Thinktank CityWalker 30 Review Part II

In my prior post here I gave a preliminary overview of the TT CW 30 after only a week of use as an office messenger bag, and a light-duty camera bag. I’ve now had the pleasure, and I mean pleasure of using it on two separate outings besides as a daily carry.  The first was four day stock/travel image trip up north, and the second was to photograph an event.  I’m going to present images here, with descriptions, as I unpack my bag after the event;  in all honesty it’s a mess as I swapped lenses – between by 16mm, 23, 35, 60mm and the 55-200.  I did not use the 18-55 nor the 12mm Zeiss even though they were in the bag as well.  In other words ALL the lenses I own were in the bag.  For this event I used the very well padded insert that came standard with the CW30, and I threw in the rain cover as we were under the threat of rain most of the day.

In the following images I try to show the contents of the bag and how much you can carry.  I will say I could still have put MORE into the bag as I had one inside end pocket, and both outside mesh pockets available!  This is an insane amount of stuff! During the event I had the bag slung across my should messenger style, I had the main cover open and flat against my hip thereby allowing me access to all my gear inside.  What I truly enjoyed was being able to swap lenses on the fly and using the outside mesh pockets to hold a lens (very easily) and the lens caps and other miscellaneous stuff.

So here goes:  And, if anyone has any questions, please let me know.

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Just for those that are interested this is an image of the bag from last weeks photo trip in which it rained for two of the four days, I took this in a downpour (you can see the rain pounding the water).  I did not break out the rain cover and the bag still remained dry.  Rain water just beaded up and rolled off.
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The Thinktank Citywalker 30 this morning when I came downstairs.  It’s fully loaded exactly where I dropped it after walking in the door after yesterday’s event.  All I did last night was pop the SD card out and upload and backup my images.
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Opening the bag you can see the gear I used.  The camera with the long lens was laid across the top of the other lenses, and I was still able to close the bag. Keep in mind this is all mirrorless gear so… smaller than dSLR, and so much lighter.  I carried this bag as is, fully loaded, all day and it was no bother.  Plus, accessibility to the gear was so easy I didn’t break step once.
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In this image I’ve removed the X-T2 with the 55-200 that was laying across the top and you can see some of the lenses.
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Here I’ve “prettied” up the lenses and stood them up.  As you’ll note, there is PLENTY of room for even more lenses, or accessories.  The Fuji gear being so compact, except the danger of the lenses banging into one another you can fit more than one as you can see on the right.  That’s my 35 1.4,and the 60mm 2.4 Macro.  Down further, I’ll show everything that went into, and came back out of the bag.
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Here I have pulled the insert out of the bag.  The insert is very large and spacious.  Much, much larger than the simple Jill-E insert I showed in the my last post which is the one I use on a daily basis to carry a camera and other office files to/from the office.  The black strap is my camera strap.
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In this image I’ve removed the top layer of camera and lenses.  The Citywalker 30 comes with two extra dividers which I’ve used here.  I also pulled a third divider, seen on the right side from my daily carry Jill-E bag as I needed it.
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In this (lousy) image as I used my iPhone, I have emptied the slot on the left and the right side.  I’ve pulled back the divider in the center – which you can see towards the bottom of the image here to expose the extra body, my X-T1 that I took with me as a spare body.
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After pulling out the insert this is all the “other” stuff that fit around the insert.  That’s the beauty of this amazing bag!  And, I still had the two very deep pockets on the inside left and right.  They are so deep and large that on my way to the event one of them held my Fuji 55-200 with the lens hood attached and it was not reversed either!  Amazing capacity!!  In here you can see my Singh-Ray filter, camera strap, the blue pouch (rain hood for the bag), ThinkThank memory card holder, external 4TB hard drive in black case, and an extra pair of glasses just in case.
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The pocket on the flap held my Giotto Blower, access card, keys, and a iPhone 10′ charging cable and adapter.  It can hold so much.  If you were traveling on public conveyance it will easily hold all necessary maps, boarding passes, iPad, whatever you want.  the pocket runs the length of the flap/bag so it’s huge.
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The Thinktank Citywalker 30 also has a velcro pouch which rests up against your hip to accommodate a 15″ laptop.  It’s not shown here as I did not take it with me, but my bag holds the 15″ MBP and a large moleskin notebook as well.  As you can see, I packed EVERY lens I own; the only one’s that didn’t get any use was the Zeiss and my Fuji 18-55.  I even threw in an extra tripod plate for the X-T1 that never saw any use, a battery charger just in case, an extra phone, flashlight, and the Thinktank four battery holder as well as the Thinktank SD card holder.  All the lenses except the 35 and the 60 were pre-packed before leaving with the appropriate step-up rings to bring them all to 77mm to take advantage of my dSLR 77mm filters, and matching 77mm lenscaps. As you can see, the lens caps, once they came off, never went back on.

