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The Gear I Now Tend to Take with Me When We Travel

The Gear I Now Tend to Take with Me When We Travel

Those who know me know I’ve always been a JIC packer, that is, a “just in case” I need it kind of traveler. And, to some extent, I still am. However, on recent trips I’ve gotten better. This is, in part, because of the bag I love to use, the Tenba Cooper Slim 13 Slim.

Wow! This Cooper Slim is a Great Bag!

Wow! This Cooper Slim is a Great Bag!

I know. I know! I've only had the darn thing a few days and have only taken it out packed for two days, so how can I make such a claim with so little time with it? Well, because it's a great bag! Seriously, though, if you're a photographer with a bag problem like me, you can tell pretty quickly if a bag is going work, to really fit 'most' of your needs (no bag can meet 'all' of one's needs) or is just going to be okay.

Yet Another Bag! The Tenba Cooper Slim 13

Yet Another Bag! The Tenba Cooper Slim 13

Yes, you read that correctly. Alas, I caved yet again. I've wanted this bag for a long time but didn't order it for two reasons: price (retail: $230!) and uncertainty about whether it was big enough. Well, as I often do, I did a search to check the bag out again and found it on Amazon for $175 new.

Germany: Preparing for My Trip - My Olympus OM-D E-M1

Germany: Preparing for My Trip - My Olympus OM-D E-M1

I'm going to Germany next week. Spending two weeks there and hope to capture some great images. Naturally, before a trip such as this, my mind turns to packing. Clothes and camera gear. It's already turning cooler in Southern Germany (Bavaria, primarily), so clothes I think I have figured out.

Out of Chicago: Reflections on Carrying One's "Stuff"

Out of Chicago: Reflections on Carrying One's "Stuff"

I spent this past Friday through Sunday at a photography conference plus a day to get there and yesterday to get home. The Out of Chicago (URL) conference is a wonderful opportunity to learn about photographic techniques and practice them. The latter, perhaps, is what sets this conference apart. Not only do you have the opportunity to learn more about photography-related things in which you're interested, but you also can choose to go out shooting...

My Ideal Camera Bag

My recent bag experience on our cross country (plane) trip to Seattle, Washington, has made me think seriously about what my ideal camera bag would look like. On this trip, as I described in detail in my post on Sunday, I transported all the gear I thought I would need in my new Think Tank Retrospective 30 bag. While in Seattle, I offloaded most of that gear to my Lowepro Passport Sling (which I'd packed in my checked bag) and left it in our hotel room. Expandable front pockets on my Think Tank Retrospective 30. How about ones on the ends too?

Though my main camera, an Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the 12-40mm lens, and my smaller E-PL6 with a 25mm lens would fit in the bag, I usually carried the E-M1 on a sling strap and the E-PL6 in a large coat pocket. This meant I could slim the Retrospective 30 down some. To accomplish this in warmer weather when I'm not wearing a coat with big pockets, I guess I'd either have to use a second strap for the E-PL6 or keep it in the bag. Both are viable options.

So, my ideal camera bag would be flexible. It would be big enough to comfortably hold everything I want to take on a trip yet small enough to be taken on a plane as a carry on. Then, it would collapse to serve as a day bag, holding just what I need when sightseeing. I guess the closest I've gotten to this is using my old, soft material Eagle Creek shoulder bag by packing it in my checked bag (though, now, I could probably roll it up and fit it into the Retrospective 30!) and using it as my day bag. The fact that the two front pockets of my Retrospective 30 are so large that they can, actually, each hold a full sized camera body with no lens yet, then, be flatten so they reduce the bag's profile size significantly gave me the idea for a "convertible bag."

A sketch of what I am describing with expandable pockets on both ends as well as in front.

Why couldn't the bag be shorter in length from end to end and each end have similarly expandable pockets with covers that hold them flat to the bag when the pockets are empty and compressed. Likewise, the bag's width front to back could be expandable as it is on my little Lowepro Slingshot 250. When you don't need the width, you zip up the expansion material to make the bag slimmer, more narrow.

