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Posts Tagged ‘camera bag

Product Review: M-Rock 671 ♦ McKinley Photo Backpack

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Article & Photos By Kristin Reimer

With the newly arrived M-Rock 671 McKinley bag filled with gear and packed into the truck, we set off on our expedition and drove into the wild. The temperatures were in the single digits, the blizzard blinding us as our truck veered precariously on the icy road. The rapids of the river below us was roaring. Would the McKinley’s “water resistant exterior zippers” withstand the maelstrom and protect my gear? As we made our way I had confidence my equipment was tucked away safely thanks to the reinforced interior of my new M-Rock bag.

Okay. Well, the reality of it is, coming from Brooklyn, Pennsylvania is indeed wild country and the Delaware River can get some um, well, mild rapids. And there was snow! That I was on my way for a holiday family reunion, can that be counted as an expedition?

In any event, I had the perfect opportunity to test out a new camera bag. Like many others, I love camera bags, so I was excited that this would be my first review here on Picture-Soup.com.

As a wedding photographer, I rely most heavily upon my roller bag. My typical kit consists of three camera bodies, three Speedlights, and about five lenses. I usually have a smaller bag to carry various accessories. My current bag tends to stay packed and it’s always ready to go. In the frenetic pace of the day, this bag will receive a nice beating as I rush from place to place. So when applying for the job of the Photomuse (my studio’s name) gear bag, your qualities had better be: spacious, portable, easy and strong. Good looking is always a bonus.

The McKinley was a hopeful player. I received a large number of dividers, a removable accessory bag that could be tied around my waist if desired, in addition to multiple compartments both inside and out. I could fit a 15” laptop in a soft pouch in the bag (or an optional hydration pack for those extra special weddings!) and there was a nifty little “wire port” that would allow headphones to pass through should I decide to turn this bag into a backpack.

The McKinley was a charm to customize to my tastes. The bag seems to be constructed very well (though I lost several of the nylon zipper pulls quickly), the size was decent and I managed to get in most of my gear. Once I began to fill in the outside compartments (batteries, chargers, card wallet and cords) I found that I was pretty stuffed and use of the inside compartments would not happen.

This bag is designed to be flexible which is a great thing. Its portability is from the added trolley that you can remove and thus turn it into a backpack when desired. The removable accessory bag can further be added onto a modular belt system. The concept is brilliant. The M-Rock’s interior is fantastic, the cushioning is thick. The flaw I found in it is because the bag is not a part of the trolley, once I had it filled up, the bag itself would slip away slightly from the trolley and I could not get it to stand upright, it kept tilting forward and almost falling on top of itself. The trolley aspect needs to be more sturdy and secure to support the weight inside of the bag.

Overall, this bag wouldn’t work for me on my wedding jobs, due to the way I like to work. The quick access to the lenses is nice, but I find myself switching between camera bodies and lenses often and I like to have quick access to the entire bag’s contents by opening one zippered compartment, not multiple ones. For a travel photographer, it might be your fit. It’s flexible and tough. When you are no longer in transit, remove your trolley, slip it onto your back, slide your tripod into the bungee cords on front and head on out! You can drink from a hydration pack while hiking with it on your back and you can hook into your tunes. What a way to tune out and focus in.

For specs and more information, be sure to check out M-Rock’s website at: www.m-rock.com.

♦ Upon graduating with a BFA in photography from Pratt Institute, Kristin went on to become the studio manager for the esteemed Magnum photojournalist, Elliot Erwitt. Under the tutelage of Elliott, Kristin acquired a more capacious understanding of the history of photography and of the unique and diverse contributions of those who define the field. Her work with Elliott also provided a forum from which to create and develop her own artistic style.

In 2002 Kristin founded Photomuse (www.photomuse.com), a fine art/documentary style wedding company. Kristin is an award-winning member of the Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA), a professional organization composed of photojournalists and wedding photographers from around the world as well as the Artistic Guild of Wedding Photography (AGWPJA) and the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers (ISPWP).

Look for more articles from Kristin here on Picture-soup in the future.

Written by PictureSoup

January 16, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Product Review: Jill-e Chocolate Brown Suede Medium Camera Bag

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By Diane Berkenfeld

Jill-e Chocolate Suede medium bag with leather accents.

Jill-e Chocolate Brown Suede medium bag with leather accents. Note the double row stitching on the pocket flaps and handle straps.

Take a look in my gear closet and you’ll find almost a dozen different camera cases. I’ve got cases on wheels, backpacks, hip-packs, a messenger bag and a few standard-style bags in different sizes. Except for a small grey camera bag and deep blue tripod bag, all the other cases and bags I own are black. Pretty much all of them are made of the usual Denier nylon exterior material. Do they look like camera bags and cases? Of course.

The latest camera bag to join my collection however looks nothing at all like the others. It’s a medium sized camera bag from Jill-e. (Dimensions: (l.) 14 x (w.) 8 x (h.) 9.5 inches) The exterior is chocolate brown suede with brown leather accents to give it style and flair, and has the look and feel of a quality product. The bag has plenty of outside pockets with snap closures and a large back pocket that you can easily slip paperwork or maps into.

The bag, like other Jill-e models, has dual handles and a removable shoulder strap. One of the really useful accessories is a little pouch that can be tethered to the interior of the camera bag. I’ve found it to be great to house personal items like cash, keys and ID. Like most camera bags and cases, the Jill-e bag has moveable Velcro partitions, which allow for a variety of configurations based on your equipment needs. The interior is light brown with polka-dots, making it easy to see loose items when you’re in a hurry. Most of the time I carry a camera, three lenses, flash, media card case and a few other accessories. The medium Jill-e bag easily held all of that equipment with plenty of room for more. The main compartment has a wide zipper closure that is easily opened or closed with one hand.

Jill-e chocolate suede medium camera bag. Note the accessory pouch tethered inside the bag at the top left, moveable partitions, and accessory netting on the inside of the top flap.

Jill-e chocolate suede medium camera bag. Note the accessory pouch tethered inside the bag at the top left, moveable partitions, and accessory netting on the inside of the top flap.

Jill-e burst onto the photography scene in June of 2007 with the line of stylish camera bags that has changed the camera case landscape for the better. I really like the line of Jill-e camera bags. Just because you want to look stylish doesn’t mean you’re any less of a professional photographer. If we weren’t meant to have a choice of color, style and design then all luggage would look alike. With my Jill-e bag, I don’t have to sacrifice style just because I’m carrying around camera gear.

Jill-e added its Jack line of stylish bags and cases for guys in October 2008. They include medium, messenger and rolling cases in brown distressed leather.

The Jill-e line includes a range of bags, in different sizes from pouches and small to medium bags, as well as two sizes of rolling bags in a variety of great colors including pink, red, bone, pale yellow, and combo designs, to suit the needs of any fashionista photographer. Many of the bags are leather with leather accents, a few are suede with leather accents.

MSRP of the chocolate suede medium bag is $239.99. Check the website at www.jill-e.com for more information.