We thought it might be helpful to develop a resources page summarizing the products and services we’re using to create our blog and the content found on our site. Below you’ll find everything from our current photography and video equipment to our web hosting service and WordPress theme.
Our Current Photography & Video Gear
Canon 5DS R – Simply brilliant! With over 50MP, the 5DS R's resolution is mind-blowing, and I've found the cropping flexibility extremely useful. We purchased our 5DS R in March 2016 primarily for landscape photography, but it's proven to be more versatile that I imagined. I’ve even started using it for wildlife. Getting the most out of the 5DS R's resolution requires both sharp lenses and shooting discipline (sturdy support, higher shutter speeds, IS, etc.), so you might consider alternatives like the 5D Mark IV for general photography. We purchased our Canon 5DS R at Foto File in Bangkok. In the US, it’s available at Amazon, B&H Photo, and other retailers.
Canon 7D Mark II – We purchased our 7D Mark II in May 2015 as a lighter and more affordable alternative to the Canon 1DX for wildlife photography. Its rugged build, light weight, excellent image quality, and speed (10 fps) make it a good value for money. Since purchase, it has received heavy wildlife use in Alaska and Southern Africa. The 7D Mark II also offered an easy-to-carry option while backpacking Southeast Asia, where I paired it with the Canon EF-S 10-18mm STM, EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, and EF 85mm f/1.8. We purchased our 7D Mark II at B&H photo. It’s also widely available at Amazon and other retailers.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM– This is my choice when I want to carry a DSLR but don’t feel like carrying much weight (example: a day of street photography in Buenos Aires). There are many great alternatives available, but the light, cheap, and sharp Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 has been a good blend of cost, weight, and performance. We purchased ours at B&H photo, but you can find it at Amazon and other retailers as well.
Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM – I simply love this lens. Very sharp, Image Stabilization (IS), L build quality. Not terribly heavy/bulky. The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM is my choice for a versatile ultra-wide zoom lens. We bought the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM as a replacement for our well-worn Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L, as I wasn't happy with the 17-40mm when paired with the 5DS R’s ultra-high resolution. Pair the Canon 16-35mm f/4L IS with the 5DS R and the results are extremely sharp. I’ve also found IS useful in situations where I needed to handhold the 5DS R. We purchased ours at Studio 22 in Cape Town, but it's widely available at Amazon, B&H Photo, and other retailers.
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM – With a useful focal range, excellent sharpness, fast aperture, and excellent build quality, the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II is my choice for general photography with the 5DS R. It's the first zoom to convince me to sell a prime. I should note that at 28oz it’s no featherweight, and IS would be useful, particularly with the 5DS R. We purchased ours at Foto File in Bangkok. It’s also available at Amazon and B&H Photo in the US.
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM – We purchased our Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS I in 2005 and upgraded to the IS II in March 2015. The new version is sublime. It’s an excellent choice for anyone going on safari. It's incredibly sharp, highly versatile, well-built and it’s far smaller, lighter, and cheaper than super telephotos. Plus, add a 1.4X extender and you get nearly 900mm of effective focal length when paired with an APS-C camera like the 7D Mark II. It’s an excellent compliment to our Canon EF 500mm F/4L IS II, and it’s our choice when weight, bulk, and versatility are priorities. We purchased ours at Foto File in Bangkok. It’s widely available in the US at Amazon, B&H Photo, and other retailers.
Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM – Weighing 7lbs and costing $9k, the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II is simply brilliant but its brilliance comes at a price. It's a beautiful lens for wildlife photography, and it's probably my favorite piece of photography gear. It's like a member of the family. Is it worth the price? I think so, but only because I use it regularly. Used prices are high, so that's a plus should I decide to sell it. If your needs are less frequent, check out the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II (above). It's an excellent alternative for far less. We purchased ours at Studio 22 in Cape Town. It’s available at Amazon and B&H Photo in the US.
