dave martinez photography » Official website of Dave Martinez Photography, Photographer based in Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines.

Travel Photography

When I’m preparing for travel, I spend more time coming up with a camera+lens combo that I will bring for the whole duration of the trip. Mind you, this takes more time than I would pack for my clothes and other stuffs. So far I never traveled with exact same combo of camera+lens, every trip is different. The main factors I consider when traveling are:

1. What is the type of trip I’m going? Do I have time to shoot for photos?

2. Does the place I’m visiting offer opportunities to photograph for landscape? portrait? street? architecture? nature?

I usually try to answer those questions above before preparing for the trip, then I base my kit on that premise.

For a one camera, one lens kit – I will try to bring a mid-range zoom, and it will be the Nikkor AFS 24-70mm 2.8.

For a one camera, two lens kit – I will most likely bring a Nikkor AFS 24mm 1.4 + Nikkor AFS 85mm 1.4 or Nikkor AFS 17-35mm 2.8 + Nikkor AFD 85mm 1.4 depending on the situation.

For a two camera, two lens kit – I will end up with one of the combos above ^^ 24 + 85 or 17-35 + 85.

In China – I brought along a Nikon D3, Nikkor AFS 17-35mm 2.8 and Nikkor AFS 70-200mm  2.8 VRII. There was a valid reason (/excuse?) for hauling a 70-200 2.8 lens because part of the itinerary was an opportunity to photograph some wildlife.


White Siberian Tiger, Harbin, China

White Siberian Tiger, Harbin, China

Photographer’s note: F/4, 1/320, ISO 220, Nikon D3, Nikkor AFS 70-200 2.8 VRII


Here are my tips:

1. Don’t overload your bag. I once brought 2 bodies + 4 prime lenses. I felt the extra prime tipped the scale of my comfortable carrying capacity. Even if the extra prime weighed only an additional of 200-300 grams, it really made a factor, slowed me down a bit. So for me, a maximum of 3 prime lenses is enough.

2. Don’t try to cover all the focal lengths. There’s always that temptation to cover all the focal lengths as an assurance that we will get the shot, but per my experience it’s not always a be-all end-all scenario. I once brought only 2 prime lenses – a Nikkor AFD 20mm 2.8 + Nikkor AFD 85mm 1.4, and I never felt missing any crucial shot even if I left a big gap in between 20mm and 85mm, considered as the mid-range. On my last travel, I braved a picturesque city with a once in a lifetime opportunity with only a 20mm lens (40mm equivalent) as my longest FL.

3. Travel as light as possible. Do this without compromising your ability to enjoy your photographic endeavors. Some will just bring a point and shoot camera, while there’s nothing wrong with it, but in my case, I’m a photographer, I can’t possibly consider that. This is where I resorted to the Micro 4/3 system because I can bring 2 bodies + 3 lenses with an equivalent weight of 1 full-framed DSLR and 1 lens. I could even bring a tripod. If my next trip tells me to bring a Nikon DSLR, I will still try to be as light as possible. I’m not too keen on bringing an external flash, but it depends, sometimes I do.

4. Enjoy the trip. The idea of the tips mentioned above is to make you lighter and not being weighed down by your equipment. And in the usual fast-paced tours that we engage, a simple minimalist kit will be ideal. And don’t forget to smell, feel and cherish the moment.


The Great Wall, Beijing, China

The Great Wall, Beijing, China

Photographer’s note: F/11, 1/1000, ISO 200, Nikon D3, Nikkor AFS 17-35mm 2.8


Beijing, China

Beijing at Night

Photographer’s note: F/4, 1/60, ISO 2800, Nikon D3, Nikkor AFS 17-35mm 2.8


The Bird

The Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium, Beijing, China

Photographer’s note: F/16, 6 sec, ISO 200, Nikon D3, Nikkor AFS 17-35mm 2.8

Feel free to interact with my blog articles, either by adding a comment below this article, or drop me an email. Thanks for reading! Keep clickin’ -Kindest, Dave

  • Reed - Great piece, Dave. I too spend more time thinking about what to pack in camera gear than anything else. I also benefit from limiting myself to a few primes, and use Micro 4/3 for most of my travel.

    It is good advice to not worry about covering all focal lengths. You seem more willing to skip the mid-ranges than I, but the point is very strong.


  • xdayv - Reed, sometimes I am able to finalize my kit only on the night before travel, after endless configuration haha, I guess it’s part of the fun. Cheers!ReplyCancel

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