On June 24, 2017, Halef uploaded our very first travel vlog, “Things to Do In Dili, East Timor.” And you know what? It was a pretty good first effort! That first travel vlog was created using the only travel vlogging gear we owned – a Sony RX100IV.
We were pretty proud of that video. And that camera is still an integral part of our travel vlogging gear, though we use it mostly for b-roll footage now.
I bought that Sony RX100IV back in 2016 to use as an underwater camera. Paired with a Fantasea Line FRX100 IV Underwater Housing,
I’ve been able to get some great underwater photos.
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Our new travel vlog camera gear
One of the downsides of the Sony RX100, and many other cameras for that matter, is that it doesn’t have an external microphone jack. So you have to depend on the quality of the internal microphone for your videos.
We wanted more. Yet, we still liked the quality of the Sony line and we wanted to keep the brand as our main travel blog camera gear.
We started looking at what other people were using and found that one of our favorite vlogging couples, Kara and Nate Buchanan, had just started using the Sony a6500 as their travel video camera.
And it had the external microphone jack we really wanted!
If you visit their channel, even if you (inexplicably) don’t happen to like their content, it’s hard to argue against the high quality of the work they produce.
Sony a6500 as a travel vlog camera
So, after much thought – and saving money – we bought the Sony Alpha a6500 Mirrorless Camera. And we do not regret that decision.
There are three things we really like about the Sony a6500.
Changing lenses is a pain in the butt, but it’s a fact of life for photographers. If you only have a point and shoot, you’re limiting yourself to what that one lens can do.
External microphone jack
There is nothing worse than taking a day’s worth of video only to come back to your hotel or home and discover that the wind has ruined the audio. An external microphone with a windshield is a must.
In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)
This is something we weren’t looking for and didn’t even know existed until we got this camera. And it’s where the Sony a6500 really shines. When you hold a camera, you usually have set the shutter speed to 1/30 or faster to eliminate “shake” that occurs from slight movements of your hand.
IBIS compensates for this and allows you to take great photos at shutter speeds slower than 1/30, meaning you’ll get better photos at night, too.
We primarily use this camera for video, and while we do use a 3-axis gimbal when we shoot video, there are places where “selfie sticks” are prohibited.
With the a6500, we don’t worry about that because we know the video will be stable anyway.
You can find the a6500 – and incredible camera – on Amazon.
Lenses for travel vlogging?
We needed two lenses – a regular “walking around” lens and a wide-angle lens.
Again, after much research and saving, we decided on these two.
Sony SELP18105G E PZ 18-105mm F4 G OSS
To get great shots, you need a great lens. And this Sony 18-105 lens does the trick. At the 18mm setting, it’s barely wide enough to get a couple of heads in the shot. But when you zoom all the way in to 105mm, you’ll be able to pick up far away things with ease.
This is a great lens for vlogging and travel photography.
Get this great lens on Amazon.
Sony – E 10-18mm F4 OSS Wide-angle Zoom Lens (SEL1018)
We use the Sony 10-18mm wide angle lens a lot. Since it’s so wide, it allows you to see a lot. You really get the feeling that you’re there with us as we walk around. It’s our everyday wide-angle.
And it’s light!
When you see us walking and talking, this is most likely the lens that’s attached to the camera.
Check out this fantastic lens on Amazon.
Best travel vlogging drones
Of course, if you’re going “all in” on travel vlogging, you’ll want to show your viewers the entire picture. And what better way to create a travel video than showing the view from the air?
We currently have two drones. Why two? Because Halef and I often travel to different places at the same time.
That won’t always be the case, and eventually, we’ll just take one with us to save space.
But for now, having two drones suits our schedule the best.
DJI Mavic Pro for travel videos
We really love playing with the DJI Mavic Pro. We went ahead and bought the whole starter bundle with extra batteries and accessories. You basically get all the photography supplies you need for a couple hundred extra dollars.
It would cost you far more to buy it separately, so I recommend you just go ahead and buy the bundle – if you decide to buy at all.
The DJI Mavic Pro has a ton of neat settings that allow you to get amazing photos and videos. It can follow you when you’re walking or driving. It can pan around a fixed point.
There’s just so much you can do with it!
Check out the photo quality!
Get the DJI Mavic Pro on Amazon.
DJI Spark for travel vlogging
This is our newest drone, so I have to admit, we haven’t used it a lot yet. But one thing we really like about the DJI Spark is how compact it is. You can literally put it in a larger jacket pocket.
The photos and video you get from it are as good as you’ll get from a drone.
I kind of expect this will be the “keeper” on our Round the World trip! But I don’t know yet.
