More often than we’d expect, the topic of tools being used in the automotive industry comes forward. On average, we attend at least 50 events every year, both cosmetic and internationally, so naturally, we have to be equipped with the best tools to do our job. From photography and videography equipment, to gimbals and tripods used, even backpacks, photo bags and microphones, there is a long list of accessories that help us do our job and bring you some great BMW content. Every few years, we put together a refresher article since some of the tools we use might change over the years.
As always, we will kick off this list with the photography equipment and then drill down into other equipment and accessories we’ve used in the past year.
Camera and Lenses
We’ve stayed loyal to the Olympus brand and we still purchase our own equipment. We’re shooting now with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, but with some new lenses. The primary lens is the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 PRO Lens which we use it a lot on test drives, allowing us to give some separating between the object (car) and the landscape. For indoor photography where a wider angle is needed, we rely on the M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 PRO Lens. It’s wide enough to allow us to sneak between tight spaces, but it does have a bit of distortion at the widest angle.
For videos, we use mostly the M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 Lens which we enjoy using it with a gimbal. It’s also a quiet lens so you won’t disturb the audio if you need to adjust it during filming. Recently we’ve also started to use it for lifestyle events but paired with a lightweight body, like the Olympus PEN-F. As a disclaimer, all the links we provided above include an Amazon referral link, but nonetheless, these are the tools of our choice based on our needs.
Over the years, we have relied mostly on products from ZHIYUN, a Chinese company known for their solid products and software applications. Since we’re shooting some of the social media content with iPhones, we’ve been using the Smooth 4 gimbal, mostly because we enjoy its lightweight construction and the fact that it has a longer handle than other gimbals. That allows us to reach higher over crowds, in case we need to capture the content.
On the more professional side, we’re fans of the CRANE 2 gimbal and also the latest and lighter, WEEBILL Lab. The CRANE is known to handle larger cameras and lenses, while the WEEBILL is more portable and easier to take with us on overseas trips. Both are doing the job right, so it comes down to what you prefer to shoot with.
It’s fair to say that the gimbal has been the biggest driver in video quality and it’s highly recommended it if you’re a professional videographer (you probably already own one), or if you’d like to get into pro video making.
Most of our audio equipment comes from RODE, a company that offers one of the largest portfolio of audio equipment. For interviews at auto shows, we rely on the on the SmartLav+, which can record impressive audio even in the noisiest environments. Most of our video interviews have been filmed using this little mic.
For higher quality sound and especially to capture exhaust and engine sound, we’ve been relying on the Rode VideoMic Pro+, which seems to be a popular choice among automotive newsmen.
To capture multiple audio channels at once and for some professional calibration, we use the Tascam DR-44WL.
Photo Bags and Backpacks
To carry all that gear with us, in the most compact and lightest way possible, we’ve decided a few years back on the products from Peak Design. If you haven’t heard of the company, then we recommend reading upon them. They make some of the coolest and most innovative bags we’ve ever used. We started our journey with their products with their EveryDay Backpack, first in a 20 liter configuration and later in the 30 liter. We enjoy the flexibility in size since at some events we don’t need our full gear, so a smaller bag will suffice. But for the time when we need to pack many lenses, cameras and gimbals, the 30 liter EveryDay Backpack is extremely spacious and useful.
They really are more than just a regular backpack and if you watch their How-To videos, we promise you that you will come back impressed with their approach to backpacks.
Recently, we took ownership of the 45 liter Travel Backpack, which thanks to its size and design, it can accommodate both equipment and a change of clothes for shorter trips. With lots of international trips this year, the Travel Backpack was put through some rough environments, from cold and snow all the way up in the Alps, to heavy rain in Germany, and the backpack held up really well, while protecting our gear and clothes.
The bag features top, side, front and rear access via weatherproof zips. It will fit the international carry-on size requirements, and you can even collapse it from a 45 liter capacity to a 35 liter bag. There are tons of tons of internal and external pockets, plus the inside area can be configured in many different ways – either to fully use it as a camera gear hauler, or half cameras and half clothes and toiletry. It’s extremely versatile with a sleek design.
While backpacks are rarely stylish, this one catches a lot of eyeballs and brings many questions since the brand name is very subtle imprinted on the bag.
And since we bought into the Peak Design universe, we added a few accessories in the last year:
- The Capture Clip which allows you to attach the camera to your belt or backpack
- The Cuff which goes around your wrist and attaches to your camera, protecting against accidental drops
- The Slide Lite which is a stylish sling, neck, or shoulder strap
That’s it from Peak Design – if that wasn’t enough – but there are a few more things we’d like to add in the future, like their upcoming super light tripod.
There are some of the major tools we use, but there are of course other small or large accessories that make our life easier on the road – from battery packs to external hard drives, laptops and tablets. So it’s fair to say, that we’re operating a small media studio on-the-go.
If you have any questions about any of these products, please feel free to leave a comment below and we will share our experiences.