I do not own the copyright on this image.

Arc’Teryx Arro from Berg’s Snowsport Specialists.

As a bag maker myself, choosing a bag for myself from the seemingly endless variety out there in 2016, including looking back over previous years seasons, is an arduous task to say the least. It basically means research and meta research.

The Arc’Teryx Arro 22 bag is not perfect for my needs, but it does fulfill a few of the criteria I required such as a stiff back panel and robust design with robust materials that are tried true and tested.

My need for this pack are as a 2nd version every day pack for essentials, then for work and then for groceries.
I am a documentary filmmaker & I carry a basic two camera interview setup at all times:
I carry two mirrorless cameras with lenses, a Sony PCM-D50 audio recorder and two fistfuls of accessories to make that all go, that lot fits into a Domke F-5Xb which nestles in the bottom of the pack and under that I have cut a 1 inch thick piece of high impact foam to compliment the foam already in the pack’s base -take this into consideration as I talk about what else I put in this bag. Additionally I have an 11″ MacBook Air in an STM sleeve case, two external drives a thimbleful of accessories power and cables. Sometimes Ill even take non folding Sennheiser HD25 headphones.
I also carry a Sirui tabletop tripod and occasionally a full-sized micro tripod (Sirui T025X). All of this fits into my Cilogear 20L Worksack (which truthfully, is probably more like a 16-17L).
With all that in there, I would say the Arro is about 50-60% full. If I need to get groceries on the way home, I can grab the trifecta of veggies, a pound of flesh a small tub of yogurt, butter and a handful of treats from the bulk section, & that will all fit into the main compartment. The “bubble” as I like to call it, is an added bonus on this pack. I believe that 22L is the main compartment size, and the bubble is probably another 6-10L (my dimensional reasoning escapes me here). At the bottom it holds a fist size ziploc with daily essentials. After that a 1L Platypus ‘bag’ of water, lightweight jacket & cap.

What I wasn’t expecting with the Arro 22 is how high the pack rides when on a bike. Even full, it sits higher then I would expect given the strap engineering and location on the back panel. I suspect it’s because it is a narrow long pack. The bottom ridge, I tend to nestle on the top of my jeans belt. This isn’t a major problem for 10 mile round trip rides in Seattle but if I were going on a camping bike trip, I might have to look at other bags I have.

Like I said, it’s a long narrow pack, which makes it good in busy urban environments, and for getting through crowds. The bottom of the bag is wider, so it does hold more than you would think it should.

I’ve already been in a prolonged heavy rainstorm and it kept its contents dry.

The straps are thick, which is not the current thinking on packs today, however, they are very comfortable with load or not. The strap adjusters help to keep the straps present when not in use, so picking up the bag via the top handle and swinging it over your head to put on your back is the easiest I’ve experienced on any pack including my own *flawless* pack designs.. The bag just belongs on your back.

The high density back panel is very sturdy and very comfortable. There is a small hardly discernible curve on the lumbar which makes the pack extremely comfortable (I have scoliosis & it’s still extremely comfortable). There is a removable PVC panel which I have tried with and without, the added weight is a non issue but the benefits of having added rigidity is priceless. The additional hip-panels also contribute to this comfort.
I will say, that in hot weather, you will sweat heavily into the back panel, and I could foresee this as being a problem in hot weather, and the material will soak up sweat like a sponge. I may modify my pack by adding two 2″ disks of foam at the lumbar area to a stand-off position.

As far as Hydration Packs go, well that is kinda weird on this bag. There is a long narrow elastic mesh pocket in the inside of the back panel, but there is no hook to hang it from, so you have to rely on the hydration pack’s own integrity to stay put. I was already using a Hydrapak 2L, which, incidentally is similar to what Arc’Teryx show on their website; a pack with a bridge lock top closure that simply rests on the top of the mesh pocket ~we will see how well that elastic top stands up to use after a year of wrestling..

The side pockets are ‘meh’ really not enough for a water bottle, but fine for whatever you can fit into them. Some is elastic & and loop for a carabiner, and the other has superman grade velcro which holds tight whatever you put into it (we will see how well that is in a year of heavy (ab)use.

I’m surprised I actually had so much to say about this bag, but so far and envisioning 5 years from now, I suspect I will still love this bag. Arc’Teryx are the Apple of backpacks, with astounding functional design backed up by gorgeous aesthetics.

Highly recommended.

I purchased mine at Berg’s who had the lowest price available at the time and really lovely customer service.

EyeCup for A7s

Just about the only frustration I have had with the A7s is the fact there is NO available eyecup for it. If I am hand-holding I prefer to shoot video with a camera to my eye for a few reasons. There is as of this time (April 2015) no commercially available eye-cups available for this amazing cinema camera..
So I made by repurposing commercially available parts.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

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DIY Sony A7s Eye Cup design prototype.

