Camera bags and tripods

Over the last year or two, I bought two  camera bags and two tripods, but I never wrote any review kind of post.

Bags

I used a Tamrac toploader bag for a long time. Since I only had my camera and one lens to carry, I didn’t need a bigger one. But at some point I bought a flash, and a 50mm prime lens and I had to carry these as well.

So I started my search for a new camera bag. I had a few criteria:

  • It should store most of my gear, at least one or two extra lenses, a flash and the gorillapod.
  • It shouldn’t look like a camera bag.
  • It should have easy access to the camera.

The Domkey courier bag was the bag that fitted these criteria. It can hold all my camera gear, including battery chargers (both camera and normal batteries). It doesn’t look like a camera bag at all and the brand is not really known by non photographers (as far as I know). You can use a it as a normal bag as well by removing all the padding. Since it is a shoulder bag, you can access the camera within seconds.

I really like this bag, but when wearing it for a long time with lots of gear, you will feel your shoulder. It is definitely not useful for long walks where you don’t need to have your camera ready in an instant. In cities and in the zoo this bag is fantastic, you can reach for your camera within seconds and don’t have to hold it all the time. This bag doesn’t only store your camera, but, when not taking all the gear you have, you can also store a water bottle and a city guide.

For the longer walks and for carrying my tripod, I recently bought a LowePro backpack. Although it is on the small side it is very useful for day trips. Most of the time you won’t need three lenses, a flash and two tripods, so this won’t be an issue. You don’t have fast access to the camera, because you can only enter the bag on the “flip side”. You have to take the bag of before you can open it to get the camera out. Since this is a backpack I don’t think this is problematic, because it gives you an opportunity to watch the environment with your own eyes instead of through the lens before you take any pictures…

Tripods

I already mentioned the Gorillapod. This is a flexible tripod which you can place on almost every surface, including lampposts and trees. You really need to have some courage to place it in a tree or on the railing of a bridge and don’t hold it all the time, mine did never fall off anything. The gorillapod is light and extremely sturdy and you can get very low to ground if you want, but it can be difficult to compose a shot in that way. I have two problems with the ballhead that came with the gorillapod.  The ballhead can not turn around for pannorama photos without loosening the ball itself and with my 18-200 mm lens the camera moves down, it won’t stay in the correct position. Other than that, I think it is an useful addition to your camera bag.

My newest addition is a tripod from Manfrotto. There are so many different kind of tripods, that it is very hard to choose the right one. Here are the criteria I had:

  • It should be lightweight, when it is too heavy I won’t carry it around and I won’t use it, so keep the weight under 2 kilogram.
  • It should be comfortably height enough. Since I am over 2 meters, and I don’t want to bend all the time, it should be a reasonable height (without the centre column, or the half the centre column at the most).
  • It shouldn’t be too expensive. You can get tripods from 1000 euro’s or more but those are much too expensive, 400 euro would be my maximum.

The Manfrotto fits all of these criteria. Without the ball head, it weights 1.6 kg, and with ball head it is just over 2.2 kg.Without extending the centre column, the viewfinder is at a height of 1.60 meters.
The tripod itself is within the budget, but with the ball head it was slightly over budget, but all in all it is a good investment.

Although this tripod is light, it is very sturdy and it won’t be blown away as easily as cheap tripods. The carbon fibre makes sure the vibrations are reduced, and the ability to keep the centre column down makes it even more stable. Even though I only used it once, I think I will be very happy using it during my holidays.