Why Talk About Cameras on a Treadmill Site

I’ve created this page because I often get asked what gear I use to film my virtual walks. Hopefully this will help you make decisions about your own setup and get you out there filming. I’ll link to places to purchase the cameras, gimbals, and audio gear when I can. I’ll start with my current setup and work my way backwards. Please know those may be affiliate links. You pay the same, I get a few cents to help the channel.

Cameras, gimbals, poles, and audio gear used by City Walks to film their virtual walks and tours of cities arrayed on the floor from above
Pretty much the total of the gear I’ve used over the years with a few exceptions

Quick Links:

Camera Gear I’m Currently Using

Since camera technology advances so rapidly, you probably want to know what gear I’m using right now. I’ll keep this section updated as I invest in new gear, software, and techniques.

Camera Requirements

Close up of Osmo Pocket 3 lens
Small but grand

Cameras and gear are merely tools to accomplish a goal. No single camera will ever be the “perfect” camera for all situations. As such I have specific criteria that I’m looking for in my setup.

  1. Quality image – This is probably the most important attribute I’m looking for. If it doesn’t make a nice picture, there’s no point.
  2. Size and Visibility – I need the camera to be small and inconspicuous. My walks average about 45 minutes and I often do several in a day. Also, I don’t want the camera to draw attention and bother people
  3. Stability – Nobody want’s to watch a shaky walking video. I have used either a separate camera gimbal or systems with gimbals built in. Some cameras can get good results with software (GoPro) but not quite as good as a gimbal.
  4. Audio – Bad video is a style, bad audio is a mistake. This used to be one of my biggest challenges.
  5. Simplicity – I’m a one man band so I need to keep things simple or I start to make mistakes and mess up the walks.

My Favorite Gear

My current setup hits pretty much all of these needs on the head. I currently use and LOVE the DJI Osmo Pocket 3 Creator Combo. They’ve recently introduced a Vlogger Combo as well which has a full wireless mic setup but doesn’t have the extra battery handle.

Osmo Pocket 3 Creator Combo and Freewell Mega Filter Kit on table
My Osmo Pocket 3 Setup fits in my jacket pockets and makes life simple

Why do I love this camera? I’ve been using Osmo Pocket cameras since the first generation. They just keep getting better. While not perfect, the Osmo 3 has improved dramatically over the 2 which was pretty darn good to begin with.

  • The Osmo Pocket 3 has an amazing 10bit image. This means it’s easier to color grade; something I do to some extent for all my footage. (I’ll talk about sofware below).
  • It uses a 1 inch sensor which means it’s better at lower light without the need for increasing ISO as much. It even has a night mode for really dark shots. Again, not perfect, but really impressive.
  • This also means shooting at 60p, which requires 2.5 times more light, is more useable.
    • It shoots in 60p without any problems.
  • You can decrease the auto sharpening of the image. A lot of small consumer cameras add sharpening to the image and generally too much. This was my main complaint about the Osmo Pocket 2. I’d prefer to do this in post.
  • You can shoot in their flavor of Log which means better exposures
  • The gimbal is super solid
  • Audio – The wireless mic is simple and effective and can store recorded audio like a separate recorder. Even the mics on the camera do an incredible job. I forgot to turn on the wireless mic on my Grand Canyon Rim Walk and thought the audio was going to be unuseable but it turned out really well for such a windy day.
  • Size – It’s big enough to handle well but small enough to be innocuous.
  • Monitor is bigger and the touch screen is easy to use.
  • Great filters available with magnets that do a really good job of keeping the filters on. I use the Freewell Mega Filter set b/c it has a bunch of polarizers with ND.

Freewell mega filter set for Osmo Pocket 3
My filter set with 16 filters

What would I like to see improved? There are a few things that, for my uses, are not quiet perfect.

  • For some reason the camera wants to focus on objects that are nearer even if they aren’t what I want to focus on. I suspect there’s a setting to improve this but I haven’t found it yet. It means that on my walks the items in the distance in the center are softer than the objects in the periphery. I use software to improve this but I’d love to have just work the way I think it should work.
  • The wide angle adapter prevents the camera from closing all the way when you turn it off. Other filters as well. And, I’d love to be able to put one of my third party filters on the wide angle but they’re magnetic and it’s plastic.
  • I haven’t figured out how to monitor sound while recording.

Again, these things are fairly minor and the camera is still leaps and bounds ahead of previous systems I’ve used including the Osmo Pocket 2. And, the camera has a lot to offer that I haven’t even used yet but hope to, such as the ability to live stream. Other camera’s I’ve tried this with (Gopro, I’m looking at you) have been really hinky and buggy. The phone works well but it’s a much more noticeable setup. I’m looking forward to seeing how this does.

360 Cameras for VR Walks

I don’t make these as much anymore since they’re more complicated to make and don’t get as much traction but they’re fun. In addition to walks, I’ve added a bunch of immersive experiences to this site including dog sledding and river rafting.

I’ve been playing with 360 Video since about 2015 when I built a 6xGopro setup. I’ve had several other cameras over the years but for this channel I’ve used consumer models. They are smaller and easier to use and Youtube doesn’t need huge resolution.

The GoPro Fusion:

Old GoPro Fusion camera
First To Market and that was it

My first consumer grade 360 camera came from GoPro. The GoPro fusion did most of what I needed and they broke some real ground with this at the time. Now, it wouldn’t be able to compete. I haven’t used the GoPro Max but it came out in 2019 and hasn’t really been upgraded. I used it until 2019 when it blew over in Vienna, Austria and cracked the lens. Unfortunately, these camera’s can’t replace the lenses.

Insta360 X2

Insta360 One X2 360 camera
The One X2 has been upgraded to the X3

I waited a year or two and purchased an Insta360 X2. Insta360 is the market leader in 360 cameras. They have competitors but they set the bar. The X2 has a lot to offer, especially at the price point but the Insta 360 One X3 and the One RS-1inch do much better.

Insta360 One RS 1-inch

In 2022, I purchased the Insta360 One RS 1-Inch which is a variation on the One RS regular edition. This has a bigger, more sensitive sensor and I mainly use it for photos now but it works well for video. It cannot take a dunking or rainy weather though so I careful when and where I use it.

Insta360 One RS 1-Inch VR Camera
My current setup

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More gear description coming….