I hope you guys found this review helpful.  If you take away ONE thing from reading this it’s that the TTCW30 is truly a beautifully crafted bag with room for just about all your gear if you are a mirrorless shooter.  dSLR shooters will also be very happy with the capacity, and especially the depth of this bag.  There are other pockets I didn’t even mention here – but I do believe I mentioned them in part one of the review.

Let me know what you all think.  I did discover recently this bag has been discontinued so if you want one you better hurry.  I got mine from B&H for 79.00 with free shipping which is an amazing deal!  Much less expensive than Amazon (at the time i purchased mine a couple of weeks ago).

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2016 In my Rear View Mirror

2016 was a rockin’ year!  I received the blessing of a 3rd Grandson which is the grandest of all gifts.  Stock sales, though down in the market overall, I made up for in volume!  What that means is a ot of more work, for basically a small increase in income.  Volume rules at this point; gone are the days of licensing an image for 40 – 50 bucks when anyone can go online and pick up an image for a quarter.  Oh well, such is life.

On another but related note I am now dSLR free.  It’s a double-edge sword and my feelings are torn.  I sold the last of my Nikon gear – being the D800e and a 50mm 1.8 lens.  I am now all in on Fuji with the X series cameras and lenses.  Will I miss those glorious 36 megapixel files?  At times I’m sure I would but in order to have those files, I had to shoot them, and in all honesty, as you can see by the stats I rarely used the camera!

So, here is a re-cap of my 2016 stats, cameras first, then lenses.

  • Nikon D800e:  1,371 keepers
  • Fuji X-T1:  4,117 keepers
  • Fuji X-T2: 4,503 keepers (purchased in September 2016!!)
  • 16mm F1.4: 1,514 keepers
  • 18-55 2.8-4.0 Zoom (my don’t leave home without it lens) 1,489
  • 23mm F1.4: 1,094 keepers
  • 35mm F1.4: 2,256
  • Fuji 55-200 Zoom:  2057 keepers
  • Zeiss 12mm F2.8: 135 keepers.  Most unused lens, but when you need it you need it!

That’s pretty much it for my year. Hears hoping to a profitable, successful and FUN 2017.

Happy New Year

 

 

My Queue is Finally Empty

After eleven months my new photos queue in Lightroom is empty.  I’ve filed away into their appropriate folders, edited whatever was needed, prepared those images going to stock sales, and submitted at least 70% of the ones I had selected to go out.

But the best part is:  The Queue is EMPTY!  Since September 2015 I’ve had images in that folder awaiting review, editing, keywording among other things.  Now it’s all done.

However, tomorrow I leave for a few days of photography; this time it’s for myself more than work related stock and travel.  I plan on experimenting with Panoramics, HDR, and long exposure among other things.  We shall see what I return with.  If I can post from the road, I will.

Tonight I’ll be selecting the gear I plan to take.  Since this is a car trip, with the exception of when we go off into the woods for a hike, the gear should pretty much stay put in the back seat in my backpack so I think I’ll probably pack everything PLUS the kitchen sink.  As always, I’ll have a couple of smaller messenger bags that are always with me for those times when i’m off on a walking adventure.

