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05-20-2010, 11:28 AM   #31
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
I have the Kata DR-467 and love it.
Taking your enthusiastic recommendation, I bought a black Kata DR-467 for a recent 18 day trip from USA to Venice and on to Athens. The 467's lower compartment dividers were configured in an H pattern. I packed a K-x with DA 21 attached over a K-7 AA battery grip's clip on the left side (lens in) and a K7 w/grip (lens off w/body cap) on the right. The center segment toward the back was occupied by a DA 55-300 and rain cover. I stacked a DA 15, DA 35, DA 70 and DA 40 in their respective bags over a layer of batteries in the middle segment toward the outside.

The upper part of the bag and laptop slot were used to store air-travel related personal items. As you may know, airlines allow you one 21 inch carry-on in the overhead, plus a camera bag that will slip under the seat in front of you. My carry-on is a 21 inch Rick Steves bag. By packing light, I was able to take everything I needed. No one questioned anything and all worked out great. The DR-467 was perfect for the task.

Finally, I used a ScotteVest as a wearable camera and day-bag. With one lens mounted and one in each lower hand pocket, I was good to go. If I was primarily shooting inside one day, or at night, I carried the K-x. If I was primarily shooting outside, I took the K7 for the day. The Kata DR-467 and unused gear were left behind at the hotel. My basic kit was a DA 35 mounted plus the DA 15 and the 70.

So... I concur and likewise enthusiastically recommend the Kata DR-467 as a camera/travel bag. I got it off eBay for about $50USD, new.

05-23-2010, 05:39 PM   #32
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Hakuba PSBP-30 Unibody Backpack for Cameras

Today I received my Hakuba backpack. A few weeks back, I got tired of my lack of organization and continuity of lenses, so I decided to get one of those large backpacks that eats up everything and is ready to grab and "have it all" when I'm out the door in a hurry (minus the two extreme tele's 500mm and 1000mm). No more making sacrifices on what rides in the car on my usual 2-3 day work trips, hoping I grabbed the best lens for whatever I come across.

Trying not to spend too much, I was looking at used until I stumbled on this new Hakuba bag. It seemed to be about what I was looking for in size, and at the right price, $130. There really isn't much out there about Hakuba bags, but the limited reviews on Adorama seemed good. I'll go into some detail about the bag because I couldn't find many details online.

The first thing I noticed is the quality seems really good for its price. Quality materials used, enough padding to feel safe. Second thing I noticed was how deep the lens pockets are. I was fully expecting my Tokina 80-400mm would have to be flat, but it stands perfectly flush at just over 6 inches deep. The front pockets are alright with fairly generic innard organizers in the two large pockets- a couple regular sub-pockets, pen organizers, etc. The top frontmost pocket is bare inside. With some home-made dividers to go between lenses, it should be no problem stacking a few small primes in one lens bay to conserve space. I have yet to find a good way to set up the dividers to store the bellows well. I finally gave up, took out two dividers, dropped the bellows in and covered it up with the dividers and placed the Spottie and rocket blower on top of it. This creates some wasted space and slow access to the bellows, but at least it will be with me so I can use it and not in the drawer unutilized where it was before. The tripod carrier is on the side of the bag and seems decent, but I'm no expert in that area. It holds my 680b monopod really well. My only tripod is for the extreme tele lenses and it wouldn't be fair to the pack to put the Gitzo & gimbal on it- that thing could almost use its own harness.

The bag currently holds the following: (more than pictured)

In the lens bay:
K10d with FA 50mm/f1.4 attached
M50mm/f1.7
DA18-55
Vivitar 135mm/f2.8
Ricoh 28mm/f2.8
Asahi M42 extension tube set
Panagor 90mm/f2.8 macro
Sigma 80-200mm/f3.5-4 zoom
Vivitar 28mm/f2.0 screwmount
Pentax AF160 flash
DA 12-24mm
Tokina 80-400mm zoom
Super Takumar 50mm/f4 macro
1.5x teleconverter
stack of filters
Bellows
Spotmatic F with 55mm/f1.8 attached
Rocket blower

In the mesh pockets opposite of the lens bay:
various adapters
cable release
eyepiece covers
spare lens and body caps
more filters
Lenspen

Lower outside pocket:
Spotmatic batteries
battery charger
(missing spare K10d battery if I ever find it)
Business card for identification in holder

Large upper outside pocket:
Pens
Note pad

Small upper outside pocket:
SD cards
film

Pros:
Price- Getting a lot of bag for the price.

