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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