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ultralight documentary gear? ;)
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Loren B

Locale: London UK, Greenville USA
ultralight documentary gear? ;) on 01/24/2013 14:10:02 MST Print View

Hey all. Long time forum lurker here - First post ;).

I've been planning a bit of a round the world adventure for a year now. My goal is to hitch-bike (hitchhike and cycle) around the world and film a travel documentary along the way. I hitched through Russia last year and it was an amazing experience - this will be a step up from that.

I'm a huge fan of Goddfrey Reggio and Ron Fricke's Koyaanisqatsi, Baraka, Samsara style documentaries ( Anyone who hasn't heard of them you should check one of them out. Think nature documentary, but about humans and the earth. Spectacular movies which consist of a lot of beautifully shot scenes including a bunch of timelapse and slow motion photography.

So as a bit of a side project along the way I plan to also make a 20-30 minute film trying to tell a bit of a story in a similar way to koyaanisqqatsi. It will involve quite a few timelapses and slow-mo of city scenes and crowds of people, areas of natural beauty, startrails, sunrises and sunsets etc. Also a bit of aerial footage since I will be taking a quadcopter (at least for part of the trip)

Anywho, as you can imagine I want to go as lightweight as possible. A lot easier to do it seems with clothing, sleep systems etc, but I am struggling to find a way that I can film what I want to film and keep it all relatively lightweight. My camera gear list will probably make a lot of ultralighters feel nauseous so apologies for that, but I am a bit of a one man band operation and need to get all kinds of shots for this project. Here is my current gear list.

-Panasonic GH3. Many shooting options, fast autofocus, image stabilisation, mic input, headphone output, weather sealed. Perfect for video and stills. 19 oz (body only)
-shotgun microphone 4.7 oz
-GH3 batteries 9.4 oz
-Varavon slidecam lite ( Lightweight camera slide which I will motorize for timelapses. Lightest I have been able to find without building it myself. 43.2 oz
-Motion controls. Built by my brother and I. Motorised track and pan 25 oz
-Manfrotto 701HDV Fluid tripod Head 28 oz
-Benro C0180T tripod legs 28.8 oz
-DJI Phantom quadcopter. For filming my own aerial shots. hell yeah! ( 28.2 oz
-GoPro black. for aerial shots, timelapses, rainy filming, first person shots. Very versatile. High enough video resolution to allow software image stabilisation :D. 7 oz
-canon s100. Backup camera. 7 oz

total weight 200.3 oz = 12.52 pounds = 5.68 kg *faints*

This is also without chargers and wires, and also no lenses for the gh3 so the real total would be even more. So there it is. My extremely non-ultralight gear list. Any ideas on how I could lighten this up a bit while still keeping most of the functionality? Any advice would be much appreciated.



Edited by ljamesb on 01/24/2013 14:51:31 MST.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: ultralight documentary gear? ;) on 01/24/2013 18:23:42 MST Print View

No idea how to make it lighter. Your video head is heavy, but a good one, and the CF tripod is decent for the weight. The GH3 should be excellent - I have a GH2 with which I am very happy. I'd take the 12-35/2.8 and the 35-100/2.8 to save weight over prime lenses - both zooms are excellent. The 7-14/4 might come in handy. Maybe take a fast prime for low light shots. Or get the 12/25/45/75 primes which are all very fast and good but less easy to use.

One thing that I always worry about that is not on your list: a backup camera. I usually have backups for my backups on paid jobs. On something like this I'd be very uncomfortable out in the world with no backup (and I don't think the GoPro is really a backup, right?) I guess that means a second GH3, or you can get a used GH2 for about $500US if you are willing to carry a second set of batteries and chargers. (Oh, yeah, bring two chargers for stuff, as they sometimes fail.)

Sounds like an awesome trip. Have fun.