It was inevitable that Peak Design would expand its Everyday bags line into bags more suited to travel, and more power to their arm for doing so.
I am especially impressed that the Peak Design crew has given serious thought to how best to pack and carry photographic equipment and personal gear within larger bags and backpacks, and suspect that not a few of their customers will be using their Camera Cubes, Tech Pouches and Packing Cubes inside other Peak Design bags and backpacks.
“It’s that time of year again. We’re about to lift the curtain on the biggest product launch in Peak Design history, and we want you to be a part of it. In a way, you already are—our new line of gear is something you’ve been asking us to make for years.
Our 8th Kickstarter begins soon. Enter to be notified the moment it goes live. 3 lucky folks will win one of every new product. Spoiler: that’s a big bundle-o-gear….”
“We’re updating our Anchors, the little round connectors that come with Peak Design straps. We’re doing this because the previous version of our Anchors were, in rare instances, wearing out more quickly than they should. If you own the previous version of our Anchors (found in most Peak Design straps purchased after August 2017) we’ll send you updated Anchors for free. To see if you qualify for free replacements, take our Anchor Update Survey….”
Good on Peak Design for taking the issue of camera gear safety seriously enough to issue free replacements to owners of V1 and V3 Anchors via an online survey form.
I am still waiting for a dozen V4 Anchors to be sent as replacements for V1 and V3 Anchors that I have purchased over the years either standalone or as part of other Peak Design products, so I cannot personally vouch for the strength and width of the cord in Anchor V4 and whether it will easily slide into all the many and various D-rings, eyelets, mounts, triangles, lugs, strap slots and assorted holes and gaps into which they need to go.
I have accumulated many more V2 Anchors too as I have found that Anchors have proven effective for use well beyond Peak Design’s intended purpose of connecting Peak Design camera straps to cameras.
For example, do you have older or non-Peak Design camera bags or backpacks with conventional cordless zip pullers where your fingers slip off when zipping up in the cold or the rain?
Attach a Peak Design Anchor to the zip fastener and problem solved.
Need to attach those oversized collections of keys to every bag you own to make bag last-minute swapping easier and faster?
Attach an Anchor to your key ring, snap the Anchor on to a Peak Design key tether and Anchor Link threaded through a loop on your bag and buy enough Peak Design Everyday Key Tethers to have one on every bag.
Time to do a last minute bag swap? Detach your key ring’s Anchor from the Anchor Link on your current bag’s Key Tether then attach it to the Key Tether on your other bag.
I have a particular interest in finding optimal solutions for storing, carrying and holding my photography and video production gear, so it is rewarding to come across new and unfamiliar product ranges, with the latest being the HPRCbrand, the initials standing for High Performance Resin Cases.
HPRC is a brand of Plaber Srl, an Italian manufacturer based in Bassano del Grappa, a city and commune in Vicenza province in the northern Italian region of Veneto, and the company’s products are distributed in many parts of the world.
Until recently I had not come across HPRC cases, hardly surprising given we no longer have an annual photography trade show in Sydney nor well-stocked photography and video superstores the like of which exist in other world class cities.
Instead my introduction to HPRC came via a Fujifilm X-E3 review loaner camera and Fujinon XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR and 35mm f2.0 R WR “Fujicron” lenses kindly sent over by Fujifilm Australia, all contained in a beautiful little HPRC hard case with internal zippered soft case, illustrated at right.
The padded soft case could be used as a camera case in its right, but in combination with the external hard case is a potent solution for protecting and transporting equipment like the camera and lenses.
It is a much better alternative to the customary way in which review loaners are sent via couriers, inside boxes inside taped-up corrugated cardboard boxes.
I am familiar with several brands of hard cases, most notably the Pelican brand due to relying on several of its memory card cases for some years as well as some mid-sized Pelican cases for storing items of non-photographic equipment.
My history with hard and soft cases of all types and brands for carrying photography and video production equipment of all sorts, sizes and weights is a long and not always a happy one.
Looking back on the myriad of custom-made and off-the-shelf bags, backpacks and cases I have used over the years, most especially during the analog years when I was working in corporate and magazine photography with a sideline in cinematography, I wonder how my equipment managed to get by without too much major damage.
Much of my travel for work involved small hire cars, small airplanes and understaffed regional airports where I often watched luggage handlers hurl my precious gear on and off trailers and carousels with no thought for safety, their own or that of my precious camera gear.
