Posted By: Rachid
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Categories: Gear • General • Photography
Avery is less picky about which pack I use. All he knows is if a pack comes out there is a good chance that he is headed into the mountains for an adventure!
My wife walked into my office the other day as I was packing for a shoot. I was in the midst of picking out which camera bag I was going to use and I had seven bags strewn out on the floor. She looked around, laughed and said, “Holy crap Rachid, do you really need all of those bags?! Seems a little excessive don’t you think?!” At first glance it was pretty funny but I began explaining to her why I had all of the different bags and what each one was for. After expressing my reasoning she seemed a bit more receptive to the whole situation and how important having the right bag for a job can be. That scenario got me thinking and, in turn, prompted this short article on the subject.
There are lots of important elements to photography: the camera, the lens, the location, the subject and the light. One thing I find equally important is the bag I use to transport everything. Every shoot is different, requiring a diverse amount of gear. Thus, the bag I choose to carry and organize everything has to be nothing short of awesome.
In my world I am constantly traveling, hiking, climbing or biking my way to different shooting locations and I need a bag best suited for the occasion. Sometimes I am just carrying one camera body and a couple lenses. Other times I am carrying multiple camera bodies, multiple lenses, flash setups and possibly even a video rig.
The common ritual before every shoot I undertake is to layout all of the necessary gear I anticipate needing. Aside from camera gear this also includes personal gear. Will I be traveling into the backcountry or the frontcountry? How much water will I need? Am I bringing food and, if so, how much? How many clothing layers will I need? Once I’ve got that figured out it’s time to pick the bag that is best suited for the job. My main goal is to pick the bag that will be just large enough to carry and organize everything without any wasted/empty space. That means things will stay snug on my back. If things are loose and slopping around, I will surely be miserable and not be able to focus on the task at hand, which is making killer content.
Personally I trust Lowepro with all of my camera bag needs. Over the years they have continually produced one great product after another and now I have been lucky enough to start giving my personal input into the future of their camera bag lines. One of the biggest leaps forward they have made is taking traditional backpack designs and integrating them into successful camera packs. This has been accomplished by taking the design of a pack that I would take on a normal day out and integrating key carrying features for all of the necessary camera gear. These packs, like the Photo Sport line, the Flipside Sport line and the Rover Pro line are, in short, game changers.
Additionally, the traditional camera bags still have their place. Traveling in planes, trains and automobiles presents a whole new set of problems. Many of these modes of transportation involve people other than myself handling my luggage. In these scenarios I need a bag that is padded and protected enough to withstand the shock of a disgruntled airline employee hurling one bag after the next onto the conveyer belt. For these circumstances I rely on the Pro Roller x200 and the Vertex 200 AW.
Here is a quick breakdown of the bags I own and what I use them for:
Lowepro Photo Sport AW – This bag is great for one day scenarios carrying one camera body, an extra lens, a small set of filters, cable release, a tripod and personal gear
Lowepro Photo Sport Pro – This bag is great for one day scenarios carrying one pro-sized camera body (Nikon D4), an extra lens, a small set of filters, cable release, a tripod and personal gear
Lowepro Rover Pro 45L AW – This is my bag of choice for one day or multiday scenarios requiring a lot of camera and personal gear. This includes short overnight backpacking trips.
Lowerpro Flipside Sport 20L AW – This is my bag of choice for one day scenarios where I need a lot of camera gear but limited personal gear. I love this bag for shooting commercial ski resort work.
Lowepro Pro Roller x200 – This is the ultimate bag for traveling in planes, trains and automobiles. It has a ton of room for gear, extra padding to keep everything safe and meets airline carry-on bag size requirements.
Lowepro Vertex 200 AW – This is my go to bag for traveling if I need the convenience of a backpack rather than a traditional roller bag like the Pro Roller x200.
Lowepro Flipside 400 AW – I still use this bag, just not as often as I used to. The Flipside Sport 20L has put this old workhorse on the back burner. I do however still find myself filling it up as an extra bag for my assistant for certain commercial assignments.
The scenario you are shooting will always dictate which bag is right for you. In my world, having a good selection of camera bags is essential to my success on a shoot. Every bag is different and has its advantages for certain situations. Which bag or bags are right for you? Well, only you can be the judge of that. Look at your gear and imagine where in the world your photography will take you and what you will need to make that killer content of your own. Therein lies the answer. Happy shooting!
