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Our Top Camera Gear for Travel Videos & Photography

Our Top Camera Gear for Travel Videos & Photography

***If you’re looking for our more up-to-date camera gear check out the new post and video about our travel camera gear: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/camera-gear-review-2017 

There are no two ways about it, camera technology changes too rapidly for us to keep perfectly up-to-date information with personal musings and videos about each camera and accessory. So in an effort to keep things simple and updated I’ll make sure to link to my newest and most used camera gear right here:

My Video & Photography Gear. Updated 12/2016

Sony a7ii:  https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/sony-a7ii 
Sony 24-70mm f4 Zeiss OSS:  https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/sony-24-70
Sony 70-200 f4 G OSS:  https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/sony-70-200
Sony Gun/Zoom Mic:  https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/sony-gun-zoom-microphone-black (make sure to get the Dead Cat too)
Sony Action Cam AS300:  https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/sony-as300
DJI Phantom 3:  https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/dji-phantom-3-advanced-quadcopter-drone-with-1080p-hd-video-camera
Manfrotto BeFree Live Video Tripod:  https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/manfrotto-befree-tripod-kit
Gorilla Pod Focus with Ballhead X:  https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/gorillapod-focus-x
Sony Action Monopod (Selfie Stick):  https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/sony-selfie-stick

As backup and secondary cameras I’m still using the Sony a6000, 10-18mm f4 OSS lens, 18-105 f4 G OSS, Sony RX100iii, the SJCam 4000 and Feiyu G4 Gimbal.

Here’s the original article if you want to dive into some personal experience and info.

Before we left our home in Dallas, TX I was a professional photographer so I already owned a ton of camera gear to bring along to capture our travels & adventures.  As our travel, video and photography styles have morphed over the past 5+ years I’ve been forced to take a good look at my existing camera gear and focus in on the best cameras & accessories that help me create the highest quality videos and photographs with the smallest footprint.

I remember a huge shift in the early years of digital photography where my colleagues were selling all their Nikon gear and switching to Canon (after the release of the full-frame “prosumer” 5d).  I invested in Canon from the get go so I silently gave myself a pat on the back while I watched all those poor people selling their Nikon gear for a fraction of its worth.  Now I feel another shift is happening with amateurs, travel bloggers and professional photographers alike.  We all demand professional capabilities in a compact body with a firmware that can easily be updated with new features by downloading updates and apps (much like a smartphone).  This is why I’m slowly, and painfully, making the switch to Sony (I gave Canon one last chance in 2014 with the mirrorless EOS m, but they failed me and I ultimately decided to move on).

Enough waxing on from me, the cameras and accessories I’ve featured in the video, and listed below, are in order of what I feel are the best cameras for our style of run and gun shooting for both video and photography.

 

 

I really hope the video above shed a little light on our travel friendly camera gear!  I thought it was really interesting to see the video and hear the audio difference as I switched between the 5d & a6000, it’s the first time I’ve done a back-to-back comparison.  If you feel like sharing, tell me honestly which one you think was better in the comments below.  As I promised in the video you’ll find more details I didn’t cover, my must have extras and a few more opinions on why I chose certain cameras and how I like to use them.

*Technology constantly changes and we can’t film a video each time we add a new piece to our camera gear.  I’ve made a few updates recently so here’s the quick list if you want to do a little research of your own. The links below are to Amazon, if you purchase within 24hrs of clicking we get a small commission and for that we are grateful.  Once we’re settled into the boat I plan to shoot a new video with updates.

  • Sony 10-18mm f4 lens – I needed a wide lens desperately for the tight spaces in the sailboat and it’s worked out well so far: http://amzn.to/29EdkZg
  • Yi Action Camera – This little camera is CHEAP!  It works as well as our other action-type cameras, has a waterproof case, a wireless remote, an app for smart phones and I don’t have to worry about losing it to the water gods. We have the kit with remote and selfie stick: http://amzn.to/29vtTTJ  We also got the floaty handle that gives us more stable underwater footage and keeps the camera from sinking: http://amzn.to/29Egtsn
  • Feiyu G4 Gimbal – With all the bouncing and rocking of the boat we finally bit the bullet and ordered a gimbal for our new Yi Action Cam. Feiyu is pretty much the industry standard and it’s worked well and keeps our footage extremely fluid. There’s a model for most action cameras: http://amzn.to/29vtEYV
  • Joby Gorilla Pod & Head – Mine finally died so I decided to upgrade to the Focus with Ball Head X.  I didn’t like the plastic connection of our old Joby ball head…but I do miss the bubble level.  Tripodhttp://amzn.to/29qPR8q Ball Headhttp://amzn.to/29XHSkP
  • Flexi-Clamp Monopod – With all the angles needed to capture the sails going up, Nikki at the helm, the scary incoming dock walls, etc. I decided carrying a camera in one hand non-stop wasn’t going to be an option, so I bought one of these flexible monopods with clamp.  I bought the knock-off brand but it was a mistake, spend the extra few bucks and get the GoPro version, it is much more solid: http://amzn.to/29qPU41
  • Wind Muff for RX100 – Wind will always an audio destrying issue on the boat. I tracked down a company that makes universal stick on muffs for most of the popular pocket cameras.  The differece between sound with it on and off is unbeliveable, seriously worth every penny (sadly they don’t sell on Amazon): http://micromuff.com/ 

My Top Go To Camera

best small camera for travel

Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Camera with 16-50mm Lens

I picked up this camera with this tiny little lens in a kit, it was my proverbial ‘get my feet wet’ stepping into a new camera brand.  I love the compactness of this camera and lens combo and I feel like it’s an affordable alternative to the typical dSLR, plus its mirrorless which gives this little camera several advantages over its dSLR competitors.  The optical image stabilizer works well, the power zoom is smooth for creating that “Ken Burns Zoom Effect” and I can walk into any situation and not feel like I’m going to offend people with a giant camera.  The AutoFocus is crazy fast, the burst mode captures action way better than my Canon and the multi-shoe is a cool technology feature for adding accessories.  Other neat features I use often are the NFC communication with my cell phone, WiFi, vertical & horizontal panoramic modes and the PlayMemories app that allows me to release the shutter (no more cable release necessary), change settings and see my screen when I’m not standing directly behind the camera.  With the new firmware update I can now capture video in the XAVC-S mode which is higher resolution and better for detail in the shadows and highlights.  I can go on and on with the little details of why I like the a6000 but the biggest advantage to me is its compact size and lighter weight.  I may eventually upgrade and add the Sony a7R II body to my kit, it’s a step up in quality and features from the a6000 but it is a little larger so I’ll likely use it for more professional applications to replace the 5d.