None of those bags and cases could be described as optimal in their design and manufacturing, often failing miserably at keeping the dust, fluids and salt out of the equipment contained within.
Mind you, I did subject them to some harsh conditions in deserts, at the edge of oceans, down mines and in massive open-cuts as well as traipsing up and down stairs and in and out of elevators, not to forget hauling them in and out of taxi cabs’ back seats and boots in the inner city and suburbs near and far.
Nowadays I tend to travel alone and with the more minimalist kits that the digital age permits, but my own safety and that of my equipment remains paramount and the soft shoulder bags and backpacks that I have used so far have acquitted themselves better than any I had in my analog days.
One big difference between then and now though is in the realm of tripods.
Carbon fibre is a relatively recent innovation and currently I have two carbon fibre-legged tripods for location work, one for video and the other for stills.
There is no way I would undertake extensive travel with either in the soft bags that came them, so my chance discovery of the HPRC brand took on a serious note given I am now looking at upgrading both tripods with more recently-made carbon fibre tripods for environmental portraiture and documentary moviemaking.
An enquiry to HPRC received the feedback that the best hard case for the Sachtler tripod kit will be the HPRC 6400W case, and my choice of hard case for a small stills tripod depends on which of the two 3 Legged Thing tripods I choose.
I like the look of the HPRC 6200 hard case for small tripods and other HPRC items look appealing for other reasons.
I have been needing a smaller, safer memory card carrying solution for some time, and the HPRC1100 looks like it could fill the bill.
The HPRC 5400W would have been perfect when I was carrying light stands and lighting and microphone booms all over the planet and I like that it can take two internal soft bags inside to keep items separate.
The HPRC 2550W2017 is worth serious consideration as wheeled carry-on cabin luggage should interstate and foreign travel plans come to fruition.
For more local travel the HPRC GH52460-01 customized case looks great should I choose to upgrade to a Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 or GH5S for video, though Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K aka P4K looks very attractive right now given its ability to shoot high-quality raw or ProRes video while being portable enough for handholding with the right stabilized lenses or gimbal stabilizer.
Given it will not be released until laster in the year questions remain about the BMPCC 4K but one thing is known for sure right now, that its dimensions are very different to those of any other cinema cameras or camcorders and so we may need to rethink how we are going to transport and store it and its lenses and accessories.
HPRC’s customized hard case for the GH5 and GH5S is also available in a version for Sony’s A7, A7R, A7S, A7II, A7III, A7RII, A7SII and a6300 mirrorless hybrid cameras, the HPRC ALP2460-01 for Sony Alpha 7.
I wonder if the HPRC folks are working on a custom case solution for the BMPCC 4K or the coming DJIRonin-S?
A pre-production Ronin-S was being shown off with the BMPCC 4K and non-stabilized Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens attached at the recent NAB 2018 trade show in Los Angeles and it looked like a perfect fit.
All these decisions as to camera, tripods, stabilizers and cases depend on being able to actually see and try these items in order to make well-informed decisions though and that remains the biggest obstacle of all right now.
Lest I forget, another HPRC custom case that has a great deal of appeal is the HPRC MAC4800W-01 for carrying and storing my production iMac 27-incher while away on my travels and needing to store all our non-travelling possessions in lockup while away.
Keeping expensive gear in cardboard boxes or other low-end storage products is not recommended when relying on removalists or storage services especially now that radical climate change has brought the threat of mould and insect infestations to the fore here like never before.
A selection of cases for photography and video production equipment by HPRC | High Performance Resin Cases
HPRC HPRC6200 case for small tripods.
HPRC HPRC6200 case for small tripods, foam interior.
HPRC’s HPRC6400W case, one of a range of hard cases suitable for safely transporting tripods.
“Working in partnership with renowned wildlife photographer Moose Peterson, MindShift designers have updated the original Moose Peterson Photopacks. Initially designed for wildlife and safari photographers, all photographers will find the three-compartment layout protects their gear from the elements.
The compartment doors are built to close automatically, keeping dust and particulates out of your bag and away from your camera sensor. As a workflow solution, the layout provides quick access to up to three camera bodies with lenses attached and at the ready….”
MindShift Gear Moose Peterson Backpack Series version 2.0
MindShift Gear Moose Peterson MP-1 V2.0
MindShift Gear Moose Peterson MP-3 V2.0
MindShift Gear Moose Peterson MP-7 V2.0
Once upon a time I worked in some of the most adverse conditions for photography anywhere in the deserts above ground and down deep inside gold mines in Western Australia, carting my cameras, lenses, lights, light stands and tripods about in a motley collection of shoulder bags, tripod bags and Zero Halliburton hard cases.
