Todd Hatakeyama

Sep 212015


For a landscape photographer like me, there’s nothing like the first light of day, as dawn spreads glorious, golden, diffused light over forests and fields. And now there’s nothing like MindShift Gear’s FirstLight 40L Backpack to help me get my gear out to those forests and fields before the sun comes up. This roomy yet portable pack ensures that, no matter what the weather or environment, you’ll be able to carry all the cameras and accessories you need safely and comfortably.


I’m pretty sure the “L” in “40L” stands for “Large,” for the FirstLight 40L’s main compartment is big enough to fit two DSLRs with grips and lenses attached, as well as up to eight additional lenses, two flashes, and all the trimmings (Interior Dimensions: 13.4″ W x 20″ H x 7.3″ D or 34 x 51 x 18.5 cm). Since I’ve switched to mirrorless cameras, I had even more space to play with: for my recent trip to Alaska, I easily stashed my Sony A7r II, Sony 16-35mm f/4, Sony 55mm f/1.8, Sony 70-200mm f/4, Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4, and GoPro Hero 4 Black, and had plenty of room left for an Inmarsat IsatPhone, Anker battery, some dry bags, a Uniqlo down jacket, and MindShift Gear’s House of Cards memory card wallet.


I slipped my 11″ laptop in the front pocket, which can accommodate either a tablet or up to a 17″ notebook computer, and a variety of other zippered pockets held my Sony and GoPro batteries, miscellaneous cables, medications, a first aid kit, and other necessities. A dedicated hydration pocket on the side can hold as much as three liters of water.
Despite its mighty carrying capacity, I had no trouble stowing the FirstLight 40L in the overhead bin on my plane (Exterior Dimensions: 13.8″ W x 21.4″ H x 9″ D or 35 x 55 x 22.9 cm). It also fit easily under the seat in front of me, except for certain aisle seats beneath which electrical boxes took up some of the space. (MindShift Gear advises you to check with your airline about overhead bin size restrictions.)


With MindShift Gear’s characteristic combination of durability and build quality, the FirstLight 40L performs as well out in the wild as it does in the airport. The bag complements its durable water-resistant coating with a seamless rain cover that can double as a ground cloth. This cover was a life-saver while I was in Glacier Bay National Park, where it rained constantly. The backpack and, more importantly, my gear, stayed snug and dry despite the downpour.
MindShift Gear continues to produce innovative camera bags customized to the needs of individual photographers, and with the FirstLight 40L, they offer another great option for the roving outdoor photographer. It may be the FirstLight…but I’m sure it won’t be the last we see of this line of top-notch backpacks!

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Jul 272015


Whether you’re trekking through a forest primeval or a modern metropolis, a good backpack is essential. A shoulder bag is great for a couple hours of shooting on a relaxed afternoon, but when you need to carry a substantial amount of gear over a long distance, a shoulder bag can be a real drag…literally! A backpack gives you better weight distribution and greater carrying capacity, but most backpacks require you to take the pack off and burrow down through the contents to dig out the items you want. If only there were a backpack that could give you as easy access to your essential accessories as a shoulder bag…


Say no more! Your wish is Think Tank Photo’s command. To resolve this age-old dilemma, the company’s innovative minds have come up with the new Trifecta 8 Mirrorless Backpack, a clever hybrid of the best features of both backpacks and shoulder bags. As its name implies, the bag is tailored to accommodate the smaller yet increasingly popular mirrorless cameras.


Specifically, Think Tank has optimized the Trifecta 8 to grant you fast access to your mirrorless camera body and your three most-used lenses, so you are prepared to shoot ultra-wide, mid-range, or zoom on the spur of the moment as the situation demands.


Stylish and streamlined, the Trifecta 8 is spacious without being cumbersome (Exterior Dimensions: 11.4” W x 17.7” H x 5.7” D or 29 x 45 x 14.5 cm). I was able to fit my Sony a7r with the 70-200mm attached, with my 55mm and 16-35mm in the adjacent compartments, with a bit of room to spare. The moveable padded dividers easily reconfigure to suit either right- or left-handed photographers, and zippered doors in the lower side panels and rear panel of the bag let you get to the lens you want without having to paw past your lunch and windbreaker. The outside of the rear door panel is contoured and padded to rest comfortably against your back; the inside of the rear panel incorporates a nifty sleeve compartment large enough for an 8″ tablet like my iPad Mini.