Comfort- The strap/harness system is pretty comfortable. Better than I expected. There is also some padding down the middle of the back that should breathe well.

Size- Seems to fit my stuff about right. I even have my bellows in it. I didn't pack my 70-200mm 2.8 in it because it is for sale with intent to be replaced with two lenses, which I feel I can fit in here yet. It will be pretty full at that point though.

Appearance- Looks like a pretty normal backpack, doesn't scream lens bag, other then being thick for those of you who care about that.

Cons:
Interior color: Despite the photos online which show a light grey interior, my copy has a black interior.

No SD card holders- there are no little pockets to keep SD cards in like LowePro and the others have.

Top end of bag where the camera body goes wastes some space on each side of the body and is kind of thin. The K10d is snug- good thing my camera isn't any more fat. Should accomodate an attached body grip with no problem.

Things I ask WHY about:
Load compression straps- This things has load compression straps which seem to have very little function. Maybe to be a secondary support to the zipper holding the bag closed?

In summary, is the bag worth it? Too soon to tell, but first impressions are a definate YES. Am I happy and will I stay happy with it? While I broke the rule of buy a bigger bag than you need to grow into it, I don't think I'll have much of a problem. Over the last year, I've become pretty content with my lens package and after I replace the 70-200mm, I don't see any more holes to fill. With my intended replacements, the pack should be filled about full.
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05-23-2010, 06:30 PM   #33
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Good review - thanks. Looks very similar to the Lowepro Vertex - I have the AW300, the big one, which looks like it would hold about the same stuff, plus it has a compartment that holds a Macbook Pro 17" no problemo.

However, I tend to use it mainly for storage now, rather than actually carrying stuff around, and I have fallen in love with my new Think Tank Rotation 360, which I just load up with what I need for any given trip or walkabout.

My ageing back is getting a bit too crumbly for those heavier weights now
06-04-2010, 08:49 PM   #34
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QuoteOriginally posted by Derridale Quote
Good review - thanks. Looks very similar to the Lowepro Vertex - I have the AW300, the big one, which looks like it would hold about the same stuff, plus it has a compartment that holds a Macbook Pro 17" no problemo.

However, I tend to use it mainly for storage now, rather than actually carrying stuff around, and I have fallen in love with my new Think Tank Rotation 360, which I just load up with what I need for any given trip or walkabout.

My ageing back is getting a bit too crumbly for those heavier weights now
Hi Pete,
Read your review on the Think Tank 360.

Damn you!

I thought I was over my bag buying addiction. My wife too has a few stern words about my collection

I have added a belt system into my 'system' which is OK, but with limitations. The Thinktank and your excellent review have made me think again though....:ugh:
Cheers
Grant

06-09-2010, 10:02 AM   #35
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Dakine Sequence!

Quick overview:

I ordered this bag from backcountry.com (through bing cashback, which is 12.4% at the moment). The black chop shop color scheme is discounted 40%, along with the bing cashback brings this $160 pack down to a much more paletteable $84 shipped (this is a closeout price, 31 in stock as of today, 37 last week when I ordered).

first impression - the bag is VERY big! Weight itself is close to 5lbs, but it is extremely well padded and opens on the backside (against your back, for added security - same idea as the lowepro flipside). Large shoulder straps keep the bag comfortable on initial trials (i.e. around the house). If you google image search 'dakine sequence chop shop' you can get an idea of the look and color scheme. Regarding the fabric design, I can only describe it as MUCH more muted than it looks in the product shots. It is definitely not as busy looking as the marketing shots led me to believe (which I am happy with for the record).

