Gear Friday (The Late Edition) – On a Roll

Yes, I missed a few posts last week but in my defense, its been a buzy crazy January so far! So to make up for it, here’s a Gear Friday (the late edition) post on camera bags.

Think Tank Airport SecurityAt some point in your photographic career (or hobby) you’ll have more gear than you can easily carry in a traditional “over the shoulder” bag like the Domke F-2 (my personal favorite for over 30 years). And if you’re like most of us, this will leave you in a serious quandary over what size, style, material and brand bag to buy next.

There are literally hundreds of camera bags on the market today to choose from and thousands of online reviews to sort through before you can make an intelligent decision. The choices available are simply staggering and finding the “perfect” bag can become an obsession.

On a Roll
After laying out all my gear (including camera bodies, lenses, small strobes, battery packs, batteries, Pocket Wizards,  filters, gels, memory cards, snoots, gobos, umbrellas, tripods, and various cleaning stuff) in my office, it became clear that my aching back was never going to be able to lift and carry even half of this stuff without sending me back to the hospital.

So I turned to one of the best camera bag design teams in the world, the folks from Think Tank Photo. Even though I don’t fly much these days, their Airport Security V 2.0 Roller looked like just the thing to hold my gear and help me transport it without breaking my back.

Airport Security Packed

It’s pretty amazing just how much gear this bag will hold and how well balanced it feels when rolling. I’ve been able to pack all my on-location product photography gear (strobes, battery packs, batteries, Pocket Wizards, cords, umbrellas, snoots, etc.) or my usual Texas Landscape Safari kit (two bodies, four lenses, 1.4x extender, 8 different Singh-Ray filters, geo-tagging GPS, 2-way radios, first-aid kit, etc.), all in one very mobile roller.

Rolling Along
Best of all, the Think Tank Airport Security V 2.0 Roller fits perfectly in the rear of my other new roller, the 2010 Subaru Forester.

2010 Subaru Forester

The Forester is my first AWD (all-wheel drive) vehicle and the handling is unlike any other car or truck I’ve ever driven. It corners like a sports car with very stiff suspension but rides as smooth as can be. In fact, it rides better than my previous car, a 2003 Honda Accord.

But what makes the Forester really special is the rear cargo area and fold down rear seats. Unlike most SUV’s the Forester’s rear seat fold down completely flat, extending the space in the cargo area another 2-1/2 feet. For a “Strobist” this means you can store large light stands or even C-stands, booms, reflectors, soft boxes, flash heads and seamless backgrounds (53″) along with all your other photo gear, in a vehicle that gets 25 miles per gallon.

For a landscape photographer this means you can carry all your photo gear as well as a tent, sleeping bag, backpacks and supplies in an all-wheel drive vehicle with excellent ground clearance for those all-out adventures in far west Texas!

9 thoughts on “Gear Friday (The Late Edition) – On a Roll

  1. Pingback: Packing for an Industrial Shoot « Serious Amateur Photography

  2. Hey Jeff,
    I’ve been using that Think Tank bag for over two years and it’s a great piece of gear. One of the wheels did come apart once, but Think Tank sent me a replacement overnight. No complaints here.
    Now your Forester is beautiful, but somebody told me that changing the oil practically requires taking the engine out (!) He said he was only exagerating a bit….any truth to that?

    Andrew
    TheDiscerningPhotographer

    • Andrew,

      Subaru Boxer Engine

      I haven’t changed my own oil for decades. I used to be a fairly decent mechanic back in the days of V-8’s and four-barrel carburetors. I look at the Forester’s engine and honestly don’t recognize half of what I’m seeing. I’ll leave the maintenance to the specialists.

      Jeff

  3. I’ve used the Airport Security bag on a trip to San Diego a few months ago. I liked the bag and its ease of getting around except for the fact that I didn’t like that my computer, in the outside sleeve, seemed to be a magnet for everyone that seemed to want to stumble over my bag. It also was a pretty tight squeeze getting it in the overhead rack. It is a good bag and you can get lots of gear into it and it is easy to move that gear around.
    It is just that it seems in airports everyone is not paying much attention to anything except which gate they need to be at. I had one person actually trip over my bag while I was walking, they apparently just didn’t see the bag.
    I really like the Airport bag except not at the airport. I opted to carry a back pack with space for my computer on my current trip to Europe.
    Nice review. Good info about the body bags, I’ve never heard of them before.

    • William,

      Thanks for reading. I’ve used rollers for business travel for over 30 years but never considered one as a camera bag until my back went out on me. Much easier on the lower back than a shoulder bag. I agree about the laptop case being a magnet so I always store mine inside the roller.

      Jeff

  4. Thanks for the answers. You like the 28 EF prime? I haven’t found anyone else who has an opinion on it (I’m sure they’re out there, I just haven’t found any). I assume you’d use the 24 – 105 if you were shooting above f/4?

    • Chris,

      It depends upon what I’m shooting. The 28 f/1.8 is a very nice lens for portrait work but not quite as sharp as the 24-105 for product photography.

      Jeff

  5. Okay, great post, thank you so much, questions:

    1. There seems to be some kind of cover over the 5DII body; what would that be?
    2. You have one prime (the 28, my favorite prime length). Which prime is that (as Canon does not make an ‘L’ prime in that length, I am curious which one you use).
    3. I assume this bag fits into an overhead compartment?

    • Hey Chris,

      I store my camera bodies in BodyBags by LensCoat. They thin neoprene pouches designed to protect the body during transport. The 28mm lens is Canon’s EF 28mm f/1.8 USM. I use this lens for wide-angle, low light shooting. Yes, the Airport Security bag is designed to fit in the overhead of most “major” carriers but it won’t fit in some of the smaller, regional carriers’ jets. Think Tank has two other sizes that are smaller to fit there.

      Jeff

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