HD Video dSLR Camera Setup

Secrets to DSLR HD Video on the Road

My Camera Gear has been updated, you can find it in two spots: The Article – and Our Gear Store –

I’ve received many requests from readers to give the scoop on my lightweight camera setup for capturing HD video and photography on the road. I’ve had this basic lightweight DSLR HD Camera gear and Sound equipment since day one of this website and it works well (for me at least). I get lots of questions from: How do you capture such clear HD video? The audio on your camera sounds great, how can I do that? Does it take a lot of equipment to shoot on the road full time? How long have you been shooting video? What is the Best Lightweight Camera for Shooting HD Video and Photography? ….. and so on.

One of my favorite things to tell people is “the best camera in the world is the one you have on you“. Now over the years this quote has become less effective of a statement with the invent of cell phone cameras, I guess the quote could be “The best camera in the world is the camera you have on you, not including a cell phone”.

First things first, if you have never watched any of our travel videos, take the time to watch this one!  It’s our 2011 Adventure Reel.



Let me begin by telling you a secret:

I started shooting video Summer 2010. I only shot a few videos in 2010, so basically I’ve learned how to shoot video, capture sound, produce & edit digital video in a relative short time (the bulk of my shooting came when we hit the road full-time in February 2011).  So needless to say it’s been a total learning experience!


August 2015 Update: Big Camera Changes

Camera technology for video and stills keeps moving at a ridiculous pace, its really unbelievable.  I’ve recently swapped a good portion of my gear from Canon and GoPro over to Sony and that’s the camera gear we’ve been filming all our Alaska Adventures.

I promise I’ll update this post, or create an entirely new article and video, once we get back to the lower 48.  I’ve learned so much over the past few months about finding a balance between capturing quality photographs plus HD video and not breaking my back with a giant dSLR.  I truly think we’ve found a happy medium with our camera gear, so for now here are the products I’m currently using MOST often:


Quadcopter Drone with Camera:

Tripods & Selfie Stick:




January 2015 Update: New Pocket Camera and a Killer Computer

Camera: After 4 years of full-time travel attempting to document everything in photographs, videos and writing I’ve decided to try something new. Sure a DSLR is smaller than an old school HD video camera, but I’m tired of toting around a big, bulky and very obvious camera everywhere we go! Who wants to live every moment of their life behind a giant camera rig? So after Christmas 2014 we ordered a new point and shoot that’s received tons of awards and has glowing reviews online: Sony RX100M III Cyber-Shot

In the past couple weeks I’ve filmed 2 videos exclusively with this little camera: NYE in New Orleans and our Happy Holidays and 2015 Plans. Maybe the sound isn’t quite as good, maybe I can’t rack focus the same, maybe the color isn’t as true…but the benefits way make up for where it lacks: It’s literally a fraction of the size and weight, it has a pop-up flash and viewfinder, it fits in my pocket or Nikki’s handbag, when I walk into a business people don’t look at me crazy, it’s amazing in low light situations and most importantly I can shoot on the fly without having to spend time “setting up the shot”. Here’s the Amazon links to my new favorite casual shooting setup:

I still love my more professional setup, and if someone’s hiring us to film a video, or if I need to have a top quality shot I’ll still use my dSLR setup, but either way it’s nice to have a casual, high quality “go-to” pocket camera. I’ll continue using this new camera over the next few months and I’ll report back with more likes and dislikes.

New Computer: Since the beginning of our travels I’ve always just used a nice HP computer that could be purchased from any retailer, spending around $1,000 or less. This Christmas I decided to upgrade my nearly 3 year old setup with one that would process videos faster, effectively saving me time and money.

I bit the bullet and spent some money on my new laptop, but it has proven to be worth EVERY PENNY! Amazing Screen, solid keyboard, 4 hard drives built in including 3 crazy fast SSD drives, 6GB NVidia Video card…the list goes on! To give you an idea this new laptop will process a 5 minute video in an hour vs. my old computer which took all night long. If you haven’t heard of CUDA cores in a graphics card make sure you do a search online for “CUDA and Adobe” before purchasing a new computer, it means rendering is a thing of the past! Worth every penny!!!!
We also got Nikki a huge color corrected IPS monitor that looks amazing, it’s extremely helpful for editing photographs in Lightroom and Photoshop (especially since she has a tiny Surface Pro tablet/computer). BTW – If you’re thinking a Mac would be good…you can’t get a similar wicked fast setup with an Apple laptop…just sayin’.


As for my dSLR HD video setup it’s pretty basic, the long and the short of it is: Canon digital SLR! (and NO Canon is not paying me to write this post, or RODE or GoPro, this is really the gear I’ve purchased with my own hard earned cash).

My go-to rig for shooting High Quality “on the fly” HD video using a digital SLR:

HD Video dSLR Camera Setup

HD Video dSLR Camera Setup

Canon 5d Mark II *replaced
Canon 5d Mark III
Canon EF24-105mm f4 IS L USM Lens
Rode VideoMic Shotgun Microphone with Dead Cat *replaced
RODE VideoMic Pro Shotgun Microphone
Gitzo Carbon Fiber GT2541 Tripod
Manfrotto Fluid Tripod Head
Canon EOS M
Canon 18-55 IS STM Lens
GoPro Hero mini HD camera
LowePro Flipside 400AW Water resistant Backpack


I also carry some extra gear for those few specific times when the go-to rig won’t cut it:

  • Stroboframe Quickflip 350 (there are better options available)
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8 IS L USM
  • Sony Wireless Lavaliere System
  • Zoom H4n
  • 2 Channel Field Mixer
  • Lightpanel Mini LED light
  • Gorillapod Flexible Tripod
  • Manfrotto 685B Monopod

Want to know more? Care to hear about my personal experience with each product? Just like to read my typing? Then here you go detail lovers, read away….and if you have ANY questions please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments at the bottom:

11/2011 My dSLR HD Video Setup

I purchased most of my gear Summer 2010 after weeks of online research. As I mentioned I knew nothing about shooting video, capturing audio, editing video….basically I didn’t know a lick about anything. Good news is I purchased good stuff, and now as I write this article I have owned (and most importantly used) this camera gear for nearly a year and a half. I hope this helps you get started with your own adventure!