The bag uses dakine's camera block insert, which is fairly rigid and can also be removed to take as a stand alone shoulder bag, which is nice (haven't tried it yet). It can easily hold the K20d with grip and 50-135 (hood extended), along with 4-6 lenses depending on size. I would have liked to receive more than the 2 short dividers (thankfully I have some kicking around). I think (without detailed testing) that the Kata 3n1-30 I have can hold slightly more (including more storage for other stuff), as it is a deeper storage area, but overall space is similar (I put the 3n1 up for sale as I found the sling bag doesn't really suit my shooting style).

There are straps to hold a tripod, side pockets for water bottles or other things, a top pocket that can hold a flash unit and a front flap pocket (that also has several zippered interior pockets) that will take a netbook (but not likely a full size laptop), along with other misc items. Not a ton of extra storage, but enough for most needs.

Overall I am very impressed, looking forward to putting the bag to use.
06-13-2010, 12:33 PM   #36
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Tenba messenger bag insert

Macgirl has some pictures and a review in this thread, but I thought I'd add my thoughts to this one.

It's about $20 from major online retailers, and fits very snugly in a small classic Timbuk2 messenger bag. According to other folks it also fits with room to spare in the medium messenger. I'm sure it would fit in other bags from other companies, it's stiff foam but still a little malleable so there is room to squish it in on the ends if the bag is just a little too small.

In my small Timbuk2 bag, the insert itself holds:

1 tele zoom
1 wide-normal zoom
1 dSLR body (attached to one of the zooms, stored vertically)
1 flash
1 P&S or 1 prime lens

The inner pockets of the bag are a little hard to access because of the tight fit, but they are still useful for holding infrequently accessed items, like batteries, flash cards, lens caps, etc.

The insert itself works really well, everything is easily accessible and with the bag closed it looks like an old, beat up messenger bag with little clue as to what's inside. The main disadvantage of messenger or sling systems, though, is that all the weight is distributed along one shoulder and the chest, which makes it uncomfortable for carrying heavy loads for a long period of time. So I'd say that this setup is good for heavy loads for short shoots (like event shooting) or lighter loads for long shoots (like sight seeing).

Some photos:

With insert, bag closed:



Bag open (you can see the insert pokes up a little over the edges):



With bag open, L to R: tele zoom, wide-normal zoom, P&S or small prime (under the 2nd flap), flash, extra squish room.

06-14-2010, 07:42 AM   #37
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In looking at all the reviews, while they go into great details about the compartments and what you can pack into a bag, very little is commented on regarding the straps and suspension. THis can be much more important than the other features.

I own several photo bags, ranging from the lowepro phototrekker AW to smaller hackpacks and shoulder bags, as well as several hiking backpacks.

The only photo back pack (i own) that I consider to have really adequate suspension is the Lowepro phototrekker AW, although it is not perfect.

What needs to be looked at in terms of suspension, is that the shoulder straps can be moved relitive to the body of the back pack. This allows adjustment for the length of your torso, keeping the waist belt at your waist/ hips, and the chest strap across your chest, and the padded portion of the shoulder on your shoulders.

Many smaller lighter packs have the shoulder straps sewn directly to the bag, with no adjustment, and if you drop th epack down so the waist belt is correctly placed the chest strap can be around your neck, and the padded portion of the shoulder straps is on your back not shoulders.

This can make the packs very uncomfortable indeed. My smallest photo back pack is like this and I have removed totally the waist belt because it is useless. I accept the weight is higher up on my shoulders but at least I am not strabgled by the chest strap.

The best hiking packs actually have the harness connect to an internal frame at the bottom of the pack,

For shoulder bags, one nive feature I have seen with Lowepro is the sculpted shoulder strap, which is curved and padded at the load area, and is much better for taking the weight of the bag. while staying in place and not digging into your shoulder.

For me, it is not as important as to exactly how you pack a bag, but how it carries the weight.

