Todd Hatakeyama

Dec 062017


I just got a new bag from MindShift Gear, the Backlight 36L. The BackLight opens from the back panel to access your gear for rapid access. This bag can hold enough gear for almost any shoot, 2 gripped camera bodies with lenses attached plus 4-6 standard lenses and a flash. Even a 600mm f/4 lens can fit in this bag! I don’t have grips for my cameras, but since I shoot video I always have microphones attached. I easily fit the following: Panasonic GH5 with 8-18mm lens attached, Canon M5 with 11-22mm lens attached, DJI Spark and remote, GoPro Hero Session 5 with Feiyu Tech WG2 Gimbal, Pilotfly C45 Gimbal and Sony RX100V, Rode Rodelink system, Zoom H1 sound recorder, and the rain cover.


The 11L daypack section can hold tons of personal gear as well as a 15″ laptop and 10″ tablet, plus lots of small compartments for pens, business cards and more. I carry my clothing in this section, as well as all of my chargers, cables, toiletries and jacket. The front pocket is a good size too, a good place to put easy access items like your keys, wallet, or snacks. The top pocket is good for some small items, maybe a memory card wallet or a cell phone.


On the inside back panel there’s two mesh pockets for small items, usually I keep my batteries, filters and other small accessories here.

The oversized side compartments will hold a large water bottle, or a tripod with the straps up top to hold it in securely. There’s also a tripod attachment on the front of the bag which will fit a pretty large tripod. You can also use the optional Tripod Suspension Kit if the other options don’t work out for you.


The nice thing with this design is that when you lay the backpack on the ground to access your gear, it’s not getting the straps dirty like other backpacks. The shoulder harness and waist belt have plenty of padding, as well as the back panel. It’s very comfortable considering how much weight you can put into this bag, a very nice design to make a long hike more pleasurable hauling all of your gear. There’s also a rain cover, just in case of a sudden downpour.


The Backlight 36L is a great option if you need to carry a lot of gear and some clothing and accessories, if the BackLight 26L is a little too small for you. The build quality is very nice, consistent with the rest of MindShift Gear’s bags. With exterior dimensions: 13.8” W x 22.4” H x 10.2” D (35 x 57 x 26 cm), it’s a good option for flying with one bag for your gear, clothing and laptop, on most US carriers.

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Sep 192017


The Spectral Series Shoulder Bags is a brand new line from Think Tank Photo for DLSR and mirrorless camera systems. There are three sizes fitting from 2 to 4 lenses and a camera body, along with a tablet for the two smaller bags, a tablet and a 15” laptop for the largest size. They have a magnetic Fidlock clasp for one-handed opperation that’s quiet and easy to open or close the flap. There’s also a zippered cover for extra security from theft and weather, it can be tucked away when you don’t need it.


The fabric is treated with a water resistant coating on the exterior, the underside is coated with a water resistant polyurethane. Plus a full rain cover is included in case of a heavy storm. As all other Think Tank Photo bags the workmanship and material are top notch and come with a lifetime warranty against defects, for the original owner.


I’ve been using the Spectral 8, external dimensions: 11” W x 8.3” H x 6.1” D (28 x 21.2 x 15.5 cm), with my Canon M5 video setup. I have the Canon 11-22mm EF-M lens with the Rode VideoMicro and a handle grip. This fits perfectly laying across the top with the lens face down in the middle compartment. I can also put my Canon 18-150mm EF-M lens on one side and the Manfrotto table top tripod on the other, along with some extra batteries, SD cards and iPad Mini if needed.


I like the size of the Spectral 8, it’s very similar to the Retrospective 5 but has more protection against light rain and a silent flap opener. It’s small enough to carry around all day, but big enough to carry my main camera, and even a GoPro Hero 5 Session with Feiyu Tech WG2 Gimbal, if I need a second camera.


Overall it’s a nice little bag, perfect for a day out walking around town. I’m actually using it today for a quick overnight trip and video shoot in the morning. Great to throw in my car in the back and not draw any attention for thieves, or just bring in with me when I go shopping or to a restaurant.

