Peak Design Bags: 1 Year Later.

It’s been just about a year since I switched back to Peak Design (PD) camera bags, switched back? Yup, so you may ask, what tempted me to use other bags in the first place as a loyal PD user? A fair question deserves an honest answer. When PD first announced their Everyday Messenger Bag back in the summer of 2015, I immediately backed them on KickStarter because, after using PD product for 3-4 years at that point, I knew this was going to be good. Yes, it was, and I loved it, but about a year later we moved to Virginia (we’re a military family) and that’s when things changed. Wanting to check out some camera stores in the area, I found a couple in the northern Virginia area and one in particular specialized in camera bags, new and used. They would allow you to come in with your current bag and compare shop, to try them on, even pack some gear in and see how they felt! That’s when I found the ThinkTank Mindshift 15″ Messenger Bag, it felt great on the back. While it lacked many of PD’s features, it seemed to have more room inside, felt good, so I made the leap. Not bad mouthing ThinkTank in any way here, I still use many of their products and they are a terrific company making quality gear. However, in time I missed some little things in PD bags like their MagLatch system, there is no better way to get in and out of a messenger bag, period. With the ThinkTank’s Mindshift bag, I had to click open the fastener, take out the needed item and click it shut. It seems like a small thing but I found myself leaving the bag open most of the time while out shooting, out of convenience. With the PD bag, just push down on the MagLatch, open it and get the item out, then let the flap drop and it almost always catches on the MagLatch connection. Top zipper access in the 15″ PD bag, built in color coordinated battery holders (for charged/uncharged), luggage pass through on the back, and the flexi-fold style dividers to stack lenses were what I missed. Did these little things mean enough to go through the hassle of selling the current bags on eBay? Well, yes they did, because all those little things added up, and I missed them.

After years of searching for the perfect bag I’ve learned this, there is NO perfect bag. No matter what the latest bag innovation is, the new lighter than helium construction, magical pockets that hold everything beyond your wildest dreams, and most of all…. the famous photographer who endorses it will not matter when you head out shooting. What will matter is if the bag meets your needs. Know this, it will NOT be the perfect bag and some things will work for you and some won’t. For that reason I have a number of PD bags for different purposes, mostly defined by the lenses I’m walking out the door with. Unlike the one-time purchase of the supposed perfect bag mentioned above, acquiring bags has been a process. When going out with large, 100-400mm lens, the Everyday Backpack 20L Zip v2 (shown here) fits the bill. I’m not a fan of camera backpacks, but in this case they distribute weight better when carrying a heavy load than messengers or slings. The PD 20L Zip is just big enough to hold that big lens, plus the Canon EOS R with a 24-105mm attached, and a 15-35mm and 30mm stowed. It can be carry-on for air travel or tossed in the back of a car plus it’s weather proofed as well. Frankly, this bag doesn’t get used as often as the others because I don’t walk out every day carrying a 100-400mm lens. However, there’s no reason to think it won’t hold up well, it’s built like a tank. Does it offer everything I would like? Nope, again no bag will, but it does meet a majority of my needs/wants, like side access to the camera and not having a bunch straps flopping around. I do wish the 20L Zip had magnetic backpack strap holders like other PD bags, not sure why this model lacks them. Again, no perfect bag…

My main carry bags are PD messenger bags, they just work better for when out walking. I have the 15L and that I keep loaded out relatively similar to another 13L so I’m not hunting for stuff inside. This is the Everyday Messenger 15L (left) which carries either the 24-105mm or 15-35mm attached to the EOS R (stowing the unattached lens) and still has room for the 30mm lens. This bag may not be available anymore as I’ve not seen in on the PD site for a while, only the 13″ version is currently for sale there. You can still find it on eBay starting at about $60 used and $130 new and at Amazon as well. The Everyday Messenger 15L is like having a mini office in front of you, when you swing the bag in front of you it’s easy to switch lenses or safely dig through the bag. The other often used bag is the Everyday Messenger 13L (below) which is similar in design to the 15L but missing the top zipper which makes sense as it wouldn’t be practical to fit a DSLR with lens attached through the smaller opening. The Everyday Messenger 13L carries either the 24-105mm or 15-35mm attached to the EOS R and stowing the unattached lens. I’m happy to say that after carrying both of these messenger bags the majority of the time for the last year they both have minimal to no wear, which is kind of amazing. They’ve both held up well in the summer heat and cold rain of Yokosuka, Japan where I’ve lived for the past two years. Even the insides of both bags still look amazing!

