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Messages - curby

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Software & Accessories / Re: Easy-access photo backpack?
« on: December 12, 2014, 12:21:58 PM »
Wow, the wolfskin looks like it's very well designed.  A few concerns: (1) they don't seem to sell in the US, so buying it and getting support for it (e.g. warranty repairs) may be difficult (2) it's bigger than what I need (3) there's nothing stopping the zipper from opening too far when all you need is side access.

Thanks for the insights, barracuda!

Software & Accessories / Re: Easy-access photo backpack?
« on: December 12, 2014, 02:53:59 AM »
I know the OP is really long, but I mention them there.  ;D

What I really need is something like a "Professional Mini" or a "Panorama Pro": something in between when it comes to size, with the features of the Pro.  Judging from the features of the Panorama, it was designed to fit a price point (whereas the Professional was designed to fit a need).

Software & Accessories / Re: Easy-access photo backpack?
« on: December 12, 2014, 12:58:08 AM »
One big difference is that having the waistbelt snugly fastened will make step two much more difficult, esp. when you aren't wearing slick modern technical fabrics.  You could loosen the belt, but that's adding another step.

As a counterpoint, if you have a backpack, take the right shoulder strap off, and rotate the bag to front while standing, the bag will hang diagonally, not horizontally with the side access flap facing up. You could use your hand to hold it horizontal, but then you don't have two hands to manage the zipper/flap/lens change.  As neuro pointed out, back panel access gives you a table to work on. 

For those that use backpanel backpacks like the Flipside, can you give some thoughts on how the backpanel design behaves in different situations?  For example, do you keep the waistbelt snug to help take the weight off your shoulders, and loosen it only when rotating it to front??  Do you keep it loose to make it easier to rotate it without adjusting?  Would rotating it to front in loose or higher friction clothing be the snagfest I'm afraid of?  Any other thoughts or considerations for making that process smoother and quicker?  Thanks!

Software & Accessories / Re: Easy-access photo backpack?
« on: December 11, 2014, 07:02:14 PM »
The Flipsides look intriguing if backpanel access is sufficient, but at that point I'd probably throw the Gura Uinta and Fstop Guru into the mix as well.  From the Lowepros, the Flipside Sport 20L and Flipside 400 look the most like things I'd want to consider (with the 20L being possibly too small given my non-photo carry needs).

My main concern, and the reason I've been exploring side-access bags, is that backpanel access will be too slow.   That said, when I lay out the steps it would take to open each, they're about the same.  We've got this for side access:

  • Take off right shoulder strap (left hand can unbuckle waist strap if attached)
  • Swing bag to front of body (while wearing left shoulder strap)
  • Unzip side access zipper
  • Lift flap
  • Access camera or lens

And this for back access:

  • Take off right shoulder strap
  • Rotate bag to front of body (while taking off and using left shoulder strap as a pull handle)
  • Unzip back panel zipper
  • Lift flap
  • Access camera or lens

One big difference is that having the waistbelt snugly fastened will make step two much more difficult, esp. when you aren't wearing slick modern technical fabrics.  You could loosen the belt, but that's adding another step.

Anyone out there use both rearpanel access and side access camera backpacks? After getting familiar with both, what are your impressions of the relative speeds of each design?

Software & Accessories / Easy-access photo backpack?
« on: December 11, 2014, 05:08:25 AM »
tl;dr You know that crazy guy who's always going on about easy access to bag contents? The yahoo who wants things so organized that he can quickly grab specific items with one hand without looking? Well, he needs a camera backpack along these lines for travel/wildlife photography.

First, some background:

What I Carry

I've got a Canon 70D, 10-18/4.5+, 17-55/2.8, 35/2, and 70-200/4. Planning ahead, I'm likely getting the 100-400 MkII within a year. I'd also love to get a dedicated macro lens for food and product photography (the 35mm f/2 is currently doing those duties albeit at very wide angles).

How I Carry

I stuff everything inside a Think Tank Photo Retrospective 10 (Retro10), which in turn is stuffed into a Camelbak Urban Assault XL (UAXL) for travel. When I get to where I'm going (e.g. hotel), I unload everything. Then, each outing I take the 2ish lenses I think will be most useful inside the Retro10, leaving the rest in the room. The Retro10 has a Peak Design Capture Camera Clip on its strap. For sizing, I'm roughly 6', 150 lbs.