Last fall I got a call from Lowepro asking me to shoot a commercial for a new bag they were introducing, The Photo Sport Pro 30L AW. I said "sure no problem, I can shoot that for you." They said "no, you don't have to shoot anything, we want you to be the featured photographer that introduces the bag." "Oh", I said, "well I better get a shave and haircut, ha! " Well, the bag released last week and the video above is my "Testimonial Video" on the bag. A big thanks to Josh Semolik, Canyon Florey and Lite Pro Gear for all of the great shots and making me look as good as I can. Also a big thanks to Cat Keenan and Nina for coming out and modeling for the shoots! You guys rock!
Oh, and the Photo Sport Pro is sick! Get yours at www.lowepro.com/photosport
Reno Skyline - Nikon D800e, Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 lens - ISO 100 f/8 6 seconds
The Nikon D800e is my newest camera and it is a game changer. The resolution is absolutely incredible and is comparable to a much more expensive medium format body. Image quality and resolution was not available at this price point until now. For photographers looking to make extremely large prints and shoot high end commercial work this is the camera for you. That said, if you don’t plan on using the files for those purposes I would recommend saving some cash, getting a camera with less resolution and putting that money into lenses or some other purchase you have been holding back on. The files are much larger than most people have worked with in the past and you need a computer that can keep up as well.
Also, if you are considering this camera for purchase do your homework on the D800 vs the D800e. The D800e differs from the D800 in that it lacks the anti-aliasing filter found on all DSLRs. By removing the filter your images will be slightly sharper. The negative effect this has on images is the possibility of color moiré appearing. Moiré can be dealt with in a number of ways but it is worth researching the subject thoroughly before you commit to buying the D800e. For me the benefits outweigh the negatives, hence why I chose the D800e.
For my test of the D800e I took it up to photograph some stock of the Reno skyline near my home in Lake Tahoe. Arriving just before dusk I set up my shot and waited for the city lights to turn on. Once the light was right I knocked off a couple frames. When I reviewed them I was blown away. Hitting the zoom button I scrutinized the smallest areas of each image and the detail was astounding! Below is a 100% crop of the image above. Detail and sharpness of this quality has never been available in a DSLR, until now.
The detail in the files is pretty insane. Wow!
For me I will now shoot all of my landscape and commercial work (that doesn’t require a high shutter speed) with the D800e until Nikon raises the bar again on their next generation of cameras (yet to be released). I am also really excited to start playing around with the video features on the D800e. One of the video features I’m most excited about is the ability to monitor sound directly through the camera. That is going to make collecting and monitoring good sound a much easier task in the field.
As with any new gizmo, the camera is only as good and creative as its operator. Always remember to make sure you understand the technical aspects of photography but not rely on them solely. Creativity will always be king in the photo world no matter what fancy gadgets come out. However, if you can combine your creativity with a tool like the D800e the results will be astounding! Happy shooting!
Northern Lights above our camp at Yurtville - Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada
I have always wanted to explore the Yukon Territory in Northern Canada. The Yukon is about the same size as California but only contains 34,000 people. From abundant wildlife to dramatic landscapes to the Northern Lights, it is a photographer’s paradise. Several months ago I was lucky enough to receive an assignment that would take me into the heart of this amazing landscape.
One thing I didn’t know existed in the Yukon was world-class mountain biking. My assignment was to team up with my good friend and fellow Novus Select photographer Trevor Clark for a 10 day video project documenting the lesser known mountain bike trails throughout the territory.
As Trevor and I began planning our trip, the first thing on both of our minds was how we were going to carry all of the photography and video equipment while logging long days on mountain bikes in extremely remote locations.
We let the good folks over at Lowepro know about our dilemma and a couple days later received the not-yet-released Rover Pro 45L AW and the Rover Pro 35L AW. As soon as we saw the packs it was clear that they were going to be absolutely perfect.
The larger Rover Pro 45L AW that I carried
I carried the larger Rover Pro 45L AW and Trevor took the Rover Pro 35L AW. Before leaving, we laid out all the photo and video gear we would be carrying (about 50 pounds apiece) to see if we could get everything in the packs. Not only did we have no problem getting the gear to fit, but there was room to spare for the necessary outdoor gear we would require.
Here is the breakdown.
