Todd Hatakeyama

Mar 282017
 
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
 
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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
 
gopro-seeker

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
 
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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
 
gopro-5-sound-test

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
 
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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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Nov 042016
 

The MindShift Gear TrailScape 18L is a brand new midsize camera backpack with some space for a jacket and others essentials. There’s also separate compartments for a 13″ laptop and 10″ tablet, making it a perfect bag for a short trip or all day hike. With exterior dimensions of 9.8” W x 18.1” H x 7.1” D, it’s one of the more compact backpacks in the MindShift lineup.

There’s a convenient outer pocket which I like for airplane travel, my Bose earbuds and passport fit perfectly for easy access. A tripod or water bottle can fit on one side, as well as another water bottle on the other.

The main compartment measures 9.4” W x 17.3” H x 4.8” D with plenty of dividers to fit two camera bodies and several lenses along with other accessories. I modified the interior to also fit clothing for my 7 night trip to Tokyo since this will be my only bag that I will bring. I believe in traveling light and quick dry clothing so I can bring just a few days of clothes to save space and weight, I just have to wash and hang dry everything which isn’t too much trouble.

You wouldn’t think a camera bag this size could be used for a 7 night international trip all by itself, but with some strategic packing I was able to fit everything I needed in one backpack since I have a small connecting flight which won’t even fit a 19″ roller bag as a carry-on. Here’s a list: Canon XC15 Cine Camera with Rode Videomic Pro, Macbook 12″, GoPro Hero 5 Black with Evo Pro Gimbal, extension handle for gimbal, Gorilla pod, grip for Canon, 2 Zoom H1 audio recorders and lav mics, foldable backpack to carry while sightseeing instead of the TrailScape, super compact umbrella, led light, chargers and extra batteries, 6″ cables (saves a little space and weight from the 1m cables), Bose earbuds, sd and micro sd cards, variable ND filter, mini portable battery charger, usb-c adapters, SD, micro SD and CFast card readers, toothbrush, toothpaste, earplugs, advil and other various meds, pen, business cards, passport, 2 Columbia quick dry shirts, 2 Uniqlo quick dry shirts for sleeping, 2 boxers, sleeping shorts, Hurley Dri Fit pants, 2 pairs Dri Fit socks.

Overall the MindShift Gear TrailScape 18L is a nice smaller bag that fits a lot of gear, or gear and clothing. It has the same high quality build as the rest of the MindShift backpacks and many of the same features as the larger bags.

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Oct 302016
 
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This was our 6 day/5 night South West Tour in October, 2016.

We started in Las Vegas, had a great dinner at a speakeasy. The following morning made the long drive to the Escalante Monument and visited Devil’s Garden. We then had dinner in Tropic at the best restaurant in the area and stayed the night near Bryce Canyon. The next morning we woke up early to shoot the sunrise at Sunset Point and Thor’s Hammer, did some hiking, saw all of the overlooks, then left for Zion.

We had a nice dinner in Zion, relaxed a little, did some window shopping in town, then woke up early for the Narrows. This was the best hike of the trip, it was an amazing and tiring 9 miles through the water. The best photos of the trip were taken in the Narrows, well worth the long hike. We had another nice dinner, got some sleep and did a short hike to the Emerald Pools. We stopped for lunch at the nicest restaurant in St George with a view of the city from high above on a cliff, then made our way to the Valley of Fire.

We then headed back to Las Vegas, had a great all you can eat Japanese tapas dinner then to the Palms for our final night of the tour. The next morning we had a helicopter tour to the Grand Canyon, landing at the bottom for a picnic lunch and some great scenery.

It was an exciting 6 days/5 nights, we saw some of the best scenery in 3 states, ate some great food, and had a lot of fun.

Check out our website for upcoming tours
www.simplephototours.com

Oct 162016
 

Think Tank just released it’s third generation of their Airport International Rolling Case. There’s a brand new reinforced telescoping handle, a dedicated padded pocket for both a laptop and tablet which is lockable with a coated cable and lock which can also secure your bag to an immovable object, and user-replaceable parts. It’s outer dimensions of 14” x 21” x 8” complies with most international and domestic airlines.

I’m able to fit two full camera systems, Sony A7r II and Olympus Pen F, a camcorder, 2 microphones, a sound recorder and filters. There’s so much room in the main compartment, lots of dividers to customize the space to fit your gear.

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The interior lid has 4 zippered pockets to store memory cards, batteries, filters and other miscellaneous accessories.

The laptop compartment also has a separate tablet pocket, plus several small pockets and a zippered compartment to fit small accessories.

The top of the bag has a business card holder as well as a zippered pocket for small items, plus a nice handle and the retractable handle.

There’s a badge with a serial number for Lost & Found registration with a phone number for Think Tank to help return the bag to the owner.

The tripod mount on the side with a pocket will hold even large tripods, or a water bottle.

High-performance, 80mm wheels with sealed ABEC grade 5 bearings provide quiet rolling and are user replaceable as well as the wheel housings, feet, kick plate and extendable handle.

The new Airport International is a great bag when you need to travel with a lot of gear. The upgrades are just what the Airport series needed, a stronger handle, user replaceable parts, and extra pockets. The only problem, I’ll be leaving the Airport International Version 2 at home now, it won’t see much use unless I need to bring an extra large amount of gear.

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We will earn a small commission on any purchases made from Think Tank.

Aug 312016
 
GP 2 Kit Case

MindShift Gear’s MindShift GP Series is a complete storage solution for your GoPro action cameras and accessories. Typical camera bags and backpacks sometimes just don’t work for carrying all of my GoPro gear. The cameras fit well in the dividers where lenses usually go, but all of the accessories just don’t fit well in the small pockets of the bags, or loose in the main divider compartment.

GP 2 Kit Case

GP 2 Kit Case – 6.7” W x 2.6” H x 3.7” D

I can fit two GoPro cameras, most of my attachments, chargers, extra batteries in the GP Bundle Medium which includes the GP 2 Kit Case, GP Cables & Power, GP Mounts, and GP 2 Batteries & Cards.

GP Cables & Power

GP Cables & Power – 6.7” W x 3.7” H x 1.4 D

If I’m taking my large Think Tank Airport Roller with the Canon C100 and Sony A7rII systems, I’ll put the GoPro cameras in the GP2 Kit Case, and use some of the accessory pouches for the rest of the GoPro gear. Then I can store all of these bags in the outer compartment of the Airport bag.

GP Mounts - Medium

GP Mounts – Medium – 7.1” W x 7.1” H x 1.2” D

I like the convenience of the clear windows so it’s quick and easy to find what you need instead of digging through a pouch or dumping everything out. The sizes are perfect, not too big, but will hold what I need for most shoots. The quality is just like all other MindShift Gear products, very well made, great attention to detail.

GP 2 Batteries & Cards

GP 2 Batteries & Cards – 4.3” W x 0.8” H x 2.4” D

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We will earn a small commission on any purchases made from MindShift Gear.