Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chrome droolage

It's been a while.... but when I saw that Chrome have just released some limited edition Fall bags (that's Autumn for those of us in the rest of the world), I fell in love... I really can't justify spending it up on yet another messenger bag right now, but someone's gonna have to hold me back. Please buy them all before I crumble at my own weak attempts not to....

They're available from HERE.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

a break from the norm - the Kriega US20

Well, as you can see it's been far too long since my last update. But here's a break from the norm, in a move away from photo-oriented bags. I had some new AV equipment to test for my my main line of work, and thought there'd be no better way than to shoot a quick video review on the Kriega US20 sportsbike tailpack. With a bit of a mention of the surpisingly shabby Givi saddlebags. So without further ado, the video says it all:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ThinkTank Shapeshifter Review Coming soon....

It's been so long that I thought I'd whet your appetite.. I'll be posting my overdue review of the incredible ThinkTank Shapeshifter here soon.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I'm distracted

I made a slightly cryptical mention to my 'other project' in a previous post... from the new ads on the blog you'll probably guess that I've been rather busy launching a photography product that I've been developing. I hope you don't mind the ads, this is an excellent place to test that they work.

I'll be back on the bag topic soon as I'm now the proud owner of a ThinkTank Shapeshifter (it's AMAZING!) and got to hang out with the ThinkTank team at Photokina recently, so I've got plenty to be writing about here.

I'm off the USA next week so will be dropping into the Timbuk2 and Chromebags stores in SF, which should provide some great content. All I have to do is find the time to get it onto the blog....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

HPRC 2550 vs Pelican 1510

Those of you who have read this blog before will know that I'm a big fan of the carry-on sized Pelican 1510.  HPRC are an Italian competitor of Pelican who over the last few years have been making inroads into other markets.  I'd noticed that their carry-on sized case, very similar to the Pelican 1510, seemed inexplicably to be larger on the inside and smaller on the outside than the Peli, albeit by a small margin.

You can see the difference above with both cases lined up along their back edges (off photo).  It's not much, but every little counts when you're hauling something across airports, into and out of overhead storage on airliners.  But here's where it gets really interesting....

So it turns out that HPRC have done the seemingly impossible; making a case smaller on the outside and bigger inside, than the equivalent Pelican 1510.  They've done it simply by designing specifically for purpose.  The Pelican 1510 is a minor adaptation of a carry-case with a handle-and-wheel component bolted onto the back of the case.  So you lose around an inch of the depth of the case to the handle-and-wheel parts.  The HPRC case is full depth and the handle tunnel intrudes slightly into the case interior, as you can see above.  In practice, although the difference in interior dimensions is minor, it makes a big and immediately noticeable difference:

Putting the same equipment I usually carry in the Pelican 1510 into the HPRC 2550 and you can see above how much spare space there is, denoted by the grey squares.  I'm sure a more thoughtful repack would have released the spare spaces into one area had I wanted to, but I didn't have time.  Easily more than enough room for chargers and other paraphenalia that you may want to include on longer trips.

The HPRC's handle is a different design to the Pelican's too:

It normally lies flat but pressing the red button releases it into a vertical position:

where it can be extended:

And here's the cool part... it is taller by about an inch than the Pelican handle.  If you're six foot ++ like me, that's an important difference.  Another notch in the HPRC bedpost, so to speak.

The HPRC case that I had a chance to check out also had an interesting removable insert, seen here open without any dividers in place:

and seen below out of the case and closed.  Quite cool if you need the removable functionality, but not much use to me as I like to maximise my carrying space inside.  Although I haven't seen it, I'm fairly sure you can also get a standard padded divider kit for the HPRC that doesn't convert to a bag, which would give you a bit more space inside and still a good amount of protection.

So to summarise ?  If I was doing it again, I'd buy the HPRC, as they come in at a very similar price to the Pelican case. On the other hand, the HPRC's  advantages aren't enough to make me sell my Pelican 1510.  Even though it is tempting, with the flashy Italian red highlights on the HPRC....

Here's a closing photo, which thanks to the wonders of distortion of the 28mm lens I used makes the HPRC look enormous.  Side by side they look and feel very similar in size and weight, but as I've explained, the HPRC definitely has the edge thanks to its better design.

Successor to LowePro Stealth Backpack announced !

I didn't know when I wrote the last post so many months ago that the good folks at ThinkTank photo were busy putting the finishing touches on a successor to the Stealth backpack that I was writing about.  Turns out the designers that they took with them when they left Lowepro way back in the day actually were the same guys and girls who designed the Stealth backpack.

While at Photokina a few weeks ago on other business I dropped by the TT stand.  I'm on their customer email list and they invited anyone to pop in.  When I mentioned that I had originally been an early adopter of their Modulus kit (or in TT lingo, a "Test Driver") and was based in New Zealand, their head honcho Doug Murdoch remembered my name in a flash.  Quite amazing recall given that he's not exactly been sitting on his hands for the last three years.

