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  • Writer's pictureJenna Dixon

Essential Toolkits for Beginner and Experienced Travel Videographers

Updated: Jul 13



Landscape photography and videography is one of the most awe-inspiring careers in the world. One that not only combines the ever-changing environments of nature, art, and adventure, but provides the opportunity to witness and document its beauty from behind the lens. With this career, is a unique responsibility to be storytellers, to add depth, emotion and bring each landscape to life. This process involves patience, creativity, and a deep appreciation for the environment resulting in visuals that can inspire and connect people all over the world.


There is a magnitude of choices when it comes to gear avaible for todays creatives, but if the outdoors is your field of focus here are a few things to consider when making your initial selection.


  • Weather Sealing: Gear should be weather-sealed to withstand harsh outdoor conditions such as rain, snow, dust, and humidity

  • Portability: Lightweight and compact equipment is easier to carry during long hikes and remote shoots. Consider mirrorless cameras and compact lenses.


  • Battery Life: Outdoor shoots can be lengthy, often far from power sources, so gear with long battery life or the ability to use external power sources is crucial. Cold weather environments can also decrease the length of battery time, therefore carrying extra batteries is also a good practice.


  • Lens Selection: Versatile lenses such as wide-angle for vast landscapes, telephoto for distant subjects, and macro for close-up details are important. High-quality, fast lenses with good sharpness and contrast are important to consider.


  • Tripod: A sturdy, lightweight tripod is vital for stable shots, especially in low light situations or for long exposure photography.


  • Filters: Neutral density (ND) filters, polarizers, and UV filters help manage light, reduce glare, and protect lenses.


  • Durability: Gear should be rugged enough to handle rough terrain and potential drops. This includes both the camera body and accessories like bags and tripods.

  • Storage: High-capacity, fast memory cards are necessary for handling large files from high-resolution images and 4K video.


  • Backup Solutions: Portable hard drives or backup cameras can safeguard against data loss or equipment failure.


  • Versatility: Gear that can adapt to different shooting conditions and styles, like cameras with good dynamic range and customizable settings, can be beneficial.


 

Hello, we are Jenna and Pete, filmmakers, photographers and advanced drone operators with Silver Fern Productions. We are proudly based in the Canadian Rockies and feel very fortunate to call the outdoors our working office.


We recently had the opportunity to travel to both Chile and Argentina capturing the rugged wilderness of the Patagonia mountains. For the purposes of this blog, we will focus on what a typical day pack will look like in the field versus a multi-day trip bag where we often spend several days trekking in self sufficiency.




 

Patagonia is known for its extremes and volatility in weather, therefore planning and preparation is key when organizing a shoot in harsh outdoor environments. The level of success we've found in the field directly correlates to the time we spent combing over possible outcomes, shot lists, safety gear, personal essentials and most importantly the type of camera gear we choose to carry with us. Weight can be a huge determining factor of what we choose to pack when trekking long distances over multiple days.


Therefore, before every shoot we ask ourselves these very questions:


  • What is the environment I will be working in?

  • What are temperature variables I need to be prepared for and dress for?

  • How long of distances will I be covering a day? What kind of terrain will I be crossing? Will I require to be self sufficient over one day or multi-days?

  • How much weight am I able to carry comfortably for the kind of environment I will be covering?

  • What kind of safety gear do I need to bring?

  • Will I be working in low light situations? If so, do I require supplemental light sources?

  • What camera gear is essential to capture the environment? Long lens versus wide lens, gimbal, drone, filters, tripod, underwater housing etc


When on site, location scouting is another responsibility of the job. If time permits, we normally use days when weather is less than ideal to travel light carrying only the essentials outlined in the Day Pack section below.


Adversely, when periods of weather windows present themselves we will head out for 4 or 5 nights setting up a basecamp in one or two locations where we can leave our non essentials and trek through the night or early morning for sunrise with lighter setups. Our gear list for these particular trips are outlined in the Multi-day Pack section below.


Meet Pete



Pete has been a professional filmmaker for over 15 years with the bulk of his early working experience in the Canadian television industry. With these skills, he began working on branded projects with agencies and brands such as, Ikea, Buick and Lexus before beginning to focus my expertise in television development collaborating with companies such as Disney, HGTV, Discovery Channel and The Property Brothers. While these projects allowed for personal and professional growth, it was time for change.


Since moving to the Canadian Rockies, Pete has started his own creative business focusing in the outdoor travel, tourism and adventure industry. He has won a number of photography awards including, but not limited to Smithsonian and The Canadian wildlife Federation, worked on personal and professional projects that have been part of the film festival circuit, and most recently contributed to National Geographic.


