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Old 07-21-06, 08:51 AM   #1
flipped4bikes
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Where to carry a digital SLR?

Hello all again, I need advice about bringing my Nikon D70 on tour. What's the best way to protect it from road vibrations and the elements, yet still be handy to grab and shoot? I've read on the forum that putting it in the rear panniers or trunk bag is bad. Too much abuse, is that true? Is it better to put it in a good handlebar bag? I'm thinking of getting the Arkel small handlebar bag. Any other suggestions? One other thing, what really small, compact tripods do you all use? Thanks!
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Old 07-21-06, 09:11 AM   #2
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I carry it in a Arkel small handlebar bag. I either use padding from a photo backpack or clothing, a 100 weight fleece that I wear only in camp. No problem so far. I crashed twice and it survived.

Edit: I use a Manfrotto 719b, which is discontinued and fairly heavy but I like a solid tripod. The Velbon Maxi343 (something like that) is a popular light tripod but way too flimsy formy taste. The Manfrotto 724 is somewhere between the two. If you have lots of money, The gitzo 10xx or 11xx series with Really Right Stuff BH25 ballhead would be my choice.

Edit again: The elastic closing the rain cover for the bar bag isn't great. It wears out quickly and the elastic is annoying. Mine broke and I replaced it with a shoelace. Much better.

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Old 07-21-06, 09:36 AM   #3
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Erick,

Thanks for the tips! I'm thinking really small tripod, one that fits in a side pocket. I really don't think it's worth lugging a regular sized tripod around. Now, would the Arkel bar bag be waterproof enough without the rain cover? Or do you think I should get one even though the elastic stinks?
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Old 07-21-06, 09:47 AM   #4
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No, it's not waterproof. With the map and front pocket, it might take a while for water to get to the camera but it's not something I want to experiment. It can rain all day long on tour so the rain cover is a must IMO. I'm not in favor of waterproof panniers but I wish the handle bar bar was. The elastic doesn't smell that bad, it's just that a regular cord would be better.
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Old 07-21-06, 09:56 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erick L
The elastic doesn't smell that bad, it's just that a regular cord would be better.
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Old 07-21-06, 12:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erick L
No, it's not waterproof. With the map and front pocket, it might take a while for water to get to the camera but it's not something I want to experiment. It can rain all day long on tour so the rain cover is a must IMO. I'm not in favor of waterproof panniers but I wish the handle bar bar was. The elastic doesn't smell that bad, it's just that a regular cord would be better.
The Ortlieb handlebar bag is waterproof and you can get a camera insert for it. I have both and carry a full sized SLR in mine.

Look at The Touring Store for the Ultimate 4 and the camera insert. They aren't cheap but they are very well built. Wayne is a great guy to do business with too.
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Old 07-21-06, 12:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flipped4bikes
One other thing, what really small, compact tripods do you all use? Thanks!
I've got a cheap Slik tripod - it's not quite full-size, but still can be used on the ground without bending over too much. It folds up to about a foot long - slightly bulky, but still very portable. And not heavy at all - from memory, I think it's about a pound or two at most? I haven't used it with my bike at all, but took it hiking and didn't notice the weight at all. If that's too big, there are other tiny, yet sturdy ones on that site that you might want to look at. I'd avoid the really tiny ones like this though - they're just too flimsy for an SLR. The UCO ones on the MEC site are better alternatives.
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Old 07-21-06, 01:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaddle
I've got a cheap Slik tripod - it's not quite full-size, but still can be used on the ground without bending over too much. It folds up to about a foot long - slightly bulky, but still very portable. And not heavy at all - from memory, I think it's about a pound or two at most? I haven't used it with my bike at all, but took it hiking and didn't notice the weight at all. If that's too big, there are other tiny, yet sturdy ones on that site that you might want to look at. I'd avoid the really tiny ones like this though - they're just too flimsy for an SLR. The UCO ones on the MEC site are better alternatives.
For holding the camera (I can't call it a tripod) I use a c-clamp mount also known as a clampod. There are a couple of different models like this or this or the Clampette. They aren't as sturdy as a tripod but they are small and lightweight. I have an old one that has a wood screw that you can clamp to if you can't find something small enough for the c-clamp.
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Old 07-21-06, 04:05 PM   #9
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These things work pretty good. I've used it with a SLR, digital camera and small point and shoot.
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Old 07-21-06, 06:23 PM   #10
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You could put most SLRs with compact lenses into a Zing neoprene pouch, which will keep things dry and cushioned. For a tripod, consider the Leica mini ballhead and folding tripod. Not a telescoping model, but a strong ballhead that is a lot smaller than the very good but larger and heavier offerings of Arca Swiss, Kirk or Really Right Stuff.