 

This Weekend…

This weekend I spent time with my grandsons; the two oldest ones… I took over 450 images of the two little boogers in total —  What camera I hear you asking?  Ok, maybe you are not but I’m tellin’ ya anyway:

I used the Nikon D800E with a 50mm lens.  I also found in my wife’s food pantry my pocket wizards, and my SB700 flash;  Why was it in the pantry?  I have no clue!  She probably found it laying around the house and decided to put it away for me.  This is pretty much all the dSLR gear I’ve left since moving to the Fuji X series.  Why didn’t I use the Fuji?  Well, silly me I left it at a relatives home after shooting there over the July 4th long weekend.  Yeah.  Left it behind.  Can you believe that!?  I can’t.

So, I had to break out the D800e.  It had been quite a while since I used it last.  The 50mm 1.8G is the only lens I have after selling or giving away everything else.  I set it to portrait color rendering,  slapped on the PW’s and the SB700 Flash and that’s what I used all day Friday, and Saturday.  And, I have to admit it was FUN!  Did I miss my Fuji X-T1?  Hell yes but, with the Fuji on CH, and 8FPS I would have shot ALOT more than the 463 images I took with the D800e.  I had the Nikon set to jpeg only which is a no-no for me; I am usually in jpeg+raw.  Here is one of the images with the D800e, 50mm 1.8G and the SB700 bounced off a white ceiling off-camera.  JPEG SOOC.  ISO 400.

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I will say it was awesome having the ability to easily, and quickly fire remote flash, plus the focusing speed of the D800e made for lots of images which i “may” not have been able to make with the Fuji I’m sad to say.  I hadn’t used my D800e in so long I had forgotten how fast it was.

Will I now switch back to Nikon?  Heck No!  I love, love, love Fuji and The D800e is for those times I need a bit more resolution — unlikely, but it has come up from an editor here and there  on a few occasions so I keep it around.  Besides, I only have the 50mm lens and I love the Fuji 16mm (24mm FF equivalent) so I doubt I’ll be shooting a lot of landscapes with it.  Besides, it is still so darn heavy and bulky there is no way to be stealthy with this beast — especially with the battery grip I had on which only made it bigger.

I am extremely satisfied with the images though and, well, in all honesty I spent Sunday morning pixel-peeping in LR as the 15-20MB jpegs in LR are just gloriously full of pixels and details.  🙂  Sorry.  Gear nerd took over momentarily.

As I’ve stated on Fujirumors.com and on Fuji X Forum I will be upgrading to the X-T2 probably next spring or early summer;  I’m just waiting for all the rose-colored glasses to come off so we can see the true picture (pun absolutely intended) of what it can and can’t do, what the true image quality is compared to A, B, and C, and what issues, if any, have been discovered in user reviews.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts and on the various blogs of the problems I had with my original D800 – not the “E” series, just plain ole D800.  I want to study what the non- X photographers have to say about the X-T2.  This will only happen after the camera has been released into the wild, and actually purchased and paid for by reviewers. I’m in no way saying those X Photogs who are giving us their personal experiences are not being honest – by no  means am I claiming that.  I just have a thing where I much prefer independent reviews.  Period.   The independent ones  IMHO, are the reviews that matter most.

That’s it for me.  Wrapping it up now.

Just Say “NO” To the Fancy Bag

Little bit of humor here.  Ok.  Maybe not.  I’ve said it before both here, and elsewhere these man bags such as the Billinghams, and the other fancy bags do have a place in the workplace, but not in the field.  Quite frankly I never seen any of these hipsters who carry these fancy uncreased bags around cosmopolitan town even going out into the field in their tight-ass pants, and loafers.  Oh. Sorry, ranting again.  Give me a break guys.  Buying a camera bag, a lousy camera bag for $300 dollars and up, to put it down in dirt and mud, and snow, or wet sand and saltwater?  No.  Not for me.  And I doubt any of these fancy bag toters do either.  Many just want to look cool as they slowly extricate their fancy cameras out of the well-oiled bags to take that selfie, or the foodie shot, then Oh so cool, slide the camera in for another week of storage.  Give me a break.