Speaking of your lunch and windbreaker, you can stash them in the roomy top compartment, apart from your gear. Mesh pockets on the inside lining of the side-access doors provide additional storage space for small items like memory cards and batteries, and a pouch and straps on the front panel allow you to secure a small tripod to the backpack. Think Tank rounds out the Trifecta 8 by throwing in a seam-sealed rain cover, an accessory that many backpack manufacturers sell separately.


Thanks to Think Tank Photo’s smart design, the Trifecta 8 Mirrorless Backpack gives you a convenient, well-organized, lightweight option for an extended photo safari. So if you’re headed out for a long day’s hike, leave the shoulder bag at home–the Trifecta 8 is all you need!


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Jun 082015


While the weather is cool, we’ll do several off road trails only accessible by 4×4 vehicles. The famous Racetrack Playa and its Sailing Stones, Eureka Dunes, and Titus Canyon to Leadfield Ghost Town. We’ll also see Artist’s Drive, Artist’s Palette, Badwater, Ubehebe Crater, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Devil’s Golf Course and more. We’ll even throw in a bonus side trip to the Trona Pinnacles, the unusual landscape that consists of more than 500 tufa spires, some as high as 140 feet.


October 1-4, 2015

Includes transportation to and from Ontario Airport, lodging in Death Valley, entrance fees, jeep rental for the Racetrack and Eureka Dunes, and all meals.

We’ll have three jam packed days of sunrises and sunsets, we will see as much of Death Valley as possible. We will be staying at the Furnace Creek Resort inside the park, the perfect location to get around without wasting time driving from the surrounding hotels outside of the park.

Our RV will serve as our support vehicle to make our breakfast, lunch and dinner each day around our shooting schedule. Be prepared to wake up early, take an afternoon nap, and stay up late for some long exposure photography.

The Ontario Airport will be our pick up and drop off location, it will be very easy to fly in Wednesday night, stay at a hotel in the area, then stay Sunday night when we return and fly out Monday morning. (Hotels on these nights are not included)


Thursday, Oct 1
6:00am – Passenger pick-up at Ontario Airport hotels
9:00am – Breakfast in Ridgecrest
12:30pm – Arrive in Death Valley, we’ll see some of the sights before checking into the hotel
4:00pm – Check in hotel
4:30pm – Sunset shooting, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
7:00pm – Dinner
9:00pm – Long exposure night photography (optional)

Friday, Oct 2
4:00am – Sunrise shooting, The Racetrack
8:00am – More morning shooting, Ubehebe Crater
11:00am – Lunch
12:00pm – Editing or nap time
4:30pm – Sunset shooting, Devil’s Golf Course
7:00pm – Dinner
9:00pm – Long exposure night photography (optional)

Saturday, Oct 3
3:30am – Sunrise shooting, Eureka Dunes
8:00am – Titus Canyon Trail
11:00am – Lunch
12:00pm – Editing or nap time
3:30pm – Artist’s Drive and Artist’s Pallete
4:30pm – Sunset shooting, Badwater
7:00pm – Dinner
9:00pm – Long exposure night photography (optional)

Sunday, Oct 4
6:00am – Sunrise shooting, location TBD
10:00am – Early Lunch
12:00pm – Leave Death Valley for the Trona Pinnacles
3:00pm – Trona Pinnacles
5:00pm – Dinner in Ridgecrest
10:00pm – Arrive at Ontario Airport Hotels


$2200 Private Room
$1500 Shared Room

Payment details:

$1000 deposit to reserve your space. Balance due Aug 31, 2015.
Refund policy: Cancellations before Aug 31, 2015 will be refunded in full, any later cancellations will forfeit the deposit unless we can find a replacement for your spot.

