Camera adventure

Photography / Choosing the right camera

Most of us take photos of our travels to remember and to share our rides with others.

For some riders, that cell phone in your pocket is all you’ll ever need or want. If you have a new phone, the image quality can be very good, and even better if you add the Pro Camera app as it gives you a lot more options.

Photo: rtwpaul

A small point-and-shoot camera could be a step forward, if it gives you more control and options; there are a few high quality ones that are waterproof.

A bridge camera could be the next step up from point-and-shoot, with more capabilities from a DSLR. You can’t change lenses, but it has the ease of use of a compact camera and will (usually) give you better image quality.

The next evolutionary step is to upgrade to a proper DSLR or mirrorless camera. You can take this step if you’re looking for a much higher quality image, possibly submitting photos and/or magazine articles of your travels, or if you’re planning on blowing up some of your shots in large poster size a once you get home for the framing.

…but where to start, how to choose what will work for motorcycle travel?

Since graduating from photography a few decades ago in college, I’ve gone through more than my fair share of cameras and lenses, and to be honest, most would have failed miserably at motorcycle trips. They were just too delicate.

My current setup is relatively small, compact, durable, and functional enough to cover just about every situation I find myself in.

In my tank bag here is my complete kit –

  • sony a6300
  • Sony 18-105, f4G zoom lens
  • Laowa 9mm, f2.8 manual lens

Photo: rtwpaul

In my luggage I also carry

Photo: Amazon

I used to carry around a selection of prime lenses, but found that I used them less and less, and changing them opened up the risk of dust ingress and damage, and of course that added weight to carry.

Why this selection of material?

The Sony a6300 – is a small-sized mirrorless camera with huge capabilities. (no, this is not a Sony sponsored article!).

  • 24MP Exmor CMOS sensor.
  • 425 phase-detection points for “4D Focus” hybrid autofocus.
  • 4K video (UHD) – 25/24p from full width, 30p from smaller crop.
  • 2.36 million dot OLED viewfinder with 120 fps mode.
  • Dust and moisture resistant magnesium alloy body.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi with NFC connection option.
  • Built-in microphone jack.

The most important item on this list and the reason I bought it (for me) is that it is dust and moisture resistant. Once the lens is on, it is weatherproof.

The Sony 18-105, f4G lens

Photo: rtwpaul

  • motorized zoom, all zoom functions are performed internally, so that dust ingress is not possible
  • weatherproof
  • image stabilization
  • works with Sony Clear Image Zoom

This last element, the clear image zoom, what is it?

Clear Image Zoom is a Sony feature that is hidden in the menu of this camera, and a few others allow you to enlarge the image by adding zoom with image quality close to the image quality of this camera. origin when shooting still images.

The camera first zooms optically to maximum optical magnification, then uses Clear Image Zoom technology to magnify the image an additional 2x, producing crisp, clear images despite the increased zoom ratio.

Photo: rtwpaul

In short, with a simple click my 105mm zoom is now a 210mm zoom without loss of sharpness!

There is also an option in the menu for digital zoom which will give 4x zoom but reduce image quality slightly.

What does this mean for adventure motorcycling and photography combined?

I now have an 18-105mm lens with an 18-210mm range, with amazing image quality (420mm with digital zoom, lower quality). My camera is weatherproof, so I’m not afraid to take my camera out in light rain or dust storms. I very rarely have to remove the lens, which means there’s little to no chance of dust getting inside the housing or onto the sensor.

These photos are purposely shot at the camera’s lowest standard resolution without editing to show you the worst an image can be, but also the range, high resolution RAW images are considerably better for processing.

Why do I remove the lens from time to time?

I use my other Laowa 9mm manual lens for astrophotography. It gives me a lot more control when shooting the night sky.

Photo: rtwpaul

In conjunction with the manual lens for night shots, I carry a small, extremely lightweight, very compact, and inexpensive (about $90) carbon fiber tripod. I have now been using this setup for about four years and about 75,000 miles/120,000 km. My only damage to the camera is the outer glass of the viewfinder eyepiece. To keep everything safe, the tank bag is surrounded by heavy-duty packing foam. If you’ve followed my travels, you’ll know that I rarely ride in paved/clean environments. I’m mostly in the dirt, so my gear is tested daily to its absolute limit!

Photo: rtwpaul

Images captured by this camera have been used in dozens upon dozens of print magazines and websites around the world and not once has an editor rejected an image due to lack of quality or sharpness. There is an additional article I also wrote for on how to always get sharp images, might be worth reading for some?

As this is a question I get asked regularly, I thought this would be a good question to share, obviously what works for me, may not work for you. If you have a different setup that works well for your travels, include it in the comments section below.