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Reviews by Gary Clark

Recommended
Yes
Price
0$
Pros
  • Overall excellent design, attention to detail
Cons
  • It weighs a lot when loaded with gear - antigravity feature would be nice.
Based on the previous reviews here, I bought this pack. I just returned from a 10-week trip to South America, and I am thoroughly pleased with my purchase. After using just about any product, I can usually think of ways it could be improved. This one is an exception. It is large enough to handle my Canon with 500mm IS f4 and 1.4X teleconverter in the main center compartment, with the surrounding compartments full of flash, standard lens, extension tubes, and even binoculars if need be. The transparent pockets on the inside of the lid will organize a mess of small items, and the outside pockets are good for chips and batteries. It is so well padded that I even got brave enough to check it as a piece of luggage for the 3 flights home. (I got one of those airport lobby plastic wrap jobs for $7.) It arrived at the luggage carousel without a scratch.

The tripod attachment on the back handles my big Gitzo with aplomb, and a really nice feature is an additional compartment running the full length and width of the back that you can stuff a piece of clothing in as the day warms up.

While travelling on the road, I lay the Tamron flat on the back seat. It provides great protection and access to the camera on short notice when a subject appears.

I've always tried to make do with an assortment of camera bags and standard day packs before, and have been frustrated. This is the solution to the problem. I have not tried any of the direct competition (e.g., LowePro), but I'm not motivated to. I plan to use this for a very long time. :t::t::t:

POSTSCRIPT: The positive experience I had in checking the bag full of camera gear as luggage on a flight was negated by my next attempt. With enough determined effort, luggage handlers can destroy just about anything, and they did. The second time I checked it as luggage, the camera came out with serious damage. I didn't discover it until later, so no claim against the airline was possible - I simply had to pay for an expensive repair that involved replacing the entire body shell (kudos to Canon, the camera still functioned perfectly with the damage). The purpose of this postscript is to disuade anyone from checking soft luggage with expensive camera gear as luggage on an airline flight. Another advantage of this pack is that it is (just barely) legal as a carryon, even with its substantial capacity. That is what I do now.
Recommended
No
Price
180$
Pros
  • Cost, cost, and cost
Cons
  • See text
I used this head on a Gitzo GT3540L tripod for about a year, most typically with a Canon 500mm f4 IS lens. It worked fairly well with that setup, but I will note three major caveats:

First, access to controls on the lens, including the focus ring and the switches, is compromised. If I reached to make a quick focus adjustment, my hand would touch the mount instead. Much fumbling and sometimes a missed shot ensued.
Second, there is no lock in the pan direction. It is always free to rotate. This is not usually a problem with wildlife, but if you use it for other things, it might be.
Finally, The RC3 plate mounted on a camera body is ridiculously unwieldy - at 5.5" (14cm) in length and 2.5" (5.7cm) in width, you will not want to leave in on, as you can with other plate systems (a plate on the lens, and one on the body, so you can quickly switch to a standard lens for a scenic shot, for example).

For these reasons, I just upgraded to the Wimberley system with the Arca-Swiss plates. It has all the advantages of this head, with none of the disadvantages. It costs a lot more, but ultimately, I decided it was worth it.

A minor point - the unit is not made of steel, as suggested in the first review. It would be atrociously heavy in steel. I presume it is aluminum.

There are at least 3 Bogen products compatible with the plate used on this head (they call it the RC3 plate system) First, a Monopod that comes with the same mounting plate (Bogen/Manfrotto 557B), Secondly, the mounting plate itself if you wish to attach it to an existing Monopod or Tripod (B/M 3272), and third, a Ball Head (B/M 468MGRC3). This system, which was designed primarily for larger video cameras, works very well for really big telephotos, but is overkill for anything less, as I noted above. If you already have a sizable investment in other types of heads and plates, you'd have to spend a lot to convert, so the Wimberley system might not seem so expensive in comparison.
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