Camera supports and gear bags seem to have one important thing in common: You can never be satisfied with just one. Today, it’s even harder to resist with so many advancements in image creation that have revolutionized the products used in all aspects of the field, from the ever-increasing miniaturization and ease of use offered by mobile phones to the modular complexity of tools used for aerial imagery, video capture and filmmaking.
This diversification has resulted in a proliferation of items used for equipment storage and protection.
For instance, the basic camera bag has morphed into a long list of design options including (but not limited to) shoulder bags, rolling cases, waterproof storage, holster bags, slings, backpacks, waist packs, pouches and inserts, not to mention fashion camera bags for style-conscious shooters. Some of the trending topics in bag design we touch on here include a lightweight airport roller, a camera backpack fitted with a solar panel to charge your electronics on the go, a tried-and-true series of messenger bags with signature closures to secure your valuables while also providing easy access and a brightly colored batch of camera inserts.
When it comes to camera supports, the hip-level perspective and simple swings and tilts of your grandfather’s tripod just don’t cut it anymore. Contemporary storytelling has added variety to the form and function of this previously staid product area. New ways of seeing the world make use of everything from a worm’s-eye to a bird’s-eye point of view, not to mention the fluid motion of fast-tracking shots.
In addition to tripods, there are many other accessories, such as gimbals, panning heads and suction-cup attachments, that are among the commonplace tools photographers and content creators add to their workflows.
Tripods And Supports
Delkin Devices Fat Gecko Line: The Delkin Devices Fat Gecko camera mounts line are designed to help you capture improbable camera angles from practically any surface you can dream up—a daredevil’s helmet, the face of a sport board or the window of a speeding car, to name a few.
Four different types of suction cup mounts—the Stealth, the Mini, the Dual and the Triple—can support action cams, mirrorless models and even DSLRs with load capacities ranging from 4 to 12 pounds, respectively. From the low-profile, 140-degree-pivoting head of the Stealth to the optimal stability and 360 degrees of tilt, turn and rotation of the Triple mount, these stabilization devices allow you to picture every angle of your most intrepid adventures.
Price: Ranges from $22 to $109
Peak Design Travel Tripod: Leveraging its Kickstarter success as a bag manufacturer, Peak Design has spent the past four years redesigning the travel tripod from the ground up for a highly anticipated new product with an estimated ship date of March 2020.
The Peak Design tripod packs down to 15.5 inches, inclusive of the head, and extends to 60 inches with the center column raised. Tipping the scales at only 3.44 pounds for the aluminum model and 2.81 pounds for carbon fiber, both versions can stabilize up to 20 pounds of camera gear. What’s more, a universal phone mount magically stows inside the tripod’s center column to make this a tripod for all cameras, even the one in your pocket.
Price: $349 (aluminum); $599 (carbon fiber)
Zhiyun-Tech CRANE Gimbals: The gimbal is an essential tool for filmmakers seeking fluid handheld movement when tracking through all angles of view. Chinese manufacturer Zhiyun puts steady shots in the palm of your hand with its latest product offerings: the Smooth-Q2 for smartphones and the CRANE 3 Lab for DSLRs.
Boasting a super low profile, the pocket-sized Smooth-Q2 supports your native camera phone app via Bluetooth for functionality right out of your pocket, making it especially good for vlogging or street snapshots.
Aimed at professional filmmakers, the CRANE 3 LAB redefines the term “stabilizer” for cameras up to 10.14 pounds by offering a wireless HD-image transmission system and synchronous zoom-and-focus control via the tactile wheel or a mobile phone touchscreen.
Price: $139 (Smooth-Q2) / $699 (CRANE 3 LAB)
Syrp Genie Mini II Motion Control Device: New Zealand-based company Syrp is an innovator in camera motion control systems. Its latest offering, the Genie Mini II, is a simple-to-use smart-motion device for capturing panoramic imagery, time-lapse motion and video footage.
Designed to sit between your camera and tripod, the Genie Mini II is also compatible with any existing slider- or DIY-imaging setup you can create. This tiny device can be used with a wide range of DSLRs, mirrorless models or video cameras weighing up to 8.8 pounds.
A built-in lithium-ion battery offers 15 hours of time-lapse recording or up to six hours of video capture on a single charge, while the unit’s internal motor enables precise 360° panning motion, plus other powerful features such as Keyframe control, product turntable automation and pan-and-tilt motion when combined with a second Genie Mini II.
Bags And Cases
Think Tank Airport Advantage XT Rolling Camera Case: In response to increasingly restrictive international airline requirements, a new Think Tank roller case trims the heft of other such bags to a mere 7.5 pounds. The Airport Advantage XT fits two gripped DSLR camera bodies and several lenses inside, with up to a 17-inch laptop and 10-inch tablet in the front pocket, thereby enabling traveling photographers to carry the maximum amount of gear on the plane.
