I will show you how I stored a change of clothes, tripod, and folding chair in the “Professional Backpack 50″ and camera equipment in the ”Professional Roller Bag 70” during coverage of the Brazil WC on day trips and 1 night/2 days stays.
For several days’ coverage, I needed to pack more clothes , so I switched up the roles of the bags.
In other words, I used the ”Professional Roller Bag 70” to store a change of clothes, unipod, the entire WC coverage plan, accommodations details, flight details, etc.
In situations when one bag is checked in when boarding an airplane, etc., I usually check in the “Professional Roller Bag 70”, while for the equipment itself, I would carry it on board in the “Professional Backpack 50”.
For the World Cup and European Championships, and the big stage that is the Champions League final, often chairs for photography are provided for the photographer. However, in individual national leagues, you need to bring you own. For stadiums that can be reached from home or office by car, the size and weight of the chair do not matter, however I tend to want to reduce belongings during business trips.
In these cases, I use the “Professional Roller Bag 70” as a chair. For League games, sponsors’ electric bulletin boards are placed in behind the goal nets along the touch lines.
The height of these electronic bulletin boards differ slightly by the particular stadium, so when the signs are high, I put the “Professional Roller Bag 70” in upright position, and when the sign is low, I stand it horizontally, so that the bag with the roller part is set in the firmest place.
Though it also depends on your physique, I have grown fond of this method.
Because equipment actually used in photography is carried on the body, that leaves more space for your necessities such as rain gear and a PC with which you can immediately send photos from the field.
Also, for the lens exchange after the game and when flash devices not useful for game photography need to be taken out at night games, the lid is easily removable because it is equipped with a side stopper to make it stop a little over 90 degrees in open position.
The interesting feature that cannot be found on other roller bags is the handle at the base.
This comes in handy when picking up the bag from the baggage carousel after arrival.
Regardless of the orientation of the bag, it can be picked up from the base or the top.
It’s hard to say which is my favorite feature: functionality, design, ease of use, durability, size. It really depends on the person.
Within the ”Professional Roller Bag 70” lies many potential uses waiting to be discovered.
Even for my work as a photographer for the Brazil World Cup, the roller bag was really useful for storing my entire set of equipment with the wheels at the bottom.
Most cameramen put their camera main bodies and lenses between the dividers of the bag uncovered, however I always put the camera and body in a protective case. As for the lenses, I wrap them in a sleeve made of scuba-diving wetsuit material, and I put the camera itself in a cotton lined sleeve produced by the maker. Then I put all of the above in the ”Professional Roller Bag 70”.
About 15 years ago, I had a bitter experience. This was when roller bags still weren’t so common. I was driving around European countries in a rented car with a 35mm camera and lens in a roller bag intended for middle sized and large sized cameras.
The roads I was traveling were not at all like the flat roads of Japan, but were narrow and bumpy. Along with 400mm/F2.8, 80－200mm/F2.8、28－70mm/F2.8, I had two or three cameras. Though I had a total weight in equipment of 20 kilos, by putting it all in a roller bag, it lightened my load significantly and made traveling a lot more fun.
However, during one game in the 2000 championships, I tried taking a photo of the far goal from behind the closer net and I couldn’t get it in focus. Something had gone very wrong. I ended up going to the Nikon service center to get it checked.
“How did you transport this equipment?” I was asked by a staff member and I told them that I was doing a lot of walking around with a roller bag.
“Is that so?” he said. “Roller bags are useful but rolling cameras around Europe, taking it in the car, etc., you are exposing it to a lot of constant minute vibrations. In a 400mm lens like yours, this type of shaking loosens small screws inside.”
“I recommend that from now on you do a check every few months and that you switch to a back-pack type of bag.”
Indeed, walking around on the cobblestones etc., of European cities exposes the bag to a lot of up down and left right shaking, and the same applies to moving by car.
And the accumulation of many trivial things can finally lead to a big problem.
At about the time when the world’s photographers started using roller bags, I was going against the stream of the tendency to use backpack type bags. And next it wasn’t the bag but me that would encounter the misfortune.
Along with autofocus precision increasing significantly, the photographers’ retirement age got older and older and a different problem emerged. Because I was carrying 20 kilograms on photography trips, my knees started having problems.
That is when I finally joined the ranks of roller bag users…
So, based on my experience , I naturally started wondering if there was a roller bag with a softer roller portion. Of course equipment is not packed uncovered, but is to wrapped in buffering material.
After trying out various bags, I found the roller part of the ”Professional Roller Bag 70” was really soft, and when rolling over hard ground , it works as a cushion with minute vibrations hardly affecting it.
With the ”Professional Roller Bag 70” , the usual clacking sound of the hard type roller bag disappears when moving the bag around and you hear only a swish swish sound.
Now, even when I use the bag for several months, the tiny screws in the camera don’t loosen up as they used to, and there is no need for check ups.
Having no extra stress for these kinds of issues allows you to smoothly transition to new work.
Compared to Western people, I am a relatively short at about 158 cm. When I carry the same equipment or bags as people with larger frames, I often feel that I, not the camera bag is the accessory.
As a result, when travelling by plane, I always get reproached for my camera bag size at the check-in, and am told to weigh my bags.
