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Photography Tips for Beginners

Camera Backpacks Reviews For Travel and Hiking

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After my trusty backpack of 17 years finally bit the dust, I was ready to upgrade to a camera bag even better than the bag that had escorted me through high school and accompanied me on trips around the world. Quality was key, but could I find a bag that would serve me another 17 years and meet my needs? They just don’t make ’em’ like they used to, right? I spent a year searching for the perfect camera backpack, almost certain I would need to make concessions, but to my pleasant surprise, I found what I was looking for.

Table of Contents

What should I look for in a camera backpack?

Each person’s needs are different, but I wanted an all purpose travel camera backpack I could use as a carry-on, a daypack, and hiking bag. I realize I had high expectations, but I had hoped the perfect travel bag was out there. Here are the requirements I was looking for:

  1. Backpack with camera compartments that fit a DSLR Camera, 17-20 mm lens, 70 mm lens, and 150-600 mm lens.

  2. Small enough fit under the airplane seat, but large enough to fit a 3-day weekend’s worth of clothes. 

  3. A nondescript backpack that easily transitions to a daypack

  4. Comfortable for long hikes with removable hip straps for non hikes

  5. Fits a 15 inch laptop

  6. A place to store a large water bottle because no matter what activity I am engaged in, I need to stay hydrated.

Each airline has different requirements, but on average a personal item is about H 17″ x W 10″ x D 9″ (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm). Carry on size is about 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm). 

Photography Backpack Reviews

Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II

Dimensions: H 19 x W 11 x D 9, personal item size

Pros

Cons

This Lowepro camera bag was my top choice because it met all the requirements listed in the previous section, which goes to show more money doesn’t always mean better. The bag fit comfortably for long periods of time, so much so I thought for a moment I left the bag behind somewhere. 

Peter Mckinnon Backpack

Dimensions: H 22 x W 13.5  x D 9, carryon size

Large carryon size backpack with a DSLR camera, 3 lenses, a tripod, a laptop, and clothes

Pros

Cons

Nomatic’s Peter Mckinnon backpack is designed by a professional photographer who included every feature on the go photographers need. This high-quality bag leaves nothing to be desired and is the perfect all-in-one travel bag that allows you to go from the airport to the trails in style and comfort. If you carry minimal gear, you may consider the insert that converts to a backpack when you need to carry less gear.

Lowepro Freeline Camera Backpack 350 AW

Dimensions: H 19 x W 11.5 x D 8, personal item size
Small black camera backpack carrying camera equipment and a few other items

Pros

Cons

The Lowepro Freeline 350 AW is perfect for everyday use, but is not a suitable all-in-one camera backpack for weekend travel or hiking. This lightweight camera bag converts to a regular backpack and great for street photographers.

PRVKE Travel and DSLR Camera Backpack

Dimensions: H 17 x W 11 x D 6.5, personal item size

Pros

Cons

The PRYVKE is a versatile bag that converts from a camera backpack to a regular backpack. The bag is stylish and functional with its waterproof exterior, and theft resistant design gives you peace of mind on the trails and exploring the city. 

Mindshift Gear Backlight

Dimensions: H 18.5 x W 10.6 x D 7.1, personal item size

Pros

Cons

I’m going to be honest here, how did this bag make other top camera back pack lists? Any positive features one can say about this back are overshadowed by its inaccessibility and weight. To access your gear, the expectation is to turn the bag to your front with the hip pads clipped in the back. Then you open the back of the bag all the way and use the neck strap to keep the flap open, which blocks your view in the bag. I cannot stress enough how unnecessarily ridiculous this approach is, and I would not recommend this bag.  

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Woman wearing a backpack while hiking in Arizona
Vintage Camera Equipment and roll of film
Photography Tips for Beginners

5 Questions to Ask Before Buying New Camera Equipment

This blog post may contain affiliate links.  I may earn a small commission for any purchases made through these links. Click here for the disclosure statement.


A beautiful picture catches your eye; the image is sharp and the colors are vibrant. The camera envy sets in, and thoughts like “If I had that camera I could take better pictures” are making you think you should buy new camera equipment. The best photography equipment is the stuff you already own, but having the right photography tools and equipment makes a difference.

If you’re looking to upgrade your gear, ask yourself these questions before buying new camera equipment to make sure you purchase the best tool for your needs.