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Jul 262017


I haven’t used sling bags since I first started photography about ten years ago. I always liked the idea of being able to swing the bag around easily to access the bag, but every sling bag I tried never sat right, it always seemed like it was going to fall off.

A few months ago at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, I stopped by the Think Tank/MindShift booth and heard some details about this new PhotoCross so I was excited to give it a try. I picked the PhotoCross 10 which is only 11” x 15.9” x 6.3” and holds a small tablet, along with a camera and a couple lenses, plus accessories. The PhotoCross 13 is larger at 12.6” x 17.7” x 7.1” and holds a small laptop.


As with all other MindShift bags, the build quality is top notch, the material is tough and semi water resistant, very nice seams and zippers, and includes a rain covera and tripod mounting straps. The accessory pocket is quite large, enough to carry all of your extra small gear. There’s also a water bottle pocket on one side, top and side carry handles, and a breathable back panel to help keep you cool.


I planned the perfect road trip to try out the PhotoCross 10, four days driving around the desert in California and Arizona, with a visit to Mexico. I packed my Canon M5 with the 10-18mm lens, Rode VideoMicro and handle grip, along with the DJI Spark, extra batteries, memory cards, filters, sound recorder, lav mic, and other small accessories.


The main reason I was interested in using this bag was my time in Mexico, I parked at the border near Yuma, AZ and walked across to Los Algodones. I brought my Canon M5 setup to take some video of the town, left the drone in the car. But it was nice to have something small and compact on my back that doesn’t stand out like a huge camera backpack. I also wasn’t too sure how safe it would be to walk around Los Algodones with a camera, so being able to put it away quickly and easily was a big plus.

As I guessed, some of the locals weren’t too thrilled at me filming in town, so I took off my Rode VideoMicro to not look too conspicuous. After I got enough footage I put the camera away and just walked around sightseeing and grabbed some tacos. The bag was so light and small, I didn’t even notice I had it on after a while. It was a great choice for this part of the trip, I was very happy that I had it with me.

The rest of the trip I pretty much just had the bag in the back of the car, along with my duffel bag for clothing. But it was easy to throw on when I arrived at the hotels, carried all the gear I needed very well. I really like the size, if I don’t need multiple cameras it will be my go to bag, plus it even holds the Spark as well, very nice!

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Jun 302017

Think Tank Photo has updated one of their most popular backpack series, the StreetWalker. There’s four sizes, the StreetWalker V2.0, StreetWalker Pro V2.0, StreetWalker Harddrive V2.0 and the StreetWalker Rolling Backpack V2.0. The two smaller StreetWalker bags hold 1 to 2 camera bodies and several lenses, along with a 10″ tablet. I needed to carry my MacBook so I went with the largest, the Harddrive V2.0 which holds up to a 15″ laptop and 13″ tablet, along with a whole lot of camera gear. The rolling version is slightly larger and adds wheels and a retractable handle, but only holds a 15″ laptop, no dedicated tablet compartment.


I’m a minimalist traveler, so I only wanted to carry one bag on my week long trip to Germany. This was quite a challenge since I had an event that required a suit, but I negotiated down to a sport coat, dress shirt and black pants. I was able to fit everything in the Streetwalker Harddrive V2.0 and still had some space left over. I brought my Sony RX100V with Pilotfly C45 Gimbal, Canon M5 with 10-22mm lens and Rode Videomicro, MacBook, dress clothes, a light jacket, 3 sets of clothes, batteries, chargers and other accessories.

The bag weighed in at 23 pounds, much heavier than I usually travel with, but considering the extra clothing, it wasn’t too bad. The padded shoulder straps were amazing, it was very comfortable to carry, I even walked about a mile from the train station to my hotel in Wiesbaden. I had to put the sports coat in the laptop section so it bulged a little bit in the back, but was still comfortable, nice that I was able to fit it in there with the MacBook.


The build quality is excellent, just like the rest of Think Tank’s bags. I didn’t bring a tripod but there is an included strap, also a rain cover and plenty of padded dividers which I removed most of to fit my clothing and the gimbal. With exterior dimensions of 11.4” W x 20.4” H x 8.7” D (29 x 52 x 22 cm), it’s small enough as a carry on. Although one of my flights was on a small United Bombardier CRJ-200 V2 plane and it wouldn’t fit in the upper compartments since they’re tiny. I was in the front row so I had to switch with the person behind me and it fit easily under the seat.


