A big part of what I do at Motorcycle Tourer involves photography. Working with big brands in this industry necessitates the use of my camera just as much as my bike. So I need a setup that fits my needs and doesn’t fall to bits under the harsh demands of touring.
But I’m not the only one. Most of our readers are touring motorcyclists. And touring motorcyclists travel just as much for the scenery as the roads.
Many of you have creative aspirations. Some of you take shots for your own memories. And for most, a smartphone (or an old-school point-and-shoot) does the job just fine.
But there are also a lot of you who take photography a little more seriously. For you, you shoot with purpose. You edit your shots, post them on social media, and the process of creativity is as significant as the riding.
And it’s those riders who regularly ask me about the gear I use. So for you, I decided to put together this post to highlight my current setup – and more importantly, why it’s become my setup of choice.
Choosing The Best Camera For Motorcycle Travel
As mentioned above, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using a smartphone on your travels. As technology gets better, cheaper, and more accessible, we now have (almost) pro-grade setups in our pockets.
And with smartphones such as the iPhone 14 Pro Max on their way, there are serious questions about whether we even need ‘proper’ cameras at all.
Soon, the best camera for motorcycle travel will be a smartphone. But that’s another debate for another day!
The Benefits Of A Dedicated Setup
Currently, a dedicated camera setup gives you greater versatility, better dynamic range, and enhanced image quality. And that’s not to mention the satisfaction that comes simply from using it.
See, we all snap shots on our smartphones. And it’s so easy, so accessible, and so intuitive that no thought is needed to do so.
It’s mundane. Run-of-the-mill. Second nature.
But your mindset shifts when you take out a camera to take an image. And that’s because you’re not just snapping a shot. You’re composing an image. You’re creating something.
Picking up a camera changes your mentality. The feel of it in your hand. The click of the shutter. The sound and feel of the dials as you compose and take your shot. It’s a hugely tactile experience.
But with so many systems to choose from, where do you start? Well, choosing a camera is about as subjective as choosing a bike. So I’ll tell you what I use, and you can take it from there.
Choosing The Best Camera For Motorcycle Travel: My Setup
As a photographer, there are (as you would expect) many more items I carry other than my camera. From drones to filters, and from remote shutter cables to sliders, I need to be ready for everything the world can throw at me.
But despite this, I continually downsize my bag. As a touring rider, my kit needs to be compact and lightweight. So if I have a choice between a superb camera that weighs 2kg, or a ‘decent’ camera that weighs 600g, I’ll take the lighter (albeit inferior) option every time.
And that’s reflected in my current setup today – the sparsity of which surprises many people who expect a pro setup to be somewhat elaborate and extensive.
In my bag, you’ll find one camera body and three lenses. But on any given trip, I will carefully choose which lenses I take (and which I leave at home) depending on the nature of my shoots.
For me, this is the best camera setup for motorcycle travel:
- Fujifilm X-T4 camera body
- Fujinon XF 10-24mm wide angle lens (usually for landscape shots)
- Fujinon XF 18-55mm mid-range zoom lens (usually left at home!)
- Fujinon XF 55-200mm telephoto lens (usually for product/lifestyle shots)
Why Did I Choose This Setup?
As mentioned above, choosing the best camera for motorcycle travel requires a trade-off between quality and weight.
In the main, the best quality cameras are large, heavy and bulky. And whilst this is fine for a studio photographer, it’s not quite so good for a travel photographer.
The Fuji X-T4 is a mirrorless camera. Its 26 megapixels (MP) sensor is tiny in today’s world where we regularly see cameras with 50-100MP!
There are far better cameras out there. But 26MP isn’t something to be sniffed at, and the end product is perfectly acceptable – even for print.
However, one of the main attractions of this camera is its physical dimensions. It’s smaller than most full-frame cameras and is considerably lighter.
Aesthetically, it looks good. And it fits nicely in the hand.
Furthermore, the lenses are smaller and lighter than those needed for full-frame setups.
Choosing The Best Camera For Motorcycle Travel: The Joy Of Using It:
Secondly, I simply enjoy using it. In terms of setup, Fuji has gone a little bit retro. There are physical dials, buttons, and aperture rings, which makes using it very palpable.
And whilst we can talk about specifications all day long, what really matters when choosing the best camera setup for motorcycle travel is how much you enjoy using it.
I hate to mention price because we all have different budgets and priorities. What’s expensive for me might be cheap for you.