Anyway, knowing I've got a wierd thing for camera bags and muttering something about a secret project, he ushered me into their tiny office and showed me a pre release version of the forthcoming Shape Shifter backpack.  Swearing me to secrecy, he told me that Rob Galbraith was due to run the official exclusive launch note.

photo courtesy

Now, picture the scene.  You run an international company that makes camera bags and a guy you know to be obsessed with camera bags walks outta nowhere onto your stand, so you show him your latest, greatest secret bag and you ASK him not to tell ?!?! You don't sit him down and make him sign a Non Disclosure Deed promising fire and brimstone if he so much as thinks about it in public ?  Well, I wouldn't have trusted me.  Not because I look shifty or anything (I don't), but c'mon, the guy knows I blog about camera bags !

Anyway, read all about it here.  Thanks for the heads up Doug.

On the back of my meeting with them, I've hooked up with the local distributors so watch this space for a full review when they're available.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Photo Backpacks and the Lowepro Stealth AWII

About time for another full bag write up. Only problem is, one of my favourite bags, the Lowepro Stealth AW II (yeah, crazy name) is no longer in production. Read on though, as it's still relevant and there are excellent alternatives. A quick trawl around shows they're still available second hand too; here and here. They were costly when new, so these are bargains.

A while back I had a wedding to shoot. I was travelling by boat to the island (yes, very glamorous and lots of fun) so my kit needed to be easily carryable. I was heading there and back in a day so didn't need my laptop with me. As I take you through my thoughts on what I used to carry my kit, bear in mind that this would work just as well for any number of portrait assignments or similar. Here's what I took, my beloved Stealth AWII:

Now they no longer make these but your options for an alternative to a Stealth AWII are the Thinktank Airport Addicted, TT Airport Acceleration or a Lightware Digital Backpack. The TT Airport Addicted looks a little larger than the AWII but is actually a similar size to the fully loaded AWII pack. The Lightware Digital Backpacks are very similar to the AWII, just with a different internal layout. The Lightware looks a lot less like a photo pack than the Thinktank gear.

Another big difference you should consider is that the TT Airport Addicted isn't crushable while the Lightware 'pack is. Now that might not sound like a good thing, but I don't mean crushable as in "it'll-break-your-gear" crushable, but more "take-stuff-out-and-it-looks-smaller" crushable. This sort of thing can be very useful when trying to check your bag in as carry-on. It's fairly well known that the TT Addicted rarely gets through as international carry-on, despite the dimensions actually being within the rules. That's why ThinkTank developed the Airport Acceleration, which is a viable option although a tad smaller than the AWII and Lightware pack.

I've not handled a Lightware, but all you need to know about them is here (just click on "Everything Else near the bottom of the screen, then "Lightware Backpack" for an incredibly comprehensive write-up).

Anyway, here's the bag open:

So from left to right, I've got my bits'n'bobs, or odds'n'sods as they could also be called; namely my filters, cleaning cloths, self-timer cord, etc. Then come two camera bodies, in this case a trusty old Canon 20D and a Mark II N. Next, after the fold, is a Thinktank Cable Management 50 with my Strobist-style portable lighting kit. Lieing on that is my TT Modulus belt. On the far right are three TT components with a 28-70 f2.8, a 70-200 f2.8 and a 16-35 f2.8, - the trusty photojournalist 'triumvirate'. This way with a very quick unpack, I can have lights set up and a belt kit on my waist, ready to be a mobile wedding shooter.

Of course there's another set of pockets on the Lowepro into which went a mini Chimera softbox (an ENORMOUSLY useful piece of kit, complete with egg-crate grid), a mini Sony tripod which makes a great cheap, lightweight lightstand that folds down to nothing, and last but not least, an EWA Marine UAX-P bag. I'd figured before I left that I might have an opportunity to get the newlyweds frolicking in the surf, but it didn't happen. Had I had the opportunity but not the kit, well that would have really annoyed me. I always think it's best to over-pack than under; I'm sure there's a Sod's Law clause that states "the photographer will most need the piece of equipment they left behind."

The lack of laptop meant, of course, a lack of the enormous amount of cables that they incur. And a job lasting an afternoon meant I could leave behind all the chargers. This freed up the usual job of the Thinktank Cable Management 50 to be used to house my lighting kit. I'm a big fan of modular anything; modular tools like the Chimera and modular bags like the CM50 and Waterfield bags. There's nothing worse than having to pull a load of small kit out of a bag to get to what you need. It's a recipe to lose stuff, if you need another reason. So this is what it looked like:

As you can see below, it fitted a great little location setup of two flashes (or strobes for those of you Stateside), a set of Pocket Wizards, my gel envelope, two snoots (Honl snoots here I come...), my battery pack booster and assorted add-ons like double sided velcro tape that's great for getting flashes into tight spots and keeping them there.

So there you have it. I'm a big fan of the theory that there's not one uber-bag for all occasions. The only solution is to have a range of bags for each type of assignment.