What’s the best light weight camera gear to travel with kids?

A minimalist camera gear approach to traveling with children

I have been asked many times on what camera(s) I use and the gear I bring in our travels as a family. As I have evolved from traveling with bulky camera gear to carrying a toddler with me– over the years, I’ve had the best opportunity to travel with minimal gears; and it’s proven to me that I don’t have to haul multiple camera equipment to enjoy photography. The anxiety of missing a photographic opportunity has been tamed, and perfecting the balance, enjoying the moment with the family, hands free– can be extremely rewarding and liberating.

Though I have used many different camera systems and multiple different camera bags, I have narrowed it down to this essential list of things to carry and bring while traveling with the children without compromising photographic output.

The camera bag

My most recent choice of camera bag to bring on our recent travel is a fanny pack for storage on a days trip. One that I wear across my shoulder conveniently for an easy access to my camera and gear. I still alternate this with a small messenger bag depending on what and how much gear I want to bring on a specific travel. Either the fanny pack or a messenger bag has to fit in my 60L backpack while in transit and can be pulled out anytime I need to when there is a good opportunity to photograph the kids.

left: a sling/fanny pack bag around my waist to hold my camera on a days trip like this while holding Joel on a front baby carrier when he was 9 month old | right: at the Los Angeles international airport before boarding for Vietnam with my 60L carry on backpack. The very bottom compartment holds all the camera equipment; the small camera/sling bag and a small foldable electronic pouch that are easily accessible while in transit. The rest of the backpack holds important travel documents, extra dry clothes, toiletries, baby medications, diapers and small snacks for the kids all in separate compartments.

The camera(s)

On a quick trip when I can leave my small fanny pack in the car, I carry one camera and one lens system with my portable flash in my front or back jean pocket. Left: fuji X-Pro 1 with a 25 mm 1.7 lens in Phuket Thailand | right: the Fuji x100F with its fixed 23 mm lens in Big Island Hawaii.

When I choose a specific camera gear to bring on our travel, three things I always keep in mind. (1) I need to make sure my camera can cover a wider field of view angle (for everyday candid, and or group shots), (2) to bring an extra lens for beautiful children portrait shots (out of focus background isolating the children), and (3) an external flash for fill in lights. I have broken it down to three specific camera gears and the suggested alternatives for anyone considering a different brand. (Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate to any camera brand).

camera numbered correlating to the gear I mostly pick and choose. The peak design camera strap can be interchanged with any of my camera for an easy switch. (1) fuji x20, (2) fuji x100f, (3) fuji X Pro-1 with three lenses to choose from: voking 25 1.7, 7 artisan 35 1.2, and the 7 artisan 55 1.4.

  • First gear choice | My first father’s day gift from my wife was a beautiful fuji x20 camera. I revere this camera to this day. Although it has many imperfection and definitely cannot compete with the most modern technology, it is one of my most used camera on our travels. This camera has many limitations, but is perfectly one of the best choice camera I use during our travels. It is a point and shoot camera that can do so much more if you have some background in photography. It is light weight, can zoom from a wide angle at 28 mm equivalent (perfectly wide for landscapes and group shots), to a 112 mm zoom range (perfect for close up, portraits and macro shots). I usually pair this camera with my fuji pro 1 and a small 50 mm portrait lens (7 artisan f1.2) to capture beautiful portrait and out of focus background.
  • Second gear choice | If I wanted to travel with just one camera body, then my fuji x100F is my to go camera. Sometmes I pair it with the adaptable TCL-100 portrait lens for a more intimate and isolated portrait shots of the kids. The 35 mm equivalents fixed lens on this camera is wide enough for the everyday candid shots and capable of beautiful landscape scenes.
  • The third and my favorite gear to reach for are my fuji X-Pro 1 coupled with two interchangeable lenses that are fully manual. My 25 mm and 35 mm lenses cover most of my favored framed shots from landscape to portrait photography.

The fuji X-Pro 1 with two lenses, a gorilla pod, and the flash q20 system make up this trip to Ha Long Bay cruise | Vietnam, 2019

Alternative camera(s) to consider

If you are in the market looking for cameras with interchangeable lenses, the fuji x system has wonderful line of camera(s) to choose from. A budget camera I can recommend are the older fuji x10, x20, fuji xt 1 or xt 2 line up (fuji’s older flagship model), coupled with 2 lenses to consider. Try the more portable prime lens like the 18 mm pancake lens for your wide angle shots and the 35 mm (50 mm equivalent) lens for close up and portrait needs.

You can also look into the fuji x100 series if you don’t mind having a fixed lens on your camera. These are specialized ‘rangefinder’ style cameras that I love. They capture incredible candid and daily shots because they are so light and can be worn the whole day without really feeling its weight around your neck. These camera line up feel like a point and shoot but is fully manual when you need to.

If I had to pick a camera today to suggest to anyone from the choices above, I’d go for the fuji xt1 body and an 18 mm f2, 35 mm f2 or 56 mm 1.2 lens hands down for my portable travel gear. These older camera body(s) specifically the fuji xt series were the flagship camera(s) during their release dates. Although the fuji X-Pro 1 is my favorite camera, they are specialized range finder style camera that might not work for everyone.

This set up holds the fuji x-100f with its fixed 23 mm lens, the fuji instax printer and the flash q20 on our road trip in Mindanao.

Other important equipments in the bag

  • The flash q20ii. This little handy off camera flash system is hands down the smallest and most portable flash system available on the market at the time of writing this blogpost. I cannot say enough good things about this flash system and cannot suggest it enough to anyone considering brining along a flash unit with them on their travels; and they definately should.
  • The fujifilm instax share sp-2. This might add a little bulk, but it is worthy of that last space in the camera bag. This portable printer is a game changer for me during our last travel to the Philippines. This portable printer works with my fuji x100F seamlessly. It can also work with any mobile phone just like most of the portable printer available on the market. If interested you can read my review of this printer here.
  • Gorilla pod. This small tripod can easily fit in the bag. You can wrap this around any idle object like a tree branch, a pole or put on a table or any flat surface for an alternative tripod if you don’t want to carry the extra weight and bulk like any traditional tripod.
  • Eyefi flash card. Although most recent camera system has wifi capabilities built in them, I use this wifi flash card for my older camera system like my fuji x20 and fuji x-pro 1 system. This allows me to send my photos straight to my mobile phone and not have to wait to transfer it manually on a computer or other form of transfer device like an external file hub. This is most helpful when your specific camera system does not connect to a portable printer system like the fuji instax.


If you are serious about your travel photography, you should, you must!, always find a space to hold your camera gear. Minimalist approach to photography doesn’t have to cost you less in collecting those precious memories, but should bring out the very essential of the travel; a beautiful bond captured in a frame forever. I believe in all the gears I carry. They are the very bare essentials, nevertheless, in capturing memories that help me to create and produce the photographs that I intend to take; to tell of the many travel stories with the family.

My son, who is now 7 years old, can use the fuji x20 while I carry with me the fuji X-pro 1 with the 50 mm lens. This free me of one camera so I can focus on the other.

A six year evolution in how I carry my camera gear with the children on a days trip. Left: my son at 9 month old in 2015 with my fuji x20 and a regular backpack | Right: my daughter at 2 years old in 2019. She is sitting comfortably on a minimies carrier while I have my fuji X-Pro 1 around my neck and a small fanny pack that hold 1 extra lens and the portable flash q20.

Continue on to reading the 10 important photography tips I consider while traveling with children.

Remember to travel light and minimize. Thank you for the coffee!

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