Experienced Day Pack


Pete's preferred day pack is lightweight and is most utilized during location scouting or shoots that involve a high degree of physical effort such as climbing, glacier traverse or sunrise/sunset missions that involve trekking from base camp. This bag includes only the essentials required to execute a specific image or video narrative from 1-3 locations.


  • Sony A7S 3 and 2 batteries

  • DJI Mavic 3 Pro Drone, ND Filters and 2 Batteries

  • Tripod (carried only when low light situations are expected)

  • Sony f2.8 16-35mm GM lens

  • Sony f2.8 24-70mm GM Lens

  • Sony f1.4 50mm lens

  • Variable ND Hoya 1.5 - 9

  • 1/8 th Black Pro-mist Filter for cinematics

  • GU Energy Gels or Honey Stingers

  • Extra clothing Layers (base layer, fleece, puffy, shell)

  • Lowe Pro Camera Bag

  • Pelican SD card holder and 2-3 SD cards

  • Garmin INReach Mini

  • Ronin Rs2 Gimbal (when stabilization is necessary)


Pete carries the Sony A7S 3 for its exceptional performance in low light for both photography and video production.


 "I have used many cameras throughout my working career, but I've found that I can really achieve clean looking footage and images with the Sony S series. Especially when filming scenes at night or under the aurora borealis."

While the camera only has 12.8 megapixels, Pete uses a technique termed "the 50 stitch" which involves taking a series of images and stitching them together (similar to the technique used in capturing a panorama). By using this technique, Pete is able to achieve a higher megapixel image that can be used for high resolution printing.


Other more advanced systems in the Sony line include the A1 or the A7R5.  Sony should also be releasing the a7S 4 shortly which is rumoured to have even more megapixels and would definitely be on Petes wish list.


Experienced Multi-Day Pack


Pete's multi-day pack is carried on jobs that require more than 1 day of filming in remote locations where traveling in self sufficiency and setting up base camp is necessary to execute a narrative. Aside from essential camera gear, extra layers of clothing, camping set up, food, cooking stoves and utensils are carried.


  • Sony A7S 3 and 4-5 batteries

  • Sony f2.8 16-35mm GM lens

  • Sony f2.8 24-70mm GM Lens

  • Sony f1.4 50mm lens

  • DJI Mavic 3 Pro, ND filters and 4 batteries

  • Variable ND Hoya 1.5 - 9

  • Polar Pro CP

  • 1/8 th Black Promist Filter for cinematics

  • Lightweight Tripod

  • Pelican SD card holder and 5-8 SD cards

  • Shimoda Packing Cube to separate camera gear from other personal items in the bag.

  • Garmin INReach Mini

  • medical kit

  • Dueter 75L Backpack

  • 2 man lightweight tent

  • sleeping matt

  • sleeping bag

  • Jet Boil

  • Back country dehydrated meals (2 per day ie lunch and dinner)

  • Oatmeal packets (breakfast) and snacks such as protein bars, nuts, dried fruit etc.

  • GU Energy Gels or Honey Stingers

  • Base layers (pants and long sleeved), over pant, rain pants, fleece, puffy and shell, extra socks

  • Sun Glasses

  • Buff, hat and thin mitts for astro photography. Will carry warmer gloves if environment permits.

  • Ronin RS2 Gimbal (on occasion)

Meet Jenna



Jenna is a passionate landscape, travel and adventure photographer. She is fiercely dedicated to capturing remote, cold weather and mountainous regions to showcase the rawness and beauty of natures elements. With a focus in storytelling, Jenna loves to combine the written word to enhance the visual experience, bringing her viewer into the journey.


​Jenna has had her work featured with Time Magazine and Nat Geo from New York to Miami and is regularly featured in local magazines across Canada, including Travel Yukon and Tourism Vancouver Island. Jenna has recently contriibuted to National Geographic and was published with Mother Magazine, a non profit promoting global conservation while elevating women's voices and stories within the outdoor photography world.


Experienced Day Pack


Similar to Pete, Jenna's preferred day pack is lightweight and mostly consists of camera gear inlcuding a variety of lenses depending on the location she aims to shoot. Wide and telephoto lenses are important in outdoor storytelling. From vast and sweeping landscapes to intimate details in nature, Jenna plans accordingly to cover all her bases. Jenna's pack is therefore used most during location scouting or shoots that involve a high degree of physical effort such as climbing, glacier traverse or sunrise/sunset missions that involve trekking from base camp. This bag includes the essentials required to execute a specific image or video narrative from 1-3 locations over 1 day.