Overall the StreetWalker Harddrive V2.0 is one of my favorite camera backpacks. It carries so much gear yet is compact enough to carry on most flights. I’ll be taking this bag on a week long road trip next week to Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. But this time it will be packed full of cameras. I’ll be bringing my Canon XC15, Canon M5, Sony RX100V, GoPro Hero 4 along with various gimbals, batteries, chargers, accessories, and hopefully my new MacBook Pro 13 if it’s delivered in time.

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Mar 282017


The Signature Series Shoulder Bags by Think Tank are their nicest looking bags to date. Think Tank has really stepped it up with design and materials in their quest at competing with the luxury camera bag market.


When I first saw the new Signature Series I knew I had to see what they’re all about. I picked the Signature 13 which fits up to a 13” laptop since the Signature 10 will only fit up to a 10” tablet. At first glance you would think it’s one of those other really expensive brand shoulder bags. Everything about this bag says quality and class, the brown leather with the grey wool like material and the metal hardware just work so well together.


Once you open the two clasps, there’s a zippered flap that protects the main compartment, which also tucks away. This is a nice feature since without it a lens could possibly fall out, I’ve had this happen with other shoulder bags. Once inside, there’s a padded 13” laptop compartment, an expandable pocket in front with an additional zippered pocket, and a large padded compartment for your camera and lenses with several quilted dividers. It’s easy to fit either a DSLR or Mirrorless camera with 3 to 4 lenses, as well as all of your accessories in the various pockets.


One of my favorite features is the shoulder strap which is leather on the top, but underneath is a really comfortable neoprene padded area, it’s so soft! There’s also a rain cover, dedicated phone pocket which fits the larger phones, a wide handle pass-through for your rolling luggage, and the dividers and bottom foam can all be removed to use as a regular shoulder bag.


I don’t use shoulder bags too often anymore, mostly backpacks since it’s easier to travel with for me. But this bag is so nice I’m going to take it on my next couple of trips and see if it will make me switch back to shoulder bags. There’s more than enough room for my camera setup which is just the Sony RX100V and gimbal, as well as my 12” Macbook and a couple sets of clothes, so I could take a long trip with this instead of a backpack.


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Dec 142016

I’m pretty disappointed with the GoPro Hero 5 audio, it’s just not usable, a huge downgrade from the Hero 4.

Since I’m always looking for solutions to problems, I ordered the GoPro USB-C to 3.5mm adapter for $40 + tax (with the GoPro Plus 20% off), the PULUZ aluminum housing $32.99 (make sure you get the one with the big opening for the usb door), and I already had the Rode VideoMicro ($59) and Gorillapod.

The sound is much better, but it kind of sounds just like the Hero 4 with no accessories or special settings, the Hero 4 just works. I really don’t know what GoPro was thinking, I’m really hoping they’ll come up with a magic firmware update that will make it all better.

Link to items
PULUZ Housing Shell CNC Aluminum Alloy Protective Cage with Insurance Frame & 52mm UV Lens for GoPro HERO5(Black)

GoPro Hero 5

GoPro 3.5 to USB-C adapter

Rode VideoMicro

Dec 072016

After my trip to Tokyo last month, I found that I didn’t use my Canon XC15 much, so I was going to go even smaller for my 3 week trip to South East Asia. Since the GoPro Seeker has a mount on one strap that’s perfect for the Karma Grip, I figured I’d give it a try, even though it’s only a 16 liter bag.

Over the years I’ve been traveling lighter and lighter, minimalist travel is so much easier than rolling bags and big backpacks. I’ve switched to strictly quick dry clothing, so I’m able to travel as long as I want with a small bag.

My favorite quick dry clothing: Uniqlo rain jacket and sleep shirt, Columbia shirts, Mountain Gear shirt, Ex Officio boxers, Hurley Dri Fit pants, Nike Dri Fit socks, Nike Dri Fit shorts, Lems minimalist boots.

