Category Archives: Bag

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7

The Perfect Camera Bag?

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Shown with two Leica M cameras; L-R: Leica M9 with 50mm Noctilux ASPH and M9-P with 35mm Summilux ASPH. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

As photographers we spent our years searching for that perfect image. Any photographer who has been in the industry for any length of time has most probably spent a sizeable amount of time also searching for the perfect camera bag!

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Front view, showing a lightmeter in the side pocket. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Firstly, I would say that no such thing exists as “the perfect camera bag”. It’s taken me a couple of decades to come up with this conclusion. I would say though that the perfect camera bag system does exist. One type of bag simply will not work for all situations, types of equipment or types of assignment, therefore having a system of bags is the answer. I’ve been a user of Think Tank Photo bags for many years now and was so impressed with them that I even joined the design board a couple of years ago, for a year. (I hasten to add that I’ve had no input into this bag, so it is a straight forward review). I now use a system of roller bags and backpacks which allow for transportation of gear to an assignment, and then a selection of belt pouches, chest bag (the Change Up) and shoulder bags, to work from (I choose what suits the assignment best).  I choose what will suit a particular assignment as carefully as I choose my camera or video gear. This way I can work both comfortably and quickly, with the equipment not getting in the way of the job at hand.

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Rear view, showing a lightmeter in the side pocket. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I’ve been actively using the Retrospective 7 on assignment for several weeks now and must say I am very, very impressed. It now houses my Leica M outfit, comprising of an M9, M9-P, 21mm Elmarit, 28mm Summicron ASPH, 35mm Summilux ASPH, 50mm Noctilux ASPH, 90mm Summarit, SF 58 flash and various accessories. The main thing with this bag though was that it was designed to take an Apple 11″ MacBook Air or iPad too, so depending on what I’m doing, I will slip the appropriate computer in the rear zipped and padded compartment.

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Rear view, showing an Apple 11″ MacBook Air in the rear pocket. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Like the other Retrospective Bags, it’s lightweight, unconstructed and soft, with a moving base (made up of several padded sections that move with the movement of the bag). This makes the range, and this bag too, an extremely comfortable shoulder bag to work with and work from. It also has the genius silent velcro system which comes in very handy in quite press conferences (and will suit every wedding photographer when it comes to working in a church environment).

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Rear view, showing an Apple iPad 3. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Although I house my rangefinder outfit in the Retrospective 7, it will also be perfect for any Micro 4/3 system by Panasonic or Olympus and the Fuji X-Pro 1 kit. It will also take smaller DSLRs (without grips), including the 5D MkIII or D800, with lenses up to the 24-70 f2.8s and smaller prime lenses. It’s an extremely versatile size and can be configured to house a wide variety of gear, including a means to edit and send pictures.

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Interior shot, with dividers set up specifically for a Leica M outfit. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Is it the perfect bag? Well, I’d say it’s the perfect shoulder bag and it’s now my favourite shoulder bag of all time. Highly recommended.

The Retrospective 7, along with most of that range is available in Black, Pinestone and the new Blue Slate colours. If you’re in the UK, check out SnapperStuff where you can order directly or find your local dealer. Otherwise, check out the Think Tank Photo.

Addendum: Macjim has kindly sent me this picture showing his Retrospective 7 with the Apple 13″ MacBook Air in the front pocket. I wouldn’t say it’s ideal, but appears a workable solution if needs must.

 

Retrospective 5 Camera Bag

Think Tank Photo’s Smaller Shoulder Bag

Photographer Edmond Terakopian on assignment with a Retrospective 5 for his Leica gear and a Shape Shifter for his Mac; 10th commemoration of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States. American Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London, UK. September 11, 2011. Photo: LP

The one thing I have heard for a couple of years at trade shows when on the Snapperstuff stand, from Leica photographers or people with smaller DSLR outfits is “why don’t Think Tank do a smaller shoulder bag?”. Well, they do now and I got mine today!

