So What Photography Equipment Do I Really Need?

A lot of us getting into photography are often intimidated by the amount of equipment we need to buy.

In this blog post, I will talk about the equipment that I am currently using. I have done some extensive trial and error on the equipment that I have, and feel I have found a great “sweet spot” for the equipment that I need for great photos, and what I want to carry along on steep and long backpacking trips!

I shoot with a Canon, but urge others to look at all features of other brands and models cameras and decide what will work best for you. Talk to your friends who shoot, and ask them for the advantages and disadvantages of the camera they are currently using.


I shoot with a Canon 80D, a recent upgrade from my Rebel T5i. This camera is very durable, and although a bit heavy, it fits me well for taking on my hiking and backpacking photography adventures. It has some really great features that are easily accessed, and has a great deal of focus points, resulting in some very sharp photos.


I have narrowed my options down to two lenses, from a previously cumbersome three. These two lenses give me the features and ranges that I need, without having to carry around too much bulk, or switch lenses too often.

Primarily, I use a Tamron 16–300mm lens for my general and long distance shots. This has a great range in one lens, which allows for macro shots, general trail shots, and an amazing zoom. The 300mm zoom allows us to identify far away objects, like fire lookouts, waterfalls, and other points of interest.

We spotted Gobbler’s Knob fire lookout from Mt. Beljica, using my 300mm lens. It is fun to spot future destinations this way!

For landscape photos and night shots, I use my Tokina 11–16mm ATX-116 PRO DX II. This has a low coma (blur) for some great crisp night shots, and is also a great wide angle landscape lens, in my opinion.

A wide angle lens allows you to capture more of the landscape into your frame.


I use the Mefoto Roadtrip, which, in my opinion, is an amazing tripod for the outdoors. The carbon fiber frame is lighter than you would expect, but also has a very sturdy head to hold my camera and lenses very still for my night photos, and my long exposure shots. They do carry a slightly lighter model, but I have a heavier camera and lens, so the sturdier head on the Road Trip model works well for me.

Optional Equipment

Polarized lens filter

Very helpful for adding in color saturation, and fine-tuning reflections, resulting in some of my favorite landscape shots.

ND (Neutral Density) filter

I don’t use this very often, but this filter is very helpful for preventing overexposures to your photos, like when you want to capture detail in a bright setting, like a waterfall in the sun. It also allows you to capture detail on brights objects, such as a really bright full moon.

I use my polarizing filter to capture more color, and I can adjust the reflections on water to match more what I see.

Remote shutter release

This is necessary to an extent for night photography, since it will let you take an exposure without having to press the button on your camera. If your camera shakes at all during your shot, your stars will become blurry.

You can still set your camera timer to a 2 second or 10 second interval to avoid capturing the movement on your camera, but having a remote shutter release also allows you to:

  1. Take a photo with you and your group in it, without having to activate the timer and then run to your group to be in the frame. TIP: I recommend that you do NOT try this with the 2 second timer, and please have current medical insurance if you ever try this in snowshoes!
  2. It also allows you to do light painting on your foreground objects if you are by yourself, if allowed at your shooting location (more on this later).

I use the Vello Wireless shutter release. It mounts and attaches to your camera by cable, but has a great wireless range, and can do continuous shutter releases as well.

As you can see, I keep my gear pretty simple and streamlined, as bringing photography gear on long overnight trips adds a significant amount of weight and bulk.

I hope this article at least gives some ideas of where to look if you see interested in photography equipment!

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Learn some great hiking and photography tricks, while preserving our amazing wilderness!

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