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Review » Shootsac Fast Changing Lens Bag

Posted January 6, 2013 by in Product Reviews | Comments Off

Manufacturer: Shootsac
Model: The Shootsac
RRP: AU$179
Supplier: Cambags

Shooting with multiple lenses is always a bit of a challenge, but there are various methods to make it easier. What suits one person might not suit another. There’s those who solve the problem by lugging around two camera bodies, those who stash lenses in hiding spots or in bags under tables, those who decorate themselves with lens belts/holsters, and those who use a quick-access bag. The Shootsac is a quick-access bag with a little more style than the others.

It’s a compact shoulder bag made from stretchy neoprene (wetsuit) material and provides a snug fit for your gear, moulding to the shape of your lenses. This prevents your lenses sliding around in the bag without having the bulky foam dividers that most traditional camera bags have. Depending on the size of your lenses and the weight of other lenses in the bag, you may need one hand to hold the bag in place while you slide the lenses out.

What does it fit

The bag is split into two halves, each with three pockets. The main three pockets are covered by a neoprene sleeve/cover and are deep enough to fit lenses such as the Nikon 70-200 f2.8. The pockets also stretch wide enough to fit bulkier lenses such as a the Nikon 14-24. If you use a lens hood on a long lens (such as the Nikon 70-200), you will need to reverse the lens hood on the lens so that it fits in the bag – but this is fairly typical for most camera bags I have used.

The secondary three pockets are held by a press stud, and are designed to hold smaller items such as a flash, spare batteries, phone, wallet, etc.

Is it comfortable

Because it is made from soft, flexible fabric it moulds slightly to your body – sitting comfortably at your side rather than swinging  around like other more rigid shoulder bags can. The shoulder strap is made from seatbelt-style nylon and is surprisingly soft and slightly stretchy. It is not that thick though, so you’ll definitely want the shoulder pad (which is sold separately for AU$12). Although the shoulder pad is soft and spongy, it is slightly narrower than some pads on other shoulder bags I have seen. I have heard complaints that some people find the shoulder pad too small, but personally, I found it reasonably comfortable.

Is it made from strong materials

The neoprene material is thick and durable with tough stitching, and the shoulder strap clips are top quality. I think you would need to try pretty hard to rip the fabric or break the clips. It is clear that this bag has been manufactured with quality in mind.

Does it fit your budget

The bag itself retails for AU$179, plus the necessary shoulder pad for AU$12 (total $191). This is quite a lot, but if it improves productivity for you then it is probably money well spent. If you know someone with one of these bags, it might be worth borrowing it for a shoot to see how you find it – as bag ergonomics can be a very particular thing.

You can also purchase alternative sleeves for AU$39. The standard black sleeve can be removed (it attaches along a velcro strip) and replaced with sleeves of various patterns and colours.

The conclusion

The bag is comfortable, it fits a good range of lens sizes and is very well made (which is reflected in the price). It also gives you quick access to your lenses, as intended. So are there any negatives?

The main drawback for me is that there are no sealable pockets (with a zip, for example). The press-studded pockets are fine to secure medium sized items like a wallet or phone, but spare batteries or memory cards may be able to slip out of these pockets (particularly if you rest the bag down on the ground for some reason). I’m paranoid when it comes to keeping memory cards safe, so would not feel comfortable keeping a card full of precious photos into the Shootsac. It would be good if the removable sleeve had a zippered compartment.

Another slight disadvantage is that it’s not really made to be put on the ground (you wouldn’t want to throw it down too quickly, or you may damage your lenses). That said, the bag was not really designed to be a “storage” bag – it’s purpose is simply to carry lenses on you, worn at all times.

The Shootsac is sold officially in Australia through Cambags, as is definitely worth considering if you shoot with multiple lenses frequently.

