Traveling with Gear internationally... any tips?

The place for questions about shooting with Blackmagic Cameras.
  • Author
  • Message
User avatar

Adam Langdon

  • Posts: 266
  • Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2015 9:15 pm
  • Location: Ohio USA

Traveling with Gear internationally... any tips?

PostSat Mar 25, 2017 8:45 pm

I've been selected to travel to Kyrgyzstan this summer as a cinematographer on multiple video projects.
We'll be in a fairly isolated region, beautiful from what i've seen, but i will have power and even internet.
(along the old Silk Road!)

I haven't flown with anything more than a 5D several years ago.
Gear at my disposal:
Ursa Mini 4.6K EF (EVF, Shoulder Mount)
Rokinon Cine DS lenses 24, 35, 50, 85, 135
BMMCC (w/ Video Assist)
DJI Mavic Pro
2x Canon 5Dmk3 w/ 24-105mm L
ND, IR, Matte Box, etc
Batteries, media cards, etc
(pretty much everything i would need to shoot)

I guess what i'm not sure of, is what i need to bring for multiple styles.
We'll be doing Commercial work, cinematic pieces, narrative, and documentary shoots.
Keep in mind, i can't really rent.

Should i try to bring a giant tripod?
Is there a portable card reader/dumper that i can use in the field?
Should i try to bring lights?
Ursa Mini Pro - Vintage Russian Glass - Nikon Manual Lenses - 1/4 Black Pro Mist
User avatar

Kim Janson

  • Posts: 732
  • Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:54 pm
  • Location: Finland

Re: Traveling with Gear internationally... any tips?

PostSat Mar 25, 2017 9:28 pm

Pay special attention to the batteries and make sure what is allowed especially if you take them in cabin.
LeViteZer Smooths the movement,
User avatar

Stephen Press

  • Posts: 191
  • Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2017 9:38 pm
  • Location: New Zealand

Re: Traveling with Gear internationally... any tips?

PostSat Mar 25, 2017 10:43 pm

I printed of the restrictions to flying with batteries, laminated them and keep them with me when flying.
Nothing better than bring out the real rules when you hit some officious body making up their own rules.
have you got a carnet sorted?
"A cameraman with out a camera is just a man"

Tristan Pemberton

  • Posts: 755
  • Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2014 6:07 am

Re: Traveling with Gear internationally... any tips?

PostSat Mar 25, 2017 11:42 pm

Have you considered weight restrictions on flights & travel?

I would be taking at least one small battery light - something you can mount on the camera is very useful if needed for quick interviews. A second light will help for fill/hairline. Take a fold-up/collapsable bounce/reflector - they are small and light and don't take up much space. If you have no weight restrictions, then a three light kit would be really useful, but the style of shooting vs weight restrictions will really dictate these decisions.

You have no sound gear on that list - is there a sound recordists travelling with you? If not, definitely need to take sound mics (a top mic, or shotgun, or lapel, or handheld.... or all four).

You have a lot of cameras on that list? How many do you need? If that was me, I'd just take the URSA Mini (for A cam) and the Micro (as B Cam/backup body). Do you have a speedbooster for the Micro? If so, take it so all EF lenses are FOV of S35.

Tripod? Yes. Legs that are light. Head that is designed to take the weight of the rigged up URSA Mini. Also, I'd take a gorilla grip (or second smaller tripod) for the Micro so you may use it as a locked off B-cam if needed.

Lots of spare batteries, and more than a single charger for any battery. In other words, have backup chargers. This doubles as redundancy and means you can charge more than one battery at at time. Also, take a couple of power boards, and adapt each to destination power plug. That way with one power adaptor you could connect multiple devices.

Regarding data, you just need a small, portable laptop with USB3. Can be cheap. Take lots of drives - the faster the better - so ideally SSD as they are light and fast... but expensive. I'd have a second laptop (maybe your edit machine?) so you have redundancy. Also means you could be editing as the other is transferring.

And as Stephen mentioned, do look into carnet. Not sure if Kyrgyzstan recognises carnet, so do your research. If not, you may have to allow in the budget to be bribing your way around the place. Lots of customs officers rely on that as a form of income. No pay, and they'll seize your gear. And make sure you and your gear is insured.

Joshua Dredge

  • Posts: 220
  • Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:14 pm

Re: Traveling with Gear internationally... any tips?

PostSun Mar 26, 2017 2:05 pm

Let me know how you go. I'm travelling to Kyrgyzstan this winter with a lighter equipment load, but will have a drone.

My biggest concern is probably different to yours though - I'm worried about being detained or having equipment confiscated (especially the drone). I'll be travelling on a tourist visa though, since I'm assuming you have a business visa you should be fine. While Kyrgyz police can be very corrupt, the border security guys are usually fine.
User avatar


  • Posts: 9874
  • Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:41 pm
  • Location: Victoria BC Canada

Re: Traveling with Gear internationally... any tips?

