Traveling the world to photograph mysterious and beautiful places is a fun, rewarding, and creatively stimulating endeavor that anyone with a camera—or even a smartphone—can embark on. But whether you are a travel photographer by profession or simply a passionate hobbyist who enjoys traveling and taking pictures, it is important to bring the right gear to ensure that you are prepared to photograph any given scene or situation with ease.
The right gear, of course, will depend on where you are going. If you have always wanted to capture the majestic beauty of India’s mysterious ancient temples, sweeping panoramic landscapes, and colorfully chaotic city streets, make sure to arm yourself with some knowledge (such as these basic tips for photographing India) and an arsenal of essential photography gear:
Let’s start with the most obvious one on this list: you are going to need a good camera. If you want to take ultra-sharp, correctly exposed, and properly focused images under any lighting situation, then a DSLR camera is essential—preferably a full-frame DSLR. After all, you want to capture every tiny detail when you are photographing the many beautiful Hindu temples in India.
If you choose to go with a full-frame, a great option is the Nikon D750 FX-format digital SLR camera, which is considerably more compact and lightweight than other full-frame DSLRs on the market, making it great for traveling.
Apart from the scenery, the people are some of the most beautiful and captivating subjects you can possibly find in India, so street photography is a must. But for this type of shoots, it is best to use a smaller, less obtrusive camera that will not startle your subjects or make you stand out of the crowd. This is why it is good to have a backup camera for situations when using a DSLR is just not possible.
As a travel photographer, I personally recommend the Sony A7 because it is small, lightweight, affordable, and can easily match the power and performance of any DSLR camera. If you want a slightly cheaper but more updated version, you can also go for the Sony A6300, which is newer and comes with a few extra features such as 4K video shooting, faster autofocus, and a built-in flash. Either of the two will work because if you were to compare the Sony A6300 and Sony A7 with each other, they would mostly have the same specifications—the only difference is that the A7 is a full-frame mirrorless, while the A6300 has an APS-C sensor.
Tripods are essential for travel photography. You will definitely need one if you are planning a travel photography trip to India, as there are plenty of amazing landscapes (such as the Himalayan scenery) and beautiful architecture that will require slower shutter speeds to get the lighting and the photo just right. Most temples also do not allow any type of flash, so once again, you will have to rely on your shutter speed to handle any low-light situations.
Monopods are also incredibly useful, as they are lighter than traditional tripods but offer plenty of added stability, which is essential when you are shooting in low light or are using a particularly long and heavy lens.
Different situations will require one or the other. Choosing which one to bring with you depends on what you plan to shoot during your trip. However, I suggest you find yourself a tripod-monopod combo (a monopod that comes with detachable tripod legs) instead for convenience and versatility.
A wide-angle lens is great for landscapes, cityscapes, and photos of architecture. It is ideal for situations when you need to include as much of the scene as possible into the frame. You can choose between a wide prime or a wide zoom, but either one will work. A prime (fixed focal length) wide-angle lens will give you higher-quality images, while a zoom (variable focal length) wide-angle lens will give you more shooting flexibility and will allow you to easily adapt to any situation. Zooms are especially useful for instances when you cannot physically get close to your subject—all you have to do is move the zoom ring, whereas a prime requires you to walk or move closer to your subject to zoom in.
Medium Telephoto Lens
In addition to a wide-angle lens, I suggest you bring a medium telephoto lens as well. This will be useful for taking crisp, highly detailed portrait photos. The city streets in India are full of diverse and interesting people, and with the right lens, you can get some beautiful and dramatic portrait shots.
Telephotos also come in prime and zoom varieties, so weigh your options before you decide which one to get. A tele-zoom lets you shoot portraits from far away to avoid getting noticed by your subject, allowing you to capture more authentic facial expressions and emotions. A telephoto prime, on the other hand, will give you better-quality images. Whichever you choose, remember to pick a lens with a focal length anywhere in the 70-135mm range.
In addition to portrait photography, telephoto lenses are also great for landscapes.
Polarizing filters are incredibly useful, and you will definitely need one if you want to take beautiful photos of India. Harsh sunlight is pretty typical in tropical countries like India, which is why a polarizer will be your best friend when you are trying to shoot in the daytime. It will help create more naturally saturated colors, bring out a deeper, more beautiful blue in the skies, and reduce glare and reflections in water or other reflective surfaces.
Additionally, it can also help protect the front element of your lens from dust and scratches.
Extra Camera Batteries
Nothing is worse than running out of battery when you have not taken all the pictures you want to take. To avoid missing out on some truly great photographic opportunities, make sure to pack an extra camera battery or two, as well as a battery charger.
Power can be somewhat unpredictable in India, especially when you are staying in some of the more remote areas. Make sure to keep your batteries fully charged whenever you can, and always check if they are charged before you leave your hotel to ensure that you do not run out of juice throughout the day.
Inconspicuous Camera Bag
Unless you are visiting a country that has an astoundingly low crime rate, you will likely encounter thieves and pickpockets wherever you go. And since photographers are known to carry expensive equipment, they are usually attractive targets for criminals.
To keep your gear safe, make sure to purchase an inconspicuous camera bag. Or, more specifically, any bag that does not look like your typical camera bag. If possible, just use a ratty backpack to deter thieves, and purchase smaller cases or pouches (that can fit in the backpack) to protect your gear from damage.
Waterproof Housing or Case for Your Camera
Rainstorms (or even light rain showers) are quite common in tropical countries like India. If you want to keep shooting even when it is pouring out, invest in a good waterproof housing or case for your DSLR and mirrorless cameras to keep them protected from water damage. Of course, most cameras—such as the previously mentioned Nikon D750—are sealed against dust and moisture, but it is still a good idea to bring protective waterproof gear just in case.
Camera Cleaning Supplies and Sensor Cleaning Kit
Dust is inescapable when you are in India. Whether you are in the city or in the remote deserts and mountains, you will likely encounter dust and dirt. It is important, therefore, to have some cleaning supplies on hand. You will need to clean the outer body of your camera at some point, and you will probably have to clean your camera sensor as well, especially since switching lenses can lead to dust entering your camera and landing on your sensor.
Sensor dust is easily noticeable and can ruin your images, so you have to keep it clean. Bring a sensor cleaning kit (preferably one with a blower, swabs, sensor cleaning liquid, and an electrostatically charged brush) with you to ensure that your photos remain pristine and dust-free.
And that is pretty much it! Once you have gathered all (or most) of these photography essentials, you are all set for fun and productive photography trip to India.