Canon Extender EF 1.4X III – For wildlife photography, extenders are a handy option when I need some extra focal length. With the EF 1.4X III, I’m able to extend the EF 500mm f/4L to 700mm and the EF 100-400mm to 560mm. With the 7D Mark II, I’m able to extend the effective focal length by another 60% to 1120mm and 896mm for the 500mm and 100-400mm lenses respectively. If you’re thinking about adding extenders to your camera bag, just be sure to read up on their effect on f-stop and other compromises that come with extender use. We purchased ours at Studio 22 in Cape Town, but of course, it's available at Amazon and B&H Photo in the US.
Canon Extender EF 2X III - When you need the extra focal length, the Canon Extender EF 2X III is a relatively inexpensive option, which doesn’t take up much room in your bag. P air it with the Canon 500mm f/4L IS II and you get 1000mm on a full frame camera. Use it with the 7D Mark II's APS-C sensor, and you bump the effective focal length to 1600mm. That's a lot of reach! As noted in my comments on the EF 1.4X III, just be sure to research the Extender 2X III’s impact on f-stop, autofocus, and other compromises. We purchased ours at Studio 22 in Cape Town, but it's available at Amazon and B&H Photo in the US.
B+W UV Haze Filter (77mm, 82mm) – We've been using B+W filters for many years in harsh environments and have been satisfied with performance (image quality, scratch resistance, build quality, etc.). While I'd rather have nothing between the lens and subject, we opt to use UV Haze filters on all lenses (except the 500mm) for added protection. For us, it's a no-brainer as accidents can happen and repair or replacement is often far away. We purchased ours at B&H photo, but you can find it at Amazon and other retailers as well.
B+W 82mm Circular Polarizer MRC Filter – Circular polarizing filters are an important tool in my camera bag, particularly for landscape photography, as it cuts glare and adds that ‘pop' to images (think of that beautiful photo of a white sand beach with turquoise water and deep blue sky). The B+W Circular Polarizer MRC Filter offers the same solid performance as the B+W UV Haze described above. Note that I also use a Nikon 77mm Circular Polarizer II Filter, which I’m similarly pleased with. We purchased ours at B&H photo, but you can find it at Amazon and other retailers as well.
Flash & Accessories
Canon Speedlite 580EX Flash – I've been using my Canon 580EX for over 11 years and it's still going strong. For me, the 580EX does light duty primarily as a fill-flash. For that purpose, it's more than up to the task. I purchased my 580EX at B&H Photo, although it was discontinued long ago. If I had to replace it today, the Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT would be a good choice, albeit overkill given my requirements. The less expensive Canon 430EX III-RT would also suit my needs and is worth a look. You can find both models at Amazon, B&H Photo, or other retailers.
Tripods, Bean Bags, and Mounts
Gitzo GT3542LS Systematic 6x Carbon Fiber Tripod – After years of trial and error, I finally found a tripod I truly like. The Gitzo GT3542LS has become my go-to workhorse, particularly when shooting with the 5DS R, which requires good support to get the most from its high-resolution sensor. It’s solid while being relatively light and small enough to carrying moderate distances. It's no featherweight, however, so I won't be taking it on extended backpacking trips. For portability, I prefer the much smaller Sirui T1205X Carbon Tripod (see below). Together the Gitzo and Sirui make a versatile combination that covers the bulk of my needs. We purchased our Gitzo at Landscape Gear in Cape Town. It’s also available at Amazon and B&H Photo in the US.
Sirui K-40X Ball HeadSirui K-40X Ball Head – No good tripod is complete without a sturdy head. Interestingly, after visiting The Really Right Stuff (RRS) showroom, my choice for a ball head was the exquisite RRS BH-55. Unfortunately, I discovered the BH-55 just before our flight to South Africa and wasn’t able to secure one before we left. The Sirui K-40X Ball Head was a backup choice, which I purchased in South Africa. It’s been a big surprise. The Sirui K-40X is sturdy, well built, and costs a fraction of other quality ball heads. It’s great value for money, and I'm very pleased. If you need a sturdy ball head, I’d also recommend checking out the Really Right Stuff BH-55. It’s a work of art! We purchased our K-40X at Landscape Gear in Cape Town, but it’s available in the US at Amazon and B&H Photo. You can find the RRS BH-55 at B&H Photo and Really Right Stuff.
