After a decade of nature time lapse, wildlife, people, and landscape shooting our camera bag is full of these outdoor photography essentials.
as recommended by your favorite National Park experts (that’s us)
We’ve taken millions of photos in the national parks. Through those shutter clicks we’ve shot all sorts of scenes in a variety of terrain, from scorching deserts to snowy mountain tops to the tropics, the forests, and beyond. We’ve photographed and filmed landscapes, wildlife, natural settings, people, and more. Through our experience we’ve come up with a list of outdoor photography essentials including cameras, lenses, time lapse, equipment, tripods, sliders, accessories, and more.
What’s in our camera bag?
We started our photographic journey on Nikon, migrated to Canon, and now are firmly in the Sony camp! Sony is our first choice but we still like Canon as well.
The Sony A7R II is our go-to time lapse and still camera. We love the lightweight mirrorless system and all 42 of its megapixels. This is a mirrorless camera which makes it super lightweight and lovely.
If you like the A7R II you’ll love the A7R IV. This camera packs 61MP which is 19 more than its predecessor. Faster all around but $2K more expensive. This is a mirrorless camera which makes it super lightweight and lovely.
The Canon 5D Mark IV is a great camera with a 30.4MP sensor. While it is not mirrorless there is something wonderful about the feel of a real shutter version the electronic ones.
Our go-to production cameras are made by Blackmagic Design. We love the combination of affordability, quality, and ease of use on the fly.
The Blackmagic URSA 4.6K is our go to production camera. This camera shoots 4.6K at 60fps with a super 35 sensor that kicks butt.
The Blackmagic URSA 12K is a beast of a production camera. This camera shoots 12K with an 80MP super 35 sensor at 60fps and up to 240fps at 8K. It is significantly pricier than the 4.6K but if you can afford it is certainly worth it!
We carry a few basic lenses (that we absolutely love) on every shoot to make sure we capture every shot we want to. We’re recommending lenses for Sony & Canon cameras.
We take a lot of landscape shots and this is our favorite landscape lens for the price. If you want to spend the extra $1K go for the f2.8.
This is the 2.8 version of the 16-35mm lens we love so much from Sony. If you are in the chips and can spend the extra $1K we recommend it.
We *love* this lens and take it with us on every single shoot. It is fast to focus and super sharp. If you want to spend the extra $1K go for the f2.8 version
This is the 2.8 version of the 70-200mm lens we love so much from Sony. If you are in the chips and can spend the extra $1K we recommend it.
This is a great landscape lens option with image stabilization. If you want to spend the extra $1K go for the f2.8 (we did).
The canon 16-35mm f/2.8 is our go to for landscapes and night skies for canon cameras. The f/2.8 aperture allows you to capture amazing night sky shots without having to bump up your ISO too far.
This is our go-to zoom lens for canon cameras. It is extremely reliable, sharp, and comes with image stabilization. If you want to spend the extra money on the f/2.8 then go for it.
This is a wonderful zoom lens for canon cameras. While spendier than the f/4 it is not a purchase you’ll regret!
Tripods & Tripod Heads
When looking for tripods & tripod heads it’s all about lightweight, durability, and function for us.
This tripod head takes any tripod to the next level. Ball heads are the way to go for speed and precision.
This ultra-lightweight and maneuverable tripod is one we never leave home without. Carbon fiber is the name of the game for long hikes.
This tiny tripod is amazingly stable, rock solid, and tiny, perfect for when you want to get as close to the ground as possible. We use this all the time.
For bigger cameras and production settings we love this inexpensive production tripod from Amazon. Very sturdy, durable, and with a nice fluid drag head to boot. Comes with a convenient carry case.
Drones & Aerial
We *never* use drones in the National Parks or park service units. However, there are plenty of places where it is legal and acceptable like the National Forests & BLM sites. For those uses, here are our favorite drones.
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is our go-to drone. It is incredibly easy to use, has beautiful footage quality, flies far, and has a crystal clear feed. If you’re looking for a pro drone for a great price, this is your guy.
The DJI Inspire 2 is an incredible drone that shoots amazing quality raw 4K footage at 60fps making it the leader in the club house for professional filmmaking (at least in our minds).
Stabilizers & Motion Sliders
Here are the top tools and goodies we use to add motion to our shots.
This is probably the most user-friendly and easy setup motion slider we’ve ever used. There’s lots of great add-on attachments to make it even cooler but if there’s one motion sliding device you want, this is the one.
The Osmo RAW by DJI gives us the ability to make cinematic shots with cinema quality at an incredible price for what it is. We take this on every single shoot and use it constantly. Highly recommend!
Here are the top camera and photography accessories we recommend as essentials.
We’ve used a million polarizers. They all eventually get scratched. This one does a great job & when it gets scratched we don’t cry.
We’ve been using this backpack since we started MTJP many moons ago. We have not found one we like more yet. Highly functional & affordable.