We don’t need to tell you that Europe is home to much of the world’s history, art and various cultures. But getting bogged down at tourist traps is not our idea of a getaway. Our advice? Consider the path less taken. How about a former bathhouse turned microbrewery in Amsterdam or the best ice cream parlor in Paris? Remember the best memories and photos often come from the unexpected moments.
For us, the best kit is all about paring it down and skipping the superflous. Our setup is based around a mirrorless camera (many well-priced options are available) with just two prime lenses — hell, you can even just stick with one. The point is to focus less on what you’re trying to capture and more on the moment itself.
Our pre-flight leg work starts right after the jump.
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Think Tank Retrospective 7
Designed for mirrorless cameras, the Think Tank Retrospective 7 is still large enough to hold an entry level DSLR (e.g. Canon T4i) with one lens attached along with a couple spares. The bag is designed with durability in mind, but it’s also an elegant looking solution without drawing the wrong type of attention — something we always suggest while traveling. Plenty of pockets, space for an iPad or 11″ MacBook Air, and details like a silent flap and straightforward warranty make for a bulletproof solution for your daypack needs.
Buy Now: $155
Fujifilm X Pro 1
Coined by many as the king of the mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras due to its excellent 16.3MP sensor, the Fujifilm X Pro 1 is a camera that turns heads due to its retro good looks — while also providing great image quality and the ergonomics you’ll need for long shooting sessions. The X Pro 1 is targeted at professionals and experienced enthusiast photographers and it has a slew of features to back it up.
The X Pro sports an optical viewfinder that works like a modern cyborg rangefinder. You can also use the built-in electronic viewfinder with a little flip of a switch that harkens back to old built-in self-timers. Plus, if you want to shoot with a flash, the hot shoe works with a Canon TTL cord with full metering communication. There’s a PC port in case you’d like to use other strobes as well. If you want to go incognito, you can crank up the ISO to 6400 and get some of the cleanest and noise-free images in the segment. To boot, the shutter is super quiet — so you won’t alert any lovebirds when you’re photographing the romance around you in Paris or Rome.
Buy Now: $1699
Fujifilm 18mm f2
On the X-Pro 1’s APS-C sensor, the Fujifilm 18mm f2 lens effectively shoots 24mm. This is one of the most popular focal lengths for street photography and general use — and for good reason. With the Fujifilm 18mm, you’ll be able to photograph everything from city centers to sweeping landscapes both day and night. One of our favorite features: the Fujifilm X series lens’ aperture ring, which reminds us of old Leica lens. On top of its tack sharp glass, the lens is extremely portable. Because of its great image quality, fast aperture and range of focal lengths, you may find yourself never taking it off.
Buy Now: $599
Fujifilm 35mm f1.4
Many iconic photos of Europe have been captured with nothing more than a single lens. On the X-Pro 1, the Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 EX renders the equivalent of 50 mm. Besides the boon of its small size, you’ll benefit from its faster aperture while shooting portraits and subjects. Plus, your photos will be imbued with plenty of dreamy bokeh (background blur). Restricting yourself to one focal length will also make you more bold and creative in picture-taking without worrying about lenses and zoom. The result is more exciting photos. Just imagine: a single lamp post in focus with the fog of London and the city lights all out of focus. This is the lens that makes it happen.
Buy Now: $599
Herb Lester City Guides
We love Herb Lester City Guides for their awesome illustrations and inside perspective on offbeat locales — expect hat shops, haberdashers, park benches, coffee shops and dive bars instead of tourist traps and bus tours. But more than that, there’s something right about pocketing the iPhone and unfolding a paper guide while standing in the shadows of Trafalgar Square.
Buy Now: $4.75
DSPTCH Camera Straps
We love DSPTCH straps. Whether they’re the sling (shown) or the wrist strap, we have them attached to all our cameras and we suggest you do the same. Coupling sharp design with mil-spec materials the DSPTCH sling strap comes in a variety of liveries to fit your setup. As always, we recommend black.
Buy Now: $32-$48
With apps like Snapseed and iPhoto the iPad packs more than enough power to edit through your photos. Just be sure to pick up a 32GB or larger version. That means editing photos while waiting for a train or sneaking in an episode of Breaking Bad if you’re feeling homesick. Plus, it’s thin and with the new iPad’s Retina stunning Retina screen, you’ll see details for days. If you’re trekking across Europe, consider adding Apple’s World Traveler Kit ($39) for all the right plugs and adapters.
Buy Now: $499
Lexar 64GB 400x SDHC Card
If you’re out and about on the road for long periods of time being seduced by Europe’s vanities, the chances of you returning to your hotel room just to upload images to your computer may be slight. Your best bet is to stick a large SDHC card into your camera: like Lexar’s 64GB SDHC. The card also writes images to its memory very quickly, which is perfect for RAW shooters.
Buy Now: $65