Our gears for a trip to Colombia: cameras, lenses, bags

Taylor made trip to Colombia

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What camera equipment is best for a trip to Colombia? Many of you have asked us what kind of camera to choose for a trip to Colombia, whether it’s safe to bring the right equipment, what kind of equipment is best, what kind of camera bag to choose, etc. etc.

In this article, we’ll get straight to the point by talking about photo equipment. The kind we take with us on our trips to Colombia.

As you know if you’re here, we’re in love with Colombia, not only because of its fascinating culture and friendly people, but also because of its landscapes and biodiversity, making it a paradise for photography enthusiasts!

Photos de Colombie à encadrer, un souvenir pour décorer la maison

Travel Poster “Bogota”

(original photography print on fine art paper)

Buy our beautiful prints to be framed as a “souvenir” of Colombia

Disclaimer: we apologize in advance for any grammatical or syntactic errors, as our native language is not English (we're a Colombian-French couple), so we hope you'll forgive us and still enjoy the information we share with you! Please note that all the information on our blog is based on our own experience, and is checked and updated regularly.

Our photo gears for a trip to Colombia

Our choice of hybrid format

Our gears for a trip to Colombia: cameras, lenses, bags

As you probably know by now, the world of photography is a merciless one! There’s a huge choice of cameras and corresponding formats. Each format has its own specificities, advantages and shortcomings, and above all, each format is adapted to a particular type of photography.

For our trips to Colombia, we made a choice in line with our way of traveling, and decided to go for compactness and lightness without neglecting quality.

The hybrid revolution: the ideal format for travelling in Colombia

A few years ago, we had to make a choice. Samuel had a large Nikon SLR, and the need for lightness and compactness became apparent. That said, making concessions on quality was out of the question; on the contrary, the idea was to move towards professionalism.

We naturally turned to the range of “hybrid” or “mirrorless” cameras , at the crossroads between “compact” and “SLR” cameras.

The principle is simple: today’s technology makes it possible to dispense with an optical viewfinder and mirror (inherited from film cameras), thus considerably reducing the size of camera bodies.

To put it simply, they’re compact, yet allow you to change the lenses you put on them.

Micro 4/3 format, our choice for traveling in Colombia

Hybrids come in a range of sensor sizes: micro 4/3, APS-C and now even full-frame.

For us, micro 4/3 is the most radical of these formats. It offers the ultimate in compactness, and we’ve fallen in love with it.

The advantages of micro 4/3 cameras:

  • Interchangeable lens cameras
  • Compact, lightweight and easy to transport
  • Sturdy and resistant to dust and humidity (tropicalized)
  • Professional-quality performance
  • Wide choice of lenses and superb range of professional-quality lenses

Two brands share the micro 4/3 camera market: Panasonic and OM System (ex-Olympus).

Our cameras

Our camera gears for a trip to Colombia

For many years now, we’ve put our trust in OM System (formerly Olympus). We could very well have chosen Panasonic, which is also very good, but the look and quality of OM System cameras and lenses convinced us. We’ve been fans for 10 years now, and we haven’t changed our mind!

OM-1 from OM System

Our gears for a trip to Colombia: cameras, lenses, bags
OM-1 housing (photo equipment Colombia)

OM-1 technical specifications

  • Interchangeable lens body
  • Stacked micro 4/3 sensor
  • Sensor resolution: 20 MP
  • Camera stabilization: YES
  • Tropicalized: YES
  • 4K/C4K 60p 10-bit video (internal)
  • Bare weight: 599 g
  • Release date: 2022

TheOM-1 , our latest acquisition! It’s not for everyone’s pocket, but it’s a concentrate of technology in an extremely compact package. We chose it because we wanted to get into wildlife photography. And, combined with the 300mm f4 lens, it’s an incredibly compact combo for such quality and magnification. Add to this the speed of its Auto Focus and the automatic AF modes that provide bluffing focus assistance on moving subjects like birds, animals, etc., and it’s just a bluffing machine.

OMD EM-1 from OM System (ex-Olympus)

Our gears for a trip to Colombia: cameras, lenses, bags
OMD-EM-1 housing (photo material Colombia)

EM1 (mark II) technical specifications

  • Interchangeable lens body
  • Micro 4/3 sensor
  • Sensor resolution: 20 MP
  • Camera stabilization: YES
  • Tropicalized: YES
  • Video C4K 24p/4K 30p
  • Bare weight: 574 g
  • Release date: 2017

TheOMD EM1 (Mark II) is still a great, high-performance camera at a price that’s now very affordable second-hand! It was our number 1 camera before switching to the latest OM System model. It’s “tropicalized”, a point we feel is really important, so we don’t have to worry about whether or not it’s wise to take the camera out in different weather conditions (dust, rain, etc.). We can assure you that it works: one day, we forgot it on a chair and it spent a whole night in a huge thunderstorm… in the morning it was rinsed out… and it survived without a hitch! 5-axis stabilization is part of the package, but what’s particularly appreciable is the speed of Auto Focus – a pleasure! In our opinion, it’s still a great choice.