Wimberly WH-200 Gimbal Tripod Head II – If you have a super telephoto lens and you're looking for good support, a gimbal head is an excellent option. When set up correctly, I'm able to maneuver my 500mm f//4L IS II effortlessly and track quick-moving animals with ease. For many, the Wimberley WH-200 Gimbal Head is the gold standard. After three months of daily use in Africa, I'm satisfied as well. It's well built, sturdy, rotates effortlessly, and packs away easily when not in use. We purchased our Wimberley at Outdoor Photo in Johannesburg. It’s also available at Amazon and B&H Photo in the US.
Apex Low Profile Bean Bag – When paired with a gimbal head like the Wimberley WH-200, the Apex Low Profile Bean Bag is a versatile, sturdy, and relatively inexpensive option for mounting a heavy super telephoto lens for use in a car or 4WD. In Africa, it’s my preferred support for the Canon 500mm f/4L IS II when shooting from our Land Cruiser. Unlike traditional door mounts like the Gimpro and Badger, it’s very quick to set up and stow away, easily fits both front or rear windows, and can also be used to shoot from our roof-hatch. Plus, when not in use, you can empty the bag and pack it away in virtually no space at all. We purchased our Apex Bean Bag at Clik Elite in South Africa. In the US, it’s available at Amazon, B&H Photo, or Essential Photo Gear.
Wimberley P30 Quick Release Plate – Not the sexiest item in my camera bag, quick release plates are necessary for securely mounting a super telephoto lens to the Wimberley WH-200 Gimbal head. The Wimberley P30 does the trick and includes dual safety stops to keep the lens from accidentally sliding out of the quick release adapter. We purchased our Wimberley P30 at Outdoor Photo in Johannesburg, but it's available at Amazon and B&H Photo in the US.
Really Right Stuff L-Plate – the RRS L-Plate is a useful addition to the 5DS R, which spends much of its life mounted on a tripod. The L-Plate serves as a quick release mount that allows you to quickly switch between portrait and landscape orientations while minimizing the need to recompose the shot. Consistent with my comments on the RRS BH-55, construction is excellent. Plus, it's made in the USA. We purchased our RRS L-Plate directly from Really Right Stuff, and it's available at B&H Photo as well.
Sirui T-1205X Carbon Fiber Tripod & G-10X Ball Head – We purchased this little tripod as a lightweight option for our South East Asia backpacking trip. Like the Sirui K-40X, the Sirui T-1205X has been a pleasant surprise. Made of carbon fiber, the T-1205X is well-built, small, light, and stable for its size. We’ve used it heavily since purchasing it in December 2015 and have been pleased. When traveling with the Gitzo GT3542LS, we use the Sirui with our lighter video equipment and when we need support but don’t want to carry the heavier Gitzo. We purchased ours at B&H photo, but you can find it at Amazon and other retailers as well.
SanDisk 64GB Extreme Pro UHS-I SDXC – Rather than carry one or two expensive Extreme Pro UHS-I SDXCe high-capacity cards, we've opted to use several 64GB and 32GB cards in case we lose or damage one. The SanDisk 64GB Extreme Pro cards have been excellent. They're fast and reliable at handling our large image files and 4K video with ease. We purchased ours at B&H photo, but you can find it at Amazon and other retailers as well.
Lexar 32GB Professional 1066x CF Cards – Like the Sandisk Extreme Pro cards above, we’ve used Lexar CF cards for years and are yet to have a problem (I’ve even left a card in my pocket when I washed my pants). The Professional 1066x CF cards are fast and reliable. That said, I find myself using the SanDisk 64GB Extreme Pros more as I prefer the 64GB capacity and the convenience of inserting SD cards directly into my Macbook Pro for download (no CF slot). We received our Lexar cards as Christmas gifts, but they're widely available through Amazon, B&H Photo, and many other retailers.
