Filming Gear for a Bike Tour – 2019

In 2019, filming a bike tour is never been more popular and the kit and equipment needed to do it has never been more accessible. There are a number of cycle tourists making some amazing videos that inspire us to get out and spend more time on the road. One of the easiest observations to make is that every cycle tourist has a different setup. This post is going to go into detail about my current setup for my tour in 2019.  

I've been making videos for YouTube at my channel Cycling Two since March 2018. Before this, I would make videos of my bike tours and publish the videos on Facebook for my friends and family. I first started out in 2014 with a Nikon 1 S1 as my main camera for filming. Having a lightweight mirrorless camera was a fantastic way to get started with filmmaking.  It is lightweight, relatively affordable and simple to use. Over the years, my gear setup has evolved from using this camera alone to the setup listed below. 

If you choose to buy anything listed below and do so through these links to Amazon, I will earn a very small percentage. I've personally purchased all of this equipment and the reviews and feedback for all of the kit is my honest and personal opinion.

 

Camera

Panasonic Lumix G7 (Amazon)

This is my main camera and I use it for about 90% of the shots that I take. I wanted a camera that could film in 4k, is lightweight and has a fully articulating screen so I can frame "selfie" style handheld shots. This camera ticks all of these boxes. So far I've been very impressed by this camera. 

A mirrorless camera is perfect for a bike tour as it is less bulky and lighter than the DSLR alternatives.

It has taken a bit of a battering by being shaken around in my front handlebar bag but it is still going strong. It has a Micro Four Thirds lens mount which means there are plenty of Panasonic and Olympus lens options on the market.

Some of the lenses you can buy for a camera can often be more expensive than the camera body. For my bike touring film setup, I have 3 lenses which cover pretty much every focal length I require.

  • Panasonic 14-42 mm/F 3.5-5.6 LUMIX G VARIO II OIS ASPH Lens (Amazon) - This is the kit lens the camera came with. It is used for the majority of the shots I take and it does a great job. 

  • Panasonic 45-150 mm/F 4,0-5,6 LUMIX G VARIO MEGA OIS ASPH Lens (Amazon) - This zoom lens is a very useful addition to the film making set up. If I set this up on a tripod and cycle past it with mountains in the distance, the lens will make the background appear closer. A tripod is essential when filming with this lens.

  • Olympus 25mm 1:1.8 M.Zuiko Digital Lens (Amazon) - The sexy lens. Everything I shoot with this lens turns to gold...well not quite but it is pretty darn good. It's awesome in low light and is great for portraits.

 

GoPro Hero 7 (Amazon)

I wouldn't want to rely on a GoPro alone to make a film but it is a useful tool to capture quick action shots and it is much less intimidating than the larger Panasonic when filming encounters with locals. The GoPro Hero 7 has much improved audio recording than it's previous versions, so much so that it is the camera I use almost completely when I want to talk to the camera whilst cycling. I'm also a big fan of the new stabilisation feature that is built into the camera. It's not quite the "gimble-killer" that it is marketed as but it does take a much steadier shot than the previous versions.

That wide angle "GoPro" look can become quite tiring after a while. Still, it's small size and waterproof capabilities make it a useful camera.

One of the benefits of an action camera like a GoPro is the amount of variation you can get by being inventive with where it is placed. As a "default" option, I have the GoPro placed on a long extendable selfie stick and by using velcro straps, have it attached to the handlebars. I also often place it under a bungee on my rear rack for quick use.

 

Drone

Mavic Air Fly More Combo (Amazon)

The Mavic Air is the perfect drone for a bike tour. It is lightweight and packs down into an almost crazy small package. The drone is another useful tool to capture landscapes and add scale as an establishing shot. The drone can go places that I simply can't get to so I often set it up in a static location for those "cycle past" shots. The drone requires a smartphone for use. I purchased the fly more combo which means you also get a remote but you still need a phone to operate the drone. 

The Mavic Air is an expensive addition to my filming gear setup but I feel it adds huge value and turns up the production quality by that extra 10%.

Accessories

Tripod - Bonfoto 55" B671C Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod (Amazon) with a Manfrotto XPRO Fluid Head (Amazon)

If I could recommend one piece of equipment to improve your film making setup, it would be a tripod. This tripod is a fairly bulky and heavy piece of equipment to bring but I feel it adds so much value. The fluid head is an extremely useful addition to the tripod as it allows me to capture smooth pan and tilt shots. A tripod adds professionalism to my videos. The only problem is making the effort to get it out to use it. 

I've never regretted getting my tripod out but there's been plenty of times where I've been lazy and I've not bothered, tried to film the shot handheld and its come out shaky. 

Whatever you do, use a tripod when possible. A gorilla pod is a good lightweight alternative to the larger tripod that I am bringing.

Spare batteries for all of the above cameras

Keeping your camera's batteries charged can sometimes be a challenge on a bike tour, especially in more remote areas. Rather than relying on solar power, I carry enough batteries to last me a week of filming. It's rare that I would go for more than a week without an electricity source so this is the right amount of batteries for the way I tour:

  • 3 Pansonic Lumix G7 Batteries
  • 2 GoPro Batteries
  • 3 Mavic Air Batteries

Microphones

I did use the RODE VideoMicro for a number of months but I wasn't too happy with it. The connection often cut out and on one occasion, I lost a whole weeks worth of audio due to a faulty connection. I'm currently using the built-in microphone on the camera which is less than ideal but it does make the setup less bulky and easier to use. It's also more reliable.

Memory

SD and Micro SD Cards

I'm carrying all of my memory cards in a small hard case by GoFriend. In total I have:

  • 7 x 32GB SD Cards for the Panasonic Lumix G7
  • 2 x 64GB Micro SD Cards for the GoPro Hero 7 and Mavic Air Drone

Hard drives 

Storing all of the footage you have filmed safely and securely is essential. I'm filming all of my footage in 4k which means that hard drives get filled up fast. I'm currently using WD Passport hard drives and I carry them ina a protective case. When I fill a hardrive and no longer need it, I send it back to the UK for safe storage. 

Remember - backup, backup, backup!

Post processing

MacBook Pro (Amazon)

It's a big investment as these don't come cheap. I'm protecting the Macbook with a Thule carry case and after 6 months of cycle touring, I've had no damage to the computer. I'm using Final Cut Pro to edit my videos.

Final thoughts

As I am travelling with four panniers and a handlebar bag, I've decided to prioritise taking this amount of equipment as opposed to being lightweight. This kit list is also an indication of the investment in time I will be taking into filmmaking and photography on our journey. 

This kit list is bound to change as the journey progresses. It will be interesting to see what this list looks like by the end of our journey.

This is just the way I choose to travel and in no way should you feel like you need to copy this configuration. For most people, a GoPro and a camera phone will do the job. Others will choose to not take a camera at all and document the journey by writing stuff down. There is no "correct" way. Choose your way and don't worry too much about what others are doing.

If you have any recommendations for cycle touring photography or filmmaking equipment, please leave a comment below.

 

The Road to Hanoi
Rest days in Hanoi

2 comments

Have you weighed it all?

Not yet but at a guess, it’s probably at about 10-12kg all in. It’s going to be a slow and steady journey, that’s for sure.

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