Our older cameras

As our photography has evolved over the years, we’ve naturally renewed our cameras to keep pace with our development. Sometimes we’ve made the wrong choices, and it can happen that a camera just doesn’t suit our way of taking pictures. When this happens, it’s no big deal, just sell it and refine your choices!

  • OM5: Sam had the EM-5 mark I, then the EM-5 mark 2, before moving on to the EM-1. Today, the range is called the OM-5, and it’s a super-compact camera whose qualities are close to those of a professional camera.
  • GX9 (GX range): Sam’s first micro 4/3 camera was the GF1, now obsolete and replaced by the GX range. These are lightweight, compact cameras of excellent quality. Their only drawback is their lack of tropicalization.
  • Fuji x100V: we wanted to try out a compact, fixed-focal-length camera that we could easily take anywhere, without having to think about it. The Fuji x100v is one of the best cameras in its category, a great all-rounder with its 35mm lens. No doubt about it. We sold it because we didn’t use it much, but it’s a best-seller, currently out of stock.

Our lenses

Our photo gears for a trip to Colombia

Most of you will know this, but it’s always good to remember that the quality of your camera lens is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter how good your camera is, if your lens isn’t good, you’ll have trouble getting the results you want. On the other hand, a very good lens mounted on an average camera can do the job without a hitch. So, if you’re on a budget, don’t hesitate to go all out and buy lenses!

Transtandard: Zuiko PRO 12-40 mm f2.8 (OM system)

(24-80 mm equivalent in full-frame 24×36)

Our gears for a trip to Colombia: cameras, lenses, bags
12-40 f2.8 lens (Colombia photo equipment)

12-40 mm f2.8 datasheet

  • Tropicalized
  • Mount: micro 4/3
  • Focal lengths: 12 to 40 mm (equivalent to 24 – 80 mm in full format)
  • Apertures: f2.8 to f16 constant
  • Dimensions: 70 x 84 mm
  • Bare weight: 382 g

This is thetranstandard lens par excellence, a little jewel of technology in a compact format, as always with the micro 4/3 range. It’s the best-seller in the PRO range from Zuiko (Olympus). A highly versatile lens, with a constant f2.8 aperture, it boasts excellent sharpness at virtually any aperture and focal length. Its robustness and tropicalizationmake it the ideal companion for OM cameras.

Zoom: Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f4 (OM system)

(Equivalent to 80-150 mm in full-frame 24×36)

Our gears for a trip to Colombia: cameras, lenses, bags
40-150 f4 lens (Colombia photo material)

40-150 mm f4 technical specifications

  • Tropicalized
  • Mount: micro 4/3
  • Focal lengths: 40 to 150 mm (equivalent to 80 – 300 mm in full format)
  • Apertures: constant f4 to f16
  • Dimensions: 69 x 99 mm
  • Bare weight: 382 g

OMSystem’s 40-150 f4 PRO zoom is our latest acquisition. It perfectly complements the 12-40 f2.8. Everything we love! We hesitated with the 40-150 f2.8, more qualitative and luminous, but the size and weight decided us to prefer the f4 version. Having tested it a little, we’re delighted with our choice! The rendering is top-notch, as long as you keep to normal shooting conditions. Of course, it’s not the ideal lens for night photography, but for us it’s the perfect compromise.

Telephoto lens: Zuiko PRO 300 mm f4 (OM system)

(600 mm equivalent in full-frame 24×36)

Our gears for a trip to Colombia: cameras, lenses, bags
300 f4 lens (Colombia)

300 mm f4 specifications

  • Tropicalized
  • Stabilized
  • Mount: micro 4/3
  • Focal length: 300 mm (equivalent to 600 mm in full format)
  • Apertures: f4 to f16
  • Dimensions: 92 x 227 mm
  • Bare weight: 1270 g

We had a Panasonic 100-300 f4-5.6 for wildlife photography. But over time Sam felt the limits of this lens. Colombia is a paradise for bird and wildlife photography, and we wanted to be able to take it to the next level and offer some great images on the blog. The 300 mm f4 PRO is the best micro 4/3 lens for wildlife photography. The equivalent of a 600 mm full-frame lens, it’s incredibly compact… to give you an idea, a Canon 600 mm f4 weighs 3 kg and is 47 cm long (not to mention the price!)