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 5 in Pinestone. Shown with a Leica M9 and 50mm f0.95 Noctilux ASPH lens. May 06, 2011. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

It’s called the Retrospective 5 and comes in a natural canvas Pinestone and black. I have already been using the Retrospective 10, 30 and Lens Changer 2 from this range and must say that I absolutely love the range. They are extremely comfortable to wear, hugging your hip with their movable bases and extremely easy to work out of. They also blend in really well, most definitely not looking like camera bags.

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 5 in Pinestone. For size comparison shown with (L-R) Fuji X100, Olympus E-P2, Leica M9 and Leica X1. May 06, 2011. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The Retrospective 5 has now become my Leica outfit bag. Considering how small it is, you might be a little stunned to find that I have the following inside:

Leica M9 with Leica 21mm Elmarit, 35mm Summicron, 50mm Noctilux and 90mm Summarit lenses. Also the Leica SF 24D flash, TTL extension cord, x2 ND filters, 21 mm Viewfinder, x1.25 Viewfinder Magnifier, Lightmeter, Spare Batteries, Think Tank Photo Cable Management 20, Pixel Pocket Rocket memory card holder and some other bits!

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 5 in Pinestone. Fully loaded with my Leica kit. May 06, 2011. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

The bag is also the perfect size for a small DSLR outfit (with a couple of lenses – eg Canon 5D MkII, 16-35mm f2.8L and a 50mm f1.2L) or a Micro 4/3 outfit like the Olympus E-P2 with several lenses and accessories.

I simply cannot recommend this bag highly enough for anyone who shoots with a Leica M or a Micro 4/3 outfit.

For the UK, check out Snapperstuff. For more info, have a look at Think Tank Photo.

Secure Your Gear

Combination padlocks are extremely practical. Attached to a Think Tank Photo Urban Disguise shoulder bag. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Photography equipment is expensive; everything from cameras to lenses to computers, is expensive. We often spend months or even years saving to get a particular piece of equipment and once we have it, we stop looking after our investment once at work, instead focusing on the assignment. Thankfully there are certain products and practices to help us safeguard our equipment whilst working. After all, we need to concentrate on our assignments and not on the safety of our gear. Most theft is opportunistic; these measures will stop the opportunist thief.

Out On The Street

I have known of press photographers having their backpacks containing laptops and spare camera equipment swiped off the street whilst they concentrate whilst working long doorstep type jobs (at courts, hospitals, politicians homes and so on).
It’s easy to put our bags down as fatigue sets in. A very simple precaution is to make sure that all the zips have padlocks on them. I personally use combination locks which means that there is no need for keys. This is good practice as it will stop a thief from opening your bag in crowded places like the tube.
To stop the bag from being stolen fully, I also make sure that my bags have cables with combination padlocks on them. These are available from most good outdoor shops, luggage shops or bicycle shops. All that remains is to find street furniture (fencing, posts and so on) or a tree to lock the bag too. Worse case scenario, you can also lock several bags together, making it impossible for someone to do a runner with them.

Hotels

Showing my travel set-up for an assignment in Canada using ThinkTank Photo's Airport International 2, padlocked to a bath tub handle in my hotel. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Whilst on foreign assignments, it’s often the way that equipment is transported using roller type cases and then use either pouches or a shoulder bag to work from whilst on the ground. The roller bag then being left behind in the hotel room. We also leave the roller bag fully kitted out when popping out to eat. Again, we are taking huge risks, leaving essential gear at the mercy of anyone who has or gains access to the room.
Thankfully Think Tank Photo roller bags have built in security measures with padlock zips and importantly a security cable attached to the bag’s chassis. It’s then a matter of finding something solid in the room to padlock our cable to. My personal favourite are bathtub handles.
These same security precautions should be carried out at press conferences, fashion weeks and so on.

Cafes

Cafes have turned out to be favourite wiring places for photographers; they provide essential coffee and broadband. I was in a situation where a colleague sat in front of me in a Starbucks had his Canon 1D MkII with 70-200mm f2.8L stolen from under his chair. The thief was so gentle and swift that neither of us noticed until long afterwards. My general precaution is to make sure that I put my leg through camera and bag straps when placing items on the floor.

