What's in our CAMERA BAG? (Gear review)
Alright, let's talk photography gear. Probably one of the most asked questions we get on Instagram: "what camera are you using?". So here it is, all laid out in a blog post, our gear and all the accessories we take on our trips.
Having had several backpacks, you learn what you really like in a camera backpack and it becomes clear what the shortcomings are in many. After looking around for a bit I found this bag at the RVCA store in Bali and it suited my needs very well. It comes with a separate camera section, tripod holder, bottle holder, laptop sleeve, hidden pocket, and so many more. I feel this backpack is a great fit for my needs, and I have to give credit to the local Hawaiian Zak Noyle for creating this one together with RVCA.
Let's start with the camera, we use the Sony A7RII. This is an older version, and we actually bought it second hand when the newer version was already out. To be honest, for a camera that is already more than 5 years old, this camera still easily keeps up with the cameras of today. Especially the sensor (42MP) helps to capture all that detail. Back in the day was one of the biggest sensors improvements in full frame mirrorless cameras, and the same sensor has actually been used in the newer model as well. So apart from new functionality and gadgets it definitely won't lack quality. You certainly don't need such a high megapixel count unless you really want to print big, but we enjoy the fact that we can crop/zoom more without loosing to much quality. Moving on to the lenses, which deserve more investment than the camera itself.
These are the only two lenses we carry with us and to be honest we do most of our work with the Sony lens, which really is a workhorse and a one lens does all kind of lens for travel photography. Due to a higher base F stop it can be difficult to get nice bokeh at the lower end of the barrel, but at the longer end it delivers beautiful compression. Where the Sony falls short, the Sigma steps in, with the low F stop it is better in low light and creates nice bokeh which is perfect for capturing the finer details and great for product photography. Now that we got the exciting part done, let's move on to all the accessories we carry with us.
A few months ago (Nov 2020) we finally decided to get a little drone. The new DJI Mini 2 was just released and seemed to just provide great quality for a very reasonable price. We also decided to go for this little guy as more and more countries are putting up stricter drone rules and regulations (for good reasons). We like the different viewpoints we can get with the drone and the video is really nice. The photo quality however is below average and we don't really post any of the photos we take on social media. This is due to the 12MP sensor that would need to be cropped for the classic Instagram 4 by 5.If you shoot top down you can get the whole photo in and then it's just enough quality for Instagram, but the photo quality overall is a bit lackluster. We still love to fly it to capture a bit of video, and the 4k that comes off this is great. The real issue for social media, is the fact that it only shoots in landscape mode, and not in portrait mode, and with cropping for social you loose quite a bit of quality so we've got some mixed feelings about the device.
I guess it's always fun to have one of these around. I was actually really into them back in 2011 when they released their second version; the Hero 2, and I got it R.I.P. 2018 Bali. Since then I've kind of fallen out of love with them as they simply do not deliver the quality I would want from them. Every year they come out with a new one, but I feel they just don't improve enough to make it interesting to use them any longer. The video quality is alright, it's more the photos that I keep up being disappointed with. Of course I understand that it's a very small lens and it's not easy to be thrown around like we do with our GoPro's but yeah, we just haven't really used ours lately. I much prefer taking my camera in the water with a housing (more on that later...)
When it comes to SD Cards, I've got a handful of different ones. Especially since the release of 4K video capabilities I've had to step up my game and get some SD cards with faster writing speeds. In general I always use SanDisk and I've never really had any issues with them. I don't think there's much else to say about the brand itself. The only thing I will point out is the following, make sure you buy SD cards that can keep up with your camera, whether it's video or even photos, you'll need a fast SD card, preferably over 100Mbs. Please read the details on the back of the packaging as some brands advertise a certain speed, but most often the cards cannot maintain this speed very long and therefore doesn't necessarily offer a realistic view.
When you're doing paid work for brands and companies it is so important to back up your work. Losing photos or a corrupt SD card can really put you in a bind, we therefore always try to make several copies of our work (also our personal favorites of course). Apart from having the edited photos on several different devices it can be wise to keep Raw files on one or two hard disks. You might have a client asking for some work you did a while ago or you want to use some of your old footage for a new project. Whatever the reason, it always makes sense to backup your work. So make sure you do too! We have a preference for Western Digital products as they are reasonably priced and we have never run into issues with them. We'll say one thing though, if we would invest in a hard disk nowadays, we would prefer a SSD over a regular hard drive as these drives are so much faster. But obviously with newer and faster technology comes a higher price tag.
Our tripod is really nothing special. We got a very cheap one from China because we don't feel a more expensive tripod is going to improve our photography in any way. This tripod becomes quite small and is easy to carry around. It is not the best quality, but we also don't treat it very well. It is often on the beach, in salt water, or somewhere out in nature, fighting the elements. But so far it's been serving us well so we're happy with our choice. It is a bit on the heavy side, so just keep that in mind as you'll want to keep your travel gear as light as possible.
This is basically a bag that goes over your camera and sealing it and allowing you to take it into the water. Water housings can be very expensive and we liked the fact that this one was reasonably priced and seems much higher end than the cheaper bags. The more pro water housings are usually big, bulky and can only be used for one specific camera. This bag can be used with all types of full frame cameras. So if we decide to change our camera body in the future we can continue to use this housing. It is also very light and compact, making it so much easier to travel with. They also have dome ports for those beautiful half and half shots, we hope to add that to our bag one day as well.
When we started traveling, we relied mostly on an actual laptop, but since the release of the new iPad Pro's back in 2018 with Apple's own chips it definitely became so much more capable. Luckily our favorite photo editing tool also released a special version for the iPad Pro, which fully takes advantage of the improved chip and makes photo editing an absolute joy. We manage to do a lot with the iPad and it's so easy to carry around as it's compact and very very light. It's really a great travel companion.
Lightroom for iPad Pro
A great version of Lightroom which does nearly everything if you want to edit photos. This version is a pro version, but lacks the camera calibration option (hopefully will be added at some point). Other than that it is a real joy to edit the photos on the iPad and use the Apple pencil as well.
Affinity Designer & Affinity Photo
Pretty much the equivalent of Adobe's Photoshop and Illustrator but a specific version for the iPad which does the same and works great. We use this for some photo enhancement and designs we like to do from time to time.
In general a fun app to have to play around with. It's mainly a sketching app for drawings and design, but we have also used it for layering some photos and some little animations.
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