Truland Photography

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Splitting My Gear in Two - Yet Again

I realize that I've tried to separate out my gear into two mostly separate kits several times before, only to return to the single bag theory after only a day or two. The motivation remains the same.

A large thirty pound bag is unwieldy and to pack up a separate bag with some of the gear on each occasion takes time. The two bag theory is to create two kits that have a function on their own but when everything is needed, it is easy to use both bags.

My current plan, in effect for several days now, begins with a Think Tank Photo Streetwalker Pro backpack. Over the years, I've wanted a backpack large enough to carry two bodies, some lenses with hoods, a flash and accessories. My previous attempts, a Lowepro Slingshot 300 AW, Tamrac Evolution 9 and Adventure 75, a Think Tank Photo Streetwalker and a Lowepro Slingshot 202 AW all were nice bags but all had a fatal flaw and failed to meet my needs. The TTP Streetwalker came closest but does not fit a pro sized body.

Think Tank Photo Streetwalker Pro

As shown in the above iPhone photo, the Streetwalker Pro nicely fits both the 5D Mark II and 7D bodies with grips attached, the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, EF 40mm f/2.8 STM, 1.4X and 2X extenders, 430 EXII speedlite, filters, batteries, etc. This is my main bag and will more or less always be with me. In its current configuration it weighs 18 pounds.

The only downside of this bag is that, unlike some of the others, you need to take it off and lay it down to get at the gear. But, my Think Tank Photo Speed Racer 2.0 and Digital Holster 50 2.0 will see use for when quick access is necessary.

The second kit consists of the EOS 60D without a grip, EF 17-40mm f/4L and EF 50mm f/1.4 lenses, a 270 EXII speedlight (which can be controlled by the camera as a slave and can also fire the camera remotely), extra batteries for the flash and camera and a charger for the camera batteries in a Tamrac Adventure Messenger 4 shoulder bag. This bag will not always be brought along but will sometimes see use on its own. In its current configuration this bag weighs 5 pounds.

Tamrac Adventure Messenger 4

The only items of consequence previously in the single 30 pound bag not in one of these bags are a 580 EXII speedlite, a 77mm Canon 500D closeup lens, an anti-fog eyepiece for the 7D and 4 AA batteries. And while the closeup filter, in particular, is fairly hefty, the main weight savings is in the bags themselves. The single bag, the Tamrac Ultra Pro 13 weighs almost 6 pounds empty. The Think Tank Photo backpack about half that.

Time will tell whether I stick with this system or not but, so far, it seems to be working.

UPDATE #1 7/22/13: Although I am sticking with this system I have modified it a bit by removing the flash and batteries from the backpack, storing them in the bag with chargers and light modifiers, and adding the 500D closeup lens and anti-fog eyepiece to the backpack.

UPDATE #2 7/29/13: I am sticking with the two bag system but have modified the plan a bit. Instead of the Think Tank Photo backpack, I've returned the 7D and 5DII kit to the Tamrac Ultra Pro 13. This allows me to include the flashes and the closeup lens, etc. in one bag, eliminating a separate bag for lighting. The backpack will be used whenever I need to move around with some of that equipment.

I am also shifting the 50mm f/1.4 lens from the 60D kit to the larger kit and replacing it with an EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens. My Lowepro SlingShot 202AW will serve the function of the larger backpack with this smaller kit which will include my small Benro tripod.

Essentially, the larger kit with the 7D and 5DII will be what I use when photography is the point of the activity and the smaller kit with the 60D will be what I bring along when photography isn't the main point of the activity. The plan is to never be without one or the other.

UPDATE #3 8/21/13: Well, after moving the larger portion of the kit back to the Streetwalker Pro in a slightly different configuration and replacing the Tamrac Adventure Messenger 4 with a Think Tank Photo SubUrban Disguise 20, I've moved the contents of both bags back to the Tamrac Ultra Pro for storage purposes. The other two bags are nicely set up now for quick loading as needed and with everything in one bag, there's not the incentive to get more lenses so each bag can duplicate the functions of the other.

FINAL UPDATE 8/26/13: Back to the original two bag system but with some moving around of gear. I've sold the 50mm f/1.4 and picked up a white box EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 STM for $145. The small bag will consist of the 60D, 18-55 and 60mm macro lenses, 430EXII and 270EXII speedlites. The 580EXII flash will move to the bag that carries charges, etc.

The large backpack will contain the 7D and 5DII bodies, 17-40 f/4L, 24-70 f/2.8L, 70-200 f/2.8L IS II and 40mm f/2.8 STM lenses, 1.4X and 2X extenders and 500D closeup lens, as shown below.

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