Outfitting Your Family’s Traveler For Stellar Photography

If you’ve got a friend or family member who’s planning a trip, you’re going to want to make sure they’re prepared. Yeah, sure, with extra socks and stuff, but what I’m talking about is making sure they don’t come back from a three-month tour of rural China with a grand total of 15 pictures on their iPhone, because “it’s good enough.” No, they need to take along something that can take a beating and still produce memorable images. And a few accessories wouldn’t hurt, either.

Depending on how much you want to spend, there are a lot of good options out there, though it depends on what kind of travel is going on.

Are they headed somewhere wet and tropical? They’re going to want something they can take underwater with them, something that won’t croak when covered in sand or spray. We had a rugged camera roundup recently that addresses these needs, but if you’re in a hurry, I recommend the Casio EX-G1.

It’s cool-looking, super compact, takes solid pictures, and is waterproof and shockproof. Its weakness is that it doesn’t do HD video, but I think its strengths make up for that.

If, on the other hand, they’re going somewhere snowy or rainy, a camera bag like the Cloak might be in order, mainly for SLR users. People thought about it as a way to surreptitiously take pictures, but it really is just a handy way to keep your camera out of the rain and snow and still be able to snap a few shots.

It zips shut, in case you were wondering. If it doesn’t seem their style, check out our round-up of cases and bags from just a little while back and see if any there pique your interest.

Remember, though! Having a camera bag says to the world “I have a camera!” So make sure to get your loved one a nice custom strap, so they’ll keep things around their neck. A $15-20 padded strap makes a huge difference in comfort, and you could even stitch in a personalization!

Your best bet is to take a look at the camera your gift recipient has or wants, and then just spend a few minutes in a local camera shop checking out straps that’ll fit.

Feeling a little more spendy, or maybe it’s just time for your spouse or kid to upgrade? DSLRs are amazing across the board right now. I favor the T2i, but if your family has a wealth of Nikon or Pentax lenses and such, you might consider the D3100 or K-r; both lag a bit in features, but both are great cameras and the K-r is weather-sealed to boot, so add that into your calculations.

Handsome buggers, aren’t they? Look around online for the best price, and get the body only — photographers should pick their own lenses!

When you’re traveling, you’re never sure whether you’ll have a good flat surface to put your camera down on for group shots, low-light, or what have you. So something like the GorillaPod is handy, though getting a big one with the ball head attachment can be expensive.

I used a folding tripod like the Ultrapod for my travels, which also worked extremely well.

And last, don’t forget the SD card! Most cameras store to SD, and high-capacity cards are getting cheap enough that you could go weeks without unloading. 8GB or 16GB is usually enough, and you can get those for chump change. But if you really want to make a photographer’s day, go for the Eye-Fi.

Once you have one of these, you’re probably going to end up relying on it. Wireless syncing means less trouble, less stuff to lose, and less likelihood of accidentally formatting your card with your pictures on it. They’re a bit pricier than regular SD cards, of course.

There you have it. Your little traveler will be well-equipped with all the stuff from this list, or really just one or two items from it.

Check out the rest of our holiday gift guides!