Managing the “Clutter”

The other day, I received a case for my SD cards from Amazon.  Actually, I have another one coming as well :-)  The one big thing that dawned on me, was just how cluttered and spread out my photo gear was getting :-)  I’ve acquired a fair amount of stuff over the last couple of years.  So today, I’m going to manage some of that :-)  I  think…….  Probably closer to cleaning up my office 🙂

And actually, its not just my photo gear that needs a bit of managing, it’s my techy toys too!!!  For starters, I’m an IT consultant and being a bit geeky to boot, it goes without saying that I’m a bit of a gadget junky.  Well, that also carried over to my photo gear as well.  I have multiple laptops that I’ve gotten for various jobs (correct tool for the job at hand…) not to mention numerous accessories to boot (pun intended).  And, in storage – well….I have a LOT of storage devices, between my portable drives plus the SD cards I have for my cameras. 

By a lot of gear, I’m perhaps a little different than most in that for me, a lot of gear also means a lot of cameras.  I haven’t counted, but I think I have a dozen or so cameras.  Yes, there’s a DLSR in there and a couple of Compact System Cameras, but  I also have this “armoury” of travel cameras and pointy shooties as well as a couple of advanced ones.  Do I use them all?  For the most part  – YES. 

The one that gets the least amount of use actually, is the Nikon 1 J1 and then, interestingly enough is my Panasonic GX1.  I think it has to do with where I am currently.  During the day, I have my travel cams and for the other things, I’ve been tending towards my DLSR.  I actually should be using the Compact System Cameras a bit more as they are both very good in their own respects.  Mind you, the GX1 is used for special events more than anything but still, I should be using it more than I am – it is a pretty awesome camera to use. So… how did I get where I am with my clutter?

Well – let’s start with some consulting blab and that will explain the photo stuff :-)  As an IT consultant, Business Analyst, and even perhaps before that – I’ve always been one to try new things.  As we know, technology changes quickly – very quickly and there are constantly new things coming out.  If it pertains to what I do for a living and it can potentially make me more efficient, I’m going to take a hard look at it.  Let’s take mice – I’m constantly trying new ones – I work all day on a computer, and having one that is comfortable is essential.  At work, I have the company issued one and it’s corded, and it got swapped out with a Logitech one – corded, mind you, but that HP one simply didn’t cut it :-)  AND, it was wearing out.  Yes – I’ve worn out rodents.  Several, if you must know.  I recently got a new one from Logitech for my home system. – the Ultra Thin Touch Mouse T630.  It was for my Lenovo U530 (typing this post with it as we “speak”,  I saw it a couple of weeks ago, and it’s “kind of nice” to use.  Definitely tiny compared to a regular mouse, but seems to be fine.  It’s a Bluetooth one and I only have the U530 that supports Bluetooth, so it’s kinda relegated there.  It does support the touch pad gestures, so neat from that standpoint.  Well built?  Yes, very well built. 

Mice

Anyway, this is only one area.  How about USB Drives? 

USB

Do I need all of those?  Not really :-)  But I do use them to back up my works stuff quite a bit.  PLUS, sometimes, I offload photos of work events for other folks at work. 

With all these toys, there’s also the matter of USB cables and chargers, etc.

Anyway – back to photo.  With my photo gear, and I’ve given this a fair amount of thought as I’ve progressed along, is the quest for the ultimate bag, of course.  We all know here, that this is a big “it depends” area.  There are so many facets to that one, it’s nuts!!  For me, I have several types of “situations” and I’ve found out that each situation has certain equipment requirements. I’m going to cover off a few of these 🙂 I’ve chatted briefly about bags before – just more thoughts if you didn’t read the last one.

1.  Commuting – When I’m commuting, my mainstream equipment is typically a travel camera or two plus an advanced one.  My travel cams have their own case, and they are put into my daypack somewhere.  Daypacks – here’s another quest :-)  Anyway my most current acquisition here, is a Briggs & Riley Traveller.  This is one of the most expensive I’ve gotten in daypacks, but for commuting, I wanted something that I could carry my stuff in and be relatively slim for those crowded buses and trains. The one thing I liked about this particular one was that it didn’t have that conventional zipper top – the top had sort of  a flap that zippered and made it very accessible compared to any pack I’ve seen.  AND, it’s really well built.  I’ve had this now for about 3 weeks and so far, it’s pretty nice.  My daypacks vary depending on my assignment as well, so yes, I do have a lot of daypacks depending on the capacity I require.  I’ve had the odd assignment, where I’m outside of the downtown core, and it’s hard to find someplace to eat, so bringing a lunch now comes into the equation.

