An Odd Couple of Gear Bags [Tech Tuesday]

April 5, 2016

By RF Staff

Gear bags come in all different shapes and sizes—and that couldn't be more evident than in our review of the two latest models from Matador and Think Tank Photo.


Matador's newest bag, The Matador Base Layer, is designed to protect your gear—camera and lens, together or separate—against minor bumps and potential scratches as well as rain, dust, sand and snow. The inner layer of this two-part pouch is quilted and although not padded enough to prevent damage if it's dropped, is perfect for providing a bit of protection from rough surfaces.

The outer shell, with its water-resistant lining, wraps neatly around a DSLR or smaller model, while the camera is hanging around your neck and takes only seconds to remove. When the skies turn cloudy or you're edging alongside a river or waterfall, just pull up the attached waterproof cover for full protection from water, sand and other elements that can easily harm the camera.


The shell can accommodate camera/lens combos such as a Canon 5D or Nikon D810 with a mid-range zoom lens (24 to 105mm for the Canon; 24 to 120mm for the Nikon) and it's best to keep the combined weight under about 2.3 pounds. If you're working with a longer lens, a separate Lens Base Layer is available and fits an unattached lens up to 6 inches in length with a maximum 3.75 inch barrel diameter. I have samples of each on hand and while there's a short learning curve to rolling them up correctly for use, they're so small and lightweight that they're easy to fit into even a small camera bag. I won't be using them all the time, but it's good to know they're accessible when I need them. You can pick up the Camera Base Layer for $60; the Lens Base Layer for $40.



Switching gears, the other new product that caught my eye this week is Think Tank Photo's Production Manager 50. TTP went all out with this rolling lighting case—the company's largest case ever. Rather than having to squirrel away gear in different bags, the Production Manager 50 is roomy enough to carry a full set of lighting gear so you can keep everything together for faster set-up and tear down. According to TTP, this 17.3 x 53.1 x 12.6 inch case with customizable dividers can hold 3 to 4 flash heads, 2 to 3 power packs, mono blocks, umbrellas, large size soft boxes or modifier (albeit collapsed for transport) and even C-stands.

Production Manager 50 Low Res

Of course, there are plenty of zippered pockets for accessories, cables and other necessities too. And, Think Tank Photo, as always, pays attention to details that make transporting gear much more manageable—including reinforced handles on all four sides so you and your team can quickly and easily unload/load the gear when traveling by car or truck. The Production Manager 50 is priced at around $600 and comes with reinforced padded dividers, a TSA travel padlock, tripod straps, tripod cut and a seam-sealed rain cover. Even at the price (which we think is pretty reasonable), the Production Manager 50 delivers a lot for the money.