There’s a shift going on in photography, right from enthusiast up to professional level. And that change is that cameras are getting smaller, without compromising on results. When CSC cameras were introduced, it was thought they’d take off at the lower-end of the enthusiast market. But as keen enthusiast and pro users were introduced to their charms, the market expanded with more higher-end cameras.
For me, I was not interested in using smaller kit if there was any compromise on image quality. While it may be fine for hobbyists or my holidays, I make my living selling the highest-quality files and for that I need amazing sensors and crisp, often fast, lenses. I’d persevered with a Leica M8 then M9 but was often disappointed as the amazing Leica lenses just weren’t matched by the sensor’s performance, especially in low light.
But with cameras like the Sony A7R with a 36.3MP full-frame sensor coming onto the market, I decided it was time to make the leap. Especially as it can take lenses from other manufacturers’ cameras via adapters.
Just the thought of bolting Canon’s sublime 85mm f/1.2L lens onto the front of a 36.3MP Sony sensor camera is delicious and gives unique results. And Sony’s range of Zeiss lenses, like the 24-70mm, are fantastic too. Being full frame, they’re not as compact as you might imagine, though.
This no-compromise philosophy certainly goes as far as something to carry the kit around in. While there are lots of bags around big enough to take my new street kit of the Sony, the Zeiss 24-70 and a couple of Canon primes plus adapter, I wanted something with lots of advanced features, proper protection, a decent size to carry around all day and with a style that looked understated and classy. The kit is predominantly for use in street photography, so it has to blend in as much as possible. I don’t want to attract unwanted attention from potential subjects or anyone else.
My uncompromising nature and quest for excellence in smaller sizes means I need room for the latest mini-size computing marvel – a potent Apple Macbook Air 11” loaded with memory and software so it can process large files on the go. The Manfrotto Shoulder Bag 20 has a pocket for laptops or tablets and my Macbook slips right in perfectly.
The bag give great protection to its contents thanks to its Camera Protection System which squashed down small to allow you to stuff loads inside. What I also like hugely is the quick-access port on the top flap. Instead of having the whole top of the bag open as you walk around, you can just have a single zip undone on the top. So if you see something you don’t want to miss, it’s simplicity itself to pop a hand in and pull out the camera ready for action.
On a walk-round of Cambridge, having the camera bag over your shoulder but the top zip open so you could take pictures quickly was a real bonus. As was the padded shoulder strap! The bag may be light, but fast lenses can weight you down after a day of pounding the street hunting for images.
And on a trip to Thailand, street photography feels much safer when your bag has lots of protection, easy access to you but doesn’t shout out that it’s packed full of expensive kit. With loads of pockets for memory cards, notebook, pens, documents and lots more, it’s an ideal travel companion for smaller system cameras. Of course, you can stick a pro-level DLSR inside with 70-200 and two or three other lenses, but for me it’s best used a great travel bag for a great, and more compact, travel camera system.