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!

Covid-19 Lockdown…

Covid-19 Lockdown…

I can’t think of a five or six month period since 2012 where I’ve taken out my camera so little, but that’s not to say I haven’t been engaged with photography in some way. Since I didn’t really get out and shoot, I concentrated on the future by researching potential gear changes, checking out new bags, and trying out some new stock photography companies as well. However, an actual camera in my hands didn’t happen much beyond the occasional iPhone shot, which I still find fun. Since the corona virus had us locked down on the base where we live in Japan, I decided to take a little break from shooting. A lot of time was spent researching cameras, lenses, filters, bags, and even accessories which led to some purchases that I’m excited about. While I didn’t break out the camera much, I did manage to shoot a little, the shots on this post were all taken with the iPhone 7 Plus. The photo at the top was taken just before the lockdown in February 2020 at the harbor in Yokosuka, Japan and the others were taken at various times during lockdown.

My daredevil daughter jumping out of the seat of the playground swing.

While researching cameras, the Canon EOS R caught my eye and it looked like a great upgrade from the 6D Mark II that I had currently been using. I had been absolutely loving the 6D Mark II since 2017 and had even purchased a second backup body. My intention was to keep one 6D and use the Canon adaptor one EOS R for my current EF lenses. The EOS R arrived, I played with it for a while and was completely blown away. Mind you, at this point in time I was planning on keeping one 6D Mark II. I played with the EOS R’s new control ring on the adaptor, decided to use it for exposure compensation, again… blown away. Now I began comparing my current EF lenses with their new RF lens counterpart. Over the next few days I sold both Canon 6D’s and all but one EF lens, the EF 100-400. So much for my plan to keep my backup 6D. I’ve been very happy with the switch to the Canon EOS R and I’ll be sure to do a future review. While the new RF lenses cost a lot more they are noticeably better. The good news is that if you want the Canon mirrorless EOS R but don’t want to upgrade from EF lenses (or EF-S) to the new RF series, the adaptor for the old lenses is pretty incredible and you will see improvements using your EF lenses on the EOS R via the adaptor. My EF lenses looked sharper on the EOS R with the adaptor than they did on the 6D Mark II.

A Latte Florentine Milan Stetson summer straw fedora.

I can hear you already, “ok Mr. Bigshot, if the EF lenses worked so well with an adaptor, why did you switch?” Well, like I said, I spent a lot of time researching and a few things caught my attention. First, the RF lenses have been out since 2018 there is a ton of information online about them. It was this, an interview with Digital Camera World, where a Canon Europe Product Marketing Senior Manager stated that Canon had already launched ten new RF lenses and that, while they’re ready to create new EF lenses if the need arose, “for now, our focus is on RF.’ That told me exactly where Canon is heading, their compass points to the land of RF. Secondly, the last time I believe Canon ditched a series of lenses was around 1987, after more than 20 years of producing over 130+ models of their FD lens series, they made a similar announcement regarding their move to the EF series. As I see it, when Canon goes all in on something, they commit. Just as they committed to the EF series lens and over time dropped the FD series, I believe they are now at the same crossroads with their new RF series. The handwriting is again on the wall and I believe at some point they’ll stop supporting the EF series. However, the BIG difference this time over Canon’s 1987 move is that because of these new adaptors released by Canon, their loyal EF lens users won’t be left holding unsupported lenses as FD users probably were. While I could have stayed with the EF lenses, I took a chance on moving to the RF series because I believe Canon is all in and committed. I bought what RF lenses I could afford leaving me with one lens, the 100-400, that I use with the Canon adaptor and it works no differently than the RF lenses.

So in the end, while there wasn’t a lot of photography happening in my life, there were some meaningful photography changes that I’m hopeful will change the way I shoot. I had been using the Canon 6D Mark II since 2017 and it was still a love affair, but the EOS R unexpectedly rocked my little world more than expected. While “just researching,” the search took me to a new Canon camera which led to new lenses, then new filters, some new Peak Design bags which I’ll be reviewing, and other things that come with being locked down for months with nothing but “research” time. It turned out to be pretty productive and actually did some good. Oh, also during this Covid-19 lockdown in Japan, I somehow got in to the wonderful world of fedoras too, please don’t judge me…

PEAK DESIGN SALE!

