by Tim Fok | 21st November 2016
“My name is Tim Fok, and I’m a bag-aholic”, says every filmmaker ever (bar the quirky second name). My vice is camera bags that don’t look like camera bags, and after seeing the latest release of the Manfrotto Windsor line, I was inspired to make a list of my favourite trendy camera bags. You’ve all seen it before: the guy that walks around with the Lowepro bag strapped around his waist, Berghaus and/or NorthFace-clad with the Merrells. Despite my dabble in NorthFace jackets, I’m not that guy. I like to be a little more discreet (wannabe trendy), and my casual kit bags of choice usually revolve around the not so obvious camera bags (definitely a wannabe trendy). Aside from trying to look cool, subtle kit bags can be great for security: they don’t necessarily scream “Take me, I’m full of expensive camera gear.” But let’s cut the faff. Here’s a list of camera bags you may like, that don’t look like camera bags. Manfrotto Windsor The Windsor collection is quite an admirable venture for Manfrotto. Their bold red branding usually finds its way into their bag designs, ending up with something quite garish and reeking of that camera-carrying device stench that unscrupulous types flock towards. The Windsor line is something different, featuring a subtle two tone grey with brown and tartan detailing. You can guarantee function with Manfrotto bags, and the Windsor line is no exception. The Messenger bags feature an easy access zipper to the divided compartment, and the larger Reporter bag sports stylish leather loops that allow for carrying a tripod. The same straps can be found on the backpack version, which is based on a double compartment design for both personal items and camera kit. A side zipper ensures easy access to kit, and the reverse side offers a pocket suitable for your water bottle. All Windsor bags have shock absorbing padded divider compartments made of water repellent materials, and can carry laptops of varying sizes. Manfrotto Windsor Messenger Bag Small Manfrotto Windsor Messenger Bag Medium Manfrotto Windsor Reporter Manfrotto Windsor Laptop Backpack Tenba Messengers Tenba offers a host of Messenger bags, ranging from the more obvious camera-style DNA line (which we’ll skip), to the inconspicuous single leather-look flap of the Switch line. In between these two sits the Cooper range: functional Messengers with a flap-over, single-zip design. There are 4 sizes, ranging from small single mirrorless setups to decent sized DSLR setup and 15” laptop. The padded dividers in all Coopers can be completely removed for full customisation, and the material on the back of the larger versions is useful for connecting up with roller bags when travelling. The Switch series are smaller with a choice of two sizes – the Switch 8 or Switch 10. These are designed primarily for casual mirrorless shooters with a tablet, but not a laptop. The fold down front pocket of the Switch bags is very useful for storing personal items. Unique to the Switch line is the ability to ‘Switch out’ (figure the name) the front flap to a variety of colours and designs. Both Tenba lines feature water repellant materials of differing sorts, as well as complete fold over WeatherWraps for full rain protection. Tenba Cooper 8 Tenba Cooper 15 Tenba Switch 8 Tenba Switch 10 Think Tank Retrospective Aside from producing great rollers, Think Tank is known for their vast array of Messenger bags. Looking at them from a camera bag that-doesn’t-look-like a camera bag perspective, the Retrospective Line is the one you’d pick. Although their established look would probably now be a tell tale sign of a camera bag for anyone with a keen eye, no camera bag article would be the same without a mention to the classic Retrospectives. Now, there’s quite a few, depending on the camera and lens configuration, and all sport a similar vintage look. There’s even a leather series. I own the Lens Changer, which I find to be incredibly useful. It has a separate compartment for each lens, with an organizer pocket at the rear. Silent options for the Velcro points are a great touch for ultimate discretion. The full Retrospective line offers more conventional features for a Messenger bag. The single digit versions are designed for smaller DSLR and mirrorless setups, while double digits bags get your larger lens compatibility and laptop compartments. Think Tank Retrospective 5 Think Tank Retrospective 20 Think Thank Retrospective 50 Think Tank Retrospective Changer Peak Design A