When heading out and wanting to travel light, usually because I’m going with the family, I have two PD Sling bags. The larger of the two is the Everyday Sling 10L v1 (right) and this usually carries the EOS R with a 24-105mm attached and leaves room for a few smaller items. I didn’t purchase the Everyday Sling 10L v2 simply because I had the v1 a few years ago and really liked it. When deciding to go back to PD bags, I saw they still had this bag in their clearance page and jumped on it. While I’m sure the v2 is a great bag, I went with what I knew and missed. This bag is my go-to bag with the EOS R if I plan to be walking all day and going someplace new and want to travel light. The other Sling bag is the Everyday Sling 6L (below) which is when walking with just the EOS R and 30mm attached, generally places I’ve been before and might get a cool shot, going out to eat, or street shooting and don’t want to draw attention. In Japan, restaurants and food stands can make for great stock photography subjects, the small lens and small bag help to not draw attention. Both of these sling bags are light and give great protection from the elements. They have held up well, just like the Everyday Messenger bags, and look fantastic on the inside and exterior.

Since buying PD bags last year, I’ve been more than happy with how they’ve held up. I didn’t set out to own this many camera bags, but I’ve finally figured out something; while the latest and greatest camera bags may promise to be the last you’ll ever buy, they never fit that bill. In all honesty, PD also makes bags that don’t work for me… R-R-Really?? Yup! Their Everyday Backpack 20L and 30L which I had previously owned (the 30L) and, while it was a great bag, it just didn’t work out but happily the Everyday Backpack 20L Zip v2 worked much better. Also, their 45L Travel Backpack and Everyday Sling 3L didn’t seem like it good fit for what I do and that’s what I mean about “NO perfect bag” because, while these are award winning bags, they weren’t what I needed. That’s why I have so many bags, who wants to carry a 20L bag when a 6 or 10L sling will work? With the exception of a few companies (like PD) making bags, they’ve got to sell what appeals to a majority of photographers and that’s where the concessions come in. While they’ll get a big name pro to endorse the bag, not even two pro photographers will have the same packing needs and their desires in a bag will differ greatly as well. The chances of your needs and expectations lining up with their’s is probably very slim. Find bags that suite your needs because, when it comes to camera bags, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Finally, these highly customizable bags offer great protection and can handle just about anything you throw at them. These Peak Design bags have stood up well over the last year, just as the other PD products I’ve used since 2012 or so. I have no problem recommending them to photographers and non-photographers alike!

Peak Design II (with video)

Back in 2012, I began looking for another way to connect my camera to camera straps, wrist straps, and tripods. ¬†The problem was this, if there was a strap to keep the camera safe from accidental dropping, it almost always interfered with the tripod plate. ¬†It pd3almost always involved having to unscrew something, connect something else, then redo it all over again when done. ¬†There was nothing that¬†seamlessly linked my wrist cuff, strap, and tripod plate, they all seemed to work against each other and not together. That‚Äôs when I discovered Peak Design gear, it appeared to solve all this. ¬†If it worked as advertised, it would mean no more fumbling around with equipment and no more straps that didn‚Äôt work with other products. ¬†I checked in to it and my love affair with them began. ¬†While I‚Äôve used many of Peak Design products over the years, mostly camera bags and rain covers; however, pd4it’s the products that I’ve used almost daily since 2012 that I’m writing about today. ¬†Peak Design does make some excellent bags but after back surgery, my frame is a little touchy about what is hung on it for long periods. ¬†I’ve found something that works better for my needs, but if my back could handle it I’d still be using their Everyday Messenger Bag¬†as it’s probably the best all around bag I’ve ever had and only camera bag I’ve ever missed.

Back to today’s topic, this is gear I’ve been using practically every day for the last seven years. ¬†I wrote about these products in a blog entry on June 27, 2016 called Peak Design. ¬†In that article I said, “I can‚Äôt see myself walking out of the house to shoot without a piece of¬†Peak Design gear on me,” that still holds true today! ¬†However, looking back at that article, it seemed that a video might do a better job explaining how these work. ¬†So here’s an attempt at better explaining these products, hopefully….

 

The attempted fun aside, in about a minute and a half the camera went from a shoulder carry strap, to a wrist cuff, then two separate tripod mounts, to a backpack carry using the Peak Design Capture, and ending up back on the tripod. ¬†Admittedly, there was help from my personal assistant and daughter, but that was only to avoid dead time between swaps. ¬†The goal wasn’t to show how fast it could be done but how versatile the gear integrates. ¬†As the video demonstrates, everything centers around Peak Design’s Anchors and the Dual Plate, which also allows the connection. ¬†The Anchors can be placed anywhere on camera that allows for carrying and also on the Dual Plate itself. ¬†Using a Dual Plate means there is never a thought about how to carry the camera and as shown in the video, it works on Manfrotto and Arca-type tripod heads. ¬†It simply doesn’t matter if the camera is carried on a wrist cuff, sling, backpack, and you decide to put the camera on a tripod because it’s all integrated. ¬†Back in 2012, Peak Design appeared to be the only company doing this. ¬†Their gear is so much a part of my photography life I can‚Äôt see myself without these. ¬†Using the Sling, Cuff, and Dual Plate with Capture means less time screwing around and more time shooting. Frankly, these items are as important to me as a camera bag. ¬†I say this because of how much time previously spent connecting a camera to various straps and tripods. ¬†You’ll find a Sling and Cuff in each of my bags and, although they haven’t gone bad, I keep an extra Anchor or two in there too (I replace them yearly). ¬†There are also Dual Plates on both cameras making everything easy peasy lemon squeezy.

