We are often asked what photo and video equipment we use. We thought it was high time to give you a little recap on this subject.
Since our departure in June 2015, our photo bag has taken a little volume. Left with only our camera, a lens to do everything and a device capable of going underwater, our equipment has evolved since then, even if the base remains the same.
And yes, over time we have defined our real needs in relation to the subjects that interest us and to our way of understanding photography.
As you know, Popo is a small van so we have often favored compactness, modularity or even the multifunction side of certain accessories when possible!
Let's start with the basics: the camera. We have been using a case since June 2015 Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII (ouch it's long). It is a hydride device with a Micro 4/3 sensor (format shared with Panasonic), very compact and with a truly exceptional 5-axis stabilization. It was the best rated hybrid in 2015, especially for this last point. What we liked about him, apart from his little retro look which by the way is really successful, is its size, its tropicalization (it is resistant to splashes and rain), its resistance to extreme temperatures and its resistance to shocks. A real little adventurer perfect for traveling in all circumstances!
Olympus was released in October 2019 the new model: the MkIII, which has evolved well especially on the video part with the arrival of 4K and a whole lot of improvements.
The E-M5 is the brand's mid-range, it is between the E-M10 MkIII (entry level) and the E-M1 MkII (the pro model). Recently another model appeared, the E-M1X even more upscale, but here we pass on another dimension of much larger case.
In short, we love our little Olympus hybrid but for the sake of professionalization, we needed a second limp (and yes we are both behind the cameras), with a full frame sensor and more versatile in photo / video (see A little lower).
In addition, we use the removable Olympus handle specially designed for our model. It allows among other things, to have a better grip when you install a big lens or, in winter when you have gloves.
To protect our device we use two different covers depending on the objectives above. The Olympus cover which adapts to several objectives (up to 14-150mm), and a USA Gear cover in Neoprene, which accepts all our other lenses, even the telephoto lens with the removable handle.
Who says hybrid case, says interchangeable lens. Obviously it's better to have at least one to take pictures!
For a year and a half we used the lens sold in a pack with the camera, it's a Olympus 14-150mm (28-300mm equivalent since we are doing X2 with a Micro4 / 3 device), therefore very versatile in terms of zoom and with an aperture of f4-5.6. Which is not huge, far from the Pro models in the Olympus range but which allows you to have really good fun if the light is not too weak. It is really compact for such a zoom and tropicalized. This is the objective which is 80% time on our camera as it is happening everywhere!
We immediately bought in addition, a small lens Olympus 14-42mm "Pancake" (28-84mm equivalent). Why Pancake? Because it really is flat! So even if in terms of its focal length (its zoom), it duplicates the 14-150mm, its usefulness lies in its compactness. You can literally put the camera in your pocket when this lens is attached. We use it in town, when we want to be discreet wherever we go for a walk and when we don't want to get too cluttered. Its quality is not exceptional but it does its job very well.
After two years, we have invested (yes that's the right word), in a wide angle of the range Olympus Pro: the 7-14mm (14-28mm equivalent), F2.8. A real tropicalized racing beast, with an all-metal construction and a disengageable manual focus ring with stop. Perfect for large landscapes and low light photos. We use it among other things for all our night photos!
In California, we had the opportunity to buy an exhibition model at a very low price (around a hundred euros). The opportunity was too good and a little Panasonic 25mm fixed focus (50mm equivalent) F1.7 has therefore joined the family (remember that it shares the same format with Olympus). It is compact, with a very large aperture, we particularly like it for bright portraits. On the other hand, it is not tropicalized at this price of course...
And finally the last of the band, bought second-hand very recently in the summer of 2019 just before going to Alaska: a telephoto lens Olympus 75-300mm (150-600mm equivalent) f4.8-6.7. It's not top of the range, far from it, there's no tropicalization, it's not made of metal like those in the Pro range, but it does the job it's asked to do, zoom in for be closer to nature without disturbing it!
To keep all these beautiful people warm, finally especially safe from blows and dust, we ordered a lens cover pack, there are for all sizes and different colors.
Filters now. We use Hoya brand filters (very well known in the world of optics) and Gobe filters. Why these two brands ?! Because the products have a great quality / price ratio. The ring is made of metal, the optical quality is very good, the resistance of the treatments is too, and if it is damaged we will not have too much regret at this price. So we use on each lens (apart from the wide angle which cannot receive it) a UV filter which above all serves as protection. We also use a polarized filter to remove in particular reflections on water, on the road or on the windshield. And finally ND filters for long exposures and a Variable ND especially for video.