 

 

SALE!       unnamed        SALE!

 

Peak Design is having a 20-40% sale on everything (except tripods) from¬†March 31 – April 6. ¬†Over the years I’ve come to like messenger bags more and more because all my camera gearScreen Shot 2020-03-31 at 13.02.28¬†is right in¬†front¬†me when I need it. ¬†Peak Design’s¬†Everyday Messenger¬†(at left) is¬†about the best ¬†messenger bag I’ve ever used, period! ¬†If you’re looking for a bag, for photography or anything else, check out PD’s¬†Sling, Tote, TotePack, Backpack, or new Backpack Zip¬†while they’re ON SALE! ¬†When it comes to any of these bags, the one thing I love is the ability to customize. ¬†While¬†there is no perfect bag, these come about as close as I’ve ever come. ¬†As a side note, these bags can be used for more than photography! ¬†PD’s new Travel Tripod launches on April 7th and all profits will be donated to coronavirus relief and climate change!

The other piece of Peak Design gear I’ve used religiously since 2013 is their¬†capture system. ¬†Nothing I’ve used has been with me as long as these. ¬†I’m never fumbling

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Capture & Clip

with tripod plates or any type of strap, ever! ¬†PD’s straps and cuffs are all¬†seamlessly interchangeable by using PD’s tab system to connect everything. ¬†It’s rare when I’m out that someone doesn’t me about my camera hanging off a backpack strap! ¬†Since I’m not very good at explaining, I made the short video below, in real time, to show just how effective these are and exactly how they work. ¬†I’m all for anything that makes photography easier and allows me more time shooting, and that’s exactly what PD equipment does.

 

 

Lastly, Peak Design makes quality gear, I’ve using the same Capture to hang my camera on bags since 2013 and it works like the day they arrived! ¬†Don’t miss a great chance to pick up some awesome gear, so please check out this upcoming sale!

 

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It’s not about the gear…

I entered photos in a series¬†Gurushots competitions called “Your Best Shot” in the summer of 2019. ¬†The result was¬†Your Best Photo – The Second Challenge¬†and this photo, called Rover, was selected by Dodho Magazine for their Top 100¬†of¬†300,000 photospre-1245831580 submitted and more than 150 million votes cast in three challenges (see below). I’m absolutely thrilled that this photo placed, but it proves a serious point, it’s not about the¬†camera or the gear. ¬†It’s about almost everything else! ¬†Lighting, composition, and clear subject matter more than just about anything else. ¬†I have plenty of fancy gear and toys that are used daily. ¬†However, this photo which was taken with a Sony DSC-W7 “point & shoot” camera back in 2006, gets placed in their top 100. ¬†In many ways it makes me want to go back to basics, and in a way I will. ¬†I’ve recently been shooting more with just a fixed 50mm f/1.8 lens (the nifty fifty) and 40mm f/2.8 “pancake lens” in order to focus more on composition and get back to the nuts and bolts of photography. ¬†This photo placing where it did, right now while I’m shooting with fixed lenses, serves as a lesson to not give up on these lenses. ¬†I’m back to manual zoom with two feet for a while and it’s actually nice not carrying a camera bag.

 

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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.

 

The Old Switch-a-roo

Last November I made the switch to Sony leaving my beloved Canon 6D for a Sony A7R. ¬†In my blog post entitled “Goodbye Canon ūüė≠, Hello _______ ” from November 2016 I spelled out why I went to a Sony mirrorless system and closed with, “While I‚Äôve moved to Sony for the moment, I‚Äôm still keeping my eye on Canon and hoping for game changer from them down the road.” ¬†My eleven months with Sony was not what I had hoped for, I missed my old 6D almost from the minute I sold it. ¬†As I mentioned back then, the menu system was flat out strange and illogical but I found two issues I just couldn’t overcome. ¬†First, much of my stock photography almost immediately was rejected for being blurry, something not previously encountered. ¬†Second, shooting any action was almost too much for the Sony to handle, sharp images with any movement were hard to come by.