Review » B-Grip Camera Belt Holder

Posted September 26, 2012 by in Product Reviews | No comments yet

bgrip

Manufacturer: CPTech (Italy)
RRP: AU$85.00
Supplier: PhotoEquipmentStore.com.au

Some things take far too long to go out of fashion. Tights instead of pants, socks with sandals and Twilight to name a few. Camera neck straps aren’t quite that bad, but there is certainly an increasing number of choices out there that look better and serve as a more functional alternative.

Last year I reviewed the BlackRapid Double Camera Strap which solved the biggest downside to traditional neckstraps – the weight of the camera/lens around the neck (important when you’re carrying a few kilograms worth of camera gear). The BlackRapid strap transferred the weight to the shoulders in a back-pack or sling fashion, but still let the camera hang

The B-Grip takes this one step further, removing the need to have a hanging strap altogether.

Usability

The standard B-Grip pack comes with a thick nylon belt (you can use any belt though), the “WDS” or Weight Discharge System made from strengthened plastic, and a plastic mounting plate that fits the WDS as well as certain tripods.

Basically you thread the WDS onto your belt, attach the mounting plate to your camera, and clip the camera into the belt/WDS when not shooting. This allows you to use your camera completely free of straps, as well as being able to walk/run/dance with your camera strapped securely to your side, without it bouncing around like it would with a hanging strap system.

The included belt is quite big and not the trendiest looking of belts, despite being made in Italy, the land of fashion. It’s certainly strong though, and gives you the flexibility of placing it a little lower on the hips compared to a normal belt.

The clipping mechanism is quite easy to get used to, however has a latch that needs to be pulled whenever you want to clip the camera in or out. This doesn’t take too long to get used to, but it’s obviously not as fast as a hanging camera system. There is also a safety clip to lock this latch in place for extra security, and the mounting plate has a rubber stopper than can be wedged underneath to prevent it from unscrewing from the camera body. Basically when this thing is connected to you, it’s on there tight – you can be confident that your camera is not going to fall off.

The WDS distributes the weight of your camera evenly down your leg – and a camera body with heavy lens such as a 70-200 fells surprisingly light. While it does keep the camera nice and close to your hips, remember it’s there when running through narrow doorways! (especially if you use a battery grip, which will extend the width that the B-Grip sticks out).

Extra Uses

  • The WDS can be strapped to a camera bag shoulder strap, allowing you to clip the camera closer to your chest (probably more comfortable for hiking).
  • The mounting plate has a flip-out stand that can be used to sit the camera horizontally (e.g: on a step or park bench) – a quick alternative to a mini tripod. You can also use the B-Grips WDS as a mini mono-pod.
  • The WDS is long enough that it could be used as a steady-cam on the shoulder (according to the manufacturer you can gain up to 3 stops), however I’m not sure how practical this is…
  • Using two B-Grips would allow you to shoot with one camera while securing the other at your hip (however, not as quickly as a hanging system like the BlackRapid).
  • You can clip your camera in facing downwards or upwards, which is handy for changing lenses.

 

Manufacturing Quality

According to the manufacturer, the plastic has been reinforced with fibreglass (don’t worry it doesn’t have a splintery/fibreglass feel about it though). It has also been moulded in a way that it is very rigid and strong. I think you would have trouble breaking the B-Grip even if you tried. Even though the clips are plastic, they are all very high quality.

Conclusion

For those that like to shoot with two cameras, generally the reason you do this is because you don’t want to have to fumble around changing lenses. You can also shoot a few shots off on camera 1, a few more off on camera 2, back to camera 1… and so on (great for weddings). For this reason, you’ll probably find clipping the cameras in and out of the B-Grip annoying. It’s a lot quicker than changing lenses, but not as quick as shooting with two cameras on a dual strap system such as the BlackRapid.

Where the B-Grip stands out, however, is for active photographers who like to have quick and easy access to their cameras. It is awesome for hiking – you can scrambling over rocks without your camera swinging around your neck, yet have your camera on-hand for quick shots. Perfect for traveling too!

