Thursday, May 2, 2019

Review - Think Tank Photo Retrospective Series V2.0

We reviewed the Think Tank Photo Retrospective 30 way back in early 2011. It remains one of our favorite camera bags to use because of its durability and design.  Even now after 8 years of heavy use on numerous photoshoots, the bag hardly shows any wear and tear. When Think Tank Photo recently updated their Retrospective line, I was very interested to see how they could improve an already great camera bag.  Thankfully they were gracious enough to provide us with several bags to review for our readers.

Today we will be taking a look at three of the bags in the Retrospective V2.0 lineup - from left to right the Retrospective 10 V2.0, Retrospective 20 V2.0  & Retrospective 30 V2.0.

The basic design is the same between all 3 bags, with the main difference being capacity - the Retrospective 10 being the smallest of the three and the Retrospective 30 being the largest. 

All of the bags have the same heavy duty non-removable padded strap.

A new feature for this update is that they all now have a pass-thru slot on the back to slip it over the handles of a roller bag. This was one of the main things I sorely missed on the original bag and I'm glad they added this to the 2.0 lineup.

The front flap now has a slight design accent with two metal grommets.

Like the previous version, Think Tank wisely kept their logo small and on the back of the camera bag so that the front of the camera bag remains discreet and doesn't scream " camera bag"

The front pockets are also the same as before, very roomy and able to accommodate a gripped camera body in each pocket.

The Retrospective 30 has two front pockets while both the 10 and 20 have a single front pocket.

One big change they have done in this revision is the organizational pocket (for pens, business cards, etc.) which has been moved from the inside of bag to the outer front of the bag.  On the Retrospective 30 this is in a zippered compartment on the front of the bag.

While this makes for easier access to the organizational pocket, I kind of wish they had thought to relocate the velcro flaps for the front pockets to just under the zipper since the flaps block access to the zipper.

In the case of the Retrospective 10 and 20, the organizational section is outside of the zippered front pocket, which makes it easier to access.

One thing that was missing from the original Retrospective was a dedicated laptop compartment - this has been rectified in 2.0 and you can now easily fit a 15" MacBook Pro in the Retrospective 30.

Because the 10 and 20 are smaller than the 30,  neither one of them can fit a 15" laptop.  Specs on the site state that a 10" tablet or 12" laptop will fit but unfortunately at the time of this review I didn't have either one available to try out with these bags.

The interior of the main compartment of the original version of the Retrospective featured pockets on both sides of the bag which have been removed in version 2.0.  In all the years I used the original Retrospective 30, I never really used those pockets, so I don't miss them.  Their removal just makes for a cleaner looking interior.

A tethered clip is included to attach things like keys or a Think Tank Pixel Pocket memory card holder.

They have reworked the sound silencer velcro closures in this revision so that they now tuck in behind the velcro hook panel.  It makes for a much cleaner appearance.

Also new to the 2.0 revision is a separate panel under the main flap which can zipped to close off the entire top of the bag.  This is a useful feature for deterring pickpockets when you're traveling with the bag.

It is a bit of a struggle in the corners when trying to zip or unzip this cover.

During a typical shoot, I will usually leave this panel unzipped.

To keep it out of the way,  you can attach it to the main flap using this circular spot of velcro.

Or you can tuck it into a pocket on the inside of the main flap so that it is completely out of the way.

The back pocket is not large enough for a laptop,

but it does easily handle a 12" iPad Pro.

To help you get an idea of the size differences between the three Retrospective bags, here is how much a 12" iPad Pro sticks out of the back pockets of the 10 and 20.

Like all Think Tank bags, a raincover is included with each Retrospective bag.

The side pockets on the original Retrospective bags were really tight and since it was difficult to get anything in and out of them, I rarely ever used them.  In version 2.0, they have eliminated the pocket from one side of the bag.

They kept the horizontal strap on this side of the bag, which makes a good mounting point for a Peak Design Capture Clip.

On the other side they have thankfully made the pocket much larger and also expandable.

Unhook the strap, flip down the little panel inside the pocket...

and you can now fit a lot more than before.  You can even fit a pretty decent sized water bottle in there.

I used each of these bags on several different shooting assignments over the course of several months and here is what I ended up carrying in each one:

The Retrospective 10, the smallest of the three bags, I found perfect to use as an everyday carry for stills and video.

Sony a6300 w/18-105 f4 G lens
Sony a6000 backup body
ND filter
spare batteries
spare memory cards
Cheetahstand V850 flash
Godox XPro S flash trigger
Tascam DR10C audio recorder with lavalier microphone

The Retrospective 20, due to its taller form factor, was particularly suited for lighting gear.

Flashpoint Evolv AD200 with MagGrip attachment
3 Cheetahstand V850s with MagGrip attachment

Eventually I am planning to replace the 3 V850s with 3 AD200s, which this bag will have no problem accommodating.

The Retrospective 30, the largest in the lineup - made it very easy to carry pretty much everything I needed for a typical wedding shoot.