Canon 5d mkII

Canon 5d mkII

Canon 5d Mark II This camera is not easy to use for the typical consumer to capture video. Because of my background in photography it was easy for me to get used to shooting video with this dSLR. There is no auto-focus, the built in microphone is crap, the auto audio input rarely works, the camera is awkward to hold for much more than a few minutes, the low light video is grainy, and the camera will only record for 10 minutes before stopping (in the middle of your most important shot!). That said it’s inexpensive for high quality HD video, it has tons of settings to capture video in most situations, and it’s not too bulky for unplanned “street style” shooting. I wouldn’t choose anything else for this kind of filming.

Canon 24-105mm f4 L USM Lens

Canon 24-105mm f4 L USM Lens

Canon EF24-105mm f4 IS L USM The ‘almost’ ultimate all in one lens. This lens takes a beating and keeps on clicking. Spend the extra money for the Canon brand (Sigma, Tamron, etc. don’t hold up like the canon lenses). The IS is a must for the hand held shooter, it keeps my video looking more fluid, and makes me appear a little more talented! The L coated lenses are super sharp, and offer great color at all apertures. If this lens came in f2.8 it would be the ultimate. I do own the 24-70mm f2.8 but rarely use it because it’s not as long, and it doesn’t have IS (Image Stabilization).


Rode VideoMic

Rode VideoMic

Rode VidMic Shotgun Microphone with Dead Cat – The quality of this microphone is top notch. The shotgun style microphone pics up 80% from the subject in front of the camera, and the rest comes from the ambient noise. The overall construction of this microphone is weak. There are 8 tiny rubber bands that support the microphone from ‘shock’. These bands are fragile and continuously break on me, they are a total pain to replace, and if you don’t replace them right away they make an awful squeaking noise that the microphone picks up during filming (check out our Center of the World Video to see what I’m talking about). Good news is Rode stands behind their microphones and will send you free replacement bands if you call them. Also with this microphone it’s difficult to look into the viewfinder to snap a photograph because the end of it sticks out nearly 2 inches. Good news RODE created a new microphone exclusively for dSLR shooting, still has rubber bands so do some research before you purchase. Lastly make sure you purchase the Dead Cat or some sort of wind sock for your mic, you will need it.

Gitzo GT2541 Tripod

Gitzo GT2541 Tripod

Gitzo Carbon Fiber GT2541 Tripod I love this tripod. When I purchased it was the lightest and most compact tripod available. Unfortunately it was the most expensive tripod available so that hurt. I’ve never been a fan of Gitzo because the twist style legs, but after using this tripod for 1 year I can see why it cost more than it’s little brother the Manfrotto. If you plan to hike with your tripod do yourself a favor and purchase a high quality lightweight tripod, your back will thank you.

Manfrotto 701HDV Head

Manfrotto 701HDV Head

Manfrotto 701HDV Fluid Tripod Head A fluid tripod head is a MUST! When we started shooting video I was using a tilt shift photography head trying to do my pans as best I could…..didn’t work out so well. There is one downside to this fluid head, you can’t shoot vertical photographs (generally you don’t want to shoot video this way). Of course Manfrotto has decided to jump on the dSLR video band wagon and now they offer an all-in-one photo movie head……man I hate being ahead of the curve!

GoPro Hero Camera

GoPro Hero Camera

GoPro Hero mini HD camera We purchased this tiny HD camera in July 2011 and we love it. The wide angle allows us to capture a different perspective than my dSLR. The HD camera is the size of a few dominoes, its super lightweight, and shoots full 1080p HD video. With hundreds of attachments you can use the GoPro in any situation. My favorite attachments are the water proof housing, and the helmet strap attachment. There are some downsides: battery life is weak, you have to purchase a separate screen if you want to see what you’re capturing, its so tiny you get a lot of camera shake, microphone is crap……but the good far outweighs the bad so this camera is worth the investment. Of course, now there is a new Hero 2 which I hear is even more awesome!

****One thing you MUST remember is to purchase what you need now. I’ve complained a bit about the new GoPro, the new microphone, etc…but there will ALWAYS be a new item coming out that’s better than it’s predecessor. If I’ve learned anything about technology in my 15 years of being a pro photographer: If you need it suck it up and purchase it. Don’t wait for the ‘next big thing’ or you’ll never pull the trigger.

Editing: I use Adobe Premiere 5.5 to edit my sound, video, and pretty much everything you see in my videos. We use PC’s and not Mac’s as we’re kinda anti-Apple right now, but I’ll save those posts for another day down the road.

I dropped my Camera in a stream while kayaking, and it wasn’t pretty. Camera plus water is no good. So here’s what I did:

UPDATE 06/2012 New Camera

I dropped my camera setup in an embarrassing kayaking paddle. Tiny little stream, I just got stuck on a rock and sucked under by overflowing water….I don’t really want to talk about it. The worst part was we’re in a small town, so by the evening the ENTIRE town heard about it and asked me about ‘going for a swim with my camera’: Embarrasing!So I learned 2 major lessons for Travel Video
• Have a backup camera and audio recording device
• Carry good insurance on your gear

Soaked Canon Camera

Soaked Canon Camera

First thing I did with my soaked camera gear was throw it in a plastic bin with a ton of DampRid in hopes that it may suck the humidity out of the camera. In a panic I had to drive 100 miles to the nearest Best Buy to pick up a Canon Rebel T3i (I had a previous commitment to film that evening at the town outdoor concert). I’ve heard great things about this little affordable camera online and from fellow travelers. I like the flip out screen, it’s a nice touch for self filming, or filming over large crowds. It’s nice to have a flash on-camera when you’re in a bind, even though it’s tiny and harsh lighting. To be perfectly honest I feel the Rebel is a perfect camera for someone starting dSLR video and photographer, howevere it’s not a good camera for someone who’s a pro (or even semi-pro). Maybe if you download a hack (i.e. magic lantern) for the camera it can perform better, but for me I got online after 3 days of using this camera and ordered the 5d MK iii. Flat images, all plastic body, and sharpness barely above point and shoot quality is my personal experience with the Canon Rebel T4i.
The main reason the Rebel isn’t up to snuff:
• No Video capture in AV or TV modes limiting the Depth of Field options
• No Audio input
• Slow Auto-Focus
• All Plastic Body
• APS 1.6x zoom factor from small sensor making wide angle nearly impossible to achieveAnd don’t even get me started on that joke of a lens that comes in the Rebel kit. A supposed IS lens couldn’t stabilize even the tiniest camera shake, all plastic, tiny front and rear glass, floating aperature….I told you not to get me started…

