Here we will outline all of the camera gear that Surviving Europe uses to take video and photographs throughout our travels. With all the research that we’ve done, and with the strict budget that we needed to stick to, this is the best of the best, in what we can afford right now. As we get further along in our journey, there will of course be some upgrades, but this list proved to be a GREAT starting point for us to capture each life changing adventure! And since camera equipment only continues to become more advanced every day, this page will grow along with it. So basically, we’ll do ALL the research, purchasing and testing, and report back to YOU!
Sony Alpha a6000 Interchangeable Lens Camera
The Sony Alpha a6000 is our main camera for both photo and video. It’s been performing flawlessly and has been a really impressive piece of equipment! Prior to this camera, we owned the Sony NEX-3 along with various Sony lenses. Since the e-mount lenses are interchangeable, it was a frugal choice to stay in this same line. All the pictures on our site and most videos have been shot with this camera so, as you can see, it is AWESOME! The Sony Alpha a6000 is also one of Sony’s best selling cameras so we are definitely not alone when we say it is BEYOND worth it!
Sony NEX-3NL/W Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera
The Sony NEX-3 was the first camera we invested in. There are definitely upgrades available, but we’ve found the NEX-3 is reliable and certainly gets the job done. Because we’ve recently upgraded to the a6000, we use this camera as backup. And it is the best back up you can find! Most of the time, we leave it behind during our treks, but we do take it with us when we aren’t carrying large backpacks or large camera cases. It’s smaller and super easy to throw in a small bag when we head out for a more casual adventure!
Sony HDR-AS100VR POV Action Video Camera with Live View Remote
The Sony ActionCam is our favorite camera to use, and is an alternative to the more popular GoPro. We went with the Sony Action Cam vs the GoPro for a few reasons. Not only is it less expensive, it has a GREAT wrist monitor that allows you to control the camera right from your wrist! The ActionCam also has a longer battery life and shoots the high quality video and images that Sony is known for. We were so impressed by this camera that we purchased two – one of which is the new 4K! While shooting, we set both cams up in different places, allowing us to get a few extra shots in. The ActionCam can also operate as our main camera when we have to pack light and can’t fit the a6000. We did a TON of research before purchasing it and consulted a few trusted production companies, just to be sure. Even though some owned GoPros, they regret not purchasing the Sony Action Cam. Just because everyone is buying one thing doesn’t mean that it’s always the right thing to buy. Remember that before you decide to purchase your own action camera!
Sony Alpha SEL1855 E-mount 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Lens
This lens came with the Sony Alpha a6000 and it is the main lens we use. It’s not powered for zoom, like the Sony SELP1650 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens, but has a very smooth manual zoom. Eventually we’d like to invest in the Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 Lens to offer a larger range, but for now, we are more than satisfied using this lens on a daily basis.
Sony SEL50F18/B 50mm f/1.8 E-mount Lens
Our 50mm lens is used for most still portrait images we take. We always keep this lens on hand because it produces the crispest images out of all the lenses we own. If it can be shot with the 50mm,than it is!
Sony SELP1650 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens
This lens came with the NEX-3 camera, and is great to use with video. The power zoom is a bit fast but as long as you aren’t relying on it for smooth shots you are good to go! This lens usually stays behind in our travels, another one of our insurance policies, but for the SEL1855 lens. With all the journeying we’ll be doing, backups are KEY!
Polaroid Studio Series Snap Mount Lens Cap
The 49mm lens cap works with both the Sony Alpha SEL1855 and the Sony SEL50F18/B. The 40.5mm lens cap works with the Sony SELP1650. We always have a second one handy. Gotta protect your precious lenses, people!
Neewer 5 Lens Cap Leash Lens Cap Holder/Safety Cord
These are very underestimated. I can’t count the amount of times we are looking for our lens cap! It can turn an amazing shoot into an unnecessarily frustrating event, simply because you can’t find your cap. Erin (girl) tends to have issues placing things where she remember (you should see my purse…) These little guys stick to the lens cap and attach to the camera’s lens so it is always attached to the camera. Never again will your cap go missing! Quick tip though – take it off while filming so you don’t record the sound of the lens cap hitting up against the camera.
