Today we want do a review of some new gear that we recently purchased and give you guys the skinny on how and why we chose the new camera bag we did. Jody and I have been using the awesome Lowepro Pro Roller 2 for the last 4 years straight (you can see a video of “what’s in our camera bag” on the blog HERE to see more of this bag that is now discontinued). The Lowepro Pro Roller 2 was replaced by the Pro Roller X300 which is also a stellar bag, but just came short of the one we decided to purchase for 2012.
We ended up getting the Think Tank Airport Security V2.0 and are extremely excited and happy with the buy! So, why did we get this bag and what makes it so great? Let’s dive in!
So there are a number of features that made this bag go over the top for us and help us make the decision to purchase it. After using our Pro Roller for 4 years, we really know exactly what works, and what does not work with a bag and lots of thought went into this decision.
First up, one of the best ideas we have yet to see in a roller bag, are Think Tank’s “Emergency Shoulder Straps.” These straps are hidden on the back of the bag for normal rolling use, but in the rare occasion that us wedding photographers are shooting at a venue that is all gravel or not condusive to rolling a bag, we can bust out these straps, lock them to the bottom of the bag as seen here and carry the roller from place to place. We can’t tell you how many times we have lugged our bag by the handles around locations here in Nashville and around the country and how much it stinks to carry a bag that way! The new Lowepro x300 has shoulder straps, but you have to take the bag out of its case, then use the modular insert on its own to carry the contents. That is cool, but it is a lot of work to get it out, then, if you hit an area where you can roll the bag, oops, you don’t have the roller because it is in your car!
Next up is the TSA locks which grab the zipper and easily lock your bag in case you have to gate check it, or leave it around a location for an extended period of time. We always bring an assistant to weddings and their number one job is to watch our gear bag, but sometimes you don’t have the luxury of always having someone watch your bag. Other bags have this feature, but this is the easiest one to lock that we have seen. The bag also has a small cable and lock that comes out of the small zipper pocket shown here that you can use to lock your laptop to the bag. There is another lock as well behind the shoulder straps so you can easily lock the entire bag to a lamp post or anything immovable to keep it from getting stolen. Really cool!
Third; the handles. We love how the handles are a seamless build-out of the bag and are made of ballistic nylon. Our last bag was an external handle with 2 pins (one on each side of the handle) that held the handle to the bag. That was great until the handle broke 2 years ago. We had to go out and buy some bolts and put it back together, but it has always been a bit sketchy since then needing to be re-tightened before weddings. This new handle is much more comfortable, and so far seems to be a far superior build then the last one where the handles are concerned.
Fourth is the Security Plate. This plate is built into the bag and give the bag a unique ID that is registered on Think Tanks’ site. If someone happens to find this bag, they could go to this site and find out who’s it is and give it back with the simple instructions.
Now, you may say, “who would give that back with all that expensive gear!? Your nuts and this is the dumbest idea ever!!” I used to think the same thing, until we were shooting a session in Colorado 2 months ago and we left our $1,200 24-70 2.8 sitting on the curb, walked 2 blocks away only to have a guy come up and ask us if it belonged to us. WOW! He actually brought it back! We sent that guy a $25 Starbucks gift card as a thank-you. So, don’t assume that everyone is selfish, because there are some amazing people out there! :)
Next up is something that I think sets this bag apart. This bag is smaller than our old Pro-Roller, it fits in the overhead compartment of any US commercial airlines (which is not a novel idea) but since we got a slightly smaller bag, the big worry was, “will everything fit!?” Well, take a look at the inside compartment where all the lenses are and look to the far left center. Yup! That is our 70-200 2.8 standing straight up! Not lying on its side like in every other bag taking up tons of space! There are certain areas of this bag that are extra deep (they patented the design) that allow you to put a lens that big straight up and down which saves you a ton of room! Awesome!
So, to break down what we have in this bag:
2 5d bodies with vertical battery grips and Black Rapid straps attached
30D back up body
3 Canon EX flashes
24-70L 2.8 (in the shop getting repaired hence the empty spot)
Sekonik L358 Light Meter
2 Expo Disks and all CF cards
Rain Cover for the bag
The next cool thing is that the bag opens vertically instead of horizontally. Many reviews said this was the one thing they did not like about this bag, but the benefit to this is that you can have these 4 horizontal zipping compartments to organize small pieces of gear and have them all visible. What I hated (and is still a flaw) in the LowePro bag, is that the compartments zip vertically and all the gear slides to the bottom and gets super messy and unorganized (and there are only two compartments instead of 4 in the Think Tank). We were always fishing through it trying to find stuff and at a wedding, you sometimes have seconds to get what you need.
In this compartment we have all of our flash accessories:
Top Level – Cables for hot shoe adapters and our Elinchrom Skyport Transmitter
Second Level – Cyber Synces and hot shoes (we added Velcro to secure them in place)
Third Level – Micro Apollo and flash gels
Next up, awesome accessories! We also purchased the Think Tank Urban disguise 50 V2.0 Shoulder Bag (long name!). This is a laptop/gear bag that can hold a 15.4 inch laptop, 2 to 3 lenses and a camera body, it has tons of extra little pockets for all kinds of other gear and is also expandable depending on how much stuff you have in it at the time. It is built from the same ballistic material as the roller bag and matches it perfectly.
The coolest thing is that it slides right on to the Roller for travel and makes the perfect companion! No more slinging our bag over the roller with the strap and having it fall over every time you let go of the bag.
So, we could not be more stoked about this bag and what it offers us! Durable for years of use, tons of extra little pockets all over the bag (that we did not even show you including one where you can put a water bottle if need be on the outside of the bag), extra nylon pouch on the outside for holding a reflector or computer, replaceable roller skate style wheels, smart layout and stylish, modern look, and best of all, the bag is warranted to the original buyer for life! All for $379. Investing in a bag to protect your gear is worth every penny and this bag is top notch. This bag comes in some different sizes as well in case this one is too small or too big for your needs.
We are also demoing some new F-Stop bags and they have a new roller coming out in a few months, so expect a review of that bag coming soon!!