It’s not unusual to get looks or be approached by other photographers when I’m seen wearing a camera on a backpack harness. ¬†Most seem skeptical till I tell them it’s worked for years and I’ve got 100% confidence in it. ¬†I’m not some uber rich guy who can afford to drop a camera or two… ¬†I’ve seen plenty of doubters online as well, then someone says “that looks like Peak Design” and explains it. ¬†So the word is getting out on this well built gear. ¬†My original Dual Plate and Capture were purchased in 2012 and still work perfectly. ¬†Yes, this gear isn’t cheap but buy it once and you won’t be spending money again for a long time! ¬†Currently, the Capture sells for $49.95 and the Dual Plate for $24.95. ¬†If you don’t use a tripod and have no need for the Dual Plate, you can buy the Capture with an Arca plate combination for $69.95. ¬†Click [HERE] to visit their various straps and cuffs. ¬†Below are some photos of the Dual Plate and Capture attached to backpacks and bags, it doesn’t get any better. ¬†Lastly, as stated in the video, there is no affiliation between myself and Peak Design, I get absolutely nothing if you purchase their products. ¬†However, if you do make the leap, I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it.

 

Geekoto X25 Defender Review

When the folks at Geekoto approached me about testing a tripod, at first I was flattered. However, later I was actually a little scared because I wondered what I would do if it just wasn‚Äôt very good?  Then what?  I decided that if it wasn’t very good I’d send it back with a polite, “thanks but no thanks.”  Fortunately, that wasn‚Äôt the case as this tripod was quickly a pleasant surprise!  Out of the box, the Geekoto X25 Defender tripod appeared to be a very sturdy aluminum alloy construction and surprisingly well-built considering it cost much less than my currentScreen Shot 2019-03-06 at 15.48.13 tripod.  I had everything needed to get started including a tripod plate, an allen wrench to tighten down parts, and even a decent carrying bag.  Immediately, everything on the X25 Defender was easy to understand; if you‚Äôve used any name brand tripod you‚Äôll understand every feature instantly from the leveling bubble to securing the legs; everything makes sense.  My attention was draw to features and quality that scream this thing should cost more than $150!  All the moving parts are smooth and everything locks down well with no drift in the ball head when you clamp it down for a shot.  Even the plastic on X25 doesn‚Äôt seem cheaply built!  While I‚Äôve only had it for a few weeks, it does look like it will stand the test of time.  These are just my initial observations, everything about this tripod looks very promising. 

When I took it out shooting I noticed that my height of 5 foot 9 inches tall, this thing extends beyond my height out to 75 inches.  That said, like any tripod, the higher you extend it the less stable it becomes.  This tripod does as well as any other here, possibly better.  However, it‚Äôs more stable if Geeketo 2you extend the thinner legs last and go as high you can without raising the center.  On this day I wanted to see if the X25 Defender could handle a heavier load so I put a Tamron 150-600 G2 lens on my Canon 6D for a weight of about 6 pounds and extended everything out and it was surprisingly sturdy (photo at left)!  I wouldn’t recommend using this setup in extreme wind, but the point is that for every day use this tripod does a great job, but it can handle more.  If it can handle this bulky setup, I think it proves one aspect of its versatility.  One other feature worth discussing, the X25 Defender converts to a monopod as well!  When shooting I sometimes consider whether to bring a tripod or not, at times a monopod is just more practical so I then have decide tripod or monopod?  With this Geekoto tripod both options are readily available, very cool indeed! 

In my opinion, this Geekoto tripod is much better than most travel tripods I‚Äôve owned.  When I‚Äôm at home I carry my carbon fiber tripod as it‚Äôs much more stable, however, it takes up way too much space when flying.  This tripod is somewhere between that tripod you have at home but can‚Äôt carry and the travel tripod you pack on trips because it fits in your luggage.Geeketo 1  The important item here, there‚Äôs not much compromising with this tripod, oh and it’s rated to hold 22 pounds!   This is a great entry-level tripod or an excellent travel tripod and frankly, I‚Äôve paid more money for travel tripods that weren‚Äôt as nice as this one!  All in all, the Geekoto X25 Defender packs a lot of punch with a 360 degree panoramic ball joint combined with a center tube that also swivels 360 degrees allowing you to set this tripod up in just about any conceivable angle.  At the bottom of the center tube is a clip to hang a weight such as a camera bag, something my big name tripod doesn’t even have! Oh did I mention it has a monopod build in?  That’s bang for the bucks!