Something I didn’t mention in my blog was that I hated the A7R so much that I sold it and upgraded to the A7Rii. ¬†Problem solved? ¬†Well… ¬†I was happy at first because when it did focus, it was very good. ¬†However, I found that unless I manually focused, there were still issues with the auto-focus. ¬†While less of my stock photography was being kicked back, it was still an issue. ¬†Taking the A7Rii out to a Red Bull Air Race, I thought even though it was out of its element, I still might get a couple of decent action shots by spending the day concentrating on shooting action with this Sony, w-r-o-n-g. ¬†This A7Rii was a far superior camera when compared to my 4-year-old Canon 6D, yet the 6D NEVER had a focus issue. ¬†I missed picking up my 6D and just shooting, a couple of presets and a decent auto-focus system made me feel like I was better prepared to capture whatever unfolded in front of me. ¬†Not to mention, with Canon my life didn’t literally revolve around battery life. ¬†When you shoot any action with a Sony mirrorless, it drinks batteries quicker than a DC politician at happy hour! ¬†Whether shooting the A7R or the A7Rii in continious-hi, continious-lo, or the sports setting, nothing produced consistently crisp images, but I could depend on the battery getting drained quickly. ¬†Finally, I was on vacation this summer and went to shoot a friend’s car, 3 out of 51 photos were decent and the rest were not crisp. ¬†I felt that auto-focus shouldn’t even have been an issue for a camera costing just under $3k! ¬†After 10 months, I decided it was time to end my Sony experiment. ¬†I know there are plenty of people who swear by Sony mirrorless, it just didn’t work for me.

Deciding to get a new Canon was easy, however my reasons for leaving Canon hadn’t changed, the Sony system was lighter and easier on my back (after surgery). ¬†I knew going back to my familiar Canon turf would mean some sort of compromise, meaning carrying less weight (lenses). ¬†The Canon options I looked at were my old EOS 6D because I truly missed it, but also the 6D Mark II, and the 5D Mark IV were up for consideration. ¬†It came down to this, while I loved the original 6D, is already outdated. ¬†The 5D Mark IV was about $1k more than I wanted to spend, that left the 6D Mark II as serious choice for me. ¬†While I’ve only had the new camera for a few weeks, I do love it and it feels very familiar after having the original 6D. ¬†I bought the Canon¬†EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM¬†to use as my main lens, a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM for low light, but not an everyday carry. ¬†However, I also bought one lens I used to own, the Canon¬†EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM. ¬†I actually liked this lens so much that I wrote about it here in September 2016, see Diffractive what? for more. ¬†I’ll write more later about the Canon 6D Mark II, once I’ve got more shooting time under my belt. ¬†I will say this, picking up the 6D Mark II was like saying hello to an old friend…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons

Life revolves around batteries

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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My Two Photo Lessons…

I’m just a retired vet who likes to take photos, a hobbyist with some free time. ¬†The actual photography business doesn’t appeal because, after 30 years in the military, I know what I like. ¬†The idea of having a boss or agent, deadlines, an office, clients, obligations beyond my control, and paying for child care just to have these things I don’t want, is not appealing. ¬†When I was a musician I almost always¬†played¬†what people wanted to hear, not necessarily what I wanted to play. ¬†That’s what I imagine the photography business to be, taking photos of what other people want or need for business, not necessarily¬†what I like¬†to shoot. ¬†I love fitting photography in to my ‘Mr. Mom’ days with my kids and the¬†six Saturdays and a Sunday lifestyle. ¬†I also try to see the world as easy to break down when it comes to our abilities, no matter what level we’re at in life. ¬†All of us are better than some folks at things, not as good as¬†others, and if we’re smart we know our place. ¬†When I was a musician I saw¬†myself as just that, better than some and not as good as many others. ¬†The same is true with photography; if you want¬†a jolt of reality just go to Smugmug or 500px, search a subject you’ve shot and think you understand, then get ready to be humbled! ¬†If you really want to be brought down a few rungs on the ego ladder, search for your camera model and see photography that has been shot with your camera. ¬†This¬†will leave you wondering how other people¬†can get these incredible images, but you can’t.