You had to be ready to dismantle gear and pack up in seconds and failure to do so could have disastrous consequences.
Dust, particulate matter, water and chemical spray, extremes of heat and cold, giant dump trucks taking sudden dives over the edge of open cuts or swerving out of control, anything could happen and frequently did so.
US wildlife photographer Moose Peterson may well be accustomed to some of these sorts of conditions, judging by the unique features found in the second generation of his collaboration with MindShift Gear, sister company of Think Tank Photo.
Standout features of the Moose Peterson Series for me are their separation of gear into three compartments to reduce potential cross-contamination, allowance for up to three ready-rigged cameras plus lenses to reduce dust on sensors, automatically-closing compartment doors, and the choice of three different sizes from customary neck-to-coccyx long through mid-size to the not-so-long MP-7 brilliantly allowing for wearing one of Think Tank Photo’s unique modular component belt systems lower down.
MindShift Gear Moose Peterson MP-7 V2.0
Right now the short but sexy Moose Peterson MP-7 V2.0 looks very appealing for the times I want to keep a camera at my side in a waist-belt pack for rapid access but also need to have just enough and not too many lenses and other items at the ready on my back.
Think Tank Photo belt system plus MindShift Gear Moose Peterson backpack may just be exactly the right solution for documentary photographers always on the go, especially in the hot, dusty and windy conditions we have been experiencing in this country just lately, thanks to extreme weather conditions making their way across to the south-east of this continent all the way from my old stamping ground in northern Western Australia.
“Our sister outdoor photo camera bag company MindShift Gear just released an 18-liter version of its popular BackLight series, the BackLight® 18L rear-panel backpack. This smaller version offers a lightweight daypack that enables photographers to access gear without taking off the backpack. They can change lenses or just snap a quick photo simply by rotating the bag to the front while the waist belt is still secured. Rear-panel access also adds security when traveling since camera gear is protected from behind….”
MindShift Gear’sBackLight 26L daypack is the most comfortable backpack that I have ever used and the only one that does not wear me out after a few hours on my feet regardless of how much gear moviemaking or photography I pack in it and whether I am using it in natural or urban settings.
I have adventure and expedition daypacks made by other manufacturers, but am about to sell them off in a big clean out of my camera gear closets in favour of MindShift Gear and Think Tank Products.
MindShift Gear has been expanding the BackLight range with larger and now smaller versions with the BackLight 36L and now the BackLight 18L.
Although I have firsthand experience of the BackLight 26L, all versions share the same set of positive traits as illustrated in the photographs in this article and will doubtless serve their potential user base well.
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. MindShift Gear’s new Exposure shoulder bags are storm-resistant carrying solutions for the active photographer in virtually any outdoor environment. Built with high performance waterproof sailcloth panels, strategically placed storm flaps, water-repellent DWR fabric, and a sturdy Tarpaulin bottom; the Exposure protects camera gear from the elements and withstands the rigors of adventure photography. And, with its cross-body stabilizer strap, the Exposure moves with you while you’re active or is removable for more causal environments. A waterproof rain cover is included when it’s time to put the camera away and hunker down….”
MindShift Gear Exposure 15
Wide enough for Blackmagic Design’s 7 inch wide Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC 4K)?
Think Tank’s MindShift Gear brand is specially intended for outdoor adventurers who photograph and make movies in all sorts of weather and all kinds of locations, through thick or thin, whether in natural or in my case urban environments.
The game-changing, to use an already overused cliché, BMPCC 4K portable cinema camera does not appear to be weather-resistant so may need transporting in the field in weather-resistant, storm-resistant bags and backpacks along with the equally sensitive equipment needed to make the most of its high end video production capabilities.
Shooting and carrying out initial post-production or DIT (digital imaging technician) duties on BMPCC 4K video footage in the field has certain workflow and hardware demands, and if choosing a shoulder bag rather than backpack then the bag itself should be large enough and protective enough for 15-inch portable computer, SSD or HDD drives and other media, audio recorders and microphones, lenses, color checker or grey card for white balance, small grip items and a portable video tripod as needed.
Accordingly, it would appear that the MindShift Gear 15 may be the best choice of the two MindShift Gear Exposure shoulder bags when using the BMPCC 4K.
