“I capture my rides & travel so I can relive the moments which inspire me to ride out the next weekend again and again" - Unknown
Photography inspires you to notice the beauty around you; be it the beautiful light, patterns of nature, architecture, people and so on. For a few of us, it is unimaginable to go on a tour without a camera. We take photos to capture several moments and preserve them for lifetime. We like to share those documented memories with the loved ones. Motorcycles may take us to the places which are considered inaccessible by most cars. Sometimes, reaching such amazing locations is a pure bliss. And to relive the thrill, the excitement, the moments, you need to take photos and/or videos. Alas, what's the point of going on a tour and not taking any photos?
So here we are with a brand new guide about How to tour on a motorcycle while carrying your DSLR camera. Points covered are -
- How to safely carry DSLR camera on a motorcycle tour
- Things that can damage your camera on a tour
- Motorcycle touring with DSLR and tripod
- Which DSLR camera lenses to carry on a motorcycle ride
- 10 reasons to leave DSLR/mirrorless camera at home when bike touring
Modern phones have made life easy for most of us as they can shoot in burst mode, do a slow-mo-video and you can edit on the go. However, the phone pics don’t always do justice and most of us bikers love to shoot some amazing pics along the road. Thats where a proper DSLR/Mirrorless camera comes in. But how to carry one along? Lets discuss
How To Safely Carry DSLR Camera on a motorcycle Tour / Best way to travel with a DSLR
The safest and the best way to carry your camera along is in a backpack. This way the camera equipment gets the least amount of jerks and shocks. However if you carry a backpack it causes severe other issues in riding.
If the backpack is kept loose it dangles around and hampers your cornering. If the straps are kept too tight, then after sometime the weight is felt on your shoulders and this will tire you much faster on a tour.
The second best method is to plonk it on the left hand side of your hard pannier, inside a camera bag and with some cushion all around. Save some of the bubble pops or the air bag packaging you must have received along with a flipkart or amazon parcel and use it over here. Remember not to keep the camera above exhaust side, and do not keep it in a (soft)saddle bag as in case of crash you might damage your camera equipment.
The third best, yet the most practical and cheapest method to carry your camera is in a tank bag. Purchase a tank bag which can accommodate a small camera bag (1 camera + 2-3 lenses should be good enough for the trip), add some padding at the bottom/sides and presto!
A tank bag is safest in case of a crash. It is easily accessible all the time and you don’t have to unmount from the bike to access your camera for a quick shot and a tank is the place which is also less affected from shocks and jerks. The only caveat being limited space for your DSLR and lenses.
Things that can damage your camera on a tour:
- Shake & Vibrations.
- An unfortunate crash.
- If it's windy out there and you are trying to switch lenses, the sensor could collect dust.
- Moisture & rains.
- Extreme weather can cause condensation inside the lens/viewfinder and cold weather damages batteries.
- Going under or falling in a water crossing
- Carry a microfiber cloth to keep the camera clean
- Keep an air blower duster & sensor cleaning kit
- Carry silica gel packs with zip lock bags to keep moisture out
- Plastic bags to keep your camera safe from rain.
- Use lens flipper kind of a device to switch lenses quickly if you have to.
Motorcycle Touring with DSLR and Tripod
One of the biggest decisions a motorcycle tourer faces is to carry a tripod or not. People want to take shots of Milky way, star trails and long exposure shots of waterfalls and what not.
My suggestion is Do not carry it. These days you get octopus tripods or gorilla mounts which are small, lightweight and flexible and can be used in a variety of ways.
If however you still intend to carry it, on top of the saddlebag flap, there are usually belts/tighteners where you fix for triport for the trip.
Which DSLR/Mirrorless camera lenses to carry on a motorcycle ride?
Each lens is special and gives a different perspective. One of the toughest choices to make before you embark on your journey is which lenses to pick for the ride.
If wishes were horses, I will carry all my three cameras and 12 lenses on the ride. But, we are bound by both space and weight for a tour. So which one will it be?
I would always recommend using one-do-it-all lens. So, for a full frame camera pick something like a 24-105mm F4 which gives a good range of wide and telephoto both. For crop sensor cameras I just love the 18-135mm zooms. They are versatile and work well in every condition. If you must carry one more lens, an ultra wide lens also makes a lot of sense, like a 16-35mm F4 on a full frame or a 10-22mm/10-18mm on a crop sensor body.
F4 lenses also make more sense than F2.8 lenses because they are much lighter and smaller and since most of the travelling happen in broad daylight F2.8 doesn't help much over an F4 lens. 80% of your landscape shots will be taken at F8-F11 and F4 lenses are capable of giving amazing results in that F-Stop range.
Why just one or two lenses for your ride? Because everytime you change lenses, there is a high risk of dust coming on to the sensor.
10 reasons to leave DSLR/Mirrorless camera at home when bike touring
So far we have discussed how to carry your camera on the trip. But a question remains in the minds of many, do you really need to carry one for the trip ?
- Phone camera will do 80% of the job a DSLR/Mirrorless camera will do.
- DSLR/Mirrorless camera is extra luggage and equipment which you will have to lug all the time
- DSLR/Mirrorless camera on a bike trip may incur physical damage if you crash
- DSLR/Mirrorless camera may get stolen while travelling and you will have to take extra care of the camera.
- Rains or humid weather may cause moisture to creep inside the camera causing internal damage to circuit or sensor and later on fungus/moulds formation inside the camera or lens.
- DSLR/Mirrorless camera will make it “one more battery to charge every night”
- You may have to carry a laptop to make backups of the pics and videos you will be taking. Even a smart copying device like this will mean you need to spend more bucks for your travel.
- You may have to carry/buy a spare battery and extra memory cards for the trip which will cost more money.
- You may have to get your camera cleaned and serviced after the trip as it is highly likely that sensor would have accumulated dust along the trip.
We hope that the above tips and suggestions will help you keep your camera safe. Choose the best lenses for your travel, click some amazing pics and share with everyone.
So choose wisely and ride happily.
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