Travel Filmmaking & Photography: Our Ultimate Camera Equipment Guide

Updated: Jul 18, 2021

A list of what we use to make cinematic travel films on road as 'Jits into the Sunset'.



What's included:


What camera equipment and editing software we use for our travel films, is by far our most frequently asked question. In this blog, we talk you through it all:

  1. Main Camera, Lenses and Filters

  2. Action Camera, Mounts and Mods

  3. Drone and Accessories

  4. Camera Backpack and Tripod

  5. Post Production tools (Editing Software , Voice Over Mic and Music Libraries)

  6. Useful Extras

To ensure we are as helpful as possible, we've included pros and cons, budget alternatives, as well as items on our wish-list. We really do hope you find this valuable. If you do, feel free to share and tell us in the comments, so we know to keep blogging!


Also, kindly note that where possible, we have included our affiliate links. It means that that if you buy a product or brand based on our recommendation, then we stand to make a small bit of money, at no extra cost to you. Since our travel films are mostly self-funded, this is a great and FREE way to support us, if you enjoy and value our work. So, thank you. OK let's get into it...


It's been a journey:


Since my first road trip in 2013, I’ve been trying to refine, upgrade and perfect my camera kit bag. Back in 2013, writing a kit list for travel meant making a lot of sacrifices in quality to save space in your bag. My first travel set up was a GoPro 3. That was it. Nothing else. Since then, I’m pleased to say, camera technology has come a long way, and you can fit the tools you need to make a cinematic masterpiece into one backpack!


What to consider for travel filmmaking and photography:


I’ve always liked a simple set up. Even in my professional work I prefer to keep things simple, so I can just pick up the camera, run and gun, without too much set up. It makes you more flexible and you’re less likely to miss the moment. Also, if it's ready to just pick up and start shooting, you’re more likely to want to actually pick it up and press record. It's worth noting that I spend days/weeks researching products, reading reviews and considering purchases for months, before taking the plunge. Good quality camera kit is a long term (professional and personal) investment for me.I'd rather save for longer to buy better quality, than skimp out and be disappointed or feel the need to upgrade each year.



1. CAMERAS, LENSES & FILTERS



OUR MAIN CAMERA - SONY A7III


While there is still no such thing as a perfect camera, it’s getting closer. We mainly use a Sony A7iii which can shoot great stills and video. It can shoot 4K and excellent slow motion in HD. It’s a very good all round camera. Sony have gotten a lot of stick for the menu set up in their cameras, but once you’ve spent some time using it, I think it’s fine. Plus you have the option to make a user menu with shortcuts to your most used menu items.


PROS

  • Excellent for both video and photo

  • In camera image stabilisation

  • Full frame slow motion

  • Small camera with professional level image

CONS

  • Expensive

  • Not very robust or weather resistant

LOWER BUDGET ALTERNATIVE:

The image quality isn’t as good and features aren’t as advanced, but if you're after bang for your buck, then the Sony A6000 is a great choice.


WISHLIST CAMERA:

The Sony A7siii has recently been announced and looks like a monster! The bit rate, slow motion features and colour science look like a big step up. Perhaps not as strong for photography though.


TANIA'S CAMERA:

Tania takes her pictures with a Fujifilm XT3. The Fuji colours are always beautifully vivid and this camera can shoot good video too. However, when shooting for our travel films, Tania is far more confident picking up my Sony A7iii. This also makes it easier for me in the edit when matching the colour grade.



LENSES

  • Sony 24-70mm f2.8 (our main lens)

  • Canon 16-35mm f4

  • Canon 70-200mm f2.8 (Typically would not bring this travelling BUT since we had the space in Jits, we are very glad we did. It has allowed us to get some great close up shots of far away subjects (like the vultures flying over us on a pre-historic hike in Spain!)


FILTERS


A good CPL filter should never be overlooked. It takes the edge off bright conditions and is necessary for reducing glare, reflections, and undesirable dynamic contrasts. We choose Urth's filters for all our lenses. Urth (previously named Gobe) is a eco-friendly and sustainable company, who plant 5 trees from each purchase. We are also big fans of their plant-based lens cleaner which has lasted us ages. You might also be interested in the lens cleaning kit. Needless to say, taking care of your lenses should never ben overlooked.


