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  1. #1
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    Photographers: pannier bags for my camera gear?

    Alright guys, I'm setting up a cannondale bad boy to be a photography pack bike for when I cover races and need a way to get my camera gear out onto the trail fast, or just to carry it around town when I don't wanna drive.

    Here's what I've want to carry:
    2 pro sized dslr cameras (D7000 with grip, D80 with grip)
    3 lenses (70-200 2.8, 17-55 2.8, 11-16 2.8)
    4 flash units
    Extra batteries, filters, etc.

    Does anyone know of a company that makes pannier bags specifically camera gear?

    I've already got a large backpack that will hold all this. However it weighs about 30-40 pounds when loaded, and thats more than I want on my back while I ride. It would be a pain, and really top heavy.

    Any suggestions would be great!!
    Check out this organization that I ride with:
    www.r2rministry.org

    http://www.facebook.com/destindanserphotography

  2. #2
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    Get a rear rack for your bike and you can strap a standard camera/accessories case or your backpack to it with straps available at backpacking shops. Mine was made by Old Man Mountain and is the Cold Springs model with luggage stop at the front. My bike is full-suspension and that's the only company I know of that makes racks for that by type of bike. Great little company owned and hand-made by a guy who is into bikepacking via mountain bike. A bit pricey but excellent quality, extremely durable and comes with a no-hassle guarantee. Relatively light and with a load capacity rating of 50 pounds. I've had mine on some awful trails and it has yet to whimper a single time.

    http://www.oldmanmountain.com/

  3. #3
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    I think that's what I'm leaning towards. I'm gonna get a pelican case for the heavy stuff and put it on a rear rack. Then Carry lighter stuff in a small backpack and/or in side panniers. Thanks for the help man!

    Now to find a way to fit 2 cameras and 3 lenses in a pelican case... lol
    Check out this organization that I ride with:
    www.r2rministry.org

    http://www.facebook.com/destindanserphotography

  4. #4
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    A Pelican sounds awfully heavy and unwieldy to strap on a bike, especially if you have some big glass (just looked at your list, so you're no carrying anything too big).

    Check out Think Tank Photo - they have a variety of interesting stuff. When I'm trying to make it less than obvious that I'm carrying a bunch of expensive camera stuff, I throw the Think Tank Speed Belt cases with the lenses in them inside a plain-jane messenger bag. You could throw a Speed Belt into any pannier - the lens and flash pouches provide the protection - pull it out, strap it on and be ready to go. Tamrac and others make similar modular systems.

    Although I guess I'd rather the gear be in a Pelican if I were to crash....

  5. #5
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    For the life of me I cannot recall where, but I saw a soft case with interior foam padding roomy enough for several full-size cameras and lenses. A soft case would be easier to secure to the rack with straps than a hard case which tends to be rather slippery. I'll get back to you on the soft case if I remember where I saw it.

  6. #6
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    I'm not really interested in a soft case for this. I've got too much invested in it, and no means to replace it if it gets broken (although I'm purchasing an insurance policy on it soon, for only $45 per year, full theft and accident coverage). Anyhoo....

    I've been looking into my options for rear racks and I'm not really satisfied with them. I want one that has at least a 12 inch wide platform to set the pelican on.Anyone know where I could find something like this? If I can't find one, I'll buy a standard width one and DIY up a wider top for it. I'm even thinking of custom building basket (more like a mini truck bed) type deal that I can just throw the pelican in. We'll see what I can come up with. Gotta do some more brainstorming...

    I can always wear a backpack for the lighter stuff too, but I'm probably gonna want my camelback on my back with my tool kit, since carrying all this stuff up mountains is going to give me a good workout lol

    If the course is on a smooth trail (a few are) I'll borrow a cargo trailer from a friend of mine, and just throw a few pelicans on it, and that will allow me to bring my tripod, monopod, and lightstands if need be.

