Muse Storytelling: Ninja Filmmaking – Commentary with my own hardware & software recommendations

https://www.ninjafilmmaking.com/minicourse

The current state of the world has posed challenges for all of us. As filmmakers, our challenges have been extra unique. Budgets are reduced, crews need to be smaller, and we are generally expected to work with less resources. That’s why we created the free Ninja Filmmaking mini-course: to show you how to create big results by outthinking your challenges. We’ll break down exactly how to plan out your story and be a far more proactive, stealth and intentional filmmaker.

Commentary

The Muse Storytelling folks have launched a free online short course under the title Ninja Filmmaking that is aimed at helping moviemakers cope and survive if not thrive in this pandemic-affected world.

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The camera that accidentally changed everything. Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM kit zoom lens. Image courtesy of Canon.

If things were difficult enough for independent self-funded documentary moviemakers before the arrival of COVID-19, they are even more challenging now with personal income and resources radically reduced and yet even more need for us to produce compelling visual storytelling to production standards that are constantly growing higher and higher.

Luckily, we are in the post-DSLR filmmaking revolution era, the now well-established mirrorless hybrid era with high quality, affordable cameras that can record excellent stills as well as video footage to current UHD broadcast and cinema projection standards.

Moviemaking remains, however, a predominantly white, middle-class occupation except in places where those of us locked out of the system have banded together in cooperatives with the support of donors and mentors to equip and teach ourselves to tell our own stories.

The last such organization located in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Paddington shut its doors several years ago after charging high fees for equipment rental and training during its later years.

Any free or affordable training by well-qualified moviemakers is welcome and I am for grateful Muse Storytelling’s ‘Ninja Filmmaking’ online course and advice on what for current production standards by one-person bands.

Moviemaking remains costly here

As Drew Turney of Filmism.net shared in a recent newsletter:

We all know moviemaking is an inherently expensive exercise. Even the amount of money we’d consider low (or no) budget filmmaking would be enough to get the average middle class family out of debt for the rest of their lives.

Drew bounces between Perth in Western Australia and Los Angeles, and is doubtless aware that moviemaking is an even more costly exercise in Australia than it is in the USA, with our exchange rates, lack of importer and retailer competition and local unavailability of many key items as well as non-representation of a number of useful, even essential, brands.

Nonetheless the equipment list shared by the Muse/Ninja folks is a good one based on the currently most affordable and versatile feature-quality Super 35 hybrid camera, the Fujifilm X-T4, supported by microphones from Australia’s own world-famous audio equipment maker, Røde Microphones, along with other currently popular lighting and grip products.

Production hardware recommended by Ninja Filmmaking

The list is a useful starting point though I would recommend considering alternatives from brands like 3 Legged Thing, Olympus, Panasonic, Rotolight and many others.

Some alternatives and extras to the above

The Muse Storytelling team’s Ninja Filmmaking gear list is a good one and in the best of all possible worlds would be affordable and findable at local retailers, had COVID-19 not arrived to disrupt supply chains and global air freight not to mention Australian and US postal reliability, or rather, the lack thereof.

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Approved by Netflix for top quality broadcasting production. Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H rigged with Zacuto moviemaking accessories. Image courtesy of Zacuto.

As underlined by the Ninja Filmmaking list’s reliance on Røde Microphone’s products for audio recording, Australian brands such as Atomos, Blackmagic Design and Miller Tripods are highly regarded in video production around the world for their affordability and durability under challenging conditions.

While Fujifilm’s X-T4 Super 35 hybrid camera is an impressive performer and the company’s Fujinon prime and zoom lenses are justly respected by cinematographers, there are other approaches to video production.

Panasonic has been making strides in its S-Series 35mm sensor hybrid cameras with the Netflix-approved Lumix S1H while the recently announced S5 looks like a respectable and affordable lower-specced alternative A or B camera.

Panasonic’s G-Series Micro Four Thirds hybrid cameras like the Lumix GH5, GH5S and even the G9 have impressive video capabilities, excellent IBIS and a documentary-style Super 16 4K look and feel, though many moviemakers regret the company’s reliance on DFD contrast-detection autofocus when autofocus rather than traditional manual focus-pulling is becoming increasingly important for one-person bands.

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Meike T2.2 Series 6x Cine lens Kit for MFT + Cine Lens Case, containing Meike cinema prime lenses for Micro Four Thirds cameras.