PostSun Mar 26, 2017 3:38 pm

Read through the comments on this tweet from John Brawley:

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Rick Lang
User avatar

Adam Langdon

  • Posts: 266
  • Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2015 9:15 pm
  • Location: Ohio USA

Re: Traveling with Gear internationally... any tips?

PostWed Jan 10, 2018 1:49 pm

so the trip is now on for Mid-May, when the snow-covered mountains will be visible and the valley temps will be more comfortable!

reviving this thread for a few more questions:
1. Renting vs bringing what you own? (which is preferred?)
2. How much gear (if not everything) should i pack in my carry-on?
3. i'll be hiking in the mountains (not too rugged or vertical) so, recommendations on packs?
Ursa Mini Pro - Vintage Russian Glass - Nikon Manual Lenses - 1/4 Black Pro Mist
User avatar

Rakesh Malik

  • Posts: 2371
  • Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:01 am
  • Location: Tacoma, WA

Re: Traveling with Gear internationally... any tips?

PostWed Jan 10, 2018 11:55 pm

I went to Himachal Pradesh to do some documentary filmmaking in September, and wrote about my gear loadout

There's a LOT to be said for traveling as lightly as possible, which means keep the kit small enough to carry on, you really don't want to be forced to check anything valuable into cargo.

For trips when I'm not expecting to do any serious hiking I go with my Peak Design camera backpack, but for trips where I expect to do serious trekking, I take my McHale expedition pack. For airline travel I take out the bayonets and roll the top down, packing the soft goods into my checked duffel and my camera gear into the rolled down bag. For hiking, I put the bayonets back in and move the camera gear to the top compartment -- hence I recommend the optional shelf if you go this route. It's also one of the lightest expedition packs out there -- rivaled AFAIK only by the CiloGear and possibly Kifaru packs. But for hiking, don't waste your money and weight on a camera backpack; they're a joke. They all pretty much share a spectacularly glaring design flaw, which is that they're based on the idea that you only need to carry camera gear, which for all practical purposes makes them utterly worthless for anything more than a casual stroll, plus they're pointlessly heavy. You'll get around 50L for 7-8 pounds with a camera backpack, but my Dyneema McHale is under 3 for 100 liters, not including the lid (which IS included in the weight). Pricey... but if you hike with your gear a lot, totally worth it.

At most of the airports, I had to pull out and show my camera bodies (A7r, Red Epic-W) and lenses, at Amritsar I had to pull out anything that didn't look like clothing... they even made us check in trekking poles, which was a first; I'd gotten used to having my walking stick attached to the exterior of my backpack, ice-axe style.

I recommend renting whatever you can, especially lighting and grip gear, but also keep in mind that in the hiking bits you and your crew will have to carry everything along with standard survival gear. And you really don't want to be wandering around in the mountains without your survival gear; you never know what will happen, especially in the mountains.
Rakesh Malik
Cinematographer, photographer, adventurer, martial artist
HP Spectre x360 Kaby Lake-R w/ 1080Ti eGPU in RazerCore

Thomas Koveleskie

  • Posts: 51
  • Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2017 9:07 pm
  • Location: North Wales, PA - Los Angeles CA

Re: Traveling with Gear internationally... any tips?

PostThu Jan 11, 2018 6:49 pm

Here's my opinion as someone who took 35+ trips from the US to all parts of Europe with gear, sometimes too much gear. As someone already stated travel as lightly as possible while having all the essentials for your needs. Carry on you cameras onto planes where possible.

I traveled with a large Pelican case with lights, field monitor, batteries and accessories inside and a large custom cylindrical case for light stands, soft domes, small tripod, boom pole, C Stand etc. Most of my work was run and gun doc/travel type, but we did shoot some narratives as well.

Make sure you have compatible AC plug adapters and any bulbs for the regions you travel in.

I never traveled with a Carnet for the above mentioned equipment and I was never asked for one. I always played the tourist with personal use video equipment. If you must take a ton of gear you probably should get a Carnet to be safe. Countries are looking for people who may be buying and selling equipment without paying the tariffs. Many people nowadays travel with video and photographic equipment and customs officers see it all the time.

Another option if financially feasible is to see if you can rent some equipment locally in the regions you travel. Just travel with your cameras and essential accessories.

I can tell you some not so fun stories about being escorted from the departure gate by armed military and questioned about all the batteries and cords inside my cases. Happened a in Amsterdam, Paris and ST. Petersburg, Russia. In Paris they drove me to an outside empty hanger where my Pelican case and some nervous military guys were waiting for me. Once cleared up they put me and my case on the plane and thanked me for my cooperation and understanding.
Computer: AMD FX-8370 4.2 GHZ 8 core, 16GB RAM, GTX 780 TI, Win 10 X64, system drive OCZ 240GB SSD, storage HD's: 5 TB, 2 TB, 1 TB.

Return to Cinematography

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: AndreeMarkefors and 8 guests