So I got rid of that piece of junk Canon Rebel T3i and the cheap plastic lens that came in the kit and purchased a real camera: Canon 5d Mark III. I also upgraded my audio:

UPDATE 07/2012 New Camera and Mic

Even though the new 5d is still on backorder my Canon 5d MKiii (or 5D Mark 3 can’t figure out which is the proper name) arrived in 4 days after I ordered it. Straight out of the box this baby performs, with features that make me happy my old 5d fell in the drink. I had to order the kit with the same 24-105mm f4 IS L lens, obviously I really like this lens (and this lens definately does NOT like the water).
The small things make a huge upgrade from the Canon 5dMKii:
• Enhanced Audio – Better audio and on screen audio level controls…FINALLY!
• Gyro Level – No more carrying a hotshoe level, the built in level is SWEET.
• HDR Mode – For those who shoot HDR, it’s got a built in setting. For me HDR is a ‘toy’ that I like to play with, but capture an image in the correct lighting and it’s unnecessary.
• Low Light Capture – Low light and high ISO is great for night and filming inside dark buildings
• 61 Point Autofocus system – about damn time, the 9 point was crap
• CF & SD card slots – put a 32GB in both and forget about carrying extra cards for smaller shootsRode Videomic Pro
This shotgun style microphone is the perfect solution for a directional microphone for capturing on-camera sound. When I first saw the new rubber band system I thought “here we go again”. Good news to report here: the rubber bands have not failed me yet……yes I said yet. Rode did send 1 set of free replacements (if you break the bands your mic is rendered useless unless you can jerry rig a clamp or some tape to hold it down on location). ALWAYS carry extra bands. The VideoMic Pro is a little smaller than its predecessor the VideoMic. The smaller size allows me to see through the viewfinder to snap a photo with the mic on (the VideoMic stuck out an inch or more making it impossible to look through the viewfinder of a dSLR).
Of course I purchased the new Dead Cat, not only does it make the mic look better, but it helps knock down the wind interference. I do not like how short the audio cable is, it barely reaches the camera input when I have the mic on a frame.What makes the VideoMic Pro better
• Rear switching volume ‘boost’ -10dB for loud settings, +20dB for dSLR recording.
• Smaller size – Better for taking photographs with mic in hot shoe
• 70 hours of recording on 1 9V battery****FAIR WARNING I’ve talked to a few people who have purchased the Stereo VideoMic because they thought it was a better mic due to the higher price; THIS IS NOT TRUE. The stereo mic is for filming B-Roll only – DO not purchase this mic if you plan to film people talking!

For Christmas I decided to give myself a present, and give Nikki a break from my bitchin’. We decided to get rid of our junky point and shoot and upgrade to the spankin’ new Canon EOS M. After reading mixed reviews online I thought I should put in my two cents on this compact little camera.

UPDATE 02/2013 NEW mini dSLR Camera

The age old saying goes “The best camera in the world is the one you have on you”. Now granted this was way before camera phones, Instagram, budget point-and-shoots, and all that other junk out there. My philosophy for the past few years has been why carry a crappy camera when I can carry my Mac-Daddy DSLR camera. Well, after many miles of hiking, climbing, beach, and desert shooting with my 30 pounds of gear I’ve become a whiny baby  The solution was simple: Nikki can continue to beat me over the head each time I whine, or I can suck it up and carry a smaller camera. Enter the “new” mini dSLR cameras (I say “new” because this is a concept rich in history ala Leica).We purchased the Canon EOS M at the beginning of December as a replacement for our point and shoot Canon PowerShot SX 230 HS, which as you’ll read in our original post is a piece of junk. When selecting the EOS M it sparked a major internal debate: Do I go with the pancake 22mm f2 fixed lens for the ultimate fit in your pocket HD mini SLR camera, or do I go with the more bulky 18-55 IS STM zoom lens? The debate raged on for weeks as we were planning to purchase the camera, and the decision was made at the very last minute as I was hitting that “place order” button. It’s been nearly 3 months now and I can say this little camera is the perfect setup for the adventure traveler.

Pick it up and instantly your back, neck and shoulders thanks you. With its tiny size the EOS M can go into any store, on any hike, inside any backpack without causing the big fuss of a giant dSLR. The camera packs a 1.6x sensor which is great for capturing long lens shots without a giant lens. The lens seems nearly as sharp as my $2,000 24-70 2.8 L, and the colors, vibrancy, and contrast are 10x better than the Canon Rebel we purchased and returned (yes I know it shares the sensor with the new Rebel, don’t ask me why the T3i stinks). There’s a stereo mic built in that works pretty well for miscellaneous background or scenic shots, but most importantly is this EOS M has a manual audio mode which is a must for using external microphones. The video is smooth and provides auto focus (one of canon’s first dSLR’s to offer AF for video. Another great option is you can purchase an adaptor to use your entire series of Canon EOS lenses, I thought this was a must at first however then you’re back to carrying a giant heavy lens and it kinda defeats the point of a mini SLR. The camera also works with my Canon EX 580 II flash but it looks a little ridiculous, so I’m planning to get the mini flash that goes along with the camera for capturing photographs indoors, or in low light settings.
Canon EOS M vs 5d MKiii
There are a few downsides that come along with its compact size and its non-pro settings. For me the main disadvantage with this camera is there is no Manual Focus mode switch on the lens. Sometimes I need to capture a low Depth of Field shot quickly, but with this camera I am forced to access the menu on the back of the camera and roll through my settings to get MF. If you’re an HDR lover there is no onboard HDR setting, however you can shoot in auto exposure bracket and basically get the same thing with post processing. The 1.6x sensor takes some getting used to as the 18mm lens is more like a 29mm lens (and this is why the 22mm fixed lens was not wide enough for self portraits, or wide landscapes). When capturing video I must put my RODE shotgun mic on a bracket, otherwise the fur from the dead cat hangs down into the lens, but it’s not so bad because my bracket gives me more stability when hand holding. The video autofocus works pretty well, but in some cases when focusing on an extreme close-up then trying to pan out into a wide shot the focus doesn’t follow unless you tap the subject you want in focus. Battery life isn’t as good as my 5d mkiii, but I quickly solved that with the purchase of a spare battery. I would really like to see a microphone level on the display when shooting video as trying to manually set volume in the menu is a bit of a pain. I do wish there was a time-lapse setting since many of the Nikon cameras have it, and my little go pro has it too. On a sex appeal note I ordered the black version but somehow I ended up with the storm trooper white/black body, I was offended at first, but now I kinda like it.

