Travel Photography Gear

I occasionally get questions regarding the photography gear that I’m currently using (a lot of the folks currently following our journey are fellow photogs from back home).  So I thought it might be a good time to give a list with links to purchase if you are so inclined.  Yes, these are affiliate links and if you are in the market we would greatly appreciate it if you used our link to purchase.  Costs you nothing extra and puts a few cents into our account.

I recently switched from all Canon gear to mostly Olympus gear.  I had all the top gear from Canon, even my favorite lens in the world, the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS.  It was my go-to wildlife lens as you might imagine.  Paired with a Canon 5DSr it was an amazing wildlife combo.  However, it weighed a LOT and was bulky (plus I stood out in a crowd with gear like that).  Enter the Olympus gear …

UPDATE:  I’m still using my Olympus EM-1 Mark II as my wildlife and macro setup but have recently sold off the rest of my m43 gear.  I LOVE my Olympus and Leica 100-400mm combo for wildlife.  In good light and close work, it is almost unbeatable IMO.  However, I was also using it for my low light astrophotography work and it just didn’t hold up as well as I’d like.  Too much long exposure noise and high ISO noise.  As such, I’ve switched to a Sony A7 Mark II full-frame camera for all of my general photography and astrophotography needs.  It’s is currently very, very affordable which made the switch easier.

Bodies

My main wildlife and action body is currently the Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II.  It was the mirrorless camera that finally had the auto-focus and frame rates for wildlife and sports that I needed.  It is an expensive camera for the micro four-thirds lineup but worth every penny in my humble opinion.  I won’t go into the specs because they are all over the Internet.  Let’s just say that I do not regret my decision to switch!

SOLD

My “backup” camera (which is actually the camera I use for everything but wildlife and astrophotography) is the Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mark II.  It does not have the AF speed or frame rates to match the EM-1 but it’s a super cool looking camera that does a fantastic job of general photography.  It replaced my Canon 80D.

SOLD

A few months into our journey my EM-5 Mark II took a spill onto a table and decided to no longer function.  I was quite upset since it seemed like a short drop (around 2 feet) onto a table top but apparently was enough of an impact to jar something loose inside.  Since we are on a fixed budget now I wasn’t sure when or if I’d get a replacement camera.  A month or so later, however, we found ourselves in Las Vegas and they had a well stocked camera store.  I picked up my new backup body there in a Panasonic GX85 with 12-32mm kit lens.  I still wanted a camera that could use all of my current lenses and was small and lightweight.  This camera, while a few years old now, has exceeded my expectations.  Even the kit lens is fantastic.  So much so that I rarely remove it.  It’s 35mm equivalent range of 24-64mm works well for a walk around focal range.  It even has “mega OIS” which is optical image stabilization.  Since the GX85 also has in body stabilization, I don’t feel the need to lug a tripod around for landscape shots unless it will be in very, very low light.  Even low light street photography is great handheld with this combo!  Highly recommended!

Lenses

My primary telephoto lens is the Panasonic Leica 100-400mm.  The lens is built like a tank, has a focal range of 200-800mm (35mm equivalent) and is fairly light (considering what I was carrying around).  I find it to be everything that I need.  It replaced a Canon 70-200mm, 300mm f/4 and 500 f/4L IS (and teleconverter for that matter).  Image quality is top notch at all focal ranges IMO.  I really don’t see much difference in my images at 100mm or 400mm.

SOLD

My go-to “do everything” lens is the Olympus 12-100mm f/4 Pro.  It’s a fairly new lens with image stabilization built into the lens.  For those that may not know, Olympus has in the past always just had in-body stabilization and Panasonic had IS in the lenses.  Now Olympus is producing some lenses that also include IS.  The benefit is you can use both in-body and lens stabilization together.  In the case of this lens, I believe it gives you something like 6.5 stops of stabilization.  The fact that this lens is only an f/4 becomes moot when you can handhold a shot at 100mm with very, very slow shutter speeds.  It’s pretty amazing paired with the EM-1 Mark II.  The EM-5 Mark II does not currently take advantage of the lens stabilization.  This lens is amazingly sharp too!  I love this lens!!  Its 35mm equivalent focal range is 24-200mm.  This replaced my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II and Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L II.

SOLD

The lens I use for astrophotography and architecture (or landscapes) is the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro.  Like the 12-100mm Pro, it’s built like a tank and very much a professional level lens.  Any of the images on this website taken in buildings, ships or at night was likely taken with this lens.  Very sharp, very little coma (when your stars look like little birds in flight) and flare isn’t too bad.  To be fair, flare is the only real issue I have with this lens.  Because of the wide apertures, the front lens element is bulbous and picks up lights easily.  Still a wonderful lens and recommended!  This replaced my Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 and Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L lenses.

I enjoy shooting insects and the “little world” around me so a macro lens was a top priority for me as well.  I previously used the Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 Macro Lens.  It’s a one-of-a-kind type lens offering 5:1 to 1:1.  It’s an amazing lens that unfortunately has no equal (yet).  So I had to compromise a bit here.  I ended up with the Olympus 60mm f/2.8.  It’s a great lens albeit a bit quirky.  I’ve learned to use it though and while it only goes to 1:1, I find it sufficient for most of my macro needs.

My lens collection wraps up with a fast prime.  IMO, every photographers bag needs at least one fast prime in it.  I wanted small and found it in the Olympus 17mm f/1.8.  It’s a very small, light lens with great image quality.  Obviously the f/1.8 aperture means a lot of light coming in.  I use this lens for when I want to pack really light and/or when doing general street photography.

Speedlights

As mentioned above, I love macro photography.  One of the key things with macro photography is light and lots of it.  IMO, speedlights are essential here.  Luckily, Olympus had be covered with the Olympus Twin Macro Flash.  It’s a bit expensive IMO, but it does the trick nicely.  It fit my 60mm macro lens right out of the box.

So that’s it!  I can get ALL of my current gear into one camera bag and have every type of photography I do covered!  Let me know if you have any questions!

Jason

Photographer, nature lover and geek. Driver of tow vehicle and setter-upperer of the outside of our RV. Webmaster of this very site.

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