Carrying photography gear on a ride

seinberg

Member
Hi all,

I consider myself a "serious hobbyist" photographer -- not professional, but have been exhibited a few times and try to carry a "real" camera with me more or less everywhere I go. Phones have come an amazingly long way, but are still nowhere close to a match for a real camera&lens with someone who knows how to use it :)

Anyway, normally I'd just carry a photo backpack with me on a road bike, but with my fancy new ebike that has a rack that panniers can attach to, I figured I'd let the bike do the carrying instead of getting all sweaty with a bag on. I thought I'd find a huge selection of panniers specifically designed for photography gear, but alas, there's basically nothing (a few token things I found on Amazon all looked like not what I'm looking for). I'm curious what others have done when they wanted to carry nice camera gear with them.

My current solution is as follows:

First, start with a Peak Design Small Camera Cube, which can hold about two smaller lenses and a camera with a small lens mounted on it. Increase the size of one of the lenses and you're left with two lenses and the body. I shoot with a Sony A7R3 and like to go light so only carry a 35mm f/2.8 Zeiss, 55mm f/1.8 Zeiss, and an 85mm f/1.8 Sony lens. Sometimes I keep just the camera and a 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens and drop the 35 and 55. You could also do e.g. a 70-200mm f/2.8 and body if you wanted to shoot birds or something like that.
IMG_20190626_075754.jpg

Second, put the camera cube inside a waterproof Ortlieb Downtown 2 padded laptop pannier. It can easily fit a 15" laptop and the camera gear. I tend to put a 13" work laptop & the camera cube in, along with a few odds and ends.
IMG_20190626_080026.jpg

Third and lastly, attach the bag to the bike :) It works really well to carry along on rides. Getting the camera out can take some time, so I tend to leave the camera cube unzipped while latching the Downtown 2 pannier. But once I'm stopped, getting the camera out to take pictures of whatever is around is super easy and knowing everything is secure is really nice.
IMG_20190626_080158.jpg

And Bob's your Uncle! You've got a safe, doubly-padded camera travel ebike solution :)
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
I'd really recommend adding a tombstone-style front rack to your bike (if possible) and using a Rando Bag. They can come in quite enormous sizes (up to 15L) and will hold an enormous amount of camera gear. It is just in general more convenient if all of the gear is right there in front of you so you just step forward and straddle the top tube and break out your gear.

An added bonus is that on many of the designs the oversize lid is secured by a shock cord you wrap around your stem. That means it is easier to reach into the bag when it is closed and grab a snack or a compact camera or whatever.
 

PDoz

Well-Known Member
Consider how you'd feel if the bike fell over on all those expensive toys, or you caught the pannier on passing traffic.

Have you considered a custom built frame bag? I know they're not cheap, but I guess they are when compared with camera bags......the good ones are built for the bikepacking enthusiasts , so tend to be waterproof, well thought out, and priced to match . This is the only one I could find that fitted my triangle....I'm still procrastinating about spending the $

https://www.ovejanegrabikepacking.com/products/superwedgie-frame-bag
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Consider how you'd feel if the bike fell over on all those expensive toys, or you caught the pannier on passing traffic.

Have you considered a custom built frame bag? I know they're not cheap, but I guess they are when compared with camera bags......the good ones are built for the bikepacking enthusiasts , so tend to be waterproof, well thought out, and priced to match . This is the only one I could find that fitted my triangle....I'm still procrastinating about spending the $

https://www.ovejanegrabikepacking.com/products/superwedgie-frame-bag

If I caught the pannier in passing traffic I'd be much more worried about my leg than the camera gear. Always always always with panniers you must put the precious gear on the non-traffic side.

There are a lot of online tutorials on how to make your own frame bag. In general you'll get better results with a homemade one (in terms of fit) than with any store-bought frame bag. They aren't that hard to make and even if you are inept at sewing you should be able to recruit a friend to make one for you.
 

seinberg

Member
Great advice! Thanks all! A bunch of suggestions I hadn't even considered.

I like the idea of bringing a handlebar bag, but most of them look like they mount where my Bosch Intuvia display is mounted. Are there other ways to mount other than literally on the handlebars in the center?

The other limitation with some of the suggestions (like a frame bag) is that my bike doesn't have much room inside the frame -- I don't think much photo gear would realistically fit, not to mention it's wide enough that my legs would probably rub against it as I rode.

One thing I realized that is also more or less a requirement is being able to fit a 13-14" laptop. I use a Surface Book 2 13.5" laptop and a Chromebook Pixel (which is something like 12") pretty regularly and typically have one of them along.

I will say that I'm not very worried about being side-swiped and having the gear ripped off or whatever -- I'd be more worried about myself in that situation, and frankly I live with that risk every day I ride so having a pannier adding a few inches on the side doesn't stick out any farther than my handlebars so I'm not very worried. Similarly with falling over. If it happens, that'll suck, but with double padding in the bag and camera cube I'm pretty comfortable with the risk.

Does any of this information change the suggestions?
 

seinberg

Member
I carry mine in a backpack. If I leave the bike, everything goes with me.

Yes, totally! That's key - easily bringing along. That's why I use the QL3.1 system version of the Downtown 2 bag -- it has a shoulder strap and is super easy to disconnect and take along (literally just lift a small metal wire and pull it off).
 

pnop

Active Member
Yes, totally! That's key - easily bringing along. That's why I use the QL3.1 system version of the Downtown 2 bag -- it has a shoulder strap and is super easy to disconnect and take along (literally just lift a small metal wire and pull it off).

