Design, Photography, & Fashion

Jimmy Chin’s Favorite Equipment and Camera Gear for Adventure Photography

Written by MasterClass

Jun 6, 2019 • 3 min read

Outdoor photography has its own unique set of cameras and equipment needs. However, if you’re embarking on an exciting, fast-paced, and potentially dangerous outdoor adventure, you don’t always have the room to bring much equipment with you. Here are photographer Jimmy Chin’s photography bag essentials, including his go-to cameras and camera lenses.

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Jimmy Chin’s Favorite Camera Equipment

When shooting subjects outdoors, Chin has go-to cameras, camera lenses, and camera equipment for every possible scenario. Here are his favorites and how he uses them in his adventure photography:

Jimmy Chin’s Recommended Cameras

  • Canon 1Dx: This camera has a high frame rate, which makes it great for action.
  • Canon 5D Mark IV: This camera is smaller in size, which makes it great for travel.

Jimmy Chin’s Best Lenses for Adventure Photography

  • 24-70mm (f/2.8): A lens that’s a good blend of slightly wide and slightly telephoto. It’s a workhorse lens that can be used for just about anything.
  • 16-35mm (f/2.8): A lens that’s good for shooting landscapes and sweeping vistas.
  • 70-200mm (f/2.8): A lens that offers a good range from medium telephoto to telephoto. It’s good for compressing the background and photographing things that are far away.
  • 14mm (f/2.8): A lens that’s slightly wider than the 16-35mm, giving you a more expansive view. It’s great for night photography.
  • 24mm (f/1.4): A lens that’s great for any type of wide shots. It’s a prime lens, which means it’s sharper and faster than a zoom lens.
  • 35mm (f/1.4): Same as the 24mm lens above, just not quite as wide.
  • 50mm (f/1.2): A very fast lens that lets in four times as much light as the 24-70mm lens above.
  • 85mm (f/2.0): A lens with good focal length and speed. Ideal for portraits.
  • 100-400mm (f/4.5-5.6): A lens that’s great for shooting compression shots and things that are far away.

2 Crucial Photo Accessories for Adventure Photographers

  • Power: Bring fully charged camera batteries, lighting batteries, and a solar charger (if needed).
  • Media storage: Bring media cards and solid state hard drives to hold all of our shots. Chin recommends using solid state drives (which have no moving parts) instead of traditional drives (which spin and are more fragile) to back up your media.

Jimmy Chin’s Tips for Traveling With Camera Equipment

It’s usually better to bring everything into the plane’s cabin in your carry-on luggage instead of checking it. Your camera lenses are very sensitive, so make sure your camera bag is small enough to be carried on board the plane. If you can, get a bag that meets international carry-on standards so you can safely carry your cameras and lenses onto every flight with ease.

No matter where you’re flying, make sure you check the airline’s rules for traveling with batteries, as different airlines have different rules. Some permit you to carry them on the aircraft while others require you to check them.

Learn More About Jimmy Chin

Jimmy Chin is a climber, skier, adventure photographer, and film director who lives in Wilson, Wyoming. Along with Kit and Rob DesLauiers, Chin is the first American to successfully climb and ski Mount Everest from the summit. He’s also crossed the Chang Tang Plateau in Tibet on foot. Chin is a veteran member of The North Face Athlete Team.

Chin has co-directed two documentaries with his wife, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. Meru (2015) follows his successful attempt to make the first ascent of Meru Peak in the Garhwal Himalayas in India via the Shark’s Fin route with Conrad Anker and Renan Ozturk. Chin and Vasarhelyi won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature with his film Free Solo (2018), which follows rock climber Alex Honnold on the first ever rope-free ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

Chin’s photographs have appeared in magazines such as National Geographic, Climbing, Outside, and Alpinist.

Learn more photography tips in Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass.