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Best Travel Filmmaking Gear
We get asked this question a lot – what gear do you use to film your vlogs, short movies and travel guides? How do you take your Instagram photos? How do you edit them? And finally, finally, we have put together the list of the best travel filmmaking gear. We have written about what travel gear we use before, but this time, let’s focus on producing travel videos. This list of best travel gear will set you up to go out there and start filming great travel videos. As you’ll learn, you will improve and your videos will get better and better, we assure you that. This is the gear we use and we believe that it is the best set up for a professional travel filmmaker and vlogger, and also for those who want to start filming – this filmmaking gear set up is a strong, solid start.
|PRODUCT NAME||IMAGE||SHORT DESCRIPTION||PRICE RANGE||BUY HERE|
|Sony a7R II||Full frame camera, lightweight, 42 megapixel, 4K video, well built||$$$|
|Sony 28mm F2||Great in low light, great for vlogging, nice bokeh, perfect prime lens||$$|
|Sony 24 - 70 mm F2.8||Perfect all rounder, great in low light, sharp, fast, very good quality, heavy, expensive||$$$|
|Zhiyun Crane||up to 1.8 kg payload, long battery life, well built, lags from time to time||$$|
|Joby GorillaPod||flexible, easy to carry, can mount to almost anything, great for vlogging, cool design||$|
|Rode VideoMicro||small and lightweight, easy to carry, good quality, very affordable||$|
|DJI Mavic Air||fast, small, easy to pack, reliable, shoots 4K, loud||$$$|
|Apple Macbook Pro||Retina display, power house, touch bar||$$$|
|XD Design anti-theft backpack||Smooth design, durable, anti-theft design, very comfortable to carry||$|
|High Sierra 45l Backpack||very affordable, many compartments, lasting quality, nice design||$|
|Hoya Neutral Density Filter||creates contrast, enhances bokeh, enables slow shutter speeds||$|
|Hoya Polarizing Filter||eliminate reflections on cars, water, windows, enhances landscape colors and color of the sky||$|
|Sony Extra Batteries||extra battery is a must to shoot longer and worry less||$|
|Mavic Air Battery||extra battery is a must if you want to shoot drone footage||$|
|San Disk 128 GB Memory Card||necessary if shooting many photos and videos without the direct ability to upload on a computer||$|
|WD 2TB External Hard Drive||safely storing you files, easily accessible, super fast||$|
The single most important thing that a vlogger or filmmaker can have is his camera. With a good camera, your video quality improves greatly and you do not have to worry about upgrading your camera too often. Our Sony A7Rii is a professional, full frame camera perfect for photography and videography. We might say it is the best travel camera. It is quite an investment if you are just starting off, but trust us, you will not regret it. The great thing about this camera is that it is perfect for vlogging, photography and professional filmmaking, so you can have it all in one camera. Sony A7Rii is a low light beast and shoots 4K videos as well as 42-megapixel photos smoothly. Since we joined Team Sony we have never looked back.
A low light video test of Sony a7Rii to prove its amazing performance:
This is our prime lens that stays on the camera 85% of the time. Sony 28mm F2 low light performance is stunning because of its low F-stop. Also, it is a native Sony lens, thus the autofocus is as fast as lightning. It is lightweight and does its job perfectly. It is also quite inexpensive for the quality that it delivers. Sony 28mm is a prime lens, thus you cannot zoom in or out with it, but it is perfect for vlogging. As if you use it with one of the Sony full-frame cameras it fits your face and surroundings in the frame just about perfectly. The bokeh it delivers is also not bad at all, so you will always get that nice blurred out background when shooting.
A video shot entirely on Sony a7Rii using Sony 28mm F2 lens:
This zoom lens is ultra-sharp, works quietly and delivers beautifully. We shoot with our prime lens most of the time but this lens is great for interviews, portraits, landscapes, anything actually. It is solid, feels very well built, however it is on the heavy side, weighing 886 grams. When you pair it with the tiny Sony a7rii it feels like a hulk but in kind of a good way. Shooting with Sony 24-70mm feels like a workout and it is fairly expensive (the same price as the Sony a7Rii body), but at the same time, once you try it you will never want to put it down.