Fotasy RBE2X 2x Rear Lens Cover and Camera Body Cap Set for Sony E-Mount
When you are changing out your lenses, it’s always best to do so carefully AKA have a rear lens cover handy! We just got two of these so we always have extra on hand. Better off spending a few bucks and keeping the lens covered than dropping hundreds of dollars replacing a lens completely!
MeFoto A1350Q1T Roadtrip Travel Tripod Kit (Titanium)
This tripod is amazing!! It has everything we were looking for in a tripod. It weighs 3.6 lbs and can hold up to 17.6 lbs. It extends from 15.4″ when folded to 61.6″ when extended, and also turns into a monopod! Since I started filming, I’ve used the Manfrotto 682B Self Standing Monopod with a Manfrotto 128RC Micro Fluid Head. Even though I LOVE that monopod, it is just too big and too heavy to bring with us on a shoot. I couldn’t find a monopod with feet that wasn’t heavy and bulky (I purchased and returned the Manfrotto MVM500A Aluminum Fluid Monopod because it was still to heavy and bulky), so I went with the Tripod/Monopod hybrid at half the height and less than half the weight. Even though the head that comes with the MeFOTO tripod is great, I will still be using my Manfrotto 128RC Micro Fluid Head. Maybe we’ll need to adjust, in order to cut down on weight, but there is nothing like the Manfrotto 128RC regardless of the weight, so for now, that’s the winner!
Manfrotto 128RC Micro Fluid Head with 200PL 14 RC2 Rapid Connector Plate
I have had this Fluid Head for over 10 years and LOVE IT! It may be a bit bulky and heavy, but in my opinion, it’s worth a sore back. This thing has been though everything and I wouldn’t film a day without it!
Manfrotto 234RC Monopod Head Quick Release
I have had this monopod head for over 10 years as well, and is a great lighter option to use while shooting with the monopod. Even though the Manfrotto 128RC works great with the heavy Manfrotto 682B Self Standing Monopod, it is a bit too heavy for the MeFOTO monopod. In this case the Manfrotto 234RC is a great choice.
Manfrotto Quick Release Plate with Special Adapter
You can never have enough of these! I have 2 extra plates with me at all times so I don’t need to keep taking them off to switch out equipment.
Neewer 160 LED CN-160 Dimmable Ultra High Power Panel Digital Camera / Camcorder Video Light
To be honest with you, I am no where near the best in the industry at lighting. The more and more I looked into the Sony HVLF43M High Power Flash with Quick Shift Bounce, the more I wanted to get it, but I never had the nerve to drop that kind of cash on a flash/light. So, I purchased the cheaper NEEWER® 160 LED CN-160. So far the light has performed great! The only problem is that it’s not very small, and takes up a lot of room in my bag. I looked into the CNG CN-LUXPAD22 0.6″/1.5cm Ultra Thin 11W 112-LED 5600K/3200K LED Video Light, but I am not a fan of buying new Sony NP-FM or NP-F batteries for it. The good thing about the CN-160 is that it takes AA batteries. I use rechargeable Panasonic Eneloop Pro Batteries to power this light.
Neewer 5.9“x6.7”/15×17 cm Camera Collapsible Diffuser Mini Softbox
The Neewer CN-160 comes with one orange and one white plastic diffuser, but they seemed a bit harsh for some indoor situations, so I got the Collapsible Diffuser Mini Softbox. It’s proved to work much better and fits nicely on the light. It also comes in a bag that can fit the entire light, so it serves 2 purposes! This purchase is a must with the CN-160.
Smatree Adjustable GoPro Clamp Mount+ Tripod Mount with 13.4“ Gooseneck Extension
So I don’t have the space or money for a professional light stand or tripod, so I purchased this clamp to attach to my tripod. I picked the GoPro mount because it had the best reviews, specifically about how well it can be adjusted and how durable it is, which are both important qualities. As expected, the mount has worked well for our videos, and I’ll keep this in my bag for sure.
