I’m in the process of relocating back to the US from Japan, part of that means I mail my camera gear ahead of the move. I do this because I trust the US Postal Service far greater than movers hired by the government. Call me paranoid, but I’ve been transferring like this in the military for almost 40 years. If someone is intent on taking your stuff when you do a military transfer, they’ll get it; that’s been my experience anyway. Mailing most of my camera gear back meant I needed to decide what I wanted with me here from August till November or December when I get home. There was no question I’d be using my old Peak Design Everyday Messenger bag, the 15 inch wonder bag that started the messenger camera bag craze. What I am surprised about is how great of a bag this still is! Having lots of bags, I don’t always grab this one, but now that I’m down to this one, well… it’s working superbly.
Today, I’m using it working out of my car shooting the little fishing village of Arisaki near Yokosuka, Japan on the Miura Peninsula. The lenses I decided to keep with me during this transfer to the US were a 15-35mm and a 24-105mm to give me some versatility but not take up a ton of space. I’ve discovered that carrying one less lens in this bag than I normally carry actually works better and keeps the bag more functional. Working out of a car means I can have the camera on the passenger side for easy access but the magnetic latch makes it super easy to close when not in use and driving. I’ve gotten in the habit of jamming too much stuff in this bag over the years and while it handles it, it’s just so much easier with only two lenses when it comes to access and weight. The bag still looks much like when I bought it a few years ago and I have no problem telling people to get this bag, even this original model! While there is a version 2 of the 13 inch Everyday Messenger (EDM), the original 15 inch EDM only received minor improvements. I would love to see an upgraded 15 inch bag with the improvements put in to the 13 inch bag, but I don’t think that’s likely. While I’ve used backpacks and still have a few, the messenger style bags just seem to work better for me. This is especially true when changing lenses, there’s just better use of workspace that I don’t find in backpacks. Backpacks seem to work better if you plan to lay it on the ground. No matter how ‘easy’ the access is, I always seem to needs something nowhere near the access points.
If you’re looking for a bag that’s going to hold up, inside and out, the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 15 is still an awesome bag that can be found just about anywhere at a great price. Why am I writing about it now? Well, I just got a little giddy using it today realizing it was money well spent a few years ago. When the EDM bag came out it was the head turner, people couldn’t wait to get their hands on it, it was followed by even more great bags. In the process it seems this bag has gotten lost in the mix by some of us. However, it’s still relevant, still working like it was intended, and hopefully I’m in the minority of those letting this thing collect a little dust. When I get home, I see me using this old timer a little more!
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!
¡¡Christmas Gift Alert!! Peak Design gear is something I’ve been using since 2012, practically every day, and they’ve NEVER failed. I wouldn’t have become a Peak Design affiliate if I didn’t believe in their products, I wouldn’t want to sell junk to people I know. However, it goes deeper because I believe in this company! Peak Design’s customer service is second to none, they set the standard for creating products that customers request through surveys, and their lifetime guarantee is hassle free. Yes, it’s pricey but it’s also durable, buy once and done! Check out their many bags which aren’t just for photography, they’re highly customizable. Use the link below for their Black Friday Sale from Nov 16-30th!
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 almost 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’s 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’t work with other products. I checked in to it and my love affair with them began. While I’ve used many of Peak Design products over the years, mostly camera bags and rain covers; however, it’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’t 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’t 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.
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.
When 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.
After 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!
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:
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!
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
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!
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!
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…
My 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!
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!
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.
Last 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’ll 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.
Bill Chizek is an amateur photographer who lives between San Diego, CA and El Paso, TX. After retiring as a Navy musician in 2011, he quit playing music and photography became his passion. While Bill is fond of photographing aircraft and autos, his subjects are just about anything that catches the eye. We have conducted an interview with him.
What is it about photographing aircraft that you like?
Photographing aircraft, especially the older models and warbirds, is like capturing a piece of history, which is my other love. When aircraft are on the ground, there is something about the way the aircraft is designed and the how light and images reflect off the clean surfaces. Each aircraft is like its own piece of artwork. Also, the paint schemes which are designed to catch your eye from the ground can be equally incredible up close. When they’re flying it’s about the beauty, gracefulness, power, or speed. But when they’re on the ground, they are a sort of art and a visual part of history to me.
When comparing aircraft to autos, when is the best moment to capture them and which are your favorite perspectives?