This will be a small group as we only have five rooms reserved at the Furnace Creek Resort, so book your space before it’s sold out!

Email with any questions

Travel suggestions pre and post tour:

Fly into Ontario Airport on Wednesday, Sept 30 (we depart at 6:00am Thursday)
Fly out of Ontario Airport on Monday, Oct 5 (we arrive at 10:00pm Sunday)
* a red eye flight Monday Oct 5, midnight or later would be ok

Also flying in and out of LAX is possible if you take a shuttle to the Ontario hotel, but leave enough travel time as shared shuttles can take 2-3 hours

Suggested hotel:
Sheraton Ontario Airport Hotel
429 North Vineyard Avenue, Ontario, CA
$120 on Sept 30 – $110 on Oct 4 (non refundable rates)

Jun 082015


Whether you’re hiking a nature trail through a redwood forest or pounding the pavement while shooting street photography in a foreign city, it’s a nuisance and a hazard to have to shrug off your camera backpack to go digging for some lens or small accessory you need. Hence, it was with gratitude and relief that I and many other photographers greeted Mindshift Gear’s rotation180° series. These innovative backpacks each feature a detachable camera compartment that you can slide along the pack’s waist harness to serve as a handy beltpack for your essential gear. When you’re done shooting, you simply rotate the beltpack back underneath the backpack’s main compartment to stow it safely when not in use. Thanks to Mindshift Gear, you’ll never have to set your bag down on a dusty path or dirty pavement just to pull out some fresh batteries.


The latest addition to the rotation180° line, the Horizon 34L is larger than its predecessors the Trail and the Panorama but smaller than the Professional, the largest bag in the series. With 34 liters of carrying capacity (Interior Dimensions: 8.5” W x 11” H x 7.4” D or 22 x 28 x 18.8 cm), the Horizon is a pack big enough for a whole day’s photo safari. The beltpack alone can accommodate a camera with attached lens, a couple extra lenses, a 10″ tablet, and numerous other small items. For my recent trip to Yosemite National Park, I used the beltpack to carry my Sony A7r with the 16-35mm f/4 as well as my 55mm f/1.8 lenses and an iPad Mini. The rotation180° system made it a cinch for me to change lenses on the fly. Also, if you want to travel light for an afternoon, you may even detach the beltpack entirely and leave the rest of the backpack in your car or hotel room.


The main compartment offers plenty of space for clothing such as a light coat and hat, as well as food, guidebooks, and other hiking essentials, and up to a 13″ laptop. For Yosemite, I packed a Uniqlo down jacket, a rain cover, some snacks, and a satellite phone, and I still had more than half the room in the compartment left over. A dedicated hydration compartment holds a 3-liter reservoir, while a side pocket stows a 32-ounce water bottle within easy reach, so you can always wet your whistle. Zippered pockets on the top and front of the pack provide additional places to stash small items for easy access. The top compartment gave me enough storage for extra batteries, energy bars, a first-aid kit, some SD cards, and a few filters, while the front pocket held my maps and cables.


Despite the Horizon 34L’s large size, it was remarkably lightweight even when loaded; indeed, it hardly felt like it was there most of the time. The pack’s adjustable, padded shoulder straps are comfortable and made of a breathable synthetic material to prevent excessive perspiration. Straps on the front of the pack allow you to secure a tripod in a special fold-out pouch, but a separate tripod suspension kit is available for purchase if you want a shoulder sling that keeps the tripod ready at a moment’s notice. Other available accessories for the Horizon 34L include a set of customized, seam-sealed rain covers and r180º Panorama/Horizon Photo Insert, and Lens Switch Case (also sold separately).


I wasn’t the only one impressed by Mindshift Gear’s rotation180° Horizon 34L. Several of my fellow photographers on the Yosemite trip so admired the size and design of the backpack that they tried it on and remarked on its attractive combination of features. I suspect many of them will make a 180° turn away from ordinary backpacks and toward Mindshift Gear!