Like camera bags, no tripod is perfect, there were a couple of minor things that I personally wish were different but nothing that would be a deal break.  For instance, I prefer lever locks on the legs, it’s easier to visualize if they’re locked or not.  Also, the lockdown nut for the center tube at the base of the tripod, I’d prefer a screw type mechanism.  Neither of these are the end of the world, just a personal thing…  All in all I beleive this tripod should last a long time if properly cared for and not abused.  You can purchase your Geekoto Defender at Geekoto.com or Amazon.com for just $149.98, that’s about one quarter of what I spent my current tripod.  The Geekoto X25 Defender is a great bargain and solid tripod, I would gladly recommend this to anyone not wanting to spend a fortune yet wanting quality.  My plan is to keep using if for a while and maybe write more in the future.  Everything about using this tripod was a positive experience and I look forward to seeing Geekoto’s future offerings.  Thank you Geekoto for this great opportunity!

* Photos of me were taken by my daughters Amanda and Melinda Chizek.Screen Shot 2019-03-06 at 18.21.20

The Everyday Sling, Continued…

In this post¬†I wanted to follow up on my original review of Peak Design’s Everyday Sling back in September 2016 (see The Everyday Sling¬†blog post). ¬†Back then I stated,¬†“if you have a mirrorless system and want to travel light, THIS IS YOUR BAG! ¬†People who use¬†mirrorless systems are usually trying to keep the load¬†light.” ¬†I went on to say that if I had a mirrorless camera, “this would be my bag 24/7!” ¬†Well, I meant it, and after writing that post I actually ended up purchasing a Sony A7R mirrorless camera a month later and decided to give the Everyday Sling a¬†shot as my every day bag. ¬†There were two reasons for doing this; first, I switched to a mirrorless to lighten the load due to ongoing back issues resulting from surgery in 2010. ¬†Second, the folks at¬†Purple Orange Brand Communications¬†and¬†Peak Design¬†had given me a courtesy Everyday Sling and I felt I needed to give it a shot. ¬†Plus, since I shot my mouth off about how great it was, I needed to do this! ¬†Let me say upfront that the switch was easy and I’m very happy.

bcpnet2When I received my Everyday Sling, I used it on days I wanted to travel light, usually¬†taking¬†my Canon 6D and another lens only to head out somewhere on my bike or walking. ¬†For the most part, the rest of the bag really didn’t have much in the pockets. ¬†Using the Sling now as my every day carry means that it’s obviously heavier because I now¬†carry many of the items I used to carry in the Everyday Messenger. ¬†Heavier? Yes, but still very manageble and in no way is it uncomfortable. ¬†The bag is designed to expand out and away from your body as you add contents, making it still comfortable to carry. ¬†I also find myself usuing the adjustable strap more than I did with the Everyday Messenger. ¬†The Sling seems to feel better when I wear it high on my back, so when I need the camera I rotate the bag and lower it¬†to get in. ¬†Because of the way this bag’s strap is designed it’s almost one smooth movement and takes no extra time. ¬†So what are the drawbacks? ¬†Well, if you tried this as your main bag and carried something bigger than a mirrorless, or carried 2 or 3 lenses, I don’t think it would fare well. ¬†Strapping a tripod to the bottom seems like it could be a it of a pain as well. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, this little bag will do it, I just don’t know how comfortable it would be weighing it down so much. ¬†Frankly, if you were carrying a regular size DSLR and a couple of lenses, the Everyday Messenger is the better choice anyway.

bcpnetAfter four months of carrying the Everyday Sling, I’m comfortable recomending it to mirroress camera owners who are looking for a protective bag for their camera that is full of features. ¬†While I still love my Everyday Messenger Bag¬†(or EDM), my former every day carry, that bag is now for when I’m going to travel and need to bring along extras. ¬†When I wrote about the Everyday Messenger in my post “Everyday Messenger, is the honeymoon over?” in May 2016 I truly believed I had found the perfect bag and never thought I’d switch cameras. ¬†For what I used to carry, a Canon 6D with a lens attached and two more in the bag, the Everyday Messenger¬†was perfect. ¬†However, since switching¬†to the Sony A7R, the Everyday Sling seemed a better fit, and this is true because of the lighter camera body and less lenses. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I still love the EDM and it’s still the best bag I’ve ever owned, but it’s now my travel bag. ¬†At 54 years old I still learn something new almost every day and the lesson learned here is this; if someone asks if you’d like to try a product, you might want to take them up on it. ¬†When originally contacted about trying out a bag, I told them I was plenty happy with my Everyday Messenger, fortunately they still sent me a bag. ¬†I say this because had¬†Purple Orange Brand Communications¬†not contacted me I definitely would NOT¬†have bought the Everyday Sling, I was completely content with the EDM. ¬†Again, a HUGE thank you to Purple Orange Brand Communictions and the wizards at Peak Design for giving me the opportunity to use the Everyday Sling!