Pop

I’ve been shooting a lot more video recently, video street photography. Figuring it out. It’s a concept that I’ve had for a while and finally got a camera to do it. Purpose built for the job.
I’ve been using 24mm lenses now for about 5 years, always preferring 24mm because it was wide and yet not insane. However today, I took with me two new lenses that I hadn’t used yet, and started the day on the 24 as usual, and saw something that I hung around a bit for, but it wasnt working so I moved on and found something else, and it didn’t work so I moved on again then went and had a cuppa coffee. During coffee I decided it might be a good idea to change to the new 35mm and see how it is. I put it on, went back out to the first spot that didn’t work and looked through the camera and thought what the fuck was I missing earlier? So I put the 24mm back on and there it was, a realization that I can actually see better with 35mm, I can see without having to look through the camera despite “knowing” 24mm and knowing what the image will be like before pressing the button.
These are all good Zeiss optics so the lens quality isn’t an issue. In fact that 24mm is, as 24mm lenses go pretty off the charts as it were.
Anyway, tomorrow I’ll be back on the streets with just the 35mm. Alex Webb told me that he likes how a 35mm lens ‘recedes’ and after this, I have to agree.

Fire & Slate

One of my favorite places to shoot in Seattle. Its a never ending smorgasbord of optical mystery and imagination.

I want a key command

computer

I want a key command for all computers, all operating systems, which…, with a 3 finger key-command or gesture, allows me to open a specific app, use it and close it again with that same gesture.

I want a key command, for all computers & all operating systems. Which- with, a 3 finger key-command or a 3 finger gesture, allows me to open any app, use it and close it again with that same gesture.

Can that be designed?

I also want contextualized right-click in browsers.

Think about your camera, think about your motivations..

I have been buying and selling gear for 20 years, and for a period worked at a store.

I take an interest in finance, especially the the still image markets.

What used to take 6 years to cycle now takes 6 months. 6 years was the unwritten agreement held by the manufacturers because in Europe and Japan 6 years was the effective tax write-off period independent businesses (Professional Photographers) could write off the cost of their gear to zero.

A decade ago that started to shift and speed up and it was mostly because of the booming economies of the western world and tax write-off periods didnt seem to matter as much anymore, because disposable incomes were higher in comparison to the cost of the cameras. Additionally, we were already a generation into prosumer digital cameras- the first three generations were solely in the realm of institutions and consortiums with the prices of cameras in $15-25,000 a camera which in todays money is about 22-32k a piece.

When Canon brought out the D30 -the first major selling consumer DSLR- the turn around on gear was 4 years. By the time the 20D happened it was two years, straddled between the Nikon models. Nowadays Cameras like the 5DmkIII and Nikon D800 are dinosaurs within two years, and in many ways they are out of date a year after they come out. They rely on an older age-group of buyers who were brought up thinking that the DSLR is the benchmark for quality, as do their clients.

I dropped out of DSLRs 4 years ago in preference for mirrorless and have never looked back. I have purchased only four new cameras in my life, the Eos 5, which started a trend for me, to buy three Enthusiast aka semi-pro bodies for the price of one pro body and getting the same level of value out of those three bodies as my buddies ere getting out of their $3x pro bodies.. the Second purchase was my personal step into digital cameras with a Canon G1, a premium level point and shoot. followed by some time later by a productive years work and a flush account, I got a Canon 10D, and shortly after that a new 1DmkII, a rash decision that I now regret. Three years ago I got a Fuji X-Pro1, I bought it new because I was in need of a new definitive look to my images and the Fuji sensor was where it was at. I wasted no time and pre-ordered sight unseen and still have it. I traded some older lenses for a second body and that camera is still valid today, though the market has dropped for resale, so these are resale losses.

The Sony A6000 is a milestone in the financial side of the mirrorless scene primarily because it is a definitive price tactical change which will effect the market around it as it breaks new ground and infringes on DSLR territory. Big sellers like the Fuji X100 will be dwarfed in sales numbers by the end of this year from the sales of the A6000.

The market is tiered by expectation and the belief from the consumer that the more you spend the longer the investment is, which is completely rubbish. When the Leica M8 came out it was an $8000 camera and everyone who bought it believed it was the camera they would take to their grave. The truth is, the best thinking is in the lower middle range of product: look at the tech in the marketplace and the price from top to bottom to the point and shoots, which are now dead from Cellphone infringement, and the best thing to spend your money on is the cameras like the NEX5, A6000, Xe2, GX1, etc anything under $1000 because it will be worth 60-65% of its street launch price within a year.