See it in action: www.gonewiththewynns.com/alaska-canada-adventures

Add it to your kit: www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/sony-alpha-a6000-interchangeable-lens-camera-with-16-50mm-power-zoom-lens-white

My Sony a6000 Accessories

I got my feet wet with the little kit lens.  As I used the a6000 and realized it was a valid replacement for my Canon 5dmkiii I quickly set my sights on upgrading the lens.  Coming from Canon I know the “L” series lenses are the best and I knew Sony would make a pro series lens too.  I found this “G” series lens with better glass, an f4 aperture all the way through the zoom, a stronger OSS (Optical Steady Shot) and 2x further zoom than my kit lens.  This is a perfect replacement for my standard Canon “go-to” lens the 24-105mm f4 IS, however this G lens is half the price, it’s more compact and weighs less!  Eventually I’ll purchase a 70-200 f4 G OSS lens for my long lens and a 10-18mm f4 for my wide lens.

See it in action: www.gonewiththewynns.com/best-rv-travel-gifts

Add it to your kit: www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/sony-18-105mm-f4-g

Typically I’m not a fan of UV filters, or putting an extra layer of glass over a quality lens, most higher-end lenses come with a lens hood and that does a fine job of protecting the glass.  I do often use a polarizer to knock down highlights & reflections or to enhance a blue sky, but I only use it when necessary.  There are plenty of cheaper polarizers out there, but not all are created equal, so I make a habit of buying the highest quality filters possible and this B&W polarizer is just that.

See it in action: www.gonewiththewynns.com/best-rv-travel-gifts

Add it to your kit: http://amzn.to/1Io20WV

The audio levels are automatic with this camera which I was bummed about at first because I thought I needed control!  After using this shotgun mic in all different types of situations I’m now extremely happy it automatically adjusts based on the ambient noise.  The absolute best feature of this shotgun mic is there’s no power button!  When you hit record it turns on.  It’s powered by the Multi-Interface Shoe so there’s no worry of a battery going dead in the middle of filming and I don’t have to re-record video because I forgot to turn the mic on!  I recently found a compatible wind muff called the Gutman Windscreen which helps reduce the audio distortion when filming on windy days, it’s a must have for any shotgun mic in my opinion.

Hear it in action with the windscreen: Watch the Video above because it was extremely windy during filming.

Add it to your kit: www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/sony-gun-zoom-microphone-black

Since there is no audio in on the a6000 I can’t use my Sony radio wireless lavaliers, it’s ok because the Multi-Interface Shoe powers this little Bluetooth mic.  It’s way more affordable than my old lavaliere setup and it seems to work well.  I purchased a Giant Squid lav mic that can plug into the transmitter for better audio on windy days or when only one person needs to be mic’d up.

Hear it in action: www.gonewiththewynns.com/best-rv-travel-gifts

Add it to your kit: www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/sony-wireless-microphone-black

Understanding all the ratings and rules about SD cards is equivalent to cracking a cypher, it’s not something I’d wish on anyone!  If you want to shoot video in the XAVC-S mode with a Sony camera you must have a 64GB (or larger) Class 10 UHS-1 (preferably a U-3) 95+MB/s SDXC card.  I chose this exact card: Lexar Pro 1000x 128GB SDXC UHS-II/U3 Card 150MB/s  * I would NOT buy an off-brand card, trust me I’ve made the mistake, I always stick with Lexar or SanDisk.

 

My Second Go To Camera

best small camera

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100

It’s the most expensive point and shoot camera I’ve ever owned, but read the reviews and articles and you’ll see it’s got a cult following!  They say the best camera is the camera you have on you, which I believe 100%, but why not always have an awesome little camera in your pocket?  One of my pet peeves is seeing people with iPads and cell phones capturing family photos, snapping the iconic Yosemite Falls or trying to get up close to snap a photo of a wild bear!  I guess it’s not necessarily a pet peeve I just feel sorry for the future them, what happens when technology changes or they decide to print an image to hang on the wall?  Cell phone photos look great on cell phones, but import them into photo editing software and the image falls apart!  The Sony RX100 captures sharp images, crystal clear XAVC-S HD video, it has a pop-up flash, a viewfinder, a crazy-awesome processor and image sensor.  For those that must have all their images on their cell phone to show friends, or upload to social media, the NFC technology allows me to tap my phone to the camera and it will process the High Resolution RAW images in the camera and send it in a smaller format to my cell phone.  Be the envy of all your friends on Instagram with sharp, vivid and expertly captured images instead of lackluster cell phone photos…I’m just sayin’.  As is typical with digital cameras the technology upgrades rapidly and they’ve got an even newer version of this camera: the RX 100 IV

See it in action: www.gonewiththewynns.com/new-years-eve-in-new-orleans

Add it to your kit: www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/sony-dsc-rx100m-iii-cyber-shot-digital-still-camera

Get the newest version: http://amzn.to/1NdAY5E

 

Good to have in the Camera Kit

best action camera for adventure travel

Action cameras are great tools for action!  We’re gonna go paddleboarding in a glacial lake through icebergs, or we’re going hang-gliding over the coast of California, you get my drift.  They’re lightweight, they are nearly indestructible they can be mounted just about anywhere and they’re tiny.  This should NOT be your main camera!  There are limitations to these guys so if you’re looking for a solid “lifeproof camera” (dust proof, water proof, drop-proof) then go for a rugged point and shoot like the Olympus Tough TG-4 or the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS6, trust me you’ll be much happier with one of these.  If you are looking for that unique action camera perspective here’s what’s in our bag:

I like the built in stabilizer, the sharp Zeiss lens, the NFC connectivity, and most importantly the fact its splash-proof without the submersible case.  The audio works extremely well when it’s not in the case and the vivid setting needs little to no tweaking in Photoshop or Premiere.  If I only need one action camera I typically reach for my Sony because I prefer the shape and functionality of it.  There are lots of Sony specific accessories but I already have a lot of the GoPro mounts so I purchased a GoPro Hero Mount to ¼ inch adapter and it works great.