Pin this for later
Other travel video equipment
Halef and I are avid scuba divers. We often do liveaboard trips – where you get on a boat for a week or more and just eat, sleep, and dive several times a day. Originally, we did our underwater videos using a Sony RX100IV in a Fantasea Line FRX100 IV Underwater Housing.
But as we prepare for long-term travel, we have to make sacrifices for space, and taking an underwater camera housing with us would be too bulky. So we are going with the next best thing. GoPro.
Here’s what we’re using right now
GoPro Hero 7 for travel vlogging
While I personally believe that the GoPro Hero cameras take terrible still photos, they do quite well at shooting videos underwater. We currently use the GoPro Hero 7.
But we think anything after the Hero 5 is fine.
One great reason to own a GoPro is for when you need to do “dirty work” – for example, I would be very nervous about taking my Sony a6500 to a festival like Holi. I have over $3,000 invested in it, so I wouldn’t want to ruin it at a festival where people throw bags of colored chalk powder.
With a GoPro, I don’t care. I’ll just wash it off with water!
If you’re using it for diving, one thing you’ll want to have if you’re going to use the GoPro for good videos is a video light. I don’t have a great one for this particular camera, so I am not going to recommend a specific one.
But if you want your reds in the video, you need a good light. Otherwise, all your video and photos will be greenish.
Find the GoPro Hero 7 on Amazon right here.
Sony RX100 Mark IV
The Sony RX100 IV used to be our primary camera. And for me, it’s still great for dive photography. Now, we use it mostly for b-roll shots. Still, Halef likes to take it when he goes on trips alone.
It’s the camera he is most comfortable with and it’s perfectly fine for vlogging if you know its limitations.
Here’s a vlog we shot almost exclusively using the RX100. There are a few shots in there with the GoPro and a drone as well.
If a travel video setup that costs several thousand dollars is just not in your budget, then we have no reservations about recommending this camera!
You’ve basically got all the travel vlogging gear you need right in your pocket!
Check out the Sony RX-100 on Amazon right here.
Travel vlogging accessories
While cameras and drones are great to have, you will likely need a few extras to complete your travel vlogging gear setup.
I’m just going to add a few Amazon links to the things we use to make life a lot easier for us.
General travel video Accessories
- Zhiyun Crane Stabilizer: This 3-axis gimbal is the mount we use for the Sony a6500. It keeps our shots extra smooth. It’s really worth the money.
- Lowepro Camera Backpack: I can get all of my photography equipment and accessories in this backpack with room to spare. It’s excellent quality!
- Joby GorillaPod Flexible Tripod: When you need a tripod for an uneven surface, or one that grabs onto most anything, you can’t beat the Joby line. An excellent investment for just about any camera.
- Anker PowerCore 13000 charger: We have a lot of stuff to charge on the road – and there’s nothing worse than running out of power. We love the Anker line – especially this one!
Sony a6500 accessories
- Altura rain cover: Sometimes, rain happens. And when it does, you don’t want your very expensive travel vlog camera to get wet! We like this one. It’s inexpensive and works just fine.
- Extra batteries and a charger: When you’re vlogging, you can easily go through a few batteries a day. This is an amazing deal You get two batteries and a charger for an insanely low price! Crazy!
- Extra wings: Accidents happen. And if you’re lucky, it’ll just be the propellers that break.
- Batteries: If you intend to fly the Spark for more than 15 minutes or the Mavic for more than 25, you’ll want extra batteries.
How does all this stuff compare to last year? This is what we used from 2017 to 2018.
We think we’re better off today!
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Michael is originally from Canada but now resides in Atlanta, GA with his husband, Halef, who also writes here. He is a Couchsurfing expert. Michael has traveled to over 50 countries learning how to experience more for less as he travels.
Thanks for sharing the gear you use. Do you have any recommendations for software to edit and/or workflow ideas?
Halef edits all of our videos in iMovie on his Macbook Pro. HOWEVER, we are eventually switching to Adobe Premiere Pro. It offers a lot more (at least that I can see) and it works better on my new Surface. 🙂
We’re still working on a workflow. One of the biggest challenges for us is figuring out what to film – so we end up filming everything. The planning is the toughest. And because of it, we literally have hundreds of gigabytes of footage we don’t even use. But there it sits – on our hard drives. I think you really need to know exactly what you’re going to do that day and write it all down, including what you’re generally going to say. And when you go out, follow the plan. Get your b-roll as you go – but get what you need and a little more.
All that said, we’re just getting started really. We have a lot to learn. And we mostly learn it by following some of the top travel vloggers and copying the parts of their styles that we like.