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Goodbye Canon ūüė≠, Hello _______

In the last post, Goodbye Canon, I explained the¬†need to lighten up my camera bag recently; it was simply too heavy after surgery in 2010. ¬†When looking to see¬†where that weight was coming from, it didn’t take long to see it was the Canon 6D and three lenses. ¬†After a week of searching online, I finally settled on a new camera system and made the¬†purchase. ¬†When the¬†new camera arrived, I took lots of¬†shots and while it wasn’t a familiar Canon, I figured I’d get used to it. ¬†I sold the¬†Canon gear on eBay and started a journey which felt, like I said a few weeks ago, as if I were¬†marching a parade with two left shoes on because I knew I’d make it, just¬†not comfortably. I ended up buying a¬†Sony A7R¬†and let me say upront that the image quality is fantastic¬†and with¬†two lenses is lighter than what was carried previously. ¬†In the areas of image quality and weight, I’m totally satisfied. ¬†However, this¬†new camera had two areas that made me feel like a photo failure. ¬†Trying to navigate a¬†menu system that was totally unfamiliar ground and a focus system that wasn’t much better proved difficult. ¬†Getting clear photos was a hit or miss propect for days and at one point I even told my wife it was going back in the box and sent¬†back to the store, but she’s used to my Jan Brady hissy fits. Frankly, after using Canon camera for years I now realize that I became spoiled because I felt like I was learning to shoot all over again, that was unexpected. Canon cameras were easy, this wasn’t easy.

a7r-bI decided that after reading the manual that the camera would go everywhere, after a couple of weeks I’m still going back to the manual but up for the challenge at this point. ¬†Everything I read prior about Sony digital cameras¬†warned that Sony’s menu system was, as we used to say in the military, “less than desirable.” ¬†I remember reading somewhere that the menu system was “clunky” and had no idea what that meant; now I know “clunky.” ¬†Why Sony doesn’t release new firmware to fix this is beyond me. ¬†While now getting used to the Sony A7R, the truth is that I wish there was a Canon lightweight mirrorless camera and glass that functioned like the trust old¬†6D with L Series lenses. ¬†If Canon ever released a mirrorless that recieved the kind of reviews that their new 5D Mark IV gets, I’d probably jump ship back to Canon instantly. ¬†Time to let go…

Some people will ask why I didn’t simply shell out the extra money for the Sony A7Rii?¬†¬†Well, I actually gave that a lot of thought and it came down to this. ¬†The A7R shoots at almost twice as many megapixels than my old 6D, so for the money, this was¬†worth looking at and shelling out $1,800. ¬†The A7Rii shoots roughly 6MP larger than the A7R but costs another $1,200, that’s a $3,100 price tag. ¬†Not being a pro or making a bunch of money selling photos, was that $1,200 worth an additional 6MP in larger photos? ¬†Not to mention, the A7Rii’s uncompressed RAW files are a whopping 80MB per photo, I’d need new hard drives as well to accomodate the file size because my 2TB drive would be full in no time. ¬†Again, if I were putting food on the table from photography and had clients who needed the best images possible, the A7Rii would have been the choice. ¬†However, I’m just a retired guy taking pics and the A7R’s image quality is perfect for my needs and the file size is just a little larger than that of the Canon 6D. ¬†While many folks don’t like the Sony A7R’s compressed RAW files, they suit me just fine because nobody will ever see most of my photos anyway.

Swingin'

What do I like about the Sony A7R? ¬†First, the weight is exactly what I was hoping for and carrying the Sony around is much lighter and easier on the back. ¬†This was the¬†prime reason for ditching the¬†6D. ¬†Second, image quality is excellent and seriously crisp. ¬†While it took a while to get clear images regarding the Sony focus system, the images are impressive. ¬†The two lenses I purchased are incredible as well; the¬†Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS¬†and¬†Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T FE F4 ZA OSS¬†give me almost the same capabilities that¬†I had previosly with three Canon lenses. ¬†Actually, the Sony 16-35 reminds me very much of the previously owned¬†Canon 16-35mm f/4L IS USM¬†in the way I can get right up on the subject to take advantage of the wide agle capabilities. ¬†The photo at left, Swingin’, was one of the¬†first Sony A7R photos taken at a front yard in Coronado, California¬†with the¬†Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS¬†lens (at f/10, 1/160¬†sec, focal length 134mm, and ISO¬†500).

Cove Fog

The above photo, Cove Fog, was taken at Fiddlers’s Cove in Coronado, California and is two photos stitched together. ¬†It was shot¬†with the Sony A7R with the¬†Sony FE 24-240mm (f/3.5-6.3 OSS¬†lens at f/9.0, 1/5¬†sec, focal length 24mm, and ISO 50). ¬†What is it that I don’t like about the¬†new camera? ¬†As mentioned earlier, the menu system is tough and seems to have been created¬†from a bad dare. ¬†It’s as if two drunk Sony techs were¬†in a bar and one said, “I’ll bet you $100 I can make¬†the crappiest menu system ever but people will still buy it because it’s a Sony.” ¬†I thought maybe menu items¬†were grouped in Braille and I couldn’t find the raised dots. ¬†That said, getting used to a Sony is half the battle but there isn’t anything that makes me regret the purchase. ¬†Being a smaller camera, it has a completely different feel ergonamically. ¬†Once it’s in your hands the buttons feel that much closer together than other cameras. ¬†However, I¬†fully expected this given the Sony is a smaller camera. ¬†This is a temporary thing and I’ll adjust to the size, but for now my hands are instinctively sliding where the buttons aren’t. ¬†All the other little things, like the lens release button being on the opposite side of every camera I’ve ever owned, are just growing pains coming from Canon.