3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens – I’m happy with the zoom lens as it’s come in handy with most situations. First of all it’s wider than fixed lens, and the zoom is long enough I can capture scenes from further away (like the wildlife off in the distance on a hike, or cute girls on the boats in Lake Havasu). The floating aperture (3.5-4.5) is a small inconvenience in low light situations; I would have paid an extra $200-$300 for an f 2.8 all the way through. The lens doesn’t come with a hood so lens flare is a problem when shooting anywhere in the general vicinity of the sun. Also as I mentioned above there is no manual focus switch on the lens which is a hassle. Other than those few things the lens is sharp, small, holds steady with the IS, and most importantly it’s lightweight.

A few must have accessories for your Canon EOS M:
• Lens Hood EW-54
• Polarizer
• Extra Battery LP-E12
• Flash 90EX
• Remote Clicker RC-6
• SDHC 1 class 10 – minimum of 30MB/s
• Mini Bracket
• Tiny Camera Bag

Sure it’s not the perfect camera, and not as high quality as my 5d mkiii, however I’m 100% satisfied with this little EOS M. During a recent hike we came over the mountains edge to see a giant big horn sheep on the cliffs edge in the distance. In a rush I threw down my backpack, struggled to get out my camera, and by the time my 5d mkiii was powered on and ready the shot was gone. Nikki on the other hand had the little EOS M around her shoulder and captured some beautiful footage of this brief glimpse with nature….absolutely stunning. From that day on I’ve been sold on the idea of smaller can be better. If you have a spare $800 lying around or you want dSLR quality in a compact size then I feel confident this little camera will not let you down.
As always these are my opinions, for what their worth, Canon did not pay me, nor did anyone else for this review, I bought the camera, and I’ve been using it personally. So there, that’s my “legal” disclosure 

As I mentioned we’re not Mac people, I know this may offend some of you, but such is life. As promised a little info on my computer setup:

12-2013 Nikki Got a Surface Tablet Computer Thing

Nikki decided her regular laptop was too large for our style of on the move work. She convinced herself that she needed a new computer that’s thinner and lighter. After loads of research we realized the iPad and Tab’s are just over grown cell phones (they’d end up just being a paper-weight for us). She ended up with the Surface Pro 2 128GB. For the past couple months she’s been using Photoshop, Lightroom, Word, and everything else that needs a real computer to run. She absolutely loves it and I’m happy that she’s happy!
We did have to purchase some extra accessories:
Case Logic Messenger Bag
USB 3.0 Hub
Magenta Touch Cover for Surface
Microsoft Wireless Mouse, Magenta
As you might guess I got her old computer, which is ok because it’s even faster than my old one 🙂

Computer Setup for Video Editing

For some reason I seem to always end up with an HP product? Maybe it’s because I’m cheap, maybe I secretly like not following the status quo, I don’t know and I don’t try to explain it!?! One thing I know is I’ve used both professionally and recreationally and have seen little difference, especially considering a Mac is a minimum of DOUBLE the price of a similar PC.
I purchased my new laptop just before the Best of the Road competition in early 2011. Intel had just released the core i7 gen 2 chips, and 1GB video cards were just becoming availible in consumer laptops. I lucked out with a sub $1,000 17″ Silver HP laptop with these specs (a comprable MacBook Pro cost $2,500):
Intel Core i7-2630QM CPU @ 2.00GHz
ATI 1GB Video Card
8GB of RAM
1 TB 7200 RPM Hard Drive
High Capacity 9 cell L-ion Battery
17″ HD Screen
BlueRay DVD Player
Beats Audio
Fingerprint reader (I love this little feature)
Windows 7 64 bit OS-An unrealized benefit of using a PC is I can’t use the “industry standard” Final Cut Pro. This is a major blessing as Final Cut is not made for dSLR filming, and it’s become a majorly sore subject for mac people. With Adobe premiere I can put my dSLR footage, my GoPro footage and my point and shoot camera footage into my timeline and NEVER have to process or ‘prep’ the files. This has literally saved me hundreds of hours of converting my footage to be compatible with Final Cut.
Also to add another slap in the face Apple decided to change the way Final Cut Pro looks and works with their greatly failed release of FCX. Ooooops. Adobe ran a promotion offering 50% off Premiere if you switch from Final Cut, to say it went over well would be an understatement.
The other good news is if you’re coming from a photography background like me, using Adobe Premiere has a similar feel and shortcuts as Adobe Photoshop. Also anyone who does post knows Apple doesn’t make a final editor, so if you’re going to put those final touches on your video using Adobe After Effects anyway, WHY NOT START IN ADOBE?
Sorry to carry on, its just the more I discuss these silly little issues with videographers over the past 2 years I don’t understand why Final Cut is the ‘standard’. Maybe because I’m just getting into film I don’t understand, but as an outsider looking in take this one piece of advice: If you’re editing dSLR film purchase Adobe Premiere Pro not Final Cut Pro.The most important items when looking for a good laptop to edit video:
High Speed Video Card with loads of video dedicated memory
High Speed RAM as large and as much as you can afford
Fast Hard Drive transfer rate10/2012: I recently purchased Nikki a new Computer and there are some killer new features out. Adobe is working with Microsoft, HP, NVIDIA, and Red cameras to create high performance video and photo editing monster laptops…I like to call them Mac Killers. Some of the coolest new items availible for PC include:
Dual Hard Drives
Solid State and Hybrid Drives for Extreme Read/Write rates
2GB GDDR5 Dedicated Video Memory
Crazy fast Intel processors with 2.7 GHz 8MB L3 cache
USB 3.0
Crazy Loud Beats speaker systems with built in “Sub”
Non-Glare 1080 HD screens

So that’s the scoop!  Now get out there and start shooting, have fun and if you become famous don’t forget about us.  If you haven’t seen many of our videos, well no better time than the present: check out our Gone With the Wynn’s Travel Log. Thanks to Sony for providing this camera for testing.