    I'm going to be covering at least one 24 hour race this year, which is what I'm REALLY looking forward to. Although... having to sit out of racing this season is going to kill me. Thats what happens when you sell your bikes to buy camera gear though

    Keep the ideas coming guys!!
    Check out this organization that I ride with:
    www.r2rministry.org

    http://www.facebook.com/destindanserphotography

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Destin
    Keep the ideas coming guys!!
    In my opinion, you are likely carrying double what you need. If you really need that much crap...then photograph, don't ride. Riding while carrying 40 pounds of gear, you're likely to break gear.

    If you can get away with running half of that stuff, THEN take your bike and pack the essential gear on your back.

    I've covered races professionally with full camera, lenses and pro lighting gear with battery packs and stands. I never had a problem walking my stuff around. At big events, pro photographers move around on foot. You really probably shouldn't be riding on the course when racing is happening.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by lukey
    In my opinion, you are likely carrying double what you need. If you really need that much crap...then photograph, don't ride. Riding while carrying 40 pounds of gear, you're likely to break gear.

    If you can get away with running half of that stuff, THEN take your bike and pack the essential gear on your back.

    I've covered races professionally with full camera, lenses and pro lighting gear with battery packs and stands. I never had a problem walking my stuff around. At big events, pro photographers move around on foot. You really probably shouldn't be riding on the course when racing is happening.
    I wish I could just walk out to good photo opportunities, but unfortunately most of the races here start and end on fire roads. Generally you climb 2-4 miles of fire road to get up into the woods, then its 4-5 miles of pretty flat singletrack, then you take another fire road back down. And since Fireroads make crappy photos, I've gotta get out there. The land owners won't allow me to use my four wheeler, I've asked.

    As far as riding on the course while the race is happening, this isn't pro racing. It's local level (cat1 to cat 3), and last season I was in the top 5 of cat 1 most of the year so I know pretty much all of the riders. I know how racing works, and I'll stay off of the course during the race. My plan is to use the bike to get out to the general area that I want to cover, then walk around there. I don't mind walking a mile or two around the top of the course to shoot different sections, but I'm not walking 5+ miles to get out there.

    As for needing half of that, I could get away without the 17-55. But honestly, thats it.I'm leaving my prime lenses home, using speedlights instead of studio strobes, and not bringing lightstands, a tripod, or a monopod. 2 cameras, 3 lenses, and a few flashes is pretty bare bones in the photography world...

    Btw, just for fun, here are a couple photos from last season:


    Check out this organization that I ride with:
    www.r2rministry.org

    http://www.facebook.com/destindanserphotography

  9. #9
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    Bikes with loads perched up on racks tip surprisingly easily, and once they start to go, they are hard to catch.
    Keep your bodies and lenses on your back, batteries and lights in panniers.

    Find/hire a kid that wants to learn photography to carry your stuff- there's nothing at all creepy about grown ass men in brightly colored tights on bicycles taking a teenager deep into the woods with a bunch of photography gear.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hellav8ted
    Find/hire a kid that wants to learn photography to carry your stuff- there's nothing at all creepy about grown ass men in brightly colored tights on bicycles taking a teenager deep into the woods with a bunch of photography gear.
    That's *exactly* what we do with my company...we have "runners" shuttling around camera cards, batteries, food, rain jackets and other gear (and we carry 2-way radios). Other kids work in the booth ingesting photos into the server and sorting them for the viewing stations. It's barely creepy!

    (To be honest, it's a pretty cool day's work for a 15-year old kid...they get to ride their mountain bike all day and they are doing sports photography, great story to tell their buddies.)

    The OP may also want to check out this line of camera bags:

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Destin
    Btw, just for fun, here are a couple photos from last season:


    Nice shots!

    Just to go back to my earlier point, according to the EXIF data, these two shots were apparently shot on the D40, at 70 and 92mm...both could have been shot on the same lens with just one body and with one flash...

    Personally, I'm more of a wide-angle guy...I subscribe to the Robert Capa school of photography, where I believe that "If your picture isn't good enough, you're not close enough."

    Usually I can take a single fast body and a lens with a focal length around 30-40mm, and maybe one more long lens. There are no restrictions on how close you get to the racers or where you want to position yourself. Sometimes it's hard to get a clear view from far back from the action, but you can almost always find an unobstructed view and a dynamic angle using a wide-. Long lenses can be good for cutting out bad backgrounds, but even the 70mm-range is usually pretty decent. We sometimes shoot with a 80mm prime because it's more compact than a zoom.