An extra-tall retractable handle keeps the bag away from your feet when rolling, while hand grips on three sides facilitate lifting the bag into overhead bins. Available in both black and graphite, the bag has exterior fabric protected with a water-repellant coating and hypalon-reinforced rear corners for added durability.
Voltaic OffGrid Solar Backpack: Voltaic’s founder created the original solar backpack in 2004. The current-generation OffGrid Solar Backpack allows you to keep your electronics charged from the safety of your bag. Featuring a waterproof PET fabric exterior made from recycled water bottles, the bag’s 25 liters of storage includes a large main compartment, a padded sleeve to accommodate up to a 15-inch laptop and dedicated smart pockets. A separate padded camera insert fits snuggly inside to carry a DSLR, three camera lenses and accessories. The bag’s front flap is fitted with a 10-watt solar panel to power a 12,000mAh, dual USB battery pack, which will keep your devices charged up while you move.
Price: $199 ($20 for camera insert)
Tenba DNA Series Messenger Bags: When carrying expensive gear, being unobtrusive can have its advantages. Tenba’s DNA series of messenger-style camera bags gives you the look of an everyday commuter, no matter where you find yourself. Available in a variety of sizes from 8 to 15 inches in width, these bags come with a wealth of features, including Tenba’s signature Whisper Hook closure, for virtually silent opening, Fidlock magnetic clips to further secure the front flap, a quick access-top zipper that allows you to swap out cameras and lenses on the go, and a body armor base panel underneath. In transit, an extra security strap keeps the bag snugly attached to your body when riding a bike or traveling in unfamiliar territory.
Price: $99 to $174
Ape Case Cubeze Camera Inserts: The Cubeze line of camera inserts from Ape Case offers an economical way to protect your gear by customizing the bag you currently own while simultaneously camouflaging your valuables in a less-recognizable camera container. Rugged nylon construction resists wear and tear, and the drawstring top closure adds a level of security while ensuring easy access. As an added benefit, the Hi-Vis yellow interior makes it easy to find what you need in the dark.
Price: $10 to $33
Celestron Elements ThermoTank 3 / ThermoCharge 3: The coming of winter signals a troublesome time for image makers struggling to stay warm during extended periods working outdoors. Optical industry leader Celestron comes to the rescue with its Elements series of rechargeable hand warmers, while the advanced model serves an additional function.
The ThermoTank 3 runs on a 3,000 mAh lithium battery, providing up to four hours of continuous heat at a maximum temperature of 113°F.
Incorporating the same weight and form factor, the ThermoCharge 3 combines hand warming with a portable power bank, allowing you to charge a smartphone or tablet on the go while still fitting easily in your pocket, bag, purse or glove compartment. When you need to top off the power to your device, just plug the ThermoCharge into the 5V-1A charging port. You can even use the hand warmer and charging functions at the same time.
Price: $19 (Celestron Elements ThermoTank 3)/$24 (ThermoCharge 3)
Pelican Protector Case + EMS Battery for iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max: The Pelican brand has long been a leader in designing high-performance cases to protect gear. Its new Protector EMS Recharge series of phone cases is compatible with the new iPhone 11 by combining certified drop protection with a detachable 2,000 mAh-capacity battery pack to keep your phone charged up on the go.
The EMS (easy mount system) comprises a shell case with an interior magnetic strip that securely attaches the battery to the back of the case. Using Qi wireless charging technology, the pack can boost your phone by up to 40 percent while an incorporated USB-A port allows you to charge other devices as well.
Photographers Fighting GAS
The unceasing volume of shiny objects and tempting gear options in today’s marketplace has led many to bemoan the condition of GAS, otherwise known as “gear acquisition syndrome,” or a tendency to purchase more equipment than justified by usage and/or price. Here are a few recommendations for keeping this syndrome at bay:
1. Rent your gear to test the item(s) you lust after before making a purchase to confirm (or question) your desire for a given product.
Services such as BorrowLenses.com and LensProToGo.com are established destinations for economizing in this product area, while online resources (such as the example below) can be found with a quick Google search, to aid you in tracking down other categories of gear in your local area: https://thehhub.com/2018/10/15/where-to-rent-photography-studio-equipment-in-every-major-us-city.
2. Check out the used camera department of your nearest photo or video retailer to search for deals. One online retailer specializing in used gear is KEH, said to be the world’s largest provider of high-quality, previously used camera and photographic equipment, with an inventory of more than 55,000 items.
3. Peruse online forums such as Craigslist, eBay or industry-centric sites such as Grid50, which caters specifically to photographers and videographers. And for some motivation to make room in your bag for all those new items on your wish list, search Grid50’s resources page for tips about the best (and worst) places to sell your used gear: grid50gear.com/the-best-place-to-sell-used-camera-equipment.