If you want to step in the professional travel filmmaking game or just improve your vlogs to 100%, you will need a stabilizer. We cannot stress you enough, how your filming will improve and how much of a good investment it is. We might say even, that this is the single SECOND most important thing after having a good camera. Imagine having no shakiness, no bumps while walking and vlogging and capturing very smooth cinematic shots. A stabilizer is not too expensive of an investment if you are looking to improve your filming and video making skills, and again – you will never want to film your videos handheld ever again!
On a side note, you will have to learn how to work with this amazing piece of equipment and learn all the techniques there are. Kris has filmed a video and put together a blog post on Most Cinematic Gimbal Movements! Be sure to learn some tricks from Kris’s filming techniques.
A video shot using the Zhiyun Crane V2 to achieve fast and smooth footage:
Having a tripod is like having a hand extension. There are so many great ways to use your tripod – to vlog, to shoot long exposure shots, to set up a timer and get yourself in a picture and to fight off angry stray dogs. If you are planning to vlog as well as make cinematic movies, your camera will be on the tripod most of the time. Tripod is a very useful tool to set up if you are recording vlogs at home as well. Tripod is not an expensive accessory to have and it is a must, really. We chose to have Joby GorillaPod but more advanced photographers would choose a tripod with extendable, long legs, to be able to have the freedom to shoot in different circumstances. Joby GorillaPod is a great, universal accessory if you are both – filming and taking photographies.
If you are planning to vlog or record interviews or even do a voice over, you will need an external microphone. The built-in microphones in cameras and phones are not even close as good as the external microphones. The leading camera microphone brand is Rode, and they have well-earned their place in the market. They have different kinds of microphones created for different creators’ needs and skill levels.
If you do not want to spend big money on a microphone we would strongly recommend getting Rode VideoMicro, as it is lightweight, small and easily attachable to the camera. Do NOT get the Rode Video MicGO as it delivers exactly the same quality of sound or even poorer, for a higher price, bigger size and heavier weight. If you take your game seriously though and want a microphone that is good for all occasions and can be converted to a good hanging microphone, do get the Rode VideoMic PRO.
Drone is another travel filmmakers must have. If you want to get great areal shots, introduce your audience to the surroundings and provide more description of your location you will need a drone. The best choice is to get DJI Mavic Air, as it is lightweight, small to pack, fast, shoots 4K and is reasonably priced. To be honest, we have tested the DJI Mavic Pro as well, which is deemed to be a better drone, however, we swear by DJI Mavic Air. Drone shots are not only great for enhancing your audience’s viewing experience but also to create amazing areal photography.
We postponed buying a drone for 8 months, as we thought we do not need it – WRONG! Very, very good investment! If you can afford it from the very beginning you can build a strong starting point for your travel filmmaking, vlogging career. Hobbyists are also encouraged to get this amazing piece of technology as it is very fun to learn to operate it and see all the awesome things a drone can do.
We are Apple technology users all the way, thus we have Apple laptops. The Apple MacBook Pro is lightweight, fast and has a retina display that makes your editing very easy. The computer itself is fast and can deal with heavy photo editing and video editing and does render the final product quite fast. It is well built and Apple designs are unbeatable. There are many other laptops out there that are great for the same purpose, but we stick with the Apple and we are very happy with the performance of their laptops.
However, we would not recommend getting Apple MacBook Air, even though it is a more affordable and lighter option. The reason behind it is that it can handle photoshop actions perfectly, but when it comes to video editing, especially if you are shooting 4K, it will lag and it is just a bit too slow for that.
This backpack is a life-saver. We have written about it before as we absolutely love it. It is rigid, strong, weatherproof (not waterproof though). It can fit 2 laptops, 2 chargers, DJI Mavic Air, 2 wallets, 2 passports and a power bank. We carry it around wherever we go and XD Design anti-theft backpack has proved its worth. The backpack is completely sealed from the outside and all the pockets are made almost invisible. Thus the name – anti-theft backpack. It is made from a double layer of anti-cut material (we have no idea how that is even possible). It even has a USB charger sticking out so you can safely carry your phone in the back pocket and have the power bank inside the bag. XD Design has done an amazing job coming up with this backpack. And even though there are many copies out there, we stick with the brand because of its quality.