recent successful Kickstarter campaign, Peak Design offers a complete range of bags from Messengers, to backpacks to totes. Peak Design offers a variety of colours per bag style, with a design that screams innovation. These will look great with your fixed gear bike in the Bay area. Modern in design, they give off that traveller feel with metal detailing and strong nylon straps. They all feature water repellant coating, and are packed full of really clever little details, like the neat magnetic clasp found across the top of the Tote bag, or the side attachment plate for quick stow of your camera. The triangular flexi dividers are genius, offering an array of options for stacking, storing and separating gear. Peak Design Everyday Messenger Peak Design Everyday Tote Peak Design Everyday Backpack Peak Design Everyday Sling ONA Bags Whilst ONA bags won’t touch Peak Design in terms of innovation, they are still certainly worth taking a good look at. ONA produces a range of backpacks, briefcases, messenger bags and handbags of the highest quality. Simple in function, they include padded compartments for your kit, and larger options include laptop and tablet storage also. I own the Brixton, and love the form factor and simple design. They’re surprisingly roomy with large front pockets, and the quick release clasps are useful on the flap. The magnetic flat pocket at the rear is great for travel documents. The handbag line is particularly interesting, never has a stylish leather bag looked so practical in the Palma. ONA Brixton Messenger ONA The Palma ONA The Leather Clifton ONA Camps Bay Backpack There are of course hundreds of bags out there, each serving a different purpose. If you have any suggestions of your own to add to the list of camera-bags-that-don’t-look-like-camera-bags, feel free to comment below!Read more
by Tim Fok | 21st December 2015
In conclusion of our top 10 must-have gear posts we look at Kit Bag Stocking Fillers. Christmas is literally days away but there’s still time to cram in a few extra presents in those stockings! Check out our favourite list of sub $100 for your kit bag. #1 AA Battery Pack Holder $4.95 AA batteries are still pretty popular in gear, particularly sound kit and compact lighting. Their universal nature means there’s rarely a shoot location where AAs aren’t available to purchase close by. Battery holders like this not only help keep your bag organised, but it can help catalogue AAs in accordance to how much charge level they have. These are handy because they come in different colours and sizes. The different colours means you can buy a variety that can signify the charge levels left in a particular set. Fresh ones goes in a green holder, barely used in an yellow and so on.. #2 Think Tank Red Whips $7.95 If there were a candidate for my favourite piece of kit from all three articles, these may be it. Think Tank Red Whips have become an integral part of my kit bag. Billed mainly as cable organisers to which they do a fantastic job, but highly useful in a number of scenarios. A simply bungee chord and toggle tensioner ensure you can quickly coil and secure your cables, being bright red they are hard to lose also. This is a pack of 10 but go nuts, once you start dividing them up among your kit you’ll want more and more. #3 Tenba Messenger Wrap $13.95 Ever have that odd shaped bit of kit that you really struggle to fit properly in any of your bags? Or maybe you travel a lot and try to squeeze precious bits of kit into your personal clothes bag without padded dividers. The Tenba Messenger Wraps solve your un-protected gear woes. Quite simply their big padded clothes with velcro on each corner, wrap your gear up and you’re good to go, genius. They come in 3 sizes – 10″,16″ and 22″ and a selection of colours accommodating small items like a mic shock mount up to a Macbook Pro. #4 Cocoon Grid It This clever organiser comes in varying shapes and sizes. It’s an elastic grid which neatly presents your accessories. You can arrange each Grid It in a number of different ways according to your preference. I have one for my card readers and another for laptop accessories. #5 Pixel Pocket Rocket $16.75 No better way to keep cards organised on the go than the Pixel Pocket Rockets by Think Tank. They cater for a combination of SD, Micro SD, Compact Flash and CFast cards, simply pick the one that suits you best. They have a belt clip to ensure the wallet stays with you at all times and a clear window for each card so that you can quickly