As I envision this bag, I'm betting it already exists. Because it seems so logical, I can't believe I'm the first to have the idea. Additionally, I would like the bag to be under $200 (US) in cost. So, if you know of a bag that fits the specs I describe, give me a shout!

I found one bag that is somewhat expandable and also compressable and but a bit larger than my Retrospective 30:

Here’s an interesting concept for a suitcase/garment bag - could something along these lines work for a camera bag? Let me know what you think in comments on Facebook or Google+ - I look forward to reading your ideas.

If you would be interested in virtual tutoring sessions using either Skype or Google Hangouts, please drop me and e-mail or leave a private message to me on Facebook or Google+.

Please leave me questions or comments on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/billbooz) or on Google+ (http://plus.google.com/+BillBooz). I look forward to interacting with you!

Please follow my Photography Learning Center videos on my YouTube Channel!

Check out my free eBook on Mastering Your Camera's Priority Modes: http://www.infotor.com/ebooks. Download and enjoy!

I am available to do one-on-one tutoring or small group lessons designed to meet YOUR needs and what you want to learn in the area of photography, using flashes, or the use of Apple products and software. Give yourself the gift of learning: http://www.infotor.com/photoclasses! And check out my tutoring bundle: http://www.infotor.com/photoclasses/tutoringbundle.php as well. A PDF of my brochure is at http://www.infotor.com/photoclasses/brochures/WHBI_2015-16Brochure.pdf.

Still Looking for the Right Camera Bag!

Retrospective 30 Bag
Retrospective 30 Bag

Finding just the right camera bag is a never ending quest for most photographers. I have tried many different bags: backpacks, tactical gear bags, sling bags, messenger bags, shoulder bags, repurposed computer bags, even a couple "man" purses. (http://www.infotor.com/blog/tag/bags/) There is always something that makes the bag fall short. This becomes for me especially problematic when I'm going on a 10-14 day trip and flying. I want all of my camera gear with me on the plane and I want the other things I like to have on my person such as an iPad, iPhone, a book, water bottle, and other miscellaneous personal items. One bag didn't do it!

Vanquish and Eagle Creek Bags
Vanquish and Eagle Creek Bags

I usually end up taking a larger bag and a smaller, purse-like bag on these occasions. Recently, I have been on a quest to find one bag that will serve me when traveling but also for when I am at home. My Lowepro Passport Sling almost filled the bill, but I still had to hang some things on outside of it. So, I began looking again. I had a chance to hold and see the Peak Design Everyday Messenger bag that is so popular, but I felt it was too big. An alternative, the Tenba Cooper Slim 13, looked as though it might be a better choice, though it is almost the same price as the Everyday Messenger. Then someone suggested the Think Tank Retrospective 30 to me.

My small, expandable Vanquest pouch fits nicely on strap at either end of the bag.
My small, expandable Vanquest pouch fits nicely on strap at either end of the bag.

Having no place close that carries any of these bags, I decided to order the Retrospective 30 and try it myself with the idea that I would return it if it didn't seem to be the right choice and then do the same with the Tenba Cooper Slim 13. Yesterday the bag arrived so I made the video embedded below in this article to show how I am thinking about using a new bag to replace my Passport Sling.

I had been warned that the Retrospective 30 is much “thicker” (“wider?”) than the Cooper Slim 13, so I was somewhat prepared for what I took out of the box. I ordered the bag in the Blue Slate color because it was $80 compared to its “cousins) in Pinestone and Black at $195! Guess the Blue Slate color has not been so popular so they are clearing inventory. Otherwise, the bags are all alike. As I began figuring out how I would pack it, I did find it to be a very roomy bag. I think it will hold everything I want to carry. For one, I am able to get my little Nissin i40 flash in comfortably and things that I had hanging off the Passport Sling are now in this bag. I use a “small bag distribution system” () to organize all my cables, batteries, memory cards, and other miscellaneous things one must carry in this electronic and digital age, so I just stuffed in my four little Eagle Creek bags without reassessing what is in them.

