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I’ve been a fan of Think Tank products since the day I stumbled across one of their backpacks in my local camera store. What attracted me to the product, aside from its clean, ergonomic design, was that it was created by photographers for photographers, not by a luggage company, which by the way, also happens to make camera carrying gear.
There was clearly much thought placed in the design of the first backpack I purchased. The layout, quality and features all impressed. The pack has proven to be one of those indispensable tools for use on photo assignments and vacations, when carrying a DSLR camera is necessary.
I was obviously excited to try out another Think Tank product, and this time it was the Modular Component Set V2.0 that arrived for review. The Modular Component Set is designed to hold a DSLR and 2 to 4 lenses. It all fits neatly into a zip-up travel bag. According to Think Tank, this product is aimed squarely at working professionals who shoot sports, weddings, nature, or any situation where you need to stay mobile, and rapid gear changes are essential.
The Modular Component Set V2.0 consists of four pieces: two individual lens changer pouches, a flash pouch, and an accessory pouch that can lock to, or slide around, any Think Tank Photo belt (sold separately). The idea behind the modular component set is to allow you, the photographer, to configure (and reconfigure) your setup based on personal preference or the context of the shoot. Very handy for those whose assignments are especially mobile. Just make sure your belt size is correct; the key to belt and waist comfort is correct anatomical sizing.
What makes this system special is the ability to add or remove components, which one can “Rotate or Lock” on the belt. To rotate, place the white plastic tag behind the belt while attaching the component. Rotating the component prevents the weight of the equipment from creating a pressure point on the hip by being stationary for an extended time. Also, moving the component to a different place on the belt allows a photographer to assume a different position such as kneeling, bracing against a wall, or lying prone without damaging gear. The pouches and lens changers have mid-weight padding for protection. In addition, each Lens Changer has a front stretch pocket for lens caps, a much-appreciated feature. All components have wide-mouthed openings for quick and easy access, closures to keep your equipment tucked away when not in use, and a removable, seam-sealed rain cover, which I thankfully never had to use.
I gave my Modular Rotation System a try during the Ski Freestyle World Cup in Deer Valley, Utah recently. I had covered this event for a client two years ago, and dragged my oversized camera bag up and down the ski slopes over the course of two nights. With the modular system around my waist I carried my 14-24mm and 70-200mm lenses. I felt much freer in my assignment, and my agility was enhanced by not having that heavy lump on my back. I was able to switch lenses with greater ease, rotate the compartments according to what I needed at the time, and handily store lens caps in the front pockets. I highly recommend the Think Tank Modular system for its versatility and practicality, enabling photographers to do their job with greater simplicity and agility. Total weight of the set is 2lbs (0.9kg).
The four piece component set includes:
- Lens Changer 50 V2.0 – sized for both wide angle and standard professional zoom lenses
- LC 75 Pop Down V2.0 – carries a 70-200 f/2.8 or 100-400 f/4 with the lens hood in reversed or in position
- Strobe Stuff – large enough to accommodate a 580EXII or SB900 with an external battery pack and diffuser attached
- Speed Changer V2.0 – multiple use pouch that can fit a pro-sized camera body (lens not attached) with room for accessories. Can also be configured with the included dividers for smaller items.
For more info on the Modular Component Set V2.0 and other Think Tank products, visit www.thinktankphoto.com or www.amazon.com/thinktankphoto.
MSRP $142.75 (a 35% savings over buying each of the components separately)
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I wanted to add my comments on the available belts from Think Tank for use with the modular components. For 2 years I have been wearing the Pro Speed Belt with the component system and it is an essential part of my wedding and portrait gear. The Pro Speed Belt offers a decent amount of padding while still being relatively sleek. It is perfectly adequate for the average amount of gear that a lot of photographers carry on them during a shoot. Recently, I have been testing Think Tank's Steroid Speed Belt and found it to be a great alternative. The Steroid Speed Belt is intended for those carrying heavier/more gear on them and features a much wider padding to distribute the weight better. When I have a lot of professional level glass and an extra camera body on me, the added padding is very welcome. The Steroid Belt also differs from the Pro Speed Belt in that the modular components attach to a rail attached to the padded part instead of directly to the part on your body. I like this because the components move much more freely around the belt when you want to redistribute them. I will probably be using both belts in my professional work and choose depending on the situation.