Briggs and RIley

2.  Travel -  or holidays ???  When I did my last couple of vacations, there were a couple of things that I did.  First – my carry on bag was a treefrog daypack to carry my “stuff” – mostly a notebook and my cameras.  Second, for cruising around and sightseeing, I had a Tracker bag.  The Tracker was packed in in my cargo stuff and then loaded up when I got to my destination.  The tracker was pretty awesome the treefrog daypack was just  to small.  It was pretty  jammed up.  For the next trip, well – we’ll see.  It will probably be the Briggs & Riley.  Equipment wise – Fuji X10 plus some pointy shooties. 

tracker_treefrog

3.  Out and About – There are two sides to this one.  Out and About as in chores/tasks and Out and About with photo in mind.  When I was on one assignment, I wanted bag that could carry my iPad plus a couple of small cameras and maybe my ereader for noon hour jaunts.  I tried a couple but in the end, I dropped some big bucks on a Fossil bag.  Since then, it has become one of my favourite bags (man purse, I’ve also heard).  This one is soft sided and has this wonderful “retro” look about it. 

Fossil

When it comes to Out and About with photo in mind, this now becomes a little more subjective – The bigger quest here was to be able to find something small enough to be convenient but larger enough to carry say, my DLSR and a couple of lenses.  The tougher part was actually me, myself & I :-)  I’m the type of person that naturally likes to pack a fair  amount of gear with me, but in  the end, reality set in and I gambled on a waist sling bag.  Enough to carry my D3200 plus a couple of extra lenses, usually the 40mm f2.8 Micro Nikkor and the 55-200 plus my SB400 flash.  The tougher part was the realization that NO, I probably wouldn’t spare batteries, and NO, I wouldn’t need the SB700, and NO, I would be needing spare chargers or the like.  The bag I have for this, is the LowePro AW250 – I think that’s the model.  It has a waist strap plus a shoulder strap, and a handle on the back.  Surprising capacity for a smaller unit and the person at the camera store mentioned that.  Typical to LowePro, it wasn’t exactly cheap either.

Waist Pak

4.  Event shoots – When I got my first “serious” camera, which was the Panasonic GX1 with two zooms, I of course, started to do a bit more specialized stuff and one of the things that came up was events.  Up to this point, I was using my Fuji X10 and I still do use it, but the GX1 gave me a chance to play with larger sensors and give me an idea of what the more specialized cameras could do or not do.  They definitely aren’t like the travel cams but photo quality (depending on what you are doing….) was stunning.  That’s one of the things that I do notice between the travel cams, etc. and the Compact System Cameras and DLSR’s, is that they have this “extra”, due to the sensor and better lenses, that makes it worth while to me.  Casual is one thing, but this is different :-)  Even my Fuji X10 and Panasonic LX7, with their larger sensors simply makes it worth it.  I was at a blues bar recently with my wife and best friend, and I used the X10 and my XF1 and got shots I simply couldn’t  have gotten with my travel cams.  I did shoot a video, though, with my Nikon S9400 and I was actually shocked at how good it was – might have to investigate that a bit more in the future….

Back on track – the tougher part for me is deciding WHAT to take.  With the Nikon DSLR now in the equation,  I already know it’s going to be my primary.  Last big shoot was a fashion show and I found that I didn’t have the “reach” so I used the GX1  with the larger zoom.  I’ve now got the 55-200, so the decision got blurrier :-)  Anyway, depending on just how much stuff I need to take, I have two bags.  One is the Kata sling and the other is a LowePro Sling.  Both have their place….

BIG Stuff

5.  Other Bags – For my Compact System Cameras, I try to keep both of them in separate bags.  I have a Nikon 1 j1 with two lenses and the Panasonic GX1 with two lenses. Both have spare batteries as well.  For the most part, when I go out with these, I wanted to be able to pack a travel cam or two, but both the Nikon and Panasonic aren’t that big to begin with, so I got a Tracker and a National Geographic Sling for each system. 

