You’ve Got The New Gear, Here’s What You Carry It In : Think Tank Photo
Since I was a young man, there has been a gear bag in my life.
My shoulders were the main load bearers.
When backpacks came onto the scene, the weight would be distributed across the back, instead of just giving you a one shoulder slant.
There have been many bags come onto the scene, and I may have tried them all.Sound familiar?
The primary company that I now look to for all of my carry bag needs, is hands down Think Tank Photo.
Here’s why: The designs are generated by the owners who also happen to be real photographers, including the Pulitzer Prize winning Deanne Fitzmaurice.
What that means is that each bag is created as a solution to a problem. Your problem. My problem.
The first time I saw this company was at PhotoPlus Expo, in NYC.The booth was a sea of black bags, with a hint of blue.
Had to go over.
This bag was the first demo I saw:
I was hooked. A rolling camera bag was never in my purview, but this was a great travelers solution.
The Airport International has traveled all over the world for years with me. It is so well designed, that they even created lowered dividers so you could put your laptop inside the bag instead of sitting outside of the carrier. Genius! The size goes into every overhead I’ve ever encountered globally.
It looks like a piece of overnight luggage so much so that taxi’s pick me up on a way to a local gig and want to know which airport I want.
It carries all you need: 2 bodies, the holy trinity of lenses, speedlights, batteries, and a side car tripod holder, if you must. I’m partial to the 3 Legged Thing Brian tripod, which is packs small and plays big, with a perfect carry case.
A series of built-in in zippered pouches in the lid take care of the loose stuff, and a card holder on the top tags your bag, and holds extra biz cards.
And the wheels have been solid for years.
Strong, well built, great design.
Since moving to NYC I’ve adopted the messenger bag system for a walk around mirrorless rig.
The City Walker 20, has been the perfect bag.
There are enough pockets to pack a laptop, or tablet, a pocket on the outside for fast access, 2 netted pockets , perfect for a water bottle or, this winter, a compacted ultra-light down vest by Uniqlo. Yeah, it gets cold here.
There is an insert if you like some structure that you can customize to fit your rig. As a bonus there are 2 round pockets on the inside ends of the bag perfect for the extra glass you want to carry.
Currently, I’m working with a Fuji XT-1 and keeping a 14mm on the camera and slipping a 56mm, 1.2 and a 23 1.4 in the side pockets.
When I’m not bringing that much kit with me, this bag is my daily bag for all goods.
By the way, have also carried a Nikon D800 with a 24-70mm 2.8, and a 20mm in the side pocket, when I was looking for full frame.
Lightweight, comfortable wide strap, with a hint of grip material to keep the bag where you want it, this bag is huge winner for the shooter looking to be stealth, carry enough goods, and still have a shoulder after a day.
It also comes in a few sizes, but my fave is the City Walker 20.
For years I have photographed music evens and spent time in the pit, moving about with a ton of gear, switching things out fast, and walking away clean. At a festival situation you may be moving from stage to stage and slapping your camera around a bit, and then throwing the gear into a bag and moving on.
In the beginning, it was an Orvis fishing bag with cut pieces of foam to sit the gear in.
Then it was an Oakley back pack to be stealth and have some foam at the bags bottom to stash the big glass, a body with a short prime, and an extra body and primes to fill in.
A tight bag of weight.
Then came the Shape Shifter. Wasn’t sure at first. The stand up pockets could be constricting. Had to flip around the bag to grab the gear.
Gave it a go and now it’s the prime concert bag. When you work the pit you need to move and be ready FAST. the design of the Shape Shifter sits so well on my shoulders and back, that the weight distribution makes the waiting to get in the pit, running around the pit shooting, and packing up to hit the next venue, or the wi-fi cafe to upload, a whole different experience. You live to shoot another day.
Yes, it will hold a 15in laptop, but are you really carrying that around anymore? Max out with a MacBook Air (13″ has SD reader built in, 11″ does not).
Those are my 3 main bags.
They also make another accessory that I depend on: the Pixel Pocket Rocket card wallets. They are just the best way to carry your cards.
You can get and all CF, an SD combo CF, or an all SD card holder.
The cards are secure, the trifold and velcro are a great fit.
There is a strap with a locking hook to attach to your Think Tank Bags, or as Frazer Harrison showed us, hook it on your pants belt loop and you will have all the access to your cards. and be able to securely slip the wallet into your pocket.Plus it holds a business card to show whose wallet it is, and has room for a few extra to pass out.
Another bit of gear in the product line I have to mention, is thethe Pixel Sunscreen V2. This unit will let you do your laptop work in the light of day, giving you shade, allowing you to shoot tethered (or wireless) on location.
Folds flat, pops open like a reflector, and packs small.
There are pockets inside to clip your shoot schedule,pens, a layout or whatever.
Velcro flaps on the side, let you run cables, power cords, hard drives, or whatever into a hooded cover.
Couple that with a Tether Tools table top, with a hard drive holder, and a Matthews stand, and you’re on location able to do the work you would in a studio.
And if you just use the Pixel Sunscreen on it’s own, you can just it up where ever you have a flat surface. Or as one of the owners at Think Tank has used it, on his lap.
and here is just another simple tool, that will save your back, and make transporting your gear a more ergonomic experience.Seems simple, but the split strap will make your roller bag experience, a whole new deal. Great balance for multiple bags, with a lowered center of gravity.
Like I said, the brilliance of the design from this company, is rooted in the photographic needs of professional. From that has come a ton of products for the enthusiasts, as well.
And we get the benefit of their experience in a quality product that will last you for years.
Remember these are the bags you carry, not check in as luggage. I save that job for cases like Pelican, Seahorse, HPRC, Nanuk, SKB ( love the lightstand case). Waterproof, shockproof, baggage handling proof. Heck, maybe ship your Think Tank bag inside one of these if you must.
Say, has anyone tried using a golf club hard case for lightstands?
Because I’m such a huge fan of this company, they have offered anyone who wants to purchase a bag directly through the links here, Think Tank Photo, a free gift with any order over $50.
Or if you find a better price for the item you need, go for it.
All I want to do is let you know about gear that I’ve used, reviewed and have been satisfied with enough to recommend. Another voice to consider when you get ready to make your next purchase.
Oh and not to forget the peripheral protection: Favorite iPhone 6 case right now is the Speck, and for iPad Air, this unit from STM. It’s about protection. I won’t say drop-proof, but it’s darn fine protection. You do give up the thin, sleek, look, however.