Travel Filmmaking & Photography 2022: Our Ultimate Camera Equipment Guide
Updated: Mar 19
A list of what we use to make cinematic travel films on road as 'Jits into the Sunset'. Last Updated June 2022!
The 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:
Main Camera, Lenses and Filters
Action Camera, Mounts and Mods
Drone and Accessories
Camera Backpack and Tripod
Post Production tools (Editing Software , Voice Over Mic and Music Libraries)
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 (or message us on Instagram, 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 microscopic 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 to skimp out and be disappointed or feel the need to upgrade each year.
1. CAMERAS, LENSES & FILTERS
OUR MAIN CAMERA - SONY A7S III
While there is still no such thing as a perfect camera, it’s getting closer. We mainly use a Sony A7S III which can shoot great stills and video. It can shoot beautiful 4K & HD video with great slow motion abilities. It can shoot 12MP photos, which is more than enough for posting to instagram or other social platforms. Sony have gotten a lot of stick for the menu set up in their cameras, but in this camera they have revamped the menu completely. For me the Sony A7S III is a very user friendly camera and customisable. Sony have also implemented a new colour profile called S-Cinetone. It produces a lovely image right out of the camera but still has room for colour grading. Finally the Sony colour science can compete with Canon!
*See point 6 for compatible SD Cards
Excellent video quality
In camera image stabilisation + Catalyst Browse compatibility
Full frame slow motion
Small camera with professional level image
Not very robust or weather resistant
Only 12MP photos
LOWER BUDGET ALTERNATIVE:
The image quality isn’t quite 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. Another option would be to go for a second hand camera from the Sony A line. They are all very good cameras and because Sony seems to be releasing cameras for fun there are lots on the market as people are selling their old cameras to pick up the newer models.
The Sony A1 is Sony's flagship camera and it is a monster! It can shoot up to 8k video and 50MP photos. More thank most people need & it comes at a hefty price tag, but it's an incredible all round camera and with those specs it's a camera that will be on the higher end of cameras for years to come.
Tania is using the Sony A7 III. This was our main camera up until mid 2021 and is a very, very capable camera. A strong allrounder with great video and photo capabilities. We still absolutely love this camera and it acts as the B Cam for our films and the footage sits really well next to that of the A7S III.
Sony 24-70mm f2.8 (our main lens)
Sigma 14 - 24mm f2.8 (our blogging lens)
Sigma 100 - 400mm f5 - 6.3 (For it's range, as a full frame zoom lens it's actually quite small & light. It has allowed us to get some great close up shots of far away subjects, like all the animals in Costa Rica!)
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 ACCESSORIES
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 used to 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! But neither the audio or image quality matches the A7siii paired with our Rode Video Mic Pro.
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.
Really small and easy to carry everywhere
Tough and fully waterproof
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)
Bad in poor lighting conditions
Separate 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
GoPro 3-Way Mount Tripod (Don't use this often but including here as many people swear by it)
Underwater Dome This allows you to capture great shots that are simultaneously under/over water.
3. DRONE & ACCESORIES
BEST TRAVEL 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.
Fold-up arms for convenient storage
Good image quality
Easy to use flight modes
Good flight range
Good flight time (31 mins)
Although it's pretty small, there are smaller drones on the market.
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: DJI Mavic 3 Cine. The DJI Mavic 3 Cine is basically an all round upgrade from the Mavic Pro 2. But, it is a pricey option! It comes in at around £4,000 (€4,660). For me the Mavic Pro 2 does everything I need.
If I were in the market for a drone, at the time of writing I would go for the DJI Mini 3 Pro. Coming in at around £859 (€1,000) it's the best bang of buck out their in my opinion. It also comes in at under 250g in weight and this price also includes a DJ RC (remote controller) with a built in screen. The Mini 3 Pro really is a great example of drone technology getting better and more affordable.
OUR DRONE ACCESSORIES
Controller: For those looking to up their droning game, I've found the DJI Mavic Pro 2 Controller a great investment. (as previously noted, a controller is included with the DJI Mini 3 Pro) 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
MANFROTTO MB PL-B-230
Backpacks are often overlooked but for me, they are a wise investment to protect my kit on the go. I’ve had a lot of backpacks over the years, but Manfrotto is certainly one of my favourites.
It’s well designed with a lot of space and a decent amount of compartments.
It's completely modular, very well padded for protection. It can fit my laptop, camera, lenses, drone and accessories, no problem. It has side pockets and a strap for carrying a small tripod. It also comes with a waterproof cover, incase you get caught in some unpredictable weather. For us, this came in particularly useful in Scotland!