Neewer 110CM 43-Inch 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi-Disc Light Reflector
I knew that I needed to get a 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi-Disc Light Reflector for both outdoor and in studio shots, but I didn’t mean to get the 43 incher. This is a great size for when we need to shoot in our apartment or somewhere close, but it folds up too wide to fit in my bag. This size is very helpful, but it’s not ideal for shooting on the run, SO I invested in a 32 inch to replace this one.
NEEWER 32-Inch 80CM Portable 5 in 1 Multi Disc Light Reflector for Studio
The 32-Inch Portable 5 in 1 Multi Disc Light Reflector for Studio is the perfect size for my bag. This is used for most of our speaking shots when filming on the go. I can’t stress enough on how important it is to be able to manipulate natural lighting. I still have a lot to learn on how to use this properly, but that will come with time and practice.
Zoom H5 Four-Track Portable Recorder
I was going to get a Zoom H4 or a TASCAM DR-05, but after enough research, the Zoom H5 was the clear winner. Yes, it’s the most expensive of the three, but I’d rather pay for the right equipment in the beginning, since capturing some of our adventures may be a once in a lifetime chance! Unlike the Zoom H4, you can buy different types of microphones to attach to the recorder. With the H4, I would have needed to get a shotgun mic to plug into it like the Rode NTG2, which was suggested to me. Though the setup seemed great and the Rode mics are amazing, I needed to pick something that was more backpack friendly. I also wanted to make sure I could record audio from anywhere we go, and the Zoom H5 definitely fulfills that need. This mic is used to record outdoor sounds, music, and when the shotgun mic is attached, on location and studio vocals. The sound is unreal, and the amount of features it has are nearly endless. I recommend this to anyone who wants to record professional crisp audio!
Zoom SGH-6 Shotgun Microphone Capsule
This shotgun mic has been compared to the Rode NTG2 and in my opinion, is the clear winner! It’s much lower profile, and fits right onto the Zoom H5 without any trouble. I use this mic when I need to pick up crisp vocals while recording in the field. The only thing that would make this mic better, is if it came with a case to keep it stored nicely, though I found a great case for it in the meantime.
Movo WS140 Professional Windscreen with Acoustic Foam Technology for Shotgun Microphones up to 12cm Long
Even though the Zoom SGH-6 Shotgun Microphone comes with a windscreen, I chose to beef it up with a thicker one. The wind in the Alps can be brutal and I didn’t want to take any chances.
Movo SMM5 Universal Camera Microphone Shockmount with 1/4“ Mounting Thread
Since the Zoom H5 is hyper sensitive to sounds, you NEED a shockmount. The last thing you want is to shoot that perfect shot, think you nailed it, then go back to listen and find there are bumps and scratches in the background from touching the camera. Spend the little extra cash it takes to avoid that!
Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder
When filming on location, on a budget, in Europe, the last thing you need are wireless mics. When I started looking for wireless lavaliere mics and receivers, the choices were endless. I then went to my good friend at Core Productions and he advised against it. He let me know about the Zoom H1, since I was already a Zoom fan, and knew how to use them as a lav mic recorder. We purchased two of these mics to make sure we both had one on us at all times while filming. The sound is amazing Zoom quality, as expected. This mic can also be used as an area mic and a microphone for interviews or whatever you’d need. If you don’t have the money to get a Zoom H5 set up, then the Zoom H1 is a great start!
Neewer 3.5mm Hands Free Computer Clip on Mini Lapel Microphone
These Lavaliere mics were rated super high on Amazon, so I figured it was worth a try with the price being so low. I got a whole bunch of these since they get beat up pretty easily. The sound quality isn’t bad at all, and you truly get what you pay for. I am scared to use anything more expensive than these, since we are backpacking, and who knows what can happen to them. So far I have only destroyed one of them, and it was totally my fault! I would get these even as a backup.
Rode Dead Kitten Windscreen
The Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder doesn’t come with a windscreen so I purchased the Rode Dead Kitten Windscreen after reading its great reviews. Since I mainly use the Zoom H1 as a lav recorder, I haven’t needed to use the screen yet, but it will come in handy when I don’t want to lug my Zoom H5 around.