Now, here in the photo is a true working bag.  This bag cost me $29.95.  It’s canvas.  Cloth.  Period.  Inside is a 3 velcro pocket Jill-E insert for $10.00.  See all that gear?  That’s what I packed yesterday for a short day hike into a bamboo forest. It has SIX (6) pockets just on the OUTSIDE!

I’ve included some images here so you can see what can be accomplished with minimal gear.  Oh, BTW, all of these images, and many more are already for sale on Shutterstock as of 5:00am Sunday morning. Yeah. I’m fast and the X-T1 files, couples with the amazing lenses don’t require a lot of post.

So, if you want to look like a coffee-shop dwelling Brooklyn broke hipster who shoots food, and selfies, go ahead and get yourself a Billingham, or “billingmuch” as I call them, if you want to make yourself useful get yourself a real bag.  Try the think tank series.  Either that, or get the hell out of my way as I make my images.

Thank you.  Rant over.  I’ve now taken cover and am ready for the rebuttals as to how great these expensive bags are other than for image enhancement, like botox…

As I walked to my car this morning…

I parked in my reserved spot, picked up my bag, slung it over my shoulder and headed to the office. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks!  The X-T1 and several lenses are so light I hardly feel it!

In the mornings when I leave home I usually have over my shoulder a Fossil leather bag –  In it I keep my Macbook Air, my yogurt for lunch, and some basic file folders.  In itself the Fossil bag is rather lightweight.  I’ve had it since 2007 and it is still an amazing piece of luggage that I proudly use in my daily life.  Every now and then I’ll stick a Jill-E insert in the bag and carry my X-T1 with me.

Today, I packed a small $30.00 bag I found on Amazon.  It’s called the Lowepro Exchange Messenger for dSLR kit and essentials.  Here’s the link.  I bought this wonderful bag in July of 2013 when a very good friend of mine and I took a three day tour around coastal Maine; he carried his two Leica’s and assorted lenses in this bag.  After seeing how light it was, and the fact I was able to store it flat pretty much anywhere I decided to purchase one right there and then and so I did.

Today I’ll be away from home for a couple of days but had to go into the office first; Instead of my Fossil leather bag I instead packed my LowePro.  In the bag I loaded up my X-T1, the 18-55 lens, the 16mm F1.4 lens, the 23mm 1.4 lens, the Fuji EF-42 Flash with four batteries, and an extra two Fuji batteries for the camera, and my lunch.  The bag has very deep pockets, one has a zipper for additional security; normally, that would be where I store my SD wallet but since the X-T1 is packing a 32G card that allows for over 700 jpeg+raws I didn’t bother bringing any more along.

When I arrived at the office and picked up the bag out of my car with the always present Macbook Air I had to do a double-check to make sure I packed what I needed!  It was that light.  I remember the days pre-Fuji when I carried my Nikon D800 or D700, plus Nikon glass — or better (or worse) yet when I carried my Mamiya 645AFD medium format!  Heck, going back a bit further my old RB67.  Now that was a beast.  I actually smiled as I walked down the Philadelphia streets to my office.  It absolutely does makes a huge difference carrying a smaller mirrorless camera.  I don’t care if it is a Fuji, Sony, Olympus — whatever floats your boat, just try one!  I do not miss my dSLR’s or MF at all! Since I haven’t printed larger thant 24″x 20″ I haven’t needed more megapixels.  If I did, I can always work some photoshop magic though I try very hard to stay out of PS. CORRECTED – SEE LAST TWO PARAGRAPHS ADDED AFTER THIS WAS PUBLISHED!