Camera/video gear that went into my pack (the Rover Pro 45L AW):
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8
Nikon 50mm f/1.8
Tokina 12-24mm f/4
Nikon TC-14E-II Teleconverter
Genius 8 stop ND filter
Nikon Circular Polarizing Filter
Dynamic Perception Stage One Motorized Slider/Dolly System
2 Flashpoint Carbon Tripods
2 Go Pro Cameras and Mounts
Zacuto Z Finder Loop
Manfrotto 55 Mag Photo-Movie Head
Sennheiser MKE 400 External Mic
San Disk Extreme Cards
LowePro Memory Wallet 20
Two Liter Camelbak Bladder
2 Tahoe Trail Bars
First Ascent down jacket
REI Event Rain Shell
Spare Inner Tube
Innertube Patch Kit
Water Purification Tablets
All of this gear made for a heavy load but thankfully Lowepro took this into consideration and equipped the bag with a trampoline-style suspension system that performed beautifully. Having 50+ pounds strapped to my back during rough 3,500 foot mountain bike descents was a true testament to this bag’s capability. The bag handled all of the weight with ease and the pack always felt snug on my back.
Aside from the way the pack fit, one of the things I really loved about the Rover Pro was the ability to access all of my camera gear from the front hatch. This meant not having to unpack and repack all of my outdoor gear every time I wanted to set up a shot. That, in conjunction with the customizable modular compartment system, created key timesaving elements that allowed me to move faster and maximize my shooting.
The Rover Pro was an essential part of our Yukon mountain bike film project. It carried all of our gear comfortably and reliably. In the end it did what a great bag is supposed to do – let us focus on making killer content!
Make sure and check out Trevor Clark’s review on his Rover Pro 35L AW on his blog and take a spin through his website to enjoy all of his fantastic work!
For the full skinny and specs on the new Rover Pro visit the Lowepro website. They hit the ball out of the park with this one.
Stay tuned for our short film on our incredible experiences mountain biking in the Yukon. Coming soon!
Camera: Nikon D3s - Lens: Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 with Nikon 1.4 TC - 1/1600sec f/7.1 ISO 400
I recently ran into a problem shooting skiing and snowboarding this winter. I needed to get a little closer to the action but the longest lens in my kit is the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8. There were two options to get the added focal length I desired. The first and most expensive option was to purchase the Nikon 200-400 f/4 lens for a whopping $7000. Even as a working pro this would have set my budget back quite a bit. Added to the budget constraints is the physical size and weight of the lens. Coming in at roughly 7.5 pounds the lens is heavy and bulky. When I am shooting skiing and snowboarding I am constantly moving, hiking and snowboarding. Weight and bulk are always large concerns when it comes to gear. Between the weight, bulk and price tag, the 200-400 just didn’t make a lot of sense. The solution? The Nikon TC-14 II 1.4 Auto Focus Teleconverter.
Coming in at a price tag of just under $500 and weighing only 7.5 ouches the 1.4 teleconverter effectively would turn my 70-200 lens into a 98-280mm. This was just the added length I was looking for to get me a little closer to the action. I decided not to go with the Nikon 1.7 or 2.0 converters because of the negative reviews I read on each prior to my purchase. Most people found them to be soft and the extra loss of light from the added length of the teleconverters was unacceptable to me. I was ok with losing one stop of light with the 1.4 but that was it. So what are the pros and cons of the 1.4 TC attached to a Nikon 70-200 f/2.8? I’m glad you asked.
Getting closer to the action
Extremely sharp results – I haven’t noticed any loss in sharpness by adding the 1.4 TC
Lightweight, small and easy to carry
No noticeable fringing
A loss of a stop of light (it changes the maximum aperture of the f/2.8 to f/4)
The autofocus is noticeably slower when shooting fast moving subjects. The TC forces the lens to search more when trying to track a fast moving subject. This can be overcome by prefocusing your subject and then continuing to shoot the action. If you simply pick up your camera with the TC attached and quickly try to focus in on a moving subject you will be disappointed.
All in all I am extremely happy with the Nikon TC-14 II 1.4 Auto Focus Teleconverter. It is a great and relatively cheap fix to adding a little extra focal length to my kit. While there are a few shortcomings I believe the positives far outweigh the negatives. I would recommend this setup to anyone looking for a cost effective way to increase their focal length and get a little closer to the action. Happy shooting!