If you have to have a telescoping tripod, Slik makes one of carbon fiber that is small and lightweight.
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Old 07-21-06, 09:12 PM   #11
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I have a digital SLR I take on tour. I can carry it and all my lenses in a mini Timbuk2 bag. It's waterproof and it's perfect.

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Old 07-21-06, 11:55 PM   #12
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I have looked at the Arkel and Ortlieb Ultima handlebar bags, and quite frankly, the Ortlieb disappointed me. It seemed less rugged than the Arkel, and there are a few other construction / set up features that really felt unappealing. But the straw that broke the camel's back is that they say "it should be water resistant but it is not waterproof.

I finally went for the large Arkel handlebar bag, which is great, except I had to keep nuts and fruits away from the camera... I finally added the Ortlieb camera insert into my handlebar bag, so now the camera takes one side of the bag and I can have whatever I want in the other side (usually the telephoto and my reading glasses).
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Old 07-22-06, 06:54 PM   #13
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I just got the Arkel large handlebar bag and added foam lining to it and had my sister sew a foam padded insert to hold my D50. Works just great.
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Old 07-23-06, 06:08 AM   #14
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As for the large Arkel bar bag, is it true the size of it interferes with STI brifters?
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Old 07-23-06, 06:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flipped4bikes
As for the large Arkel bar bag, is it true the size of it interferes with STI brifters?
Yes, it does on my Fuji touring bike. So far I haven't had a problem shifting, but I will get the Avid Rollamajig installed soon.
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Old 07-24-06, 01:29 AM   #16
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Among the first things I learned about photography in college (80s) is that a lens cap is for lenses in storage, not for those you are carrying and that if you don't have your camera at hand, good luck getting as many shots as you'd have liked.

Along those lines, and in my case... handlebar bags suck for carrying a camera. That said, it's exactly what I did until our last tour. We go every year for 30 days just as soon as Nancy's done teaching. This year we went to Switzerland and the more I thought about it, the less chance I'd be lugging an awkwardly square bar bag around the Alps. Thanks to a recent offering from LowePro, I found just about exactly what I would have if I'd designed it myself. Here it is: LowePro Sling Shot 100 AW Photo 3, 7 and 8 show as far as I've ever open the bag. With the dividers removed, it's a perfect fit for the D70, kit lens with hood attached and SB800 in its storage bag. That leaves the small upper compartment open for other items. I carried an external hard drive, digital voice recorder, calculator and my passport there. The little front pocket is perfect for a spare battery, a pen and notepad.

Once you get used to the bag, getting the camera in service is very fast and you are much more likely to have it along since it's so easy to carry and already on your back. You can see a couple of shots of me riding with it in my journal "Lost in Switzerland" and I got mine for about $60 if I remember right. "Day from departure" and "Day 07" are a couple of pages showing me riding with the Sling Shot. I had the thing on my back almost every waking hour but I don't remember it ever being uncomfortable.

The only improvement I found need for is replacing the main compartment (high use) zipper-pull with a key chain to facilitate finding it easier when I'm not looking.

I took 3,900 photos in 28 days, got heavily rained on, suffered through 100+ degree-days and high humidity. All of the gear came back in fine condition and the bag still looks new. I only carried the SB800 for about a week before I put it in a pannier and never used it again. Not having it in the bag didn't change how the camera was positioned.

I always seem to try a lot of new stuff every summer. This year it was new bikes, new trailers, new tent, new laptop and new to carrying one on tour, new 60GB external hard drive/card reader and the LowePro Sling Shot 100. This bag was the best improvement to my touring experience I can remember since Shimano Sandals.

Obviously I'm stoked about this. Good luck in finding what's right for you.
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Old 07-24-06, 01:50 AM   #17
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I don't understand. A backpack is much more akward to wear and slower than having the camera in a handlebar bag in front of you. A square bar bag is not akward when it's attached to the bars. For hiking, I carry a Lowepro Orion Trekker but on the bike, the bar bag is much better. Even for walks around town, you can attach a shoulder strap to the bar bag and off you go. There's no way I'd ride with a backpack in the first place.
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Old 07-24-06, 02:02 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erick L
I don't understand. A backpack is much more akward to wear and slower than having the camera in a handlebar bag in front of you. A square bar bag is not akward when it's attached to the bars. For hiking, I carry a Lowepro Orion Trekker but on the bike, the bar bag is much better. Even for walks around town, you can attach a shoulder strap to the bar bag and off you go. There's no way I'd ride with a backpack in the first place.
I don't understand either. Didn't you get really sweaty carrying that on your back? I like the fact it could attach snugly to you for off-bike use in a way a barbag with shoulder strap wouldn't but for on the bike I think it would be uncomfortable?
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Old 07-24-06, 07:23 AM   #19
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That's funny, I own the Slingshot 200. I considered it for biking, but no, I don't want to have anything on my back. TEHO, but I can't see using a Slingshot will allow me to shoot more as opposed to a handlebar bag...
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Old 07-24-06, 09:21 PM   #20
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I never felt really sweaty or had any other discomfort associated with wearing it. It's pretty adjustable and quickly so.