With that being said I am awaiting the arrival of the X-T2.  As I am a travel, and stock photographer the 24mp sensor keeps me ahead of the curve and my images relevant when a clients wants a bit extra oomph.  Usually we can show them that 16.3mp is more than enough but at times, they are rather adamant about larger files.  If it were not for that I wouldn’t be upgrading at all!  With regards to the rumors here of a potential Fuji medium format camera my first questions are not resolution or megapixels but how big is it going to be?  What is the weight of the system?  How about lens weight? I am now totally spoiled by the compactness, and the image quality coming from my Fuji system and I would not go back, ever, to a Nikon or any other brand.

So, when I leave my office later this afternoon and head south for a couple of days I’ll still be grinning like a Cheshire cat!

I was going to end this post here then FedEx came in.  I sent out an image to be printed a while back and I just received it!  It’s a 30 x 20″ print of an image that was processed from a RAF file into a 95mb TIFF in Lightroom.  I thought about processing it in Iridient which I own but decided i would process it in the same app that I use for 99% of all my editing work.

Here, I’ve laid it across our conference room table in order to flatten it somewhat.  But I have to say it looks amazing!  I can COUNT the grains of sand, and you can as well just from these two iPhone images!  This is 30″ x 20″ and I think I can go up to 40″ plus so that will be the next round of tests.  I performed this print test to see how far I can push 16.3 megapixels.  I have to say, these results are truly amazing.  I’ve taken my glasses off and pressed my nose and eyes very close and it’s well, trust me:  amazing!FullSizeRender 2

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in this image, taken with the X-T1 and the Unbelievable 16mm 1.4 you can count the grains of sand flowing as the water ebbs, under the shell, and throughout the image. It’s that clear here even though I used an iPhone for these two

Enjoy the rest of your day.

 

 