New arrival in the family since the summer of 2021: a Sony A7C. It is a hybrid device with a full-frame sensor, but which remains very compact (hence the name “C”) and always stabilized and tropicalized. Small but strong, the A7C is the most compact full-frame camera in its category and therefore necessarily in the Alpha series.
Always this quest for compactness to travel, even if over time it matters less and less to us. On the A7C Stabilization is a little less good than the Olympus and other recent models in the Sony range such as the Sony A7IV (which will surely replace our Olympus eventually). Inevitably, the brand had to make compromises to fit this huge sensor in this box but it is not disturbing, in video we easily recover that in post production and in photo the sensor takes so much more light (again compared to the 'Olympus), that stabilization is less necessary under certain conditions.
Video is one of Sony's great strengths. In the series of 7, we can choose according to whether we are more photo with the "R" series for resolution, or more video with the "S" series for sensitivity, or even "7" simply to have a versatile photo / video camera. The "C" being a device a little apart, versatile and compact at the same time.
To protect this, we use between a USA Gear cover in Neoprene but the size above that of the Olympus to adapt to our largest lens (for the moment), which we will see below.
Who says device of a different brand, and especially with a sensor of a different size, necessarily says new lenses…
We took the Sony A7C as a kit with the very good FE 28-60 F/4-5.6 which goes really well with the latter. Compact and versatile, it scores highly on all tests for a kit lens (which aren't usually great). The price difference between the bare body and the kit is worth it if you need this focal length, without going into details the image quality is quite good!
As another lens we wanted to start with a good all purpose lens and that's naturally towards the Tamron 28-200mm F/2.8-5.6 a real Swiss army knife that we have oriented ourselves! An impressive zoom in a compact format and an aperture of F/2.8 at 28mm. In short, it has no equivalent and even if it means having one or two lenses, you might as well have it in your backpack, it is good in all conditions and has internal stabilization.
Again over time, we have upgraded our equipment and taken some really useful accessories that we use every day.
The, or rather the straps: initially we used the Olympus strap delivered with the device, nothing special, it's a neck strap. But we realized that we often keep the device in hand. And we discovered the Peak Design range. The system is very simple. These are actually small clips that hang on the rings of the device and which clip different straps. We generally use the wrist strap but we also have the neck strap. It is very practical and very very resistant, it can be removed with one hand, really the combo of straps perfect in our opinion.
At Peak Design again, we use the Capture Support, which is a clip (again) but this time for the camera! One part is placed on the strap of a backpack or belt and the other is fixed on the thread under the device. You can then have your hands completely free while hiking and quickly draw the device if necessary. One of our favorite accessories without hesitation... And where they really stood out was that the system is also compatible with tripods from major brands like Manfrotto (we'll talk about that below). No need to unscrew the system to install the tripod system, with the plate Peak Design Double it's multifunctional!
The remote control: we did not take the Olympus remote control for several reasons. Already, one, it is wired, two, it is expensive, and three, it is not multifunctional. So, we found a universal remote control which is delivered with the cable which corresponds to the brand of the case. It is wireless, multifunctional and inexpensive. Even if it is a little "plastic", it works very well and from a distance, we do not ask more.
At the tripod, once is not custom we opted for the compactness. So we chose a BeFree Manfrotto which is very light and compact, perfect for traveling! It also exists in carbon version, even lighter, for those on the budget. It is very stable even in strong winds, has several positions and the Manfrotto quality is no longer debatable…
When it comes to having something even smaller and which hangs everywhere, we take out our little JOBY GorillaPod. There are several sizes depending on the type of camera (size and weight), we have the 3Kg hybrid model which is perfect for our two cameras even with a large lens.
For underwater shots or when practicing certain sports, we now shoot with a GoPro HERO10 Black. (We went from the GoPro 1, to 5, to 10… we let you imagine the difference in image quality and stabilization between the models…). It also serves as a "dash cam", understand that it is often fixed behind our windshield to film the road. The GoPro HERO10 Black has incredible stabilization, no need for a stabilizer!
For the accessories, we decided not to put too much budget in there, by taking a third-party accessory pack. There is everything you need for all activities for the price of a single GoPro accessory. So the quality may not be the same, ok, but that is enough for our use and since time we have not had a problem.