Add it to your kit: www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/sony-hdr-as100vr-pov-action-video-camera-with-live-view-remote-white

This camera is the status quo when it comes to action cams.  We’ve had three different models now and we’ve liked them all.  The current version is the GoPro Hero 4 Black but you can bet there will be a new one out within a year.  There are so many accessories you can easily blow $1,000 or more outfitting this little guy, so you’ll wanna know exactly what you want before ordering.  I find that we use the suction cup mount most often with the helmet headstrap in a distant second.

Add it to your kit: http://amzn.to/1NdDoB6

See both adventure cameras in action (side by side): www.gonewiththewynns.com/ice-climbing-alaska-tragic-mistake

The Old Reliable Camera

DSLR cameras and travel photography

Canon 5d MKiii

I’m getting ready to list my old faithful camera for sale but it’s surprisingly hard to let go.  I still use my 5d with the 16-35mm f2.8 L lens for capturing stars (and night time-lapse with the Timer Remote Controller) and I use my longer 70-200mm f2.8 IS L lens for capturing wildlife.  Once I get a super wide lens and a telephoto lens for my Sony it’ll likely be bye-bye for me and Canon!  Sorry Canon, I was faithful since day one when I purchased my EOS Elan IIe for my college photography course, but now I feel like you’re resting on your laurels and not in tune to my current needs, especially after your late-to-the-mirrorless-game EOS m flop.

See it in action: www.gonewiththewynns.com/boondocking-video

Add it to your kit: www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/canon-eos-5d-mark-iii-with-ef-24-105mm-f4-l-is-usm-lens

Get the newest version: http://amzn.to/1NdFdhs

 

Quadcopter Drone with Camera

travel photo and video quadcopter

DJI Phantom 3

This is my first drone, heck, it’s my first RC anything since I was in elementary school!  The feeling of excitement, fear, terror and awe all combine to make flying this camera with wings a unique experience.  I practice when I can and it’s a blast to fly and play around with.  For now it’s just an extremely expensive toy, however when I get better it will turn into an extremely useful tool in capturing amazing photography and video.  We chose the “Advanced” model since none of our other cameras are 4k, but if you need the highest resolution you’ll want to spend the extra cash and go for the DJI Phantom 3 Pro.  I’m not sure why people have such a hate for quadcopters (aka drones) but I think it’s a great tool for an affordable aerial perspective.  If you fly it within your limits, away from other people and in areas where it’s legal to fly then it shouldn’t bother anyone.

Accessories:  Battery life is only around 15 minutes so you’ll want at least one extra battery.  You’ll also need a compatible cell phone or tablet to view what the drone is filming.

See it in action: Trona Pinnacles – Unearthly Wild Camping: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/trona-pinnacles-wild-camping 

Add it to you kit: www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/dji-phantom-3-advanced-quadcopter-drone-with-1080p-hd-video-camera

 

 

The Necessary Extras

travel camera accessories

Tripods, Selfie Stick & Gimbal:

It’s almost dead, after a solid 5 years of abuse I’m finally going to be forced to purchase another mini tripod and it’s most likely going to be this same model.  The flexible legs can be wrapped around any tree, pole, trashcan, bench…you get the point.  This tripod goes on every hike with us, I use it for a mini-selfie stick, a low ground perspective to show our surroundings and as a mini stabilizer.  Accessory: The ball head is a must and I’m not sure why they even sell it without one.

Add it to your kit: www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/joby-gp3-gorillapod

In the beginning I used to hike with an aluminum tripod, after a year and hundreds of miles of trails I decided to invest in a quality Carbon Fiber Tripod.  Gitzo is the top tripod manufacturer for professional photographers, it’s more expensive than most but they are built to last.  I feel the investment is worth every penny and I think nearly 5 years of constant shaking in an RV plus hundreds of hours of use are a testament to the quality.  You’ll also want a good tripod head, if you’re photograph only I’d go for the 3 Way Head with Retractable Levers but if you’re a photography-video hybrid traveler like us you’ll want a good “fluid” head like the Manfrotto 055 Photo-Movie The fluid head allows for smooth panning & tilting for videos and flip the switch and the camera can quickly go from the wide landscape to the vertical portrait style.

Add it to your kit: www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/gitzo-traveler-tripod-black

Sony doesn’t call it a selfie stick but that’s exactly what it is!  We’ve put this “monopod” in salt water, sand, nearly freezing rivers, mineral hot springs and everything in-between on our Alaska Bound Travels.  I’m happy to report it still works as well as the day I opened the package, which is a lot more than I can say about the other one I bought that completely fell apart after one use during the Midnight Sun Run in Fairbanks, AK.  If you watch the video it’s obvious I have an affinity for the selfie stick.

