Kit and Technical

The Carry-on Conundrum

Looking out on a plane wing as it flies over Asia

They say it’s not really work when you love what you’re doing. That’s a big part of our philosophy at La Pédale. We get to hang out with amazing athletes, we shoot beautiful film of them in full flight, and we get to see the world.

The last of those obviously involves travel, lots of it. Of course, we’d love to get flown everywhere business class, but the reality is lots of short haul flights on whatever airline goes close enough to where the action’s at.

Packing smart is essential when it comes to camera gear, so read on if you want to learn from past masters of globetrotting with expensive kit.

Choosing the right flight

Examine your flight options painstakingly. Don’t just go for the cheapest flight for the sake of saving twenty quid without knowing all of the baggage and carry-on policies.

If it’s an airline like Ryanair, you’ll struggle to be allowed on with the same size hand luggage as easyJet. Generally speaking, the largest size cabin allowance is 56 x 45 x 25cm. Ryanair’s is 55 x 40 x 20cm, which would not accommodate my kit choice. The larger size does – and more on my bag of camera bag of choice later – but what this practically means is that I refuse to fly Ryanair for work. Checking a camera into the hold is not an option for me.

It doesn’t end with the size of your carry-on bag. Some airlines strictly enforce weight limits too. My bag usually weighs around 14kg and with easyJet (no we’re not sponsored by them) this isn’t a problem. With British Airways it may be at times. Generally speaking if you’re a little over their weight limit and explain to the gate staff that your bag contains very expensive camera gear and lithium-ion batteries which are forbidden in the hold, then they will let you on. But not always… I’ve had nerve-wracking standoffs with gate staff right before boarding and it’s not a pleasant situation to be in. Do not put lithium-ion batteries in the hold. This is a safety risk and against the law!

Usually, when purchasing your ticket, you will have the option of a beating-the-queue or priority boarding option for a small extra fee. Take this rather than being one of the last to board when the chances are the overheads will be full.

A good way of booking the right flight is to check available options on Skyscanner, and tick “Nearby Airports” in your search. You can then check each airlines carry-on luggage policies or go further still by using SeatGuru to tell you the kind of plane (smaller short-hop flights may use planes with less overhead luggage capacity).

Choosing the right bag

We’ve seen plenty of shooters carry their kit in a carry-on sized Pelican case, which is the ultimate safe option, but you won’t cram much more than an FS7 and a couple of lenses in there.

We considered the excellent ThinkTank range and came close to pulling the trigger on one but then grabbed a Black Friday offer on Manfrotto’s Roller Bag 70. This rolling case is terrific and incredibly versatile.

In the picture above, we have comfortably loaded it with no less than:

Sony FS7 with attached Zacuto VCT Universal Baseplate
FS7 Shape arm and trigger grip
Zacuto Gratical HD viewfinder
Fujinon 18-55 Cinezoom
Canon 24-105 with Metabones Speedbooster
A pair of Sennheiser G3 radio mics
5 Sony BPU-90 batteries
6 LP-E6 batteries for the Gratical
Zacuto Z-Drive follow focus, rails and lens support
Sony ECM-MS2 camera mic
Rode NTG1 microphone with Rycote deadcat, pistol grip and cable
SLRmagic Variable ND filters
Panasonic GH5 in a Smallrig cage and attached Lumix 20mm f1.7 lens
Macbook Pro 15” with power lead
2 external hard drives

In short, we make sure we carry on everything we would need to hit the ground running even if our checked in luggage doesn’t make it. It may be an inconvenience if our change of underwear doesn’t arrive for a shoot, but it’s nothing less than calamitous if our camera essentials don’t.

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