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Apr 132015


In a very short space of time, drones have gone from being the secret weapons of spy agencies and the military to the hot new plaything of the weekend warrior. Now, photographers everywhere are using compact, radio-controlled quadcopters like those of the popular DJI Phantom Series to take spectacular aerial videos.


However, a quadcopter is not a toy; higher end models can cost thousands of dollars. Their odd size and shape and delicate parts can make them tough to fit into conventional luggage. Definitely not something you want to carry through airport security in a duffel bag.


So here’s a riddle: How do you fly a quadcopter without turning on the propellers? Answer: You pack it inside the new Think Tank Photo Airport Helipak and take it on a plane! Ahead of the curve as usual, the brain trust at Think Tank has responded to the increasing popularity of UAVs by creating a bag that’s tailor-made to carry a quadcopter like the Phantom 2 safely and comfortably.


The outside of the Airport Helipak is low-key and tasteful but rugged, made of tough polyester and ballistic nylon and treated with a durable, water-repellent coating to protect it from the elements. With exterior dimensions of 14” W x 20.5” H x 9” D or 35.6 x 52.1 x 22.9 cm, the Helipak is far more compact and convenient than the Pelican hard case I’ve previously used to transport my Phantom 2. Its light weight makes it a breeze to carry when traveling, and it fits easily into the overhead bins on planes. Furthermore, while the Pelican case can only be carried by its handle, the Helipak provides comfortable, padded shoulder straps and an adjustable harness so you can wear it as a backpack.


Inside, the case provides plenty of room for a Phantom 2 or similar quadcopter, as well as a remote, a 7” screen, accessories, and extra batteries, with space to spare (Interior Dimensions: 13” W x 18.8” H x 7.6” D or 33 × 47.8 × 19.3cm). A set of dividers specifically designed for the DJI Phantom Series permits you to customize the bag’s configuration to suit your gear, and internal, see-through mesh pockets in the case’s padded lid keep your rotors, spare parts, and tools secure, sorted, and readily accessible. The dedicated laptop pocket accommodates a 15″ Macbook Pro or equivalent notebook and features an adjacent organizer panel with sleeves for your cell phone, wallet, pens, and other small items.


Unlike a large Pelican case, the Helipak requires that you remove the quadcopter’s propellers so that the craft’s body will fit in the bag, which is a slight inconvenience. However, that’s a small price to pay given that the Helipak offers you more actual storage space than a comparable hard case in a compact size that is far easier to carry and stow.


An external side pocket capable of storing a 32-ounce water bottle and a seam-sealed rain cover make the Helipak as handy to have on the nature trail as in the airport terminal. So when you’re ready to take your photography to new heights, tuck your quadcopter in the Think Tank Photo Airport Helipak for safe-keeping and head for the skies. You’re cleared for takeoff!

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Mar 302015


Given the increasing popularity of smaller, mirrorless cameras, it’s been surprising and often frustrating how difficult it is to find bags customized for them. Fortunately, the forward-thinking minds at Think Tank Photo have given us the new Urban Approach 15, a mirrorless camera backpack with all the security, versatility, and convenience of a top-notch DSLR bag.


A traditional camera backpack in function, the Urban Approach 15 takes advantage of mirrorless cameras’ compact size to keep the overall size of the bag smaller and more streamlined than a comparable DSLR backpack. The main compartment (Interior Dimensions: 9.4” W x 16.3” H x 3.9-5.3” D or 24 x 41.5 x 10-13.5 cm) includes more removable padded dividers than the typical DSLR bag, permitting you to configure smaller storage spaces and a greater number of compartments for your gear. Even after I packed in two Sony camera bodies and every lens I own, I had enough space left over for my Uniqlo jacket, a variety of accessories, and other necessities.


Two internal mesh organizer pockets provide additional storage space for batteries, memory cards, and similar items, and a padded outer zipper pocket gives you a safe, accessible place to stash your cell phone or sunglasses . Unlike many camera bags, the Urban Approach 15 incorporates both a laptop compartment large enough to accommodate a 15″ notebook and a separate pocket for a tablet computer. I especially appreciated these features since I like to have both my 11″ laptop and my iPad Mini 2 along when I travel. Now I don’t have to squeeze both devices into the same narrow slot!


