Camera Bags, Tripods, etc

nbs2

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Mar 31, 2004
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A geographical oddity
Now that I have settled on my camera store, DSLR, starter lenses, and editing software, I have some time to kill until Thanksgiving/Christmas (that's when Lori is letting em make my purchases) - I figured I should get myself settled on other essential goodies. I don't know what is essential, but, I figure a decent camera bag and a tripod are good places to start. I'm on the usual strict budget, so with that in mind, I've been looking at basic options.

Tripod
I was thinking about looking for an ultra compact tripod (something that collapses nice and small...maybe under a foot), but am a bit wary of of what kind of build quality I will be getting for something like that on the cheap. I figure it will be getting used with the camera or our camcorder, both of which will be under 5-6 pounds.

Camera Bag
I have no idea what to look at/for. If it is any help in comparing, I normally carry my PB in a neoprene sleeve and tuck that into my cheap Jansport backback. But, I really don't know.
 

davegoody

macrumors 6502
Apr 9, 2003
307
58
Nottingham, England.
Depends on your specific needs . . . . Read on !

nbs2 said:
Now that I have settled on my camera store, DSLR, starter lenses, and editing software, I have some time to kill until Thanksgiving/Christmas (that's when Lori is letting em make my purchases) - I figured I should get myself settled on other essential goodies. I don't know what is essential, but, I figure a decent camera bag and a tripod are good places to start. I'm on the usual strict budget, so with that in mind, I've been looking at basic options.

Tripod
I was thinking about looking for an ultra compact tripod (something that collapses nice and small...maybe under a foot), but am a bit wary of of what kind of build quality I will be getting for something like that on the cheap. I figure it will be getting used with the camera or our camcorder, both of which will be under 5-6 pounds.

Camera Bag
I have no idea what to look at/for. If it is any help in comparing, I normally carry my PB in a neoprene sleeve and tuck that into my cheap Jansport backback. But, I really don't know.
I use a high-end Manfrotto tripod for portraits / occasionally at weddings, however in at least 75% of cases, a cheap Monopod would suffice (the one I have has a ball joint on the top so you can lean it against a wall etc and rotate the head so that the camera is at the right angle. This MAY be a better option, cheaper and SO much more compact too.

As for a bag, I use (and absolutely swear by) a LowePro backpack. This holds most of my most frequently used kit, keeps it dry in the rain (it is superb in this respect), and is padded enough to withstand the occasional knocks that are inevitable.

Hope this helps ! ;)
 

beavo451

macrumors 6502
Jun 22, 2006
483
2
I have a Manfrotto/Bogen 3021BPRO tripod with ball head. It is a little large, but very sturdy and about 6 pounds. If you really want sturdy and light weight, look for a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod. I saw this on another forum and is very true:

With tripods you can only have any TWO combinations of the following
Cheap (relatively)
Sturdy
Light Weight

I use Pelican cases to hold all my gear as I don't frequently venture far and can carry what I need with me.
 

nbs2

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Original poster
Mar 31, 2004
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A geographical oddity
beavo451 said:
With tripods you can only have any TWO combinations of the following
Cheap (relatively)
Sturdy
Light Weight
I don't plan on using it a lot, so I guess I'll have the Cheap and Light Weight combo :D
 

beavo451

macrumors 6502
Jun 22, 2006
483
2
nbs2 said:
I don't plan on using it a lot, so I guess I'll have the Cheap and Light Weight combo :D
Just remember, you get what you pay for. My suggestion would be a Manfrotto/Bogen 3001.
 

Clix Pix

macrumors demi-goddess
nbs2 said:
Now that I have settled on my camera store, DSLR, starter lenses, and editing software, ......

I must've missed something somewhere along the line. Want to post a summary? :) What were your final decisions?

As for tripods, Manfrotto is excellent. You might want to read Thom Hogan's "take" on tripods, at http://www.bythom.com

Camera bags are....personal and as individual as the user. Each of us is going to recommend a particular bag or brand because that is what works for us, but you're going to have to do your homework. IMHO the only way to find the right one is to try out a bunch of them at the store, then take one home and actually use it for a while. I've found that the problem with them is that no one bag does it all. There are times when I need just a small bag for camera and one or two lenses, other times when I have to carry more and subsequently need something larger, and times when I actually need a wheeled bag. Most of the time I use Domke bags, which come in various sizes in the shoulder bag style. I am not a backpack person, but recently bought a "sling" style, which I haven't actually taken out in the field yet. It's best to wait until you've actually got your gear so that you can determine if it will fit in the bag of your choice BEFORE you buy....
 

Silentwave

macrumors 68000
May 26, 2006
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Gainesville, FL
I also swear by Lowepro products for my camera gear. I have two backpacks, a half dozen lens cases, a full vest harness and belt system, and even my camera straps are from Lowepro.

