Tag Archives: Camera Bag

My New ‘Grab and Go’ Rig

Last year I bought a Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II camera backpack for an international trip.

I found it to be an excellent backpack which allows me to carry a good amount of photography gear (including a small tripod) as well as my 17″ MacBook Pro.  I was tired of carrying a separate laptop bag as well as my then main camera bag (a Lowepro Nova 190 AW).

Having gone for a few shoots this year, I decided it was time to properly, and somewhat permanently, equip my Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II with a camera rig which will cover 95% of my shooting requirements, and which I can literally ‘grab and go’.

Here is what I keep packed in it:

  1. Canon EOS 5D Mark II with LP-E6N battery and SanDisk Extreme 16GB CF card
  2. Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM
  3. Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM + hood
  4. Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM + hood
  5. Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM + hood
  6. Canon TC-80N3 Timer Remote Controller
  7. Canon LC-E6E battery charger + AC cable
  8. Canon LP-E6 battery (spare)
  9. SanDisk Extreme 16GB CF card (spare)
  10. SanDisk Extreme IV 8GB CF card (spare)
  11. Hotshoe-mounted spirit level
  12. Princeton Tec FUEL headlamp
  13. Lenspen
  14. Neoprene lens cleaning cloth
  15. Giottos Rocket-Air blower
  16. Business cards
  17. Print of Street Photographers’ Rights fact sheet
  18. Apple 12W iDevice charger + 1m USB cable
  19. Shintaro SH-XCR3 CF card reader + USB cable
  20. Manfrotto M3293A4 tripod and Manfrotto 494RC2 ball head

The tripod is on the outside of the bag, and is affixed to the bag via an in-built tripod foot pocket, and a strap to keep the legs close to the side of the bag.

What is not packed, but can be packed when we are heading away, is the following:

  1. Apple MacBook Pro 17” + AC power pack
  2. Western Digital MyPassport Ultra 2TB hard disk + USB cable

What is also missing is ND and GND filters.  Having recently replaced my Canon EF 16-35mm  f/2.8L II USM with a Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM, I need a new NiSi 150mm filter system to replace my Lee 100mm filter system, which at the time of writing I have not yet purchased.

The good news is that my Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II will easily accommodate this, and there is still room.

Now, this rig covers most of my shooting needs.  What it does not cover, however, is wildlife, for which I use my three largest lenses.

Fortunately, I have two other backpacks which can accommodate those, as well as fit a lot of the equipment packed in my Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II.

I am very content with both the backpack and the array of equipment I have packed into it.  It holds a lot of gear, is not too heavy, and still has room in the top compartment for more gear if I need it.  Plus, it is ready for a shoot ay any time.

 

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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 sojourn to the Czech Republic 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’s 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 Camera Bag: Lowepro Nova 190 AW

After having ‘Lowepro bag for light travel’ on my list of things to buy for a year or two, today I finally purchased said camera bag.

Hitherto, my camera bag rig consisted of a Lowepro Mini Trekker AW and an often-used 12-year-old shoulder bag which needed replacement.  I also have a Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home (Canon EOS edition) which came with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II, but it’s way too small to be practical, and being bright red, stands out from a thousand miles away.

The Mini Trekker AW is a fantastic backpack, and even accommodates my Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM along with camera, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM and both the 1.4x and 2x tele-converters (even with smaller equipment, I can fit a lot into it), but I’m long past the point of wanting to carry a large-ish backpack around, and particularly when I travel (flying especially), I want a smaller shoulder-carry bag for my camera gear.  It was not unusual for my camera backpack to weigh 10kg when flying inter-state.

Today I brought home a new Lowepro Nova 190 AW.  Oddly enough, this was the bag I was considering the last time I looked into this issue and looked at bags.  I looked at the Lowepro Nova 200 AW, which is longer and deeper, but I found it to be too large, and in terms of size, it wasn’t a great deal different from my Mini Trekker, so I went back to the Nova 190 AW, which is more pleasant to carry around.

While the Nova 200 AW will hold more gear and would undoubtedly be a great bag, I wanted something smaller and less bulky.  The Nova 190 AW will easily hold the camera and three or four fast (ie, f/2 or faster) primes or two f/2.8 zooms.

Important to me was the bag’s ability to hold my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM.  The salesman in the store grabbed a 5D II and 70-200/2.8L (non-IS, but close enough in size), and the Nova 190 AW easily accommodated that rig, plus had plenty of room for another couple of decently sized primes or zooms.

For those unfamiliar with Lowepro nomenclature, AW designates ‘all-weather’, meaning the bag has an integrated rain cover.  As a seascaper, and one who tends to get rather wet, it’s important that my gear is protected, and the integrated rain cover will easily keep splashes and rain at bay.

I’ve just packed it, and it very nicely holds a good rig of equipment without being too heavy, or increasing in bulk due to the gear I’ve placed inside it.

At the moment, it contains my:

  1. Canon EOS 5D Mark II;
  2. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM (including hood);
  3. Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM (including hood);
  4. Canon TC-80N3 Timer Remote Controller;
  5. Lee filter wallet containing GND4, GND8 and two ND8s;
  6. Lee filter holder and 82mm adapter ring;
  7. Hoya 82mm circular polarising filter;
  8. Hoya HMC 82mm ND8 filter;
  9. hotshoe-mounted spirit level;
  10. spare SanDisk Extreme III 4GB CompactFlash card;
  11. Princeton Tec FUEL headlamp + spare batteries;
  12. Lenspen;
  13. neoprene lens cleaning cloth;
  14. plastic bags and ziplock bags; and
  15. business cards.

Quite a lot of gear!

All in all, I am very happy with this bag, and I will keep it packed as above for the most part, as it contains my seascaping rig, plus my 85/1.2L II, which I don’t normally carry on ‘scape shoots, but which will give me extra reach when needed.  I can easily swap that for my Canon EOS 135mm f/2L USM if I want even more reach.

It’s just as easy to swap out some gear for a bag of fast primes and flashes.  It’s very versatile, holding a decent rig of equipment without being bulky or too heavy, and when it comes to flying, it consumes a lot less room in the overhead luggage compartments, or could just as easily sit under the seat in front of me.

My Lee filter wallet and the case for the filter holder both consume considerable space.  If I needed more room or wanted to take a 70-200/2.8 as well as my 16-35/2.8L II, I could find an alternative way of transporting the filters, as they are flat sheets of resin, measuring 6×4″ at the most, and could be stacked together with tissue paper separating them, and a ziplock bag containing the lot.

The Nova 190 AW offers plenty of options for configurability and holds a surprisingly large amount of equipment for its size.

It was definitely a good purchase; all I need to do now is head out for a shoot.  With my state of mind over the past three or four months, that’s proven to be more challenging than finding a suitable camera bag!