Vanguard Alta Rise 48 camera backpack

Over my past 15 years as a pro photographer I’ve had innumerable backpacks, bags and carrying accessories for my camera gear. It seemed I was always making some kind of compromise, and I could never find exactly the right bag for my style and needs—until now.

Delivered today was my new Vanguard Alta Rise 48 – and I now have my perfect camera bag.

My move to minimalism

A few years ago, when I decided to switch to Sony mirrorless camera systems, my main objective was cutting down the weight, size and general clumsiness of the kit I’d been lugging around.

(At one point, with my Canon DSLR setup, I had a backpack that weighed over 35 pounds when filled with camera bodies, lenses and accessories! I’d had enough of this.)

So I started looking for a camera system that would give me the image quality (and resolution) that I needed but smaller, lighter … and, in the end, cheaper. Sony met those requirements, and I’ve been an ambassador ever since.

It turned out the harder part was finding the right luggage to haul the new kit around in. I’ve used and endorsed products from ThinkTank, LowePro, Manfrotto, Tamrac and many others. And although the quality of most of the products from these brands is reliably excellent, the design and usability is another matter altogether.

Now it’s personal

One of the most individual decisions we make as photographers is how we carry our gear. Depending on how and where you shoot, and what gear you use, there are seemingly infinite choices and configurations when it comes to bags.

After switching to Sony mirrorless I thought I’d also had enough of backpacks, so I started looking at shoulder bags. I shopped around for months and eventually found the excellent Vanguard Up-Rise II 28. It fit all my camera gear perfectly, was intelligently designed and the build quality superb.

But I found very quickly that a shoulder bag was not right for me. Having the weight on one side of my body, however much lighter it was, turned out to be uncomfortable. So I was back to looking for backpacks.

Seeking camouflage

In the meantime, I became very comfortable just using a ‘regular’ backpack, not designed for cameras. Thieves have a finely tuned radar for photo bags; typical backpacks are certainly stolen as well, but not nearly as attractive to thieves. So for a long time, I really tried to get by without a true camera bag at all. But with a regular backpack, protection for the gear is minimal and the storage spaces aren’t ideal. So I found a regular backpack wasn’t filling the need, either.

Vanguard Alta Rise 48 camera backpackThe current crop

In mid-2017 I started looking for a new camera backpack. As fast and impressively as cameras have been evolving, so have bags.

I’ve loved my Vanguard shoulder bag so from the outset I hoped to find another Vanguard bag. Still, wanting to perform the appropriate due-diligence, I researched all the latest from ThinkTank, LowePro, Manfrotto, Tamrac and others.

At The Photography Show 2018 at the NEC in Birmingham, UK all the bag makers were showing their latest and best products. And I looked at them all.

In the end I chose the Vanguard Alta Rise 48 and I am well chuffed (as we say here in England).

Today the bag arrived, I put in all my gear and tried it on. It’s every bit as good as I thought it was when I saw it at the Photography Show and I’m looking forward to getting out and shooting with it!

If you’re considering buying another bag, of any style, you must see what Vanguard is doing. Their products are incredibly well designed, the build quality is superb and the prices represent very good value.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on camera bags, please leave your comments below.

Think Tank mirrorless backpacks

Think-Tank-Perception-Mirrorless-backpacksThink Tank Photo just announced that its new Perception backpacks for Mirrorless systems are now available.  The Perception series comes in two colors, black and taupe, and three sizes.  The smallest size, The Perception Tablet™, accommodates a Mirrorless system and an iPad Mini. The largest size, the Perception Pro™, holds a 15″ laptop and a 10″ tablet, plus one Mirrorless body or small DSLR with a small to medium zoom attached (lens hood reversed).  Plus, the largest size fits four to five more lenses or a large GoPro® kit.

In addition, Think Tank is offering holiday specials on two of its most innovative products.  You will save 30% on its My 2nd Brain “mobile office” bags for Apple laptops and iPads and 20% on its Suburban Disguise full-featured shoulder bag specifically designed to accommodate standard-size DSLR systems.

Remember that when you order using our link, you will receive free gear with these and all orders of $50 or more.  And, as always, you receive free FedEx Ground shipping!

Click here for more details and online ordering

Think Tank Photo new Mirrorless camera bag

Mirrorless Movers Heathered GrayOur friends at Think Tank Photo just announced they have released a new color, Heather Grey, in its popular Mirrorless Mover collection of bags for mirrorless systems. Four sizes of bags offer a wide choice; from the smallest case, the Mirrorless Mover 5, designed for one mirrorless camera, on up to the largest, the Mirrorless Mover 30i, which will accommodate a camera, lenses, accessories and an iPad®. And don’t forget that by clicking on my link, every time you order $50 or more of Think Tank gear you will receive free gear with your orders. Enjoy!

Sony mirrorless cameras: The best for my photography

Sony A7rSeveral years ago I switched camera formats. I am now a dedicated Sony shooter. Here’s the story of how that happened.

For years I had been shooting with Canon DSLR systems. I was happy with the image quality from my 5D Mark II but always struggled to accept the large size, weight and cost of the components of this system.

I wanted a system that was small, light and portable because I travel frequently and carry my camera with me everywhere.

But for a long time, I couldn’t find a small system that offered the capabilities I needed, especially when it came to the quality of the captured images.

That has all changed with the latest offerings from Sony.


