There are a ton of different cameras out there and a corresponding ridiculous number of accessories that can be bought alongside a camera. I bought my first camera after graduating from eighth grade and have been a recreational photographer since; I’m hooked on capturing snapshots of special moments shared with family and friends while on adventures out and about. As you will see, I am largely a fan of Nikon. I’m not opposed to other cameras (I have used and/or own cameras by Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Sony, and Lytro), but I have found the Nikon experience to be the most user friendly. On Nikon’s entry level cameras, they have what I would call an industry leading photography learning system built into the cameras – just press the “?” button at any point and the camera will give you more information on whatever mode, setting, adjustment, etc. you are trying to do. While many of the Nikon Digital SLR’s on the market now have great video features, my cinematography and movie producer friends still tell me that nothing can beat a Canon (if you’re not a professional, you’ll do just fine with Nikon’s video features).

Side note: the quasi-psychedelic Australian board shorts I am wearing in the above image are not recommended outdoor adventure apparel! 😉

General Recreational Photography:

GoPro Hero 4: The Go Pro needs no introduction. It’s perfect for capturing a lot of moments on photo as well as video. Super user friendly and is about as non-destructible as a camera is going to get on my list. Still, handle with care! It also comes with access to Go Pro’s proprietary video editing software so you can piece together an epic production of your adventures!

Nikon AW130: If you are looking for something without the ‘fisheye’ appearance of the Go Pro, but something that is still rugged, this is your camera. It is waterproof up to 100 feet, freezeproof to 14 degrees fahrenheit, and is shockproof for drops up to 7 feet. It can take up to 5 images per second, has a built-in GPS so all your photos are automatically geo-tagged, and even has built-in wifi so you can transfer your photos easily on the go to your smartphone. Despite all its great features, the camera does NOT float…get this floating wrist strap package too!

Entry Level Digital Photography: 

Nikon D3300: This is a great cost effective entry level Digital SLR camera. If you are looking to learn digital photography, go with this or a similar used Nikon to start with prior to upgrading to a higher spec level model.

Nikon D610: I have a close family member who uses this camera; it’s awesome. If you want more advanced features, quicker shutter speeds, higher ISO range, and better quality images than what the D3300 can offer, this is your camera.

Pre-Professional Recreational Photography Gear:

Nikon D810: This is as high as you want to go on the Nikon totem pole (unless you decide to make the leap to a full time photography profession; then you’ll want the Nikon D4s). I used this level of digital SLR and it offers everything I want and then some (I have to admit I don’t use ALL the features regularly).

Associated Gadgets I Use and Would Recommend:

Extra Batteries – Varies by Camera: Hero 4AW130D3300D610D810 – D4s

SD Memory Card – High Capacity, High Speed, Waterproof: – 32GB64GB – 128GB256GB

Lowepro Waterproof Camera Backpacks – Dry Zone 200 – Dry Zone Rover – I use the Rover and love it. That said, the water bladder that came with it was less than great. Order a CamelBack replacement bladder to use with the Rover!

Lowepro Camera Backpack – I use the Flipside 300; it’s great for quick hikes when I don’t need room for extra gear or water.

Induro Carbon Fiber Tripod  – I use the smallest model (CT-014) because it is the lightest and most compact (I have never had a problem carrying it on an airplane either!). There are larger models available if that would better serve your specific needs!

Hurricane Blower to Clean Your Lenses

Microfiber Cloth to Clean Your Lenses After Using the Hurricane Blower

Further Reading:

There are a host of other photography-related topics that can be covered. Stay tuned for my posts on camera lenses, lense filters, photography basics, night photography, astrophotography, and post-processing tools.

Day Trip Gear Guide

Outdoors and Wilderness First Aid


About The Author

Jeremy Meek is a native Arizonan with a passion for adventure and discovery of unique experiences. Whether exploring Arizona or setting out on an adventure abroad, Jeremy is constantly scouting truly great adventures and experiences.

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