Compact System

Swapping Out – Depending on the what I’m planning to shoot, I wanted to be able to take as little gear or as much gear as needed.   I found that the Kata bag and the LowePro Sling can actually pack a lot of gear, but not necessarily all the gear I want to take.  Of course, the bigger question is just how much is enough?  Each time I do a fairly larger event shoot, I’ve always found that having a spare camera or two has come in handy.  I’ve been taking one of the travel cams with me and they’ve proven surprisingly handy.  Quality isn’t as high, but then, more important – I got the shot!!!  This is a bit of a sore point with me :-)  I’m going to chat for sec about getting the shot.

Getting The Shot – I’m, in reality, very picky about the quality of each photo I take.  BUT I’m more picky about “getting the shot”.  I hear and read  so much about the image quality being poor on any given shot and that they “should” have had a better camera with them at the time, but to me, I look past that.  For starters, I am simply not going to lug something like a DSLR with me everywhere I go.  For me, that’s not in the equation.  I’m also pretty sure the majority of picture takers out there are the same.  Heck, they probably only had their phones.  I’ll be the first to admit the the photo quality is no screamin’ hell.  BUT – they got the shot.  It might be the best composed, or best exposure, but you know, to the person taking the photo, it probably didn’t matter – they got the shot that got the moment.  Also, I feel one has to take the equipment into consideration. 

I look at it from the standpoint of what I’m doing with the shot itself.  For me, in casual type situations, something like a pointy shooty is going to be more than enough for the ultimate use of the photo.  Little or no image processing.  View it on the iPad.  The END.  Any camera will get that done, and for what it’s designed to do – do it reasonably well.  To me, those “moments” are typically on an impulse and that means having a camera handy.  That moment isn’t going to wait for you to swap lenses, make adjustments, etc.  You need your camera out and bam – take the shot.  To me that means Auto or Programmed Auto – built in flash, if needed,  will have to do.  Can’t do that easily with a Compact System Camera or a DSLR.  The time simply isn’t there.  When my kids were little – I only had the DSLR.  Guess what?  It never go put away.  It was always there, ready to use.  In today’ world, it seems like we are in too much a hurry to always have your camera out.  To me, a pointy shooty comes out a lot faster :-)  Been there, done that.

Where Do I Get Stuff?  My wife and I like to shop.  I’m one that constantly looks for things I might be able to use.  Granted, I have a bit more income than most, but at the same time, I’m also not scared to try things out either.  Anyway you cut it, I end up with a lot of stuff, to say the least :-)  So where do I shop?  That’s a BIG “it depends”.  For cameras, I’m one that  likes to “touch and feel” before I buy one.  That basically means online is out for me.  Price?  Only to a certain degree.  If I want a camera for a specific thing right away, the price didn’t matter.  If I was contemplating something specific, I’ll wait for sale.  For my travel cams, my Canon SX270 and Nikon S9400 were on sale.  Same with the Sony HX30 – I probably wouldn’t have got them otherwise.  The other ones – Fuji F800 and Panasonic ZS25 – no, I paid full price.  The Fuji XF1 – paid the going price.  For the Nikon 1 J1 – dealer made me a deal couldn’t turn down and it gave me a good chance to play in this space.  The Panasonic GX1 – paid the price but got the bigger zoom on sale.  My D3200 – happened to be on sale, and most of the extra lenses too. 

For bags – I want to see what I’m buying.  I prefer not to buy one online, though, there’s a Caden one I’m looking at.  Bags are a bit funny to me – I really really have to see one.  Sales are nice, but if you need one you need one. 

Other things – I do get a lot of other things for photo online.  My SD card cases that I just got came from Amazon.  I get a lot of things from Amazon, but not necessarily for photo.   

Keeping It All In Order – What I try to do, is keep stuff separated as much as possible.  Doesn’t always work, but nonetheless, I try to keep my equipment as separated as possible.  Mostly ones like the Fuji X10 and the Compact System Cameras – chargers, etc – all in one bag.  Same with my DSLR gear, though I do separate things out depending on shoots.  Not always the easiest to manage, but it’s getting there.

Onward…….

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About gkamitomo
IT Busines Analyst

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