A quick view of my kit for the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships.
This weeks Sunday spotlight will focus on the new Panorama 180 camera bag by Mindshift- My choice bag for the Alpine World Ski Championships that I shot a few weeks back.
I'm going to cover all of the positives I can muster, before touching on all the reasons why I would never, ever, recommend this bag to a working professional.....
For starters, it is my understanding that Mindshift as a company is an offshoot from ThinkTank Photo- the premier bad-asses when it comes to making professional ready camera bags. And with that, it shows. The construction of the Panorama 180 is is 100% ThinkTank- very durable zippers, water repellent materials (They don't advertise this, but I do.), tight stitching, and an overall feeling of quality.
The general concept of the bag is a lightweight trekking pack, with a general upper compartment, and a photo gear compartment on the bottom that swings around as a belt pack for easy access. The padding on this bag is second to none, and very comfortable for highly active travel.
The bottom photo compartment slides out of the pack for easy access, also serving as a stand alone belt pack.
The sliding photo compartment works great. It has very large and tough loops to grab onto in order to pull it out, which were more than compatible with gloves in cold weather.
The sliding photo compartment is also where we must begin to look at who this bag is for, and who should look into something else...
This is the photo compartment with some general accessories, a D750 body, and a 14-24...It is nearly at capacity!
This bag IS for someone hiking light, without much photo gear. The "I only need one lens to see the world" kind of guy. I tried several combinations, and at most was able to get an ipad, one body, and two smaller lenses in there- with little room to spare.
The upper compartment is very roomy, but off the shelf, it is not padded. Put your shell, your lunch, gloves, and maybe a few durable GoPro accessories in here. Without any dividers or padding, you would be really gambling if you tried to put any expensive gear up top.
Mindshift has addressed this by offering an additional insert that you can buy for the top section. It gives about a half-inch of padding and dividers for support. I picked one up for transporting gear out to colorado, but never used it while shooting, as it then effectively defeats the purpose of having a bag with room for outdoor gear as well.
On top of the lid for the upper section, there is a zippered pocket that was great for smaller items. This I found to be very useful.
On the note of GoPro accessories: If you do pickup this bag, grab a $10 GoPro vented helmet strap mount. Twice around the backpack strap and you get a very cool, easy-access camera position, with a FOV similar to the chesty.
So why did I buy this bag? For one thing, hiking around all day at various altitudes, covering everything from skiing action to concerts- this was an incredibly comfortable bag. Also, for this event, I knew I would always have at least one camera and one lens out- minimizing what needed to fit in the bag at any given time. The photo belt became more of a lens dump for me, while the upper compartment kept all extra gear I needed to be away from the hotel 12-14hrs a day.
In addition to the GoPro Mod, I added a few extra carabiners to attach my yak-trax as well as secure my water bottle.
For the money, it was an inexpensive blank canvas- that was a good starting point to make it exactly what I needed for this particular shoot.
Any working professional who needs to carry a lot of photo and computer gear is going to want to pass on this bag 97% of the time. But, if you are a photo enthusiast who loves the outdoors and wants to carry a balance of photo gear and your outdoor gear- this is definitely one to consider!
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