Some fun stuff from the weekend including a few macro’s with my new 50mm f/1.8D.
The Classified Series from Lowepro is their attempt to create a more discrete bag for the photojournalists/travelers around the world. Features like the discrete Lowepro logo and more traditional bag shape and colors help to achieve this goal, but it’s not a miracle bag. It’s real potential lies in how easy it is to access your camera in a hurry and also return it to the bag covertly.
Let’s talk about the bag size first. The 160 AW dimensions are listed by Lowepro as 13.4W X 8.9D X 14H in. In actuality the bag (fully loaded) is more like 11.5W X 9D X 12H in. The height is from the top of the bag not the top of the carry handle and the width is with the “bull horns” tucked away. So this is a relatively small bag, especially when sitting next to the much larger 200 and even bigger 250.
As with all Lowepro products, the quality is impeccable. Quality metal d-rings, swivel clasps, webbing, and stitching. The only drawback I could find on this topic is on the all weather cover. The actual seams where the waterproof fabric is sewn together, are not taped shut. Though unlikely, in a heavy down pour, water could get through. But it would also have to find its way through the rest of the bag to get to the camera/equipment. But on a good note, the small slits on the side of the AW cover where the shoulder strap d-rings poke through, are taped to prevent tearing of the fabric.
The outermost is covered by a velcro flap. The flap has a nice see-through vinyl window to keep business cards or ID visible when needed. Lift the flap and you’ll find a very versatile pocket with pen holder loops and another small sewn in drop pocket for coins, headphones or other small items.
The last pocket is a zippered pocket on the back of the bag, meant for relatively thin/flat items you need to carry. I suggest this only because it’s the side of the bag that will be resting on you. No need to be poked every time the bag swings into you or across you.
Inside the main compartment are a few dividers that are customizable with the standard Lowepro velcro system. Two of the dividers are topped with a nice protective leather accent. And they’re also shaped to allow room for the bulky bottoms of larger cameras like the D3, Canon 1Ds, or cameras with a vertical battery grip.
I was able to fit my ultrapod, SB-600 Flash, Tokina 11-16mm, 18-105mm, and D90 with 70-200mm f/2.8 mounted, into the main compartment the other weekend. This was in part, thanks to the expandable bellows that allow more storage space inside. There’s a large zipper just behind the two front pockets that allows for the expansion.
My complaints with the bag are minuscule. The shoulder pad on the strap, as others have mentioned in their reviews, doesn’t slide. It’s stitched to the webbing and doesn’t allow the bag to be swung back and forth to gain access to your gear. Between that and the lack of taped seams on the AW cover, this bag is hard to complain about. It works great in the field, great for travel or around town and is built like a tank.
Formula D was last weekend in Atlanta, Ga. I decided to rent a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 and see what I could get. The pics turned out well. Still need a lot of practice to get the panning down but I’ll get it. The pics were edited in Aperture using Nik Color FX Pro, Sharpener Pro, and Dfine. Enjoy
So I was reading though my huge list of blog subscriptions last week and I came upon a review on CrunchGear of this new BlackRapid camera strap. After reading the review I started doing some more research on it and after a few days of deliberation, decided to buy.
The idea behind BlackRapids bandolier style of strap is to make it easier to do what all photographers want to do…SHOOT PHOTOS! All BlackRapid straps employ the same design principle that allows the camera to be quickly slid from the resting (waist) position up to the shooting position.
After opening the mesh bag the strap comes in, I began to take a closer look at the strap itself. The build quality looks amazing…not a loose thread or unkempt webbing cut. This particular model, the RS-4, is similar to the original R-Strap (RS-1). It has a similar slim profile but also has a nice slim zipper pocket for storing memory cards, ID, cash, etc.
The RS-4 I received still has the old style FastenR bracket that has been the main topic of debate in others’ reviews. This L shaped bracket screws into the tripod socket on the bottom of either your camera body or the tripod mount of your lens.
*The newer FastenR-2 is an aluminum puck with the screw on one side and a d-ring on the other. You can view the manufacturing schematic for it here.
When I first attached the bracket to my D90, I looked to see how easily this might come loose. But once tightened, it’s not going anywhere. Sure, this is not the same concept as a typical camera strap, and there is the “potential” for it to come unscrewed, but give it a chance. When you actually get your own strap and see for yourself, you’ll have confidence in it too. Plus, as often as we change settings on our cameras, adding a little double check for tightness isn’t too much to do if you’re still unsure.
*You may also use a tripod mount quick release like the this Bogen RC2 unit. I plan on testing this as well. Update: After researching some, I found a user on a Canon forum that had dissected his bogen RC2 tripod plate. He found that the D-ring does not go completely through the thumbscrew and with some effort (albeit quite a bit) the D-ring can be pried loose. And after I tried the plate on my D90, the way the camera was hanging on only one end of the D-ring, it would just be a matter of time before a good jolt pulled it out of its socket.
The strap is attached to the FastenR bracket via the swivel clip shown above. BlackRapids now includes a small piece of clear tubing that slips over the clasp and keeps it from opening unintentionally (which was apparently an issue). The spring tension on the clasp is actually pretty substantial and in my opinion it would be difficult for it accidentally bump open but better to be safe than sorry.
*The above clasp is also being replaced by BlackRapid with a carabiner style clasp with a spin lock.
One of the key reasons I wanted a new strap is due to the pain that the factory Nikon strap caused, especially when paired with some accidental sunburn. Well that problem is solved in two ways, first, the BlackRapid’s strap sits on your shoulder vs. around your neck. Second, the strap actually has some padding and a nice breathable mesh over that. To say the least, this strap is extremely comfortable.
I had a chance to go out this past Sunday during the sunset and shoot a little. It’s hard to believe such a minor improvement on strap design would turn out to be so incredibly innovative. It simply makes an enjoyable task more enjoyable. The camera is easier to work with while moving around, looking at angles, setting up remote flashes, etc… and it’s right there at your side when you’re ready to shoot. This is definitely a must buy!
Enjoy some images captured with the assistance of the RS-4.
Well I’m a bit slow to get these posted. I took a little overnight trip to see some friends in Alabama just before Christmas ’08. And since we are all car guys, we got together and did a little photo shoot at a local backlot skate park. All shot with the Nikon D90. Enjoy!