The bag’s construction is of the high quality that we’ve come to expect from Think Tank Photo. The backpack’s ballistic nylon exterior is treated with a durable water-repellent coating, and it includes a seam-sealed rain cover for further protection from the elements. Special contouring on the back panel cushions the bag for greater comfort and encourages air flow to minimize perspiration. The elastic side pockets serve as a tripod holder or can keep a water bottle or small umbrella within easy reach. Think Tank thoughtfully added a handle pass-through on the back of the bag so you can slide the backpack onto your extendable suitcase handle for easy transport through airports and train stations.


The Urban Approach 15 enabled me to carry all the gear I needed for a recent weekend at Joshua Tree National Park. Although I didn’t do any hiking on that occasion, I did take my Jeep off-road and stopped for several pictures along the way. In a few weeks, I plan to take this backpack with me to Yosemite for some real hiking to give it a good workout. It will be a refreshing change to take along an extra camera body and my 70-200 f/4, which I could never fit in the small camera backpacks I’ve used in the past. As I use mirrorless cameras more and more, I have a feeling Think Tank Photo’s Urban Approach 15 Mirrorless Backpack will become my bag of choice.


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Mar 032015


For an outdoor photographer who loves to hike remote, rugged terrain in search of those perfect nature shots, a reliable backpack is a must. The average shoulder bag will hold little more than your essential camera gear, and you can only stuff so many of your personal belongings in your pants pockets. Unfortunately, many backpacks are so big and bulky that they prove cumbersome to carry and difficult to access. What is an adventuresome weekend warrior to do?


Leave it to the design ingenuity of Clik Elite to offer a sleek new solution to this dilemma–the Clik Elite Obscura 30. I think this bag, when worn properly, rates as one of the most comfortable backpacks I’ve ever used. Its asymmetrical waist-belt system does an admirable job of distributing the pack’s load to avoid fatiguing your shoulders, and well-placed, breathable padding helps prevent perspiration and chafing on your shoulders and back.


Made of durable, rip-stop nylon, the Obscura 30 weighs in at only 3.45 lb. (1.56 kg), impressively lightweight for its size (Exterior Dimensions: 23.5″H x 13″W x 9″D or 59.69 x 33.0 x 22.86 cm). This is due in part to the sturdy aluminum frame, which gives the pack a very solid feel without adding much to the poundage. The frame keeps the bag from sagging when you’re carrying only camera gear, and it adds a bit of load support when the pack is crammed to capacity.


Although more streamlined than many of its competitors, the Obscura 30 still offers plenty of storage space for both your gear and your hiking necessities (Interior Dimensions: 14″H x 11″W x 7.5″D or 35.6 x 28 x 19 cm). The camera compartment is not only large enough to accommodate a standard DSLR with lenses, it even fit my monster PhaseOne DF+ medium-format camera…and, believe me, I wouldn’t trust any bag with this baby unless I was sure the camera was snug and safe! A zippered side-entry portal gives you easy access to the stowed camera so you don’t have to go digging through the pack to get to it for a quick shot.


The main compartment features a double lens holder that, along with the space in the camera compartment, allows me to pack virtually all of the larger PhaseOne and Schneider Kreuznach lenses I like to have with me. That still leaves lots of room for clothing items, food, and toiletries. External elastic mesh pockets can hold such articles as coats or water bottles, and a nifty pouch on the waist belt keeps small accessories handy. Best of all, they’ve even incorporated a dedicated laptop sleeve long enough for a 15″ notebook computer, which makes the Obscura 30 a more useful and versatile pack than one intended solely for trekking through virgin forests.


Indeed, the Clik Elite Obscura 30 has become such a convenient way to transport my gear that I now find myself taking it on more of my professional as well as recreational shoots. The backpack is also my primary bag whenever I ride my motorcycle, for it adjusts quickly and comfortably with a single pull of a strap. If you’re looking for a camera backpack that will serve you as well in the city as it does in the country, the Clik Elite Obscura 30 is a great way to go.