In terms of other things to look out for, I find bags set up to hold a computer, while good for getting your gear to an end distination (perhaps by flying) are not as good in the field. I don;t take a pc with me when I am out shooting, and the laptop slot is usually the first thing behind your back, causing the other heavy things in the bag to be further away from the suspension than needed when hiking. The same is true for tripod attachments, many of these are on the "front" of the bag and a tripod is too heavy a load to be 6-8 inches away from your back, a side mounted tripod close to your back is infinitely better.

Overall, bags that keep the weight close to your body are the best.
06-14-2010, 07:54 AM   #38
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Lowell, great comments overall - most of us I think aren't backpackers first, and don't know the first thing about what makes a good backpack (let alone trying to find a great one for photographic equipment!).

The dakine sequence I commented on above (wouldn't really call it a review, just an overview) is the first pack that I can tell is made with actual backpacking in mind. It has the additional shoulder strap adjustments you mentioned (if I understood right - on top of where the shoulder straps connect on top of the bag, there are 2 additional straps that allow me to adjust the strap length going over the top of my shoulders). The waist belt is substantial and though I won't likely use it often, I can tell definitely serves the correct purpose to properly secure the pack against your back. There are also side pockets and straps that can easily support a tripod (putting that weight at the back and far from your body has always seemed like too much weight too far from your back to me as well). Being a pack that opens on the flipside (into your back), all of the camera weight is closest to your body as well. The wall between your back and the gear is also semi rigid, so that nothing would stick into your back when full of gear. I haven't given it a good test yet, but am hoping to put it to some solid tests soon!

06-17-2010, 04:16 PM   #39
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Lowell - excellent points.

One that I consider to be most important for ANY backpack, whether for camera gear or hiking gear, is the ability to adjust the strapping system to place about 2/3 of the weight on your hips (iliac crests, to be precise), and 1/3 on the shoulders. The shoulder straps are mainly to stop the pack falling backwards, with most of the weight carried low down on the hips.

Also, when packing a backpack, it is best to pack heavier gear towards the TOP, not at the bottom.

So, the pack should sit pretty vertical, without pulling the torso backwards requiring constant contraction of the abdominal muscles to stay upright, and the weight should be pressing vertically downwards onto the "hips", with the shoulder straps keeping the whole thing snugged into the back and not "standing off" behind you.

Having done a LOT of backpacking over several decades, from army days to bushwalking, I think I can claim just a little experience in using backpacks. Back in army days, the Bergens we had were completely unsophisticated with little adjustment. Nowadays, we're spoiled for choice.
06-30-2010, 12:24 AM   #40
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Think Tank Airport Check In

Out of all the bags I've used, I believe I love Think Tank products the most. They're a bit more expensive, but they are also more awesome.

I wrote a detailed review on the Think Tank Airport Check In on my blog: lost boys studios - blog: REVIEW: Think Tank's Airport Check In Laptop Bag

Thanks!

Diego
08-13-2010, 09:50 AM   #41
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TTP StreetWalker HardDrive backpack

Hi everyone! I've just completed a user review for the Think Tank Photo StreetWalker HardDrive camera backpack.



The HardDrive is the largest of TTP's StreetWalker series (there's also the 'standard' and 'Pro' models) and is designed to take up to a 17" laptop as well as a full dSLR system.

Check out the full review on my blog here: People & other Strange Creatures: REVIEW: ThinkTankPhoto StreetWalker HardDrive

Cheers, Nick Clark
09-15-2010, 05:41 PM   #42
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Case Logic 201 & Lowepro 55AW

I just got my K-x with 300mm Zoom option about a week ago. I've asked around about top loading cases and gotten minimum responses. I'm just getting back into SLRs from P&S after 25 years and don't want to carry a huge bag with EVERYTHING in it like I did back in the day. So, something that has great protection and will hold the K-x with the DAL 300mm zoom and extra batteries is pretty much what I'm looking for.