I looked that up. I'm curious about something. How is that for jarring while on the bike? If the backpack is on me, I absorb a good bit of the jarring.
 

seinberg

Member
I looked that up. I'm curious about something. How is that for jarring while on the bike? If the backpack is on me, I absorb a good bit of the jarring.
There're definitely vibrations, but the camera cube and padded pannier both absorb all the jarring vibrations. The QL3.1 system is very secure, so the pannier isn't rattling around on the side; it's pretty firmly secured to the rear rack. The vibrations of the bike aren't enough to worry me -- it's worth it to me to not have a sweaty back, but I know camera gear can be even more precious than bicycling gear to people so understand the desire to keep it in a backpack :)
 

City Commuter

Active Member
I bought my Canon Rebel T2i in 2011 when they just hit the shelves, it has traveled in panniers on various bikes every bike season for thousands of miles. I fold a flannel shirt up and set it in the bottom of the bag with the shirt mainly up against the bike frame inside. The camera never gets jarred that way except for dampened movements transmitted thru the bag, and it does not experience any harsh vibration. It's approaching 14,000 pics and still works like the day I bought it. I still use the original battery, HA! wish ebike batteries lasted that long. :)
 

Bicyclista

Active Member
I'm a professional photographer specializing in architecture and interiors, and I use my car for those assignments due to the sheer weight and quantity of the equipment required: three cameras, several lenses, an electronic gimbal, and a very sturdy tripod. Sometimes a drone.

But I use my full suspension e-mountain bike to access and photograph wildlife, mostly birds. At first I would simply take my camera and a very long zoom lens in my Thinktank Glass Taxi, a backpack specifically made for long telephoto lenses. Then I got an Old Man Mountain rack, the only one that would fit over my 3-inch tires, and is securely supported by my rear axle. I made a custom camera bag out of an Ortlieb pannier, using cushioned dividers to protect the camera and lens from all sides. I carry a Nikon D500 with a 200-500mm zoom lens in that pannier. There is also a compartment for a Leica Monochrom with either a 28mm or a 35mm lens.

Ortlieb sells a water bottle cage for its panniers, and I use it to carry a monopod. The monopod rests in the water bottle cage and the top is clipped to a pannier D-ring for security.

I find that I can get my equipment out and set it up faster with the Ortlieb pannier than with the Thinktank Glass Taxi. Quickness counts when you're photographing birds. I also prefer not to carry a heavy backpack when bicycling.

In two years and maybe 2,500 miles, I have crashed more than once (off-road) while carrying my photo equipment inside the Ortlieb pannier. The equipment has never suffered a scratch. Me, I've had many scratches and bruises!
 
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PaD

Well-Known Member
I usually carry my camera on my back with the ordinary neck/shoulder strap. I would like to have some kind of light chest harness to have the camera ready for a quicker grap and shoot. When using the shouldr strap I often have to move the camera back in position to my back. But I’m used to that:)
My setup is an Olympus EM5 mk ll with an Olympus 9-18mm (18-36mm equiv. on a Sony A7) and a 45mm (90mm equiv.) that I put in the handlebar bag. This is a Micro 4/3 system so my gear is smaller and lighter than @seinbergs Sony and Zeiss gear.
I also use my iPhone 8 as I don’t always bring the Olympus for shorter rides.
Earlier I had a Canon 40D and a 17-55mm and that combo weighed 3.2lb. Carried that over my shoulder for week long bike tours.
The M4/3 setup weighs 1.7lb, camera and the 2 lenses. Maybe I’ll get a 12-40mm 2.8 to replace the 2 lenses on bike tours but I like the 9mm wide angle possibility.
 

seinberg

Member
I usually carry my camera on my back with the ordinary neck/shoulder strap. I would like to have some kind of light chest harness to have the camera ready for a quicker grap and shoot. When using the shouldr strap I often have to move the camera back in position to my back. But I’m used to that:)
My setup is an Olympus EM5 mk ll with an Olympus 9-18mm (18-36mm equiv. on a Sony A7) and a 45mm (90mm equiv.) that I put in the handlebar bag. This is a Micro 4/3 system so my gear is smaller and lighter than @seinbergs Sony and Zeiss gear.
I also use my iPhone 8 as I don’t always bring the Olympus for shorter rides.
Earlier I had a Canon 40D and a 17-55mm and that combo weighed 3.2lb. Carried that over my shoulder for week long bike tours.
The M4/3 setup weighs 1.7lb, camera and the 2 lenses. Maybe I’ll get a 12-40mm 2.8 to replace the 2 lenses on bike tours but I like the 9mm wide angle possibility.

You might consider the Peak Design Capture Clip. That would solve the shoulder strap problem for you, but you’d need something on your body to clip it to like a backpack strap or something like that.

I used to shoot with the first version of your camera, and in fact took it with me on my honeymoon to Scandinavia (Stockholm, Oslo, some Fjords in Norway, and Copenhagen) several years ago. Really great camera and system. I traded that older version and my Canon gear (a full frame DSLR) for the Sony system about a year ago. A bit bigger, but having full frame and only a single system was worth it to me.
 
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PaD

Well-Known Member
You might consider the Peak Design Capture Clip. That would solve the shoulder strap problem for you, but you’d need something on your body to clip it to like a backpack strap or something like that.

I used to shoot with the first version of your camera, and in fact took it with me on my honeymoon to Scandinavia (Stockholm, Oslo, some Fjords in Norway, and Copenhagen) several years ago. Really great camera and system. I traded that older version and my Canon gear (a full frame DSLR) for the Sony system about a year ago. A bit bigger, but having full frame and only a single system was worth it to me.
Thanks a lot for info about the Capture Clip. I’ll look into that.
I fully understand you wanted a full frame camera with the picture qualities and possibilities and the Sony is quite compact too.