While Westcott’s Flex Lights are impressively versatile in combination with the company’s Scrim Jim bounce and diffusion system, I have long relied on industry-leading Rotolight’s LED lights for stills and video.

Sachtler’s Flowtech tripods are reportedly fast and efficient to use on location by solo moviemakers while Miller’s solo user tripods are solid performers and prove great investments, lasting for many years in the trenches.

Independent stills and now video tripod maker 3 Legged Thing continues to expand its range with constant innovation in a field where innovation was sluggish for years.

Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro manual clutch focus cum fly-by-wire autofocus professional lenses are benchmarks of lens design in any sensor format whereas Meike’s expanding collections of affordable geared cinema lenses show real promise in independent production compared to the exorbitant prices usually charged for cinema primes.

The question is, then, what look and feel, what visual and operating style suits you, your personality and your personal circumstances best?

Hardware and software Ninja Filmmaking forgot

The Muse Storytelling folks have assembled a great core list of hardware recommendations but they left out some essential items of hardware and software for the “proactive, stealth and intentional filmmaker.”

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PolarPro Variable Neutral Density Filter, Peter McKinnon Edition., Combo Set comprising 2 to 5 stops and 6 to 9 stops filters.

To date no hybrid camera other than Fujifilm’s X100 series comes with built-in neutral density filters so one must invest in sets of fixed value neutral density filters or the variable neutral density filters that are most appropriate for one person run-and-gun moviemakers.

Quite a few documentary and video journalism cinematographers have matching variable NDs permanently attached to each lens in their kit to avoid exchanging filters on the spot.

Brands to look out for include Aurora-Aperture, Breakthrough Photography, Formatt-Hitech Firecrest, PolarPro, SLR Magic and many others.

If you are collecting filters with industry-standard diameters of 77mm or 82mm then you need step-up rings to attach them to lenses with smaller filter diameters.

Brands I use and recommend include Breakthrough Photography, Heliopan, PolarPro and Sensei, but I lean towards hardened aluminium or better yet brass, and look for knurled step-up rings for ease of use, and fast removal and attachment in the field.

Lastly, whatever camera you are using, you cannot go wrong with Paul Leeming’s Leeming LUT Pro system for creating perfect colorimetry and colours indistinguishable from what your eye sees.

Expose your footage using Mr Leeming’s recommended ETTR aka expose to the right method, demonstrated on the Leeming LUT Pro web page, and your footage will be eminently gradable to feature film standards in editing and grading software like Final Cut Pro and DaVinci Resolve.

Other Links

  • 3 Legged Thing – “The most technologically advanced tripod system in the world.”
  • Apple – Final Cut Pro X
  • Blackmagic DesignDaVinci Resolve – “DaVinci Resolve 16 is the world’s only solution that combines professional 8K editing, color correction, visual effects and audio post production all in one software tool!”
  • Fujifilm-X Global
  • Leeming LUT Pro – “Leeming LUT Pro™ is the world’s first unified, corrective Look Up Table (LUT) system for supported cameras, designed to maximise dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec709 starting point for further creative colour grading. The Pro II LUTs are designed for perfect Rec709 colorimetry and have a linear luma curve, with an average measured dE(2000) of less than 1, meaning they are visually indistinguishable from reality to the human eye.”
  • Muse StorytellingNinja Filmmaking
  • OlympusM.Zuiko Pro – “With no compromises made, M.Zuiko PRO lenses are amazing in every aspect.”
  • Panasonic Lumix Global
  • Peak Design – “Our products must be innovative, beautifully crafted, and quite literally the best in their category. “
  • Røde Microphones
  • Rotolight – “From the very first LEDs to offer the shoot what you see benefits of continuous lighting and High Speed Sync flash all-in-one, to the brightest 2×1 soft light ever made, Rotolight LEDs streamline the workflows of imagemakers across the world.”
  • Sachtler Flowtech 75 MS

WARNING! Peak Design Everyday Camera Bags and Backpacks Are Susceptible to Mould Infection

I was recently prepping for a shoot in the city the next day so one of the first things was to decide which camera bag or backpack to carry my gear in.

I opened the big closet in my storage room where Peak Design, F-Stop Gear, Think Tank Photo and MindShift Gear camera bags and backpacks are kept, took a Peak Design Everyday Backpack out into the sunlight and, lo and behold, found it was infected with mould.