Why That?

The UAXL has extra storage for things like my laptop, and has two straps for balanced carry for long treks through an airport terminal. The Retro10 can be slung across the body, allowing for quick access to gear while out and about. The Capture Clip acts as a third hand to help during lens changes or other times I need both hands.

Why I Need a Change

On a recent trip to Hong Kong, we visited Kam Shan Country Park. It was amazing, and we got within monkey-bite distance of feral monkeys, which is always exhilarating. Unfortunately, between all the public transportation and walking to get there and the hiking through the park itself, the single strap of the Retro10 and all the gear inside made my shoulder seriously ache by the end of the day.

Not all trips will require so much walking and hiking but for those that do, I want a two-strap solution that can more comfortably manage the weight. Add to that my planned acquisition of the 100-400 next year, which weighs as much as all my current lenses combined.

What I'm Looking For

One backpack, ~25L capacity, ~4lbs weight, that can replace both the UAXL and Retro10. This new bag can ignore the laptop support requirement (I have another place to carry it).

Top priorities include easy access to camera and lenses without taking off the backpack, side/front tripod carry options, external access to accessories like filters, memory cards, etc., shoulder straps under 3" wide (for the Capture Clip), rainfly option, ipad/tablet carry option.

Other desired features include laptop compartment with dedicated, direct-access zipper, urban or hiking pack styling, and backpacking pretensions (internal frame/stays, well-designed harness, etc.).

Of course, there's the obvious stuff like light-colored interior materials, subtle branding, basic water resistance without a rainfly, high quality construction, etc.

What May Work

Fstop Kenti - Great size (might actually be a bit small for my frame), rare double side-entry feature, this is currently the frontrunner.

MindShift Professional - Way bigger than what I need, but chock full of external organization options, beltpack that can support any lens of mine mounted onto the body, etc. Oh how I wish this was smaller.

MindShift Panorama - Oh how I wish this cost $100 more and had the features of the Professional model. The size is about right (though the beltpack will be tight), but it lacks a lot of external pockets, lashdown areas, and backpanel access.

What Won't Work

Anything by Clik Elite - They have some side-entry bags, but the side openings only seem to support a camera and not multiple additional lenses. And I either have to choose a huge bag to get the hiking style I'm looking for, or ugly and obvious "camera here" styling to get the size I'm looking for.

Anything by Gura Gear - Bataflae series is only accessible by taking off the bag and accessing it from the front (the side farthest from the body when worn). I really wanted to love the Uinta, but lack of side entry slows down access to gear.

Anything by Think Tank - I love their shoulder bags but I haven't found any backpacks with the features I'm looking for.

Next Steps

I've yet to look at Lowepros, which I know have some side-entry options. I also need to look at the Manfrotto bags, since they absorbed Kata's stuff which also had side entry options.

I'm sure a lot of folks here have great ideas, or noticed that I might have overlooked something with the brands listed above. Or maybe I need to think outside the box and carry my gear in a totally different way. Or maybe you swear by rear-panel access, taking off both shoulder straps and rotating the bag around so you can use the back of the backpack like a table.

Thanks for reading through my ebook.  :P Any suggestions would be most welcome. Thanks in advance!

Are you sure camerasize.com is color-correcting the images they use? 


Why would you buy from Amazon and not directly from Adorama or B&H?

(1) This quarter, some major credit cards are giving 5% cash back for Amazon purchases.  That's $100 off the lens.  (Admittedly, this only helps if you aren't also paying sales tax.  I don't need to pay sales tax for Amazon purchases.)

(2) Amazon isn't any less direct than Adorama and B&H.  It's not like Amazon buys from B&H and then sells to you.

Ultimately, do what you think is right for you.  8)

Be interesting to see how they compare to Marumi filters?

Here's a few comparison charts that cover TIFFEN, HOYA and B+W to give you a frame of reference! :)

Spec sheets make for good marketing materials, but the proof is in the pudding of shooting through the filter.  Color cast and consistency of the NDs?  Flare resistance?  Build quality (it's more than just materials)?  Thread quality, resistance to cross-threading and thread wear/damage?  Resistance to polarizer delamination and other environmental damage?

