Our Essential Photography Equipment
What's happening lads! We have been getting a fair few emails and messages lately about what equipment we use and what is the best camera for this and for that so we thought we'd write one specifically on our equipment. We wrote this blog out before but we have added to it based on stuff we couldn't live without!
Before you read this we just wanted to emphasise that equipment is NOT key. It definitely helps (everyone wants a good looking vlog/photos!) but it is more about the story you're telling than the gear. For convenience you could create incredible content just using an iPhone but for the sake of answering some frequently asked questions here is a list of our gear and what we think of it. Also, if you are thinking of buying any of this then use our links and we will get a bit of cash too from Amazon - thanks in advance!
A Decent Camera Bag
When deciding which camera bag to take you need to take into account a few things. The first one is what are you going to fill it with? If you have a DSLR, a GoPro, and a few lenses then it's easy pickings but if you are taking a laptop, a drone, lenses and a few camera bodies then you're going to have to pick a bag to lob it all in. My bag of choice was a LowePro Scope Travel 200AW
This bag is THE TITS. IT's got a wicked padded pocket for your laptop, individual inserts for your lenses/cameras/filters etc, a rainproof cover for when you're travelling in the rainy season and a nifty little tripod holder with a strap that tucks away nicely. It also has a really handy from pocket for all of your batteries/passport/notebooks etc. This bad boy cost me £75 on Amazon and it's 2 years old and still going strong. If you're like me and you don't want to draw too much attention to yourself or your equipment, then you can de-badge your bag and add your own patches to spice it up a bit and so your bag doesn't scream 'EXPENSIVE CAMERA EQUIPMENT INSIDE!'.
If you have a little more equipment, I.E. a Drone then you might want to spend a bit more and get yourself the Manfrotto D1. This this has enough room for a DJI Phantom (2,3 or 4) AND a DSLR?! The next time we shoot off I think we're gonna get ourselves one of these for the road! It costs £160 but if you've got the cash (I mean if you have a drone you must be RICH) then you might as well...
One of our most used pieces of equipment is our Joby Gorilla Pod. This one is the mid range gorilla pod which is strong enough to hold our Canon 5D Mark II + a 17-40mm Lens (which is heavy AF!) So this will hold pretty much anything. There is a more heavy duty one which is slightly taller but a lot more expensive. This little bad boy cost us £35 on Amazon - a steal! The best part about it is whether you are vlogging, setting it up for a timelapse or you want to wrap it around the nearest palm tree to take a selfie, this thing is bloody perfect! We did take a Velbon Travel Tripod with us when we went, but we took her out of the suitcase a handful of times. If you're a hard core photographer and you think you'd really benefit from a tripod then the Velbon one was class, but if you want to save room and you want something super versatile then the Gorilla Pod is for you, trust a brother...
If you plan on taking a DSLR then keep reading this section. If not then skip ahead pal. If you've never heard of an intervalometer before our you have no clue what one of these is then you need to get to know. When we were shooting time lapses in Queenstown this thing was our best friend. It's essentially a remote that allows you to choose how many photos to take over how long and with a certain delay - 5s- 5minutes. It's super cheap and will be a great addition to your camera bag. A lot of new DSLR's are so advanced they now have Wifi which you can connect to apps on your phone to do the same thing. BUT my thoughts are, if your phone battery is low and you have no power then you're buggered. If you have one of these in your bag, the batteries will last 1+ years - phenomenal!
ND (stands for Neutral Density) is your best mate when you're taking photos or shooting video. They allow you to shoot in the middle of the day in bright sunlight at a wider aperture. If this is complete jargon to you it essentially means it blocks a lot of light, allowing you to make your videos/photos look sexier with a more blurry background. The ones we use all the time are variable ND filters so you can adjust the amount of light you block whilst it is on your camera by just twisting it instead of having a bag full of 20+ filters! This one comes in every different size depending on what lens you have, they range from £7.50-£9.50 - BARGAIN!
Hopefully the picture here will help your wrap your head around how these work, but if you're a photo enthusiast and you have always considered getting kinky with filters then 100% add these to your arsenal.
Canon Powershot S120
Our go to camera for our vlog is the Canon PowerShot S120
It has everything you need for vlogging:
- Image Stabilisation (no bouncy shaky footage- the worst kind of footage!)
- Full HD (1080p) Video recording at 60FPS
(FPS= Frames Per Second, which allows you to slow the footage down by 50% in post production for cool looking slo mo's!)
- AUTO FOCUS (Absolutely key when recording yourself)
- Takes beautiful still images in RAW (Allowing you to edit the photos for beautiful snapshots)
- Wifi allows you to take better quality pictures, send them to your iPhone or Android and post them on Instagram or your preferred social network
The S120 will set you back about £250 and it will be worth EVERY penny.
There are more advanced options for vlogging such as the Canon PowerShot G7X which has a flip out screen (great for filming yourself and framing the shot).
