Photography vs bike touring — carrying gear

My other hobby besides photography is bicycle touring. Naturally, I’ve like to do both in the same time.

While I worked as a photographer there was no problem. I never even considered taking a heavy DSLR body and multiple fast lenses with me on bike tours. Instead I took my nice little compact camera (the beloved Fujifilm X-20) with me, and I was happy (not entirely happy, but more on that later).

As I am no longer a professional photographer I switched to the Fuji X mirrorless camera system and sold almost all my fullframe DSLR gear. (By the way, if you’re interested in a slightly used Canon 35/f2, a quirky, tiny and light plastic lens with a funny toy-car sound and stellar optical quality (for the price ) drop me a mail ;) )

I am a happy owner of a Fujifilm X-T10 and a few Fujinon lenses both primes and zooms. And this presents some problems… Don’t get me wrong, I never loved a camera or a camera system more, but this is an interchangeable lens camera that actually can be brought to bike tours. Wich — naturally — makes me want to bring it with me. But not sure how should I. Here is why:

  • As I usually do classic bicycle touring mostly on paved road, I use panniers and a handlebar bag and does not carry a backpack on me. The Fujifilm X cameras and the Fujinon lenses are rather small, but still not compact camera small, still not fit-in-a-pocket small. So I started to put them to the handlebar bag. It took me quite a while to figure out how to secure the camera and two lenses in the handlebar bag so that they won’t accidentally move (much) inside the bag. I use an Ortlieb handlebar bag with a camera insert. With appropriate positioning of the padded internal dividers I can securely transport the camera with a smaller lens (either the 23/F1.4 or the 18–55) on it, and the 55–200 and the other smaller lens beside it. This setup works, but with limitations.
  • With this setup, the handlebar is full. Only a wallet, phone and papers can be fit in. No glasses, no anything.
  • On rough roads the bag bounces a lot and the camera tends to rotate and get stuck, making it harder to grab out. Besides, I don’t know if vibration and bouncing does any harm to the lenses in the long run? To the floating elements in the optical stabilisation units? I don’t know for sure, but I think this kind of stress wears them down.
  • When I want to take a photo during a ride, I can grab the camera from the bag and shoot. It works well with the 23/F1.4, but hardly with the 18–55 because I can’t hold it and zoom with one hand (at least not simultaneously).
  • I only attach the 55–200 when dismounted, for I can’t shoot with it on the move anyway. When I’m alone I can move the 55–200 to a pannier and grab it from there. But when in a group I like to pull ahead, quickly stop and grab the camera, attach the tele and make photos of my mates. I couldn’t be able to do this when the lens is in a pannier.
  • None of my gear is waterproof. I used them in mist and light drizzle but don’t want to test them to their limits. Fuji offers weatherproof bodys and lenses, I don’t have any(yet).
  • I use a Blackrapid R-strap on the camera when on a bike tour. This strap let me carry the camera swinging from my shoulder. I can put it behind my back when not taking photos. Not secure though. I might need some better suited strap for the task, just not sure what exactly.

How do you carry your photographic stuff? What kind of equipment do you carry? Are there cameras/lenses/systems better suited for bicycle tours? Any accessories that helps carrying gear or makes taking photos on the road easier? Want to hear your opinions!