I then took out two Peak Design Everyday Messenger bags out into the light to find that they, too, are infected with mould.

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I recently discovered that two Peak Design Everyday Messenger bags and one Everyday Backpack were infected with camera and lens destroying mould while camera bags and backpacks by other manufacturers that were stored in the same large equipment storage closet remain untouched by mould.

None of the Think Tank Photo, MindShift Gear, Cosyspeed, and F-Stop Gear bags and backpacks appear to have been infected with mould.

For safety’s sake I had no choice but to immediately throw out all three Peak Design camera bags and backpack and luckily there was a trash collection tomorrow morning in order to get them out of the building.

I was saddened by having to do so as I applaud the creativity and innovation inherent in Peak Design’s products and have enjoyed using all three in the way for which they are designed, for daily carrying of the more mundane items of life and work along with camera, a lens or two and other smaller photographic items.

I have a large collection of Peak Design camera straps but almost all of them are stored attached to cameras in reasonably well-sealed plastic boxes with silica gel packs inside, and so far I have not found evidence of mould on any of them.

None of the Peak Design bags and straps had leather trim on them; they were all in the Charcoal colourway that is trimmed with synthetic materials whereas the Ash colourway is trimmed with leather.

As soon as I threw out the Peak Design bags I checked the straps on my cameras as well as two other boxes containing several spare straps and accessories.

Ever since the climate here in Sydney started becoming progressively more subtropical several years ago I have been conscious of the possibility of mould infection in leather products after discovering mould on a leather jacket, leather boots and leather-trimmed shoes.

I tried out several brands of anti-mould sprays on them but the mould eventually returned so the jacket and footwear had to be thrown out.

Then I discovered that certain types of plastics can also become infected with mould, most notably several Hedgren shoulder bags made from synthetics.

I have been progressively  swapping over to shoes and other products made from synthetics rather than leather but it is clear that certain synthetic materials can also be a threat.

Mould infection on two Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bags and one Everyday Backpack

Kickstarter: The Travel Line: Versatile Travel Backpack + Packing Tools, by Peak Design

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/peak-design/the-travel-line-versatile-travel-backpack-packing

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L and internal packing bags and cases.

Commentary

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.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on these affiliate links and purchasing through them helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • Peak DesignB&H

Peak Design: We’ve Got Something Brewin’ [Pre-announcement of Peak Design’s 2018 Kickstarter campaign, The Ocho]

http://swee.ps/xHbezXqlD

“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….”

peak_design_kickstarter_2018_teaser_01
Peak Design Kickstarter 2018 campaign email teaser graphic

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on these affiliate links and purchasing through them helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • Peak DesignB&H

Peak Design: Anchor Update Program

https://www.peakdesign.com/anchorupdate

“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….”

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Peak Design Anchors in version 1, version 2, version 3 and version 4. Peak Design is offering free replacement of V1 and V3 to owners of these versions.

Commentary

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?

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Peak Design Everyday Key Tether, only available direct as a replacement but these are excellent for attaching to every bag you have so your keys are kept safe and sound and are able to be quickly swapped from bag to backpack and back again regardless of brand.

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.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on these affiliate links and purchasing through them helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • Peak Design AL-3 Anchor LinksB&H
  • Peak Design Anchor Connectors for Peak Design Straps (4-Pack)B&H
  • Peak Design camera straps, bags and backpacksB&H

Think Tank Photo: Modular Belt System V3.0 Improves Photography Gear Access Speed While Sized to Accommodate Today’s Gear

https://www.thinktankphoto.com/blogs/news-events/modular-belt-system-v3-0-improves-photography-gear-access-speed-while-sized-to-accommodate-today-s-gear

“We have just released Version 3.0 of our popular Modular Belt System, with improved access speed and ease while accommodating for today’s gear. The Modular Belt System moves weight from your shoulders to your waists for more comfortable all-day carry. Many of the new pouches are expandable to fit pro-sized lenses with hoods in the shooting position….”

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Camera Clip Adapter v3.0, the new essential accessory in Think Tank Photo’s new Modular Belt System V3.0.