My backpack this year for school is a Lowepro DryZone 100 waterproof camera bag.
 

nbs2

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Original poster
Mar 31, 2004
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A geographical oddity
Clix Pix said:
I must've missed something somewhere along the line. Want to post a summary? :) What were your final decisions?
I'm going to hold off on that summary - depending on Photokina, I may still change my mind. Maybe. Probably not. But, you never know...

The problem with Thom's tripod info is that it doesn't fit with my current budget. My plan was to get a tripod that would last me a couple of years, while my spending budget reloads (it still has to bring in an iMac or MP). Spending 800-1000 is well out of my budget (I mean, that is easily more than I plan on spending on camera and lenses...). I like the tripod that James suggested, or even going smaller with the compact - I don't know the brand or anything about it, but we'll see. The other option that I am really considering is just waiting. I don't know when I will need it - I've never used one before - and maybe I'll have a bit more cash to buy it when I need it.

As for the bag, I understnad that they are as personal as laptop cases (I think incase users are fools and will be a marware guy for life :)), but there has to be some general sense of who makes a soft bag that can hold the camera and a spare lens. Something like the Lowepro Mini AW or D-Res 30 AW. I doubt I will need much more on a regular basis.
 

iGary

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May 26, 2004
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Randy's House
I have a Stealth Reporter 500AW that I have been meaning to sell if you are interested. If not, no hard feelings - just thought I would throw it out there. :)
 

nbs2

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Mar 31, 2004
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A geographical oddity
iGary said:
I have a Stealth Reporter 500AW that I have been meaning to sell if you are interested. If not, no hard feelings - just thought I would throw it out there. :)
It's a bit bigger than what I was looking for, but it looks like it would hold my PB (based on the image at the Lowepro site for the 550), which would reduce things to carry when travelling. Let Lori know how much you want for it (or I suppose you can tell me and I'll tell her) - she'll probably be controlling my spending on the bag, tripod, and other things. I get the camera, a spare lens, and the memory card...
 

Clix Pix

macrumors demi-goddess
Good idea to hold off on the summary until you know what's coming out at Photokina and until you've seen the new D80 and the new Canon whatever it's called, etc......

Just remembered that Velbon makes fairly reasonably-priced, lightweight but fairly sturdy tripods. Take a look at that brand.....
 

iGary

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May 26, 2004
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Randy's House
nbs2 said:
It's a bit bigger than what I was looking for, but it looks like it would hold my PB (based on the image at the Lowepro site for the 550), which would reduce things to carry when travelling. Let Lori know how much you want for it (or I suppose you can tell me and I'll tell her) - she'll probably be controlling my spending on the bag, tripod, and other things. I get the camera, a spare lens, and the memory card...
If you have a 12" PB, it will fit. My iBook did. I'll give you a PM.
 

Silentwave

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May 26, 2006
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Gainesville, FL
nbs2 said:
The problem with Thom's tripod info is that it doesn't fit with my current budget. My plan was to get a tripod that would last me a couple of years, while my spending budget reloads (it still has to bring in an iMac or MP). Spending 800-1000 is well out of my budget (I mean, that is easily more than I plan on spending on camera and lenses...). I like the tripod that James suggested, or even going smaller with the compact - I don't know the brand or anything about it, but we'll see. The other option that I am really considering is just waiting. I don't know when I will need it - I've never used one before - and maybe I'll have a bit more cash to buy it when I need it.
You don't necessarily need to go all the way with his info, really! Just skip a few steps and you'll save a lot of money. The Manfrotto 055MF3 for instance is a superb, carbon fiber tripod until you get into the real big guns like say a 300mm f/2.8 or 200mm f/2.0 (i.e. 6 pound monsters), and you can get some decent to very good tripod heads for great prices. The legs I mentioned are around $300, I used them with the Manfrotto 468MG Hydrostat head, which is under $300. Had a great setup for sub 600.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
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Location Location Location
nbs2 said:
I don't plan on using it a lot, so I guess I'll have the Cheap and Light Weight combo :D
You're not going to use it. If you use it, it'll be like 5 times, which means you'll be spending like $40 every time you use it. ;)

I think your needs are simple, and a "good" tripod is expensive. You're spending enough on the camera and lens as it is (is it the Pentax K100D with an 18-200 mm, or the Nikon with 18-200mm VR and 50 mm f/1.8??). If you get a tripod, avoid Manfrotto. Just like I can't recommend a high end Mac Pro or MBP to every user that asks for computer advice, I can't recommend a Manfrotto to everyone due to cost. Like Clix Pix said, Velbon is a popular tripod that may prove it's worth to you as someone who isn't that hardcore, and doesn't even know if he'll need it. They're supposed to be fantastic, but you do have a baby coming and obviously have a budget that we can all understand.

Instead of the tripod, get a Hoya multi-coated UV filter or/and circular polarizer for your new 18-200 mm.