This baby has been with us for a year travelling around the world and not a single seam has gone loose. It is a perfect carry on backpack (just do not overpack it). You can easily carry both, the XD Design daypack/laptop bag and this bag as your carry on. There are many backpacks out there that prove to be of a good quality. However, this one ticks all the fields – sharp design, many different compartments to help you organize stuff, durable, fits as a carry-on. If you feel that the bag is too heavy for you, the back support can be taken out. It makes the bag lighter and smaller at the same time. Our High Sierra bags have gone to floods, rains, desert heat and everything in between and they still serve us well.
Related: Best Travel Gear 2018 – What We Use
The list of best travel filmmaking gear would not be complete if we did not mention some great accessories we use. There are several things you will need apart from all the essentials. These accessories will improve your video and photo quality and make your work easier. These small accessories include filters, extra batteries, memory cards etc.
ND filter is great for enabling slow shutter speeds to photograph night sky, waterfalls, cars etc. It is also amazing for taking very beautiful portraits with blurred, distinguished background. The most important thing this wonder-glass does is to allow film snow, high contrasted environments, the bright sky without overexposing them. It balances out the super bright areas to make your videos smooth and colours beautiful.
Circular Polarizer Filter is on our camera all the time. As we shoot landscapes very often and film in the daylight a polarizer filter is very helpful in eliminating reflections from windows, cars, water etc. It works extremely well if you are shooting by the beach and want to get rid of that white glass reflection. A circular polarizer filter also enhances the colour of the sky and makes your landscapes more saturated.
If you are planning to shoot 4K you will need many memory cards. If you are taking photos with a camera such as Sony A7rii you which has 42 Megapixels your photos will take up a lot of space. The best memory cards are the ones that have a fast writing speed (95mb/s and up). If you will not be able to transfer your photos and videos directly to your external storage or laptop at the end of the day, we recommend getting multiple bigger memory cards. However, you can easily start by buying just one and see how fast you fill it up, thus, you can get additional cards anywhere you are later on.
If you choose Sony as your best travel filmmaking camera you will need to buy at least 1 extra battery. The only downside Sony a7 series has is that the batteries are quite weak. It is understandable as putting a beast of a camera in such a small body requires some sacrifices. We have 1 extra battery and every day we use both of the batteries. If we would go out for 2 days without a possibility to charge, we would be in trouble. Thus, we are considering getting the 3rd battery to make sure we never miss a great shot due to flat batteries!
Remember, if you have any other camera, you still need at least 1 extra battery.
If you want to make some cool drone shots and you are just starting out you need an extra battery for your Mavic. It is super inconvenient running back home or to the hotel to charge the battery after every 15minute flight. Because, as awesome as drones are, their batteries cannot last long (yet). It totally makes sense, but if you are out for a day or two you will definitely need more than 1 battery as with 15min flight time you cannot get that much of a footage.
While travelling and while at home you need a safe place to store all your photos and videos. Thus, having several hard drives is a smart idea. We always have 1 with us and as it fills up we send it home and get a new one. We ran out of space on our computers after 1 month of filming. Thus, we had to start purchasing hard drives. They are super useful and a very safe (password protected) place to keep your information. Also, there are different size Hard Drives so we recommend getting as big of a hard drive as possible.
This best travel filmmaking gear list includes all the equipment we use to create our travel vlogs and cinematic films. We build this set up by buying one item at a time, testing it and reviewing it. Then researching on what other essentials we would need. This best travel video gear list serves as a great sample and starting point for every travel film enthusiast or an advanced photographer who wants to get into the filmmaking a bit deeper.
Remember that you do not have to purchase all this gear to start filming! Perhaps you found something that you feel might be more useful to you than other things so go ahead and start there! Also, to start filming and generating ideas you do not need an expensive equipment. The best piece of gear might be in your pocket – a phone! If you need any advice on some other budget options, let us know in the comments below! We love to share our experiences and offer our advice to anyone seeking it! Share your best travel filmmaking gear with us!