Camera gear for car travel

 

Howdy!

In this post I want to discuss the camera gear I use when filming travel in a car.

This post is a sister post to the camera gear that I use for overseas travel.

The post here will detail additional equipment I use when filming travel in a car because I can and do carry a lot more weight around when I am using the car to travel in comparison to what I can take overseas.

I won’t be going over things previously discussed in the other post, just discussing what I take on top of the equipment listed in the other post.

I will briefly describe the thinking behind each choice and why I add it to the car to compliment the camera gear that I use for overseas trips.

Although you can carry more weight when filming travel in a car, you still need to fit everything in the car and you don’t want to carry too much stuff or you will never find it.

All this stuff costs money of course, so read this if you need ideas on how to save money when buying camera gear.

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Things to consider about filming travel in a car

 

I want to clarify a few things here;

  1. I do carry more than is needed to create content when filming in a car. Nobody needs to have the same amount of things that I have.
  2. In no way shape or form do you need any of this stuff. Although some items are budget there’s also a lot that is considered very premium.
  3. This gear still adds weight and you need to know exactly what you are taking if you are pushing the limits on GVM of your car.
  4. Consider whether your items would be insured or not if the car was broken into or stolen. A lot of these sorts of items will need special listing on an insurance policy.

With all of that said let’s get underway. This post will be shorter than the other one as it is meant as a kind of attachment to the main post.

Extra gear for filming travel in a car

 

Here are some of the extras I carry when filming travel in a car.

Cameras

 

Travelling overseas it is only worth carrying the one camera. But when filming travel in a car you can get away with two as the extra weight doesn’t matter anywhere near as much.

If you don’t use it it just sits in the car.

Main Camera

Sony a7 IV

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Pros

  • Very good all in one camera.
  • 33MP photos.
  • 4K60 *see cons.
  • 10 bit recording.
  • Dual SD.
  • S-log 3 & S-Cinetone.
  • Breathing compensation.
  • Electrical hot shoe interface.
  • Great button customisation.
  • Flip-out screen.
  • Video / Photo / S&Q dial.

Cons

  • 4k60 mode is cropped.
  • Not incredible, but kind of good at most things.
  • Might still be more expensive than some want to pay.

Why I Chose It

This is my 2nd camera for filming travel in a car after the Sony A1 (Amazon) and the reason I have chosen it is because it can match the colours of the A1 perfectly.

You don’t need two cameras, in fact it is pretty dumb having two.

However I do like having the redundancy if one fails. I also enjoy being able to grab two camera angles at once.

As a solo traveller this saves me so much time, allows me to edit faster as well as shoot faster and improves overall workflow immensely.

The Sony a7 III would have been an alright choice here but it didn’t shoot 10-bit and therefore could not have matched the A1 in shooting S-log 3 in sunrise/sunset scenarios with harsh contrast.

My Recommendations To You - (Alternate Options)

If you want to save money then the a7 III (Amazon) can often be found on heavily discounted.

I used to travel with the Sony a7R III (Amazon) which has an incredible 42MP sensor and I personally preferred that over the a7 III because of its photo taking abilities.

To be honest though, I wouldn’t recommend having a second camera unless you have cash to spare, or like me you travel alone and the ability to shoot extra angles is very important to you.

Action Camera

Insta 360 One X

Pros

  • Shoot without framing.
  • Grab unique points of view.
  • Cheap.
  • Reframe in post with keyframes.

Cons

  • Outdated.
  • Not waterproof (later models are).
  • Poor battery life.
  • Gimmick.
  • Cropped image is about 720p (for linear).

Why I Chose It

I bought this way back in 2019, there have since been newer releases but I don’t feel the need to upgrade at this time.

Even with the better offerings the cropped image, if you want it to be linear, is about 720p and it doesn’t look that good.

The only reason I carry this when filming travel in a car is because I already owned it, I would not go out of my way to buy this or another 360 camera at this point in time.

I carry it when filming travel in a car as I had spare room in one of my camera cubes, it can offer unique POVs at times and I don’t care if it breaks which is a good thing to have at times.

However I rarely use it as the shooting style requires very specific movements that rarely tie in with my videos.

My Recommendations To You - (Alternate Options)

If I was forced to buy a 360 camera right now I would buy the Insta 360 one RS 1″ edition (Amazon) for its larger sensor size.

This is also not waterproof, but offers the best image quality. I do think it’s overpriced though and at the end of the day you are limited still when cropping in post to some average looking footage.

If you wanted a more action camera style 360 for filming travel in a car then the Insta 360 X3 (Amazon) is the one you want. Lighter than the RS and also waterproof.

Lenses

 

For lenses when travelling overseas I take 2 zoom lenses that cover a wide range of focal lengths, but for filming travel in a car I add two prime lenses to the mix to offer some new capabilities and flexibility.

The main advantage with the primes is their low light performance due to their wider apertures, they are also better quality in regards to sharpness across the entire image, especially at the corners.

Wide Angle Prime

Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM

Pros

  • Brilliant in every way.

Cons

  • Cost is high, but I got it on special.