  • Canon EOS R5 and 2 batteries

  • Canon f2.8 16-35mm lens

  • Canon f2.8 24-70 (on occasion will swap out for the canon 50mm f1.4)

  • Canon f2.8 70-200 for close up of mountains

  • Canon f2.8 100-400mm for close up of mountains or if wildlife is expected

  • DJi Mini 3 Pro and ND filters

  • Polar Pro CP filter

  • Polar Pro ND filter (1-10 stops)

  • Pelican SD holder and 2-3 SD cards

  • Lightweight Tripod if low light situations are expected

  • Shimoda 30L Bag

  • Ronin RS 3  (when stabilization is necessary)


Experienced Multi-day Pack


Jenna's multi-day pack is carried on jobs that require more than 1 day of filming or photography in remote loactions where traveling in self sufficiency and setting up base camp is necessary to execute a narrative. Aside from essential camera gear, extra layers of clothing, camping set up, food, cooking stoves and utensils are carried.


  • Canon EOS R5 and 6 batteries

  • Canon f2.8 16-35mm lens

  • Canon f1.4 50mm lens

  • Canon f2.8 70-200mm lens

  • Mavic Mini 3 and ND filters

  • Polar Pro CP filter

  • Polar Pro ND filter

  • Pelican SD holder and 2-3 SD cards

  • Lightweight Tripod

  • Ronin RS 3 (on occasion)

  • Shimoda Packing Cube

  • Gregory Diva 70L Backpack

  • sleeping matt

  • sleeping bag

  • Jet Boil

  • Water Filtration System

  • GU Energy Gels or Honey Stingers

  • Backcountry Dehydrated Meals (2 per day)

  • Oatmeal for breakfast, snacks such as dried fruit, nuts and protein bars

  • Base layers (top and bottom), fleece, puffy and shell, extra socks

  • Hat, Buff, tuque, mitts and warm gloves


As one can see, day bags and multi-day bags differ substantially in weight. Depending on location, elevation and difficulty of terrain, we will be very selective in the lenses we bring. We will often bring an excess of batteries and external battery chargers if more than 5 days in the field is expected.


 

Beginner Toolkit


While it sounds cliche, we truly believe that anyone starting out in the exciting career of filmmaking should use and become an expert in the camera they can afford. Hone in on your skills, build a portfolio and when you're financially ready to upgrade, research the camera systems that make the most sense for you. Notable systems include, but are not limited to, Sony, Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm.


Below is an entry level bag suitable for a day trek.


  • A solid beginner camera in the Sony line is the Sony ZV-10 or the Sony A7iii

  • A solid beginner camera in the Canon line is the Canon DLSR EOS 90D, or models from the EOS Rebel series such as the Canon EOS Rebel T7

  • 1 or 2 lenses that offer a variety in focal lengths such as the 16-35mm or a 24-70mm. While prime lenses generally have less distortion and chromatic aberration, they come in at a heavier price tag. Therefore budget and environment in which you're shooting are key factors in deciding on appropriate lenses for your kit.

  • Circular Polarizer. These filters are handy to have in your toolkit as they remove and control relections from surfaces like water, glass, leaves, sky, buildings, streets etc.

  • ND Filter (1 - 9 stops). Neutral Density filters allow more control over shutter speeds and aperture settings

  • A great gimbal system to try if you've never used one before with a lightweight mirrorless load is the Zhiyun Crane M35. The DJI Ronin -SC is also suitable for mirrorless setups while the Zhiyun Crane 4 or the SJI RS4 are more professional/expensive gimbal systems.


If multi-day trekking in the outdoors is something you're interested in trying, we would advise to start slow with 1-3 days of camping working your way up to 5 days or more. Leave your camera at home until you've built up your conditioning and feel comfortable carrying heavier loads. Do your research and always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.


Considerations


As you progress through your filmmaking journey, having a working system is key. Dedicate a spot for all your gear and make sure to put it in the same location after each shoot so you know where to find it when you need to pack for your next project.


Make lists ahead of time of the gear you'll need for the scope of the project you're working on. While most of our projects are filmed outside using natural light, if you find yourself working inside, use of lighting gear and/or sound equipment may be necessary to consider. 


Happy Shooting!

 

During our time in Patagonia, we partnered with Lume Cube Lights to make a video focused on "Getting the Shot." For the making of this film we used Neat Video's noise reduction program.


Neat Video seamlessly integrates with Final Cut Pro as a plug in allowing faster editing and efficiency to our workflow given we are able to to work on individual clips on the timeline.



We found this tool extremely helpful with b-roll footage that was a little underexposed. When we brought up the exposure in post processing and added colour grading the footage looked slightly grainy. Neat Video's noise reduction took care of the grain and resulted in clean and crisp footage that can be seen here in this film


Before


After



 

Watch the Film




 

Written by Jenna Dixon in Partnership with Neat Video

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