Canon 70D + 18-55mm Lens
For the ultimate vlogging camera, if you're fully into this and you want to make THE BEST YOUTUBE CHANNEL EVER then go all out and get yourself a Canon 70D with an 18-55mm lens. Our most influential creator and as far as we're concerned the best vlogger in the world, Casey Neistat uses this camera, and its next on our list of things to buy for our next trip. This set up will cost you a cool £729 BUT will last you years and will give you endless creativity and sexy videos, not those kinds of videos...
Some key features of this beautiful machine:
- Flip out screen to check you've got the shot and for better angles
- Fast Autofocus for when you're filming yourself or anything you fancy!
- Wifi for quick transfer of photos to your phone or to use with the Canon app
- Super light weight
- Wide lens for a lush picture and blurred backgrounds
As a side note the 18-55mm stock lens is pretty standard and for photography it's merely a beginner lens BUT for vlogging it's actually perfect, it works seamlessly with the cameras auto focus, it allows you a good range of zoom whilst filming and is very very light.
If you have opted for a DSLR for your videos then you're going to want to get yourself a decent microphone to make your sounds nice and crisp. We use the Rode VideoMic Go. It slots right on top on your camera in the hot shoe and gives you a wicked directional sound if it's pointing straight at you. We also went all out and got ourselves a deadcat so block all that ugly wind. Don't worry, its not made from real cat. For the two it will cost you about £70 but when you stick it on your camera and hear that rich deep voice of yours you're gonna be smiling like a Golden Retriever... If you're a baller then the more expensive, better quality mic is available - Rode VideoMic Pro, the main difference is it's 'broadcast quality' and it is a little bit smaller.
One of the greatest purchases we made for our trip is the GoPro, and specifically the Go Pro HERO4 - BLACK EDITION. There are various versions of the GoPro series that usually confuse people so here's why we went for the Black Edition:
- It has the highest FPS (Frames Per Second) at 1080p - (120 Frames per second allows you to slow down your footage to 25%, basically you get Full HD resolution shots in beautifully smooth slow motion.)
- It shoots 4K at 30 FPS (where as the GoPro Hero Silver only shoots 4K at 15 FPS)
- It also shoots 4K ULTRA WIDE at 24FPS (Ultra wide gives you a super wide field of view so more coverage)
- It shoots 720P Resolution at 240 FPS, this is a great spec as you still get HD quality but even slower for an even bigger WOW factor.
- It has a professional grade quality in Low Light conditions (everything under the Hero 4 Silver edition is only consumer grade quality in Low Light)
So basically the main difference between the GoPro Hero 4 Black and the GoPro Hero 4 Silver is the Frames Per Second. If you're really into editing and having smooth slow motion with no dropped frames we would suggest the Go Pro HERO4- BLACK EDITION (Appr. £315 on Amazon). If you're not so interested in editing and you want to see what you're doing on an LCD screen then definitely go for the GoPro HERO4 - SILVER EDITION (Appr. £264 on Amazon)
If you're just starting out and/or you're on a budget then the GoPro HERO (Approx. £94 on Amazon) is affordable and a great addition to your gear. It shoots in 1080 (Full HD) and allows you to capture the signature GoPro Fish-Eye style photos.
If you have a bit more of a budget and want something even more compact, the GoPro Session is a wicked piece of kit for an even wickeder price (approx £159). It shoots 1080 (Full HD) at 60fps so you can slow that perfect moment down and it'll look super slick!
Another option if you're after a screen is the GoPro Hero Silver. The specs aren't as good as the Hero4 Black but like we said if you're just after some footage and a few snaps AND a screen then this bad boy is probably for you, it will cost you £279.
Here are some example photos taken on the Go Pro HERO4- BLACK EDITION :
Now you have your banging new GoPro you're going to want to take some accessories with you. Chances are you'll be in the water a lot so you're going to want some stuff that floats, you might want a head mount and a chest mount too. In that case we'd suggest just buying an accessories pack. We bought this one on Amazon:
It comes with everything you're going to need, a floaty handle (the yellow thing) which is great when you're just messing about in the water, a chest mount (the official GoPro one is £24 on it's own...), a head mount, loads of stickies (for surfboards and all the helmets you'll be wearing doing all those activities!) and a selfie stick. The selfie stick is pretty flimsy so we went and got ourselves another one instead (See below).
When we went we got ourselves a GoPole reach which at the time cost us £45. We loved this one because the actual pole is clear so it's not too distracting in your photos. It was non retractable as well which was a bit of a pain but NOW the GoPole as been completely improved, it's telescopic and has a clip to attach your GoPro remote, if you have one, if not then just do what we did for photos and set it to time lapse mode to 2 or 5 seconds and choose your favourite photo from the set! The new one is not only better than ours it's also a bit cheaper at £30!
The best part of this one is that it floats, so if you're too pissed on a party boat and you drop it over the edge, tell the captain to turn around so you can majestically swan dive in and fetch it!