Commentary

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Think Tank Photo’s radically innovative though sadly now long-discontinued Multimedia Wired Up belt and bag system was my practical introduction into the many benefits of modular belt and bag solutions for carrying photography and video equipment in the field. I bought every Multimedia Wired Up product over several years after the system was discontinued from retailers all over the world, so useful is this system even today.

The news earlier this month that Think Tank Photo has updated its Modular Belt System to version 3.0 is welcome indeed here at ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’ as we are in the throes of refining our equipment carrying system for transporting gear in the field and on planes, trains and automobiles.

I chose Think Tank Photo products some years ago on discovering its Wired Up Multimedia system when getting back into photography and video production while needing an integrated system for carrying audio equipment, cameras, lenses and accessories of all sorts and sizes.

I went on a quest to buy every bag in the Wired Up Multimedia system after it suddenly vanished from Think Tank Photo’s website and the retailers stocking it here, and use its components still, but I have long needed to expand it with newer offerings better designed for more contemporary mirrorless cameras, lenses, audio equipment and other many and various accessories by other equally innovative brands such as 3 Legged Thing, Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic, Peak Design, Røde Microphones, Rotolight, Tascam, Zoom and more.

Think Tank Photo's innovative Multimedia Wired Up belt bag system was innovative and released before its time, then was tragically discontinued with no replacement or successor system in sight.
I am seeking to combine elements from Think Tank Photo’s new Modular Belt System V3.0 with elements from the Wired Up Multimedia system in order to make on-location photography and videography easier, faster and more productive.

The core of the broader integrated production system I am putting together for my documentary photography and video work now may well be Think Tank Photo’s Modular Belt System V3.0 along with the company’s Naked Shape Shifter 17 V2.0 (or its possible V3.0 successor).

Integration seems to be name of the game as production gear makers in different countries partner with each other in making their gear work together in ways that never occurred before.

I will be poring over the components within Think Tank Photo’s Modular Belt System V3.0 via its PDF and website in order to work out the best combination for me, in the absence of a local stockist with plenty of Think Tank Photo product on its shelves for a good try before you buy now that professional suppliers L&P Photographics in Artarmon and Foto Riesel in Sydney are sadly no more.

Think Tank Photo Modular Belt System V3.0 and related items

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on and purchasing through these affiliate links helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • MindShift GearB&H – Think Tank Photo’s range of outdoor adventure backpacks and accessories. Items in both ranges can be used with each other.
  • Peak DesignB&H – The entire range of Peak Design camera clip, strap and Everyday bag products at B&H.
  • Think Tank Photo – Click on this link to purchase direct from Think Tank Photo via my affiliate account.
  • Think Tank PhotoB&H – The entire range of Think Tank Photo products at B&H.

8Sinn to the Rescue: Panasonic Lumix GH5 and GH5S Camera Cage Updated with Wrist Strap Eyelets, Remote Cable Access

I have been preparing for a possible article on the very first feature film to be shot on with the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S video camera and have been researching some of the other gear the director used such as an 8Sinn  camera cage, handle, rod and Metabones support. 

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8Sinn GH5/GH5S cage version 2 with Scorpio top handle and new provision for mounting wrist strap and remote cable
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The first version of Polish accessories maker 8Sinn’s cage for the GH5/GH5S did not include two eyelets for wrist straps nor provision for attaching a remote release cable to the cage-clad camera’s remote port.

Until Panasonic officially announced the GH5, I was unaware of 8Sinn, a Polish camera accessories maker, and from what I saw of their products at their website, I was impressed.

I have yet to see or try any 8Sinn accessories in real life, though, so anything I write about their products is tempered with that fact.

The first version of the 8Sinn GH5 camera cage looked intriguing with apparently high quality design and manufacturing, but the reason I did not follow up on that initial impression was it lacked provision for easily attaching camera straps and the Panasonic DMW-RSL1 remote release.

Camera cages fall into either of two camps, body-hugging wrap-around ribbons or squarer protective enclosures with makers of the latter type including Seercam and makers of the former type including 8Sinn, MovCam, SmallRig and a host of other companies around the world.

The prime virtue of body-hugging wrap-around ribbon cage designs is that they allow the cage to be attached 24/7, for use when shooting stills or video, when handheld or tripod-mounted, triggered via shutter release button or remote remote cable.

The ability to attach camera straps helps ensure better grip and security against dropping, and so I always attach two or three Peak Design camera straps to every camera I own or borrow.

