Each photographer wonders from time to time which bag will be the most appropriate for the scheduled photo activity. When he needs to take pictures outside of a sport event where fast lens and/or camera changing is required, then Think Tank might have the exact solution with the "Modular Component System" and I had the opportunity to test this on an active ski holiday.
© Think Tank
The whole "Modular Component System" (MCS) is based on one component: a decent belt around your waist. This belt exists in 3 different versions: Thin Skin, Pro Speed & Steroid Speed. The "Thin Skin Belt" is a normal belt without much reinforcements and rather too simple in my opinion. The "Pro Speed Belt", which I have tested for you, is the next in line and is sufficiently reinforced to give a pleasant feeling around the clock. But if you need maximum reinforcement with an extra wide belt, then you should go for the "Steroid Speed Belt".
© Think Tank
The belts are available in 4 sizes, namely S-M, M-L, L-XL and XL-XXL. The sizes are of course in function of the length of the belts and precisely on this point, it is very important to give some additional explanation: measure of your waist should be taken at the level of the hip. If for example measuring, you measure 100cm, you will immediately notice that you can in fact go for 2 sizes, namely M-L and L-XL. However, you should know, that in this particular case there is only one choice, the L-XL. Reinforced padding of this belt will ensure that your lens cases can be put comfortable in the front (read easily accessible). If you would have chosen the M-L version, then you would have noticed that the first lens cases can only hang on the side of your hip and all other cases are therefore due to hang on your back, which is not very practical.
- S-M = 68-85cm
- M-L = 81-106cm
- L-XL = 96-122cm
- XL-XXL = 112-162cm
For photographers who desire to put a lot of lens cases on their belt, I would recommend the "Pixel Racing Harness". This is a harness that you simply click on the back and on 2 places in the front around your belt. This way, your belt stays nicely in place, even though the weight of your equipment may not be 100% balanced.
© Think Tank
© Think Tank
© Think Tank
Components & Holsters:
Theoretically, you can put about 19 different lens cases and accessories on a Pro Speed L-XL belt. Obviously this is the theory and in practice you can put much less cases simply because some cases are wider.
The first question is whether you need a case for your camera attached to a lens? If the answer is positive, you need a "Digital Holster". They exist in 5 versions (Digital Holster 10 up to 50) depending on your type of camera and favourite lens. The "Digital Holster 10" is designed for a smaller camera with kit-lens to the "Digital Holster 50" for a pro-camera with 70-200mm F/2,8 lens.
Keep in mind that the "Digital Holster 50" fits perfectly to your belt, but it is requesting a lot of space and it is not so easy to walk around!
Then you should know that for each lens you wish to carry, you will need a lens case to attach at the belt. These lens cases exist in 6 different sizes, in particular a "Lens Changer 15" for tele-converters to small prime lenses or even some kit lenses. The largest is the "Lens Changer 75 Pop Down" for lenses like the 70-200mm F/2,8. Here you can have an extra space so that this lens is even possible with the lens hood in "shooting position"! Good to know is that lens cases for larger lenses do not exist!
Would you like to take an extra camera with you, then you should purchase the "Speed Changer" (for pro's body) or the "Slim Changer" (for normal body's). Both can also be used to store other small accessories.
There are also some small bags available for your flash ("Strobe Stuff") or a small bag for your small accessories such as cables or batteries ("Stuff It"). In case you want a water bottle to be added to your belt, then you should purchase a "RU Hot" bag.
Depending on what kind of cases you intend to purchase, it may be useful to consider the package of Think Tank: “The Modular Component Set V2”. It contains a Lens Changer 50, a Lens Case 75 Pop Down, a Strobe Stuff & a Speed Changer. All this is packaged in a convenient travel bag and offered at a reduced price (if any part of the package would be bought separately, it would come more expensive).
© Think Tank
If you are familiar with the company Think Tank, you'll know that this brand stands for good quality photo bags. The MCS is no difference. Each product is designed with attention to the photographic needs. Each case is provided with its own rain cover which can also be stored in the case. If a particular zipper will be used a lot, Think Tank provides a high quality YKK zipper.
Remains all nice, but does it work? The answer is YES (and no ...).
Each of the products is very good and you can decide for yourself what case you will be putting on your belt, but that is exactly the difficult part. You will probably tend to put too much on your belt and therefor at the end, you will be unable to access all equipment. You should know, that the lens cases that you put on the front and the side are perfectly accessible, but once you go more to the back, it becomes very difficult to handle your equipment.
For my ski trip, I had the "Pro Speed Belt" with the "Pixel Racing Harness" with following accessories:
- Lens Changer 25 for the Nikon 14-24mm F / 2,8
- Lens Changer 35 for Nikon 24-70mm F / 2,8
- Lens Changer 75 Pop Down for the Nikon VR 70-200 mm F / 2,8
- Speed Changer for Nikon D4
- Strobe Stuff for Nikon SB900 flash
- Stuff It! for smaller accessories like batteries - TC1,4 - Memory Cards
Probably I could have attached the "Digital Holster 20" for my Nikon D800 and 50mm lens at the back, but to my personal opinion, access would not have been very easy. The placement of each bag is really a very personal choice, but remember to put the same weight on both sides.
Clicking the harness on the belt is easy and secure each case with the Velcro strip on the belt is equally simple. The cases can be put on a fixed place on the belt due to a white plastic plate behind each case, but they cannot be repositioned. In less than a few minutes, you're ready to go.
While skiing, none of the Velcro’s became unloaded and everything was very comfortable. Each time when I stopped to take pictures, I had easy access to my equipment. Since I had chosen not to use the "Digital Holster", I was forced to put every time a lens on my camera. During these several seconds, dust and moisture could have fallen on the mirror / sensor, but that's a risk that you should consider in such cases.
The "Pro Speed Belt" is sufficiently thick and provides enough comfort while skiing. The "Steroid Speed Belt" might provide more comfort, but I still doubt whether the belt is not too wide when you are wearing a ski jacket although I must admit not having tested this belt myself.
The Think Tank Belts: Thin Skin, Pro Speed & Steroid Speed costs respectively 30, 40 & 60 €. For a "Digital Holster" depending on the version you pay 50 up to 85 €. Lens Changer's, Speed- or Slim Changer, Strobe Stuff and Stuff It! cost each between 25 & 50 €. The kit costs about 154€.
The set which I used (without the "Digital Holster") had a value of 250 €.
When a photographer wants to be free in all movements and needs to have easily access to his equipment, then the Modular Component System with belt and harness is an ideal solution. First choose your favourite belt and then buy the separate bags in function of your equipment. The prices for each highly qualified product are certainly not exaggerated
Thanks to the supplier “Plasmansphoto” for delivering the products.