Photography and Filming Kit for a Cycling Expedition

A post by Adam

This post is less about cycling but instead is focused on the photography and filming equipment that we will be taking on the journey.

First, I want to make the point that you don’t need fancy and expensive camera equipment to make a cycling film or to take photos. Everybody nowadays can film and take photos whilst on a cycling expedition. All you need is a smartphone. You can even edit and make some pretty good films on a phone (here is an example of a smartphone adventure film by Dave Cornthwaite in Japan). 

So why am I taking all of this equipment?

The short answer, I feel it will add value to my expedition.

Telling a story through photography and film is something I hope to continue to improve at and eventually become my career. The equipment I am taking is far from a minimalistic kit list. This is a list of the kit I can afford and I hope will enable me to take epic photos and films.

I have been making films on my adventures for the last 4 years. When I started out, I used a simple compact camera and nothing else. This was great to learn with but eventually, I came to realise there are limitations to the compact camera. Poor sound quality, lack of focal length and image quality in low light conditions encouraged me to invest in better quality equipment.

Over the years I have upgraded my equipment and photography has become a passion. Through practice, I feel that my films have slowly improved. I’ve made many, many mistakes (my hard drive is full of footage from adventures where I chose not to publicly release the edits because they were that naff).

I’ve still got plenty to learn but that’s one of the aims of this trip, to become a better photographer and filmmaker. You can watch the Cycling Two videos I’ve made at our YouTube channel

A note, I have purchased all of this equipment myself through saving up my wages the old-fashioned way. I have not been sponsored to promote any of these products. The links to these products are affiliate links which means if you choose to buy anything listed below, I will earn a very small commission. Only use these links if you are going to buy that equipment anyway or better still, look for it on eBay and get a bargain.

Camera

Canon EOS 700D (Amazon)

This is my main camera. I’ve used it since September 2017 and I’m really happy with it. Taking a DSLR on a cycle tour is not for everybody. However, I am choosing to go with quality over being lightweight. The flip out screen is really useful for filming. I have the following lenses for the camera:

  • Canon EF S 10 18mm f/4.5 5.6 IS STM Lens (Amazon)

  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Zoom Lens (Amazon)

  • Canon EF-S 55-250 mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Lens (Amazon)

  • Canon EF 50 mm 1.8 STM Lens (Amazon)

Nikon 1 S1 compact camera

I bought this in 2013 and this is now the camera that Lucia will use. A great, lightweight compact camera. They sell for less than £150 second-hand on eBay.

GoPro Hero 4 Silver (Amazon)

A useful addition to the filmmaking arsenal. I wouldn’t want to rely on a GoPro alone to make a film. It has its limitations such as it’s lack of zoom, poor audio recording and it’s not great in low light. 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.

Apple iPhone 6S (Amazon)

This time last week I had a Samsung Galaxy S7. Then at a party in Cyprus, I dropped my phone in the sea. I lost the phone along with my credit card so I’ve ordered this as a replacement. I’ve no interest in having the newest model of iPhone. I still wanted to 35mm headphone jack so the 6S was an easy choice. There is no denying that a mobile phone is the most versatile and lightweight camera for a cycle tour. I won’t be using the phone to take much footage but it will be used for directions, translation, currency exchange and keeping in touch with home.

Drone

Mavic Air Fly More Combo (Amazon)

I only ordered this a week ago and as I am in Cyprus, Amazon takes a while to deliver. This is probably the most unnecessary camera purchase of them all but hopefully the most fun. I was sold on its size and smart features. The reviews I’ve seen are really positive, I can’t wait for it to arrive.

Accessories

Spare third party batteries for all of the above cameras

There are going to be times when we are away from power for extended periods of time. At the moment I have 3 spare Canon batteries, 2 Nikon compact camera batteries and 3 GoPro batteries. The Mavic Air Fly More bungle comes with 3 batteries. I will likely buy a few more Canon batteries as this will be the main camera.

Joby GorillaPod SLR-Zoom Tripod for SLR Cameras with Ballhead (Amazon)

A tripod is essential for steady footage and long-exposure photography. This versatile little tripod is used by many YouTube bloggers due to its flexibility in a number of situations. I originally didn’t purchase it with a ballhead to cut costs. This was a mistake as the ball head makes its use much easier. I’ve since ordered a ballhead.

RODE VIDEOMICPRO and Deadcat VMPR Windshield (Amazon)

It took me a few years to appreciate just how important audio is to make a good film. The viewer will forgive some shakey footage as long as the audio is clear. The built-in microphones on DSLRs are typically pretty rubbish so this external mic solves that problem. I’m also going to purchase a 35mm extension cable to allow me to record audio away from the camera occasionally.

SD Cards

I will be taking a handful of SD cards for each camera. The most important thing is to back up the photos and footage as frequently as possible. To do that I will be taking:

LaCie 2 TB Rugged Harddrive (Amazon)

I have two, 2 TB hard drives that I will be uploading all the footage onto. Remember – backup, backup, backup!

MacBook Pro (Amazon)

A big investment as these don’t come cheap. I decided to include this on the list as, without the editing of footage and pictures, the rest of the kit is almost pointless. Now I have one, I feel like I couldn’t edit footage and photographs in the same way without one.

Bonfoto 55″ B671C Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod

I’ve still not decided if this tripod is going to make the cut or not for the trip. I feel that if I don’t take it, I’ll regret not having an actual tripod. A decision to be made closer to departure.

Peak Design Slide Summit Edition Tallac Padded Camera Strap (Amazon)

I hate the camera strap that comes as default with the Canon. It’s uncomfortable and I don’t like having the branding being brandished all over the place. I’ve used this strap for a few months now and I’m really pleased with it.

67mm (Amazon) and 58mm (Amazon) Lens Filters 

I bought these fairly cheap filters to be able to take long exposure photography and to help protect the lenses.

QUMOX Time lapse intervalometer remote timer shutter (Amazon)

I’ve just ordered this item and I’m yet to use it. I’m keen to practise taking time lapses with the Canon and this is pretty much essential for that.

Cleaning cloth, brushes and lens cleaner

A few cheap bits to keep all of the gear in good condition.

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.

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.

Leave a Reply