Add it to your kit: http://amzn.to/1TixsMr

  • CAME-TV Single 3 Axis Gimbal

Once I purchased the DJI Quadcopter I realized a Gimbal does AMAZING things to video footage!  Before we left for Alaska I searched high and low for a gimbal that could support my little Sony RX100 point and shoot but I couldn’t find anything!  I found plenty of gimbals for the GoPro and Sony Action Cam, and I found several 2 handed gimbals that were made for the Canon 5dmkiii, but literally nothing in between.  So I went without a gimbal and every time I watch my footage from Alaska I wish I would have had one.  As we were finishing up the Alaska trip I found a single handed gimbal that was made for small dSLR and mirrorless cameras, it’s specifically recommended for the Sony A7.  After a little research I ordered it for a job we were hired for in Williamsburg, VA.  It worked great!  I recently used it for our Holiday Gift Giving Ideas video and you can see the fluid pushes and pulls it provides.  It’s a wonderful tool but I can’t say it’s a necessary one for most travelers.  While it does work with our a6000 and the 18-105mm f4 lens it actually balances better with the smaller kit lens (or with an a7).  Don’t get me wrong I am 100% satisfied with the quality I’m just leery to recommend this as a piece of equipment you need to invest in, it may be something you want though.

See it in action: www.gonewiththewynns.com/best-rv-travel-gifts

Add it to your kit: www.came-tv.com/camesingle-3-axis-gimbal-camera-32bit-boards-with-encoders-p-673.html

Sony Action Cam Gimbal: http://amzn.to/1joLBea

GoPro Hero Gimbal: http://amzn.to/1TixJiz

  • Slider and Steady Cam

Over the years I’ve purchased both (Glidetrack Hybrid Slider and Glidecam HD-2000 Stabilizer) they are just too much of a pain in the butt for me to use, in fact I need to list them for sale before they are completely obsolete.  Sure my gimbal listed above is more expensive but it does what these things do and a lot more with very little setup or maintenance involved.

 

Audio Gear

Leftover from my Canon Setup we still use the RODE VidMic Pro and the Zoom H4n to record voice over when necessary.  I also have a Juiced Link portable mixer that’s just gathering dust at the moment, it worked great but my small Multi-Interface audio tools from Sony are better for my current needs.

 

Gear Bags

I have a big backpack that holds everything that I’ll take on longer hikes.  It has cup holders, a tripod strap, a rain fly and more than enough space to cram snacks and an emergency kit as well as all my camera gear.  I’ve had the Lowepro Flipside Backpack for 5 years now and I love it.

If we’re just going out and about I’ll pack a small camera bag (like this Lowepro Adventura 170 Shoulder Bag) with the necessities like extra batteries, cards, poralizer and maybe a spare lens.

 

Computers and Editing Programs

RV workstation

This is mainly a post about my camera gear but I’ll inevitably get asked about programs and computers so I’ll quickly touch on these:

MSI makes some of the best gaming laptops and this translates to a killer video and photo editing machine.  Thin, amazing keyboard, 4 hard drives with RAID, a giant video card with dedicated memory, Intel Core i7 processors and 17” matte screen are all reasons I purchased this machine.  We looked at Mac laptops but they can’t come close to the same performance specs.  Can’t wait to see what they do when the next version is launched in 2016.

Add it to your kit: http://amzn.to/1U3bYaC

A few weeks ago Intel launched their gen 6 SkyLake processors built for Windows 10 and MSI was the first to build a high powered laptop with all the latest tech.  Nikki had been using the Microsoft Surface Pro for image editing but with every Lightroom update the tablet lagged more and more, desperately needing a dedicated video card (which they offer now in the newest Microsoft Surface Book).  For the same price as a new Surface Pro she opted for the MSI Ghost Pro for similar reasons I’ve listed above with my laptop.  Sadly we needed a new laptop now, otherwise she would have waited for the 14” version to be released.

Add it to your kit: http://amzn.to/1Qv3O87

Add the 14” to your kit: http://amzn.to/1joOw6A

  • Laptop Accessories

The Cooler Master Storm Laptop Cooling Pad helps keep my computer running cool but most importantly it supports my giant 17” screen and gets it off the desk for a better viewing angle.  If you do a lot of work on a laptop this is a worthy investment.  I also use a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard to make typing and navigating easier.  I also have nice headphones for video editing, I use the Beats by Dre Noise Cancelling headphones but there are plenty of other options out there.

  • Backup Hard Drives

I’ve always ended up purchasing the Western Digital and Seagate brands, not sure why, but as I look back they’re all one of these two brands.  I used to go for the desktop backup hard drives but recently I’ve decided space inside the RV comes at the biggest premium and all my 2015 hard drive purchases have been the smaller size external hard drives.  The best benefits of the smaller Hard drives is they don’t need an extra power supply, they take up less space in the RV and I can purchase a shockproof case to keep it in.

Add it to your kit: http://amzn.to/1RbNvN6

  • ASUS PA248Q LED IPS 24.1″ Monitor

It’s a giant screen made for professional graphic artists and photographers.  IPS is the best screen type for extreme angle viewing and proper color rendering.  Having two monitors allows Nikki to edit and process images more quickly thanks to the larger viewing area and two screen integration in Lightroom.

Add it to your kit: http://amzn.to/1hXxw7u

Coming from a photography background I was already familiar with Photoshop and the tools and layout in Premiere Pro have a similar feel.  If you’re new to video editing Premiere Pro can be overwhelming to learn so you may want to start with iMovie or Windows Movie Maker or something similar.  I believe Sony even gives a free video editing software with their cameras.  Video editing is not a passion of mine because I’m not a fan of sitting at the computer, but it is challenging and I do my best to learn new tricks here and there so I don’t get in an editing “rut”.  Premiere works well for me and at the time I purchased it Final Cut X was a total disaster so there were plenty of people making the switch from the Apple programs and therefor loads of new video tutorials being put out by Adobe.  If I can provide one tip about video editing software:  download the free trial version and watch as many tutorials as possible before diving into the full program or the CC subscription.

Add Premiere Pro CC to your kit: http://amzn.to/1JRiCfr

Add the full Adobe CC suite to your kit: http://amzn.to/1RbNZmm

Nikki uses Lighroom for image organizing, editing, color corrections and minor artwork (burning, dodging, clone tool, HDR Merge, watermarks, etc).  In most cases she can do 100% of her work in Lightroom with only the occasional need for Adobe Photoshop.  With the Adobe Creative Cloud you can get both programs for a few bucks per month, but make sure you download the free trial first.