As for camera bag, I don't have many suggestions other than a small Lowepro bag that looks like a cube HERE (Nova Mini), and a 3-compartment backpack like I have for when you need to carry more than just your camera. I have a Lowepro Nova Mini, but I guess any decent company will sell a good one with similar shape. The main compartment fits my camera with lens attached, plus one extra lens. You can get a Nova 1 or Nova 2 if you want a bigger one.

If you want a backpack, you can either get one dedicated for camera stuff and lenses (which you won't need at all since you don't have enough camera gear to fill the space and they don't carry other things), or do what I do and get a backpack that has (1) A general compartment for normal stuff (water bottle, book, jumper), (2) A laptop compartment, (3) A camera compartment. Lowepro, Tamrac (only the Adventure 9 holds a laptop), and Crumpler (Sinking Barge and Customary Barge). The camera compartment is going to be no bigger than what you get out of the Lowepro Nova Mini or Nova 1 and 2, but it's more practical in other ways.

I did a review of the Sinking Barge in the Buying Tips forum. You may be looking at the Customary Barge if your laptop is that big.
 

beavo451

macrumors 6502
Jun 22, 2006
483
2
Abstract said:
I think your needs are simple, and a "good" tripod is expensive. You're spending enough on the camera and lens as it is (is it the Pentax K100D with an 18-200 mm, or the Nikon with 18-200mm VR and 50 mm f/1.8??). If you get a tripod, avoid Manfrotto. Just like I can't recommend a high end Mac Pro or MBP to every user that asks for computer advice, I can't recommend a Manfrotto to everyone due to cost.
Oh come on, there is no such thing as a tripod being too good for the camera :p :D

 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,610
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Redondo Beach, California
nbs2 said:
Now that I have settled on my camera store, DSLR, starter lenses, and editing software, I have some time to kill until Thanksgiving/Christmas (that's when Lori is letting em make my purchases) - I figured I should get myself settled on other essential goodies. I don't know what is essential, but, I figure a decent camera bag and a tripod are good places to start. I'm on the usual strict budget, so with that in mind, I've been looking at basic options.

Tripod
I was thinking about looking for an ultra compact tripod (something that collapses nice and small...maybe under a foot), but am a bit wary of of what kind of build quality I will be getting for something like that on the cheap. I figure it will be getting used with the camera or our camcorder, both of which will be under 5-6 pounds.

Camera Bag
I have no idea what to look at/for.
If you are on a really tight budget then skip anyhting sold in a camera store. Look at kiids "soft" lunch boxes and insulated "soft ice boxes" and bags for baby suplies. The best cheap bags are those insulated bags sized to hold about one six-pack. However if you must buy a real camera bag I'm a fan of everything made by Domke.

As for tripods what you are looking for in "rigidity per buck". "ridgid" is the key here. We like them to be compact but the smaller the thing folds down to the less rigd. It's like this: What do you want Small, Sturdy, or Low Price you can pick only two,.
I like Bogen. Buy a set of legs and a basic head and it will outlast your camera system and likely you too.
 

pdxflint

macrumors 68020
Aug 25, 2006
2,407
14
Oregon coast
I've used a couple of bags I like a lot. One was a fannypack style with a shoulder strap and a waist strap called the Photoflex by Galen Rowell (rest in peace) and the other was a larger Lowepro shoulder bag which held two bodies and several lenses and accessories, or a single SLR with a 70-210 f2.8. The Rowell Photoflex was great for hiking or climbing or running (sports photography) which held all my gear when I was run over by a big running back during a sideline sweep and I flew backwards 6-8 feet landing on my rear, with no damage to anything. I don't know if they still make this bag, but it's fairly small, yet holds a decent amount. It's not all that padded on the xterior top, but the top opens away from the body making access during shooting easy.

On tripods - I second the Bogen 3001 classic. It's not that expensive, or heavy, and will last forever. I combined it with the Bogen 3030 tilt/swivel head which has a quick release mechanism. Just screw the attachment plate to your SLR body or get several for different bodies, and just snap them onto the tripod whenever needed, and quick release to remove. I love this combination. Solid, heavy duty, yet light enough to be practical for mobility and can almost be used like a monopod when desired.
 

wingsky

macrumors member
Jan 17, 2006
95
0
UK
It's a shame that there aren't any camera bags which hold both a dslr & lens and a laptop, all within the magical dimensions of 45cm x 35cm x 16cm (17.7in x 13.7in x 6.2in approx) that the UK gov't have imposed on us :(

The size is probably too small to be feasable, but I wonder if any of the manufacturers would have a go...
 

milozauckerman

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Jun 25, 2005
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B&H sells a couple of Slik combos under $100 that will serve you well. Fairly light, very sturdy, the pan/tilt heads are strong enough to hold my 4x5 field camera in a pinch.

If you want to think different, look for a Berlebach wooden tripod. You'll probably have to mail order it, but wood is an excellent material - relatively light and it dampens vibration.