Practicing

As I’ve said many times, there are similarities between a music lesson and one in photography. ¬†A lesson is just a starting point, what you do with the information taught is what matters. ¬†While I’ve had only two photography lessons, I have had many music lessons and have also given them. ¬†In both photography and music, there are incredible people who are simply gifted and willing to share their knowledge when asked. ¬†These ‘good people’ propel their craft by example and having¬†humble nature about their abilities. ¬†There are also the other kind, the people I don’t understand… ¬†These types of photographers/musicians seem to see everyone as a potential threat, competition¬†to their livelihood, as if there were no room for others in their line of work. ¬†Photographers and musicians with this attitude seem to be¬†out for themselves and are people I see as thin-skinned. ¬†The point is that if you run in to these kind of folks as I have, don’t be discouraged because there are plenty ‘good people’ out there to make up for it. ¬†Two of photographers I’ve met, the ‘good people’, are Will and Ed; who were both generous to share their talents with me. ¬†Here’s a summary of what I learned in the¬†two photo lessons of my life.

LESSON ONE

We were¬†living in Italy around 2012¬†and I had recently upgraded to a new DSLR. ¬†This was only my second DSLR, a Canon Rebel T3i and¬†a major leap. ¬†While it made photography more fun, poking around the camera menu left me wondering if I had bit off more than I could chew. ¬†Was I up for this? ¬†Honestly, I didn’t know because my photos weren’t any better with the T3i and I was still letting the camera call all the shots. ¬†The auto mode was my buddy, the camera did everything and I began to wonder why I didn’t just stay with my old camera if I was just going to¬†shoot in auto mode anyway. ¬†I tried shooting in the other modes but had no idea what I was doing. ¬†It was apparent that I was in over my head and just taking bad photos. ¬†I had heard through friends that a photographer was giving a free lesson on the weekend and it was for people of all levels. ¬†Count me in! ¬†When I got there, we were all in a room with Will, a very accomplished photographer and someone with a knack for breaking stuff down so people like me can understand. ¬†He started off by asking us individually what we hoped to gain¬†from his lesson? ¬†What did we want to learn? ¬†I said that I needed to get unchained from the auto mode, if I didn’t it would mean more crappy photos. ¬†In about 10 minutes Will broke down everything I had misunderstood about shooting modes, f-stops, ISO and everything that goes with it. ¬†He put everything in to “ga-ga goo-goo” words which I could wrap my head around, and that was the last day I shot in auto mode. ¬†Thanks to Will, I have been shooting in aperture priority mode ever since; however, I also shoot shutter priority and even full-out manual mode for night photography. ¬†That one lesson from Will came at the perfect time because I was asking myself if shooting with a DSLR¬†was really for me. ¬†I was convinced that I was never going to undertand DSLR’s and shoot anything better than crappy photos.

The long-term take away from Will’s lesson?¬† Will told us that when you want to learn about your camera and your abilities, shoot in your house. ¬†Your house is real world, it has no specially lit rooms, no special set ups, nada; if you practice in your house and get decent results you’ll fare much better in the real world! ¬†Whenever I’ve purchased a new camera I shoot in my house and see where I stand. ¬†THANK YOU WILL!

Pile of Horns

LESSON TWO

After Italy we moved to San Diego, one day we were out wine tasting¬†and I had my camera with me, totally by chance we ran in to Ed. ¬†He asked if I was a pro or amateur, “amateur” I stated and he began to show me a couple of books he had of his photography. ¬†Ed is a pro photographer, he knows his stuff, and also likes music so we sat and talked a lot about Cuban music; one of his loves in addition to photography. ¬†Ed is also a musician who plays the congas and understands both music and photography. ¬†He agreed to let me come back and see him the following week. ¬†When I arrived, just as Will had done, Ed basically asked what was it I wanted¬†to learn from him? ¬†This time, five years later, my response¬†was different. ¬†I explained to¬†Ed¬†that I wanted to learn how take¬†that creativity I knew with music,¬†process it through¬†my eyes, and ultimately have it show in a¬†photograph. ¬†In some ways this didn’t even make sense to me but it was the only way I could explain¬†it. ¬†Since he is both a musician and photographer, he understood what I meant. ¬†There was no “you need to _____” type answer, he talked about how photographers engage visually and the rest of the day was really the long answer to my short question.

