I am considering a Canon 70D for motorcycle touring. Considering the vibrations that a motorcycle will put the camera through, is this a good choice? Are the vibrations a legitimate concern?


I wouldn't be concerned much about the camera body; there isn't really anything in it that would be very sensitive to vibrations. The only mechanical parts are the shutter and mirror, and both are in a safe postion when the camera is switched off.

Lenses are a different matter: individual lens elements can and do become decentered, which can result in drastically reduced optical performance. And strong vibrations certainly could cause elements to become decentered (though the more typical cause is a single hard impact, i.e. dropping the lens).

To reduce the forces that the lenses are exposed to, you want thick and tight padding, ideally around each individual lens If you have more than one.

And, quelle surprise, that's exactly what good camera bags provide:


So if you don't have a good camera bag, get one, use it, and if you're still concerned, put some additional padding around the bag (or wear it on your back, that would isolate it from most vibrations as well).

  • I'm not a motorcyclist myself, but would the proposed method also work if one straps the bag on the fuel tank (I see small bags often strapped there)? Or would that vibrate the lens too much? Mar 19 '14 at 13:50
  • @BartArondson: hard to make general statements there without hard data, but the padding is still doing what it's supposed to do. My guess would be that small, fast vibrations would be absorbed by it, but if you have the kind that causes visible shaking, it could still cause problems - or not. Lenses are built to survive some rough handling, after all. Mar 19 '14 at 14:05
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    I have been driving motorcycles in India since ages. Putting something on tank makes sure it will vibrate as much as the motorcycle would. Best option is to wear on your back and let is rest lightly on the backseat. So when you see a pothole you are going to hit for sure, you can just lean forward or lift your bottom from the seat a bit to stop bag(and your back) from getting a jerk. Capishe? Mar 19 '14 at 14:22
  • I am a motorcyclist who has done cross-country and multi-continent trips. A SLR in your tail (trunk) will rattle the hell out of it if you travel on varied road surfaces. This is from experience. Many adventure riders put their camera in the tankbag because there's much less vibration; easier to get stolen though. If you are doing "goldwing touring" (interstate), it's not a big deal. (sorry, not willing to do a full answer)
    – tedder42
    Mar 26 '14 at 1:00

I travelled around London on a daily basis with my Nikon D100 and a pair of lenses by bike for several years and experienced no bad effects. A suitable bag and securing it safely to the bike or on your back should be sufficient. I've also carried several laptops like this and they're much more vulnerable.

Note that I wasn't riding a hardtail chop though...

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    Unless you are operating the computer at the time, laptops aren't really that susceptible to vibration. The problem is when the spinning hard drive is gyroscopically stabilized and the enclosure moves around it, potentially resulting in damage to the platters (head collision).
    – AJ Henderson
    Mar 19 '14 at 14:00

Lots of motorcycle miles on my Nikon D90 with no ill effects at all. I have camera and one additional lens in a backpack designed for a camera system which has excellent padding. I put that in the top case behind the seat or in one of the side cases (panniers). I wouldn't be too concerned depending upon terrain of course. If you're off-roading, or riding considerable distances on unimproved roads, improve your photo equipment padding appropriately.

Have fun!

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