Why I Chose It

I originally bought this for talking head shots in low light situations but it is just great for all sorts of things.

With a 1.4 aperture you’re able to get really shallow depth of field on close-up shots, you can shoot in darker situations and being a prime the weight and size is small.

This is the only GM lens I own and I love it.

In Super-35 mode this works out to be a 35mm focal length, so for video purposes it is essentially both a 24 and 35mm lens.

My Recommendations To You - (Alternate Options)

Sticking in the Sony universe here to keep this list short there are two cheaper options available with different advantages.

Sony FE 20mm f1.8 G (Amazon)

Sony FE 24mm f/2.8 G (Amazon)

Check the links for pricing but basically, do you want 20mm or 24mm?

Do you want f/1.8?

Do you want 163 grams vs 373 grams?

Neither is a heavy lens but there is a difference in aperture and weight, it’s a tradeoff.

Nifty Fifty

Sony FE 55mm f/1.8

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Tiny.
  • Lightweight.
  • Sharp.
  • f/1.8 aperture.

Cons

  • Won’t have the fastest autofocus.
  • GM lenses higher quality.
  • Weird filter thread size due to small lens.

Why I Chose It

This lens is raved about as a value for money beast amongst Sony people. It is affordable and offers it all in a tiny package.

f/1.8 is more than enough for me and when using crop mode I effectively get a 55mm and 82mm lens for video in the one tiny package.

This one is hard to beat for that medium focal length range.

My Recommendations To You - (Alternate Options)

I really just recommend this as a great entry level 50mm lens, but for those that want to see the competition I will be limiting this to Sony lenses as that’s all I know.

There is the Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 GM (Amazon) and the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 (Amazon)

I’ll leave it to you to compare reviews, costs and weights but to me the 55mm is the winner.

Drone

DJI Mavic 3 Pro

Pros

  • 4/3 sensor on main 24mm.
  • 162mm telephoto lens.
  • 70mm equivalent lens as well.
  • Impressive flight time.
  • Can fly in very strong winds.

Cons

  • Cost.
  • DJI still have handicapped it in certain ways.

Why I Chose It

It’s the best drone on the market by a long way.

Variabl eaperture, three cameras, can handle any conditons and the main camera especially is some of the best quality drone footage you will see.

My Recommendations To You - (Alternate Options)

If you’re filming in a car then take this drone, it’s the best you will get if you put in the time to learn about how to utilise it.

If you don’t want to invest the time to learn or the money then you can get away with the DJI Air 3 or the Mini 4 Pro (Amazon links) but they come with pretty big downsides as well.

Tripod

3 Legged Thing Corey

Pros

  • Value for money.
  • Lightweight.
  • Same system as my main tripod.
  • Strong.
  • Good ballhead.

Cons

  • Would prefer lever locks
  • Maximum height is about 150cm, sometimes you need more reach.

Why I Chose It

I wanted good quality to compliment my main tripod, going with the same brand was an easy choice for me as I had not had any issues in a few years with the first tripod.

The Corey model is smaller in size and doesn’t extend as long, but this is the same as most tripods like this.

My Recommendations To You - (Alternate Options)

I can’t offer much of an opinion here as I have only used 3 legged thing tripods.

The reason is that I have not had any reason to switch, it has never let me down, has always been sturdy and they have a wide range of tripods for different uses.

For travel a lot of people like the Peak Design tripod, I love Peak Design in general but this tripod to me is too pricey. One day I might switch but not unless my current tripod breaks.

Gimbal

DJI RS3

Pros

  • Strong.
  • Light enough for me.
  • Great app.
  • Works with the image transmission module (Amazon).
  • Fully customisable speed through the screen.
  • Auto-lock can be handy.
  • Can leave it balanced and pack away quickly.

Cons

Why I Chose It

My first gimbal was the Zhiyun Weebill, then soon after the Weebill-S came out and I bought that.

That gimbal served me well for 3.5 years, but the Zhiyun app is a disgrace and they never fix it, on top of that I had the Zhiyun image transmission module (Amazon) which didn’t work with my new Sony cameras.

So I changed to DJI gimbals, I bought the RS3 mini for overseas travel because of its weight but unfortunately it doesn’t work with image transmission.

I bought the RS3 to work at home with image transmission and installed a Smallrig 3061 (Amazon) plate for arca-swiss quick release functions.

The gimbal is great, the app and the touch screen is so much better than what I got from Zhiyun.

My Recommendations To You - (Alternate Options)

There is no reason not to just get the DJI RS3 mini if you don’t want image transmission. Just be aware that the motors are slightly weaker and that you can’t pack it away in a balanced position.

I would have no hesitations in recommending the Zhiyun Weebill S (Amazon) gimbal as a cheaper option, it is what I used for 3.5 years and I did love its design if you add quick release plates. But it might be worth going for the more recent Zhiyun Weebill 3 or the Weebill 3S (Amazon links) if you like the Zhiyun gimbals.

They both come in at roughly 1.1 kg which is manageable and the Weebill 3 also has incredible battery life, rated at ~21 hours! For the Weebill 3S this is 11 hours.