Stolen MomentsI was also amazed at Ed’s lack of gear, the man literally has one camera and a couple of lenses, that’s it. ¬†Here I was, a much newer camera toting¬†a backpack full of¬†lenses, and my photography couldn’t compare. ¬†I realized I was a user of many lenses and master of none. ¬†The old lightbulb went off, it’s not the gear buddy.. It’s possible to take great photos with an iPhone and crappy photos with top of the line gear! ¬†Later, Ed¬†took me to his computer and showed me how to do a few things. ¬†It was a lot to take in. ¬†He wasn’t giving¬†“this is how you do this” advice, it was “this is what works for me” and take what you can from it. ¬†My chance meeting with Ed was almost a year ago and his tips¬†still pop up when I’m working on photos! ¬†Ed was in the business for many years, long before Photoshop, he had paid his dues. ¬†He showed me many of the photos he had taken over the years and¬†I couldn’t believe what he showed me! ¬†I was now amazed at how humble this man was about his abilities. ¬†I was looking at some iconic photos of the eighties that were all Ed’s work. ¬†He also introduced¬†me to the concept of light painting, something I had never heard of and am now just beginning to grasp. ¬†All of the photos on this page were done with light painting, a technique of using a dark room and lights to shine on¬†a subject in the dark. ¬†Before I left, we had lunch and talked about how he is constantly looking, even hunting, for things to shoot that are in plain sight. ¬†I realized that photography¬†is just that, a hunt. ¬†The chances of actually stumbling on to an incredible photo scene are not likely, but if you’re constantly looking for something and have your camera handy,¬†the probability increases.

The long-term take away from day with Ed?¬† Always be on the lookout for things hiding in plain sight. ¬†However, the most important tip Ed shared was¬†to always ask, “what am I not seeing here?” ¬†Whenever I find something promising to shoot, I always as this and I look from a low angle, high angle, or try something different with the camera itself to find that one thing I’m not seeing. ¬†Now when I’m researching a place I want to shoot, I go to Google, 500px, and Smugmug to look at the location and see the popular images; then I look for something different when I get there. ¬†With a little luck I’ll see something they didn’t. ¬†I also take my camera everywhere and I’ve gotten photos that I would have otherwise missed.

What did these lessons actually cost me? ¬†The costs of Will’s lesson was my time, nothing more. ¬†The return has been immeasurable because I’ve haven’t shot in auto mode since and his lesson gave me the confidence to learn aperture & shutter priority shooting and manual as well. ¬†Not to mention, it came at a time when I considered giving up on DSLR’s in general. ¬†At that moment, I could have gone to pocket camera and moved on. ¬†Ed’s lesson cost was time, a little gas money, and a couple of bucks for a great catfish lunch where I learned as much as I did back at¬†his computer. ¬†Long term,¬†I learned how to better use Photoshop and how to look, actually LOOK for subjects to shoot. ¬†I attempt to search for the ‘not so obvious’ when I’m out, hunting. ¬†I learned that people like Will and Ed exists, they are educators and masters of their craft, who are willing to share if you ask. ¬†But more importantly, the life lesson learned is that don’t be too big to share with others if asked and to remember that it just makes photography better.

Melody

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.

bcpnet

Goodbye Canon ūüė≠

This isn’t an angry “screw Canon” sort of message, it’s actually a bit sad for me as I’ve been a loyal Canon user for eight years now. I have also loved every Canon camera I’ve owned, as well as their lenses. Most recently were the¬†EOS 6D, and L Series lenses because¬†they’ve gone with me everywhere and that is part of the problem. ¬†I learned so much on Canon’s T3i, EOS 7D and 6D, not to mention those cameras made photography fun. ¬†However, I had back surgery back in 2010 and carrying a camera bag with just a couple of lenses has gotten to be¬†too much for my lower back. ¬†I needed to find a lighter alternative, it wasn’t an easy process or decision. ¬†However, the first hurdle was cleared when my wife gave the go ahead, easy right? ¬†Just buy a lightweight mirrorless camera setup after a little research and bam, new camera on the way! ¬†Well, not so fast…