So, while it may not sound like it at times in this post, I’m pleased overall with the Sony A7R, but I admittedly have a hard time letting go of my Canon ways. ¬†When I whine¬†about Canon, I make my seven year old daughter seem like the mature one in our house, again just ask my wife. ¬†Coming from another brand, the learning curve has been steep but not impossible. ¬†I just hate picking up my camera and fidgeting for settings but that was going to happen no matter which brand I went with. ¬†Lastly, while researching this purchase I had read how Canon has fallen behind in mirrorless camera technology and, while only recently releasing a serious mirrorless, it appears they’re¬†years behind Sony. ¬†While I’ve moved to Sony for the moment, I’m still keeping my eye on Canon and hoping for game changer from them down the road.

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The Everyday Sling

Thanks to the great people at Purple Orange Brand Communications¬†for sending a¬†Peak Design Everyday Sling¬†my way before it hit the street!! ¬†Upfront, nobody has asked, or tried to influence me, to endorse this product. ¬†No promises were made and¬†I’m writing my personal opinions freely, plus I would never endorse a product I don’t use. ¬†That said, when originally asked if I’d be interested in one of the new Peak Design bags I actually said¬†“no”… ¬† Sometimes¬†I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer. ¬†I said this¬†because Peak Design’s¬†last bag, the Everyday Messenger¬†(also called the EDM), was working incredibly¬†well and I simply didn’t want¬†another bag. ¬†However, when the opportunity presented itself to¬†check out one of the new bags, I decided to give¬†the Everyday Sling a try. ¬†Why do this if I loved my current bag so much? ¬†Well, I do¬†love the¬†EDM¬†but having a smaller bag of the same style for just walking or biking near home with just the basics seemed worth trying. ¬†After carrying¬†the Sling everywhere for a week and a half, I’m completely comfortable writing my opinions here because the Sling¬†is remarkably similar to the EDM in just about every way. ¬†Before going on, if the Sling¬†wasn’t a comfortable carry, everything I could write below would be meaningless garbage. ¬†So yes, on top of the features and build quality, thd Sling is extremely comfortable and most times forgot it was with me whether walking or on my bike. ¬†If interested, please see an¬†earlier blog entries about my Peak Design Everyday Messenger experiences:

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Everyday Sling (L) and Everyday Messenger (R).

The Everyday Sling would arrive¬†in mid-September and I was thrilled someone thought enough of me¬†to offer this bag up. ¬†However, I didn’t think about it much, nor did I know the specifics regarding the Sling other than it was smaller than the EDM. ¬† Remember, I loved my current bag (and still do). ¬†What I did ponder¬†was this; what if the Sling didn’t live up to the hype? ¬†Would I be willing to¬†write a negative review about product I wanted to like from a company I truly LOVE?? ¬†I was comforted by the fact I didn’t¬†know of one Peak Design product that was bad, why would the Sling be any different? ¬†When the Sling did arrive, to my surprise it seemed as if the¬†beloved EDM¬†just had a little brother! ¬†The build quality along with¬†everything else I saw on the outside of the Sling immediately screamed Peak Design. ¬†It is literally like a mini-EDM¬†where they cut¬†out much of the extra storage¬†space and came up with a versatile Sling bag. ¬†I intended the Sling to¬†be¬†for traveling light, a body with a lens attached and maybe another lens or two in the bag. ¬†However, while the Sling is¬†smaller this is not to say the it¬†isn’t without its features. ¬†While there is no perfect bag, Peak Design’s EDM¬†was the first bag that I didn’t feel like I was just settling in some way. ¬†With the Sling, I again found what I need and feel!

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Dividers move where you need and fold down to store gear on top.

Since this bag for day use, there’s plenty of space in expandable large side pocket for anything else you may need. ¬†The Sling is similar to the EDM in this way, it expands and contracts as you insert and remove gear. ¬†In this case, the side pocket expands and not the entire bag as with the EDM. ¬†However, this bag differs in two ways from the EDM. ¬†First, it is entered through¬†a zippered closure on top instead of a flap style¬†lid, this alone ensures your gear will stay dry and I almost wish the EDM had this feature. ¬†Second, the¬†inserts used to make divided compartments go one step farther than those of the EDM. ¬†Whereas the fold-over tops of the EDM’s inserts create¬†a flat surface area on top to lay¬†items (above right), the Sling’s inserts have a split top

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The split top folding dividers make customizing the Sling very easy!

on the fold-over portion¬†allowing¬†you use them like the EDM’s, or as individual storage above each lens compartment by leaving one part folded down¬†and one up (left). ¬†The cool thing is that if you like the inserts of the EDM, these function exactly the same. ¬†If you need them to function differently in the future, it’s built in! ¬†These might seem like little things, but in a compact¬†bag¬†like the Sling,¬†these¬†small features add up and make the Sling stand out.

