all retrospective-10-pinestone-4

Published on February 14th, 2012 | by Greg


Think Tank: Classic, Classy Camera Bags

Choos­ing the right bag is of paramount im­por­tance to pho­tog­ra­phers. For starters, you need enough space, but not too much. You want padding, and pock­ets, and dura­bil­i­ty, but don’t want too much added weight. Ev­ery shoot­er thinks care­ful­ly about the like­ly con­di­tions- rain or dry, meant for quick grab-and-go runs or care­ful­ly packed for a longer trip. And there are a pletho­ra of op­tions out there, of­fer­ing ev­ery con­ceiv­able ma­te­ri­al and de­sign, from a va­ri­ety of com­pa­nies large and small. We’ve checked out many types, in­clud­ing a few back­packsfrom sev­er­al com­pa­nies.

But one of our fa­vorite re­cent finds was the Sling-o-Mat­ic from Think Tank. And now we’re pleased to pre­sent two oth­er op­tions from Think Tank, one of them from their Ret­ro­spec­tive se­ries, the mod­el 10 Pine­stone Shoul­der Bag. The oth­er is one of small num­ber of pho­tog­ra­pher-fo­cused roller bags that we’ve seen, the Air­port Airstream. We’ll dis­cuss the ups and downs of each in turn.

The first thing you no­tice about the Ret­ro­spec­tive 10 is the style- the ma­te­ri­al and col­or choice make this bag look nat­u­ral­ly weath­ered, like it was a fam­i­ly heir­loom or rel­ic from an un­cle who spent time work­ing for Na­tion­al Ge­o­graph­ic. At the same time, it doesn’t scream “ex­pen­sive” or even “cam­era bag”, mean­ing you can blend it fair­ly eas­i­ly to a va­ri­ety of sit­u­a­tions. Al­so avail­able in black, we def­i­nite­ly pre­fer the Pine­stone. And three oth­er sizes are avail­able- the 5, 20, and 30, with the largest ca­pa­bly fit­ting two pro DSLR and up to six lens­es. The 10 that we tried was large enough for a pro DSLR and zoom lens with room to spare for a few ex­tras- even a net­book or tablet can fit in the front pock­et. If you don’t find your­self car­ry­ing more than a spare lens, we’d rec­om­mend stick­ing to the 5.

Be­yond the style, we loved the sound si­lencers built in to the flaps, to elim­i­nate noise when open­ing the bag in a qui­et sit­u­a­tion (like a wed­ding or event where you might not want that Vel­cro noise). An in­clud­ed rain cov­er pro­tects against in­clement con­di­tions, and though the ma­te­ri­al isn’t as durable as some, a bit of ex­tra wear sim­ply adds to the char­ac­ter rather than seem­ing out of place or dis­tract­ing. The ad­justable shoul­der strap was sol­id, even when the bag was full, and in­cludes a pad for com­fort. Our on­ly re­al is­sue was the weight, as it does clock in a three pounds or so be­fore you add any­thing- a bit hefty. On the oth­er hand, they used at­trac­tive met­al com­po­nents in­stead of plas­tic. If you’re do­ing a re­al­ly ac­tive shoot­ing, you might want to check out the Sling men­tioned ear­li­er, as this bag lacks a cross-strap and can get awk­ward. Ex­pect to spend about $160, well worth it in our opin­ion, on­line and in stores.

If wheels are more your style, then def­i­nite­ly check out the Air­port Airstream. It meets the reg­u­la­tions for air­line car­ry-ons, while of­fer­ing a ton of space to se­ri­ous pho­tog­ra­phers who want to keep their gear close at hand and avoid check­ing a bag. With some clever pack­ing, you can fit two com­plete sets of gear, in­clud­ing se­ri­ous glass (up to a 400mm lens), pro-size bod­ies, spare bat­ter­ies, charg­ers, flash­es, and even some fold­able tripods or monopods. The front pock­et is per­fect for your news­pa­per, book, or pa­per­work, and the di­vider sys­tem is flex­i­ble, with plen­ty of op­tions, thick padding, and sta­ble Vel­cro fas­ten­ers. The weight isn’t too bad for a roller bag, and the wheels are ex­treme­ly sol­id- they were sol­id over bumps, stairs, and sur­vived a cou­ple of drops while load­ed.

Weight dis­tri­bu­tion, al­ways dif­fi­cult with a roller bag, is pret­ty good and we didn’t have any is­sues with the bag tip­ping over. TSA com­bi­na­tion locks are pret­ty com­mon these days, but still an im­por­tant fea­ture for any­one who wants some se­cu­ri­ty with­out has­sles. There is a han­dle on the bot­tom of the bag to help you lift the bag in­to the over­head com­part­ment, easy to miss but es­sen­tial for fast load­ing with less risk of drop­ping your ex­pen­sive gear. We would’ve liked low di­viders to be in­clud­ed by de­fault (per­haps in­stead of the high ones), as we could’ve packed our lap­top in the bag eas­i­ly then with­out need­ing to pur­chase a dif­fer­ent set of di­viders. But be­yond that, we were in love with this roller- overkill for many am­a­teurs per­haps, but a good val­ue at $300. And Think Tank sup­ports their prod­ucts well- life­time war­ranties and free kits to re­place your wheels if they should ev­er wear out or have is­sues.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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