The filter: to reduce reflections on the windshield when using the GoPro as a dash cam or reflections on the water, we install a Freewell polarized filter
The dome : That's a really great accessory but it takes up a bit of space in our little van… It allows us to take pictures at the level of the water line. On the picture or the video we can see both under and out of the water, magic!
We waited a long time before breaking the piggy bank for a drone, but what a pleasure! Going up high to vary the points of view is really pleasant. Our choice arose (again) for a compact model, easy to carry in a backpack and which does not take up too much space in our van thanks to its foldable arms: a DJI Mavic Pro 2 (after having a Mavic Pro Platinum). We had taken advantage of an introductory offer in the USA which made it the best choice. It is really small, even if it exists even smaller, like the DJI Mini 3 Pro, where the DJI Air 2S. Each model has its advantages and disadvantages, they must be compared to each other according to the needs. Since our purchase DJI put on sale the Mavic 3 which puts a new slap on the old model with its dual Haselbad on-board camera: wide angle + zoom
We have some inexpensive but very useful accessories like covers specially designed to accommodate the drone and the remote control or Kevlar pockets for storage of batteries. These pockets are mandatory if you want to fly with your drone. Some companies will refuse to ship it without this.
We also use ND and PolarPro filters for videos.
Attention to the rules of use and the specific regulations in each country, inquire!
Yes, there are "s" at the end of each word. You can imagine that since the summer of 2015 we have taken some photos and videos... For the hard drives, we trust the model Rugged by Lacie. They are supposed to resist shocks and are therefore perfect for our nomadic use. There are also models in the same range with SSD disks which are not at all affected by shocks like a classic mechanical hard disk, but they are of course more expensive.
For SD cards, only cards are used SanDisk Extreme Pro. Classic DS and SD microphones for drone and GoPro. It's been years and we've never had a problem with it. We happened once to buy a card from another brand (the classic move… you leave with your device forgetting the SD card in the computer reader… great), and we only use it as a last resort because sometimes we have had errors… Also, be careful with the speed of writing which must be important when using material which films in 4K for example. Lately we bought a Sandisk Extreme Pro SD card with 300Mbps write speed and the difference is obvious! Even in the photo! Where, for example, a night photo with a 30-second break takes 30 seconds to process behind, with this card processing is instant! We save a lot of time and at night in winter believe us it makes all the difference!
SD card storage: too often neglected, SD cards are easily lost as they are small and they can also fear the elements. For that, we keep them dry in a waterproof case. This also allows us to organize them, on the left the blank cards, on the right those which must be unloaded on the hard disk with the MicroSD adapters.
This is our personal pleasure, an instant camera that develops photos in a few minutes. Basically we are rather followers of Polaroid, but in front of the difficulty to find films in travel, their price and handling when the film was released (the new Impossible films require to put the photo directly in the dark while it turns out), we fell back on a device Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic. The format is smaller but we find movies really all over the world, even at the supermarket and their price is right. The quality is regular and frankly we do not regret! We created ourselves a small album just for us with our best memories. The idea is also to be able to give a little souvenir directly to the people we meet on the road. It's always a pleasure and it's rather original!
To take it all with us, we use a photo bag well. Our choice fell on the Thule Covert backpack. Why ? Because it is not too big, not too small, that all our equipment fits into it (yes yes all that), that it does not have a camera bag look and the must: it is waterproof. The lower part is intended to receive the photo material and the upper part of the business. The bag is modular since the two compartments can form one and the upper part can adapt to the volume of business. There is even a pocket for a computer and a tablet and lots of other small pockets for accessories.
It happens to us very often, also to use our MeroMero Squamish backpack. So even if this one is not a photo bag itself, it comes with a photo pocket that fits perfectly at the bottom of the bag and keeps our equipment safe from blows. Smaller, more everywhere, more discreet and very light, this is our everyday backpack. When we don't have all our equipment to lug around but only our camera with one or two lenses, this is the one we choose. He never leaves us.
For the processing of our images we use the MacBook Pro 15 ″ that we had before leaving when we were still carrying out our architectural activity. They are a few years old but they are holding up well despite everything, so why change them ?!
Above we mainly use Lightroom for processing our images and Final Cut Pro for Video. We also have the rest of the Adobe suite that we use for different projects.
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