Our old micro 4/3 lenses

Over time, we’ve changed our micro 4/3 lens fleet to adapt it to our photography and travel habits. But we’ve tested a number of references that we can also recommend to you:

  • Zuiko 20 mm f1.7 pancake: this is a great lens for those who want to be as compact as possible. Combined with a camera like the OM5, the combo is formidable and fits in your pocket. Of course, this lens has its limits when it comes to sharpness, so it’s not quite up to the quality of the PRO range.
  • Zuiko 45 mm f1.8: a very good portrait lens at an unbeatable price. Once again, the sharpness won’t be as precise as on the PRO equivalents, but it’s very good for getting started.
  • Panasonic 100-300 f4-5.6 II: we did most of our wildlife photography with this lens until we acquired our 300 mm f4. This lens is tropicalized and does the job well as long as you stay in optimal shooting conditions (you’ll have to increase ISO and lose sharpness to use it in low light)
  • Zuiko 7-14 f2.8 PRO: a super-wide-angle lens from the PRO range, with perfect sharpness and very low distortion (it’s not a fisheye). A perfect lens, but one we sold because we realized we didn’t use it much, but for landscapes and architecture it’s still a killer!

Our photo bags for a trip to Colombia

Our photo equipment for Colombia

It took us a long time to find the right compromise for carrying our gear. We tested lots of photo bags, some of which went straight back to the store without having left the house, while others stood the test of time and turned out to be poor choices. Now, with experience, we’ve finally found the perfect camera bag for traveling in Colombia.

Lowepro Flipside 350

Our gears for a trip to Colombia: cameras, lenses, bags
Lowepro flipside (photo equipment Colombia)

Lowepro flipside 350 specifications

  • 50% Photo compartment
  • 50% Personal compartment
  • Weight: 1.4 kg
  • External dimensions: 28 x 20 x 51 cm
  • Rain cover
  • Waist belt
  • Padded back
  • Numerous pockets

What we were looking for

  • An all-purpose bag (doesn’t have to look like a camera bag)
  • Minimum footprint
  • Light weight
  • Compartment for personal items
  • Pocket for a water bottle
  • Comfortable and sturdy
  • Accommodates a maximum of our gear

After testing many photo bags, the LowePro Flipside 350 proved to be the best choice for our Colombian photography (the 250 was far too small, and the 450 too big for us).

What we put in it

In mixed mode, we put :

  • OM-1 camera
  • 12-40 mm lens
  • 300 mm Lens (or OMD EM-1 Lens 40-150 mm)
  • OM-1 batteries
  • Sweater and compact Kway
  • Sunglasses
  • Wallet
  • Book
  • Sun cream
  • 50 cl water bottle
  • External battery

In total photo equipment mode :

  • OM-1 body
  • 12-40 mm lens
  • 300 mm lens
  • OM-1 batteries
  • OMD EM-1 Body
  • 40-150 mm Lens
  • OMD EM-1 Batteries
  • DJI Mavic Air drone
  • Mavic Air remote control
  • Mavic Air batteries
  • Water bottle 50 cl
  • Wallet
  • Sunglasses
  • External battery

It’s the perfect size for us, neither too big nor too small, it’s almost the size of a classic backpack (EastPack type) only deeper. It’s perfect.

Insertable protective cover

Our gears for a trip to Colombia: cameras, lenses, bags
Protective cover (photo equipment Colombia)

Technical specifications

  • Outer material: neoprene
  • Inner material: soft fleece
  • Closure: drawstring
  • Weight: 120 g
  • Size M: 17 x 18 x 12 cm

Angélica prefers not to carry a photo bag. In Colombia, she alternates bags according to our desires, locations and activities. So we opted for a simple camera bag that only holds her camera, and which she can fit into a number of different bags.

Conclusion

Our photo equipment for a trip to Colombia

Our gears for a trip to Colombia: cameras, lenses, bags
Photo equipment Colombia

In conclusion, as you can see, for us the “micro 4/3” camera format is the best compromise between weight, size and quality, with its range of professional-quality lenses. We chose OM System for the quality of their bodies and their range of PRO lenses.

We needed hard-wearing equipment, ready to cope with all travel conditions, in all types of desert or tropical regions. We needed lightweight, easily transportable equipment, so we wouldn’t be “lazy” to take it everywhere. We needed quality equipment to enable us to make the images we dreamed of.

Even today, we kiss the sky for having made this choice, and we have absolutely no regrets! These cameras are of exceptional quality, and the perfect companion for the adventurous photographer or photo-loving traveler.

So if you want to travel light but still enjoy taking pictures, this is the perfect range of cameras for a trip to Colombia.

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Authors

Angélica & Samuel

We are Angélica and Samuel, a French-Colombian couple, professional photographers and web editors specializing in travel to Colombia. We created this blog to change the image of the country, help you prepare your trip and inspire you to discover Colombia in a different way!

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