with the D3200 is in hand held low-light situations (as we expected). Whether a night-scene, a romantic dining room, or dark rides at Disney Parks, its just hard to get the results that you want without a tripod. Upgrading lenses helped a TON, but there’s only so much you can get out of an entry level DSLR. For more people, this camera will more than cover most needs they will ever have though, unless they are looking to get into serious photography.
2. Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM for Nikon
This is where all the magic happens. The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 is our FAVORITE piece of equipment by far. First off, its just a solid piece of equipment, and you can feel it when you hold it. The main reason we bought this lens when we did was because the zoom ring on our Tamron broke on our trip to Colorado last spring. But when I held the Sigma for the first time, I knew that I didn’t have to worry about it breaking on me. Ok, so let me rant just a little more and I’ll move on: image quality is amazing, auto-focus is crazy fast and smooth, focal length is just perfect for most everything I need, and at F1.8, the bokeh is deliciously buttery.
So long story short, if you only get one lens, get the Sigma 18-35 F1.8. She won’t let you down.
And, yes, we understand that our lens is almost twice as expensive as our camera body, and that’s ok. We’d much rather have a more expensive lens on an entry level body, than a kit lens on a higher level DSLR.
3. BESTEK Waterproof DSLR Canvas Camera Bag
We’ve had the BESTEK Waterproof DSLR Canvas Camera Bag for a few months now, and we’ve been really happy so far. Honestly, we were a little skeptical at first, and were crossing our fingers that it would hold up during our adventures. And it did! We were needing a shoulder bag since our lens outgrew our old one, and this one fits all our gear with room to spare. I’m not worried about anything ripping, and it seems like its built to last.
There’s one large front pocket, two side pockets (good for waterbottles), one large padded camera compartment, and an small interior zipper pocket. It works for us, but if you like all your cables, chargers, chapstick in their own individual space, you might not be happy with the open nature of this bag.
But overall, I would definitely recommend the BESTEK Canvas Camera Bag to anyone who needs a rugged, moderately sized DSLR bag that doesn’t scream “I have expensive camera gear!” or make you look too much like a tourist.
4. AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod
Out of all the camera-related items I’m willing to spend money on, a tripod just is not one of them. Maybe that will change, but until it does, I’m using the AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod. At $24, this rugged tripod is the most cost-effective method I’ve found to keeping my camera steady. Cheap tripods are just the worst, and this tripod definitely doesn’t fall into that category. Yes, it actually is lightweight, and 60-inches will almost get you above the head of the tall guy in front of you watching Wishes. The only downside is that it’s not super compact, so it won’t fit in our camera bag, but that’s probably just too much to ask out of a 60-inch, $24 tripod.
So yes, if you’re like me, you’ll be glad you bought the AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod. Just make sure to find short people to stand in front of you during fireworks.
5. Hoya 77mm Neutral Density ND-400 HMC Filter
ND filters are one of those pieces of equipment that you might wonder why it exists. They can be used for a variety of purposes, but the main premise is that they provide the same effect as sunglasses do to your eyes, they let less light through, which allows for longer shutter speeds and lower apertures. And that’s exactly what the Hoya ND-400 HMC Filter does. With 9 stops of reduction, it’s on the darker side of ND filters, which helps when shooting in bright sunlight.
The reason that we purchased the Hoya was mainly because we heard that cheaper ND filters tend to warp your photos, and we couldn’t have that, now could we? Even though we haven’t had the Hoya ND-400 HMC Filter for very long, we’ve been more than happy with the results, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a darker ND Filter.
QUICK TIP for buying any filters: buy the 77mm filter, and buy a step-up adapter ring for whatever size you need for your lens. You can see ours (Adorama Step-Up Adapter Ring 72mm Lens to 77mm Filter Size) attached to our ND filter on the pic above. This way, you’re not carrying around multiple of the same filter.
6. Nikon WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter
The Nikon WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter is a recent purchase that we’re really excited about. This tiny little adapter plugs into the side of your camera and makes a wifi network so that you can pull photo and video straight off your camera to your phone. And it works pretty seamlessly, considering the size of the RAW photos. This will be perfect for in-the-moment uploads to Instagram and #BLNlive posts. Now when we’re on the go, our posts won’t be restricted to iPhone photography.
Now, just to be clear, this is only necessary for cameras that do not have wifi already built in (like our D3200). So if you have the D5300 or the D7200, you can just use the built in wifi to achieve the same effect.
7. Koolertron Canvas Camera Bag Backpack Rucksack Bag With Waterproof Cover
Not gonna lie, I’m a huge fan of the Koolertron Canvas Backpack. It’s simple, rugged, and way cheaper than most bags like this you’ll find. If you’re looking at taking your camera anywhere that involves hiking or taking your camera from one place to another, you’ll want this bag to lug it around. Not only is it nice and comfy, it has plenty of room for all your camera gear, AND a waterproof cover that you can whip out when you get caught in a rainstorm. Since it’s canvas, it doesn’t look like you’re carrying around thousands of dollars worth of camera gear. The top pocket is a large ruck-sack type compartment with a small zipper pocket, and the rest of the bag is covered with convenient compartments to store all the things you think you may need. The only downside that we’ve found is that its hard to get your camera in and out by yourself, so we use this primarily for transporting our camera, and use a shoulder bag for days when we need to whip it out a lot.
So we definitely recommend the Koolertron Canvas Camera Bag Backpack if you’re looking for something to fulfill your camera-carrying needs.
8. GoPro HERO
We bought our GoPro HERO just before our trip to Oahu this spring, mainly because it just so dang cheap. A waterproof, shockproof, wide-angle camera that shoots in 1080p for $130? Done deal. We haven’t delved very deep into videography, so this seemed like an obvious choice for documenting our adventures (especially where we couldn’t take our camera, like on a kayak in Oahu).
So here’s what I’ve found with the short time we’ve used the GoPro HERO: it’s incredible for the price. We love the time-lapse feature, and the fact that it’s so portable and light is perfect for traveling. With its ultra-wide angle lens and just the nature of a GoPro, you get very unique video, which looks impressive when done correctly. But as we expected, it gets noisy pretty quickly in low-light scenarios, and never really wows us with the picture quality. But GoPro is more than worrying about noise and quality, its about bringing others into your experience, without being a distraction from it. Just strap it on, and experience life.
So if you’re looking for a GoPro that won’t break the bank, or just a way to take people along on your adventures, we highly recommend the GoPro HERO. I’m sure we’ll be using it for a long time, even after its time for an upgrade.
We really appreciate all the feedback and questions we’ve been getting about our photography, and we hope that some of the gear in our bag can help provide a good starting place for you! We’ve provided links above to make it easy to purchase you own equipment, and get started on your own photography adventure!