I'm intrigued and I'm not saying that these filters necessarily lack in those respects.  But those qualities haven't been proven either.  That only comes with direct comparisons of performance against competitors and experience over time.

No circ. polarizer?
No variable ND?

To be fair, some of these are stretch goals, and you can't make everything at once.  It's a new line of filters, and I'm sure that if they're as good as claimed, people will buy them.  If people buy them, they'll be able to broaden their offerings.

I've been looking at those MTF charts. Have I misunderstood them

I'd recommend a read of: http://learn.usa.canon.com/resources/articles/2013/reading_MTF_charts.shtml and follow http://www.lensrentals.com/blog if you care about optical geekery

What I'm seeing:

1) Astigmatism with extenders: less at the wide end, more at the tele
2) Worse contrast and resolution with extenders
3) Can we trust the blue lines at the bottom?  That combo can't always hit the f/8 aperture that the lines supposedly represent.

Software & Accessories / Re: Next on the shopping list: filters
« on: May 05, 2014, 08:34:56 PM »
@brad-man, that's true, but I *think* the single coating is anti-reflective as well.  They seem to brag more about the hydrophobic and protective qualities when talking about MRC. 

Software & Accessories / Next on the shopping list: filters
« on: May 05, 2014, 05:25:02 PM »
I'm interested in a 10-stop ND and a circular polarizer for a trip to Alaska later on this month.  I'm looking to flex my landscape muscles a bit, and figure the ND would be for blurring clouds and water for long exposures; the polarizer for blue skies and clear water options. 

My lenses all have 67-77mm filter threads, so I'm thinking of getting 77mm filters with adapters as necessary.

So I'm thinking of the B+W 1000x MRC and the Kaesemann Polarizer MRC, but my budget's a bit tight.  Two questions:

1) How useful is the MRC coating, if I'm only occasionally using the filters?  Is it important optically, or more for easier cleaning and resistance to gunk?  Adding MRC to the ND adds roughly 50% to the non-MRC price, so that's pretty significant.

2) If I were to only get one of these, which would you recommend, and why?  I'm leaning towards the ND filter, to have fun with things like waterfalls, but a polarizer is one of the things that you can't replicate or fake with ISO/shutter/aperture/Photoshop tricks.


Software & Accessories / Re: Convertible tripod/monopod options
« on: April 24, 2014, 07:03:45 PM »
Alright, order is in ... for a Sirui N-2204X and K-20X head.

I decided to go 4-segment, not just for stability, but also for setup speed.  I might not be able to unlock four adjacent locking collars with a single motion, but three should be fine.  Also, it's three fewer collars when the segments are extended.

I decided to go with Sirui because I found this combo for $410 shipped, which is close enough to my budget for a complete system.  Also, the K-20X is remarkably well-reviewed and well-liked for its price and size category.  Many people buy the head by itself, so it isn't cheap "shovelware" added to tripods just to make them kits.  I'll compare it to my Q10 and see how to pair things up.

The toggle-style leg angle locks seem easier to use than the pull-out/push-in locks used by many others. 

I'm not too thrilled with how the split column works (e.g. no hook when running short-column-only) and the exposed hook may be a snag hazard, but we'll see what happens.  Thanks again for all the ideas!

Software & Accessories / Re: Protecting foam on monopod / tripod legs
« on: April 23, 2014, 07:03:46 PM »
Sorry if I wasn't clear.  I meant that you'd strip away any disintegrating foam that's already there, and apply the racquet handle wrap to the bare al/cf/etc.

Software & Accessories / Re: Protecting foam on monopod / tripod legs
« on: April 23, 2014, 11:53:13 AM »
Something tells me that if it starts to disintegrate, you might be better off using something else instead of delaying the inevitable.  I bet if you took your legs to a tennis shop, they could wrap them in the fantastically grippy, comfortable, and durable wrap they use for tennis racquets (or sell you some if you wanted to DIY it).


Software & Accessories / Re: Convertible tripod/monopod options
« on: April 20, 2014, 05:53:22 AM »
Ok, it's between these two:



They're very nearly twins, but the Oben has retractable spikes and includes a short center column, whereas the MeFoto is slightly lighter and smaller (folded).

I know the 5-segment design will be less stable, but I haven't been able to find a compelling 4-segment model in this price range, and this should help with the folded size.

Any thoughts on one over the other?  Thanks again!

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