Peak Design Clutch and Cuff, and Panasonic DMW-RSL1 Remote Shutter Release

Those three Peak Design camera straps are Clutch, Cuff and Slide Lite, with Clutch and Cuff permanently attached to every camera whether caged or not, and with two Slide Lite straps in reserve when I am covering events in the time-honoured two-camera, two-lenses documentary photographer manner.

I keep two Peak Design Anchor Links attached to each camera’s camera left strap attachment eyelet for when I need to attach a Slide Lite, and have slightly different Anchor Link attachment arrangements depending on the cameras’ and cages’ specific designs.

None of the Motion9, Seercam or SmallRig cages I have currently are equipped with strap eyelets so I sometimes must resort to attaching Anchor Links via the now discontinued and rather oversized predecessor to the slimmer, neater Peak Design Anchor Mount.

8Sinn cage for GH5 and GH5S, version 2, with wrist strap eyelets and remote cable access

The 8Sinn cage for GH5 and GH5S, version 2, with built-in eyelets and CNCed indent for remote release cable access is an elegant solution for attaching Peak Design Clutch and Cuff, and the Panasonic DMW-RSL1 Remote Shutter Release as well as third-party alternatives.

8Sinn cage for GH5 and GH5S, version 2, complete kit

Whether assembled into a complete cage-based rig for GH5 or GH5S, audio adapter and Metabones-adapted non-native lens, or something much smaller, version 2 of 8Sinn’s GH5/GH5S camera cage is an intriguing choice given it has now solved the two problems found in version 1 and I hope to see and try it out for myself sometime soon.

Links

Image Credit

Header image concept and quick hack by Carmel D. Morris.

Help support ‘Untitled’

panasonic_dmw-bggh5_battery_grip_on-camera_front_1024px_60%
Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 with Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery Grip, a necessity for photography or moviemaking with the GH5 and GH5S, though most cages are unfortunately not designed to accommodate it.

Clicking on and purchasing through these affiliate links helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery GripB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-XLR1 XLR Microphone Adapter – B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Peak Design AL-3 Anchor LinksB&H
  • Peak Design Anchor MountB&H
  • Peak Design CL-2 Clutch Camera Hand-StrapB&H
  • Peak Design Cuff Camera Wrist Strap (Charcoal)B&H
  • Peak Design SLL-BK-3 SlideLITE Camera Strap (Black)B&H

Luminous Landscape: Peak Design Straps – The Cuff and Leash Review – with COMMENTARY

https://luminous-landscape.com/peak-design-straps-cuff-leash-review/

“Most people are familiar with Peak Design, a company that makes camera bags, packs, and straps. I have been a major fan of the company’s straps for quite some time and have mentioned them on a number of our Toy Shop episodes. Peak Design has, in my opinion, invented one of the best camera strap lines on the market…

… Since using the Peak Design system, I have never been happier with the use of straps. Peak Design offers a variety of straps of varying widths as well as a wrist cuff strap. As soon as I get a new camera or even a review loaner, I insert the Anchor Links. Then, depending on the weight of the camera or how I’ll be using the strap, I decide on which strap to use….”

Commentary:

I have yet to see the new Peak Design Cuff and Leash appear at a camera store, here so please read this commentary bearing that in mind.

The only local camera store that carried the Peak Design brand has now closed and the remaining camera store in our local area has a very limited selection of stock of any brand; Peak Design is not one of those brands.

Like Kevin Raber of Luminous Landscape, as soon as I buy a new camera or receive a review loaner, I attach Anchor Links then a Peak Design Clutch and Peak Design Cuff and never remove them unless a loaner must be returned.

As a result, every single camera in my collection wears its Anchor Links, Clutch and Cuff on a permanent basis, the latter two only coming off when I need to place the camera inside a cage that requires their removal in order to fit.

Camera cages with built-in strap attachment points have only started appearing in the last year, via brands like 8Sinn (latest version not yet on their website), Movcam and SmallRig. I have been looking for an optimum solution for attaching Anchor Straps to other cages, L-Brackets and hand grips but the best so far, Peak Design’s Pro Drive Screw, has its annoyances and limitations.

I have tried many different brands and types of camera straps over the years, made by camera manufacturers and third parties, and none of them has been ideal. Some have failed spectacularly and others have proven to be a real pain to use.