Add the CC Photography Plan to you kit: http://amzn.to/1NgV9UN

It’s a series of plugins made for video editing that allow us enhanced control with color corrections, vignettes, sharpening and other tools to create more vivid videos.  I purchased this a few years ago when it was offered at 50% off for the holidays, it’s been a great investment and a tool that we use on every one of our videos.

Add Magic Bullet to you kit: http://amzn.to/1RbOhJO

 

 

If you want to read more about my original gear list, and how I felt about my Canon gear when we first hit the road I shared that here: www.gonewiththewynns.com/hd-video-secrets

 

When I began making notes for this article and video I told myself I’d keep it simple and basic…well, so much for that!  I hope I didn’t talk you in circles, or confuse you to the point of apathy, that was not my intention at all.  For all the prosumers, travelers, amateurs and anyone that wants to take quality photos and videos but not lug around multiple devices (or a giant one) here’s my two sentence sum-up:

 

Buy a compact mirrorless camera!  Start with the basic model and upgrade lenses and attachments as you need them.  I like the functionality of my Sony a6000 and with the accessories I feel like it’s the perfect camera for all my video and photography needs. 

 

I hope all my ramblings and experiences have helped find the perfect camera for you.  In the comments below please tell me your thoughts, share your favorite camera setup and let me know if you have any questions, if I can’t answer them maybe someone else can.

 

Disclaimer:  Nobody paid for this article to be written and these are not paid endorsements.  All recommendations are based on our experiences and are shared solely as our opinions. Many of the links above are to Amazon, or our Awesome Travel Store, use these links for research, pricing and reviews…and if you click from our site and purchase within 24hrs we get a small commission and we thank you for it, from the bottom of our hearts. 🙂

Famous for my "how-not-to" videos, and typically the man behind the camera, sometimes I’m forced to be here in the “spotlight”. When you see my face you’re probably reading something more technical than adventurous, but either way I do my best to tell it like it is and infuse my opinions into the commentary…after all this is a blog and not MSN.

Comments (82)

  • Hi Jason,
    If you do let your trusty Canon go for cheap, I hope you let us know. We recently purchased a canon 80D last xmas as a gift to ourselves. We wanted to start a website and Youtube channel with some videos, and are working towards sailing in the next 2-5 years depending on College costs for our boys (currently a Junior and a Senior in high school). I don’t know if we are ready to jump ship with the Canon and go Sony, but it sounds like we will eventually need to if Canon doesn’t catch up. The good news for us, is we have time before we get to that level.

    On a side note, and hopefully useful for you and Nikki, we have recently purchased some lapel mics from Amazon, to use as audio with our Iphones, since sometimes the camera mics are not that great. It seems to work really well, when we edit it together afterwards. Something you might want to consider. Here’s the link:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016C4ZG74/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    Happy Sailing looking forward to your panama crossing! You give us hope that we can do it too! Hope to see you on the big blue some day.

    reply
  • HI Jason and Nikki,
    I certainly appreciate all the information on the video and audio production.
    I had a recording studio a few years back where I used a program called Protools. It came with a video editing program that didn’t work so well. We used the Protools and the associated video editing software to produce safety videos for the company I worked with at the time. (I managed the Engineering, Maintenance and Safety groups) Currently I use a program called Power Director and no longer use Protools. My program is a couple years old and will need to upgrade in another year or so when we set out on our boating adventure (following in your footsteps). I am going to check out your software but was wondering if you had any experience with Power Director so I can compare the two.

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  • Jodi spragins

    Love your photography and videos! One thing that drives me nuts about photography gear is the never-ending need to upgrade. Always feels like as soon as i spring for a major investment something incredibly better comes out not long after. What do you do with your old gear? How long do you expect to keep a camera before replacing it? Thank you and fair winds!

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  • Absolutely fantastic information. You guys are doing something similar to me, but at a much better level. I also run a Youtube channel, with fans always commenting “how i’m living the dream.” Like you said, people don’t understand the sacrifice to make the video stories and run the social media effort. Fan interaction is a full time job by itself, with no pay, but fan donations keep us smiling.
    I was curious about your camera/ computer setup, so thank you for publishing this information. I will use your link to purchase the Cooling Master storm laptop holder. I am looking to live on the road in a 40′ diesel pusher travelling track to track teaching Rider Training and racing with the proceeds. I figured i’d remove a couch to install a large desk to have my computer editing station. But your strategy of running a high performance laptop with a external 23” monitor on the dinner table could work also.
    What i’m really curious about is how I can boondock with such a big rig between the trackdays. A 40’+ diesel pusher pulling a 18′ trailer makes things difficult, so I am indeed afraid of making the “leap” away from a rental home base, and living full time on the road. If you have any suggestions I will listen.

    Cheers

    Marcel Irnie
    http://www.youtube.com/irnieracing (Youtube)
    http://www.fb.com/wbmotors (World’s Best Motorcycles)
    http://www.fb.com/irnieracing (Personal FB Page)

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  • After previously ordering the Sony still (A6000) AND action cams we noticed a significant uptick in the quality of our videos. Just ordered the Gimble to take the shake out of our game. Now if we could just do something about the producers!! Appreciate the sound advice and quality of your recommendations!

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  • Hey Jason, I was wondering if you used the default picture styles on your 5D when filming or if you modified them. Have you tried Cinestyle or Marvels or maybe just changed some settings on the standard or neutral picture style that the 5D already has? Good job on the vids BTW!

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  • Back on the RV side, do you have any suggestions on reducing vibration for small cameras such as GoPro or other small cameras when mounted inside the the RV such as a windshield mount looking forward and/or a camrea capturing the pilot talking? I am getting a lot of vibration on my GoPro that faces me and my little Canon that faces forward. The GoPro is mounted on the side window and the Canon is mounted on the windshield.
    Thanks.

