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.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).


The Amazing 18-55 Fuji Lens

I have written about the Fuji 18-55 in the past.  However, on New Years Day i was shooting up in Old Orchard Beach in Maine using this wonderful little lens.  It’s lightweight, solidly built, and oh so darn sharp!

As proof how sharp this this little puppy is, check out this screenshot of my lightroom image of Old Orchard Beach at 200%  — Yes.  200% !! This is the raw file, Sharpened with 100% details, 41 pts of sharpening.  Then below it is the full screen!  Now, look at that sharpness and clarity!!  I can read the Shipyard Beer sign out on the pier and that isn’t even dead center; more like top center!

Would the 16-55 2.8 be sharper?  Meh.  Maybe.  But this is pretty darn freakin’ sharp for me, and the weight/size savings alone are, to me, worth the tiny loss of sharpness. I’d rather be more light and mobile.  Your mileage may vary.


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



X-T2 in the Rain

X-T2 with the non-weather resistant 18-55
X-T2, 18-55, ACROS and Red Filter
A Perfect curl
25 second exposure, X-T2 + 18-55
X-T2, 18-55, in rain and wind.  In the 100% view, you can see the rain whizzing past the lens


Today was a very windy and rainy day thanks to the outer bands of Hurricane Matthew.  Since my spouse had work to do, and I didn’t want to be in the way I decided to head out to the shore and see if I can capture some of the action.

I took my X-T2 with the 18-55 mounted as I did not want to be swapping lenses in the rain on a beach, in a storm.  So I worked with what I had, even though I had all my lenses in my backpack.

The X-T2 performed flawlessly.  No complaints whatsoever.  I will mention here the X-T1, which has served me so well since early 2014 would have worked in the same, perfect way.

What I found out to be the biggest asset today was the flip-out LCD when the camera was in the vertical orientation on the tripod!  That was fantastic!  Just great.  The second amazing item was the battery life; I shot a total of 370 images, all tripod, most between 6 to 29 seconds, with long-exposure noise reduction on, AND, every single image using the rear LCD, plus, at least for me, an inordinate amount of chimping as I wanted to make sure the image was sharp due to the heavy winds.  I just checked and I still have TWO bars left!  Much, much better than my X-T1 would have done under the same circumstances.

All-in-all the X-T2 came through with flying colors, as did the 18-55 even though it spent several hours in rain from a slight drizzle, and a downpour towards the end of my day.  I was soaked, and tired, the camera could have kept going.


Incident at the 7-mile Bridge, or Know your Rights as a Citizen and a Photographer

Location: Seven Mile Bridge
Florida Keys
Late September 2015
Perpetrators:  US Government, Florida State Troopers, Local hire Security Guards, German filming crew, Mini-Cooper Ad agency and Advertising Director, Florida Helicopters Inc.
Local Miami news (as the 7-mile bridge was closed to traffic in BOTH directions while filming the new 2017 Mini-Cooper ad was in progress)
and ME (the star of the movie)
The gentleman who followed me for almost two hours. And he was a super nice guy.  He just let me shoot, and we had interesting conversations– unlike the other guards.