Why Do I need A New Camera?

Like lenses, different cameras excel at specific functions and may fall short in others. Buying expensive new camera equipment won’t magically solve all of your problems. To be certain your new camera equipment enhances your photography, think about the times you felt like your camera was limiting your creativity and research cameras that excel in that style of photography.

Consider these common problems a different camera body can actually solve to help you decide if a new camera body is right for you.

Problem

Solution

Recommended Product

Missing fast-paced shots in wildlife and sports photography

Camera with a fast burst mode

Image noise in low light settings

Camera that performs well at a high ISO

Camera Shake

Camera with built-in image stabilization

Location tracking for travel photographers

Camera with GPS

Upload photos to your phone

Camera with WiFi


Will I use the new features?

We tend to equate more money with better quality and to some extent that may be true; but in cameras, more money mostly just means more features. Use Digital Photography Review to compare and contrast your current camera with the cameras on your wishlist; look for the differing features to determine if those additional features are worthwhile to you. You may find the cheaper camera has the features you need, for the same quality, and less money.

When looking for a new camera I kept seeing that the Canon 5D Mark IV was the best wildlife camera, and I was ready to dish out a hefty sum of cash for it. But, when comparing the Canon 6D Mark II with the Canon 5D Mark IV I found the only significant differences were in video quality and few extra megapixels. I don’t use video and megapixels are only important when printing massive photos, which I also don’t do. I bought the 6D Mark II with the confidence that it was just as good as the 5D Mark IV for my needs, and I saved over $1,000.


Can my vision be accomplished by other means

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best solution; you don’t have to buy a new camera to boost the quality of your photography. If you are struggling with the issues on this list, consider purchasing these photography essentials before upgrading your camera body or lenses.

Problem

Solution

Recommended Product

Camera Shake

Tripod

Image Noise

Tripod or external lights

Flat and uninteresting photos

Editing tool to enhance the colors and crop

Poor white balance

Grey Card

Slow burst mode

SD Card with a faster read/write speed


Should I buy a New Lens?

More often than not if you are not getting the photos you want, it’s a limitation of the lens, not the camera. Lenses hold their value better and have a bigger impact in terms of artistic style than the camera body. Unless your camera doesn’t turn on, I’m probably going to tell you to get a new lens instead. To help you determine which lens you should buy next, here are a few common complaints from consumers looking to buy new camera equipment.

Problem

Solution

Recommended Product

Photos are in focus, but aren’t sharp

Higher quality lens

Can’t focus on objects close up

Lens with a smaller focusing distance

Can’t get enough background blur

Lens with a wider aperture (a.k.a smaller f-stop number)

Photos are blurry due to camera shake

You may need a lens with image stabilization, but you could save yourself some money with a faster shutter speed.

Missing shots due to slow or inaccurate focus

Lens with more focus points


Could I benefit more from taking a class instead?

Often we equate professional photography equipment with professional quality photos, but it’s not the camera that makes great photography, it’s the photographer. If you’re feeling frustrated with your photography, try taking a course to learn something new and inspire creativity. If you are new to photography you may benefit from taking courses on photography basics, getting started with your camera, or using editing tools. A new camera won’t magically improve your skills, but a class will and is something you can use with any camera.

Classes I love:

In Person Austin Classes

Precision Camera’s Basic Point and Shoot Photograph

Precision Camera’s Camera Specific Classes

Online Learning

Photography Basics

Bird Photography

Amplifying Your Photographic Voice


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Photo Photography Macro Lens Attachment
Photography Tips for Beginners

Useful Gifts for Photographers Under $100

This blog post may contain affiliate links.  I may earn a small commission for any purchases made through these links. Click here for the disclosure statement.

Christmas is around the corner and soon we will all be scouring the internet looking for the perfect present for the important people in our lives. Lenses and cameras are expensive gifts to give a photographer for Christmas, so if you’re looking for affordable photography gift ideas to treat the photography lover in your life, you’ve come to the right place. Forget about photography themed coffee mugs; this photography gift guide consisting of Amazon finds is full of affordable gifts for photographers every shutterbug will love!

Table of Contents

 

Photo Editing Accessories

Post-production is equally as important as taking photos, and these simple photo editing tools make the process so much easier.