In the past, I preferred roller type camera bags, but then I realized the size does not stick out as much as with backpack types, so up until lately I have been using waterproof type backpacks permitted for carry-on.
Since it is fairly resistant to rain, it ended up being one of my favorites. Being a bit bulky when carried on the back, it presented a slight problem during check-in.
So I decided to use it almost exclusively for domestic travel by car or train.
While using the “Professional Backpack 50 “ in a trial-and-error fashion, I found my own best packing method.
This summer during the Brazil World Cup, I tried stuffing all my equipment in one bag for a domestic flight.
The material I stuffed in the bag was a full set of Nikon equipment necessary for shooting the games– a 400mm/F2.8 telescopic lens, 70-200mm/F4 and 24-70mm/F2.8 zoom lenses, as well as a 1.4 x teleconverter lens, one strobe and finally two camera bodies.
And of course, a computer to send my photos and small accessories such as a card reader, light meter, recording media and external HD.
When stowing a full set the “Professional Backpack 50, “ is capital because it allows you to store a lot in limited space. Because the bag is quite tough, the lid portion having a lot of tough protection, for equipment contained within–if you wrap all the equipment in their individual sleeves–there is no need for internal dividers.
↓ This is the bag I have been using up until recently stuffed with equipment.
↓ This the Manfrotto Professional Backpack 50 with the same equipment packed inside.
From external appearance, the Professional Backpack 50 could easily be mistaken for a 400mm/F2.8 case.
Here’s a visual comparison with the bag I have been using up to now of the external appearance when carried.
In the Brazil World Cup, because regulations concerning carry-on baggage were relatively lax, I was able to bring both “Professional Backpack 50” and the roller bag “Professional Roller Bag 70” on board.
Of course, part of the reason I was given a break was because I had a special AD card for members of the press.
When on for several days’ shooting trips away from Rio de Janeiro where I was based during the competition, this roller bag came in very handy for its ability to fit a change of clothes and a folding chair.
Normally a unipod is not permitted as carry-on luggage as it is considered dangerous, however I was allowed in most cases in Brazil.
Even if you have to check-in, the “Professional Backpack 50” gives you peace of mind with its ability to store your entire set of photographic equipment etc.
Should the checked-in bags not arrive for some reason, at least you have photographic equipment in hand.
For professional photographers, this is the most important point.
Note: regarding the bags mentioned in the article, whether taking it on board is actually permitted will depend on the situation at the airport of countries including the airline and aircraft type. In my experience, it is generally possible to carry Professional Backpack 50 and Professional Roller Bag 70, however, depending on the weight, there are times when carrying both on board may be denied depending on the total weight.
In this instalment, I’ll be discussing practical use of the “Professional Backpack 50”.
On the days I was covering the Brazil World Cup travelling on domestic flights with a two- day overnight schedule, or a one-day car trip, I usually packed a change of clothes, rain gear, toiletries, a monopod (GITZO GM5561T), and a folding chair (Walk Stool Basic 60cm/24in) all in one bag, my Professional Backpack 50.
For camera equipment, however, I usually use my “Professional Roller Bag 70”(MP Roller Bag 50).
In other words, whenever I don’t have much equipment besides my camera, I tend to go with just this bag. On a day trip or a two-day overnight job, I have to be ready to pick up and move immediately from the designated shooting start time, so I absolutely cannot be late. Moving around for shooting inevitably involves all kinds of time constraints.
Moving around in the airport, from the parking lot to the stadium after arriving by car; or from the equipment checkpoint right in the media center entrance to the general walk through area, I find a bag with rollers indispensable.
Even though it looks like a short distance at first glance, if you end up traveling this same distance many times, you’re actually using up energy. To this end, depending on the situation, the Backpack 50 can be placed and carried on top of the Roller Bag 70, which configuration makes me feel a lot lighter on my feet.
In short. this design is a blessing because it allows you to place another bag on top of the roller bag and cart them as a set.
When the Roller Bag 70’s handle is pulled out, the length matches with the handle position of the Backpack 50 stacked on top.
In the first blog, the junior photographers who looked at the pictures of the Backpack 50 remarked “It looks quite small considering the amount of equipment actually packed.”
You just have to walk behind someone wearing the bag to see the difference for yourself.
I laugh when I think how my photographer friends used to say about the rucksack I had been using up until recently: “Look it’s the bag that’s pulling Yamada, not the other way around!!”.
Several of my juniors remarked how slim the Backpack 50 looked.
A small feature I had not noticed: the shoulder belt length adjusters. Normally the extra length dangles from the shoulder belt.
When the belt is too long, it can get caught when the bag is placed in the airport’s x-ray inspection device. If you make sure to shorten the shoulder belt or strap slack beforehand by tying it up, it won’t end up getting caught on things like doorknobs.
The extra length of the shoulder belt adjustment part on the Backpack 50 is connected to a plastic ring on the end of the shoulder belt.
For this reason, the extra never ends up floating about.
In situations where a small rucksack is stacked on the rolling bag, the shoulder belt’s adjustment parts don’t hang over too much and touch the ground, etc.; and when walking through a crowd of people you don’ have to worry about it getting stepped on by passersby.
What I noticed while breaking in the bag and getting used to it was that the features that at first seemed “take it or leave it” items ended up being my favorites. The point is that Manfrotto has really considered the user’s position in designing this bag.