Are you a pro at editing or shooting?  Have some tips you feel like sharing? Have any questions about a DSLR rig? Did I get your panties in a wad with my Mac rant? Or maybe you’re a Nikon guy? If you have a personal experience with cameras, shooting, editing, & sharing videos, tell us about it in the comment section below.

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 (77)

  • After I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify
    me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a
    comment is added I get four emails with the same comment.

    Is there a way you can remove me from that service?
    Thanks a lot!

    • Curious Minion

      Check at the bottom of the e-mail for an “unsubscribe” button.

  • Denise Molina

    So inspired by your videos!!!

  • Thanks for the great breakdown! One question I have since I am just beginning this venture into vlogging. Lighting and RV electrical power ability is different than a house I have discovered the hard way.. What kind of lighting do you use when inside the RV and have you had to do anything to use the combo of lighting you might use. I blow the circuit trying to run the coffee pot and toaster at the same time so this is why I ask.
    Thank you

  • John Youger

    Enjoy your videos very much. Thank you!!!

    I’ve driven to Alaska (in a van) in the fall and was awed by the beautiful color of the aspens. Hope you can show this in one of your future videos.

    Keep the videos coming.

  • Dave

    I know many people who don’t do the Apple thing, but you’re obsessively anti apple. It’s only a computer use what works for you. Being obsessively anti apple is as bad as the apple fan boys. It’s a tool people get over it. A little history for you, Final Cut became the industry many years ago because of the stability of the apple platform and ease of use back then. Everyone back then remembers well the blue screens and crashes. So if you just spend 6 hours editing a film clip and windows decided to do it’s blue screen or any number of other “lose your work” glitches, then you had to start all over. I’ve bounced back and forth over the years between windows and apple and I must say apple still is a much stabler platform. My PC sits right next to my apple and I use both daily for different tasks. They’re tools after all. Laptops are certainly not the most optimal platforms to be doing photography and video editing. As far as cost, I tend to replace my PC’s at a rate of 2-3 times more often the Apple products. So for me and at the rate I need to upgrade (I used to get dells at wholesale government cost), the cost works out to be the same or the PC comes out a little more expensive.

  • Chuck Sugarman

    Jason and Nikki
    I enjoy your videos and watch them all the time. Just watched the one about Chicago. My daughter attended DePaul University on a soccer scholarship. The school is in the “Near North” area not far from the Zoo. She got us a weekend parents parking pass for our 23′ Class C Tioga. On the application where it asked the make and model of the vehicle we just wrote Chevrolet which wasn’t a complete lie because it was on a Chevy chassis. We were able to park on campus. It was awesome and we didn’t have to pay $250/night for a hotel. Please keep doing what you’re doing and be safe!!

  • As a professional videographer/photographer, who travels in a teardrop RV (Lil’ Furthur), and often producing travel media, I love your blog and videos. I’m in the final processes of prepping and planning to go full time, or fairly close thereto, for on the road media production. Building my solar power system as we speak, and getting ready to throw the dart for a distant location. (Hopefully my aim is accurate on Glacier NP and Banff, ha). Any place with a bit of alpine rock climbing and fly fishing is sounding very nice right now.

    Certainly, for me, going on the road is a giant dive into the unknown with high risk for re-becoming the starving artist for awhile, but a life with the freedom to roam the wilder spots should be an adventure worth that risk. I’m looking forward to producing a more spontaneous style of video, and fortunately, many people are finally realizing the investment power of video promos, interviews, and product reviews and what it can do for their business. Especially with the advent of social media, Amazon review videos, eMags, etc. buying quality media has quickly become a must-do for businesses with any type of online presence. There are also tons of people wanting their travel adventures or extreme sport filmed…and I’ve even picked up the occasional beach wedding or outdoor event shot with drone footage. Hopefully the paid work it won’t get in the way of all my personal projects like gazillions of wildlife and landscape pics and vids that I’ll probably never finish editing, ha.

    BTW, I had to laugh as reading your rant on Mac was like déjà vu’. I purchased my last set up just after the i7 release and researching issues for months on Mac’s and Final Cut. I REALLY wanted that beautiful Mac and Final Cut set up, but in the end, I couldn’t justify paying that much more, for less computer, and more limitations, just because its an Apple product. After many years in the field I’ve found that in many cases it’s sheer fluffed up pomposity on Mac’s advantages over PC. (With this being said, being a video producer usually teaches you how to keep your computers running up to par after flailing miserably on a mismatched custom video production system build lol). There are pro’s and con’s to any video editing system, but in my experience, investing in the Adobe Suite has also proven a solid long term solution. I also love how Premiere runs…actually the entire Adobe Suite, on the MSI laptops. They are simply beastly on video and after years of constant commercial work have not had a single compatibility issue.

    So, I raise glass to your blog and upcoming adventures, and thank you for many inspiring articles and videos. Perhaps we’ll run into each other out there someday and we can share some recent stories on film or on the trail.


  • Jason,
    I just came across your YouTube channel and website, and I must say, I’m most intrigued by your endeavor. My wife and I are thinking of doing something similar but on a much smaller scale in a couple years. Since you asked for comments, especially from Apple users, I thought I’d reply. I’m a 40-year video veteran (mainly informational documentaries and commercials) and an unabashed Mac snob. While I’m delighted your setup works so well for you, I think you might take another look at Final Cut Pro X. Yes, Apple blew the rollout of a product that wasn’t ready for prime time, but much like the hardware has evolved, the application has changed greatly in the years since you started editing video. That said, your videos look great! Vastly superior to all of the other online videos I’ve found, thanks to your keen eye and your attention to audio. Plus, you and Nikki are simply charming. I’m looking forward to watching everything you’ve posted. (that may take a while)

  • Philipp


    Great post thanks for sharing!
    I was just wondeeing, are you rendering with the cpu or gpu? Dave Jones (youtube: EEVBLOG) did a comparison between these two and felt the cpu is, against most beliefs, faster. I was just wondering if you experienced the same.

    I will be on a road trip in the US for nearly 6 weeks starting in September. We rented a 28′ class c and this is our first camping experience of that kind. Here in Germany, most of the RV are way smaller. I do plan on bringing some camera equipment and a notebook too. But I am a little worried about someone breaking in into our RV.
    How are you going about this? Are you hiding all your stuff some secret location? Do you have an on board safe? What about passports and other important documents?