The Setting:
 I’m down in the Florida Keys shooting stock and travel; I’m staying  24 miles south of the 7-mile bridge at a local resort. As part of my “shot” list I wanted to capture the old bridge and the new bridge with the surrounding area at sunrise as I had scouted it the day before on my way south.  Even that early in the morning it’s a 35-40 minute drive not due to the traffic, but the Big Pine Key, which is the protected Key Deer area has a 25-35mph speed limit from sundown to sunrise and it is strictly enforced.  Trust me. It is.
Since I had to drive north through Big Pine Key and Deer Key I’m up at 3am.  I already have my gear for the day (all Fuji of course) packed and ready to go. Shower, dress, make sure I didn’t forget anything and head out the door before 5am as the “nautical” sunrise was a 6:24am and the actual sunrise was at 7:15am.  I grabbed an expresso at a local Cuban restaurant and a pastel de guayaba and headed north.
The Situation:
On the north end of the “new” 7-mile bridge there is a small parking area;  This is the area I had scouted out as it had access to the “old” 7-mile bridge.  I wanted to walk out onto the old bridge and do some photography there.  The sky now has been turning a deep blue, and as I approached my turn into the old bridge parking area notice some activity in the parking area.  Now, I’m not the only tourist or photographer who wants to photograph from this location but funny thing is most of the vehicles were leaving, not coming in.  That was strange.  I also saw a bunch of black SUV’s butI didn’t pay any attention to them as I was focused on the sky and what I had planned to shoot.  Near the end of the parking lot there is short walk to the ramp onto the old seven mile bridge; I see several men and woman with a janitorial cart full of brooms, mops and assorted cleaning supplies.  Honestly I thought they were there to clean the facilities, but the other part of my brain was thinking:  There are no facilities here.  Anyway, I pull in to the parking lot and it’s eerily deserted — very unusual as it’s a gorgeous place to stop and admire the view and to photograph.  There was some activity going on near the ramp to the old bridge but I paid no mind.  Anyway I go into the trunk of my car and pick up my bag and my tripod and before I close the trunk I’m literally jumped by a rent-a-cop security guard who tells me I need to leave now.  I was taken aback!  What is going on here? Why are all these SUVs here?  When I simply asked why I was told it was a private event and I was trespassing.
Just for those that don’t know me I’m very casual, easy going, professional and relaxed.  However, don’t screw with me or my rights — that is where I draw the line in the sand.  I’ve been up since 3am, I have one shot at shooting this area before I head further south and I’m not leaving.
So very politely I told the security guard that I was on public property, and that I did not have to leave.  That did not go over well — he went off to talk to another guard, I’m assuming the head security guard.  Now, I have my X-T1 over my neck, my camera bag over my shoulder and I start out from the parking area to the entrance to the old bridge;  I got about ten feet before I had the head security guy cut me off and tell me I must immediately put my camera away and leave. Well, that was not going to happen so i sidestepped around him as I didn’t want to get into an argument at 6am.  He followed me.  I informed him that I was on public property and I was here to photograph and I would leave when I was ready.  These folks were out of control barking orders and demands at me to leave — which is why I saw all the other photogs and tourists leaving the area!  I understood now.
Anyway this guy followed me out onto the bridge and kept hurrying me up as  I think he finally realized I was not leaving.  I spent about an hour photographing the old bridge, trees, sunrise etc.  The entire time this guy was with me.  Off in the distance, on the old bridge I saw an entire film crew and a hovering helicopter.  I asked the guard (he might as well  make himself useful) what was being filmed.  He told me it was a TV commercial for a new 2017 Mini-Cooper convertible ( in a horrific and hideous mint blue/green BTW) and they were paying for the helicopter by the hour.
Once I was finished shooting I started to walk off the bridge, through the parking lot back to my car.   As soon as I stepped off the bridge I was approached by yet another security guard and was once again told, very loudly, that I must put my camera away.  Umm.  No, that wasn’t going to happen.  As soon as I said that, The four SUV’s that were off to my right just ahead of me in the lot, must have been radioed as they started up the four massive SUV’s and literally surrounded the Mini-cooper convertible like a wagon train protecting itself against an attack in an old western.
I could have been a dick and stopped to photograph the car but again, I’m a reasonable, calm person so I kept walking to my car– besides, I got what I came for so I figured I’d less these guys do their job.  I didn’t realize that by this time the Florida State Police had arrived to close the North and South bound lanes of the new 7-mile bridge as the television commercial was for the Mini to drive the across the bridge and to film from the old bridge, and the helicopter.  Anyway when I said I was not going to put my camera away the guard ran away and brought back the FSP trooper.  I must say he was extremely courteous, and when I asked him if this was still public property he actually acknowledged that it was so, and I was not obligated  in any way to put my camera away or leave for that matter, nor could he force me to do so.  Finally! Someone who knew the laws and citizens rights.  As I was headed back to my car he walked with me as his cruiser was parked next to me and we chatted about this and that for a few minutes.  Once I was in my car  he pulled out in his cruiser and blocked all traffic southbound on the new bridge, and another officer at the south end of the bridge blocked all northbound traffic so they could film the Mini driving all by it’s lonesome self across the clean, new 7-mile bridge with the beautiful couple smiling pretty.
By the way when I left the parking area and turned southbound back across the 7-mile bridge I was the only vehicle  except for a black Tahoe SUV that followed me all the way to the other end then turned around when I had reached the south side of the bridge.  I wondered what he would have done had I actually stopped ON the bridge to snap a few images…
The Solution:
Moral of the story:  Know your rights.  Be polite and courteous to everyone.  There is no need to be nasty or rude but don’t give in if you are in the right.  I was lucky in that the Florida State Police, at least the officer who approached me knew MY rights, and the situation didn’t escalate any further.  Had it been a know-nothing bully officer, I was prepared, and ready to talk or be ready to be taken in as I was in the right.
My biggest fear if that had happened was telling my wife I was arrested 😃

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

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.