First got to try the SLRC201 from Case Logic with Hammock Suspension System. It got great reviews at Amazon and looked just right. The pluses are that it has a nice suspension system that cradles the camera while making it handy to get out quickly. It has two side pockets that expand inward and can accommodate a small P&S like the Panasonic ZS-5 that I own. The front pocket will do the batteries and extra SD card nicely. The strap that came with it is a complete waste of time. The base of the case is solid plastic and completely water proof up to 2 inches. Build quality was a lot better than I expected for $25 - or $50 for that matter. I put a nice Swiss Army adjustable padded should strap on it and it worked well. Took it to a Soccer game when the grass was wet and the case worked as described - it stood up on its own and the bottom is impermeable to water. Fits devices: 6.9" x 6.3" x 4.7"

The problem is that the suspension system lets the end of the 300mm zoom rest on the bottom of the case. If it were 3/4in longer it would be perfect. Protection was good, construction was good, design is very nice, bottom is excellent, but its just a wee bit short to truly be a Zoom lens Holster camera case IMHO. If you have the 200mm DAL zoom it will probably be perfect for you. Its an 8 (would be a 9 if it were just that .75in longer).






So, next I tried a Lowepro Toploader Zoom 55AW. I own two Lowepro cases for my P&S cameras and am very happy with each. The AW designates their cases that are All Weather and have a hidden weather cover that can be pulled out and over the case to add to weather protection. I've found them to be a great asset when out with the kids and no rain gear in a sudden downpour.

The Toploader Zoom 55AW is supposed to be ~2.5 inches longer than the Caselogic which is good. The description at Amazon said that it fits a "DSLR with attached lens (up to 80-400mm f/4.5 or 100-400mm f/4.5); memory card, extra batteries or small accessories". So far so good. It also has the built-in All Weather AW Cover that tucks away when not in use and its a holster-style. So I ordered it from Amazon and it arrived today. Man am I disappointed. Very thin padding, nearly none on the bottom, the interior has NO dividers other than a small velcro pad that goes across the lower portion of the case and is slightly adjustable but the velcro is only about 1in wide so its go VERY limited ability to adjust at all. The front pocket is completely unpadded and the thinnest material I have encountered on any bag I have handled in many years. Frankly it feels like a $5 bag. The strap, as I am learning is the case for all of them, is worthless. It is deep enough for the Z-x with the 300mm Zoom attached but AGAIN the camera rests on the end of the lens with no suspension and the padding is terrible so it offers no real protection. This one is a genuine disappointment and rates no more than a 4 in my book for all these shortcomings. Lowepro should be ashamed of this one. The quality of my two belt pouches for my P&S cameras completely blow this thing away!

So, I'm back to looking for a toploader with GREAT PROTECTION that will handle the K-x with the DAL 300mm zoom attached. Any suggestions?

Last edited by Docrwm; 09-15-2010 at 06:24 PM.
09-22-2010, 10:47 PM   #43
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silica gel

Keeping a pack of silica gel in the camera bag can be a pretty dangerous idea. The silica gel can soak up moisture, and keep it. Which helps molds grow inside your lens. If you are concerned about moisture, I have been told that it is much better to individually wrap a lens with newspaper.
09-24-2010, 10:56 AM   #44
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dhruba Quote
Keeping a pack of silica gel in the camera bag can be a pretty dangerous idea. The silica gel can soak up moisture, and keep it. Which helps molds grow inside your lens. If you are concerned about moisture, I have been told that it is much better to individually wrap a lens with newspaper.
but newspaper also absorbs moisture and retains it, and is messy.
silica gell packs just have to be popped into the microwave for about a minute and they are good to go again, once a month is a good routine.

Dave
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09-25-2010, 12:37 PM   #45
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QuoteOriginally posted by dafiryde Quote
but newspaper also absorbs moisture and retains it, and is messy.
silica gell packs just have to be popped into the microwave for about a minute and they are good to go again, once a month is a good routine.

Dave
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Dafiryde

You are right. But you must have the discipline. It did happen to my dad's camera. He was in his 70s then. He forgot about the silica gel pouch, and did not use his camera during the wet season.
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