Content Creation | What's In Our Camera Backpack?

Content Creation | What's In Our Camera Backpack?

With countless questions from you guys on what camera gear we use to take our photos we thought we would share with you just about everything that is in our digital creation suitcase! 

Now you don't need all these items to start your content creation by any means, and we've slowly been building this collection up over the past two years as they do all come at a cost, particularly camera lens. 

First of all we'll start with our most used device and the backbone of our whole content, a real work horse: 

Troopy

Sony Alpha 6400 Camera Body 

The Sony α6400 is one of Sony's most popular cameras and it's not hard to see why. It is a APS-C cropped sensor camera, so not a part of the full frame range such as the α7ii. Just because it is a cropped sensor camera it does not mean it is inferior by any means. The image quality is fantastic at 24.2MP and 4K video recording. One downfall of this camera is that is has not in body stabilisation, so video footage and even some photos can be shaky if you aren't using a tripod or gimbal when zoomed in. In saying that, a lot of lens do provide stabilisation. When you buy the Sony α6400 is will generally come with the 16-50mm kit lens. Don't be put off by this, it is a great lens to learn the ins and outs of your new camera and you can actually get some decent shots. 

What do we like about this camera body? 

  • Cost effective with great image quality
  • Huge range of lens are compatible and being APS-C and generally affordable, easy on and off with Sony's e-mount system
  • Super fast auto focus 
  • Timed shooting and fully adjustable interval shooting modes make it great for getting those couple shots
  • Compact 

However, when you are ready to step up your game and experiment, these are some of our options.

Sony 18-135mm F3.5 - 5.6 

This native lens is such a versatile lens and the one that stays on our camera pretty much 70% of the time. It has a great deal of reach and can make it easier to frame your shots. Additionally if you like photographing some wildlife etc this is a great starting point. You do have to still get quite close to get your shot, but this will still give you the most reach and bang for your buck for compatible e-mount lens. It is light and super compact, so very easy to chuck in your backpack to take on hikes. It also has Optical Steady Shot (OSS) which is quite handy seeming as the α6400 doesn't offer in body stabilisation. Now the lens is not a fixed aperture so this means as you zoom in, your aperture will change and go up with the more reach you try to achieve. However, we still find we are able to get great shots with enough bokeh still.

Meerkat Tayla Wyatt Byfield

The downfall of having a variable aperture lens is that it can be quite frustrating, you get your settings right, maybe zoom in a touch for the next shot and your aperture has changed. Also the fact that you have to use higher apertures for zoomed shots. We will detail below an alternative lens if this is something you may find as an issue. This lens also may struggle in some low light situations. Overall, this lens is a fantastic one for mainly photography, but can also be useful for some videography. 

WallabyTayla Crystal Creek

Sigma 16mm F1.4 - F16

The Sigma 16mm is the first additional lens we purchased for our α6400. It was very affordable and had a great field of view being such a wide angle lens. The bokeh effect when using this lens is something completely different. Being able to step this lens down to F1.4 gives a fantastic background blur to your photos, especially great when taking close up photos of animals, portraits, fauna etc. This lens also has the advantage of performing so well in low light conditions. Having such a low aperture was also one of the main reasons we bought this lens, making it the perfect companion to play around with astrophotography. For astro - you need to be able to have a low aperture to let more light in and a slow shutter speed. Most of our astro shots are generally shot at around F1.6 and a 8 second exposure. The Sigma 16mm is also a great lens to hold, it's quite large, being similar size to our 18-135mm but fatter. It has a huge focus ring for manual focusing which is so handy and gentle to use, making it perfect for what we use it for. Aside from great photos, it also doubles down as the perfect videography lens. Now you can't zoom on it which is a downside, but the wide angle is perfect for capturing a wide field of view and for vlogging. Tayla being quite small and me higher, with the 18-135mm we often find one of us being cut off when vlogging because it simply isn't wide enough; with the sigma this isn't a problem. 

Now something annoying with this lens we haven't quite gotten past yet - the auto focus is generally very quick for a lens that is not Sony native. However, if we are vlogging and one of us is standing too far back, the autofocus will pull the front person into frame and the one behind will be put into some background blur which can be frustrating. We only generally find this issue when handheld vlogging up close. Something we are going to try soon to see if we can avoid this is turning off Sony's facial recognition auto focus. Overall, we do love this lens though, it is super affordable, can be a lot of fun to use and create great photos and videos. We only wish we weren't so lazy swapping the two lens over all the time. 

AstrophotographyWaterfall

Microphone Rode Micro Mini

Having an external microphone is pretty much a must when vlogging. The Micro Mini carries the trustworthy Rode name and it certainly lives up to it. Super compact, comes with a wind sock and makes your audio super clear and super loud. We have only come across 2 clips in our last 3 months of vlogging where wind noise got the better of it. Sony's α6400 internal microphone is just not ideal, let's face it - it's a camera not a recording device. 

DJI Pocket 2

This is our newest toy to add to our content creator backpack. For the longest time we both wanted a gimbal for our camera so that we could create cinematic footage, something quite hard to do when hand holding without a gimbal. We also wanted to stop using our camera so much for video, and keep it for photography. Now the reason we went against a gimbal was the price they cost, all being upwards of $600, the need to calibrate them before using quite often (from what we read), using with our 18-135mm lens would throw it off of calibration because of the weight distribution when you zoom, and the extra space it would take up - not something that would be easy to put into a backpack on a long hike. 