For more information, visit bgrip.com.

Special Offer

PhotoEquipmentStore.com.au is offering 15% off the purchase of a B-Grip to any member of Camera Market. Simply use the coupon code “Cameramarket15%” when purchasing! Also a heads up about their free hot-shoe spirit level just for liking their Facebook Page!

 

Review » Fancier Delta Series Camera Backpacks

Posted May 1, 2011 by in Product Reviews | Comments Off

Manufacturer: Fancier (Weifeng)
Model: Delta Series
RRP: AU$60-$90
Supplier: PROtog

Photography is the type of hobby/profession where it is very easy (and costly) to accumulate a lot of equipment – you may have a couple of camera bodies, a few lenses, a flash, a tripod, plus an assortment of memory cards and batteries. Finding a comfortable, practical camera bag to protect and transport your investment can be a difficult task.

There are so many makes and models of camera bags on the market, and Fancier (made by Ningbo Weifeng in China) is certainly one that is comparable with the leading brands, at a much lesser price.

When buying a camera bag, there are quite a few things to consider, which I’ll go through below.

Will the bag be large enough to fit all of your equipment?

This is probably the first thing you’ll look for. The Delta camera backpack series has three sizes available, with extra add-on lens pouches available for those with “gear acquisition syndrome“ (interchangeable with Lowepro add-on attachment system).

I’m using the large backpack (B600A) to carry two camera bodies fitted with large lenses (70-200 and 17-55) in the main lower compartment. Each camera is accessible from separate zip openings (one side opening and one front opening). Alternatively the bag would comfortably fit one camera body and three to four lenses. There are removable velcro padded attachments which can be customised to fit your gear.

There is a mesh pocket for accessories, an outer pocket for storing anything from a phone to a drink bottle, the large upper compartment for storing other gear such as a jumper, snacks, etc., plus a side compartment suitable for storing a 15″ laptop.

There is also a tripod strap and cradle at the front of the backpack.

Is the bag comfortable to wear?

The back of the bag has plenty of padding (especially if you are not using the laptop compartment, which acts as a buffer between you and the equipment in the bag). The shoulder straps are also very well padded, allowing the bag to sit comfortably on the shoulders. There is also a buckle on the front of the shoulder straps allowing you to harness the bag around your chest if you’re carrying a lot of weight over a long period of time (hiking).

Is the bag made from strong materials?

The Delta series of camera bags are made from thick canvas. Being khaki in colour, the bag looks more like a rugged travel sack rather than a camera bag. This is a big plus for the travelling photographer, as you can blend in (as much as a tourist can) without looking like you’re carrying thousands of dollars worth of equipment in your [insert expensive brand name here] obvious camera bag.

The straps, zips and buckles all seem very durable, and all stitching seems to be of a quality workmanship (comparable with leading bag brands).

The canvas is rated as “waterproof” (although I would call it “water resistant” – don’t go taking it with you on a scuba driving shoot!). The base of the bag is coated in an additional waterproof layer to prevent water seeping through if it is left on a wet surface. There is also a waterproof rain sleeve that can be fitted over the bag while still leaving the shoulder straps free to wear.

Imported gear often gets a bad wrap for quality, but this is certainly not the case with these bags.

Does the bag fit your budget?

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a good quality bag. The three sizes of bags range from about $60 to $90, much less than a lot of other comparable brands.

I’d highly recommend this bag if you want a camera bag that doesn’t stand out as a camera bag. They meet all the requirements of a good sized bag that is comfortable, well made and for a reasonably price. They are available from PROtog in Australia.

Review » BlackRapid RS DR-2 Double Camera Strap

Posted February 21, 2011 by in Product Reviews | Comments Off

BlackRapid DR-2 StrapsManufacturer: BlackRapid
Model: RS DR-2 Slim Double Strap
RRP: US$129.95
Australian Distributor: ProTog

If you’ve ever needed to shoot with two cameras (a wedding, a concert, a sport event) – and attempted using the basic over-the-neck camera straps -  you’ll no doubt have found that not only does the weight of 2 cameras give you quite a sore neck and shoulders, but it’s quite easy to get tangled up when swapping between cameras.