I was also able to fit the GoPro Hero 5 with Karma Grip, Zoom Q2N with Gorillapod, Macbook 12″, external hard drive, GoPro Supercharger and battery charger, various cables, ac adapter, usb-c card reader, Advil, earplugs, toothpaste, toothbrush, umbrella, extra memory cards and batteries.

Dec 062016

After being so disappointed with the GoPro Hero 5 audio on my Tokyo trip, I purchased the brand new Zoom Q2N which is made for musicians to record themselves. I saw a few reviews about it and thee musicians seemed to like it, other than a strange rainbow that shows up in the center of the frame in certain light. I’m hoping this can be corrected when the hood is released, or I may try to make my own.

The Q2N has no stabilization, and the mic is very sensitive so using it while moving around is not an option, so it’s very different than the GoPro Hero 5 on the Karma Grip. It seems like it would be great for making videos at home, set it on a tripod and just hit record. I’m going to try it on my next food video, I’m curious to see how much ambient sound it picks up. I’m pretty confident it will sound much better than the Hero 5, but it might just pick up too much of the other people’s voices.

My next test will be adding the extremely expensive USB-C to 3.5mm GoPro adapter with the Rode Videomicro, along with a Chinese aluminum GoPro Hero 5 housing with a cold shoe. It’s going to add a lot of bulk to the setup, but I’ll put it on a small Gorillapod and see how it is as a vlogging camera.

Dec 062016

Just got the Karma Grip today, I was very excited to get it since I sold my Evo Pro gimbal, I had issues with audio feedback and damage to the Hero 5 when the gimbal turns off and bangs the edges.

My friend Steve Huff said he was having audio issues with the Hero 5 mounted to the Karma Grip, giving him a muffled sound. He then found a GoPro forum post about muffled sound with the usb door open, which it has to be to plug into the Karma Grip.

Here’s the post

A few days ago I used the Hero 5 with the Frame on a Gorillapod at dinner, didn’t have time to import the video until today and I found that the sound was horrible! I had the door off since I didn’t think it mattered, it was easier to charge with the usb-c cable than to take it out of the Frame and remove the battery. But the sound was so muffled, very bad, pretty much unusable.

I then did several tests with different audio settings, a naked Hero 5, in the Frame and in the Karma Grip. With the naked Hero 5 with the door on, it sounded the best. The sound degraded with the door off, then got worse with the Frame, and the Karma Grip.

Here’s Steve Huff’s comparison of the GoPro Karma Grip with GoPro 5 Black & with EVO and GoPro 4

Check out my comparison of the new Zoom Q2N and GoPro Hero 5

Dec 022016


The new MindShift Gear SidePath is their smallest backpack with exterior dimensions: 10.6” W x 19” H x 5.9” D, perfect for a day trip when you need something compact and light. At 1.6 lbs and a 14 liter capacity, it’s my favorite bag when I just need to take my Canon XC15 with a Rode VideoMic Pro, GoPro Hero 5 Black and Evo Pro gimbal, a jacket, water bottle and monopod.

A rear camera compartment measures 9.1” W x 6.7” H x 5.5” D which holds a mirrorless camera or dslr and 1 to 2 lenses. The main compartment fits a 10” tablet or 1.5L hydration reservoir (reservoir not included), as well as plenty of space for a jacket, extra layers, and other supplies. You can also unzip the camera compartment from the inside when you need a regular backpack and need more space for non camera gear.

It’s made of the same great materials as the rest of MindShift Gear’s bags, high quality YKK zippers, and 420D high-density nylon with reinforced stress points, also includes a rain cover. The two oversized stretch water bottle pockets are so convenient to fit a water bottle on one side, and a tripod or monopod on the other. I really love these pockets and sometimes even use them to store my jacket rolled up and umbrella if I need more space inside for clothes for a weekend trip.

The SidePath is quickly becoming one of my favorite bags, especially as I completely embrace minimalist travel. The small size and simplistic design, make it an easy decision to take out for a quick hike or even a short trip when I’m not looking to take every camera that I own with me. It’s my perfect overnight bag when I don’t need to bring my Macbook, just my iPad mini, some clothes and a camera.

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