    In some sense, mountain-bike sports photography is totally inverted from normal sports photography. In most sports, you are limited as to where you can stand or how close you can get. With biking, you can get up to the athletes. In many ways, this freedom lets you streamline the gear a lot. (No need for a giant 300/2,8)

    I honestly believe that piles of bulky camera gear does a lot more to hamper my creativity and decreases my ability to be at the right place at the right time. I think that if you are asking the question of "how do I move all this gear around", you're overshooting with the gear and inventing a problem you really don't need to have.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Destin
    Alright guys, I'm setting up a cannondale bad boy to be a photography pack bike for when I cover races and need a way to get my camera gear out onto the trail fast, or just to carry it around town when I don't wanna drive.

    Here's what I've want to carry:
    2 pro sized dslr cameras (D7000 with grip, D80 with grip)
    3 lenses (70-200 2.8, 17-55 2.8, 11-16 2.8)
    4 flash units
    Extra batteries, filters, etc.

    Does anyone know of a company that makes pannier bags specifically camera gear?

    I've already got a large backpack that will hold all this. However it weighs about 30-40 pounds when loaded, and thats more than I want on my back while I ride. It would be a pain, and really top heavy.

    Any suggestions would be great!!
    Try contacting Russ Roca, a photographer who specialized in working his occupation car-free in the Los Angeles area. He probably has a lot of experience hauling equipment and advice for such. Russ and his wife Laura are currently on an extended tour of the United States but can be reached via their emails and phone numbers on their websites:

    Russ Roca Photographer site

    Pathlesspedaled Tour site

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by lukey
    Nice shots!

    Just to go back to my earlier point, according to the EXIF data, these two shots were apparently shot on the D40, at 70 and 92mm...both could have been shot on the same lens with just one body and with one flash...

    Personally, I'm more of a wide-angle guy...I subscribe to the Robert Capa school of photography, where I believe that "If your picture isn't good enough, you're not close enough."

    Usually I can take a single fast body and a lens with a focal length around 30-40mm, and maybe one more long lens. There are no restrictions on how close you get to the racers or where you want to position yourself. Sometimes it's hard to get a clear view from far back from the action, but you can almost always find an unobstructed view and a dynamic angle using a wide-. Long lenses can be good for cutting out bad backgrounds, but even the 70mm-range is usually pretty decent. We sometimes shoot with a 80mm prime because it's more compact than a zoom.

    In some sense, mountain-bike sports photography is totally inverted from normal sports photography. In most sports, you are limited as to where you can stand or how close you can get. With biking, you can get up to the athletes. In many ways, this freedom lets you streamline the gear a lot. (No need for a giant 300/2,8)

    I honestly believe that piles of bulky camera gear does a lot more to hamper my creativity and decreases my ability to be at the right place at the right time. I think that if you are asking the question of "how do I move all this gear around", you're overshooting with the gear and inventing a problem you really don't need to have.
    You make very valid points. So I may try to lighten my load a bit. Still going to take 2 cameras, D80 with either the 17-55 or the 11-16 (how wide do I wanna go?) and the D7000 with my 70-200 on it. Sure, I can get right up in the riders races, but I prefer not to if I don't have to. I never liked having people close to the trail while I was racing.

    I still plan on bringing 4 flashes, but they are small and light (sb-600's) so I'm not too worried about them.

    I can fit 2 bodies, 2 lenses, and the flashes into a decent sized backpack without much problem I suppose. I would rather have the weight on the bike and not me though, so I might try a pelican. We'll see.

    Thanks man!
    Check out this organization that I ride with:
    www.r2rministry.org

    http://www.facebook.com/destindanserphotography

  14. #14
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    If you're open to options besides pannier bags, i have a friend who uses a custom messenger style bag for his camera gear. Made by Chicago Wig. They measured his camera and made a bag that fit perfectly. Might not work if you ride with a hydro pack on your back though.




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