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Feb 272015


Sometimes, even a dedicated nature photographer like me just wants to stop and smell the roses…without taking pictures of them.


In that spirit, MIU COLOR claims its company promotes the “slow life,” a more relaxed, eco-friendly, unhurried existence. Among the wide range of products they offer through their worldwide distribution system, the new MIU COLOR Packable Handy Lightweight Nylon Backpack Daypack serves as a nice option for those occasions when you want to go out for the day without a bunch of camera gear.


Fashioned from durable nylon, the MIU COLOR daypack is as handy and packable as its elongated name implies. Spacious when open (12 x 16.5 x 6.3 in.), the backpack folds easily to a very flat, compact size (9 x 5.5 in.) to fit in your other luggage, making it a convenient bag to take along as a light alternative to your main gear bags. Its carrying capacity makes it an ideal backpack for a day trip, with just enough room for snacks, a light jacket, flashlight, sunscreen, and other essentials, including pockets for two water bottles on the outside of the pack. The breathable mesh shoulder straps make the backpack comfortable enough to tote all day. My wife Autumn wore this backpack when we went hiking in Sequoia National Forest, and she was able to carry everything we and our two dogs needed for the entire afternoon.


True to its name, the MIU COLOR daypack is available in two brilliant hues, an electric blue and a neon green. The eye-catching colors and the reflective patches on either side of the pack ensure the bag is easy to spot, so you and your fellow hikers can keep track of one another in thick forests and oncoming drivers can see you on dark, winding roads. If you get caught in a light drizzle, the water-resistant fabric will help keep the bag’s contents dry, another feature that makes this a nice outdoor pack.


So the next time you feel like communing with Nature rather than snapping photos of it, consider taking along the inexpensive and well-made MIU COLOR daypack. Let’s all enjoy the “slow life”!

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Feb 232015


Suppose you’re flying to Switzerland for a week of luxurious landscape photography among the Alps. Do you take your camera and lenses in a nice trolley case to roll through all those interminable security lines at the airport? But how do you carry your gear when it’s time to go for those rugged mountain hikes? The trip up the Matterhorn can be a bumpy ride for a trolley case.


Clearly, the minds at Think Tank Photo have been pondering this dilemma, for they’ve come up with a solution in the design of their Airport TakeOff Rolling Camera Bag. This trolley case lets you cart your camera equipment with ease through long terminal gangways, then converts into a comfortable backpack for trekking over uneven terrain, making this one bag that’s as handy to have when you get off the plane as when you got on.


If you’re like me, there’s no way you’ll check a bag with thousands of dollars’ worth of high-end camera equipment, only to have it tossed around by a bunch of strangers then thrown into a cargo hold with a zillion other bags. I want my gear no further from me than the overhead bin directly above my seat. The Airport TakeOff is designed to remain within standard international and domestic carry-on size limitations (External Dimensions: 14” W x 21” H x 8” D or 35.5 x 53 x 22cm), although Think Tank recommends checking with your airline carrier for any specific requirements for your particular flight.


The main compartment offers sufficient capacity for two standard or pro DSLR camera bodies with or without lenses attached, plus enough extra space for up to a 400mm f2.8 as well as other lenses (Interior Dimensions: 13” W x 18.5” H x 5.25 – 6.75” D or 33 x 47 x 13–17cm). I easily fit a Canon C100 video camera with several lenses and accessories. The pack’s front pocket can accommodate a 15″ or even a 17″ laptop, although the length and thickness of the computer may cause the case to exceed carry-on restrictions or make it difficult to store in overhead bins. Think Tank thoughtfully includes plenty of padded dividers in the storage compartment so you can configure a setup that works best for your gear. A plethora of stretchable pockets provides lots of additional storage for batteries and other small accessories.


