I have an addiction to photo gear. I own a crapload of equipment and I'm always buying new stuff to the delight of my
accountant wife. Along the way I've gone through a number of camera bags, each progressively better than the last.
I started out with a smallish Lowepro bag when I bought my first SLR. It had this incredibly dangerous problem in which the plastic buckle that held strap on would randomly come loose. I remember when I was at Samy's Camera talking to a saleperson and told him about my problem. He said that's why I should use Tamrac, as it's the best bag around. Ever since then I've been a Tamrac guy.
I started out with and older version of the Tamrac 5502, which is a relatively small bag. It worked fine when I had one camera, one lens and one flash. As my photo equipment collection expanded, I quickly outgrew the 5502. I currently use it to hold my Sony PCM-D50 audio recorder, Sennheiser MD46 ENG mic, Sennheiser HD 25-1 II headphones and various cables.
While I still used this bag for my SLR, I bought a nice selection of medium format Mamiya cameras and lenses from eBay on the cheap. I needed a giant bag to hold all of them. Tamrac used to make a bag specifically for medium format cameras called the Tamrac 622 [photo here]. They no longer make it, but I found one on eBay and purchased it. It's a great (both in size and functionality) bag. I don't shoot medium format as much as I would like, but at least it's well protected in that massive 622.
My next bag was the Tamrac 5608. The 5608 holds two cameras with lenses attached along with several other lenses, flashes, HV batteries, etc. This worked well for me until I picked up the tack-sharp Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS lens. Unfortunately I couldn't leave this lens on the cameras that were in the 5608. At one point I missed an amazing shot of a hawk while I scrambled to change the lens.
The missed shot happened during my vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico with my lovely wife Penelope. Shortly after that we hit a local photo store where I purchased the Tamrac 617, also known as the Super Pro 17. It holds two cameras with lenses attached, including one with the 70-200 on it. It also has room for another lens, a flash, cables and various other accessories. I now use my 5608 to hold my flash gear. The 617 is awesome and is my current camera bag.
The Pro 17 has one problem, it doesn't have room for my laptop. Because of this I have a backpack with my laptop and cables in it and a camera bag. This results in me frequently being without my camera as it's a pain to carry two heavy bags. I recently went to Samy's to check out a bag that I've had my eye on for some time now.
The bag I've been lusting over is the Tamrac 619 also known as the Pro 19. This bag is awesome. It's wider than the Pro 17 so it has room for two or three more lenses. It also has side pockets which will let me stow either my audio equipment or HV battery packs. Finally, and most importantly, it has room for a laptop and cables.
I ordered the Pro 19 tonight from amazon. Once I have it, I will rarely be without my camera gear. Hopefully this will allow me to take more photos for fun, as opposed to just shooting when I'm on assignment. I'm really looking forward to its arrival, Tamrac bags are wonderful and I fully endorse and recommend them.
Over the years I've made my way through various Ultra-Compact digital cameras, the latest being the Canon Powershot SD550. I don't especially like the SD500 for a number of reasons which I don't feel like listing here. What I am going to list, is what I do want in an Ultra-Compact Digital Camera:
- Somewhere Between 5 and 10 Megapixels
- RAW Mode
- Full Manual Mode
- Tripod Mount
- Excellent Low-light Performance
- Quick or Instant Startup Time
- ≥ 3" LCD
- ≥ 2x Optical Zoom
- At Least 24-50mm Equivalent Zoom
- Fits Easily in Pocket
- Macro Mode
- Video Mode
- Doesn't Use Obscure Memory Format
- USB 2.0
- Water-Resistent of Water-Proof
- Image Stabilization
- Bluetooth / 802.11x
- Face Recognition
- Standard Sized Batteries
Obviously there is currently no camera that meets my required specs, but I'm hoping there will be some time soon. I was considering the Leica D-Lux 3, but because of its poor low-light performance and protruding lens won't work for me. If my SD550 dies before a camera with my required specs comes along, I'll probably go with the Nikon Coolpix S51, although it doesn't have a RAW nor manual modes.... ok so maybe that won't work. For now I'll just make it a point to lug around my 5D as much as possible.
Btw, this post was inspired by Scott Beale's post about his new Fuji Finepix F50.
UPDATE I have created a handy little size guide so you can get a real life idea of the size of the various Ultra-Compact cameras out there. So far I have only done Canon and Nikon, but I plan on adding other manufacturers. You can download the Ultra-Compact Camera Size Comparison Chart [66k PDF].
UPDATE 2 Hmm, I think this might be the perfect camera for me: Canon SD870 IS.
Yesterday Penelope and I made a trip down to the San Diego Zoo and about half way through our adventures my camera started taking photos on its own in rapid succession while flashing Error 99 on the LCD. I tried pulling the batteries and letting it sit for a while, but that didn't cut it. I looked through my photo archive and I've taken well over 50,000 photos with it since I bought it in February 2005. Looks like I will be without a digital SLR (still have a film SLR body) for a couple of weeks while I get it repaired.
Update After finding someone who had the exact same problem that I did and emailing said person, I found out that I needed to replace my shutter. Canon will do it for $196 which also includes a complete overhaul and cleaning of the camera. It takes 7-10 business days to complete. I am sending it off today.