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  • Bruce

    Thank you guys fantastic webpage and terrific vids really looking forward to following on your travels.

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  • Hi Jason, I am reviewing this post (again) as I review my photo/video setup (again) and am stuck so thought I’d reach out to you for your honest advice…..We blog and vlog and continue to grow, learn and improve, yet I like to keep things simple and compact. Recently bought a Sony RX100 M2 with Hotshoe for Sony Gun Zoom Mic and windshield (love it, thank you!) so we could have a great quality compact camera and decent audio too. Really am loving this camera/photo/video quality EXCEPT it doesn’t have the 180 degree flip screen – we have to take an ‘educated guess’ if we’re in the shot while walking and talking (selfie style) so it works OK but isn’t ideal. I’m still in the 90 day trial period of the camera and considering returning it to get the Sony RX 100 M3 instead (don’t think I need to spring the extra $$$for an M4). Of course, the drawback of the RX100 M3 is it doesn’t have a hotshoe/external mic option, which means Audio quality will suffer. I am also tempted by the A6000 (or 5000) which Peter and John (RVGeeks) recently recommended this to us when we met up with them in Australia – and thinking I could use that one with the Gun Zoom Mic, use the RX100 M3 for out and about and just suck up the lesser audio quality (is the A6000 compact enough for an everyday like the RX100?) OR do I just keep things SUPER simple, suck up the fact I don’t have a 180 tilt screen and KEEP the Sony RX100 M2 with the Hotshoe and Windshield (all for under under $500)… compared with shifting to an A6000 (hot mic input) + RX100 M3 combo (total $1,500 investment) yes, an extra $1K… hmmm is it worth it!? What would be your advice – is the convenience of the 180 flip screen worth it on the RX100 M3 even with the loss of the Audio (Hotshoe Mic option) or the M2 or do you find the M3 audio sufficient on this camera for vlogging purposes? Honestly, if Sony made the RX100 with a flip screen and Mic input that would be my simplest holy grail! But alas, they do not (yet).

    For what purposes (mainly) do you use the A6000 more often over the RX100 M3? I am struggling with the idea of keeping vs returning the Sony RX100 M2 with hotshoe and just taking the next step up (in terms of both equipment and investment to M3 and/or A6000). Thanks in advance for any insight / advice you can share. Happy sailing to you both, glad to see you loving your new adventure!

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  • Thanks for the details, but I still have one question: how do you frame your shot when shooting “selfie-style” video? Thanks.

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  • Sean

    Thanks for always giving us your effort in documenting and editing your life adventures for all who are interested to see and learn from. My dream has always been to own and operate a form of transportation for every land mass. Having joined your list of followers has made me realize that I want to document this road I am about to travel. I don’t want to become a photographer, but your insight has proven valuable. My first 2 purchases were the RX100 IV and ActionCam HS200V…good choices since they both take the same battery! Keep up the good work.

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  • Stuart

    My wife and I are looking to get the A6000- just can’t afford the 6300- because you can’t JUST get the camera. all the accessories make it add up quick! Anyways- when using the wireless mic does it pick up both of your voices well or just the person wearing it? Also does the wireless mic pick up the engine noise too much in the RV? Just trying to figure out what will suite our needs best. Thanks a lot!

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    • The wireless mic picks up everything…so we find it doesn’t work as well when driving down the road. We use our shotgun mic with a dead cat for almost 100% of our filming. It seems to work the best, it’s simple, always on which means no fuss, no muss.

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      • Stuart

        Awesome! Thanks for the quick reply- love your videos and can’t wait to see you guys in a boat in the (hopefully) near future!

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  • Chris B

    Jason, I bought a Sony Action Cam based upon your video, but have noticed when using the selfie stick that came with it, the sound it makes when I twist the stick in my hand to get different shots actually drowns out any audio. It’s really annoying and ruins any good footage we get. Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated.

    On another note, if you guys are still in the Palm Beach County area, our kids would love to meet you. We watch all your stuff as a family and will be going full time in 10 months when I retire from law enforcement after 30 years. In any event, thanks for all your work!

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  • Ron L

    Jason,
    Thanks for all the info on your tech goodies. I’ve been researching DSLRs for a while but your enthusiasm for the A6000 made me slow down & re-evaluate. I’ve found fantastic reviews almost everywhere for the Sony. However, given your comments on the Canon M3, I expected to see it ravaged in reviews – but that doesn’t seem to be the case (ie: http://cameradecision.com/compare/Canon-EOS-M3-vs-Sony-Alpha-a6000). Given your investment in Canon lenses (which supposedly work w/ a small adapter), what negatives did you find with the Canon that kept you away?

    As another person already noted there are no good telephoto options for the Sony so I’m still leaning toward the Canon (probably DSLR for primary) but am curious about the EOS M3 downsides for my secondary / backup camera.

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    • Steve

      The new A6300 paired with a Metabones Mark IV adapter looks like a killer combo for folks holding Canon glass!

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  • Fred from Boston

    Hi Jason, I watched this video when you first released it and not only did it inspire me but it got me to go out and get back into photography. I promptly researched the A-6000 and decided to make the purchase. I love this little camera, BUT after shooting with the the two kit lenses that came with my package I am now realizing that I need a longer focal length zoom in the 300mm range for wildlife type shooting. Trying to find either a Sony or 3rd party lense in this range – and keeping the OSS or AF functions that makes this a great camera have proven to be a challenge. Have you found or can you recommend a lense that will give me this functionality on the A6000?
    The camera shop that I deal wth is telling me that Sony (Minolta) has nothing in the pipe line for the APS-C format that will do this and preserve full functions. He is willing to fully refund my purchase and is recommending the Nikon D55 which has tons of lense options available,,, all at a reasonable price.
    I am torn here and would love to know what you would recommend.
    BTW I love following your and Nikki’s adventures and hope to be in a class A within the next year.
    Thanks

