Choosing a bag or carrying case for lighting equipment can be a tricky balancing act.
You need something which will carry your lighting gear and protect it well without weighing too much, making it very difficult for one person alone to move and also something that is mobile.
I have a selection of hard plastic cases which afford a good deal of protection but are quite heavy and this can make the task of moving them around a bit of a mission to say the least, also the wheels on plastic cases are often on the on the small side which makes moving a case which is already heavy very difficult to move over anything less than a billiard table smooth surface.
With this in mind I decided to road test the Manfrotto Prolight LW-99 Rolling organiser, which is conceived as a bag for a photographer taking a complete lighting set up on location, indoors or outdoors where I am frequently found.
Though this is one BIG bag 114cm(44.8 inches) high, 30cm(11.81 inches) deep and 45cm(17.72 inches) wide, it does need to be if you are carrying lights, stands and modifiers, and although it is big it is not heavy (the clue is in the name) it weighs just 6.52kg(14.36 lbs) which is feather weight for a bag of its size, though you might want to check it will fit in your car.
Although it is light Manfrotto have paid considerable attention to the areas of the bag which take a hit frequently as you are on you travels, the corners, base and sides of the bag are protected by tough shock absorbing plastic.
Internally the bag utilizes the Manfrotto Camera Protection system, the centre of a camera bag is its most vulnerable spot and the CPS provides a thick layer of structured, shock absorbing core section divider that safely cushions the equipment in your bag.
The wheels on the Manfrotto LW-99PL are anything but small too, with in line skater style wheels being used, I reckon you will be able to tackle a fair few obstacles, I like the skid plate adjacent to the wheels which means negotiating stairs will not be a chore.
As you can see you can fit a lot of kit in here, enough for a big location or studio shoot, and as I have said before, no matter how light the bag is you should carefully consider what you might actually need for a shoot sooner than overloading it with everything you own, which will hinder you.
Overall I found the Manfrotto LW-99PL a compelling solution for moving your lighting around to the studio or on location with minimum fuss.
As some humorous person wrote on my Facebook wall I think last year congratulations you have reached level 49.
It made me smile them and the funny sort of way it makes me smile even more now.
Not only just reaching level 50 in the game of life but managing to hang on in there and somehow reinvent myself the game of photography.
This year is my 35th year as a pro photographer.
I’m actually quite proud of staying in the game as long as I have – though as long as I have I do have have to be careful, as when I tell some clients on the phone how long I have been shooting I think they expect to see some guy holding a Zimmer frame turn up on the shoot.
If you have been following my blog over the years, you may have noticed that my frequency of blogging has somewhat petered out.
I do have an excuse – sort of.
For the last year it have entered a new genre of photography – new me anyhow.
My new direction will surprise some people and, I will share it with you in the next couple of months – there will be a brand spanking new website to showcase my new work too.
Does this mean I am turning my back on things like the ‘Forest’ ? Absolutely not.
The Forest in fact is right now touring China and by way of a (slightly) early birthday present I this week heard the news that the ‘Forest’ has won the grand award of the Qinghai photography festival
Which means I get this trophy and quite special certificate adorned with red stars and hammers and sickles.
Well, lots to tell.
The TV doc will finally be screened in the next couple of months….more of that on the new site.
Like choosing the appropriate camera for the assignment in hand, choosing the right bag for the job is vital.
I have a fair collection of bags because there is no such thing as the perfect camera bag but one that suits you and the job.
Having said that, I wanted to share my bag of the moment for shooting in demanding situations where a roller bag is out of the question.
It is the Manfrotto PRO-V-610PL
I have used this rucksack in some very harsh conditions, ranging from floods to some hundreds of meters up on bridges to deep underground in mining scenarios.
Though it is billed as a video bag I tend to use it when I’m shooting 360 degree panoramas with my stills cameras in the most demanding circumstances, which sometimes involves a fair degree of safety equipment including harnesses and breathing apparatus.
Why do I like this bag? Well I get all my key pieces of equipment in the bag and access each item via the individual exterior zips without opening the main part of the bag, limiting any ingress of dust or water, while the sensitive equipment is protected by the Manfrotto CPS (Camera protection system) a thick shock absorbing core section.
As you will see from my what’s in the bag I can carry my favourite full size tripod, super compact 6-Section Gitzo GT556LTS inside the rucksack Though this tripod is under 50cm when folded and weighs just under 3kg, it supports the biggest lenses and equipment I possess, stills or moving, in a rock steady way, and though I never get close to its maximum load of 40kg(88 lb), I find its extreme torsional rigidity means I never am bothered by vibration, even in extreme weather.
But the bag also has this very clever way of carrying the Gitzo GT556LTS outside the bag which means I don’t have to open the bag to access it, handy when your hands are really dirty.
When you are carrying the tripod externally it does liberate a ton of space in the bag but as with any bag of this size you have to be careful not to overload it, as what can seem like a manageable amount can feel a whole lot heavier after a few miles and then there is the return journey to consider…..
Speaking of weight, the Manfrotto PRO-V-610PL weighs just 3.75kg(8.26lb) which was a big factor in my choice for this bag.
The PRO-V-610PL has an excellent belt which I use when out hiking but when I’m working in the city it’s handy that it is detachable.
If you need to carry quite a bit of kit this bag really is well worth a look, I have had some extreme shoots with this bag and I’m packing for my next adventure as soon as I have finished writing this……