Even when fully loaded, the Airport TakeOff remains lightweight (about 9 or 10 pounds), and its wheels roll smoothly when you pull it with the retractable handle. Think Tank anticipates that you’ll get years of use from this sturdy trolley case, for the customized “skate” wheels can be replaced as they become worn, so you won’t have to trash the whole bag if you get a “flat.” When it’s time to go from the terminal to the nature trail, you simply collapse the handle and pull the backpack straps out of the convenient pocket on the back of the bag.


The straps are durable yet well-padded and comfortable, and the pack remains well-balanced and not too bulky when fully loaded. It gives me peace of mind to carry a backpack that I can wear even while shooting, so I never have to set the bag on the ground where my equipment might get stolen or damaged. The pack features a built-in rain cover and a convenient side pocket for a monopod or small tripod, and it also includes a special “tripod cup” and straps that permit you to attach a larger tripod.


Indeed, Think Tank Photo has made the Airport TakeOff Rolling Camera Bag such a great backpack as well as a reliable trolley case that you may want to use it for virtually any photo excursion, even if you never leave the ground.


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Dec 112014


Think small!

That seems to be the motto among electronics manufacturers these days due to the growing popularity of mirrorless cameras and ultrathin tablet computing devices. Why lug around a bulky bag big enough for one of those clunky old DSLRs when your compact little camera will fit a sleek case half that size? And who better to “think small” than the dependable brain trust at Think Tank Photo?


With their new Perception Tablet backpack, Think Tank has created their smallest, lightest backpack yet (Exterior Dimensions: 10″ W x 16.3″ H x 5.9″ H or 25.5 x 41.5 x 15 cm; Weight: 1.7 lb.), tailored especially for mirrorless camera systems. It’s so compact, in fact, that casual observers will never suspect you’re carrying expensive camera equipment in such a modest bag–a definite advantage when you’re out on the streets in sketchy urban environments.


Despite its small size, the Perception Tablet holds enough gear to serve as a great daypack, accommodating a mirrorless camera body with lens, an extra lens, and an 11″ laptop or tablet in its padded interior compartments. A drawstring cinches the camera compartment closed for added protection. Two outer pockets and one interior pocket provide plenty of places to stow accessories, and the space below the camera compartment can hold clothing or other little necessities.


A tripod-carry on the front of the backpack allows easy access to the bag’s contents even when a tripod is attached, and a seam-sealed rain cover complements the backpack’s water-resistant fabric to guard your gear against inclement weather. The breathable padded shoulder straps and adjustable sternum strap makes the backpack a breeze to carry. I would have liked an external side holder for a water bottle, but I can hardly complain when Think Tank has crammed so many great features into such a small package.


I recently traveled with a couple of business associates to Indianapolis to shoot a promotional video for a client, and the Perception Tablet backpack permitted me to pack all the basics for a quick overnighter. Its durable construction enabled me to stuff the bag to maximum capacity without endangering any of my fragile valuables. For gear, I took along my Sony A7r with Leica 50 Summilux, a Sony 16-35 f/4 lens, two Sony batteries, a sound recorder and lav mic, a charger and cables for my iPhone and Anker battery pack, an SD card reader, a few SD cards, a pair of Phiaton PS 210 Bluetooth Earphones, and a 11” laptop with ac adapter.


I was also able to squeeze in all my personal items for the one-day trip: a Uniqlo down jacket, two shirts, a pair of shorts, boxers, a pair of socks, and my toothbrush and other toiletries. My traveling companions couldn’t believe I fit everything I needed for the trip in a bag that was half the size of the ones they carried. In fact, I had to add a Canon 85mm f/1.2 to my Perception Tablet backpack because their bags were already too full to slip in the extra lens!


Even packed to the gills, the Perception Tablet fit easily under the seat in front of me on my plane flights, so I didn’t need to fight the other passengers for space in the overhead bins. I appreciated the sleek, streamlined design, but those photographers who want to carry additional camera bodies, more lenses, or a larger laptop may prefer one of the two larger backpacks in this Think Tank series, the Perception 15 and the Perception Pro. For a travel-light day-tripper like me, however, the Think Tank Perception Tablet is a great pack to get you there-and-back!

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