They are two completely different subjects because we all see aircraft in the sky and understand them from the ground, but when not flying they may not seem so interesting to some people. A photo of cockpit controls may not be impressive to some people, but those same people will pay big money to see that same plane fly at an airshow. Most people who aren’t pilots, in my opinion, relate to aircraft better from the ground. I usually like to capture aircraft where you can see that pilot at the controls. Cars are different because we use them every day, see them everywhere, and they’re part of our earliest memories and daily lives. Not everyone will be a pilot, but most of us will drive cars. Even my young daughters like spotting old cars when we’re out in our car. Airplanes I have no control over in the air so I shoot them when and where I can, I like to photograph them on the ground preferably in the morning. Cars, on the other hand, I prefer to shoot on sunny mornings in the shade with lots of natural light. That’s why I love when car shows happen in a park under the trees! I try to photograph the parts of old cars that are from another era, like the old clocks and dashboards, or hood ornaments that we just don’t see today. Again, it’s history…
Why did you quit playing music?
A couple of reasons, first was my health. As a musician since 1976 or so, brass playing took a toll on me. I already had two hernia operations, lost a good deal of hearing, and was having a throat issue that was likely going to get worse if I kept playing the trombone. These factors made the decision easier plus I was already getting active with photography and knew I loved it. Additionally, a musicians life is tough, plenty of late nights whether it’s gigs or rehearsals because everything happens around other band members day jobs. Whether musicians are working or not, most still have to practice to keep their skills up for when someone calls. So, even if you’re not working, it’s still time consuming. Because I played mostly jazz with a lot of improvisation, photography filled that creative void in my brain left by music and really was a better fit in my life as well. The second reason was my family because I have a wife, son, and two little girls. They could rarely come out to hear me play unless I was playing during the day (a rarity). Now when I’m out shooting, one or more family members are usually with me and my oldest daughter has her camera and her little sister has a toy camera. Photography is a great way for me to be with my family and stay creative.
How did you get started in aircraft and auto photography?
Since I was a child I’ve been in to aviation, my brother and I had model planes that we built hanging from our bedroom ceiling, and going to airshows was a big deal for us too. Years later, as an adult I would go to the NAS Oceana Air Show in Virginia before I was in to photography and spend all day in awe of the show. A few years later I began taking my camera to the Miramar Airshow in California, I didn’t like my photos and started researching aviation photography online, I was hooked. As for cars, my wife and I checked out a local car show a few years ago and it was pretty cool but I didn’t start shooting car shows seriously until 2014 when I began to grasp the historical aspect of these cars. Initially I started shooting just hood ornaments, that big old piece of metal on the front of the car represented the entire company, early model cars had amazing hood ornaments! They were works of art meant to catch your attention, not some trademarked piece of plastic simply slapped on the car at the factory. I especially love the cars of manufacturers who have gone out of business; companies like Studebaker, DeSoto, Auburn all made incredibly beautiful cars that are not coming back, it was an incredible era. I love when I can combine photography with history! I photograph other subjects as well, cars and aircraft are only part of it. I also photograph buildings and interesting architectural structures, landscapes, seascapes, flowers, boats, and do some night photography among other things.
Which formats do you sell your photography?
They are available in several formats through my website at Smugmug. Paper prints in various sizes and finishes as well as digital downloads are available. If you are looking for something for the home, they are also sold as wall art in the form of traditional, stretched, or flat mounted canvas. These photos are sold as thinwraps or metal prints where again, you can select the finish or covering. Lastly, Smugmug will ship just about anywhere in the world!
Where can our readers see more of your work?
At my website found at www.BillChizekPhotography.com I usually post one photo a day on Monday through Friday. I also post a blog about my photos twice a month at www.BillChizekPhotography.net. You can follow me on many social media websites (below), if you can’t find me, contact me through my website and I’ll gladly help you!
Admittedly, 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.
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.
-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.
–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.
–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.
-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.
About two years ago I began blogging at WordPress (see below). After several Canon camera upgrades (Rebel T3i, EOS 7D, and now EOS 6D), I’m back at it. The main lesson I learned from that experience is that I should have kept at it. In 2013, I began writing knowing I’d immediately get feedback, and it would be awesome – not so. However, a few people started following me and one website in Italy even linked to my blog – all after I’d given up and moved on. I really did miss it and now is the right time to get back to it.
Beginning on February 22, 2016, I’m planning to write about specific photos, groups of photos, and my little day trips when I shoot. I’d also like to write about some of the gear I use but not write actual reviews as there’s plenty of that online. Finally, my photography website, BillChizekPhotography.com, is now doing well and I’m hoping this blog, BillChizekPhotography.net, makes photography even more fun. As always, thanks for the support and for viewing my photos!