It’s all about weight and volume — that’s no secret for all of you who have travelled and came to the conclusion that your camera bag was still too heavy and you want to do better next time.
I have certainly no golden rule because the tolerance level for weight on your back is from person to person different — I can only tell you that I travel a lot abroad and even if the backpack feels ok when I am packing it at home… it feels heavier by the minute once I have it on my back and walk e.g. through a city.
I try to reduce weight wherever I can but I also don’t want to compromise quality and that is sometimes the reason that I have to choose an item that is a little heavier than its nearest sibling which is just not as good.
Let me list my essentials equipment) — depending on the type of travel and the destination I make adjustments to my equipment, basically I leave equipment away, I don’t add to it.
I switched from Nikon to Sony a while ago and I know it is ideology but I did it also for the compact size and weight of Sony mirrorless cameras.
I use a Sony Alpha a7Rii full-frame camera with 42 MPixel resolution and a Sony a6300 which is APS-C format with 24 MPixel sensor. Both cameras produce excellent photos and 4k video.
a7Rii weight: 22.05 oz / 625 gram incl. battery and SD card
a6300 weight: 14.25 oz / 404 gram incl. battery and SD card
The Sony a6300 offers a s-Log2 and s-Log3 video gamma curve incl. a corrected color profile preview on the display which makes it ideal for video. Because it is so lightweight and its APS-C lenses are super light-weight it is a camera you can take wherever. For 1-hand gimbals it is the perfect fit.
The a7Rii has in-camera stabilization which is in some situations enough for shoot-and-run video and allows much slower shutter speeds for still images . The a6300 has in-lens-stabilization with most Sony lenses but no in-camera stabilization. However, if you really want to shoot quality video you will need a gimbal anyway.
Alternatively to the a6300 you could consider the a6500 which has in-camera stabilization.
Both cameras use the same battery and that makes it easier for travel: I have 5 batteries and can use them in either camera. That saves weight.
Sony Vario-Tessar 16-35mm F4: brilliant sharpness (according to my tests and also the lab tests of DXO); its weight is 18.3 oz (518 g)
Sony G 70-200mm F4: brilliant sharpness and 29.7 oz (840 g) — you can get this as a 2.8 lens but for me the price tag of the 2.8 is not worth the upgrade because the a7Rii offers image stabilization and is super low-noise at higher ISOs.
For the a6300 I am using: 18-50 lens and 55-210mm lens and a 10-18mm, all APS-C format. For travel I usually do not take neither the 18-50 lens, nor the 55-210mm lens because I am using the lenses from the a7Rii.
However, I take the 10-18mm wide angle lens because of its minimal weight and I like that for video as well: 8oz (225g).
So, usually my approach is a wide-angle and a telephoto lens and I leave the 24-70mm middle range lens at home. You might decide differently depending on your purposes.
I am taking my DJI Mavic Pro with me on travel — it is so small that it fits into my camera backpack.
However, DJI offers the Mavic Air, which is even smaller and probably half the weight. The camera is as capable as the Mavic Pro camera.
The Mavic 2 Pro is the latest alternative if you need a higher resolution for still images and a better video quality.
I use a GoPro Hero 5 Black and a GoPro Hero 4 Black. I use a GoPro Karma handheld Gimbal as a stabilizer for the Hero 5. Even though the Hero 5 is water-proof, I am als using the Hero 4 in its waterproof housing for underwater. And the Hero 4 with the housing is so rough and rugged that I don’t mind if I drop it. It survived so many times.
Note: the Hero 7 Black is the latest version of GoPro cameras. Image stabilization has gotten better but it’s not good enough for professional use. You’ll need a gimbal anyway. In-camera stabilization of the GoPro is done with software and that adds a crop-factor to the original frame which is a drawback. The 12MegaPix resolution is meanwhile not enough. Let’s wait for GoPro Hero 8 and see if they have improved the sensor size and resolution.
I will talk about 1-hand gimbals in another article … my current choice is a DJI Ronin-S which has cool features and does its job quite well. It’s weight is a little bit on the heavy side and I would say the next generation should be lighter. But this is a solid, good gimbal.
For travel I take my DOLICA 57″ reversible folding tripod which weighs in at 2.5 pounds. Additionally I have a Joby Gorilla Mini tripod and another mini table tripod 6 inch but with stable aluminum legs: SIMA ST-10T. Those tripods cost 10-20 dollars and are available from several manufacturers.
Notebook / Tablet:
For years I am using Microsoft Surface products and I have a Surface Pro i5, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM which has all I need for travel and also office use. I don’t do video editing on it but it is actually capable of doing it, however in a moderate way. I have the full Adobe Creative Cloud suite on the Surface Pro. It mounts perfectly to a tripod for on-location tethering and has a great resolution.
- ND filters for video filming and photo
- some basic thin plastic bags to cover camera / lenses when it starts raining. I don’t use water-proof housings.
- Microfiber Cleaning Cloth
- Small Air Blower for cameras
- Head Light and/or flash light (or just my smart phone with its flash light)
- USB 3.1 card reader for SD and Micro SD cards
- External Slim Harddrive with 2 TB storage
- Plug Adapter (grounded & surge-protected) — grounded, because I might also want to use it for devices other than low-wattage electronics
- International Power strip
- Sensor Cleaner Swab
THE reference list:
Here is a compact list of the mentioned gear incl. Amazon links:
Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases a small commission, however, it does not increase the price of the product and it doesn’t cost you anything. It helps me running this site — If you like those products and decide to buy from Amazon.com I appreciate it!
Alpha a7Rii (body only): http://amzn.to/2GtKc2S
Alpha a6300 kit (18-50 lens and 55-210mm lens): http://amzn.to/2EnFWkQ
Alpha a6300 with 16-50 lens: http://amzn.to/2ElL6xL
Sony Full-frame zoom telephoto lens: http://amzn.to/2DNunSU
Sony full-frame 16-35 wide-angle Zeiss lens: http://amzn.to/2GvSkQp
Sony wide-angle lens for a6300 (10-18mm APS-C): http://amzn.to/2rQC1dI
The travel drone as of February 2018: http://amzn.to/2EsXfkR
Mini travel case for Mavic Pro (the non-stinky): http://amzn.to/2Eo162o
ND filters for cinematic filming with Mavic Pro: http://amzn.to/2DRiW0D
GoPro Hero 6 Black (latest model): http://amzn.to/2DRkKGX
- Air Blower for cameras: http://amzn.to/2DNQGIg
- Sensor Cleaner APS-C: http://amzn.to/2sK35f7
- Sensor Cleaner Full Frame: http://amzn.to/2HzWOWQ
- External Harddrives, USB 3.0, small form factor: http://amzn.to/2GsFjXT
- International Power strip with plug adapters: http://amzn.to/2rMWuA4