Movo SMM2 Camera Shoe Shockmount for Shotgun Microphones 1“ to 2” in Diameter
Again, with the Zoom sound sensitivity you need to get a mount for the Zoom H1 if you plan to use it to capture sound from the camera. This, like the Dead Kitten Windscreen, stay in my bag as a backup.
SanDisk Extreme 64GB UHS-I/U3 SDXC Memory Card Up To 60MB/s
I use these memory cards in my Sony Alpha a6000 Interchangeable Lens Camera. The cards are great and have worked flawlessly so far. I have 4 of these, which may seem a bit extreme, but with the way we film and take pictures, we need all the memory we can get. Plus, I like to keep my raw footage on the memory card until I complete my project for safety purposes. As you may have noticed by now, we are not exactly minimalists when it comes to our equipment – backups and being prepared for everything is KEY to your success.
SanDisk Extreme PRO 64GB UHS-I/U3 Micro SDXC Memory Card Speeds Up To 95MB/s With 4K Ultra HD Ready
I purchased 2 of these cards to use with the Sony HDR-AS100VR POV Action Video Camera as an upgrade from the SanDisk Extreme 64GB UHS-I/U3 Micro SDXC Memory Card Up To 60MB/s Read With Adapter that I am currently using. Really, there was just a sale on the SanDisk Extreme PRO 64GB when I wanted to get 2 more cards so I got them for obvious reasons. I think the SanDisk Extreme 64GB are good enough, but if you see the PROs on sale, go for the gold!
SanDisk Ultra 32GB UHS-I/Class 10 Micro SDHC Memory Card Up to 48MB/s With Adapter
I use these cards with the Zoom H1 since the max the Zoom can support is 32gb. This is more than enough to record the best quality for a whole day. I keep a card in both Zooms and have 2 backup cards, just in case.
SanDisk Extreme 32GB UHS-I/U3 SDHC Memory Card Up To 60MB/s Read
I use these cards with the Zoom H5. I keep one in the mic and 2 as backup because…why not?! These cards are a bit of an overkill for recording sound, but I’d rather have too much than not enough!
Chargers and Batteries
OAproda Patent NP-FW50 Portable Ultra Slim MICRO USB Camera Charger for Sony
Staying portable is key! I found this brand of chargers that will charge my Sony NP-FW50 Battery using micro USB. That means that I can charge the camera battery for my Sony Alpha a6000 or Sony NEX-3 with either a wall plug or a portable battery brick while on location. These chargers are low profile and light. Though they may feel cheap, they’ve worked out perfectly so far. They aren’t considered “smart” chargers so you need to make sure you don’t overcharge your battery. Overall, an inexpensive piece of equipment that’s 100% worth it!
Wasabi Sony NP-FW50 Power Battery (2-Pack) and Charger
Even though these batteries have mixed reviews, they’ve worked out great for me. This is the cheapest way to purchase the Sony NP-FW50 Power Battery that are used in both my Sony Alpha a6000 and Sony NEX-3. I have 12 of these batteries because they last about 90 minutes, and the last thing I want to run into while traveling is missing something because of a dead battery. This bundle comes with a charger that I keep back at the apartment. Just be smart and put a timer on while charging these batteries and you will be fine!
Four Halcyon 1800 mAH Lithium Ion Replacement NP-BX1 Battery and Charger Kit
These batteries are used with our Sony Action Video Camera. Since we have two of these cameras, we needed to make sure we had at least 12 of these batteries as well. Even though they are our backup cameras, we have two, and to miss a moment would defeat the purpose of this adventure we are taking! Just like the Wasabi brand of batteries, Four Halcyon has mixed reviews as well. Just put a timer on your phone when charging these batteries to make sure you never overcharge them and you’re good to go. This kit also comes with a charger that I leave back at the apartment.
OAproda NP-BX1 Portable Ultra Slim Micro USB Camera Battery Charger for SONY NP BX1
Luckily OAproda makes a micro usb charger for the SONY NP BX1 as well! I bring this charger with me everywhere. These chargers mixed with my Poweradd Apollo Pro 23000mAh High Capacity Solar Panel Charger means I will never run out of charge…EVER!
