My Camera Set-Up, August 2017

Drone view of Takamaka beach, jungle and ocean on Mahe island, Seychelles

Hi, there! Camera-related questions are incredibly frequent! So, I thought I'd tell you a little bit about the types of camera that I use. More than that, I'll tell you which cameras accompanied me on my travels so you can really see how these cameras perform.

Cameras are essential to travel! At least for me, anyway. Some would argue that when you are taking photos of moments on holiday, you forget to actually live the moment. Maybe I'm weird but for me the moment is never complete without a photo. Photography adds a huge level of enjoyment to my trips. I love trying to get the right shots and then when I return home, it's like the holiday continues as I edit my photos and videos then eventually look back on them years later. My only regret from various trips is not taking enough photos!

I'm going off on one. Before I get too distracted, let's dig into the details!

What camera do you use?

I have several pieces of kit that I use. The important thing to remember with cameras, which I cannot stress enough, is that, to an extent, the hobby of photography is not about who has the best kit, but how you can use your current kit to get the most out of your photography. Anyway, let's get into what I use.

Canon 650D: This is my main camera. This camera is a pretty basic DSLR but it does a lot. I do not feel the need to upgrade my camera yet (Update: I have now upgraded from this camera. You can read all the reasons why here). It takes high quality photos in RAW format and can take high-quality 1080p videos. For getting started in photography, this is a great camera and I have no issues with it.

The most restrictive thing about it is the standard kit lens which it comes with. I purchased a good quality zoom lens a couple of years ago to take better wildlife photos and my gosh, the difference in quality of photo that this lens takes! It's turned the camera from basic to great! In fact, I love it so much that I use my zoom lens to take 'close-up' shots. Well, you have to stand thousands of yards away (not literally!) to take it but the quality surpasses that of the kit lens so much that it's a must!

Trips where this camera was used are: St Barth 2013, Namibia 2013, South Africa 2014, Seychelles 2016 and The Lake District 2017.

Standard kit 18-55mm Canon lens: I admit, I hardly use this lens anymore now that I have my zoom lens, but before I had another lens to compare it with, this was great. This was the only lens I used on my Namibia trip. All photos from that trip were taken with this lens on the Canon 650D. Here are some photos that I took with this lens. As with Namibia, all photos from my St Barth trip were taken with this lens and camera. Although I took this lens with me to Seychelles in 2016, I only took two photos with it and I was dissatisfied with both.

Caracal at Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary Namibia
Caracal Walk at Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary Namibia

I was perfectly happy with the standard kit lens when I took it to Namibia - quality-wise anyway. I only decided to upgrade afterwards because whilst on game drives, it was impossible to photograph faraway animals, which leads me onto my next lens.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens: I bought this lens to enable me to take pictures of animals which are faraway. Because this was my first lens purchase, I put a lot of thought into it and splashed out on an expensive one. I am super impressed with it. Although not always practical, this has turned into my go-to lens just because the quality is so much better than my 18-55mm. It's not ideal having to stand so far away from the subject, but it works. My next purchase will definitely be a more wide-angle lens of the same quality as this. I have my eye on one but it is not cheap!

This lens was used the entire time with the Canon 650D body in my South Africa trip, Seychelles trip (when I used the 650D) and when I used the 650D in the Lake District.

Here are some photos taken with this lens.

Ella on boulder by ocean on Mahe island, Seychelles
Green lizard outside our wooden cabin in the rainforest on Mahe island, Seychelles

You may only notice subtle differences as both sets of images have been edited afterwards to make them look better. Differences are more noticeable in their raw forms. With the zoom lens, detail of the subject is much sharper and there is a nice background blur. The colours also seem to pop out more.

I also have use filter at the end of this lens. Details below.

Hoya UV 67mm filter: I bought this filter to go with my zoom lens for 2 reasons. Firstly, I've heard you can't buy a good lens without a good filter and secondly, if I dropped my camera, the filter is more likely to get damaged than the lens itself. If I didn't have the filter, my lens could smash and that is much more expensive to replace than the filter. Anyway, onto the benefits of the filter itself. This filter cuts out UV rays so that your image is sharp and not ruined by excess sun rays. I've never used my lens without the filter so I cannot comment on how the lens is without it but I know that I get fantastic images using the 70-300mm with this filter.

Rode VideoMic: The last piece of kit I bought for my Canon 650D is a mic for videos. The mic is good for removing background noise and increasing sound quality. I only got this recently so I haven't taken it on my travels yet.

I have tested this with my Canon 650D with not-so-impressive results. I don't know if I just can't configure it properly but the sound is so quiet. I have to ramp up the sensitivity so much to get any sound heard and then there's loads of background noise.

iPhone 6 Plus: Yes, I use my iPhone to take photos a lot. The iPhone cameras are amazing, especially the newer ones. I have absolutely no complaints with it. If I don't feel like lugging round my DSLR, I just make sure I have my phone on me and I am sorted. The video quality is also good. The camera films in 120fps for slow-mo as well.

My iPhone may be the most used camera of all (certainly recently anyway). It took many photos in Seychelles, all photos in Scotland and most photos when I went camping in UK in 2017.

Here are some pictures taken with my iPhone.

Quiet Road in Baie Lazare on Mahe Island, Seychelles
Lock Tay in Kenmore, Scotland

GoPro Hero 3+: GroPros are fantastic little cameras. The waterproof casing is great and because these cameras are not that expensive, you feel comfortable submerging them in the water. The mounts are also great. My particular GoPro films in 1080p but the newer models can film in 4k. Another benefit of the newer models is that they have a screen on the back - mine doesn't. Sometimes I've had my subject out of the frame and not been aware. Other times, I've had horrific dust and water droplets on my lens and not noticed until I played back the footage. I do like this camera but I am interested in upgrading to the newest model for those 2 reasons mentioned.

T took the GoPro with me to South Africa and Seychelles. All photos used in this blog post were screenshots taken from my GoPro.

DJI Phantom 4 Drone: This is my most recent and favourite piece of kit. I absolutely love it! Not only does this drone give you amazing perspectives, but the quality is fantastic. It's the only camera I have that films in 4k and my, do you notice a difference. The gimbal also makes the footage sikly smooth. I was worried that the drone would be hard to fly but it's actually really easy, albeit terrifying. Over time I'll likely gain confidence flying it further away.

The drone has been used in Seychelles, Snowdonia (here and here) and Mallorca. It will get a lot more use!

Here are some screenshots taken from videos filmed with the drone.

Drone view of Ella at Anse Royale beach on Mahe island, Seychelles
Drone view of Anse Royale beach on Mahe island, Seychelles

Old Cameras

In case you were interested (although you're probably not), I haven't discussed the cameras used in some of my earlier trips such as the Caribbean Cruise and Zambia.

I used a standard point-and-shoot Canon camera in Miami & the Caribbean. I am actually super-impressed with the quality of these photos, especially considering they're just from a regular point-and-shoot camera.

This wonderful camera sadly met an untimely fate in Zambia. During my first day canoeing down the Zambezi, I dropped it into the bottom of my canoe which was filled with water. RIP little guy. He had served me well.

Unfortunately, the rest of the Zambia trip was photographed on my iPhone 4s. The photos were very poor quality. iPhones have certainly come on over the years. Here's a nice comparison of the 4s compared to the 6s plus.

Elephant on Zambezi River in Zambia Africa

Taken on the iPhone 4s

Mount Snowdon in Snowdonia National Park, Wales

Taken on the iPhone 6s Plus

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