Friday, June 24, 2016

The pain of carrying my equipment, aka Camera through Air Travel....

This is the first post in this blog. I am dedicating this blog to sharing my views that I have formed to help and guide fellow birders in their quest for birdwatching by sharing my experiences, be it camera equipment, bags, tripods, binoculars, clothing or anything under the sun that I have found worth sharing to make birdwatching more painless and a fun activity.

I love my camera, a must have piece of equipment for birdwatching, and carry it everywhere. I pay penalties in during air travel because of bulk and weight, penalty of lugging and looking after equipment that I do not get opportunity to use every where I go - but then this is to my life - I am some one who compulsively carry every thing along with me.

I have been in and out of many camera bags - to carry the equipment - one for airport - one for carrying in my car and other for the camera only. For everything I chose - I paid a price - I mean not the only the the green currency kind - but also standing in the lines carrying the camera and the related equipment on me. At the worst times it my manfrotto camera bag weighed 19 kg on my shoulders. Hell that broke me and then I started researching and searching for some solution to carry my camera on person for air travel. I took a few bags and rejected them - all had a kink in the armour that was killing me in one way or the other. That also meant I bought a bag - used it - found it not so good and disposed it off. In this manner I took a hit of spending several thousands... and worse of all the miracle of a perfect bag was nowhere in sight.

Doing one such search one day I came across ThinkTank bags I had not heard off before. As I studied and did more research I got more and more interested unless I could not help but asking my friendly neighbourhood Camera 'wala' in Chandigarh to manage one. And there came the reply - why don't you try LowePro, Manfrotto and tons of others. I was in no mind to argue at all. I just was in no mood to tell him that I am way beyond these suggestions. In a way I am glad I did not take his suggestion. I bought the one bag that I had shortlisted and today I complete one year of gliding in and out of airports and am a satisfied man. 

Just a few days back sitting at home with my wife and kids - I admitted that I have finally found a perfect bag. It took a fraction of second of raised eyebrows and thundering laughter from all three before they stood up and congratulated me... Finally my son complemented with a smirk on his face - congratulations dad - that after seeing a fortune flow, we will have spare money to buy something else - other than your camera bags in this house. Sh*t - was that a complement ? 

I think that it is best that I leave the story behind for some time and let me discuss the Camera bag. The construction of the bag is rock solid. I mean I am impressed - each thread too shouts quality. To give you an idea of the equipment I carry I will first list it down and then insert a picture.

Nikon D500
Nikon MB-D17 Multi Battery Power Pack
Nikon 200-500mm lens
Nikon 16-80 mm Lens
1.4x Tc
SB5000 flash
3 Hard Disks with covers
15 inch MacBook Pro
iPad mini
All chargers, adaptors cables
Bluetooth Speakers
AA batteries and Charger
Black Rapid shoulder strap
Rain Cover 

On the outside
Vanguard Tripod
Stage I - and everything I described is already inside other than the BlackRapid strap, Tele Convertor and the blue bag with cables.
All in and secured with space to spare. My first thought when I bought Nikon 200-500mm was - will it fit in? Well it did...
The cable that is embedded to the side of the bag and the lock.

Laptop and iPad tucked in the outside pocket and I am ready to go.
The bag takes all this with a breeze and there are a total of 8 wheels in pairs. If you are used to normal suitcases with wheels then you are in a surprise. The wheels just glide. The width of the bag is correct to place it sideways on an escalator. It also moves along the aisle in the aircraft without those tip-overs and jerks. Like all the bags the insides are compartments made of material with velcro - since I bought this bag I have changed the kit and little adjustments have given way to perfect placement of gear. I am extremely happy with this bag and if you are a Travelophile like I am - then you deserve to take a look at this. It has some nooks and corners to spare that I will try filling in with a Binoculars perhaps. Another nifty feature is the locking cable that is built along with the bag. I have at least on one occasion dozed off due to 5 hours layover and to secure the baggage along with you chair - the sleep just felt a little better. On the downside - it is expensive by Indian standards - infact it costs an arm and a leg - but if you are wise - unlike me - I must add - this one gear will save you the agony that I have had to go through.

In the end I am pasting a link from Amazon India that I used to buy this bag - just to make it little easier for you rather than rummaging through the net...

Think Tank Photo Airport Roller Derby Rolling Carry-On Camera Bag

Ready to rock and roll..