Thursday, February 28, 2008

Camera Bag Craze (Part 3)

During 2007, Lowepro launched a new series of backpack named Vertex. It comes in 3 different models: Vertex 100AW, Vertex 200AW and Vertex 300AW. This series of backpacks are very solidly built. Extra thick padding, seam-sealed AW cover and water-resistant zippers easily hint that the design is meant for serious outdoor usage. At that time, I was unable to view the actual bag locally as it was relatively new in the local market. Based on the online reviews, specifications and photos, I decided to try the Lowepro Vertex 100AW. Thanks to my friend who used to work in Singapore and helped me to buy from there. Its internal size is similar to Lowepro MiniTrekker AW, except that it's deeper at 15cm. The depth easily accomodates an EOS5D with BG-E4 (1D-series body too). Similar to MiniTrekker AW, the height of the bag is beyond the length of an EOS5D attached with EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS USM or the slightly longer EF300mm F/4L IS USM. There are also alot more compartments to store your memory cards, batteries, remote release, cleaning cloths, lenspen, keys, etc...Vertex 100AW also features a laptop compartment, but it's rather useless for me since my company laptop is way too big for that. Perhaps it will fit a 12" laptop. I use this compartment to hold 3 units of PocketWizards Plus II or sometimes magazines, so I don't have to worry having a bent antenna or a crumpled magazine. The adjustable harness system makes this bag suitable for long distance travelling. A detail review will be made in the future.
Lowepro Vertex 100AW

Like I mentioned above, Vertex 100AW doesn't fit my laptop. Furthermore, its internal dimension is not sufficient for most onsite assignments I do (besides wedding). I needed a Lowepro Vertex 200AW to simultaneously carry 2 bodies with lens attached (EOS5D with EF24-105mm F/4L IS USM and EOS30D with EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS USM), my company widescreen laptop, several other lenses such as Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di Macro 1:1, EF50mm F/1.4 USM, EF135mm F/2L USM, 2 units of SpeedLite 580EX, 3 units of PocketWizards Plus II, laptop power adapter, and not to forget several lens hoods. It sounds insane for the amount of equipment it can fit, and it's even crazier to carry it. Each time I use it, it easily weighs more than 15kg, and I can never withstand the weight for more than 15 minutes. However, transporting all my equipments is always less hassle if I were to split it into 2 or 3 bags. This bag can even fit a pro body attached with EF300mm F/2.8L IS USM with lens hood inversed! A strong competitor for this bag is the ThinkTank Acceleration, which features thinner padding and not really meant for outdoor usage. Compared to Vertex 100AW, Vertex 200AW provides more comfort for the same amount of equipment which Vertex 100AW can hold due to larger surface contact with your back.

Lowepro Vertex 200AW

For the last few wedding assignments, I did not carry any shoulder bags nor backpacks. I prefer to use the Lowepro belt system. It's scary to leave your equipment behind while you're shooting the event. You wouldn't know whether it'll be stolen or damaged. Using shoulder bag or backpack ain't practical either, especially if the event location is crowded. So Lowepro Street & Field Deluxe Waistbelt is the solution. It uses Lowepro's proprietary Slip-Lock mechanism, able to hold several Slip-Lock accessories such as lens cases, water bottle holder and pouches. You can customise it for each different shooting events. On top of that, I use a Lowepro Toploader 65AW to store my body with one zoom lens attached. Here is a list of cases I'm using:

Lens Case LC1S - EF35mm F/2, EF50mm F/1.4 USM (without hood)
Lens Case LC1W - EF50mm F/1.4 USM (with hood), EF85mm F/1.8 USM (with hood)
Lens Case LC4S - EF17-40mm F/4L USM (with hood), EF24-105mm F/4L IS USM (hood reversed), EF135mm F/2L USM (hood reversed)
Lens Case LC4 - EF70-200mm F/2.8L IS USM (hood reversed), EF300mm F/4L IS USM
Sliplock Pouch 20 - Microfiber cloth, memory cards, Lenspen
Sliplock Pouch 60AW - CP-E3, Speedlite 580EX
Bottle Bag

Lowepro Toploader 65AW

(Updated 15/3/2008)
With the aforementioned modular system, the belt easily weighs 4kg and above. This will require me to tighten the belt around the waist to prevent it from slipping down. It's also not going to be comfortable after long hours of shooting. And here comes the need of Lowepro S&F Shoulder Harness. This harness effectively distributes weight to the shoulder. The buckle of the Deluxe Waistbelt is only used to restrict horizontal movement (instead of vertical weight prior to shoulder harness usage). The extra SlipLock loop on the shoulder allows me to attach the SlipLock 20 Pouch, and provides me extra space on the belt. The best thing is, it's much easier to access to CF cards, MF cloth and Lenspen with this attachment. So if you're carrying more than 2 heavy lenses, this is a highly recommended product to be used with the Deluxe Waistbelt. (Note that the S&F LightBelt doesn't support the S&F Shoulder Harness.)

Lowepro S&F Shoulder Harness

More stories to be shared in Part 4...