Because digital cameras are now being marketed alongside other technologies the two year trade-show epiphanies are getting shorter. Every year we have CES and every two years we have Photokina, and now theres NAB and numerous other smaller events which all bring new release dates closer together.

At the end of the day we buy these things to make pictures, and the quality of the pictures has got to a point which is way ahead of the flexibility of film in about 70% of applications. 35mm film for professional use is dead because digital is more flexible, so toy cameras rule the 35mm market, enthusiasts mop up out of date junk films and spit out hipster art disposable mementos. The race is for the 50mp point with 4k output which will eat into the medium format realm. In 4-6 years Sony and Canon will have 60-100mp cameras and that will be the end of all film and photography will have transitioned completely into digital. Remember, in 2004 when sony entered into negotiations with Minolta, they said that within ten years they would be camera manufacturer #1 or #2, they make all the sensors for everyone except Canon and Leica and some of the exotic medium & large format cameras.

It blows me away that in December 2013 Sony announced the A7 & A7r, and they weren’t on shelves until March and used prices were floating at $1600 and $2200 and in just the last 6 weeks you can now buy a new A7r for $1825 and a used A7 for $1100… those prices are going to fall again in September when Photokina happens, they will settle within 2 months Until January when CES show happens and the pro-deals happen, and then they will fall again. By the end of summer 2015 you will be able to buy a used A7 for $700……………………..

Mirrorless Cameras & connected futures

I’ve been using mirrorless cameras for a while, a mirrorless camera is a camera with no mirror, so nothing other than the shutter has to move out of the way for an exposure. This makes the camera smaller and lighter but doesn’t effect the quality of the images produced. I just did a google for any professional photographers using a Sony A6000, and found a website which had 13 pros who had made the switch, however, most of these were not photojournalists.
Heres what I wrote;
Since the Panasonic GF1, I have been using mirrorless cameras, alongside DSLR and Rangefinders. In 2012 I consolidated everything into two Fuji X Pro-1 bodies and two lenses, a 28mm and a 50mm. Since then I’ve added two tiny Sony cameras; NEX 5n and recently an A6000. I still shoot some projects with film, using a Hasselblad X-Pan and a Leica M6.
It’s really just a matter of trust and knowing how the camera will perform in the environment. I took the two Fuji’s to India last year and shot about 100,000 exposures in pretty extremely climates, and my backup was an Olympus TG-1 a Sony Action Cam and the X Pan with 500 rolls of slide film.
The web chatter complaints about the Fuji X Pro-1 was that they had slow responsiveness and slow focus, however a little dedicated time in hand and practice, you will get to know any camera, and its strengths and weaknesses, and I bet you I am as fast with my X Pro-1 as you are with your DSLR. I was fast with my Leica M6 too.
The Fuji’s never gave me any trouble. I had them exposes to 54c temperatures 98% humidity, extreme dust, floods, and baking in the direct sunlight. For a 1.0 camera system (at the time), that is pretty damn solid trust building stuff. I have my complaints about them, but I’ve never had the perfect camera, there is no such thing. It just takes daily care and cleaning, your gear theoretically should not give you any problems.
I am a documentary reportage photographer and sound person. I spent most of my time out of the tourist areas, Chattisgarrgh, Bhopal, Bombay Slums etc. The cameras where amazing, I wont be moving back to reflex cameras at all. I like the form-factor of the X Pro-1 and the A6000 where the VF is et the edge of the camera. They are small, light and you can have three cameras in a bag each with a different job for half the weight of two DSLRs.
I’m testing out this A6000 right now, as I’ve been blown away by the NEX5n for its size and burs rate. The A6000 is a nudge bigger, but has a viewfinder and 11fps, plus when connected to a wifi signal can upload directly to FB or Flickr- that right there is immense, a complete game changer for me. No more laptops no more extra stuff. Sony have taken the camera to where it needed to go: against the cellphone, which will never give you the same control or ergonomics a camera can.
This year, I’ve been doing video, press photography, spot news, product, portraiture, architecture all the stuff I ever did with SLR cameras and even with large and medium format cameras. Adapted lenses like my collection of Pentax, Leica-R and others, on tilt-shift, and Speedbooster’s have opened up so many other possibilities on these cameras too. Anyone still shooting on a DSLR either doesn’t know, or doesn’t want to know. Having legacy fast lenses with fast AF is about the only excuse for still using a DSLR.

A picture of my well used and loved Fuji X Pro-1 with a brass thumb grip and accessory hand grip.

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My well loved camera. This has come with me daily everywhere since February 2012.