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  • gil

    hello Jason –
    i’d like to know your opinion
    i am a enthusiastic amateur and have been using mainly 2 different Panasonic point and shoot cameras – the most recent being a ZS8 Lumix, it has a 16x zoom. i take a lot of pictures – i have about 15,000 stored and in my iPhoto account. i do a bit of everything with it – indoor/outdoor, people, our cats, wildlife, boating, sunsets etc, etc.
    is the step up to the A6000 justifiable if i almost will be doing strictly point and shoot?

    tks for your input!

    gil

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  • Drones! Yeah! I’ve had my DJI Phantom 2 Vision for a couple of years. I’m not a photo guru like you but have made a couple of neat videos and done some photogrammetry and 3D overlays on Google Earth. Cool Stuff.
    Recommend Android App called “Hover” for flight safety information before flying (K-index, local airport proximity, wind info, I’m sure there are Apple equivalents).
    Never fly with k-index greater than 4 (means earths magnetic field is squirrely and could foul up your gps and cause crash – boom!)
    Can’t wait to see some drone footage!
    (P.S. Heading to Bakersfield to visit family – hope we see you on the road)

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  • Michael

    Excellent job Jason – covering gear is a tough topic yet one followers love to know other views. I was particularly interested on your choice of the MSI GS70-096 Crimson for PP CC. I’m still hanging onto my 5DM3 waiting for Canon to someday release a worthy competitor to the Sony A7R2 and/or S2 (hope rings eternal). And you’re right on regarding the time it takes to master drone technology, flying and shooting – I’d be embarrassed to share the time I’ve spend on my Phantoms! Hope we can rendezvous when you’re in our neck of the woods (Sonoma County).
    Michael and Grace

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  • stefan

    Jason, you are the wrong person to do this review. Since I’m not a photographer and I can barely use a point & shoot, it would have been better coming from Niki
    I’m getting ready to go full time and I am looking to buy a camera that will take great pictures. I am looking for the best camera for dummies

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  • Bob Williams

    Jason,
    I was considering getting the A6000 as a Christmas present for myself then I saw a post that Sony will be releasing the a7000 is early 2016! Think I will hold off on the purchase for now and wanted to alert other potential buyers that a new version will be release “Real Soon Now” 🙂 Your Thoughts?

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  • BobW

    Jason,

    Thanks for a GREAT review on your photo equipment! Since we will be going fulltime in 2 years I am looking to downsize my studio equipment as well. Sounds like the a6000 is the way to go. Like you I am getting tired of carrying around my ‘big gun’ DSLR and all the lenses. Couple of questions:
    1. Do you know if Sony is coming out with a follow-on to the a6000 (and if so, will it be worth the upgrade?)
    2. What is the maximum focal length lens you can get for the a6000? I’d like to completely ditch my DSLR but, like you, want to shoot wildlife from discreet distances 😉

    Backup Camera. OUCH! You are right that Sony CyberShot is ‘spensive! For a camera always on your person camera, what do you think of the DXO One?

    Drone: Early adopter of drone technology. AMAZING stuff; you will love the photos and videos. When you were in Alaska, did you see anyone flying drones to photograph landscape and more importantly wildlife? I can imagine AMAZING photos and videos being taken of bears fishing and moose meandering! Are there regulations? Will the Rangers permit it? Any thoughts or links you can share will be appreciated!

    Finally, don’t forget to register your drone on 21 DEC. Register then and you get the $5 license fee waived.
    https://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/

    Again, thanks for all the videos you guys post – we have seen every one of your Alaskan adventure and look forward to many more as we prep for fulltiming!

    Cheers,

    Bob

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  • Bob

    You mentioned using hard drive backups. Do you backup offsite also?
    If so how? BTW love your content.

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      • BobW

        When you have access to a high speed internet connection, you may want to investigate Amazon Cloud Drive Unlimited Everything plan. At $60/year it beats the pants off of any other cloud storage plan out there. Granted this solution won’t work so well to back up large files when you are on a CG WiFi. For personal cloud backup, you might want to consider a Drobo [www.drobo.com]

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  • Judy

    I was considering Nikon D750. After reading your thoughts, I’m reconsidering. What’s your opinion? Is mirrorless the way to go?

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  • Hey you two,
    I love all your videos/photos, they are so inspiring. I gotta tell you though, this was (to me anyway) the most educational of all. My wife is going to kill me if I buy another camera, but I think I have to go with the Sony a6000. I didn’t realize how great it works.
    Thanks again for all you do and just keep enjoying life,
    Scott

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  • John Puccetti

    Love your expertise with cameras. I think California will be the first state to place heavy regulations on drones. How come no more locator map showing where you are?

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    • Hey John, we’re not in hiding. 🙂 We are having some issues with our site and removed the map temporarily. It will be back.

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  • Looks great Jason! Mirrorless cameras are just fantastic. I used to own a Canon kit but recently sold all of it and purchased a Panasonic GX7 which is very similar to the a6000. It has worked great for me as I use it for my own personal use and even the occasional paid shoot that I do. I completely understand why you enjoy that a6000 so much.

    Question, if you bump up to the a7 at some point, will you get the 24-70 f/4? I ask because the 18-105 f/4 is for APS-C and would be cropped on the fullframe a7.

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  • Gary Usher

    Good stuff, thanks! The dji is #1 on my Christmas wish list. Can’t wait to see your aerial videos.

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  • Sam Walker

    Hi Jason and Nikki. Thanks for this update on your photo and support equipment. I got a recommendation on the A-6000 from a pro photographer while riding Amtrak this past summer. I am totally stoked that your choice is the same. That locks it up for me. We recently retired and I have been thinking about getting back into photography. (I have a gazillion shots on my phone already) Time to move up.

    The support stuffs are also important. With so many products on the market, it is difficult to separate the good stuff from the not so good stuff. Awesome that you included links and part numbers. You two are the best.

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  • Julia jump

    Don’t you dare sell that “old reliable” mark iii. It’s not even old!!!! I just gave the original 5d you sold me to an aspiring photography friend! Now THAT is old and yes, still reliable. I am interested which images are your sony and which are your canon. I would be interested to compare. Can’t believe you are a sony guy now!