So what we stumbled upon is the DJI pocket 2 - essentially it is a similar to a drone camera, except on a 3 axis gimbal, the same that a gimbal such as the Weebil S or Ronin SC would use. The pocket is what the name suggests, a camera with a gimbal that will slide into your pocket. This is quickly becoming a very useful tool for us and we now use it for almost all of our vlogging and content. It has 3 main modes, a follow in which the gimbal will follow slowly as your turn the camera; a tilt locked where in as your move the gimbal around the camera will try to remain fixed upon a single vertical area; and a FPV which will allow full 3 axis rotation and move with the gimbal. For now we find ourselves using the follow function the most. It also has some great aspects such as a function where the gimbal will automatically follow you as you walk etc if on a tripod, very handy for those couple clips and you may not be dead centre or maybe just want this effect of someone else filming you. Camera quality is fantastic, up to 64MP and 4K resolution with 50 FPS. Generally we are filming in 2.7K at 30 FPS, more similar to what iMovie will keep up with processing. The microphone is pretty good on it, however wind noise can be a problem. We purchased the creator combo so we have an external microphone available with a wind sock, but we haven't had to use it yet. 

Now what we don't like; the camera exposure can be manually altered which is handy, however the auto function with generally not keep up with changes in exposure too well. Filming in highly sunny areas washes the frame out, and dark rainforest areas blacks it out. You can overcome this, but requires you to constantly change settings. For this reason, our next purchase to add onto this would be a set of ND filters, a pack of 4 with different exposures will set you back $80. The pocket is not waterproof but we will also be purchasing an underwater housing for it which is around $80 too so we can use it in the water. 

Overall we love having this bit of kit and can already notice a huge difference in our videography. Having cinematic movements is hugely important for us, and being able to take such a small device on those more challenging hikes is a game changer. Did we mention it also zooms too?

DJI Mavic Mini 2

Now, need we say more? How cool are drones. The Mavic mini 2 is one of the most affordable drones out there for the quality you get. The camera is fantastic, with 4K footage and 12MP photos (DJI's enhance makes this look even better). One of the best features about this drone is its weight - a cheeky 249g. This means the drone is under the 250g needed for CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) approval/registration. Essentially a drone of this size is deemed to be harmless, hence less restrictions are imposed on where you can fly. This is a big win, being able to not only take this drone with you easily wherever you go, but also being able to fly without worrying. Setup is super quick, it does require compass calibration about every second use but this only takes 60 seconds. It has 3 modes (speed, position, and cinematic), each essentially allowing different speeds and abilities. The drone has pretty much all the features that the high end ones do, including quick shots (dronie, rocket, boomerang, circle, and helix). Being compact though some things have to be left out, and unfortunately you don't get the follow me function that DJI has mastered.  

Now the annoying: flight time is only 31 minutes at the lowest speeds, if running in high wind and high speeds, this can be as low as 10 minutes we have found. Most the time we have found though this is all we need, it just gets charged again each day. To combat this, you can opt for a fly more combo which will give you additional batteries etc so you can land it, swap battery out and go straight back up. Whilst the drone is pretty quick, sometimes not quick enough to get where you want before running low on battery. Again being light can be a problem and in high wind it can struggle to stay stable. We have found if in an enclosed area (such as a canyon, forest etc you can sometimes not put it up above 3m as there is too much interference, or your antenna will cut interference and you will rely on your drones return home feature to bring it back to safety. Hint; we set our drones return to home feature to 100m height, this means it shouldn't hit any trees or anything, so if you lose your drone 1km away, it will hover to 100m and then only come down once it is above you, minimising the risk of flying into anything. 

Mangrove DroneSellecks Beach Drone

Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is pretty much the go to for any photo editing. The free version gives you a great range of editing and we mainly still use this. Maybe in the future we will upgrade to the paid version which will allow you to have much more control over editing such as being able to edit parts of the photo separately, not just the whole thing. This can be beneficial to fix under and over exposed areas in your photos or fix up skys, waters etc. 

iMovie 

Again, being on a budget we couldn't justify just yet the likes of Premier Pro (as much as we want it). If you have a MacBook, iMovie will come with it and offers basic tools for editing. The downside is it takes a lot of energy and power for the computer to process it, sometimes our battery is drained in 30 minutes. It can also be quite jumpy, and cause your Mac to just shut down if it is too CPU intensive. MacBook Pros will be able to handle this a lot better, so we suggest investing in a Pro above the Air for video processing. 

What would we love to have?

Sony G 18-105mm F4.0 

This lens was always on our wish list. It was either out of the 18-135mm or the 18-105mm. How are they so different? Firstly the 18-105mm has a constant aperture, meaning as you zoom in or change fields of view, the aperture remains constant. This is a huge plus and makes things alot easier, being able to get zoomed shots at a low aperture is fantastic. This lens is also part of Sony's G range, something Sony considers to be superior. Another beautiful feature is the power zoom on the side of the lens. This allows you to zoom in and out without touching the zoom rings. This is especially important in videography when touching the zoom ring will often cause your video to be shaky because it's near impossible to turn a ring without your hand wobbling. Another reason we like this lens is the body of the lens doesn't extend as your zoom, unlike the counterpart. If you want to focus on videography with your camera, THIS lens is the one for you. 

Sony 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G or Sony 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G

The first of two two is a full frame lens but can be used with the a6400. This is an incredible lens and as we have a passion for shooting wildlife, this is our dream lens but carries a hefty price. The second option is a crop sensor lens to suit our camera and also gives a great range with amazing shots again for photography. Perhaps one day we will bite the bullet on one of these.

We hope this blog has been useful for you, good luck with all of your content creation and don't forget to have some fun while you're doing it! 

 

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