During a recent trip to Ladakh, India and during the filming of 8 Days in Ladakh, I was traveling solo shooting still images and video. This was my first dual purpose mission. The trick was to bring enough equipment to cover stills and video but remain agile enough to travel solo carrying only a single bag. Here is how it shook out:
Cameras: I always travel with 2 camera bodies. A backup is critical and not having one is inexcuseable. That said on most days I have 2 bodies hanging from my neck. One body with a 70-200 and one with either a 24-70 or 16-35. For travel I am fully invested in the Sony A7 mirrorless platform and carried one A7SII and one A7II. One unexpected benefit of the A7 series when traveling was that my general rule is to show people the images I take of them. Heads exploded when they saw the LCD screen where the viewfinder was supposed to be.
Lenses: During this trip I carried 4 lenses
- Sony FE 70-200 F4: This lens is primarily used for street portraits and filming in situations where I just cannot get close enough to the action. The stabilization allows for hand holding of video even at this length.
- Sony Vario Tessar T*16-35 F4: This lens is my secondary lens used primarily for landscape still images.
- Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4: If I had only one lens it would be this one. This is the workhorse lens for most of the video shot during the trip.
- Rokinon 14mm 2.8: . This is a specialty lense I brought solely for astrophotography. With the f2.8 lens on the sony A7s there is essentially no noise after processing for night photography even at 2600 ISO.
Camera Bag: If I could pick one piece of equipment that was mission critical for this trip it was the F-stop Ajna Bag. I paired the Ajna with the Medium Slope ICU to carry all of the equipment you see in this post. I also suggest getting the tripod cover. Once in the tripod bag, you can “hide” your tripod so you don’t look like a total nerd loaded up with equipment. The bag also makes attaching the tripod to the Ajna quick and easy.
Microphone: Ambient sound is essential to video. During this trip I was running around from place to place with a Zoom H1 Recorder capturing ambient sound.
Tripod: (not shown in image). In the old days I never traveled with a tripod. Now I know better. This is an essential piece of equipment for astrophotography and time lapse sequences. From time to time I also used the tripod when filming with the 70-200 lens. For example, at 0:45 in the Eight Days in Ladakh video, that sequence of the man walking across the prayer wheels was done on tripod and shot from across a small valley. To get that scene I waited nearly 1.5 hours for someone to show up as this was a remote part of the monsatary. For this trip I used an old Benro travel tripod and Benro B1 head.
Camera straps: The Peak Design SideLight straps have been working well for me lately.
Cleaning kit: one of the hassles about shooting video with a mirrorless camera is that any dust on the sensor will result in unuseable footage. Dust, unfortunately, was a fact of life in the Himalayas and so was switching lenses in dusty conditions. I was constantly cleaning my lens and camera body. These are critical when traveling with a mirrorless camera
Portable Power: Going into the trip I knew that there would be times I could not recharge my camera batteries. Even though I was travling with 6 batteries, the tiny batteries on the Sony system are notoriously short lived when shooting video. The Goal Zero Venture 30 was mission critical a few times during the trip.
Water Bottle: Ladakh is hot, dry, and at altitude. Keeping hydrated is critical. One of the main features of the Ajna bag is a side compartment that perfectly fit my Betty Designs edition Mizu bottle. The Mizu stuff is meant to take a beating. Although I didn’t need it on this trip, the mouth is wide enough to fit a Steripen which I always have with me when traveling just in case.
Headphones: Jaybird X2 headphones. Having a good set of headphones is mission critical when editing video on a plane. I use a foam earpiece that is really snug to cancel out ambient sound and because they are wireless, I don’t worry about cords in tight spaces on planes and in airports. Battery life is also exceptional and they outlast even my longest editing session. Along with the camera bag, these are mission critical.
Storage: Lacie Rugged 2T hard drive: I always backup my footage and images each day. During this trip I filled half of the drive (e.g. I shot 1T of footage and stills). This drive is fast and bomb proof.
Memory Case: Pelican Micro Memory Case: This is one of those things that sounds silly but a memory case is absolutely critical. I have broken no fewer than three memory cases from different brands over the years. A broken memory case makes a mess. This one rocks:
Memory Cards: SanDisk Memory Cards: Since switching to San Disk a few years ago I have not had a single card failure or corrupt card. For the Sony A7 you need fast cards to shoot 120fps. I brought a slew of 32GB and 64 GB Cards.
Lens filters: I know there is debate about using a UV filter to protect your lens. Ill leave that to the pixel peepers. For me, keeping the front lens element protected from dust and scratches is peace of mind. I also brought a polarizer for landscape images.
Batteries: Sony batteries are tiny. They don’t last long especially when shooting video. Using 2-3 batteries per day was common. I brought 6
Battery Charger: Watson Duo LCD Battery Charger: This thing is kind of a beast but brining it was worth it. I can charge 2 batteries at once (critical when shooting Sony and you only have one outlet in your room) and there is an extension for a USB charge where I can charge either my Gforce solar or iPhone at the same time.
Headlamp: Pelican 2750. Always travel with a headlamp. Always.
Computer: (not shown): Apple 13 inch laptop. Fits perfectly into the Ajna computer compartment.
- Editing: Final Cut Pro X: Don’t listen to the naysayers. FCPX does everything I neeed it to do.
- Nik Color EFX: Along with Adobe Lightroom I do 99% of my photo editing with these two programs.
- Lens Flares: The ones from Lens Distortions are the best I have found
- Color Grading: Film Convert. End of story.
- Garage Band: I “composed” the soundtrack for 8 days in Ladakh using Garage Band on my ipad using some loops downloaded from Loopmasters and Primeloops.
Food: the ongoing joke is that anytime I travel I come back sick or broken. A few years ago I started bringing all my own food and nothing goes in my mouth that is even remotely questionable. Based on past experience I can travel for a full week eating only fiber pills and bars and I bring a full weeks worth of food with me on every trip. Not any old bar will do. I can live on 2 Bonk Breakers per day as my only food source. The fat and protein keep you well satiated.
Inspiration: the last thing that I brought with me on this trip was inspiration for the video. That inspiration comes from Matty Brown. I love his stuff. He does not seem to be a sports guy but he hammered the entire action sports industry with the 2 best sports videos online. To get an introduction to Matty Brown maybe check out Hectometer and Playground Italy. If I did things right, hopefully, a little (or a lot) of Matty Brown comes across in the following video.