Ming Thein, a fellow friend and incredible photographer/blogger was super generous to loan me a pre-production unit of his personally designed camera bag which was done in collaboration with a renowned bag manufacturer, Frankie Falcon. When he showed me the bag it was love at the first sight: having just the right size and capacity to fit in cameras and lenses and just about anything you need to be on the move, and it comes in really sexy design and stealthy black finish. It is a camera bag that photographers need, want and more! When he told me I could borrow the bag for personal use, I was thrilled of course!
All photos of me using the MT x FF Bag in action were taken by Robert Sarmiento Evangelista and Van Ambruce Ligutom.
However, do take note that this version of the MT x FF bag that I am currently using is not the final version which will be produced (in limited quantities). There are minor changes there and here, which I shall not go in detail, but I was assured that this was very close to the final product and fit for my trial run.
Nevertheless, this is not exactly an official bag review, not even sure if I am the right person to review camera bags, and I've not done any bag reviews before. I am merely sharing my experience using this bag, the stand-out features that I found useful and convenient for me and other photographers using the bag. I am not going to go through the full specifications of the bag, you can find all information at Ming Thein's original blog post here. Also, I am a terrible product photographer, and if you want sexy, professional looking product shots of the bags (which actually does proper justice to how beautiful the bag looks), no one can do this better than Ming Thein himself and there are plenty of great shots of the bag on his own blog. What you will find here in this blog entry, are shots of the bag with me, while I was shooting on the streets.
While the camera bag was originally designed to be able to fit TWO full sized medium format cameras with lenses attached, I thought the bag was not large at all in real life. However, fitting in Micro Four Thirds camera and lenses (which I use) would be an overkill, so I was scratching my head figuring out on how to actually use this bag for my weekend shutter therapy. Then I was making street shooting plans with some friends and I thought, hey, why not I bring along some of the new Olympus products (12-100mm F4 IS PRO and 25mm F1.2 PRO) for everyone to try, that would justify the need to fit in more stuff into the awesome Ming Thein's camera bag!
Robert and Van, both amazing Olympus shooters came to join me for my shutter therapy and I cannot thank them enough for volunteering to shoot me with the MT x FF bag in action. Guys I owe you both a hearty lunch.
SPACE, SPACE AND MORE SPACE
First, let's talk about how much this bag, deceivingly not too large in appearance, actually can fit. There were no zippers in design, no unnecessary pockets or compartments found anywhere. Hence, the minimalist approach of the bag design allowed for much larger storage capacity than an equivalent sized camera bag.
Now, take a look at the following photograph, we have everything I have placed into the bag, taken out and laid out on a table.
What we have here:
3 Olympus Camera bodies
Olympus PEN-F body - Robert requested to try the PEN-F for street shooting
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II body - my own camera which was my primary camera for the day
Olympus PEN E-P5 - my secondary/back-up camera. Always carry a spare!
5 M.Zuiko Lenses
12-100mm F4 IS PRO
25mm F1.2 PRO x 2 units, one used by me at full time of course
75mm F1.8 (with a lens pouch)
17mm F2.8 pancake lens (fitted on E-P5, and inside a leather-like case)
3 spare batteries for my E-M10 Mark II
Think Tank Pocket Rocket (SD Card storage bag)
Lens cleaning cloth, micro fibre
Fiio M3 Music Player
Beyerdynamics DTX350M Headphones with carrying pouch
Saharil Hasrin Sanin's two awesome books, "Tentang & Kentang"
Georgette Tan's "Abnormalities & Other Poems" booklet
Olympus notepad & a pen (an actual pen, not a camera)
Lego figures, which I usually have with me everywhere I go to:
Here is a video, kindly taken by Robert, showing me fitting everything into the bag. The video was a spontaneous one, it was not originally thought out. When I was about to fit the items into the bag, we thought, hey a short video would be a nice idea! Hence there were mistakes there and here (the fan causing audio disruptions, the framing of me moving randomly and unpredictably). I never looked good on camera, and I did not know exactly what to say. The video took longer than expected!
The video above was taken by Robert. Van has an alternative video of the same footage, shot from a different angle, minus the annoying wind sound captured on Robert's footage. You can see the video here.
