As a photographer, specially in wedding industry, I am always in need for fast access to my gear throughout all day shooting and have comfortable solution so I can keep focused on the most important task - getting the best images possible.
Backpack is a good solution if you bring a lot of gear with you, but its hard to switch your lenses or access any gear fast, because in most cases you have to remove it from your shoulders before you can get to your lenses. Of course, you could always put it somewhere aside, but this way it becomes easy prey for thief and limits your movement, because you cant move away too far from it without running back and forth to it.
Shoulder bag, like
is a good solution to carry your gear around and still have fast access to it, but when bag is filled with couple of lenses, flash or other accessories it can weigh a lot and since it is a shoulder bag all this weight is on one of your shoulders most of the day. This, sooner or later, leads to back pain.
So I have been looking on alternative solutions. System, that could solve the issue with stress on my back and shoulders, but would still manage to fit everything I need on a shooting assignment. There are multiple solutions available on market that takes different approach to carry your gear, like
and many others. Each of them has its strong points and and its flaws, but after long research on web I decided to purchase
for my personal use.
Foto: Andrejs Sergejevs
Basically it is a belt on which you can attach multiple bags in your own configuration. Since it is a belt it keeps the weight on your hips. This way all the weight is off your shoulders and your back is protected. And when I put the same amount of gear in pouches that I used to have in my Retrospective 30 it did not seem so heavy anymore. And, yes, you can fit a lot of gear in those pouches. I managed to fill them up with 24-70 2.8L,70-200 2.8L, 50L, 580ex + some smaller items like memory cards, cleaning cloth or spare batteries in outer pockets. So this means you could carry around up to 4 larger or 5 smaller lenses if one is already fitted on your camera.
Pouches in kit are all different size and are meant for special purpose, but I find that in most cases if the lens fits in it its good for me. They can be attached to belt in fixed position or in a way that you can slide them around your waist. Some of the pouches has option to extend them to fit longer lenses and they all come with rain covers stored nicely in the bottom of pouch. Open / close mechanism is strong velcro which holds the bag closed nicely. To avoid velcro sounds while shooting in quite conditions there is also neat option to mute the velcro which comes in handy while shooting in church.
Belt itself is very comfortable, once you adjust it to your preference, and would best fit people with wider hips than waist. This way you don't need to tighten it too much and it hangs on your hips. I could possibly see it being difficult to use if your waist is wider than your hips ( without Keep it up strap )
If you are shooting with multiple bodies,
system can be added to your belt and you could use it to hold your second camera and pouches for your lenses simultaneously.
I will note that there are not much padding to protect your lens while carrying them in pouches, but this is due to their small size and weight. I would also suggest to use appropriate bag to protect your gear while transporting and switch to Skin set when on location and ready to shoot.
Foto: Andrejs Sergejevs
I have already shot couple of weddings using this system and have drawn some conclusions after my experience in real world.
- Its fast and easy to switch lenses. I mean, grab, switch and slide it in bag next to your hip.
- Its not probably the best idea to fit all of your gear because the weight can try to bring your pants down. :) I have opted to use 2 pouches to fit 2 additional lenses and flash by my side. If you have to bring a lot of gear with you, buy additional Keep it up strap to share the load between your shoulders and hips.
- Getting in and out of the car makes you to remove the bag from your waist because its impossible to use seat belt while wearing it, but I guess you would have to do this with any bag. And removing belt takes just couple of seconds so its easy to remove it when necessary.
- Have to be more careful while trying to move through tight spaces.
- Most importantly, it reduces stress on back and shoulders very effectively.
In conclusion I would say that right now this system is the best system for my style of shooting. I feel more comfortable than using shoulder bag and I can get to everything I need, while shooting, in seconds. You might have different preferences and maybe other systems are more suitable for you and here might be something better in years to come, but right now I will stick to my Skin Set V2.
I would also love to hear your experience with other similar products. Hope this was useful to you in any way!