The Car

PacSafe Exomesh secures two bags to luggage hooks in the boot of a car. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Our cars are another place where we leave lots of kit. Firstly, make sure that your doors are locked; this will stop the opportunist if they see a bag or camera on your seat when stopped at a red light or parked up in a street. Naturally, never leave any of your equipment in view, making sure that everything is in the boot, if you are parking the car and away from it. This also ensures that your insurance company will pay out if there’s a theft from an unattended vehicle.

One of the ways we are targeted by thieves is if someone observes us taking equipment from our boot; if possible, it’s always better to take away gear in a shoulder bag, or make sure no one is watching if you’re just grabbing a couple of cameras. The other is purely opportunists hoping to find a laptop; estate cars are especially at risk as the rear covers are easily ripped open after the rear window is smashed.

The cheapest way to secure your gear, especially if you have a Think Tank Photo bag is to lock it’s security cable to a luggage hook; this will stop the opportunist especially if they set off your car alarm. The next best and more secure way is to use a PacSafe Exomesh which covers your bag and allows you to attach it’s cable to a luggage hook in the car. The advantage with system is that it’s mobile so you can take a PacSafe Exomesh with you when abroad and use it in hire cars. They are also useful for hotel rooms.

ATHAG Guardsman custom made security cage. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Next comes the more secure metal cage approach. These are custom made for your needs and for your car. Anything from small hatchbacks to large estate cars and 4x4s are catered for. These are then secured to luggage hooks or even to the car’s chassis making them extremely secure. To top things off, they have multi point locks making the opening solid and secure. The two leaders in this field are Athag (my personal choice) with their Guardsman range and Barjo.

Look after your gear so you can get the job done.

Canon Pro Photo Solutions 2010

Business Design Centre, Islington,
London, 26 & 27 October

Canon Pro Photo Solutions is now in it’s second year and I have to say, its the best trade show I have ever been to. It’s more focussed towards professional photographers and enthusiasts who are at the top of their game. I really can’t urge you enough to check it out.

The format is in two basic forms; a large number of seminars and also exhibitors showing off their newest kit.

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Photos By: Ant Upton, Antje Bormann, Jeff Ascough, LP & Luke MacGregor.

I’ll be there presenting my work and workflow (both photographic and video) in a seminar called “Moving Forwards With Photography & Video” over both days, in Seminar Room 1 from 14.00 to 14.50.

I’m also going to be with SnapperStuff (stand 49) showing my favourite ThinkTank Photo bags and helping anyone with their questions to do with bags or anything else to do with photography or video. Definitely try and pop by and see the new Retrospective and Sling range.

Hope to see you there!

Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer

Bag Review

Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Bag

As a photographer, bags are almost as essential to me as the photographic equipment I use. Everything I use has to be absolutely perfectly designed with a clear purpose. Then, it has to be perfectly made, ensuring that it lasts in the field.

I’m a lover of Think Tank Photo bags so much so, that I’m even on the design board. These bags cater for my photographic needs and using a roller, backpack and pouch system, occasionally a shoulder bag too, I have the perfect system for all my assignment needs.

However, I recently got hold of the Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer – not a photographic bag at all, but what looked like the perfect travel bag for business trips. I must admit to never having heard of the name until my good friend Daniel Beltra introduced me to them as he’s a big lover and user of their bags for his constant travels.

I really liked the simplicity and design of the laptop part of the bag which then got me interested in the rest. The unique thing about this bag is how it unravels itself, opening up into three sections; this means that the laptop part can just be opened up on it’s hinge and laid flat for X-Rays without having to take out the laptop. I must admit to not having tried this yet but from all I’ve read, airport security staff are more than happy with this approach.

I took the bag up to Edinburgh in Scotland for the workshop Jeff Ascough and I were giving. I packed a set of overnight clothes and essentials into the bag, including my 15″ MacBook Pro, charger and bits and headed for the underground and then to King’s Cross for my train up to Edinburgh. Naturally never without some camera gear, I also had my Think Tank Photo Shape Shifter backpack too.

I must say, I have nothing but praise for the Checkpoint Flyer. It was absolutely comfortable with it’s fabulous shoulder strap and the design was very handy for times during my journey when I needed access to my laptop, documents and magazines. It was also the perfect size for an overnight stay and carried all my stuff in comfort. Last but not least the workmanship looks like it will last and last and last.