_a-wjcI’m not wanting to name¬†the brands I looked at because I’ll get slammed by every fanboy and brand loyalist on the planet. ¬†Nor do I want to have to justify my decision to anyone, this is how I found what will hopefully work for me. ¬†However, I will say this, Canon’s mirrorless systems were at the top of the list, and sadly the image quality of the new Canon M5 just wasn’t there; I really wanted a Canon mirrorless… ¬†No matter which brand I decided to go with, even Canon, I was looking at buying all new lenses so this wasn’t going to be cheap. ¬†Now, with Canon unfortunately out of the way, I began looking at every other mirrorless system out there. ¬†I found an unlikely system that was very unfamiliar to me but¬†looked very promising, I ordered it and knew I had a 30 day return policy during which time I’d shoot images in back yard with my Canon 6D and the new camera to compare image quality. ¬†If I liked the results, I’d keep the new mirrorless; if not, I’d return it. ¬†With a new ¬†mirrorless camera on the way and a plan, I felt good; or so I thought. ¬†I was really dumping my Canon 6D, I LOVE my 6D… ¬†Then I¬†stumbled upon the Interactive Studio Scene widget at Digital Photography Review¬†or DPR.¬† It’s essentially a studio photo that has images¬†taken with just about every camera out there using multiple settings shooting in JPEG and RAW allowing you to¬†compare image quality side by side in just about every conceivable way. ¬†You can even download these photos to enlarge them on your computer and knit-pick at blown up details. ¬†Hold on here, did this mean I could now compare the new mirrorless camera’s image quality with that of my current Canon 6D and never leave the house?? Yup, it did¬†and I didn’t like the results and immediately cancelled my new camera order, back to the drawing board. ¬†Ah… back in my comfort zone with the Canon 6D right? ¬†Well, not so fast…

This process of viewing images at DPR’s Interactive Studio Scene was not the end all of deciding on a new camera, but it gave me a good starting point. ¬†If I didn’t like the exact same images taken by all these other cameras compared to my own 6D, did I really¬†need to have it shipped just to take pics in my back yard. ¬†The factors I needed to consider were the actual camera weight (my reason for a new camera), availability of lenses, image quality, and costs. ¬†I looked at one camera which is probably considered the best mirrorless out there with¬†unmatched image quality; however, the uncompressed RAW files were over 80Mb in size and compressed was around 40Mb. ¬†This would require lots of hard drive space for photos, 99% of which would likely never be seen by anybody! ¬†I’m not making a living as a photographer, just a retired guy who loves to shoot guns and cameras, since 80Mb files will add up quickly I now needed to consider file size¬†as well. ¬†If I were putting food on my table from photography and quality was the only concern, I would have gone with this camera and bought bigger hard drives. ¬†So on to¬†other cameras I went and found one that looked promising; it met the above criteria and while the lens selection was nowhere near Canon’s, they did have two lenses that functioned well for¬†what I currently do with three. ¬†While I planned to lighten up my camera bag in other areas, this decision alone meant the weight of just my camera and lenses would be cut¬†in half!

sling7So, besides weight, what was I giving up or compromising? ¬†For starters, my ability with Canon compatible lenses to reach out to long distances like I had¬†with the Tamron SP 150-600 was gone. ¬†It’s not like this was a lens I carried often but it was a very nice piece of gear to have at times; it was also heavy. ¬†However, one lens I did keep in my bag that allowed me to reach out was the Canon 70-300mm DO and this I would feel in two ways. ¬†First, having this lens in my bag meant I could instantly reach out to 300mm, this was very handy! ¬†Second, and part of my recurring theme, was the weight. ¬†While compact in size, this lens weighs over 1.5 pounds by itself! ¬†I wrote about it in an earlier blog post, Diffractive What?, from September 19, 2016 and I will miss this lens… ¬†For the year and a half that I had Canon L Series lenses, I was blown away by the crispness and clarity of the images.