Camera Cases & Protection
Over the years, we've used so many different camera bags that I've lost count of them all. Our storage needs are ever evolving, and despite our best efforts, we're yet to find a one size fits all solution. Here's a list of our current bags with descriptions of how we use each.
Tenba DNA 15 Messenger Bag – We purchased the DNA 15 for motorcycle travel as it fits nicely inside one of my Globe Scout Panniers. The DNA 13 is well padded, well organized, includes a rain cover and has room for basic camera kit, 15” Macbook Pro, iPad, and accessories. Plus, the padded insert is removable; this converts the DNA 15 into a simple messenger bag and enables the padded insert to be used elsewhere. For example, the padded insert fits nicely inside our Land Cruiser’s Tuffy Security Console and creates a secure camera case that’s easy to access from the front seats. Inside we store a DSLR with lens, an additional lens, DJI Osmo, and GoPro accessories. We purchased ours at B&H photo. It’s also available at Amazon and other retailers.
Lowepro Vertex 300 AW Backpack – The Vertex 300 AW is a solid all-around solution for camera kit and a laptop. It’s small enough to use as carry-on luggage (careful of weight restrictions), can be worn as a backpack, strapped to a motorcycle, or thrown in a car. The Vortex 300 AW has good padding, good organization, good weather protection, and room for a couple of DSLR bodies, several lenses, 15" Macbook Pro, and accessories. We purchased the Vortex 300 as an alternative to the Tenba DNA 15 after reading Helge Petersen's article on Globeriders.com. With minor modifications, it makes a great motorcycle setup. Unfortunately, it’s discontinued; however, there were still a few available on Amazon at the time of writing.
Pelican 1600 Case – On our first Africa trip, the Pelican 1600 with 1609 Lid Organizer and 1604 Padded Divider Set kept our camera kit clean and dry through river crossings, rainy seasons, Central Africa's humidity, Saharan sandstorms, and Namibia's relentless dust. Waterproof, dustproof, and virtually indestructible, it's an ideal solution for safely storing valuable camera and video kit. The downside? Pelican Cases are heavy, particularly when loaded, so they are not an ideal solution for trips where minimizing weight is a priority. We purchased our 1609 Lid Organizer and 1604 Padded Divider Set at B&H Photo, while our Pelican 1600 Case was purchased from a retailer that’s no longer in business. All are available at Amazon, B&H Photo, and other retailers.
Lowepro Lens Cases – We’ve been using Lowepro lens cases since 2005 to protect our lenses in a variety of situations. They’re versatile, well padded, light, and durable. We throw them in backpacks, attach them to waist belts, stuff them in glove boxes, and toss them in panniers. They’re a great way to protect lenses without lugging around the extra weight and bulk of larger camera bags. We purchased our Lowepro Lens Cases at B&H photo, but you can find them at Amazon and other retailers as well.
Domke Protective Wraps – We discovered Domke Protective Wraps when we were looking for a minimalist solution for protecting our camera kit on our South East Asia backpacking trip. Little more than a padded square of non-scratch nylon with Velcro tabs on the corners, these little wraps are our favorite option when weight reduction and bulk are top priorities. They wrap into virtually any shape, which makes them perfect for protecting lenses, external hard drives, and cameras. We purchased ours at B&H photo, but you can find them at Amazon and other retailers as well.
Tom Bihn Cache –I wish I could remember who told us about Tom Bihn’s Cache sleeves as I’d love to thank them. Cache sleeves have become our preferred way of protecting our Macbooks and iPads. The Cache is just a padded sleeve with a polyester exterior and soft tricot interior with a simple flap that tucks in to cover the top. It's not fancy. It is, however, durable. After four years of heavy daily use and abuse, the Cache sleeves we purchased for our 2012 15" Macbook Pro and iPad 3 still look virtually new, and so do our devices. Simple. Durable. Effective. We purchased our Cache sleeves directly from Tom Bihn.
When I think back to what we paid for a basic digital video camera in 2005, I’m blown away by how much the same money buys today. For a modest investment you can own video equipment capable of capturing footage that, not long ago, was the domain of deep-pocketed film studios. For travelers, GoPro’s, drones and gimbaled cameras, like the DJI Osmo, offer groundbreaking options for sharing adventures. Here’s a quick summary of the video equipment we’re using to capture our adventures.
DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter – Easy to setup. Packs away in relatively small space. Simple to fly. Stunning 4k video. We purchased our Phantom 4 in August 2016 and have used it to film our recent travels in Southern Africa. We’re still novices but already see the potential. We purchased our DJI Phantom 4 at Drone World in Cape Town, but Phantom 4's are widely available through Amazon, B&H Photo, and many other retailers.
DJI Osmo Handheld Gimbal with 4K Camera – A chance meeting with a professional filmmaker in Cape Town introduced us to the Osmo just before we left for Namibia. We picked one up and have used it heavily since. Having a gimbal stabilized 4K camera makes capturing high-quality video much easier. So far, we’ve used the Osmo to capture trail running, bush driving, and for various documentary purposes. Osmo footage is so stable that it can be a little surreal at times. Check out our clip of running the Fish River Canyon, which was shot with the Osmo and Phantom 4. We purchased our DJI Osmo at Orms in Cape Town. It’s available at Amazon, B&H Photo, and other retailers.
GoPro Hero3 Black – We've only scraped the surface on what a GoPro can do. To date, we've used it for first person rider footage on motorcycles, trail running, driving footage, etc. It's a great weather and shock resistant complement to the Osmo and our DSLR's. Newer models, including the current Hero5, have long since replaced the Hero3. We purchased our Hero3 Black from REI. You can get the Hero5 from Amazon, REI, B&H Photo, or many other US retailers.
Canon 7D Mark II & Canon 5DS R – See above under cameras. We use the 7D Mark II and, to a lesser extent, the 5DS R to shoot video. Particularly for wildlife the results are stunning when paired with Canon’s L lenses like the Canon 500mm F/4 IS II. Here’s a brief video clip as an example. As noted above, both cameras are available from Amazon, B&H Photo, and other retailers in the US.
iPhone SE – Like everyone these days, we love having an HD video camera in our pocket. Our iPhone SE also serves as the video screen and touch screen controls for the DJI Osmo, and while it can be used to control the DJI Phantom 4, we prefer the iPad Pro's bigger screen for the Phantom 4. Here's a great example of the iPhone's utility; we shot this video when a bull elephant strolled up to join us for brunch in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe. Since our cameras were in the car, the iPhone allowed us to capture a moment that would otherwise only be a memory. We purchased our iPhone SE directly from Apple, but many retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, AT&T, and Sprint carry them as well.
Zoom H5 Handy Recorder – The Zoom H5 is a professional grade audio recorder, which has been a useful addition to our kit. Pair the Zoom H5 with the Canon 7D Mark II and you've got an excellent setup to capture professional-grade video and audio. In Africa, we love using the H5 at night to capture the call of the wild. Here's a quick recording that we made while camping in Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana. The recording is a herd of elephants feeding around our tent. We purchased our Zoom H5 at B&H photo, but you can find them at Amazon and other retailers as well.
Zoom WSU-1 Hairy Windscreen – I admit, it looks like a wig for the Zoom H5 but it’s quite a useful accessory for cutting wild noise. Like the Zoom H5, we purchased ours at B&H Photo. It’s also available from Amazon and can be found at other retailers as well.
On-Stage CS01 Camera Shoe Adapter – Like the WSC-1, the Camera Shoe Adapter is a handy accessory for the H5 if you plan to use it with your DSLR. By fastening the CS01 Camera Shoe Adapter to your camera's hot shoe, you've got a stable mounting platform for the Zoom H5. We purchased our camera shoe adapter from B&H Photo, but it's also available at Amazon and other retailers.
Our Current Computers and Accessories
Apple 15” MacBook Pro – Our MacBooks receive daily use and abuse, and the 15" MacBook Pro does the lion's share of heavy lifting. It's our go-to for photo, video, and audio editing and also performs a myriad of other tasks. I won't make a big sales pitch for a Mac other than to say they’re aesthetically beautiful, enjoyable to use, and have given us good service. We bought our current 15" MacBook Pro directly from Apple. If you're interested in saving some money, check out the refurbished MacBooks through Apple, or better yet, B&H Photo sells new previous-generation MacBooks for considerably less than you'll find through Apple. Amazon sells limited configurations as well.