The similarities with the EDM are evident in other ways.  The water resistant materials, quality stitching, a clean design with no unwanted straps hanging, space for an iPad or similar device, covered zippers, and built in tripod stowage are all items I have now come to expect from Peak Design; and they delivered!

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The Sling (L) and EDM (R) are both able to use the Peak Design Capture to store your camera externally.

There is a pocket on the inside cover that provides easy access to items regularly needed. ¬†In fact, all pockets can be accessed without taking¬†the Sling off and any raising or lowering of the bag is mindlessly simple. ¬†You’ll never fumble for gear or dump stuff in the street (yes,¬†I’ve done that with a backpack). ¬†The shoulder strap is made to easily adjust when you want to get in the bag, so if you like carrying it high on your back it’s not a big deal. ¬†There is also a strap in the main compartment to attach your keys and even a reinforced area to hang a Peak Design Capture! ¬†Like I said, this is a compact and purposeful¬†bag so all these numerous¬†little features amount to¬†a big deal!

 

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Red dead battery stitching.

There’s more, just like the EDM, the battery compartment uses red stitching on the pockets to place your empty batteries so you don’t confuse them with those charged. ¬†So who wouldn’t like the Sling? ¬†Well, honestly, it’s not for everyone and if you carry a ton of gear¬†and expect this to be your primary bag, it’s not for you. ¬†Remember, it’s a Sling and not a backpack. ¬†While capable of carrying a lot of gear for its size, the EDM or one of the new Peak Design backpacks may¬†be a better fit if you carry a lot of gear. ¬†So who would like this new Sling? ¬†Well, even if I wasn’t out shooting photos, this would be a great day bag to just have because of its versitility and ease of carry. ¬†I’ve been carrying a Canon 6D with a lens attached and one other lens for the most part, sometimes throwing an extra lens in, and the Sling has been comfortable. ¬†This would be a great setup for a street photographer wanting a bag as a daily carry that is out of the way when working. ¬†Now if you have a mirrorless system and want to travel light, THIS IS YOUR BAG! ¬†People who use¬†mirrorless systems are usually trying to keep the load¬†light. ¬†If I had the cash for a Sony A7rii (Hello¬†Sony? If you’re feeling generous…) and some Sony glass to go along with it, this would be my bag 24/7! ¬†Before I had the EDM (and now a Sling), I was a backpack guy. ¬†This led to me carrying WAY too much gear, everywhere; backpacks have lots of room for lenses, filters, and everything else under the sun. ¬†Who carries a half empty backpack? ¬†Now that I’ve gone to messenger bags, I’ll never carry my camera gear in a backpack again; I carry what I need vice everything I own. ¬†My opinion regarding backpacks has changed drastically in the last year as I believe backpacks have their place in camping, hiking, etc.; I even understand why¬†many photographers need them. ¬†However, straight up camera bags or messenger bags just work better for me. ¬†Just my two Abe Lincoln’s worth…

sling7My love affair with Peak Design products began about 4+ years ago when I was tired of taking the wrist cuff off the¬†camera so I could put it¬†on a tripod. ¬†After a little searching online, I found a Peak Design product that made¬†exactly what I wanted except it allowed the camera to be mounted to a backpack or belt! ¬†Since then I’ve used much of their gear because it’s built to last and works as advertised. ¬†It is so refreshing to see a company like Peak Design who stand behind their products and haven’t forgotten where they came from! ¬†The Sling is no different and a prime example of Peak Design’s dedication to¬†making¬†quality photography products. ¬†They never stop amazing me with their ingenious products and I actually get excited when they advertise a new product release! ¬†Lastly, two final thoughts about¬†why I have loved Peak Designs products, this Sling fits in to both¬†categories. ¬†First, once you use their gear you’ll wonder why you didn’t check them out earlier. ¬†I wasn’t even wanting¬†another bag, now I’m hooked on the Sling. ¬†Second, all Peak Design products are built tough and whatever you buy, you won’t be replacing it anytime soon. ¬†So, if you’re on the fence about the Sling, don’t be as it’s¬†built to last, will safely carry your gear, and very comfortable to carry. ¬†Thank you Peak Design and Purple Orange for this great opportunity!

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Hello Umpkinpay!

Peak Design @ Kickstarter

Only 30+ hours to get a new Peak Design bag at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/peak-design/the-everyday-backpack-tote-and-sling?ref=82lqjc

New Peak Design Bags are out!

CLICK TO SEE THE NEW BAGS AT KICKSTARTER!!

These bags are for non-photographers and photographers alike! ¬†If you’re interested, I’ve written two posts related to my Peak Design camera bag. ¬†The latest, posted¬†on May 30, 2016 was specifically about the Everyday Messenger entitled, Everyday Messenger: is the honeymoon over?¬† However,¬†first article called In the Bag, posted on April 25, 2016 was¬†not specifically about the bag, but¬†was related to what I keep in my Everyday Messenger. ¬†I also wrote about the Peak Design products I use everyday that make photography easier, see it at Peak Design.