Sony RMTDSLR2 Wireless Remote for Alpha & NEX
The hardest thing about traveling as a couple is that we have a hard time taking a picture together. Of course we can rock a selfie, but we’re not very good at those. For the people like us, a Wireless Remote is very necessary! This is also great for filming. I have this remote close to me at all times.
ProAm USA 3“ DSLR Screen LCD Video Monitor Hood
A hood is very important when shooting video on the move. Since external monitors are out of the question due to their size, weight, and additional set up time, I got this little guy for my Sony A6000’s screen. The screen pops out so it fits on easily. If you want to go a little more pro for more money you can get the Hoodman HD-300VIDEO Hood for 2.5-Inch to 3-Inch 16×9 HD LCD Screens. It’s a good second option, but doesn’t fit as well as the ProAm. I have both for some reason – I guess the more the merrier!
Fotasy LcdA6000 Optical Polycarbonate Hard LCD Screen Protector for Sony Alpha A6000
Protect your screens! I get screen protectors for everything. Since my on board camera screen is used as my main screen, I made every effort to protect it. It’s always better and cheaper than replacing it!
MagicFiber Premium Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
You can never have enough cleaning cloths and MagicFiber brand is amazing! I purchased a package of these and The Amazing MagicFiber Extra Large. I wrap electronics with these as well as use them everywhere. I think I have one in almost every pocket of my bag.
Silica Gel Desiccants 2-1/4 x 1 1/2 Inches
Moisture is the death of any electronic so avoid it at all costs! I purchased a few bags of these and have one in every pocket of my bag and electronics cases. No matter how waterproof your bag or case may be, it’s a cheap insurance policy. This will also help soak up any extra moisture in humid situations. Once you see the packets start to expand, throw it out and replace. Then, check the electronic it was closest to to ensure it works properly. If it does, thank the beads!
Mediabridge FLEX Series Micro-HDMI to HDMI Cable (6 Feet)
This cable is used to view any pictures or video taken on any HDMI monitor from the Sony Alpha a6000. This is also great to use when we film in our apartment. We just hook the camera up to the TV and can use it as a giant monitor for our shoot!
Heavy Duty Photography L Bracket with 2 Standard Flash Hot Shoe Mounts
This is in my bag at all times. When I am not shooting b-roll, I have this thing attached to the camera. The L Bracket allows me to add both the Zoom H5 or Zoom H1 and the Neewer 160 LED Video Light at the same time. I don’t like heavy equipment attached to my camera’s hot shoe, so this holds the weight for me. Great thing about it is you can attach the bracket to a Connector Plate, so I can shoot on my tripod as well!
3 Axis Hot Shoe Bubble Spirit Level
Nobody is perfect, but this level can make you look perfect. Throwing this on a tripod, camera, or bracket is a must when filming. This level will ensure that all of your shots are framed correctly when the grid view on the camera’s screen isn’t enough. It is a cheap aid to enhance your shot consistency.
PNC DSLR Camera GearBox GB-2 Video Accessory Cage comes W/ 15mm Rod
This cage is used on short trips where we have a lot of planned shots. It’s a bit heavy and large, so it’s not in my bag at all times. I have this cage loaded with two LimoStudio Mini Black Double Screw Angle 1/4″ Hot Shoe Mount Adapter Holder and two Ikan ELE-CS Cold Shoe Adapter to hold all audio and lighting equipment that I need. The cage can also be attached to a Connector Plate to be able to shoot with a tripod. When it’s all hooked up with the Zoom H5 and the Zoom SGH-6 Shotgun Microphone for vocals, Zoom H1 for area sounds, the Neewer 160 LED Video Light, the 3 Axis Hot Shoe Bubble Spirit Level, and the Sony Alpha a6000 on the MeFoto A1350Q1T Roadtrip Travel Tripod I feel invincible. And so can you!
Okay, now you have ALL of our camera gear secrets! We hope this extensive list will help you decide what to invest in and what to save for in the future. Make sure you use the links provided to purchase the items you decide on, and don’t forget to stay tuned, as this list will only continue to grow with our travels.