Apple 12” MacBook – This little guy is about size. It’s so tiny and light that it makes our Macbook Pro seem big. It’s the laptop we draw straws to use. When we’re in the car, on a plane, or anywhere else that's a bit tight, it's perfect. If you write much, I'd recommend trying the keyboard before buying. Some reviewers have noted that they don’t like the shallow feel of the keys. I think it’s OK, but prefer the MacBook Pro’s keyboard when writing a lot. We purchased our MacBook from B&H Photo and saved quite a bit of money by getting the previous year model. You can also buy directly from Apple or through Amazon and other retailers.
Apple iPad Pro 9.7” – The iPad Pro is a little better than older iPads in many ways. There's one improvement worth mentioning: the ability to draw and write using the Apple Pencil. As nomads who spent endless hours digitizing our lives, the ability to use the iPad as a drawing tool is very useful. In addition, we use the iPad Pro like a paper notebook. Anything that we used to do on paper is now easily done on the iPad. Much of the design work for our Land Cruiser was sketched out on the iPad, as was the layout for our blog and creation of our logo. We purchased our iPad Pro at B&H Photo. They’re also available at Amazon, Apple, and many other retailers.
Apple Pencil – See iPad Pro comments above. The Apple Pencil is a useful addition to the iPad Pro and makes being 100% digital much easier. We purchased our Apple Pencil with our iPad at B&H Photo, but you can also buy it from Amazon, Apple, and many other retailers.
2TB Seagate Backup Plus Slim External Hard Drives – We use Seagate Backup Plus HD's for our MacBook's Time Machine backups and photo and video storage. At present we're carrying 16TB and use our drives daily. To protect the drives from damage, we keep them wrapped in Domke Protective Wraps. An 11x11 wrap comfortably accommodates four drives with room to spare. Note: in June 2017 one of our eight drives failed. It's the first issue we've had with an external hard drive (from any manufacturer). That said, for now, we're still using Seagate drives and hope it's the only failure we have. If another issue arises, we'll update our post. We purchased several of our Seagate Backup Plus drives from Amazon and the others from B&H Photo; they're available from many other retailers as well.
Tools for Travel Bloggers
ThemeTrust – We really like the clean, simple designs and feature-rich themes offered by ThemeTrust. We chose the Create theme as the foundation for our blog and like the features it offers including Page Builder, Slider Revolution, pre-built page templates, and One-Click Demo Import. Basic themes start at $49 and go up to $58 for Mega themes, which offer more features and greater customization. We're quite happy with Create. One point worth mentioning is that Create/ThemeTrust is smaller than other popular themes and therefore community support is more limited and customer service slower, which may be something to consider.
Fatcow – We’ve used Fatcow’s web hosting services since we launched our first blog in 2005 and have been pleased with their service and support. Fatcow offers competitive monthly plans and free domain name (first year). They’ve also been very helpful in answering our questions and resolving any issues that have arisen over the years. Plus, Fatcow is 100% wind powered.
HideMyAss VPN – Traveling full-time often includes accessing the internet from untrusted public networks, which can compromise the security of personal information. Using a VPN provider to encrypt our internet communications is an important tool in our effort to protect our privacy and security while on the road. For the past two years, HideMyAss VPN has been our provider of choice with no complaints. When we had an issue recently with slow internet speeds, HMA customer service was quick to help solve the problem.
Great Circle Mapper - Back when we began our airline careers, a colleague recommended we track our flights in a spreadsheet. It was good advice. Using Great Circle Mapper, we were able to use our spreadsheet to create the route maps found on the Our Story page. With Great Circle Mapper, creating flight route maps is as simple as pasting a list of departure and arrival airports into the GCM input field and selecting the desired output format. It's a useful tool for anyone interested tracking their air travel.
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