    Thanks for all that great information. You both really rock.

    Best wishes

    Bonn, Germany

  • Out of curiosity, in a recent post on your FB page you mentioned #sonyalpha…have you upgraded cameras again? I currently shoot a Canon EOS 6 and have been looking at the Sony a6000, as my Canon is huge and I want something smaller and lighter. Curious minds want to know….

    PS. Love your blog! I’ve been following your blog for over a year now (just not big on commenting) and also follow you guys on FB.

  • Eric Rondeau

    Thanks for the info Jason. Any latest updates for on the Sony RX100M III Cyber-Shot? Is it true that it only has a 3.5 optical zoom?

  • Carlos

    I recently bought a Sony a6000 mirrorless and I’ve got to say I think I’m going to be parting with my Canon gear to get an a7s. The only downside to this is lack of lens choice as far as I can tell. The lenses they do have are just as expensive and they don’t have much in the way of fast glass…… I’ve also been using vintage lenses with inexpensive adapters. They make me smile even though you lose automation.

    I’ve just discovered you two this evening…. Well, yesterday now. You make a great team. Love the interaction between the two of you. I was attracted by that chemistry and the production value of clean video and intelligible audio. Get a mini jib and a slider and you’ll be just like the big boys.

  • If I may …..
    “Any man who can see what he wants to get on film will usually find some way to get it; and a man who thinks his equipment is going to see for him is not going to get much of anything.” Hunter S. Thompson “The Virtues of American Photography”

    I have listen to the what I call the process argument since the first day I picked up the camera. I remember the days when I was told that using a in camera meter didn’t make you a real photographer.

    Frankly it’s all about content. The end user/ consumer generally does not care what equipment you used to create your art/ content. Equipment is fun to talk about but it’s just like talking about your favorite beer or car or hamburger.

    I enjoyed reading about the tools are you used to make the content that you have created but I’m sure if you use a completely different brand and set of tools the content and enthusiasm you bring to your joy of living on the road in an RV would still come through.

  • KB Suarez

    What Up Wynns!

    Thanks for everything you post, and record for all of us to enjoy and learn.

    Question: How do you record the voice overs, ie: is the Rode mic, and other secondary microphone? and are you just recording into camera, or into an audio program with the computer?

    and also where do you record in the rv to get the crisp sound?

    Thanks Again. KB

  • I edited professionally, for a living. I use FCX because it is what the company bought. We are almost exclusively MAC where I work. But that said, I hate Final Cut. Especially FCX. And before any of you MAC fanatics jump in to tell me to give it some time, I’ve been using it for 2 years and I still don’t like it. I’ve learned to use it, and it does have some good features, but over all it is WAY behind Adobe Premiere and even Sony Vegas which is what I used before FCP. The reason Final Cut is sometimes called the industry standard is because a lot of Hollywood editing was done on it years ago. And it wasn’t a bad editor up until version 7. But even then it was no where close to Adobe Premiere’s capabilities. But since the release of FCPX it is nothing more than a glorified version of iMovie. Sorry guys, but that’s the truth. I use it every day. I speak from experience. 🙂 Good news is, I talked my company into getting Adobe Premiere (Cloud) a couple of months ago. Now all I have to do is transition everyone over to that and we’re good to go!

    BTW, great videos. Loved it. You guys have done a great job.

  • I would like to share my road trip video with the community. My gf and I drove over 5k miles across the south west in two weeks. It was arguably the best two weeks of my life. Still think about it often.
    Here it is:

  • Hi Wynns!


    First, thank you! We are brand new to RVing and your videos have been a great resource for us. My partner, Cris, and I are about to set out on an amazing journey with no definitive end date. We plan to document our journey and develop it into a business of sorts geared toward LGBT RVers and other folks who are interested in class B RVing.  We just launched which is in its infancy, but we are very excited about it. 


    We may want to schedule a chat session with you in the coming months focused partially on preparing for our journey and part planning for our “business”. Is this fair subject matter for a chat session and do you mind giving up some of the secrets to your success?


    Right now we have one burning question, if you don’t mind. We are evaluating cameras to film our videos. Do you have any advice and would you mind sharing which cameras you use?


    Thanks so much! We are fans and looking forward to potentially getting to know you guys! 



    Adam and Cris

  • Linda

    Hi Jason – I’ve been looking at your setup for video editing…

    You mentioned high performance video and photo editing monster laptops. Have you upgraded your laptop since your post?

    How does the power requirement during boondocking affect your capacity to do photo and video editing?

  • "....nice man from Germany"

    Was the switch from the rode video mic to the rode video mic Pro worth the extra money in sound quality etc? Bernard

      • "....nice man from Germany"

        Did you get rid of the original or do you want to sell it?

  • Helen

    What equipment might you recommend for someone on a modest budget.

      • If you happened to lose the EOS M, say, in a tragic Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard accident today, what would replace it?

        I saw that Canon produced an EOS M2 that added WiFi (among other features), not that I can find one for sale anywhere…
        I’m not finding anything in the current Canon lineup that’s anything like the EOS M… *hrmpf*


  • I forgot to mention. Let me know if you guys every come to the Los Angeles area again. Take care.

  • I am a photographer in Los Angeles and would love to do what you guys do. I have the same equipment as you guys. I just wish I could write. I am more of a visual person than a writer. I think it is the left/right brain thing. You guys are lucky you can travel and work well as a team. For stills I love my Canon 5D Mark lll’s but a lot of my friends are switching over to the Panasonic GH4 for video. The video still will have a film look but is much shaper than the Canon camera and is lighter weight and great for traveling. The color coming out of the camera looks great too. The camera body and lenses are cheaper than the Canon. If I shot more video I would for sure buy the Panasonic. Wonder if you guys have seen and played with the Panasonic GH4 camera? I think my Rode Video Mic Pro is a wonderful mic and for a Lav mic I like the Sennheiser system. Have you guys tried the Edelkrone Sliders? I think they are very cool. You guys produce great videos. Keep up the good work.

  • Hey Jason,

    Thanks again for all of this great information.

    My wife and I are on the cusp of full timing (aiming to jump off the cliff Sep 1), and one of my big concerns is data backup on the road.