I dislike all the gimmicks like microphone ports and LEDs but some people might enjoy that.

However just beware the app, it is poor in comparison to DJI in my opinion, but has massively improved from the days when I was using the Weebill Lab.

I also could not get the image transmission to work with the Sony a7 IV or the Sony A1 cameras. I am not sure if they intend to solve this issue as they haven’t responded to emails.

Headphones

Sony WF-1000 XM5

 

When I travel filming in a car I carry these in ear headphones on top of the WH-1000XM3 (Amazon) because sometimes it is just too dam hot to wear the over ear variety.

I like listening to podcasts or music while I work and need the noise cancelling function, but wearing either in or over ear headphones for too long can be annoying so it’s good to have options.

Bags / Cases / Accessory Pouches

 

I still use the same bag that I do when travelling overseas but when filming travel in a car I add a camera cube to the car to assist with organisation.

Camera Bag Core Unit

Shimoda Large Core Unit

 

With all the extra things you can carry when filming travel in a car you need to place it somewhere so that it can be organised, easy to find and protected.

I use this Shimoda large camera core unit to hold all the extras leaving them readily available to grab in a hurry.

Memory Card Case

Smallrig 2832B

 

Holding 3 SD cards and 5 microSD cards in such a small form factor, I often take this with me when I leave the car and go on a hike.

It is small enough to not be a bother and lets me change cards on the drone or the main camera if they fail or somehow get full quicker than expected.

Audio Gear

Rode VideoMic NTG

 

The Rode Videomic NTG accompanies me wehn filming travel in a car as it is easy to hook into the laptop for voiceovers that might need recording over screen recordings.

It is fully featured with gain control, auto-off, lo and hi pass filters and much more.

It works as an amazing redundancy as well in case the hot shoe microphone I normally use stops working due to a poor connection with the hot shoe interface of my cameras.

Filming Travel in a Car – The Accessories

 

There are a bunch of extra accessories that I use when filming travel in a car when compared to travelling overseas, mostly we are talking about all of the action camera mounts.

It isn’t feasible to carry too many overseas because it’s just annoying and you never can be bothered to use them all. However with more storage space available in a car they can be good to have handy to get different angled shots.

GoPro / Insta Accessories + Mounts

 

I have so many different mounts that it is hard to keep track of them all. Even though you have heaps of space in the car when filming travel in a car, don’t use it all.

Keep some space spare, don’t just throw in every different GoPro mount you can think of. If you need to dig through things to find them you will just stop looking for them and will never use them.

With that in mind here are a handful of extra mounts that I carry in the car when filming travel in a car that I can’t justify taking on overseas trips.

Insta 360 extendable pole

I have recently purchased the Insta 360 extended editon selfie stick (Amazon).

It is massively overpriced for a multi-section selfie pole but it is much better quality than the previous one that I had.

This is only to enhance the poor image from the 360 cameras with complex seeming movements to hide it.

I only carry this around when filming travel in a car because I don’t use it enough otherwise to take it overseas.

Ram suction / Gopro Suction

As well as the below items that I also travel overseas with (Amazon links):

I also use the Ram Suction GoPro mount (Outback Equipment link) to mount to the car in conjuction with the Gopro suction mount (Amazon link) and to be honest the RAM stuff is far superior to the Gopro stuff.

I still use both so that I can quick swap between two different angles on the car, but if you only get one, then go for RAM mounts any day of the week.

As an alternate to the last bit you can also swap it out with the RAP-B-366U which is a 1/4″-20 thread on the end of the B sized ball, so you can mount other adaptors, phone holders or action cameras, it gives a lot of flexibility.

GoPro Light

The GoPro light mod (Amazon) is actually quite decent for its tiny size, it can help clear up GoPro footage in dark spaces.

I use this if filming under the car or in the engine bay where light is low because a lack of light is not a good thing for a small sensor camera such as the GoPro.

3 Footed Monster

The 3 Footed Monster Pro (Outback Equipment) is a strong magnetic mount that can hold an action camera at any angle without hassle. It can even hold my  mirrorless cameras it is that good a grip.

It’s a fantastic bit of kit, much like a suction cup except obviously using magnetism to hold onto metallic surfaces.

Great quality product that will probably never break.

Chargers

Hahnel Pro Cube 2 for Sony

 

When filming travel in a car I have an inverter inbuilt into my 4WD build so that I can quick charge batteries. For this purpose I have the Hahnel Procube 2 (Amazon) for Sony batteries.

It charges two batteries at a time and it does it quicker. I can leave this charging while I eat, while I drive, while I do other stuff and come back knowing I’ll have two batteries ready to go.

Final thoughts about filming travel in a car

 

Filming travel in a car will open up plenty of opportunity to experiment with more camera accessories and lenses as well as even give you the chance to carry an extra camera.

You can do all of this without needing to lug the weight on your shoulders, it’s like travelling with a little stockpike of gear that follows you around and it can make the travel more enjoyable.

Just remember that although the weight doesn’t matter, reduce what you take so that you acually use what you do take rather than it getting lost in a pile of crap.

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