If you’ve watched our travel films up until our Costa Rica series released in 2022, then you might have noticed that I had been using this Peak Design backpack up until I made my switch. As much as I love Peak Design as a brand, I found that over time, my shoulders would ache from carrying this this heavy backpack that had no waist support. If you're not planning on going on big hikes with your kit, then this could be a good option for you.
High quality, designed to last.
Very Spacious. I can easily fit my 15" laptop, camera, drone, batteries and accessories. But it does get heavy!
Comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Hiking for example.
Maybe not considered the most stylish bag, but it's very practical.
LOWER BUDGET ALTERNATIVE
Honestly, I have never looked into cheap bags because I have always wanted to make sure I get a good bag to protect my kit. I would however recommend looking at the smaller cheaper options that Manfrotto or Lowepro offer. Or, as long as you keep your drone/camera well padded, you could get away with repurposing an existing bag - and buy a waterproof cover just in case!
I've owned this inexpensive travel tripod for 5 years up until late 2021. It's a very basic tripod and did the job. I upgraded to the PeakDesign Travel Tripod for it's excellent design. It's sturdier and more user friendly than my previous tripod. It's a big investment but i'm hoping it will be with my for years to come.
5. POST PRODUCTION
I have used Adobe for years and now (I edit with Premiere Pro) with the subscription service, we get regular updates with constant new features and bug fixes. It’s a really powerful software and can do everything you need and more, especially when you partner it with fellow Adobe softwares such as After Effects.
Expandable through other Adobe software and various 3rd party plugins
BUDGET ALTERNATIVE: DaVinci Resolve Lite.
DaVinci Resolve Lite is FREE! The full version of DaVinci Resolve started life as a colour grading software being used extensively in post production houses across Hollywood. It’s now progressed to become a very capable video editor, while still keeping its colour grading capabilities. If I were to start again I would probably skip Adobe and go straight to DaVinci Resolve Lite. A software as powerful and professional as DaVinci Resolve Lite being free, is not common.
FILM CONVERT PRO
A plugin that is compatible with almost all editing software, Film Convert is an emulation software that mimics the look of film stocks which you set according to your camera. You can tweak parameters such as film grain, contrast and colour intensity. But be mindful that this isn’t a one stop shop for colour grading. You still need to do work on matching your footage and contrast etc.
Easy to use
Adds nice cinematic colours
Fast colour grading
Limited selection of film stocks
LOWER BUDGET ALTERNATIVE:
Free film stock LUTS (LUTS are basically just filters) are available from various online sources (just Google ‘Free stock LUTS'). These can be hit and miss but if you dig around you will definitely find some lovely filters!
ON THE WISHLIST:
Film Convert Nitrate. This is the upgrade form Film Convert Pro. As far as I can tell, it just has some more features to tweak your look. I haven’t made the upgrade yet as I’m happy using Film Convert Pro and making my own colour tweaks in Premier Pro.
MUSIC & SFX:
Affordable and quality royalty free music and sound effect libraries are often hard to come by. We use an even split of tracks from two music libraries:
Artlist.io. - Click this link and you receive 2 months free on top of your annual membership, using our referral
Epidemic Sounds - Click this link and you receive a 30-day free trial via our referral link!
VOICE OVER MIC
We use the Logitech Blue Yeti USB microphone plus pop filter. We've also use this mic for our new podcast! It's a very widely used microphone and is renowned as very good value for money. there are better mics out there, but in terms of value to quality, this one has to top the list!
6. USEFUL EXTRAS
These are the noise cancelling headphones I use whilst editing, they help stop Tania from distracting me!
128 GB ProGrade SD Card These cards are very quick and compatible with the A7Siii. It's important to have fast cards to make the most of the high bit rate available with your camera. These are expensive, but cheapest I could find that match these specs.
64 GB SanDisk Extreme Micro SD Card These are ideal for the Drone & GoPro
I store all my SD cards in this waterproof SD card case.
2 TB Solid State Hard Drive. This is the hard drive I work from. It's great because it's super quick, reliable and small & rugged. I velcro it to the back of my laptop.
4 TB WD External Hard Drive. These are cheaper per gigabyte, still quite fast and reliable. I use these to back up old projects so everything is archived. I am going to have to find a cheaper way of doing this at some point, because it can get expensive depending on how much you shoot.
This power bank always comes in handy... especially on long hikes.
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