Photography comes with many inherent uncertainties. Weather, permits, language barriers, client expectations, the list goes on and on. It seems I am always going somewhere new to shoot something that I have seen before. That challenge is part of the job that I like. But sometimes the pressure starts to get to me. When that happens I deal with it like most photographers do, I buy a new camera bag.
Buying a camera bag lets me move my attention from something out of my control -like getting a permit to fly a remote operated helicopter over an archaeological dig- to something in my control -how am I going to carry my cameras to South Africa-
This month's stress reliever is the Think Tank Airport TakeOff. It is a roller bag with back pack straps and plenty of room. Right now it has 2 cameras, 8 lenses, 2 flashes, a zoom recorder, a laptop and room for an OWC RAID. In theory it fits in an overhead storage compartment.
For the last few years I have used a pelican 1510. It is still a great roller bag, but it is a little small for this coming trip. Plus I won't be needing to take the bag from the airplane straight to a donkey's back. However, It was the backpack straps that sold me. They should make it a lot easier to use on rough terrain.
I shelled out my own money for this bag. It wasn't cheap but I feel my stress levels returning to a manegable state already.
Anyone who reads this blog knows that I love bags in general and messenger bags in particular. I've owned a bunch over the years so when LowePro asked me to take a look at the Pro Messneger 180 I was happy to do it.
The Pro messneger 180 AW
Let me start by saying that I like the bag. It is a well thought out, well constructed daily journalism workhorse.
It has an incredibly low key, almost stealth like exterior. The only marking is on the back and it is in the the same slate grey as the rest of the bag. It is a perfect urban cary bag, the sort of thing that you could have on your shoulder during a robbery and no one would bother looking inside. Nothing about it says "valuables here." Plus it looks good. This bag wouldn't be out of place shooting on the street or in a night club.
The exterior is a synthetic canvas that sheds water well. It has been raining a lot lately in Tennessee yet the cameras have remained dry. I've yet to deploy the concealed rain cover, but there is one stashed in a hidden velcro compartment. There are two elastic exterior pockets on either side of the bag. They are big enough for a small water bottle, or a telephone, or (in my case) a head lamp. The zippered back compartment is big enough for a moleskin and your airline tickets or a copy of the Atlantic. That back pocket also has a bottom zipper that turns the pocket into a trolley sleeve -frequent fliers out there will like that feature.
I've been shooting with the Canon 5D MK III for the better part of a year now and I have to say that the camera continues to impress me. Not only is the low light performance of the camera fantastic but its dynamic range is pretty incredible. In the image above there is almost 10 stops difference between the highlights and shadows. The camera managed to hold them all! There is no dodging or burning in this conversion. I did bring the highlights down and the shadows up in Lightroom, but other than those adjustments the photo is straight. Sometimes people ask me if I miss shooting film. The answer is sometimes, but when it comes to situations like this definitely not.
There were some interesting cameras at Photo Plus this year. Nothing earth shattering but cameras continue to get incrementally better, in fact much better. Here are three that I think are worth looking at.
Sony A 77. Sony has been making a big effort to enter the pro/semi pro camera market but so far has not made much of an impact. The A77 might change that. Sony answers some of the questions that I have had about cameras since I went digital years ago. Namely why does my camera have an optical view finder? The A 77 has an electric viewfinder, 24 megapixel sensor, gps receiver and it shoots 12 frames per second. The camera's body is made of a pro grade magnesium alloy. What is not to like? If you don't need super long lenses or underwater housings the Sony might be the way to go.
Canon 6D. A full frame, 20 megapixel canon camera for under $2100. The camera is slightly smaller than the 5D MK III that most of us carry and more than a thousand dollars less. It adds wifi support and a a gps receiver. However, you give up the MK III's superior autofocus and near full frame viewfinder. The camera would make a great back up to a 5D MK III outfit, but then again so would the 5D MK II that most Canon shooters already own. The 6D should be available soon.
I also held in my hand the D1x and the D1c. They are slight variations on the same pro body. Big difference between them is the D1c shoots 4 k video along with being a 18 megapixel camera. They are wonderful, workhorse cameras that should shoot essentially forever. They are also very heavy.
Panosonic GX1. Ok the GX1 has been around for a little while but I still think it is one of the most impressive compact cameras around. Anyone who reads this blog knows I'm a fan of the GF-2. The GX1 seems to be a worthy successor. 16 megapixel sensor, iso to 12,800, new, bright external viewfinder if you are looking for a compact camera that doesn't make you feel like you aren't carrying enough machine, this might be the one for you.
It comes in a whole variety of kits. Personally I would only use it with the 20mm f 1.7.
More later, I'm tryint to get to Lima now for a series of lectures.