Sunday, April 17, 2016

Finally: A Camera Bag That Works!
This bag may be the answer to my prayers. This bag, the Vanguard Veo 37, has been a near-perfect match for a shooting style that includes off-camera and multiple flash applications. It is closer in capacity to a messenger bag, with enough height and width to carry a small laptop. But the big sell isn't what you see from above. It's what you see from below.

If you examine the illustration at the top of the post, you can see a tripod pocket that can be accessed through its own zippered flap. It occurred to me that there might just be enough space to hold a Zumbrella and some sort of abbreviated hand-held
extension for a umbrella bracket..

Close examination of the on-line image showed the tripod was a Vanguard Veo 265CB. I checked the specifications, and it has a collapsed length of 15.4". I measured my Zumbrella, and found that it would just fit into tripod compartment. In the photo to the left, you can see my Canon Chestpod with a Westcott umbrella bracket which I chose because of the relatively small knobs. Anyone who is familiar with the Westcott bracket might notice that the umbrella retaining screw has been replaced by a plastic handled T-screw, which helps me get a better "bite" on the umbrella shaft. It happened that the original umbrella retaining screw was 1/4 x 20, so the swap was super simple.

Umbrella Shaft Length: If memory serves, the Westcott umbrellas are a tiny bit long for the pocket, which meant that the shaft would have to be shortened before it would fit. When you have to saw the shaft, here are two reminders: Use a fine-toothed hacksaw blade, and be sure to shove a wooden pencil into the shaft. This additional support will make the shaft much easier to cut. And don't forget to file down the end of the shaft so that there are no sharp edges to tear at the bag's lining.

Better To Have...: I'm a big believer in the old maxim, "Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it" is most apt. Since I've started carrying this bag, I have yet to actually use the Zumbrella rig on an assignment. There are two possible explanations. First of all, I've started to use "environmental bounce flash" whenever possible, so finding soft light is usually not a problem. But secondly, I don't have an automated system for use with an off-camera speedlight when I'm using Fuji cameras. I can get automated bounce using a camera mounted EF-42, and if I have the time, using a manual speedlight. I still want SOMEBODY to make a decent off-camera TTL speedlight system that works with the Fuji, and when it comes, I'll be much more likely to use the Zumbrella once again.