For all the hardcore photographers out there not wanting to lug around a huge DSLR we would suggest this magical machine the Fujifilm X100S . The colour of the photos that this camera produces is so real and raw, it's super light and has so many useful features. It also doesn't draw much attention from potential robbers as it looks like an old film camera, but don't be fooled, it's f*&%ing unreal! Here is a list of why you need this camera in your life:
- 16.3 megapixel sensor comparable to a Full Frame DSLR
- Built in ND filter
- World's Fastest Auto Focus
- It has a Hybrid Viewfinder so you can look through the viewfinder the way you're supposed to (just like the old days!)
- It has a beautiful Fujinon 23mm F/2.0 lens (basically is has a nice wide aperture for crystal clear images and shallow depth of field)
- Full HD Video at 60FPS (The image Stabilisation isn't the best but as a back up or for some artsy video footage it's awesome)
- It also has heaps of 'Film Simulation' modes if you're into that...
It's not one for an amateur as it's a bit pricey but again if you're looking to leave your huge DSLR at home, this will NOT disappoint.
DJI Phantom Quadcopter II
One of our key bits of equipment is the DJI Phantom 2 UAV Aerial Quadcopter Drone with Zenmuse H4-3D Gimbal. (About. £600 on Amazon)
This combined with the GoPro Hero 4 creates some dramatic, unforgettable stills and video. Take a look at our 6 Month trip:
There are some great examples of footage: out channel trailer shows what you can achieve with this bit of kit. It is a bit of a pain to carry around, we found a backpack which is super light and Aimee took it on every flight as hand luggage which was convenient! (For me).
If you fancy going all out with a drone then we have used the DJI Phantom 3 Advance & Professional and we have to say, the difference is unbelievable. To be able to plug your phone in and see what you're filming is immense, the gimbal is super smooth and with the GoPro you don't get a real sense of flying in the footage because it is a fish eye lens where as the new cameras on the DJI Phantom range aren't warped and give you a real good sense of the movement especially flying over things.
If you're stinking rich and you're like 'YOLO!' and you do that hand thing where you flick your money everywhere then you need to just flick your money at the DJI Phantom 4. It costs around £1000 but that's £1000 worth of golden footage for years and years...
Our Vlogging Camera - Canon 5D Mark II
The main camera we carry around is the Canon - EOS 5D Mark II (Approx. £500 used on Amazon)
And we use this with a Canon 17-40mm for vlogging. As you might have seen from our vlogs it is super wide and with the camera having a full frame it looks even wider and sexy. The only downfall is it's quite old and pretty heavy. The newer cameras like the Canon 70D are made of much lighter materials and so when you're holding them out with one arm- no problem. When you hold our set up you're gonna be shaking like a leaf!
I can't stress enough that carrying around a huge camera is such a burden, especially if you have a bag full of lenses and filters etc as well. If you're planning on travelling and settling in a place and you can make money from your camera then yeah, bring it along. But if you're after some holiday snapshots and you don't want to get distracted by infinite camera settings, bring a mirrorless camera!
If I had it my way I would definitely upgrade to the Canon EOS 5D Mark III as the specs are outrageous and the video shoots 60FPS as opposed to the Mark II's 30FPS (no good for slow motion).
Reasons to have this camera in your life:
- For £500 you will be blown away by the Full Frame sensor and overall quality of pictures this thing will produce.
- The cinematic quality of the video is delicious, end of.
- You can take some excellent Astro Photography, landscapes, portraits and anything else you can dream up
- Once you get comfortable with photography you can upgrade your lenses for unbelievable results.
- It's sexy AF.
I'm not really sure what else to say about this bad boy other than I've shot with it for 5 years and have had so much fun!
If you're wondering what lenses I am using here is a list:
- Canon EF 17-40 mm f/4.0 L USM Lens - best landscape lens going. Also really good for video & snapshots.
Example photos taken with 5D Mark II & 17-40mm:
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L USM Lens - The must have lens for any serious photographer. It shoots incredible portraits, is excellent for video and is a superb all-rounder (Approx. £940 on Amazon) We shot all of our 'Street Series' pictures with this lens and the Mark II
- Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens - superb portrait lens, creamy bokeh and great for video (Approx. £240 on Amazon)
- Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II Lens - cheapest lens on the market on one I always go back to. It's class for street photography, general snapshots and also quite nice for video.
So that's about it! As for software we use a bit of Lightroom and Photoshop to touch up images and we use Final Cut Pro X to edit all of our videos.
If we were going to suggest absolute essentials for vlogging we would say DEFINITELY the Canon PowerShot S120 and a GoPro of your choice.
I hope that helps you all! And just remember - don't get overwhelmed thinking you need all this gear to make good content - you DON'T, you just need a heap of passion and fresh ideas.
Peace & Love
Craig & Aimee <3 x