Lots of dividers. Lots of space. Two front pockets are huge!
Lots of dividers. Lots of space. Two front pockets are huge!

I have to revisit that and can, perhaps eliminate one of those bags. That will make space for my Tascam DR-40 voice recorder, a proper audio recorder instead of my little Olympus number. Since I am now hoping to do more video on trips, I want to be able to carry my “L” bracket for holding iPhone and the Rode VideoMicro microphone, as well as, naturally, the microphone itself.

End result? Well, when packed as I have it, it is much bigger than I thought I wanted. However, it does hold the gear I feel I want to have with me when traveling, so it wins points there. Will I keep it? Yes, I think I will. Through this exercise, I have come to realize that, yes, I can get one bag that will work as my traveling bag, my point A to point B bag, to get all of my gear safely to my destination. However, any bag that will let me do that is going to be too big for everyday use in most cases.

Pockets on either side of the bag are tight, but I am able slide a lie of my MeFoto DayTrip tripod in it and secure tripod with a bungee cord.
Pockets on either side of the bag are tight, but I am able slide a lie of my MeFoto DayTrip tripod in it and secure tripod with a bungee cord.

Now, if your “kit” is limited, you can get away with a bag of the Passport Sling or Cooper Slim 13 variety and it will serve double duty. I’m not that guy. I have a lot of “toys” and I want to have most of them with me “just in case” when I am on a once in a lifetime trip. So, I will flatten my Lowepro Passport Sling bag and pack it in my checked luggage. That will, then be the bag I use every day when on a trip.

If you would be interested in virtual tutoring sessions using either Skype or Google Hangouts, please drop me and e-mail or leave a private message to me on Facebook or Google+.

Please leave me questions or comments on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/billbooz) or on Google+ (http://plus.google.com/+BillBooz). I look forward to interacting with you!

Please follow my Photography Learning Center videos on my YouTube Channel!

Check out my free eBook on Mastering Your Camera's Priority Modes: http://www.infotor.com/ebooks. Download and enjoy!

I am available to do one-on-one tutoring or small group lessons designed to meet YOUR needs and what you want to learn in the area of photography, using flashes, or the use of Apple products and software. Give yourself the gift of learning: http://www.infotor.com/photoclasses! And check out my tutoring bundle: http://www.infotor.com/photoclasses/tutoringbundle.php as well. A PDF of my brochure is at http://www.infotor.com/photoclasses/brochures/WHBI_2015-16Brochure.pdf.

Bag and Equipment Reflections - Our Trip to Scotland

We just returned from nine days in Scotland. As usual, I took more camera gear than I needed. I did fine with my clothing need estimates, however. Of our nine overnights, four were in AirBnB apartments which were equipped with washer and dryer, so we were able to do laundry mid-way through the trip. This meant that I could take a relatively small suitcase. Nice! However, this was not the case with my camera and electronic gear.

Vanquish and Eagle Creek BagsI gave serious thought to what lenses and equipment I wanted to take on a trip that could be our only one to Scotland. I knew, from previous trips, that I tend to shoot 90% of the time with my OM-D E-M1 with the 12-40mm pro lens attached. However, I decided to take my 75-300mm lens so I'd have reach in case I needed it. "In case" is the operative expression here, as I never used it! I took my Olympus PEN E-PL6 camera as well, because I knew I would sometimes want to carry a smaller camera around in my hand. I decided to attach the 25mm to it instead of the Panasonic 20mm. Both lenses are fast so either is great, though the 20mm would have been smaller. I also decided to take my new Olympus Air A01 camera with the 60mm attached as it doesn't take up much space and I wanted the 60 because it is weather-sealed and we expected days of rain (but, fortunately, we had nine days of beautiful sunshine!). Finally, I packed my Panasonic 35-100mm, f/4-5.6. I never mounted it either, though, in the future, I would bring it but not the 75-300mm.