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  • Cameron

    Great article guys!

    The color looks different on my screens between the Canon and the Sony. Do you color correct your displays to sRGB? Do the MSI notebooks have a TN screen, or a IPS screen? Usually the “gamer” notebooks trade raw power for color fidelity, color pallete, and viewing angle.

    Did you try disabling graphics accelerator in Lightroom before she switched to that mondo desktop replacement botebook? Adobe actually says it may be slower to use GPU acceleration for screens less than Retina/4K/5K:

    http://petapixel.com/2015/05/08/why-your-lightroom-cc-may-actually-be-slower-with-the-new-gpu-acceleration/

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  • Love hearing about your gear! Now, if I could just talk you into some tutorials on he to shoot night skies!! I’m no pro and our blog is really just a scrapbook for us. I use a Pentax KS2 because it’s weather proof and we hike a lot. Thanks for the great info!

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      • Awesome! Thanks for the quick tip!! We’re in New Mexico and will be near some nice dark skies so I’ll give it a try!!

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  • jack macdonald

    Great stuff, Jason. Two questions:
    – how do you actually use the A6000 for still photos? Do you hold it to your eye like a DSLR (looks like it has a viewfinder), or do you hold it at arms length like a cellphone? If the latter, how do you find the relative stability?

    – what mic did you use for the video? Video seems to state it was the on-camera mic, but is it really that good at suppressing wind noise and picking up your voice over that distance? You don’t appear to have a hidden lav mic. Sound is impressive in the video, considering the amount of wind you were dealing with.

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  • Hey Jason, great video. I’m curious, why not the Sony A7? I am also a Canon user, but am thinking of going to Sony. One of my concerns is workflow. In order to use the footage from a Sony camera, do you have to convert it to MOV for FCPX? If so, how much of a pain is that?

    Regarding tools for your kit…I highly recommend a handheld gimbal for the GoPro…you’ll find some really cool and creative uses. I also have a gimbal for the suction mount for my vehicle or helmet that really helps with the stabilization. Also, you have to start using the quad-copter! So many cool angles and footage that can be captured with it and integrated into your videos. For starters…you could have it follow you as you guys are driving down the road. Could be some awesome shots there.

    Anyhow, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the A7 and the reasons you went with the a6000 and the RX100? I am still educating myself on the Sony products.

    Thanks,
    Mike

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  • Great presentation Jason. I value your unbiased equipment opinions. And as you say, the finished product is more than an expensive camera. I really don’t see an quality difference between the Canon 5D and the Sony A6000.

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    • I disagree… I thought when he switched from the A6000 to the 5D, that the video quality was diminished.

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  • Thanks Jason. I’ve been wondering what your current setup consists of. I love my Canon 60d with the various lenses and use Adobe CS & Lightroom too for photo & video editing and cataloging. One of my buddies switched to Sony for the same reasons you did and has never looked back. We have a second gen Hero that is probably in need of an upgrade if I do more video. Video takes more time, but I think it’s a way to engage our grandkids while we travel. I’ll re-read this post and drool some more. I especially like your links to the actual use of the device – very helpful.

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  • By the way curious where you typically go to sell your old gear. eBay? Adorama? I’ve got an old body I’ll need to sell soon.

    Nina

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  • Corinne

    Great article. I’m in the market for a new camera…I think you just helped me out with the Sony Alpha recommendation. On a related topic, what do you use for you dash-cam? I am in the market for one of those too.

    Keep up the great work. I LOVE your content.

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    • Thanks! We use our action cams with the suction cup mount for that type of footage…just one more excellent use of an action cam!

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  • Great post. Ive been wondering which color correction tool you use, along with your laptop specs. Your videos look fantastic. We agree that that macs are completely overpriced for what they are.

    We agree, canon is falling so far behind. We shoot with a panasonic g7 and the new Sony a7sii. Sony is really stepping up and offering some great products.

    Thanks for a super informative post. I need a new lightweight tripod and I’ve been wondering how the gitzo stacks up.

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  • Love to talk Camera gear! I’ve been Nikon for a long time, but I’ve yet to go full-frame and I’m very curious about mirrorless so I may check out the Sony. I do feel they’ve jumped ahead on this.

    For pocket camera I recently upgraded to the Canon G7X. It was a dead tie (for me) between the canon and the Sony RX100. I waffled a bit, but ended up with the Canon. Both are outstanding pocket cameras.

    Oh and I love my Gitzo tripod. Had it over 10 years and still love it.

    Nina

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  • Debbie LaFleiche

    Thanks Jason. I loved the post. I’m planning on purchasing a camera in the next year or so and this was incredibly helpful. I’ve seen many of the positive reviews you mentioned regarding the Sony RX100 so it’s been at the top of my list for a while now. You two shoot really beautiful photos and video so I trust your recommendations.

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  • Paul Green

    Cool video Jason. I used a Nikon D80 for the first half-dozen years after we started RVing. But switched to the Sony RX100 when the first version came out a few years ago. It’s a fantastic camera for stills and AVCHD video – if it only had an aux mic input it would be perfect. For video with high quality sound I did buy a Cannon XA-10. Which has dual mic inputs (cannon plugs) and a small mixer. It even has phantom power for powered mics. I use the Wireless Bluetooth mics like yours and like them – but if used at the same time with wired mics you notice a bit of latency delay between the BT mics and the wired mics. Thanks for the update on your gear. But we all know it’s not the nice gear that’s making your great shots and vids – it’s your great natural photo talent.

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  • Melinda

    Have you thought about offering some online photography classes for beginner travelers? I am considering getting the A6000 because of your recommendation and the research that your “favorite things” blog generated for me. I am not an RVer, but we do travel a lot and I have been using my iPhone 6 plus which takes great pictures and it is easy to transport, but thinking I may want to go to the next step .If I do that though will probably need some lessons.

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