And finally, here it is, all tucked nicely into the bag, yet I had quick access to the camera that I will be using to shoot on the street! How cool is that?
I was genuinely impressed by how much I can throw into the MT x FF camera bag and still have a functional, quick to release for camera access bag! I personally do prefer shoulder sling bags over backpacks, due to several reasons: more natural positioning at the side of waist to quickly grab out or store lenses, easier for lens changing and also switching of multiple cameras.
COMFORT FOR LONG USE
Generally, while the bag was loaded with more items than what I usually carry, thus the heavier weight than normal, I did not feel any strain on my back or shoulder at all, probably due to the thick shoulder strap that came with the bag. That is a very, very important point to consider when choosing a bag, as the bag is being loaded to the maximum and weighing more, it should not cause discomfort for the photographer, especially many of us that need to walk around quite a bit. Just like camera handling and ergonomics being important for long hours use, walking around with a truly comfortable camera bag on your shoulder does make a huge difference.
The MT x FF bag is generally made of very light, water-resistant, interestingly flexible and rather thick material (not sure what it is). The material is robust enough that there was no need of additional padding, and there was not an instance i felt the gear stored inside the bag was not secured enough. The build quality is of top notch, not a surprising fact considering each bag was hand-crafted and only made to order! Since the bag is going to be available for a limited run, tight quality control is not going to be an issue.
MINIMALISM IS THE WAY TO GO
Knowing that the MT x FF bag is stripped down to basics, taking out almost anything that are usually in a camera bag, I did have my initial concerns about a few things. Will there be room for batteries? Where am I going to place my SD Card storage bag (Think Tank Pocket Rocket) for quick retrieval when needed? Since there was no zip at all, how will the cameras and lenses be properly secured and not fall out? What if I want to bring more stuff, how can I fit more items in with so little configurations or dividers!
Strangely, for every single question, or issue that I came up with, or thought I would encounter, the bag just magically works! The SD Card storage bag has its own space (see the video showing that here) and there were side pockets, cleverly built internally capable of storing a large amount of items (batteries, and even full-size headphones, collapsible of course). When I was walking around on the street shooting for a couple of hours, never had I once felt the bag was not secured, or anything is being out of balance. I tell you, it is difficult to find things to complain about this bag. Perhaps, Ming Thein has been right all along. Being minimalist in camera design, taking out all the unnecessary features of a camera bag (which we thought we needed but honestly.... this has been proven otherwise) just takes the functionality of the bag into an entirely different level!
If you know me from this blog, you will know that I will not just bring this camera bag out, show it off and not do anything with it after that. I went on to have my much needed shutter therapy with my friends, Robert and Van at Petaling Street earlier today. I was shooting with my OM-D E-M10 Mark II with the 25mm F1.2 PRO lens, and I am showing even more samples of images taken with that awesome lens!
All images below were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II and M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO
I knew both Van and Robert from Olympus events, they are our regulars. For some unexplained reasons, both of them have never appeared in the same event together before. When Van came for a Bird Park Outing, Robert did not show up. When Robert participated in the Street Shooting Outing, Van was not around. This has been going on for perhaps, 1-2 years, and they just never met each other somehow! I have come to acknowledge that both of them are talented Olympus shooters and have deep passion in photography, I thought why not I just match-make them and make this happen!
Do check out their blogs, they have showcased some amazing Olympus photography there!
I Love Blue Skies
Portrait of a Stranger
100% crop from the previous image. Shot wide open at F1.2
Some behind the scenes shots!
Portrait of a Stranger 2
Portrait of a Stranger 3
Check out the BOKEH!!!!
Robert in action
Van testing out the new Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 PRO lens
Coming Out Into The Sun
She Sees You
Char Siew Pau (dim sum dish)
If you have not read about this Ming Thein X Frankie Falcon Ultimate Photographer's Camera DayBag, please do visit the official product blog entry by Ming Thein here. The bag is now available for pre-order, and the deadline is on 30 October 2016.
And if you do decide to Pre-Order the bag, and you actually found out about the bag here, please do fill "RW" into the comment field when buying, so Ming Thein will know that the referral comes from me!
I do not think there is any other bag like this one.
The design is unique and beautiful at the same time, the bag can fit an awful lot of things, and it is a camera bag that just works. I could not recommend a better camera bag for anyone!
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