Tag Archives: 055XPROB

New Backpack and Tripod

It is not very often that I discuss photography gear, but given that I purchased a few new items of gear today, I figured it was worth relating the story.

Soon enough, we are heading overseas on a trip to Israel, followed by a small soujorn to Czechia for a few days.

As is always the case when travelling abroad, I bring a camera rig.  While this is not specifically a photographic trip, I certainly intend to engage in some twilight cityscaping in Prague, and may even have time for the odd cityscape in Tel Aviv or Caesarea.

My go-to camera bag for most of my photography (other than wildlife, which calls for the big lenses), is my Lowepro Nova 190 AW.  It is a shoulder bag, and I have a fairly standard array of equipment permanently packed in it, which covers most of my shooting needs, and certainly the needs I will have on this upcoming trip.  This bag has travelled internationally twice now.

However, as is also always the case when travelling internationally, I take my laptop, which has its own bag.  This time we are travelling somewhat lighter, and rather than carrying my camera gear in the Nova 190 AW, and my laptop in its own carry bag, I wanted one bag in the form of a backpack which would accommodate both.

A few months ago I discovered the Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II backpack when looking in a camera shop one day.  This bag seemed to fit the bill nicely.

It has a laptop compartment which will accommodate a 15″ laptop (according to the specifications), a lower compartment (with dividers) which will accommodate a large DSLR with a 70-200/2.8 mounted, plus another medium-sized lens or two; and it also has an upper compartment which will accommodate anything else, including non-photography equipment.

Today I decided to buy a Fastpack BP 250 AW II.  Now, my laptop is a 17″ MacBook Pro, but having compared its specifications with the backpack’s specifications, it fits.  I took the MacBook Pro with me to the store, and verified that it actually does fit — it does.

So, that solved a definite problem, and has given me a comfortably-sized, airline cabin-friendly backpack which will allow me to remain hands-free whilst traversing airports, fit my camera gear and laptop in one bag, and have room for other things such as a water bottle, light jacket or other day-trip equipment.  This will be perfect for walking around Prague.  Additionally, it has a tripod compartment on the side, along with a strap for keeping the tripod in place.

This brings me to my next subject: tripods.

I am rather accustomed to larger tripods, particularly as I have a few heavy lenses and both want and need the height, stability and load-bearing capability they provide.

A few years ago I toyed with the idea of buying a smaller tripod for travelling, but did not quite find something I liked, or something which gave me much confidence, as I was wary of smaller, lighter tripods.  Additionally, they were rather expensive for what they were.

After buying the Fastpack BP 250 AW II today, I browsed around the store, and found a Manfrotto combination of a 290-series set of legs (Manfrotto T293A4) and a ball head (Manfrotto 494RC2).

I played with the tripod for maybe ten or fifteen minutes as I mentally debated whether it was suitable.  While it is certainly not as tall as my Manfrotto 055XPROB, or even my 2005-vintage Manfrotto 190D, it is tall enough, and the extension of the centre column will give sufficient extra height if necessary.  The legs have four sections and quick release clips, which is definitely desirable.

The ball head was also quite nice, and as with all my other Manfrotto heads, it accommodates the Manfrotto 200PL quick release plate.

Soon enough I decided to buy it.  The salesperson advised me that it was a discontinued model, and as it appeared to be the last unit and lacked both the quick release plate and packaging, he gave me a nice discount.

So, now I have a suitable, light-weight but sturdy tripod which can be taken on international trips, which reduces the bulk and weight of what I am carrying, and nicely attaches to the side of my newest camera backpack.  For the kinds of photography this trip will present, this rig is more than enough to suit my needs, and it will also be quite suitable for other photographic outings locally and inter-state.

New Tripod Rig

This afternoon I bought a new tripod rig to replace my aging, mildly limiting and severely weathered tripod rig.

I purchased a:

  1. Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod;
  2. Manfrotto 322RC2; grip ball head and
  3. Manfrotto MBAG80PN 80cm padded tripod bag.

It all came bundled as a kit.

Manfrotto 055XPRO Tripod

I recently researched tripods and decided I wanted the 055XPROB, as it is taller than my old 190D, meaning I do not need to lean forward when looking through the viewfinder.  The extra height also means I do not need to use the centre column, which is an important factor when it comes to stability.

The 055XPROB also has a great feature whereby the centre column can pivot such that it is parallel to the ground.  This is enormously useful when shooting macro images in which the subject needs to be below the tripod.

I was not interested in carbon fibre, as it is lighter and therefore less stable, and given I have a habit of ending up in surging sea water, more stability is a must.  Carbon fibre is also pricey, and a lightweight rig is not a consideration for me, as I head out specifically for photography, and do not need a small, light tripod for incidental carry.

Manfrotto 322RC2 Grip Ball Head

I had originally planned to purchase a Manfrotto 498RC2 ball head to replace my dead 488RC2 ball head.  The kit I purchased included a 322RC2, which has a single grip control to adjust all movement of the head.  Upon inspecting it, I decided it was a better option, as I found the dual controls on my 488RC2 to be cumbersome and less efficient.

The beauty of the 322RC2 is that the grip can be adjusted for left hand use.  I switched it to ‘left-hand-drive’ from the default right-hand drive position, and was good to go.

It is rock-solid, and nothing budges when the ball is locked upon releasing the grip.  The weight capability of the 322RC2 is 5kg, whereas the 498RC2 can support 8kg, but given my heaviest lens is a Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM (2.5kg), the extra weight support is not necessary.

Manfrotto MBAG80PN

My kit included a padded tripod bag with a shoulder strap.  This, as I have discovered, is rather handy for lugging a heavy tripod.  I hitherto never had a tripod bag, and always lugged mine by hand.  Now I have a spare hand for either carrying other gear or steadying myself when rock-hopping.

All in all, I am pleased with the new equipment I bought, and having used it tonight for a twilight cityscape shoot, it is working quite nicely and is a joy to use.