One of the brands that came closest to ideal until I discovered the Peak Design brand through the late Michael Reichmann of Luminous Landscape was Dsptch, and I still have some of their products stored away should I ever need them again.

After buying the Peak Design Capture Pro camera clip, quickly followed by the company’s Clutch, Cuff and Leash camera straps, then trying out Peak Design’s Slide and Slide Lite sling straps for reviews, I have not looked back.

Capture Pro is my most-used Arca-Swiss conversion solution for traditional stills and movie tripod quick release camera plates, until I invest in an Arca-Swiss clamp for each of my current stills and video tripods and monopods.

Slide and Slide Lite live in storage until I need to cover events and documentary subjects demanding a two-camera, two-lens in-depth approach where both cameras must be easily available at all times. Even then, Clutch and Cuff remain in permanent residence on every camera.

Leash, my first Peak Design sling strap, is reserved as a safety strap during urban and bush treks when I am carrying one camera in the hand but run the risk of dropping it in risky terrain.

I am not sure if and when I will have the chance of my first look at the new Cuff and Leash, so must rely on articles by trusted reviewers like Kevin Raber.

I have a couple of cameras at the top of my wishlist, the coming Fujifilm X-E3 mostly for documentary and portrait stills photography and as a backup to my X-Pro2, and the Panasonic DC-GH5 mostly for documentary moviemaking.

I am currently undecided as to whether I will attach the new Cuff and old Clutch to them both, or start searching for old versions of Cuff at online retailers as old Cuff has served me well over the years.

I have a couple of concerns about new Cuff and new Leash. Foremost is the leather component of Peak Design’s Ash colourway, introduced in the company’s Everyday camera bags range.

Now that the effects of climate change and global warming are well set-in here in Sydney, the risk of mould has become a constant concern. When mould attacks leather and certain plastics, its spores set up permanent residence inside and can never be removed.

With a sudden change in the weather, mould’s fruiting bodies can appear on the surface of the leather or plastic then start spreading onto other products inside and nearby.

The idea of susceptible leather and plastics transferring mould infection to cameras, lenses and other expensive objects fills me with horror.

I have asked Peak Design staffers to confirm whether the Ash colourway’s light tan leather trim and the Charcoal colourway’s black Hypalon synthetic are resistant to mould or not, but have not heard back about that yet.

There are other concerns with leather, whether mould-resistant or not. Leather production is part of the global industrialization of agriculture and is inherently cruel as well as environmentally irresponsible. I will not be buying any more leather products or products containing leather, so no Ash colourway Peak Design products for me.

Another concern is the idea of metal parts in close contact with fragile camera parts whether when on the move or at rest. Old Clutch and old Cuff have all-plastic hardware that has not shown signs of mould so far and neither have they rubbed my cameras and lenses up the wrong way.

Slide, Slide Lite and Leash go into their own little fabric bags, other small bags or camera bag internal pockets until needed then go back there or into safe storage when at home.

For now, new Cuff and new Leash’s aluminium hardware is an unknown quantity.

My appeal to stop using leather in camera bags and accessories

I am calling on all makers of camera bags and accessories to stop using leather.

The reasons are clear and well-justified – the extreme cruelty of industrial agriculture, its environmental irresponsibility and the ever-growing problem of mould infection resulting from climate change and global warming.

There is no intrinsic need for leather even in products like shoes and boots. Camera bags and accessories makers like Cosyspeed are leading the way in showing that leather simply is not necessary.

Links:

Peak Design: New Cuff and New Leash

https://www.peakdesign.com/product/straps/cuff

“… The all-new Cuff is the most elegant, unobtrusive way to protect your camera from accidental drops. Quickly and securely connects to any camera, binoculars, or other device using our unique Anchor Link system. Wrist loop magnetically locks in the open position, or comfortably cinches down on your wrist for added security. New all-custom aluminum hardware. When not in use, Cuff stores as a bracelet for quick accessibility….”

https://www.peakdesign.com/product/straps/leash

“The most versatile and quick-connecting camera strap in the world, the all-new Leash packs thoughtful functionality and endless adaptability into an ultra-portable package. Configurable as a sling strap, neck strap, safety tether, and more. Easily adjust length with dual aluminum and Hypalon quick-adjusters, designed to operated with just 1 finger….”