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Suggested camera gear

While your gear will be different than ours, we suggest bringing and using the following types of camera equipment on your charter. The author’s equipment is shown in the bullet lists.

What photo gear will I need?

While your gear will probably be different than the items shown on this list, we suggest using the following checklist. If you purchase good equipment and take care of it, it should last a very long time. Professional photographers often use lenses that are over thirty years old. The camera equipment of Photo Workshop guide John Schnell is shown, including John's highly recommended items.

Camera Body

A good camera is like an extension of your arm. It should be effortless to use, making it as easy as possible to capture the photo you have in mind. So, what camera should you get?

The best place to begin for many photographers is an entry-level DSLR or mirrorless camera. The difference between these two types of cameras is that DSLRs have an internal mirror, which reflects light directly from the lens into an optical viewfinder so that you can see exactly what the lens sees. Mirrorless cameras don’t have this feature, which allows them to be smaller and lighter. 

Camera Lenses

Along with a camera, you'll need a selection of lenses. In some ways, lenses are more important than the camera because the lens is what shapes the light reaching your camera's sensor.

More advanced cameras, including DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, allow you to switch out your lenses. You can swap a portrait lens for a fast, expensive sports lens using the same camera. This is a significant benefit, making your system far more flexible for different types of photography.

OPTION 1: Prime Lenses
OPTION 2: Zoom Lenses

Camera Bag

You should purchase a quality bag. The ideal bag or backpack will depend on the amount of equipment you plan to carry. If a backpack is comfortable and fits your equipment, go for it.

  • F-Stop Gear backpack (62L)
  • F-Stop Gear backpack (37L) 

Memory Cards

Memory cards store photos and let you transfer them from your camera to your computer. They’re an essential piece of equipment for any photographer. Get a memory card of at least 16 GB, and ideally 64 GB. This is especially important for wildlife, sports, and travel photography, where you’ll be taking a lot of photos. We stick with 64 GB cards.

The other important consideration is speed. Fast memory cards come with several benefits, and one of the biggest is that they minimize the time your camera spends buffering while you are shooting a burst of photos. This saves time in the field and lets you take longer bursts more easily. A fast card is especially important for wildlife and sports photography and videos.


Filters go in front of your lens and alter the light your camera captures. They’re an essential part of photography, although you might not need as many filters as in my list.

  • Neutral Density 3.0. 6.0. 10.0
  • Graduated ND 0.3, 0.6, 0.9
  • Reverse Graduated ND 0.9


Tripods are essential for many photographers, although their importance depends on your photographic interests. My tripod is like an extension of my camera. I almost always use it. But portrait photographers, wedding photographers, or street photographers may not use one.


Most photographers will edit their photos. So what software should you get?

Many photographers use Adobe Photoshop since it’s a robust editing program. For conceptual photography and strongly retouched advertisements and commercial work, Photoshop is a must. But for some photographers it’s too much. Another popular editing program is Adobe Lightroom, a dedicated editing program specifically for photographers.

Monitor Calibration

This hardware measures your monitor’s display and provides a more accurate color and contrast profile. This may not be the highest-priority equipment you own, but it’s an important investment for creating color consistency in your images.

  • X-Rite i1Display Basic


Why should you use a drone for photography? Besides capturing awesome images from unique perspectives, drones are fun to fly. New pilots should learn the FAA regulations before taking flight.

Helm SVG © The Maggie Sea, Juneau, Alaska
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The Maggie Sea offers gourmet meals at sea. Chef Jeff Polizzotto will create a dazzling menu to comply with your dietary requirements. Jeff prepares healthy and savory meals—including superbly grilled filets, fresh halibut, Dungeness crab, Sockeye salmon, Alaska spot prawns, or your mouth-watering catch of the day. You'll find yourself wondering… what’s for dinner?

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