Some pink wooden chairs slowly decaying in the open. Gives a nice contrast with colourful foliage of this beautiful autumn morning.
The Lowepro Exchange Messenger bag is, as the name suggests, a messenger style shoulder bag for camera gear. It is relatively low-key and does not attract a lot of attention as it does not advertise itself as a bag containing expensive camera gear; something I generally like. Available in black and grey, it is a simple yet effective bag when moving around with a limited amount of gear, such as for street photography or when enjoying being a nimble photographer à la Derrick Story.
The bag consists of a main pocket which holds the majority of the gear. The green interior makes it easy to find small items lurking around inside. The main pocket is customisable with two dividers, which you can use to subdivide the pocket. I often do not use them or only use one to separate my camera from an additional lens. When not used I put the dividers in the bottom of the bag which creates extra padding. Being relatively thin, the Exchange Messenger is prone to taking shock, in particular when putting the bag down and the extra padding provided by the unused dividers helps giving a little extra protection.
Besides the main pocket, there are two thin pockets on the front and an additional one at the front with a zip for items needing more secure storage, such as keys or a wallet. The bag is soft and can be rolled up when empty and easily put into a suitcase when travelling. The allows to take a larger bag while getting to your destination and using the Exchange Messenger when at the final location using just the gear you need.
For me the main disadvantage is the fact that it does not have a separate pocket to place an iPad. S I often have to compromise on what I want to take along and I admit it now has often become more of an accessories bag than a camera bag. Still given the low price I can recommend this bag as a useful addition to your arsenal of camera bags.
The only way to actually use a tripod, is to take it with you wherever you go. This brings up the question on how to transport and carry your tripod. The Fine Art of Carrying a Tripod discusses multiple ways of transporting your three legged friend.
Amongst the multiple ways of carrying your tripod are sensible ones like The Hand Carry – simply carry the tripod in your hand and The Shoulder Carry – put it over your shoulder, like a soldier carrying his rifle.
But there are also ways which will get you noticed on the street, such as the Shoulder Perch and the Radio Antenna method, which make you place your tripod over your neck or shoulders in different ways or styles.
Probably the most popular ones though are the tripod bag and the tripod strap solution, where you carry your gear over your shoulder using a strap either attached directly to the tripod or the attached to a small dedicated tripod bag.
Similarly, attaching your tripod to your camerabag is probably a viable solution and many camerabags have specific extensions to support tripods. These supports are particularly useful when getting to your destination, but when hiking around, just like the dedicated tripod bag, requires you yo unpack your tripod for use – an extra step that most likely will prevent you from using your tripod in the first place.
The beauty of having your tripod in your hand or at least over your shoulder implies that you have to use it, since you already have given up one hand for transporting it. So what could be more natural as to take your camera and immediately mount it on your tripod already at hand.
Joseph Linaschke, the Aperture Expert, has an excellent, very detailed explanation on what exactly happens when you empty the trash in Apple Aperture. The trash mechanism in Aperture can be complicated depending on what you are trying to trash: albums or projects, versions or master images, referenced or internally managed pictures. Joseph goes through all these possibilities and explains what happens when you actually empty the trash. Good reading and certainly helps avoiding mistakes which could lead to data loss.
In fact if the explanation is too detailed for you, check out the video included at the bottom of the blog post which explains the same thing.
The Lowepro Fastpack 200 an excellent photo bag for daylong excursions. It is a classic bag pack with two main compartments. An upper one useful for personal items and has compartments for small accessories such as glasses, mobile phone, lens pen, batteries and similar. The upper compartment is large enough to add personal items or a snack. The upper compartment just about fits my Samsung NC10 netbook, so it probably will fit an iPad too. In addition two external meshed side pockets will allow you to carry bottled water or similar.
The lower part of the bag is where you will store your gear. Is it large enough to fit
That’s a lot of gear and it is sufficient for most needs, switching if necessary to adapt for the day, such as exchanging a lens for a flash or similar.It should be largely sufficient for most purposes. Once packed you access your gear from the side in a slingbag type of fashion by removing one strap from your shoulder and swinging the bag to the front, turning it into a horizontal position. From there you have fast and easy access to your camera body.