    My wife and I are selling the desktop computer and electing to go with laptops to work from while on the road. Fun part about that is figuring out how to best store data.

    I’m a photographer, and will be shooting 36 mb files from a D800. My laptop has around 256gb of flash storage, so keeping all that data on the local drive isn’t an option.

    Cloud backup would be great, but we’d only have a strong enough connection to upload large amounts of files like that a few times a year.

    I’m considering working from a Drobo Mini and using Capture One to edit/manage files, but I’m curious to know what your current workflow is for storage and file management.

    Thanks for the help! You guys are the best.

      • Hello Jason Zac and good day.

        From what I have read Amazon S3 Cloud Storage now accepts hard drives shipped to them and they load it to the cloud and they can also ship us a drive in case we need our files. Both ways can be encrypted.

        As of now I use the Arq app to backup to the Amazon cloud service while we are hooked up to Cabled internet. Arq is a pretty powerful app for such low cost. It is almost like Backblaze but with more added benefits.

        I have not used the Amazon hard drive shipment method yet for backup and retrieval.

        Here is more info on the Amazon Cloud Service for accepting Drives:

        We have worked remotely for the last 6 years so we are very motivated to travel and hit the road. We plan to pack up and travel as soon as we can and I hope we can all meet up when we do.

        Thank you Jason and Nikki for sharing your adventures and advice with all of us. Keep up the great work!

        Have an amazing weekend!

          • I know Jason it was very awesome! I am super excited since I am a crazy about redundant backups.

            The cool thing is we can still grab smaller files in case we need something off the cloud quickly.

  • Thanks for all the tips and inspiration!
    I am about to retire from my day job as a video shooter/editor/producer at a small tv station, with the plan to hit the road on 2 wheels shooting documentaries as I go. I’ve already started on Documentary & will continue shooting it throughout the next year, while picking up small side jobs to help pay for it. Reading this blog post really helped me find a better focus on the side job possibilities.
    Thanks so much!

  • I actually enjoyed your rant on MS or was it against Mac? Well whatever, I have also enjoyed your wife and all the energy she brings to your productions.

    I’m a video multi-camera facilities owner and have a system geared for event streaming. I really found the comment you made about “urgency” and 24 fps to be quite provocative. Now I don’t know if you really meant 24 frames or 24P and at 720p or 1080i? In any case the energy of the video look against the previous generation’s high end film production has always been an argument that favored “the film look” or at least film “answer” over what might be termed the “video look” since video in general has always had a “live” or “newsy” look versus romantic, historic, documentary or just about any “look” one might generally shoot for as a moniker. I have always gone the way of lenses, filters and lighting, in reverse order of cost, by the way as good filters are expensive to support in grip support. My reason for recently contacting you was to find out what software and format you are working in. Is your workflow to import and work with full resolution 1080i AVCHD files or do you convert to AVI or edit in a low rez then conform as I have traditionally in my XDCAM format? Your output on YouTube looks quite good are you distributing by any other mechanism on the internet?

    Best wishes

  • Jason…I noticed when you were shooting the video about “Roy” (loved the vid), that you and Nikki were easily handing off your camera and there was little to no shake.

    Are you cleaning up any shake in PP with Warp Stabilizer or do you just have some awesome handheld rig? (BTW…I kept trying to catch a good look at it in reflections in the RV and mirror and you are quite good and keeping the camera out of reflections…lol!)

    I have a Nikon D3200 and have tried out several handheld rigs to free me from a tripod, but I haven’t found one I like. I’m a woman and I am sometimes dressed up for weddings, so I am not a big fan of over the shoulder rigs.And with the speed you handed it off and Nikki assumed control, well…I am curious to learn more.

    FYI, my husband is also a commercial photographer and not a fan of trailer camping. I finally put my foot down that I wanted one to take our 13yo son throughout the US over as many summers as he will allow (can’t wait for him to get his driver’s license). Did our first trip to SD last summer and gearing up for Glacier this summer. My husband met us 3/4 into our trip, which was nice and also caused me to insist on a larger trailer (28ft) with some nice bonuses! I’m hoping to get him to read your blog and consider the possibilities.

    I create websites and mobile apps for small businesses and have dreamed of journey throughout the country. Hoping that bug will catch on with him someday, but I am thinking not. Therefore, I’ve got a few good years with my son, then on my own. But I really want to create some great videos to look back on. And…who knows, maybe I will inspire others.

    Thank you for your response and the effort/energy you guys put into this blog & website….love it!


  • Dillon

    So what was so bad about the T3i? I realize its a budget dSLR, but surely it wasn’t a piece of junk…..

  • 24 fps is the standard for”film” look. But you also need to keep your shutter speed at roughly double your fps to capture the look. So, 24 fps should be 1/50th shutter speed, etc. Obviously your ISO and aperture settings will hinge on that. You can shoot at a higher frame rate if you need to, just try to maintain the 1:2 ratio.

    Minot sure what the 5D’s maximum shutter speed is, but it’s 1/8000 on my 1D bodies (too old for video…I use a T2i for that) and I have shot outdoors where I’ve had to shoot at 1/8000, ISO 100, and still had to stop down to f/11. Personally I like to shoot with a wide open aperture, so I’ll be buying some ND and split ND filters in the future so I can shoot in bright light and wider apertures for soft backgrounds.

    As for my choice of the T2i, it was a budget decision. I need a 1080p video camera for occasional video work. Mostly in a controlled studio enviornment. The video quality between any of Canon’s 1080p line up is so close that it doesn’t really matter.

    As far as durability, the 1D series is by far their most rugged and abusable. I’ve been shooting stills with a 1D mk1 and mk2n for 6 years now. Before I hit the road full time (I’m still in the planning stages) I will be upgrading to a pair of 1D mk4 bodies and some newer lenses. I’ll keep the T2i as a backup body or for days when I don’t feel like carrying 40lbs of gear around.

    Glass: I went through the nightmare of budget lenses when I first switched to digital. At this point I would rather purchase (and did) nearly antique Canon L lenses than deal with third party or budget glass.

    I currently shoot with: 20-35 f/2.8 L, 28-70 f/2.8 L, 80-200 f/2.8L, and strictly for video and still life stuff I have an assortment of vintage M42 screw mount lenses.