Sony a7rii with battery grip
Sony a7ii with battery grip
Sony a6000 spare body
Sony 16-35mm f4
Sony 24-70mm f4
Sony 70-200mm f4
Flashpoint Evolve AD200
Godox XPro S flash trigger
spare batteries
spare memory cards
Tascam DR10C audio recorder with lavalier microphone

The new zippered panel that can seal off the interior of the bag also makes for a handy way to carry a small light stand and umbrella with you in the same bag (instead of carrying it in a separate lightstand bag).

While the zippered panel does not have much in the way of padding, it does protect the back of the cameras from getting scratched by the lightstand when carried like this.

Overall, I really liked the improvements they have made to the lineup.  If you are in the market for a good shoulder bag for your camera gear that is durable enough that it will probably outlive your camera gear, the Think Tank Retrospective V2.0 line is definitely worth checking out.

If this review has been helpful to you, please consider using the links on this page to visit Think Tank Photo.  A small portion of the sale will go to help us keep this blog going and continue to do more reviews and behind the scenes posts of our photoshoots.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Storytelling with Photographs - Alice in Wonderland themed photoshoot with Brittney

My apologies for not having updated this blog in a while.  Work has been keeping me preoccupied and though I have continued doing model photoshoots, I've been falling behind on doing the BTS posts.

I have been keeping notes on each shoot to help me remember details when I finally get around to doing the BTS write-ups, so the posts will eventually get caught up (I hope).  It's just difficult to get back into writing when you haven't done it in a while.

To help me get back into the swing of things, I decided to start with something simple:

For a while now I had been wanting to experiment with photographic storytelling - creating a series of images that put together would tell an entire story. So when model Brittney Baker (one of my favorite models to work with in Maui) contacted me about doing an Alice in Wonderland styled photoshoot I quickly agreed.  After a few days of prep work, we headed up to Olinda to the Waihou Spring Trail one morning for the shoot.

To prep for this shoot, I put together a simple storyline to use as a shooting guide for the different photos that we would need to take to convey the story:

Alice wanders around a forest.  It seems normal at first, but she starts to see things that may or may not be illusions.  She eventually finds a large rabbit hole and peers into it but cannot see where it leads.  She ponders for a moment, then decides to take a leap of faith.

Since we were there early in the morning, the light coming through the trees looked amazing, so we mainly worked with the existing light.  Whenever we needed some fill light, we used a California Sunbounce Pro Silver/White reflector which we had mounted on a C-Stand.

In a couple of instances, we also used the Cheetahstand CL360 as a backlight.

Assembly of the slideshow was done in Final Cut Pro X, using various transitions and some subtle movements of the photos to imply the action of walking through the forest. Music was licensed through

Wandering Alice from MauiPhoto on Vimeo.

Again my apologies for the lack of updates, and the relative brevity of this post.  Lighting-wise there wasn't much to write up about, as it was mostly done with natural light. In a lot of the shots, we didn't even need to use the reflector as the existing light was already awesome.  Plus when you have a fantastic model such as Brittney, you could probably light her with a $2 flashlight and she would look awesome.

Working on more BTS posts.  Stay Tuned....

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Gear Review - Think Tank Photo Skin Series V3.0 - Skin 50 & Skin Changer Pop Down

Finishing up our review of Think Tank Photo's recent updates to their popular modular belt system, we take a look at a couple of pouches from their Skin Series- the Skin 50 v3.0 & Skin Changer Pop Down V3.0 .

Both of them feature the Sound Silencer style velcro closures that allow you to set them to silent mode when you're shooting in places like a church wedding.

The interiors feature dividers - the Skin Changer comes with 3 while the Skin 50 has a single one.

The Skin 50 is large enough to hold even the Sony G Master 85mm f1.4 with the hood in place.

A Sony a6000 and two lenses (Zeiss 55 1.8 and Zeiss 35 f2.8) also fit quite nicely in this pouch.

The Skin Changer Pop Down has an expansion zipper on the bottom that lets you extend the length of the pouch

This lets you easily hold a 70-200mm lens with the hood attached.

Comparing the Skin 50 V3.0 to the older series, the material of the pouches feels slightly thicker than the 2.0 versions, yet they compress down just as flat when you need to pack them away and it doesn't feel like there's much different in weight.

The zippered pocket in the front flap has been eliminated and the zippered rain pouch access has moved to the back and is now in a velcro compartment.

The tabs that let you lock the pouch in place on your Pro Speedbelt are now slightly smaller but this doesn't affect how it attaches to your belt.

Overall my only real (small) nitpick with the 3.0 series of Skin pouches has to do with the interior lining.

On the Skin 50, there's just a single strip of velcro down the middle - which limits you to putting the divider just in the center of the bag.

If you look at the rear interior of the Skin Changer, you'll see the lining that lets you attach the velcro doesn't cover the entire back wall.

Compared to the front interior where the lining covers the entire front wall of the pouch which gives you more flexibility in placing the dividers.

I would have preferred it if both front and back walls of all the Skin Series V3.0 pouches were like this front wall lining of the Skin Changer 3.0.  But this is just a small nitpick and overall the updates are quite nice.

As always, if this post has been helpful to you, please consider using the links on this page to make a purchase from Think Tank Photo. That will help us to continue doing these reviews for you.