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Camera Bag Craze (Part 2)

As my gear collection grows, I started to be greedy and wish to carry more things in my shoulder bag. Though the Crumpler 7MDH is able to fit quite alot of things, but there isn't enough of compartment for me to isolate my accessories such as memory cards, batteries, Lenspen, etc...Plus the non-padded flap doesn't give me a safe feeling. An almost similar size bag by Lowepro would be the Lowepro Stealth Reporter D400AW. This bag has several hidden compartments, which is good for storing important documents such as your passport. Besides that, there's a padded pocket which can fit a multimedia storage such as the Epson P5000. There are proper places for your name card, pens, keys and much more. It comes along with a pouch to hold your battery charger, and a digital wallet to store your SD/CF cards. It's quite a pretty neat bag for reporters. The main flap is lightly padded, and features a water resistant top zipper. This zipper allows me to reach my lenses or flash without having to open up the flap at all. Compared to 7MDH, this bag is more suitable for outdoor use due to the zippers and the built-in rain cover, but it doesn't look as trendy as 7MDH.

Lowepro Stealth Reporter D400AW

Not all the time I carry along my long lens, so getting the Lowepro Stealth Reporter D200AW makes sense to replace my 5MDH. It's slightly taller and wider compared to 5MDH. The features are exactly similar to the SRD400AW, except that it's smaller. It fits my EOS5D (with BG-E4) with EF24-105mm F/4L IS USM attached, 2 units of SpeedLite 580EX, and EF50mm F/1.4 USM easily. Quite a nice bag for assignment and travelling.

Lowepro Stealth Reporter D200AW

Cra"zey" enough, I went to get a Lowepro Stealth Reporter D100AW for my EOS350D (with BG-E3) with EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 II attached and EF50mm F/1.8 II. Due to its size, it restricts me from carrying more equipments, which I ended up feeling comfortable even if I lug it around my shoulder for the whole day.

Lowepro Stealth Reporter D100AW

More stories to be shared in Part 3...

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Camera Bag Craze (Part 1)

Looking back at year 2006 when I just got my first DSLR, one question hit me: What kind of camera bag do I need? Since photographic equipment is quite a heavy investment, so I need a bag which can provide good protection and comfortable to be carried around for long hours. During that time, Tamrac had just launched their latest Adventure Series Backpacks. I was quite attracted by its design, since it doesn't look like a camera bag, the top half can be used to carry things like a jacket and the bottom half is dedicated for equipments. This model was too new, the local distributor had not brought it into Malaysia. By just viewing the photos online, I chose Tamrac Adventure 7 and purchased it from Adorama's online store in the States. After waiting for a few weeks, the bag finally arrived Malaysia via my friend's friend who worked in Colorado Springs. This bag fitted the EOS350D, EF17-40mm F/4L USM and SpeedLite 580EX nicely. It's a great daypack for travelling. As usual for most camera backpacks, the accessibility is poor. To get the equipment out from the bag, I have to put it down and unzip the compartment to reach for them. This isn't really convenient if you plan to take street photos. You either have to carry your camera all the time, or find a proper place to take it out when you want to shoot.

Tamrac Adventure 7

Due to the accessibility issue, I started to seek for a shoulder bag. Traditional shoulder bags with Canon/Nikon logos are out from my list as I never want to announce to the public that I'm carrying a camera inside. Crumpler caught my attention. To fit the same amount of equipment which I had during that time, I chose Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home. The outlook of this bag is absolutely simple yet trendy. People who do not know this brand will never know it's a camera bag. With this bag, I carried my equipment with more confidence in the crowd.

Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home

In the late 2006, I got my very first telephoto zoom: EF70-200mm F/4L IS USM. This is the smallest white lens in the Canon EF range. By fitting it on the EOS350D, the total length is around 24cm, which easily exceeds the height of the Tamrac Adventure 7 and Crumpler 5MDH. To reduce the frequency of detaching lens, I prefer to store the body with lens attached in the bag. Here comes my interest on the classic Lowepro MiniTrekker AW. It's one of the most popular Lowepro model among local photographers. This backpack's main compartment is purely for equipments. The remaining front pocket are for accessories. This bag offers plenty of room for majority of the photographers without overloading their back. The "AW" along with the model name denotes All-Weather. It has a built-in weather cover which can be unfolded from the bottom of the bag just in case you encounter less favourable weather during your outing.

Lowepro MiniTrekker AW

Again back to shoulder bags, I chose Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home which can fit the camera body with telephoto zoom lens attached in the vertical position. The design is pretty much the same as 5MDH, except it's alot larger. Crumpler's X Million Dollar Home series of shoulder bags have average padding. The main flap itself is very thin, fastened by a single buckle and some velcros, and there's no padding at all. There's also no weather cover and extra zips to completely seal the camera compartment from the elements. If you're using this bag for city usage, it should be fine. I would not recommend it for outdoor activities.

Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home

More stories to be shared in Part 2...

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Le Tour de Langkawi Stage 9, 2008

17th February 2008, Kuala Lumpur.


Dual-Brand Shooter (ThinkTank user too!)

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

CupCakeChic: Now Open

My client's shop has finally open at The Curve starting from January 2008. Featuring all sorts of cupcakes with different flavours according to the schedule. They cater for walk-in buyers as well as bulk orders for events such as weddings. Not only that, you can enjoy coffee along with cupcakes all under one roof! Check it out now at The Curve, 2 doors away from the Secret Recipe shop!

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