Lightroom or Photoshop Guides

Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are the most popular photo editing tools on the market. These robust tools are full of tricks we may not even be aware of, but these inexpensive keyboard covers user manuals will improve workflow and increase skill with tips and tricks literally at your fingertips.

Presets

One of the best things about Lightroom is the ability to save presets, which are settings for your favorite aesthetics. Some photographers sell their pre-sets, making it even easier for photographers who don’t know how or don’t want to create their own. For just a few bucks, you can really improve the visual style of every photo in your Lightroom catalog.

External Hard Drive

A large external hard drive is an unusual gift for photographers they didn’t know they needed; deleting photos is an emotional process most of us can’t handle, so we just keep our photos. It won’t be long before even a novice photography enthusiast is using hundreds of gigabytes in hard drive space and will need a place to store photos.

Cool Photography Accessories

These must-have photography trinkets protect our equipment and help us capture images exactly the way we envisioned them.

Rain Cover

Outdoor photographers never shy away from a little bad weather, but we still need to protect our gear from rain, snow, and sand.

Lighting

Lighting is everything in photography. Whether you are on the go or in a studio, tools to enhance the light or change the shadow intensity can always come in handy.

Photography Backdrops

Backdrops and props are splendid gifts for photographers who want to liven up their food photography, still life photography, or studio portraits.

Camera Bags

Camera bags are a fashionable way to protect your gear and keep it accessible.

Kurved Lens Cap

That cheap little plastic stored at the end of a lens is responsible for protecting a piece of equipment that is far more valuable than the lens cap itself. It’s critical that a lens cap be easy to take off with one hand, but not so easy that it falls off with a light bump. It’s a fine line that Kurved Lens Caps straddles nicely. The best part is they are a one size fits all so you don’t have to sneak around trying to find what size to buy.

Monopod

This game-changer turns a trekking pole into a multipurpose tool for the hiker and landscape photographer in your life. This part trekking pole, part monopod, makes snapping sharp landscape photos without all the hassle and weight of tripods a cinch I used this monopod in the Great Smoky Mountains to capture long exposure waterfalls and you’d never know I didn’t use a traditional tripod.

Cheap Gifts For Photographers

These gifts for photographers under $25 are practical and perfect for stocking stuffers, Secret Santa, or White Elephants.

Lens Cleaning Kit

Every photography bag needs a lens cleaning kit to keep the lens free of dust that could ruin photos and force a photographer to spend time editing out spots from every photo used with that lens

Remote Shutter Release

Remote shutter releases are the perfect gift for wildlife photographers, bloggers without a photographer behind the camera, and getting everyone in group photos.

Lens Wrap

A lens wrap is a creative gift idea for photographers that protects their lens without the use of bulky camera bags. While a camera backpack is amazing, sometimes I need room for more than just my photography equipment and the lens wrap frees up space in my bag for other things.  I use my lens wraps on 3 day weekends when I am trying to get by with a single backpack for clothes and gear, so this would be a great gift for travel photographers.

Shoulder Strap

A unique camera strap makes for a cute and functional photography accessory.

Gifts For Beginning Photographers

The best gifts for amateur photographers are ones that help build their collection of basic photography essentials. This section lists the gadgets every photographer needs so you can support your loved one in their new passion.

Smartphone Photography Add Ons

If the photographer friend in your life is just getting started and wants to enhance their phone photography before upgrading to a full DSLR or Mirrorless camera, then phone photography attachments are the way to go. The best gifts for phone photographers increase the flexibility for telephoto, macro, or wide-angle photography and give them the opportunity to develop their style before investing in more expensive gear.

Tripod

With the amount of money I’ve spent on cheap tripods that quickly break, I could have just bought a quality one for more money. Not all tripods are made equal, so I’ve compiled a list of tripods I trust and save yourself or a loved one from a long string of troublesome tripods.

Cheat Sheets

Cheat sheets and quick reference cards make great gifts for budding photographers that make learning critical skills such as exposure, composition, and white balance easier and less stressful.

SD Memory Cards and SD Memory Card Holder

There is nothing more frustrating than running out of space on an SD and missing the shot when the camera reads “Card Full”.  It never comes at a good time so a high storage capacity SD Card and carrying case for backups is an extremely useful gift to any photographer. When choosing an SD card, the more space the better because shooting high-quality photos takes up a lot space.

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