MeFoto DayTrip Tripod attached to Vanquest BagI also brought my Tascam DR-40 recorder, thinking I would capture some sound, but because of its size I never used it. Recording with my iPhone 6 with 64GB would have sufficed. However, I ended up doing that only once only because recording sound is not something I ever think of doing. I always like to bring my WD MyPassport Wi-Fi hard drive so I can save shots from my iPhone to it as well as back up my SD memory cards. My Kindle reader and iPad Mini 3 always travel with me as well. And, of course, there are all the chargers, charging cords, and plugs plus the plug adapters one has to carry when one brings all of this electronic equipment on a trip abroad. I took my smaller MeFoto tripod, the DayTrip model, in its case and bungee corded to the side of my Vanquest bag. Never used it either.

To carry all of these things, I stored the bulk of my equipment in my VanQuest VSlinger bag. My old, cloth Eagle Creek shoulder bag with an Ape Case padded insert served as a "man purse" for the flights and was my day bag when we went sight-seeing. Since it was chilly, I wore a coat with nice big pockets. Therefore, I could store the E-PL6 in one of those and the E-M1 in the insert in the bag along with an extra lens, batteries, etc. Usually, though, the E-M1 was around my shoulder on my BosStrap sling strap when we were walking about.

My reduced equipment collection.

What would I change? What will I bring on our next trip? My old Lowepro Passport Sling. And, that's all! In it, with the expansion section expanded, I believe I can comfortably carry my E-M1 + 12-40mm, E-PL6 + 20mm, the Panasonic 35-100mm, MyPassport drive, my iPad Mini 3, my Nissin i40 flash (though I didn't use it this trip, but always want to have it with me), small bag with extra batteries and their chargers plus small, pop-on flashes, and extra memory cards. I used this bag as my day bag in Paris and Chicago and it worked out well, but based on this recent experience in Scotland, I do think it could serve as my primary bag. I may consider throwing in the 60mm, but the Olympus Air A01 will most likely stay home.

Lowepro Passport SlingBefore this trip, I purchased a PlatyPod Pro camera support system that takes up very little space and serves as a tripod replacement. I also have one of the larger Joby GorillaPods meant for small dSLRs. Though I didn't use either of these items on this trip, I will take both on my next trip and leave the MeFoto tripod at home. On a trip like this, I normally do not bring my 13" MacBook Pro laptop, but instead rely on the MyPassport drive to back up images. My "small bag organization" system (http://www.infotor.com/blog/organizing-camera-accessories-with-small-bags-part-2/) is working well for me, so I hope to be able to fit two of my small Eagle Creek bags in the Passport Sling. One contains the pop-on flashes, charger for each camera, and extra batteries for camera and the i40. The other contains miscellaneous personal items such as band aids, hearing aid batteries, etc.

If this approach works, it will be nice to travel with just one relatively small carry on bag and not be "that guy" whose backpack is banging into people or getting caught on seat armrests!

If you would be interested in virtual tutoring sessions using either Skype or Google Hangouts, please drop me and e-mail or leave a private message to me on Facebook or Google+.

Please leave me questions or comments on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/billbooz) or on Google+ (http://plus.google.com/+BillBooz). I look forward to interacting with you!

Check out my free eBook on Mastering Your Camera's Priority Modes: http://www.infotor.com/ebooks. Download and enjoy!

In addition to offering scheduled, hands-on photography classes periodically, I am also available to do one-on-one tutoring or small group lessons designed to meet YOUR needs and what you want to learn in the area of photography, using flashes, or the use of Apple products and software. Give yourself the gift of learning: http://www.infotor.com/photoclasses! And check out my tutoring bundle: http://www.infotor.com/photoclasses/tutoringbundle.php as well. A PDF of my brochure is at http://www.infotor.com/photoclasses/brochures/WHBI_2015-16Brochure.pdf.