    I have a Sony M10 for audio recording and an Audio Technica six inch shotgun mic. It’s not the greatest mic, but it worked well enough for interview style footage and it’s a million times better than the on camera audio.

    A cheap dog trainer clicker works great for getting a nice sharp clap for audio sync and fits Ina pocket easier than a clapboard.

    I have a couple decent tripods/mono pods. Nothing to write home about, but they’re solid and do the job. I also made a few handheld rigs and a custom skate dolly for panning/slider shots. And a custom focus puller with a lever that fits most of my lenses up to an 85 mm diameter.

    I have a bench top lathe/mill combo that I’m going to miss a lot when I go on the road. Right now I can make a lot of the gear I need like that focus puller, but I won’t be able to haul a 450lb lathe and all the tooling, etc with me when I leave.

    Hopefully there’s some useful info in there for you and your readers. The video side of this is still relatively new to me. My video editing skills are pretty basic. I prefer still photography.

    I’ve added my website to the required info for posting, which links to both my websites and my blog. All three of them are sorely overdue for an update. Long story short, I was out of work, then my wife was out of work and my computer is hanging on by a thread. So, now that we’re both finally working again, I’ll be purchasing a new one soon and update everything. I’m also working insane amounts of overtime so I’ve basically had no life for the last two years.

    That’s a big part of why I’m looking into the full time RV life. I want out of the rat race.

    Cheers 🙂

  • See my other long comment elsewhere, but I just wanted to say I’d be happy to discuss any type of video/camera stuff with you – and would love to meet you guys in person to learn a little before I hit the road on my own!

    If there’s any chance I could fly out to your next destination and get dinner/drinks to chat about your experiences, let me know! I’d be happy to meet you at any airport.

    I’m a nikon shooter, but they are all the same – we teach about 200 photography lessons per year here in Nashville, anywhere from soccer-moms with T3i’s to professionals who just want to learn a little more about lighting. I personally edit my video projects with Premiere CS5 and Aftereffects. Only some of the video sites online support 24fps which sometimes makes the final product look funny if you upload a 24fps movie and then they convert it to a 29.97 fps movie.

    Look into a product called “Panorama Factory” – it’s an awesome piece of software developed by an individual and I think it would be tremendously beneficial to you in your travel photography.

  • Hi Jason and Nikki!
    I’ve been following your adventures for a few months now. Congrats on the living the dream! I’m a professional photographer (portraits, but I’m just starting to do more landscape/stock as we travel in our RV). I have a Mark III as well, and would love to begin learning video, just for fun. Where do you suggest is the best place to go to start learning how to do video – a forum, a certain YouTube channel? Also, I’m not sure I understand why you use a Canon EOS M as well? Is that in addition to the Mark III?

  • Robert Brown

    Just wanting to know which software you use to do video editing and how much of a learning curve was it to use it for the first time.

  • Thank you so much for posting this excellent information. I’ve been an avid amateur photographer since junior high, when I was a yearbook staff photographer and had my own darkroom. But I know truly professional work when I see it. You’re an inspiration Jason! 🙂

    A question…. In your (awesome) Mexico for Medical video, your reflection is visible at about 2:30 holding your camera as you walk. Are you just using a small tripod with the legs collapsed? The video seems so stable while you’re walking and I wondered if you were using some type of stabilizing aid.

  • Arno

    Thanks for all the info. As an amateur photographer it’s great to have a pro make a complete listing, saves a lot of time and money in experimenting!
    You make it all look like such fun. I can’t wait to hit the road again this summer

  • Great blog. Thanks for all the detailed info. I had a couple of questions. First, I noticed in your video you have great time-lapse shots and I was wondering if you used an intervalometer or just sped it up in post. If you got in on camera, what was your frame rate? Second, I guess your underwater shots were done with your GoPro and underwater housing. Have you ever had any issues with water getting inside the underwater housing? I have… thanks!

  • Shannon

    Love the video quality… If you make your way back to Arizona have some great places (we have been) for you to check out, especially if your into kayaking?
    E-mail me back when/if you’re interested.

  • Answers to all the questions that I was going to ask @ the Abbotsford RV show regarding your recording equipment 😉 Nice post very complete.

    Really quite enjoyed meeting both of you and sharing the gift of yogaFLIGHT. The tandem hangliding episode was well done. Curious to see what a tandem skydiving video would look like.

    sKY:: and I will be @ Skydive Toronto this year working as videographers and me as a tandem instuctor. Perhaps we’ll see you. The alumapalooza experience in Jackson Center OH is quite unique as well. You may be tempted to step out of your RV and into a silver bullet 😉

  • Andy

    Hi Jason,

    Great article and very refreshing to note you favour Canon systems and PC’s, which I also use. In addition to the lenses you mention I also get great results from the 16 – 35 f/2.8 II USM for really close subjects. During a recent trip to Kenya I also purchased the 2x extender Mk III.

  • Camille

    Hi Jason!

    I stumbled into this blog just now as I was looking for a lightweight set-up.

    I would just like to confirm if that’s a Manfrotto 701HDV head? And also, how do you carry the tripod? Is it possible to store it inside the Flipside with the head on?

    I really look forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Martin Blair

    Wonderful info Jason. Exactly what i needed to know. I have several goals and (shall I say) dreams LOL Much appreciated – Martin aka Eu Young

  • This company Magic Lantern has firmware that really helps the sound for the Canon. I hope that helps. Really like your blog.

  • Nicole

    Thank-you so much for posting this. I am just about to embark on a travelling journey similar to yours and I’m hoping to create a blog similar to yours as well (although I highly doubt it will be as good)! I have a Canon 7D and the same tripod but I still have a few more things to purchase. Anyways, I had a question about how you edit and store video on the road. Do you use a laptop? I have a MacBook Pro and I’m trying to figure out what I need to store all my video. I am backpacking so it’s a little tougher to carry equipment but I’m sure I’ll need external hard drives of some sort. Do you have any suggestions about what size of camera card of what kind of storage equipment might be useful for the types of things you guys are doing?

    Please let me know!



  • One viewer asked a great question on Facebook: Do you shootin 30fps or 24fps?
    I shoot in 24fps mainly because:
    1. It uses less disc space to capture film
    2. I like the footage has an ‘urgency’ to it vs. the standard 30fps.


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