Think Tank Photo launches Mirrorless camera bag collection

My friends at Think Tank Photo just announced their first camera bag collection for Mirrorless cameras, the Mirrorless Movers™.  The Mirrorless Movers come in four sizes that range in size from the Mirrorless Mover 5, which fits one small size mirrorless body with a small telephoto or pancake lens attached, up to the Mirrorless Mover 30i, which fits one medium to large size mirrorless body plus two to four lenses and an iPad.


As is their design philosophy, Think Tank placed a premium on quality.  The new bags utilize metal hardware instead of plastic buckles, and only high quality fabrics, YKK zippers and a new, magnetic closure.  In the words of their president and lead designer Doug Murdoch, “The Mirrorless Movers offer photographers quality in their camera bags worthy of their investment in these sophisticated, expensive camera systems.”

When you click on this special link you will receive free gear with all orders of $50 or more and free shipping on all orders if you order by May 31, 2013.

The four sizes are:

  • The Mirrorless Mover 5 fits one small size mirrorless body with a small telephoto or pancake lens attached. It is sized for the Canon EOS–M, Leica D–Lux, Nikon 1 series, Olympus E–PM2, E–PL5, EP–3, Panasonic GF3, Sony NEX–C3, or similar sized bodies.
  • The Mirrorless Mover 10 fits one medium size mirrorless body plus one to two lenses and additional accessories. It is sized for the Leica V–Lux, Olympus OM–D E–M5, Panasonic G3, GF5, GH2, Samsung NX5, NX11, NX210, Sony NEX–5, NEX–6, NEX–7, or similar sized/smaller bodies.
  • The Mirrorless Mover 20 fits one medium size mirrorless body plus two to three lenses and additional accessories. It is sized for the Leica V–Lux, Olympus OM–D E–M5, Panasonic G3, GF5, GH2, Samsung NX5, NX11, NX210, Sony NEX–5, NEX–6, NEX–7, or similar sized/smaller bodies.
  • The Mirrorless Mover 30i fits one medium to large size mirrorless body plus two to four lenses, iPad, and additional accessories or a small–size DSLR and one to three small telephoto lenses or primes. It is sized for the Fuji X–Pro 1, Leica M8, Panasonic GH3 or similar sized/smaller bodies. Small DSLRs: Canon Rebel, Nikon D3200/D5200, Sony SLT–A55/A37 or similar sized bodies.

Memory card sale

B&H Photo is offering some great deals on a variety of SanDisk memory cards for digital cameras. For details and online ordering click here.

NEW Nikon D3000 SLR Digital Camera with 18-55mm VR Lens

Nikon D3000The Nikon D3000 SLR Digital Camera offers the latest in creative imaging technology while maximizing ease-of-use. An advanced, 10.2 megapixel image sensor coupled with Nikon’s exclusive EXPEED processor captures all of your photos with brilliant, life-like color and stunning detail. A fast 11-point autofocus system tracks subjects in motion and captures action up to 3 frames per second. The newly-developed Guide Mode helps demystify menu options and camera settings while Scene Modes are easily selectable using the easy-to-read icons on the camera mode dial. From landscapes to portraits, the D3000 delivers professional quality photographs with ease. Reviewing photos and settings is a snap on the 170-degree, wide-view, 3″ LCD. Low-noise ISO Sensitivity, an Advanced Dust Reduction System, and In-camera Photo Editing Tools keep all of your subjects looking their very best. With all of these features and more, the D3000 represents Nikon’s most compact and easy-to-use Digital SLR.

Macro lens for Canon

A question from a client: where is the best place to buy a canon macro lens?  Best deal for good quality?

My reply: Here are a couple of good options for Macro lenses for Canon:

1. The Canon 100 mm Macro is very popular for its sharpness and quality at a good price

2. My buddy just bought a Sigma macro (for Canon cameras) and he likes it a lot
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX APO Macro EX DG HSM Autofocus

I almost always buy all my camera gear from, however, the following web site is quite a bit cheaper on the Sigma lens:

What Not to Do With Your New Camera

Don’t drop your camera in water. Ever.

As you may know, I recently took a month-long trip to New Zealand, specifically to photograph all over both islands. As some of you also know, on just the fifth day I had a horrendous accident while shooting Matai Falls.

I’m OK, my camera is not. Let me give a little background… (more…)

Choosing a new D-SLR

A question from a client:

“Doing your Photoshop course has told me it is time to get an SLR. I was wondering a) if you had any recommendations or b) if you could recommend a good photography shop in the area that I go in and find out some options.”

My answer:

Your choice of DSLR depends largely on finding the right balance between budget and the features you absolutely need. For me to make a recommendation on a specific camera I’d need that info. You’ll want to consider how you will use the camera and what lenses/accessories/features you will need for the kind of shooting you do.

But generally speaking, you’ll get great results with any of the consumer- to prosumer-level SLRs from Canon or Nikon. You get a bit more for your money with Canon; Nikon’s quality is also excellent though; just a bit more pricey.

Canon: 30D, Rebel XTi
Nikon: D80

You might also want to check out at DSLRs from Pentax, Sony and Olympus – they are very good, too, and you get a lot for your money.

There’s an excellent online resource at DPreview

And you can go to local camera stores to hold them in your hands and see how they feel and how the controls work.

All modern DSLRs have essentially the same features and capabilities; the main differences are in the feature specifications, resolution and image quality and build quality. It’s worth shopping around a bit before purchasing.

When you’re ready to buy, I highly recommend B&H Photo.

Pin It on Pinterest