In this article I discuss the equipment I have in addition to my camera and lenses to support my photography efforts. I start with the second most important element, the tripod or other device I use to support my camera for the sharpest possible pictures.
Tripods and Monopods
Even under the best of circumstance taking pictures there is almost always some camera or subject movement that blurs the image. To reduce blur caused by camera movement, especially when photographing in dim light, using a long lens, photographing close up, it is important to support the camera so it moves as little as possible. In some cases, a porch railing or tree branch helps. In other cases, there is the need to use a tripod or monopod. The equipment I have chosen are:
- Sunpak 6600PG Tripod
The Sunpak 6600PG is a high quality tripod with a pistol grip ball head making it super fast for capturing any type of action. With over-sized 1” D-shaped cross section legs, stability is excellent. The chassis incorporates a geared center column for small adjustments which includes a tension adjustment for fine tuning extension friction and bubble level. The three section legs extend up to over 66” and for added stability include retractable rubber feet, retractable leg spikes and leg braces ready for any terrain; indoors or out. With a capacity of 6.6 lb, the 6600PG is ready to support my Sony A65 with any lens combination.
- Bower VM72 Pro Compact Monopod
The construction is surprisingly good for a monopod that extends 72 inches and costs less than $20. This photo monopod is a compact monopod with tilting head and the camera can be mounted on it. When you move your camera for a different view, you can reset its level in seconds when placed in this tilt head monopod. This photo monopod is compact in size and measures 23 inch when closed. It can be expanded to a height of 72 inch and can be used to mount digital camera or for your handy cam. The head of the monopod can pan and tilt making it easy to use. The Bower Pro Photo Video Monopod comes with a carrying case that makes it convenient to carry it anywhere.
To allow me to grab quickly both pods when needed, I purchased a caring case that holds both, it is the:
- Vidpro TC35 Padded Tripod Case
The TC–35 Padded Tripod Case from Vidpro is made to carry a tripod with head up to 34" long. It is made of heavy-duty Cordura nylon. The case has a zippered exterior pocket and strap handles.
Camera Straps and Bags
The problem with most cameras is that they don’t fit in a shirt pocket. That means they have to be carried, protected, and stored in some manner. There are all kinds of cases for digital cameras. All are basically bags with padded compartments and straps. What determines which type of bag is best depends on what I will be carrying and how far.
For starters I have a large camera bag that holds most of my equipment. I use for home storage and for long trips traveling overnight by car, such as visiting family for a few days. The bag I have chosen is the:
- Tamrac PRO 12 Camera Bag – Model 5612
This camera bag is designed to hold two DSLRs with lenses attached, multiple additional lenses and flashes, and accessories. It has a dual action top that provides rain protection to the foam-padded main compartment which supports the camera on foam pillars. For shock protection, the bottom has a thick, foam-padded plastic platform. The front pockets can be used for small things such as memory cards and batteries. Inside the top, a windowpane-mesh pocket can store filters or cleaning materials. There are also two side pockets for accessories. The bag has an adjustable, BioCurve shoulder strap and an EasyGrip carrying handle. Finally, the bag can use optional Tamrac accessories that use the attachment slots for their S.A.S. (Strap Accessory System) products.
The Tamrac bag is too large for me to take as carry-on when flying involves my travel, and since checked baggage is not an option for many reason, I have chosen a backpack as alternative. In addition for providing enough room for up to 6–7 lenses, it also has room for a laptop. The backpack I picked is the:
- Sony Alpha DSLR Backpack (LCSBP3)
The backpack is designed to hold a DSLR camera, lenses, a notebook up to 15.0", and accessories. The bag can be tailored to my needs using the adjustable interior dividers to custom fit my gear. The bag’s padding protects against bumps and falls while its padded shoulder straps and waist band allow it to be worn for long periods of time. Additionally, the bag features front, side, and rear pockets for keeping accessories close at hand while a side strap can keep a small tripod or monopod within easy reach.
Both, the bag and backpack, are too large for my everyday Project365 work. At the start I got myself the Velocity 7X sling pack, it served very well until I got my ultra-wide angle lens. Doing a bit more research I found a nice soulder bag from National Geographic. It took a bit more to purchase it because it is now discontinued, but with some luck I was able to get a new one via eBay. Below you find a short description of both.
- Tamrac VELOCITY 7X Photo Sling Pack – Model 5767
The Velocity 7x – Photo Sling Pack is a unique, ultra-functional pack that carries like a backpack, but swings around to the front for quick access to a DSLR with a 6″ lens attached and a couple additional lenses. The sling pack design is versatile to carry like a backpack, but can be easily accessed by sliding the pack around to the front for fast access to camera gear without removing the pack.
- National Geographic W2140 Walkabout Midi Satchel (Gray)
The gray National Geographic W2140 Walkabout Midi Satchel is designed to carry a small digital SLR camera or a small camcorder. There is a removable padded insert to carry the camera and accessories plus a padded compartment that holds a mini laptop with a screen up to 9.0". The bag is made from waterproofed cotton with a nylon lining and interior foam padding. There are two easy access pockets for accessories.
The satchel has a removable, foldable rain cover that protects the bag and contents from the elements. It is carried by a carry handle, a removable, adjustable shoulder strap and a rear strap that slides over a trolley handle.
I don’t use a standard strap with my camera, instead when using any of my bags, I have a stabilizing hand grip strap attached. The one I use is the,
- Opteka GS–2 Genuine Leather Ergonomic Stabilizing Hand Grip Strap
The Opteka GS–2 is a ergonomically designed padded grip strap made to fit most Digital SLR cameras. The GS–2 provides a secure, one hand grip for my camera, stabilizing my shot and alleviating fatigue during extended photo shoots. It attaches via the tripod mount still allowing the use of a tripod with the strap attached.
I seldom just walk around with my camera without one of my bags, but when I do, having the camera hanging around my neck with a standard strap is no fun. After a few hours it begins to feel like I am carrying a concrete block, or perhaps two of them. For me the Joby strap, with its across-the-chest sling position, solved that problem.
- JOBY’s UltraFit Sling Strap for Men
I simply adjust the strap length, lock it at that length by pressing the flap on the buckle and leave it locked all the time. I position my camera at or above belt height and slightly behind my back so my arm won’t bump it when I walk. When I shoot, I simply grab the camera, pull it up to shooting position, shoot, and place it back in carrying position.
I always thought that I wouldn’t be caught dead in a photographer’s vest, but as I have found out, there are times they are the best solution. The point of a vest is to provide lots of pockets to store the things I may need. On a long hike found that I’m always taking my backpack or walkabout satchel off to get at the things that could be much more conveniently carried and accessed in a vest’s pockets. So I finally broke down and got myself one.
- National Geographic Travel Vest
Made from a remarkably airy, cottonlike nylon with advanced performance characteristics and Teflon protection, it’s a quick-drying wrinkle-, stain-, and water-resistant wonder that keeps necessities close and packs away into almost nothing. Nineteen separate pockets (including a secret security pocket) can hold a water bottle, passport, travel tickets, cell phone, maps, film, and personal stereo. Complemented by camera and binocular epaulets with slip-resistant grips, adjustable side cinches, and padded shoulders. Overall very practically designed, good not just for travelling but also for photographers on the go.
Next week’s article will present my other camera related gear, such as tele-converts, extension tubes, etc.