When the new camera arrived, I took lots of¬†shots and while it wasn’t a familiar Canon I figured I could get used to it. ¬†Feeling ok about my purchase I was on¬†to sell my Canon gear on eBay. ¬†Now I honestly felt like a traitor or as if¬†I was almost doing something wrong by selling my 6D. ¬†Seriously, Canon was easy and I¬†liked for the same reasons I liked my MacBook Pro in that it always did what it was supposed to do¬†with no hassles, it was always familiar too. ¬†Since my first Canon XSi, every upgrade was to another Canon so the learning curve wasn’t too bad. ¬†However, this time was different, I now felt like I was marching a parade with two left shoes on; I knew I’d make it, but not comfortably. ¬†I mean with a Canon, the focus system is very easy and you’ll be shooting decent pics out of the box. ¬†With my new camera, I felt like a photo failure for days just trying to navigate a menu system that could have been set up¬†a late night drunk with what HE thought was a great idea. ¬†Days of trying to navigate and find what I needed in unfamiliar places, and a figure out a focus system that made absolutely no sense whatsoever to me. ¬†So what did I buy? ¬†I settled on the

 

Hello Umpkinpay!

Peak Design

BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front): ¬†I don’t ever tell people they¬†NEED to get something, or want to convince someone to make purchases that may not be for them. ¬†However, I have been using Peak Design gear since 2012 and am still wow’d by their products! ¬†In fact, I can’t see myself walking out of the house to shoot without a piece of¬†Peak Design gear on me. ¬†They make durable gear that makes photography easier and once you use it you’ll wonder how you did without it. ¬†They have a selection of products for numerous photography platforms including most camera brands including GoPros.¬†¬†I’ve bought many pieces of gear from them but¬†I’d like to write about the ones that have mattered to me, that made photography better, and life a little easier. ¬†I use their Everyday Messenger Bag, a fairly major purchase for me, and I’ve already written about that a couple of weeks ago (Everyday Messenger, is the honeymoon over?). ¬†Surprisingly, it is sometimes the little things that work the best over the long haul. ¬†The image above is an example of those “little things” that make life easier. ¬†In the above left photo is an anchor which¬†connects to your camera, on the right is the capture plate which connects to the CapurePRO¬†or your tripod.

I use the anchors to connect to the Peak Design Cuff¬†(above left) & Sling¬†(above right). ¬†If I grab my camera from the bag, at a minimum, I’ve got the Cuff attached for protection against dropping. If I’m going to be out for a while and don’t want to change lenses, I’ll take the Slide which is a great camera strap. ¬†The Anchors allow me to attach these wherever I want! ¬†This allows the the Sling (camera strap) to sit comfortably in the manner YOU like. ¬†I personally like the lens to hang down and not out, because I’m a klutz. As mentioned in my review of the Everyday Messenger, I want bang for my buck and this comes in the form of how much I’ll use the item vs. how much space the item takes in my bag. ¬†The Anchors, Cuff, and Sling are used daily and take up minimal space.

The capture plate, on the bottom on the camera in the above left photo, allows your camera to connect to your tripod as well as Peak Design’s CapturePRO¬†(photo above right). ¬†The CapturePRO can connect to a belt via the ProPad, a backpack shoulder strap, or in my case the Everyday Messenger. ¬†It makes for a sturdy platform to carry your camera, again where YOU want it, and in a safe manner. ¬†That’s the important part, these products are versatile and allow you to set them up to your needs. ¬†The below photos show my camera attached on my tripod at right and my bag using Peak Design products.

These Peak Design products have literally made my photography life much easier. ¬†There is no thinking involved and I no longer have to plan how I’m going to carry my camera. I used to own straps, grips, and tripod plates that didn’t interconnect; for instance, the hand strap had to come off if I wanted to put the camera on a tripod. ¬†Everything works together! ¬†While I do carry other Peak Design items, these are the pieces of gear I use daily and I know how much they help me. Like I said in my BLUF,¬†I’m not one to tell people to make purchases but I’m hopeful that I’ve made the case for how these products have helped me.