At 7 inches wide and with a sloping 5-inch rear touchscreen display, the BMPCC 4K has an unusual shape and size as well as accessory demands, so I will be putting that hypothesis to the test in another article where I look at its actual dimensions as well as an ideal kit of accessories, supplies and lenses for mobile indie documentary work in the field.
“A revolution in backpack design when it first released, the Shape Shifter expanded and contracted to hold gripped camera bodies and a laptop. In response to input from professional photographers, we have released the Shape Shifter in three new configurations. The Shape Shifter 15 V2.0 is designed to hold a 15” laptop and the Shape Shifter 17 is designed to hold a 17” laptop. The new Naked Shape Shifter 17 allows photographers to attach Skin Pouches or Lens Changers inside to create a totally customized modular backpack….
… Shape Shifter® 15 V2.0 Gear Capacity
Holds a 15” laptop, tablet up to a 12” or 13”, plus one DSLR (gripped or un-gripped) and three lenses (detached) and personal items
Shape Shifter® 17 V2.0 Gear Capacity
Holds a 17” laptop, tablet up to a 12” or 13”, plus one to two DSLRs (gripped or un-gripped) and three to four lenses (detached) and personal items
Naked Shape Shifter 17 V2.0 Gear Capacity
Holds a 17” laptop, tablet up to a 12” or 13”, plus four to seven modular pouches or lens changers and personal items…”
As a longtime owner of all of Think Tank Photo’s highly innovative Multimedia Wired Up belt packs and belt system components series for hybrid stills and video production, I am already half-persuaded of the utility of waist-belt-mounted camera carrying systems when shooting intensive documentary stills and video on location.
The Multimedia Wired Up series is now sadly long defunct despite mirrorless hybrid stills/video cameras like those from Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony really hitting their stride in recent years, so I have supplemented my kit of seven Wired Up modular components with a couple of Think Tank StuffIt! belt touches for personal items.
The only thing preventing me from adding even more pouches and upgrading to a Pro Speed Belt V2.0 or Steroid Speed Belt V2.0 is that I have been at a loss as to how best to carry them all on a typical day’s outing.
The last thing I want to do, after all, is chuck them into a bulky gym bag or the like in order to carry them onto the location.
Think Tank Photo’s Naked Shape Shifter 17 V2.0 might just be the answer to this long-perplexing question.
I have yet to see one turn up in any of our local camera stores though so have not had a chance to put the concept to the test – the one camera store in this neck of the woods that had a reasonable cross-section of Think Tank Photo gear has now gone into liquidation.
There are questions. Can a backpack like this one really hold a speed belt plus a stack of pouches to carry everything I have need of on a typical all-day documentary stills or video shoot?
How fast can everything be placed inside The Naked Shape Shifter then removed as needed while travelling about suburb, town and city and suddenly spotting photo opportunities?
Is the Naked Shape Shifter capable of carrying the personal items I also need to go along with my cameras, lenses, accessories, tripod and more?
Plenty of questions that can only be answered with a see-and-try-out of the backpack and a selection of old and new pouches and modular belt system components.
I hope we will see another camera store step up and stock a good cross-section of Think Tank Photo and MindShift Gear products now that L&P Digital has closed its doors and Paxtons has shut down its local branch as well as its big Sydney city store.
At long last, a company has recognized an issue that has increasingly been coming to the fore for travelling photographers and cinematographers, and has come up with a thoughtful, well-designed and well-made solution to it. Or rather, two companies in close collaboration, Think Tank Photo and SKB, and that issue is the increasing demand by airlines that we agree to stashing our precious, costly gear in the cargo hold instead of carrying it on as cabin luggage.
Think Tank Photo, a company whose soft camera bags and accessories I have used for some years, has collaborated with a maker of hard cases, SKB, a company new to me until now. Think Tank lists the products of this collaboration on its website under the SKB Hard Cases moniker and SBK has them on its website as the SKB Flyer Series.
There are similarities and differences between the two companies’ listings of the products of their collaboration, with SKB adding some video-oriented Flyer cases and a very useful long logistics hard case for carrying lighting and other production gear while Think Tank Photo appears to be concentrating more on the stills side of things.
Think Tank Photo was a pioneer in supporting hybrid stills/video photographers/cinematographers with its brilliant but discontinued Wired Up Multimedia soft case range that I use to this very day. Think Tank Photo seems to have passed the hybrid thing by now, focussing on pure cinematography with a fourteen soft case-strong collection of video transport cases illustrated carrying RED, Canon Cinema EOS and DJI drone cameras.