The BlackRapid DR-2 double strap is the answer to handling two cameras with ease. Continue reading »

Review » Phottix Cleon II Wireless Remote Control

Posted January 30, 2011 by in Product Reviews | Comments Off

Manufacturer: Phottix
Model: Cleon II Wireless Remote Control Set
RRP: US$45

The Phottix Cleon II Wireless Remote Control set is a dedicated wireless shutter release, with a range of up to 100m! The set comes with two main parts – the hand-held remote, and the on-camera receiver, as well as a shutter cable for your specific camera.
Continue reading »

Review » Phottix Battery Grips

Posted December 26, 2010 by in Product Reviews | Comments Off

Phottix Grip

Manufacturer: Phottix
Model: BP-D300 for Nikon D300/D700 (now newer BG-D700)
RRP: US$109 for newer BG-D700

The Phottix BP-D300 grip includes the grip itself, a removable battery chamber to hold 1 x EN-EL3e battery, and a removable battery chamber to hold 8 x AA batteries. It also comes with a 9v car charger (cigarette lighter plug) for direct charging.
Continue reading »

Review » Yongnuo RF-602 Wireless Flash Trigger

Posted September 18, 2010 by in Product Reviews | No comments yet

Manufacturer: Yongnuo
Model: RF-602 Wireless Flash Trigger
RRP: AU$49.95
Supplier: PROtog

Flash Photography 101

When I got my first flash, it didn’t take long to discover that front-on lighting kind of sucks! In the case of portraits, for example, the subjects become flat cardboard cut-outs, casting nasty shadows behind them.

The first solution is to bounce the flash in the direction of a wall or ceiling to try and reflect some light from a different angle. This makes a huge difference, but is dependent on there being a wall or ceiling with an appropriate reflective colour (or there being a wall or ceiling at all!). Bouncing your light off a red wall is going to turn your subject a lovely shade of sunburn!

The second solution is to diffuse. There is a huge range of diffusers – Omni-Bounce, Lumiquest and Gary Fong LightsShere to name a few. These all attach to the flash and diffuse the light in different directions, which can illiminate shadows and soften that harsh front-lit look, while still using the flash on-camera.

The third, probably most logical solution, is an off-camera flash. This gives full control of the location of the lighting by taking it away from the camera. This is best achieved with wireless flash triggers, and there is quite a variety of solutions available at a range of different prices.
Continue reading »

Review » Crumpler “Brazillion Dollar Home” Bag

Posted August 1, 2010 by in Product Reviews | No comments yet

Brazillion Dollar HomeManufacturer: Crumpler
RRP: AU$395
Dimensions: 42cm wide, 35.5cm high, 27cm deep
Capacity: 16L
Weight: 3.4kg (empty)

Thoughts:

The Brazillion Dollar Home, Crumpler’s top-end camera/laptop bag, is a mammoth shoulder bag capable of carrying quite a lot of gear! It comes with a 22-piece Velcro/padded divider system, laptop compartment, 18 colour-coded compact-flash slots, 15 pockets, tripod straps, rain cover and more.

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Review » Crumpler “7 Million Dollar Home” Bag

Posted August 1, 2010 by in Product Reviews | 4 comments

7 Million Dollar Home BagaManufacturer: Crumpler
RRP: AU$185
Dimensions: 34.5cm wide, 28cm high, 21cm deep
Capacity: 13L
Weight: 1.2kg (empty)

Thoughts:

The 7 Million Dollar Home is the second largest of Crumpler’s “Million Dollar Home” shoulder bag range, which spans from 1 to 8 Million Dollar Homes, followed by the big-mumma of bags, the Brazillion Dollar Home.

Continue reading »