10 Things I will change that I learned on my 10-Day Road Trip

South Beach, Florida, X-T1, 18-55 lens
South Beach, Florida,
X-T1, 18-55 lens
you can see more images at Drama King Images or at my Flickr
1.  Don’t pack so much stuff. Both in camera gear, and clothing.  I packed enough shirts, shorts, flip-flops to last me the full-ten days.  Guess what?  I didn’t use them.  For three days I was wearing a bathing suit — all day long as I was on an island.  No need for more clothing than that.  I also packed all my lenses and didn’t use them all either.
2.  Wear sunscreen.  I had SPF100 and being a Cuban, and easily tanned, I’m very, very dark.  And that’s cool.  I’m ok with tanning but parts of me did burn.
3.  Don’t pack so much photography gear.  I’m not talking about the camera and lenses here; what I’m talking about is all the other incidentals which quite frankly never got used.  I packed extra step-up rings, extra filters, extra tripod plates, you name it, I had it.  Except for those I “really” needed!  (see #4)
4.  Do pack duplicates of those items you can’t do without.  For example:  On Day 1, yes.  Day 1 at dawn no less I was photographing the Ponce Leon Lighthouse with my X-T1 on a tripod and my RR-90 Fuji remote.  Well, I had a “hissy” fit and yanked the remote as it was stuck on what I thought was one of the tripod legs, and wound up breaking it off at the camera.  Had to dig that out later that morning once I could see what I was doing.  That was my only remote. I wish I had packed a cheaper backup.   So lesson learned here:  1.  Don’t throw a hissy fit.  2.  Pack an extra of whatever you think is critical  if you are prone to hissy fits.
5.  Lenscaps.  Oh my…  Lenscaps.  I only lost one among all the lenses I used. However, finding them was a b*tch when I needed them in a hurry..  I would put them in pockets, throw them back in the camera bag, lay them on the car seat, etc.  etc.  Many times I wound up putting the lenses away without a lens cap — which to me is a big no-no.  My most used lens the Fuji 18-55 uses 58mm lens caps unless I have a 77mm step up ring attached;  I did take extra lens caps with me as I buy them four or five at a time on fleabay.  Unfortunately I spent about 8-days without lens caps on a some lenses as it wasn’t until I got home and literally dumped the contents of both my camera bag, and a small backpack on my living room floor, that I found the missing caps.   Luckily for me, other than sand I did no damage to the lens as I was very careful where and how I placed it in the camera bag.
6.  Wear a hat.  All.  The.  Time.   I did, and I was still miserable at times.  I had three different hats.  That big glowing ball of fire in the sky?  It felt like it was hovering 10 feet over my head.  Yeah.  It was hot. I could deal with the heat (92 degrees plus), the humidity and rain, but that sun.  Oh my.
7.  Get into better shape. Exercise, walk, whatever you need to do to get in better shape.   I was not in shape.  Unfortunately day one and part of day two I was physically ill around mid-day due to the sun and the heat.  I arrived at a particular location i wanted to photograph on day one,  mid-afternoon and I honestly could not photograph as I was dizzy and felt like I was going to pass out.  And yes, I took TWO coolers full of water, and Gatorade.  I drank in ten days two cases of water, plus about 15 Gatorades.  At other times I was so physically wasted at the end of the day due to the heat and blazing sun that I didn’t bother cleaning my gear of sand, grit and salt water when I knew I should.  I just showered, ate some dinner and went to bed.
8.  Sample the local foods and drinks.  I did.  Being a Cuban, born and bred, I sought out.  No.  I HUNTED out Cuban eateries.  And I’m so glad that I did!!!
9.  No more laptop.  This is something I’m going to try next time I do this type of road trip.  Why?  It’s just something else to worry about!  I packed my Macbook Air, instead of my Pro’s and a couple of 1TB external drives.  I worried about the laptop frying in the trunk of the car during the day while I was either driving, or out shooting. For the three days I left my car parked in a public parking area while I was away in the Dry Tortugas My laptop and the externals sat in the car.  Luckily, I had the car parked in a covered garage and was actually cool as I picked a spot on the 2nd floor, towards the center so there was a nice cross-breeze, and no sun hitting the car.
As I travel with a multitude of SD cards for my Fuji X-T1, I can take over 9800 jpeg + raw images before I fill up all my cards.  Keep in mind, SD cards can be purchased just about anywhere – albeit at a slightly higher price, but they are available just about anywhere.  Will I miss the laptop? Yes and No.  Yes, because in the evenings it’s always nice to load up Lightroom and look at the images you took and backup the cards.  No, because it is just another possession that can be lost, stolen or damaged. Heck, I worry enough about missing lens caps, I certainly don’t want to concern myself wondering if my computer is frying itself in a hot car or in the hands of a thief. When I was traveling with my Nikon gear and the 36 megapixel D800 I “needed” the laptop in many instances as the files were so huge.  I could only record about 360 jpeg +raw on a single sd card.  With the X-T1, I can cram 796 on the same size card – more than double the capacity! During this road trip I returned with about 5800 images so I had plenty of SD cards that came home unused.
10. In following #9, going forward I am only taking my SD cards plus my iPad.  With the iPad I can use the Fuji Remote app, or a new piece of software I purchased for the iPad called “Shuttersnitch”.  This software connects to the Fuji camera — without the Fuji remote app. If I want I can transfer images over to the iPad from the camera in order to post online, or to send them via email.  The Shuttersnitch software creates it’s own Wi-Fi connection to the camera and it contains built-in extensions that allow it to connect to my Smugmug, or Flickr accounts. I think what I like most is the fact you can change the settings so the app will only import a jpeg, not the associated raw file.  I find the Fuji remote app doesn’t do that… I also have the Google Snapseed app on the iPad in case I need to make any adjustments to an image before posting.
Next summer I’ll be doing  two weeks in Alaska, and a few days in Olympic National Park in Washington State.  I plan on following my 10-step plan above with just some minor changes – such as not having cuban food, but local specialties, etc.  As I mentioned I can record over 9800 jpeg + Raw images on my existing cards.  I may just keep an eye out for sales and pick up a few more SD cards just in case.  I may be able to control my OCD, but I can’t eliminate it all together and I like being prepared so I’ll probably add some more cards to my inventory.
So, in closing these were my lessons learned.   Hope this helps you plan a better, more enjoyable trip.