 

In the bag

IMG_7837Admittedly, I used to carry too much gear, way too much. There were so many extras for ‘just in case’ moments that my bag weighed a ton. To be honest, most of it went unused and was just along for the ride. However, since switching to¬†the Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag, I’ve slimmed down on gear, that was a good thing. I went from carrying a backpack with everything in the world to just essential items; again, a good thing. This¬†led me back to an article¬†I read by Ken Rockwell a couple of years ago where he stated, “trying to be prepared for everything makes you prepared for nothing.” That makes total sense now, Rockwell continued, “carry less and you’ll be more relaxed and have better time, again leading to more fun and better pictures.” (1) ¬†Not only is this great advice but it really works! I have my bag, with just¬†this stuff now, I’m no long digging through a camera bag looking for stuff¬†but actually shooting more. ¬†GAS, or Gear Acquisition Syndrome, is a very bad thing (see an article to fight GAS) (2). ¬†So here is essentially what has been in my bag for a while now.

IMG_3188

Starting on on the outside, attached is the¬†Peak Design Capture Pro¬†(above) to carry a camera on the front of the bag, something that comes in very handy. Attached to the key connector behind the Capture Pro tucked away in a pocket is a Nano Light¬†for emergencies. On the reverse side is¬†an REI Square Luggage Tag¬†that semi-blocks out personal¬†info (left) at the casual glance. If the bag were lost, the finder would simply¬†unscrew the cable and pull out the name card for the contact info, it’s not difficult. That’s it for the outside, pretty simple. Once the bag is opened, there are a couple of Ziplit lights attached to the zippers and these things rock! These little lights take up no space, probably weigh less than a penny, but will adequately light the inside of a camera bag. (below) ¬†I hardly ever use them but they have come in handy. Again, bang for the buck, they’re cheap, weigh nothing, can be hung just about anywhere, and take up no space when not in use.

IMG_3192 IMG_3191

Inside the bag’s main compartment is a¬†Canon EOS 6d with the¬†EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM¬†attached most¬†of the time. There is also¬†the¬†EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 L DO IS USM¬†and¬†EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM¬†in the lens partitions and a¬†EF 40mm f/2.8 STM¬†laying in the bottom of the bag for when I don’t want to be out¬†with a big lens. ¬†That’s pretty much it, the rest of the bag contains items¬†that are worth the space/weight vs functionality they bring:

-Extra batteries and memory cards: Lets face it, without these you’re done! Keep multiple backups, I once read somewhere that US Navy SEALS preach, “two is one, one is none” and that makes a whole lot of sense. Having no batteries or cards is the same as forgetting your¬†lenses; whatever you were doing today, it’s not taking pics.

Nikon Lensmen: Takes little space and is great for a quick lens touch up.

Giottos Rocket-Air: Great for blowing off your sensor between lens changes.

Petzel head lamp: Great for going to new places in the dark.

Peak Design Cuff: Like my 24-105mm lens, this is on the camera most of the time because if attaches so easily and provides safety from dropping a camera. Unless the camera in on a tripod, the cuff is attached.

Gerber Dime & Jewelers screwdrivers: Mostly everything needed to make minor repairs on the fly.

Tilley hat: Easily folds up and stored in the laptop compartment. Ideal for shade and rain!

Disposable rain poncho: Nothing worse than being wet, well being wet and cold is worse.

Glow sticks: Instant light if everything else goes wrong. ¬†Living in Europe taught me that you can’t take technology for granted. One glow stick gives me hours of light.

-Business cards: I’m always handing these out when someone approaches me.

-Headphones

-Battery Charger

-Ear plugs

-Band aids, Sun block, SPF Lip balm

-Camera body cap

 

This looks like a lot of items but it’s really not, mainly¬†small stuff. These items have¬†come in very handy and like I said earlier, when ditching¬†the old backpack I needed to look at what was actually used/needed vice what was ‘nice to have’ in the bag. I would never tell anyone¬†“this is what you need” but have to say that much of this list comes¬†from other lists I’ve found online. Going back to Ken Rockwell’s advice to¬†carry less and having a¬†better time shooting, well it has lead to more fun and better pictures for me.

  1. Ken Rockwell, How to Make Great Photographs, 2016, http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/howto.htm  (accessed April 6, 2016).
  2. Eric Kim, 10 Practical Tips for Fighting G.A.S., Nov 25, 2015, http://petapixel.com/2015/11/25/10-practical-tips-for-fighting-g-a-s-gear-acquisition-syndrome/  (accessed April 20, 2016).