But for my particular circumstances, I find this setup reasonably priced in comparison to many other cameras.
The price of the camera body (and more importantly, the lenses) is somewhat sensible.
As a touring rider and landscape photographer, I tend to find myself in weather conditions that are wet and cold. So my camera setup needs to withstand rain, snow, ice, and dust.
Now, whilst the X-T4 (and most of its lenses) are weather-sealed, other cameras may offer better weather protection.
That said, I’ve found myself in treacherous conditions in the Alps, the Dolomites, the Arctic Circle, and many other locations with my X-T4. And never once has it failed, leaked, or otherwise malfunctioned.
If you shoot in inhospitable conditions, you must consider weather-sealing when choosing the best camera setup for motorcycle travel.
I also like the fact that the buttons on the X-T4 are customisable. See, Fuji recognises that two individual photographers will use the same camera very differently.
So with the X-T4, you can customise the buttons to operate particular functions that you use regularly. Not only does this make for a more enjoyable experience, but it also saves time scrolling through a million menus!
Finally, I also like the colours it produces natively. I know it sounds odd, but cameras don’t exactly capture the colours in front of you.
For me, I find Fuji colours to be a touch more vivid and vibrant. You might prefer a more subdued palette, but I enjoy working with the richness of Fuji colours.
Fuji X-T4: (Selected) Specifications
- 26.1 million pixels
- Max resolution of 6240×4160
- Sensor cleaning system
- Dual memory card slots
- Various shooting modes (manual, aperture priority, etc.)
- Fully articulating LCD screen
- Max shutter speed of 1/8000 sec
- Weight (with batteries), 607g
- Superb image stabilisation
- Excellent video capture
- Wireless use via Bluetooth/WiFi
- Reliable autofocus
- Touch screen
Choosing The Best Camera Setup For Motorcycle Travel: Specs In The Real World!
If you’d like to see a full list of the technical specifications, you can do so here on the Fujifilm website.
But what do these specifications mean in the real world as a touring rider?
In the same way a bike that looks good on paper can be a disappointment in real life, the usability of cameras in the real world is far more pertinent than the spec sheets.
Here are the real-world reasons why the Fuji X-T4 is my camera of choice.
Weight, UX, And Quality:
First and foremost, the specs give me a tactile camera setup that offers excellent image quality but also an enjoyable user experience.
Everything about the Fujifilm X-series systems is lightweight and compact – meaning they don’t take up a lot of space, nor are they cumbersome on shoots.
For reference, here are the individual component weights of my entire setup (although I don’t take all of it on every shoot):
- X-T4, 607g
- 10-24mm, 385g
- 18-55mm, 310g
- 55-200mm, 580g
Image Stabilisation Changed Everything:
The addition of IBIS (image stabilisation) on this version of the X-series has been a game changer for me – mainly because it negates the need to carry a tripod with me on day shoots.
I still need a tripod for low-light settings such as sunrise or sunset (due to longer exposure times). But the image stabilisation is so good that I can even shoot panoramas or bracketed shots handheld.
In fact, the IBIS in this camera meant I could sell my heavy, expensive tripod, and swap it for a cheaper, lighter tripod that fits easily in my roll-bag.
With my three lenses, I have a range of 10mm-200mm. And this is more than enough for most photography scenarios.
The camera allows me to shoot in full RAW. And this gives me more control in post-processing to get my images looking exactly how I want.
Bracketing allows me to make the most of the dynamic range in post-production. And with the flick of a switch, the camera transforms from a stills camera to a fantastic 4K video camera in milliseconds.
And perhaps the best bit is that you can get similar technical setups in Fuji’s baby lineup – including the X-T30 (pictured below), the X-T20 (which I had prior to the X-T4), and the X-T10.
Choosing The Best Camera Setup For Motorcycle Travel: Conclusion
Is my Fuji setup the best available? No, absolutely not. You can buy setups that are far superior to mine.
But it’s important to remember that having the world’s best setup won’t make you the world’s best photographer.
The best images come from photographers who enjoy using their cameras – the ones who take their time, refine their compositions and revel in the process of creating.
A poor shot will always be a poor shot – even if it was taken on a £50,000 camera. And a great shot will always be a great shot – even if it was taken on a £100 camera.
So don’t overly invest in camera equipment. Invest in learning and travelling instead. I guarantee this will make you a million times better than ANY camera system out there!
Top image: Durmus Kavcioglu