identity them. I use a simple and popular technique of having cards facing out for clean, and reversed for ones with full data on. #6 Cable Roll Up The cable roll up is a great way to organise your cables, whether they’re HDMIs and BNCs for you camera kit or USB3s and Thunderbolt adaptors for your laptop. It’s useful for pens and other small accessories like lens cleaners too. #7 Think Tank Battery Holder $17.75 These have been around for a while, I’ve used them since shooting video on the 5D back in the day. Originally listed for Canon DSLR LP-E6s, but I’ve found they loosely fit Sony Alpha batteries too. These are a great way to store your batteries, airport security will be happy each terminal is isolated from another and you can easily install a forwards/backwards facing procedure for full and empties. #8 Think Tank Cable Management 10 Think Tank clearly invest a lot of time into making useful kit bag accessories, here’s another one of their products. The Cable Management bags are very useful, clear front for easily recognizing accessories inside and a nice little pouch on the back for a business card. I keep my lav mic kit in the Cable Management 10 and use the business card holder for storing spare batteries. #9 Tenba Toolbox 4 Another accessories bag worth checking out is the Tenba Toolbox 4. Slightly more substantial than the Cable Management bags with a more rigged side and padded inserts. It also has a clear lid and has a set of elastic loops on one side for securing bits and bobs. #10 Tenba BYOB 7 Camera Insert #29.95 Our final item is the Tenba BYOB camera insert. This is the perfect accessory for keeping your kit organised in a bag without dividers. Whether you’re travelling and want to keep it all in a personal traveller or just like your more fashionable bags! Another great use is when paired with the Packlite Shoulder bags, these are fantastic for travel and getting over the headache of paying for an extra bag as carry on. Check out our article here for more on that. The BYOB range come in a variety of sizes, each present a healthy selection of divider sections, clear zip pockets, business card holders and loops for lanyard accessories. That’s it for our Top 10 lists for Camera, Tools and Kit bags.If you haven’t already check out Part 1 on Camera Kit and Part 2 on Tools. I hope you’ve enjoyed them and have a great festive period!Read more
by Tim Fok | 9th May 2015
Tenba has designed a new line of shoulder bags that fold into literally no space or weight. The Packlite line comes in 4 sizes and coupled with their BYOB camera inserts offer a highly portable over-the-shoulder system. I found myself quietly applauding the above video as I watched the Packlite unveil. I have the very same dilemma every time I travel for work. Every ounce counts when packing your gear for abroad shoots, and it often means compromising on common workflows you’d undergo on home soil. As a self-sufficient shooter a shoulder bag is a necessity for carrying extra lenses, batteries etc. But it’s one thing that can be a pain to pack, adding size and weight to your luggage. The Tenba Packlite solves this problem, a shoulder bag folding down into a palm sized package; it’s reminiscent of those ponchos you buy at theme parks to stay dry on water rides. But how does something so lightweight keep your gear protected and safe? Well, the Packlite does need an insert in order to work. Tenba make a line of BYOB camera inserts for each of the 4 sized Packlite bags. Some may think this defeats the purpose of a collapsible bag, but providing you’re doubling up the duty of your inserts in your main bag (by slotting in a Tenda BYOB insert) you’re saving a lot of space. Tenba Packlites are made of water repellent nylon and feature self-healing YKK zippers. The 4 sizes can carry anything from a mirrorless camera plus a couple of lenses up to a full sized DSLR with spare 70-200mm lens; there’s even a cold cooler insert if you want to switch your camera gear out for some beers. Tenba Packlite and BYOB inserts are sold separately; you’d need to buy both to get the complete package. For those interested I’ve paired the below items into their 4 respective sizes. Packlite 7. Bag | Insert. Mirrorless Camera plus 2-3 lenses Packlite 9. Bag | Insert. Mirrorless or compact DSLR plus 2-3 lenses Packlite 10. Bag | Insert. Mirrorless or DSLR plus 2-3 lenses Packlite 13. Bag | Insert. DSLR plus 2-3 lenses inc. 70-200mm size.Read more
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