I rather enjoy this bag, the only gripes I have with this bag is that it has no way to attach a tripod, there is no rain cover, although I am confident, that the bag is sufficiently water repelling to withstand a typical rain shower. I probably would not rely on it on a several hour-long hike during bad weather. (Not that I would be doing things like that). It also lacks a waist strap, which might be useful for longer distance walking, considering that you can easily put some 10 kg of gear into this bag.
All in all this makes the Fastpack 200 one of my favourite camera bags. I can highly recommend it.
My main travel bag is the Kata 3N1-33 bag. This bag can be worn as a traditional backpack, or by hiding one of the straps and extending the other as a sling bag. This allows for a lot of flexibility when carrying. Both casual walking with easy access to the camera gear as well as steady use as a back bag in hiking situations are possible The bag also has a waist strap for superior comfort when used as a backpack.
The backpack configuration is useful when your main purpose is to actually transport your gear, such as when getting to or from your destination, or on long hikes. Here comfort of carrying your stuff is more important than real access to your gear. Note that you can use either the left or the right strap as you sling strap, making this bag useful for both left and right-handed people alike.
The bag is split into three main compartments: a top compartment for accessories and personal items and the lower part which fits your main camera gear. Finally there is the laptop sleeve at the back that easily fits a 15 inch laptop, in my case a 15 inch MacBook Pro. Also included is a memory card pouch with a velcro back, allowing to securely attach the pouch to one of the velcro strips inside the bag and a separate rain cover which is located in one of the two small side compartments.
As I use this bag for my main travel, as it can take just about everything I would want to take along on a longer travel. For me this includes my main camera body, a Canon 5D Mk II, and three to four lenses, a flash, polarizing filters, batteries, a charger, cables, memory card reader and cleaning items…
In addition I can take my laptop with charger and an external disk, which easily fits into the laptop compartment.
Two accessories are worth mentioning: the tripod holder which allows to attach a tripod or monopod to the bag. I think this is a must have accessory I would recommend getting it with the bag.
A second accessory is a trolley which can be inserted at the back. This converts the bag into a trolley bag if you do not want to carry the bag. All straps can be hidden, and the do not get in the way or dirty when rolling the bag. It works nicely and I can recommend it if you are using the bag as a transport bag and have it loaded to the max.
I do not use the trolley that often, since I want to make the bag appear to be light and cabin luggage compatible. Putting the bag on a trolley, I think, makes the bag look heavier and probably suspicious to check in agents wanting to weigh the bag. I routinely go over weight with the bag, but since it looks very compact I hardly ever get questions on the weight.
My main complaint I have with this bag is that it is too wide. It is not so much a complaint as the problem is not Kata’s fault, but it is a result of the bag holding a 15 inch laptop and has to be wide enough to hold a computer. The laptop sleeve also adds some 2 to 3 inch of thickness to the bag.
All of this is avoidable, if you use one of the smaller cousins of the 3N1-33 bag, which either include sleeves for smaller laptops, or no laptop sleeve at all.
All in all this is a great bag, well designed and built to high quality standards. It is comfortable as a backpack, can easily be converted to a sling bag and it you have packed it so much you cannot carry it anymore you can use the trolley accessory to pull it along.
Great video from Trey Ratcliff from Stuck in Customs documenting his trip around the world in 80 days with 8000 photos in 6 minutes and 14 seconds.
Like many photographers I have a certain addiction when it comes to camera bags. After a lot of experimentation I have settled on a small number of camera bags which I frequently use. They include:
Each of these bags have their different use case and I use them in different situations.
In addition to these three main bags I have of course a number of other bags which I rarely use as bags, that is to actually take them out and use them for transporting gear, but mainly for storage. The include some bags from Crumpler and Lowepro, as well as from Tamrac.
In a future blog I’ll review each one of them, explain which bag I use for which occasion an what gear I put in, as well as the likes and the dislikes of the different bags.
Thomas from Photography 24/7 has published a list of “The Top Five Best Books on Photography Composition”. I have read two of them (‘The Photographer’s Eye’ by Michael Freeman and ‘Learning To See Creatively’ by Bryan Peterson) and I agree fully, they are fantastic. Makes me want to immediately go to Amazon to buy the other three.