I hope these posts will give you some insight in to these great products!

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Everyday Messenger, is the honeymoon over?

IMG_7837Last April I wrote about the daily contents of¬†my Peak Design Everyday Messenger bag, also called the EDM (See In the bag). ¬†This week I would like to write about the EDM bag itself; while there are many reviews of this bag online I would like to share my experiences. ¬†When I first saw the promo for the EDM I said to myself, “nice, but not for me.” ¬†Like other Peak Design products, crowd funding through Kickstarter was the means of getting the bag early. ¬†Although not wasn’t interested in the bag, I wanted to help¬†Peak Design because I’ve supported them in the past. ¬†They make quality photography gear and¬†I was still willing to put money behind a new product even if it wasn’t for me! ¬†After months of reading early reviews, seeing promos, and the opinions of others, I decided to get the bag. ¬†At $220, the EDM was¬†not a cheap venture considering I already had a perfectly fine camera bag. ¬†I finally decided to¬†keep my other bag and if the EDM didn’t work out, I’d sell it. ¬†If Peak Design’s EDM didn’t live up to the hype, there was¬†a fallback plan. ¬†Well, after seven months with my Peak Design EDM, I feel comfortable saying how this worked out.

First off, a little background, I’m an amateur photographer so my livelihood isn’t dependent upon selling photos. ¬†There are no clients, no deadlines, no business obligations, so photography¬†is the coolest hobby as someone who is retired! ¬†In 2010 I had back surgery and finding the right bag took years, literally. ¬†I bought so many bags online in search of the “the one” that between shipping and selling, I’ll admit loosing few bucks. ¬†After three years, I finally settled on a well known brand, a backpack, and it’s a GREAT bag. ¬†This backpack had enough room for all my stuff and seemed to fit well on my back. ¬†I had to carry this bag all day before it started hurting. ¬†Obviously, the Peak Design EDM was much smaller and concessions would be necessary to seriously attempt this transition. ¬†How much gear would need to be ditched? ¬†After the number of bags I’ve been though, how could any messenger bag compare? ¬†Needless to say, there were¬†¬†concerns.

Many people will tell you that there is no perfect camera bag, and I believe this to be true. ¬†However, this current backpack was as close as I had come to perfection. ¬†While waiting for the EDM,¬†I decided honestly look at my current bag situation and make changes before the EDM arrived. ¬†After reading a piece written by Ken Rockwell I knew changes were needed. I wrote in my previous blog, In the bag, in where Rockwell says, “trying to be prepared for everything makes you prepared for nothing” and when carrying¬†less gear “you‚Äôll be more relaxed and have better time, again leading to more fun and better pictures.” ¬†It clicked, so I went in to strip down mode 1.0 and ditched anything not used in recent memory and reevaluated EVERYTHING in the backpack. ¬†When my Peak Design EDM arrived, I was going to be ready.

Well it arrived and I still couldn’t fit my freakin’ gear in the EDM, before I had a knee jerk reaction and sold¬†gear, I decided to strip down to essentials only. ¬†Which lenses did I use daily? ¬†I hadn’t used a flash in over a year, did it need to be in my daily carry? ¬†Which gear of this¬†already stripped down load could I not leave the house without. ¬†Ok, strip down mode 2.0 coming up… ¬†In the end, after spending months setting up the EDM, it was 100% totally worth it! ¬†I now carry a lighter bag with actually need gear versus everything on the planet “just in case.” ¬†The bag can be configured inside to suit your needs and provides decent protection. ¬†Will it protect it like my backpack would? ¬†No, however, in my daily needs that backpack was overkill. ¬†I now carry my camera much more often with the EDM than before in that huge backpack full of goodies!¬† I have no problem with the EDM while traveling, it fits under the front seat on an airplane, and is generally out of the way when not needed.

So who would likely benefit from the Peak Design EDM? ¬†If you shoot¬†mostly from home, it’s perfect. ¬† If you like to carry a bunch of lenses and accessories, it’s probably not for you. ¬†It’s also probably not for you if you’re a hiker doing overnighters in tents where a backpack is a necessity. ¬†My personal experience is that the Peak Design Everyday Messenger forced me to downsize my gear, which was needed! ¬†I now carry essential items only and¬†am¬†shooting more because the EDM is with me daily¬†and¬†less time is spent rummaging through a backpack for something. ¬†As for that back surgery, the EDM isn’t quite as comfortable as the backpack but the trade off is that it’s much lighter. ¬†I’ve had no major issues carry it as I did with some backpacks. ¬†So last week I sold $1300 worth of lenses and accessories, plus the backpack in my “fallback plan” has a new home. ¬†Overall, the transition to the Peak Design Everyday Messenger has been positive. ¬†I discovered much about what I truly needed versus what was nice to have, and I’m happier while out shooting. Yes, there is NO perfect camera bag and no “one size fits all.” ¬†I would never tell anyone they needed to run out and buy this EDM now. ¬†However, I will say it worked for me and I’m very happy with it as I am with all my Peak Design products.