2. ACTION CAMERA AND ACCESORIES


VLOGGING & ACTION CAM - GOPRO HERO 9


I’ve always loved GoPros. You can fit them in your pocket, they’re virtually indestructible and they capture good images. We recently upgraded from the GoPro 8 to the GoPro 9.


We use a GoPro as our vlogging camera for a few reasons; it’s small so isn’t intrusive making it easier to speak to it naturally, it has a very wide field of view so it really shows your surroundings and everything is on auto so you don’t need to worry about focus or exposure. You can also get very interesting angles with them and shoot underwater. This is why we always recommend GoPros to anyone who is looking to start vlogging.


That said, GoPros still have their drawbacks; they can’t handle high contrast or low light very well and sometimes ours has frozen for no reason. The main disadvantage has been the microphone - it only takes a small amount of wind to ruin the sound. This is the main reason we upgraded to the GoPro 9, so we could fix the external microphone mod and improve our audio quality. So far, so good!


It's worth nothing that the battery life on the GoPro 9 is considerably longer and so we're happy with just one battery. However, for older models, we've always had a few batteries. Whilst 3rd party batteries are cheaper we've found that they drain way to quickly, so worth investing in the official GoPro batteries.

PROS

  • Really small and easy to carry everywhere

  • Tough and fully waterproof

  • Brilliant stabilisation

  • Good slow motion

  • Easy to use (we set it so we can turn on & start recording with one click - so we never miss a moment)

  • The new front screen is handy to quickly check exposure and white balance

  • Longer lasting battery (than previous models)


CONS

  • Bad in poor lighting conditions

  • Seperate mic mod needed to improve audio

  • Fixed lens so not very versatile

  • Not waterproof when the Media Mod is attached

LOWER BUDGET ALTERNATIVES: Earlier GoPro models


Try second hand GoPro 6/7/8. I haven’t got any experience with alternative GoPro style cameras, but I know that GoPro’s have always been good. The more recent the model the more advanced the features but that doesn’t mean you can’t get great results with the previous models. Now that the GoPro 9 is out, you could get a good deal on a second hand GoPro 8. The GoPro 7 is still very good (we shot our Ireland vlog footage on this).


ON THE WISHLIST: Sony RX2.


I haven’t got my hands on one of these yet but it’s basically Sony's answer to the GoPro. About twice the price, but maybe you get what you pay for?! Check it out for yourself here.


MOUNTS & MODS




3. DRONE & ACCESORIES



DRONE - DJI MAVIC PRO 2


We fly the DJI Mavic Pro 2. I love this drone. In terms of image quality to size ratio, at time of writing, it’s the best out there. For travel filming I would never recommend a big drone because you will never take it out with you and they’re big, loud and intrusive if other people are in the vicinity. The DJI Mavic Pro 2 is great for stills and solid 4K video. It also has slow motion options but to be honest I’ve hardly used the slow motion features because you lose some quality.

PROS

  • Fold-up arms for convenient storage

  • Good image quality

  • Easy to use flight modes

  • Good flight range

  • Good flight time (31 mins)

CONS

  • For what you would expect from a drone I can’t really think of any.


LOWER BUDGET ALTERNATIVES: DJI MINI / DJI MINI2

The DJI Mini and DJI Mini 2 are absolutely tiny drones. Great for travel and for beginners. It's also worth noting that since this drone is under 250g, it makes it easier/legal to fly it almost everywhere without a license.


WISHLIST: There isn’t a drone out there that I would prefer... just waiting to see what the DJI Mavic Pro 3 is going to be like!



OUR DRONE ACCESSORIES

  • Controller: For those looking to up their droning game, I've found the DJI Mavic Pro 2 Controller a great investment. Here are the main advantages vs. using a phone screen:

- Stronger connection to drone (can fly further)

- Brighter screen, so its easier to see what you're doing, even in bright conditions.

- Quite good battery life

- Compact, all in one solution (no need to worry about having phone on hand and charged)

  • Extra Batteries: We carry 3 drone batteries to ensure we never miss the moment. They are expensive BUT I've never regretted this investment

  • Protection: Tania often makes fun of me for having boxes for all my kit. However, I really do believe that if you look after your kit, it looks after you. This is why I have boxes to pack and protect my drone as well as protect my batteries.

  • If it's sunny and bright I never shoot drone footage without these filters.



4. THE ULTIMATE BACKPACK & TRIPOD