It s in the bag
Stephen Scourfield behind the camera

It's not you, it's me. I've changed. I never thought it would happen but, after 20 years of having you hanging around me, I've decided to move on. In fact, I've found another.

It's just that I couldn't find a LowePro camera bag to happily accommodate the camera gear I now carry.

"What about this one," asked Gavin Carvalho, our photographic columnist and specialist salesman at Camera Electronics store in Stirling Street, Perth.

"But it's not a LowePro . . . " I said (a complete answer, I thought).

He passed a Think Tank camera bag to me.

Whoever heard of a camera bag called a Think Tank?

And then I looked at it. Mmm.

Heavy duty YKK RC fuse zips, no silly big flaps, a clever waist-belt and shoulder harness system, myriad pockets all in the right place - clearly a bag from which cameras can be used easily all day, and from which other lenses can easily be extracted and changed.

I'm very fussy about bags and this is a good bag.

It should be, as further investigation reveals that Think Tank Photo is a group of professional photographers and designers who know intimately how photographers work, and are developing inventive solutions to their "carrying needs".

The design focus is on "speed and accessibility".

Think Tank Photo was started in January 2005 by two designers, Doug Murdoch and Mike Sturm, and two photographers, Deanne Fitzmaurice and Kurt Rogers. Fitzmaurice won the Pulitzer Prize for photojournalism in 2005 (deannefitzmaurice.com and pulitzer.org/works/2005- Feature-Photography).

Doug Murdoch, designer and president of the group, says: "The reason why we believe speed and accessibility is the most important design element is because photography is about taking pictures. If you are using a carrying system that impedes your ability to take pictures, then it has failed you.

"As an example, photographers that wear a backpack all day may take it off to access their gear 10 or more times. However, after a short time they become tired of this and stop changing lenses and stop taking pictures. This is why modular belts systems are so effective, and also why we make a distinction between 'active shooting mode' versus 'storage and transportation mode'.

"We're obsessed about the details, what we call 'the last 3 per cent'. This is because these details are the difference between an average and an excellent product."

There is also a Design Board - 12 professional and well-known photographers who use the gear and whose feedback is incorporated into the next phase of design.

It is worth looking at the thinktankphoto.com website just to follow the links to these photographers' work.

And so I bought the Think Tank Photo MM Wired Up 10, which fits my needs, for $145.

I have had LowePro bags for two decades, and they are great. But, in this instance, it was just time to move on.

And then, in the camera shop, I spied a new computer bag. Padded, no-fuss, spacious, brilliantly designed. Just what I needed. I turned it over. LowePro. Ah.

The West Australian

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