Planning a trip to Costa Rica and want to know what camera gear to bring? Costa Rica has been drawing nature and landscape photographers from around the world for years!
You are guaranteed to find and photograph some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife from incredible birds like the quetzal to loud howler monkeys. And because of that you will want to make sure that you pack the the best photography equipment to capture all the interesting people, places and wildlife that you will see on your trip.
In addition to the camera, you will want to also make sure to pack a few extra things for your camera to keep it safe. For example, due to the humidity and the rain, you will need to have a way to keep your camera dry and free from moisture.
I put together this list of camera gear and accessories that will help you take better photos on Costa Rica and wherever else you may travel.
Ready? Lets see what we need!
Camera Gear Packing List and Tips
What Camera Do I Need For Photography in Costa Rica?
The biggest and most important item in your camera bag is the …. the camera! There are many options for camera bodies that you can choose from. Personally, I love my Fuji . I have a Fuji XT 3 and I am able to take amazing photos while also being able to take videos as well.
This is a personal choice, yours might be different. Canon, Nikon, or Sony, They are all good cameras with lots of options and is a personal preference! Saying all that, I definitely suggest investing in a DSLR or a Mirrorless camera – this will enable you to control more of your settings, use a variety of lenses so you can create more captivating images.
Whats more frustrating, taking photos of monkeys when you run out of memory or when you camera turns off because your battery just went dead. As a voice of experience for both situations, the camera battery is the most frustrating one.
Make sure you bring a few extra camera batteries with you in case you are on a long hike or forget to re charge your batteries the night before.
Long Telephoto Lens
This is a lens that every photographer should pack in their camera bag. A good range is always a good choice, like fuji’s 55-200mm or 100-400 are great options. You also get a lens from manufacturers that are less expensive ( but still very good) like Tamron. Just make sure you get the right lens for the camera body you are using.
Using a long telephoto lens is a great way to be able to capture photos of wildlife like a quetzal, that might get scared off or possibly dangerous lie the Fer de Lance snake, without putting the creature or yourself in danger. Your chances of coming back with some decent if not great wildlife photos are almost guaranteed with having this type lens in your gear bag.
Wide Angle Lens
This type of lens gives you short focal length but at at the same time a wide field of view. Its a great lens for architecture for example, photos of the National Theatre and landscape photos.
This lens will have a range like 18-55mm, 10-22 mm or even like fisheye lens. But it can also be used a dual-purpose lens. Since it has a low depth of field it can be used also as a macro lens.
What All Purpose Zoom Lens For Costa Rica?
Because of the vast photographic opportunities that Costa Rica, it is a very good plan to pack a multi-purpose lens. These multi-purpose lenses will generally range in the area of 24-70 mm, 16-55mm or 24-105mm. You can get a lens with longer focal ranges but then they start to get a little heavier and more bulky.
I personally, like to get a lens from the same manufacturer that my camera is, for example Fuji Body and Fuji Lens, but you can also can a lens from a company like Tamron that will work with your camera body and is less expensive.
If you are one a budget or you don’t have enough room in your camera bag and are going to bring only one bag, then use a multi-purpose lens instead of bringing your zoom telephoto lens. If you get a lens with enough of a zoom range then you can leave that one at home – that is the key!
How Many Camera Memory Cards Should I Bring?
There are couple of theories when it comes to this. Some say bring alot of cards with low capacity that way if a card gets corrupted you will only lose those photos on that card.
There are others that say bring just a couple of large capacity cards so you don’t run out of space in the middle of photographing something exciting and brief like wildlife and have to change cards. There is also less chance of losing or misplacing a card.
I, personally, go for the large capacity but its a personal preference. Whichever way you go, make sure you get a card from a reputable brand like SanDisk or Lexar. Although nothing is guaranteed, the less expensive brands are more likely to have issues and that is the last thing you want!
Do I Need Flash For Costa Rica Photography?
Since it can be so dark in the forest, even during the day, in Costa Rica, we recommend that you have a flash. Forget about your built-in flash but a shoe mounted flash from the camera maker or a cheaper secondary brand like Yong Nuo will be a great addition to add additional light when at the bottom of the forest canopy.
However, if you do use a flash, be mindful of other photographers that may be around you and how the flash can change their exposures too.
Another very important tool in your photo bag! For low light situations that you will be sure to find Costa Rica, whether that be photographing a Volcano at night or waterfalls in the rainforest, having a sturdy but a the same time light tripod is imperative.
The best affordable option is from the MeFoto family of tripods or if your budget allows, look at tripods from Gitzo
When you are packing up your backpack, you will want to start considering weight. Carrying a monopod or a tripod will become a personal choice when it starts to factor towards weight.
Since we’ve mentioned the rainforest a few times in this article already it is safe to assume you know that there is a very good chance that you will get rained on or encounter moisture during you trip to Costa Rica. I recommend that you select the heavy-duty freezer Ziplock bag, this will help to keep your lenses stay dry.
This is something you can purchase off of Amazon prior to your trip. Because of the high levels of humidity in Central America it can take a very long time for your lenses and the mirrors in your camera to acclimate to the moisture in the air. These moisture bags can help this process along and keep your equipment safe.
If you go to Costa Rica in the rainy season ( May – October), as name implies, you are going to get wet at some point. To ensure that your camera and your lenses are not only dry and you cannot put a price tag on a good rain jacket (well, maybe you can).
Amazon has lots of options for example the Marmot Precip Eco or you can always find a jacket through at your local outdoor store. ( Always good to shop local.
That covers it for the main items to pack in your camera bag for a trip Costa Rica and all other places you may visit.
Remember that I can only give suggestions and recommendations based on my experience on what is camera gear can help take better photos for a trip to Costa Rica. However, you also know what works best for you. Packing your gear is like finding your perfect rhythm to a song, you just know what works and what doesn’t.
With all of the gear I’ve covered, you should be all-ready for your adventure in the rainforest, beaches or anywhere in Costa Rica you plan on visiting. With your camera and your bags packed with memory cards, ziplock bags, rain jackets, camera jackets, tripods and more, you are now all ready to go out head out on your trip.