It spins to the front in a flash (unless you're slow I suppose) unlike a traditional photographer's backpack, which I also have but only use for business trips. If I lose any in the way of access times it's very negligible. However, if dismounting from the bike and moving to another shooting position is involved then this system puts me into action much sooner, and with my whole camera bag of goodies.

Do I want something on my back while I'm riding? No. As a photographer, do I want my camera bag attached to something other than me? No. Time for compromise and I'm happy with mine. I can ride all day, hike all day and walk all day, comfortably with the same bag. If a bar bag works for you...fantastic!! Different strokes for different folks. Lone wolf is fine by me, should I be the only one that's different.


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Quote:
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I don't understand either. Didn't you get really sweaty carrying that on your back? I like the fact it could attach snugly to you for off-bike use in a way a barbag with shoulder strap wouldn't but for on the bike I think it would be uncomfortable?
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Old 07-24-06, 10:07 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miles2go
I never felt really sweaty or had any other discomfort associated with wearing it. It's pretty adjustable and quickly so.

It spins to the front in a flash (unless you're slow I suppose) unlike a traditional photographer's backpack, which I also have but only use for business trips. If I lose any in the way of access times it's very negligible. However, if dismounting from the bike and moving to another shooting position is involved then this system puts me into action much sooner, and with my whole camera bag of goodies.

Do I want something on my back while I'm riding? No. As a photographer, do I want my camera bag attached to something other than me? No. Time for compromise and I'm happy with mine. I can ride all day, hike all day and walk all day, comfortably with the same bag. If a bar bag works for you...fantastic!! Different strokes for different folks. Lone wolf is fine by me, should I be the only one that's different.


Cheers,
I don't have a problem riding with a pack on my back since I use a Camelbak while touring and however you want to carry your stuff is a personal choice but consider this: While on your back, your camera would probably be the first thing to hit the ground, even in a minor crash, because it will swing down off your back and probably smash into the ground before you do. In a bar bag, the camera is surrounded by the handle bars. In all but the worst crash, the bars would protect it from harm far better.

Just sayin'
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Old 07-24-06, 11:30 PM   #22
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He said, she said.

Well, I try to not think too much about Operational Risk Management where mission planning and execution are not concerned but I did run this bag through the ORM wickets and it came up good to go. Acceptable risk level for my mission. Acceptable for yours? Your call.

It happens that "considering" things is one of the specialties I'm paid for and after seeing and investigating plenty of "accidents", I've noticed that the end tends to vary widely. I for one wouldn't be surprised if during an average bicycle crash that the momentum of the D70 and bar bag, send it to the pavement after the mount failed. Will we ever really know? If by some long shot, I go down while wearing the Sling Shot 100 then I'll let you know how it goes... if able.


Cheers,


Quote:
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I don't have a problem riding with a pack on my back since I use a Camelbak while touring and however you want to carry your stuff is a personal choice but consider this: While on your back, your camera would probably be the first thing to hit the ground, even in a minor crash, because it will swing down off your back and probably smash into the ground before you do. In a bar bag, the camera is surrounded by the handle bars. In all but the worst crash, the bars would protect it from harm far better.

Just sayin'
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Old 07-25-06, 09:06 AM   #23
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These things work pretty good. I've used it with a SLR, digital camera and small point and shoot.
+1, been using for years for backpacking and riding
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Old 07-25-06, 11:54 AM   #24
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Well, I like a little experimentation and I think the LowePro bag looks like something I'd use after our tour so.... I'm going to give it a go. Will let you know once I've had a chance to test it out.
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Old 07-25-06, 12:11 PM   #25
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I second the velbon tripod. It is very light and very small but it still extends high enough for me to see through teh viewfinder without bending (i'm 6'0''). It is flimsier when extended all the way, but I jury-rigged a hook to hang things from the bottom of it which helps
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