A subset of Think Tank Photo SKB Hard Case photographs
Think Tank Photo has recently begun illustrating its products with Fujifilm X-Series mirrorless cameras in a hat-tip to the ever-growing popularity of APS-C and, one assumes, Micro Four Thirds hybrid stills/video cameras for professional photography and moviemaking, especially in the self-funded independent documentary and feature sector, a refreshing relief from their former concentration on 35mm format DSLRs from Canon and Nikon.
I do not use the inane and inaccurate “full frame”, “full format” and “crop sensors” terminology in reference to digital sensor sizes. Fujifilm’s GFX 50S medium format camera makes such olde worlde 35mm absolutism appear ridiculous, especially given that its body is about the same size or just a little bigger than the average DSLR but with a much larger sensor, establishing a new standard for image quality to be judged against if one is so inclined.
Although M43 cameras are not shown in the product shots, it is safe to assume that a case that can carry Fujifilm X-T2 and X-Pro2 Super 35 APS-C cameras, lenses and accessories can also hold Panasonic or Olympus Super 16 M43 cameras, lenses and accessories.
That is good news for those like me who would prefer to transport our Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5, DMC-GH4 or DMC-GX8 fully rigged and ready for fast camera case egress going straight into shooting documentary footage minus fussing about attaching microphones, recorders, monitors, cables, cages, rigging and the like.
The same assumptions should apply to transporting the GFX 50S for stills photography given its DSLR size but bigger and better sensor.
The Think Tank Photo cum SKB Flyer hard case cum soft internals series could not have come at a better time as I am currently having to radically rethink how to carry my stills and video production gear during shoots, going to and from shoots and, when this interminable subdivision process is finally completed so we can refinance our projects including Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success, travelling intercity, interstate and overseas.
I am on the verge of a major camera case cleanup, reducing my reliance on shoulder bags and even some backpacks unduly straining permanently damaged spine, shoulders, arms and back.
Another clean-up factor is leather now that Sydney’s weather veers towards sub-tropical with ever-advancing climate change and the danger of leather-loving, lens-destroying mould taking up permanent residence in most Australian homes. Add to that the cruelty and environmental impact aspects of leather production.
I want to see all camera bag and accessory makers abandon the use of leather and follow the examples of companies like Cosyspeed that use kinder, safer materials like synthetic leather as used in the automobile industry.
Meanwhile I am looking at the specifications of all ten of the SKB Hard Cases at Think Tank Photo’s website while remembering scenes I witnessed in the days when I carted aluminium hard cases and soft logistics cases around the deserts of Western Australia and the odd foray to the eastern states for corporate assignments.
Watching luggage handlers hurl bags on and off their trailers, topple them onto the ground or sling them into luggage chutes made me cringe every time. It is great if you can get away with carrying your gear into the cabin but best to be prepared for that odd stroppy ticket or gate attendant who disputes that your “airline carry-on approved size” really is the approved size or rejects it for breaching said size by a millimetre or two.
Think Tank Photo SKB iSeries 3i-2011-7BP Backpack & Rolling Case
Think Tank Photo’s SKB iSeries 3i-2011-7BP Backpack & Rolling Case.
Think Tank Photo’s SKB iSeries 3i-2011-7BP Backpack & Rolling Case, with Fujifilm cameras.
I have been considering something similar for safely transporting a future mostly-video documentary production kit based around the GH5 and its predecessors the GH4 and GX8. I just need to determine whether the set-up illustrated above will carry everything I need for short and feature documentary projects. Time to make a list!
I will need a second camera bag for cabin-only documentary stills gear, to complement the cabin or cargo hold mostly-video case, as well as a safer way of carrying tripod, lights and lighting stands for my coming new travelling kit to be complete.
It would be terrific if a vendor turns up at the SMPTE 2017 at Darling Harbour mid-July with a massive collection of Think Tank Photo camera bags so I can work out some optimal carrying combinations.
The steady reduction of photography retailers in this part of the world and the ending of photography trade shows here makes seeing, trying and selecting the right gear even more difficult than before. Guessing which camera bags you need based on product shots with cameras, lens and accessory systems you don’t use can be a challenge!
Header image made from product photograph kindly supplied by Think Tank Photo and SKB Cases, processed with MacphunLuminar Neptune using a preset from the Tintype Looks collection, in remembrance of Khadija Saye, the emerging British artist tragically killed in the Grenfell Tower disaster.