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Think Tank Speed Freak Camera Bag

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Review of Think Tank’s Speed Freak Camera Bag:

My first experience with a Think Tank product was my purchase of the Speed Freak Camera Bag and their “Whip It Out” lens case. I purchased these with a particular type of assignment in mind – I frequently photograph music festivals and needed to be able to have my camera and lenses very accessible while I moved around the festival sites. I also needed to be comfortable, not to have my movements restricted in any way and not to feel a strain on my back at the end of the day.

Think Tank Speed Freak Camera BagThe bag is made of extremely tough black material (they have a pvc free policy, as they state on their site) and is strong and beautifully made. The nylon zippers are very strong, but my one niggle with this would be the knotted cord zip pulls (replacing the normal metal zip tabs) which risk coming undone. I individually tightened the knots on each one as a precaution.

The Speed Freak system consists of a bag that is attached to the waist with a substantial and very comfortably padded integral belt. This permanent attachment to your body gives incredible security, in that your equipment is always with you. As is the case with most of their products, the focus seems to be on not only great protection for your gear, but on fast accessability, which can only result in fewer lost shots and the opportunity to get more great ones!

Supplied with the bag is a padded shoulder strap which enables you to use it as a regular shoulder bag or it can be used in addition to the waist attachment, to more evenly distribute the weight over your body. This was a superb feature of the bag, saving strain on my back over this lengthy period of time each day.

If you choose to use the bag with the shoulder strap only, the waist belt is neatly stowed in the elasticated mesh padding at the bag of the bag. It has a padded carry handle as well.

The top of the bag is divided in two by a zipper, which is another useful feature as an alternative way to gain fast easy access to the interior in addition to the standard zip top flip-up opening.

I found that there was a more than adequate supply of pockets for storing various things one needs, as well as the Pixel Pocket Rocket which is a wallet made for holding flash cards, attached to the bag by a safety strap so that it can’t be lost. The mesh pockets on the side were big enough for holding a bottle of water. It also has a seam-sealed raincover which fits in a neat compartment. Of course the bag interior is very well padded and has several dividers so that, using the usual velcro fastenings, it can be customised for your own equipment.

Think Tank Whip It Out Lens CaseThe Whip It Out case/module quickly and securely attaches to the belt. It enables me to retrieve or deposit my 70-200 2.8L IS Canon lens (with hood attached) very quickly. The lens is held in with a self-locking zip and was securely in place even when I was running with it – amazingly so – thanks to a rubberised gusset that grips the body of the lens. The mesh pockets on the side were really useful for holding a lens cap. It also comes with its own seam-sealed raincover, as does the Speed Freak bag itself.

I wore this combination for around 10-12 hours a day for three days and was extremely impressed with it for my purposes – it far exceeded my expectations. It was attached to me at all times, never got in the way, was very easy to rotate around my waist to access the contents and greatly assisted in the ability to safely change lenses without needing to set anything down. Acquiring this bag gave me three days of pain-free comfort and efficiency that I had not previously experienced in this type of shoot.

Inside and in the various zipped and mesh pockets of this bag I can and did carry – with some room to spare for snacks etc.:

  • Canon 20D, with grip attached which does make it a little tight, but is workable, with 24-105L IS Lens and hood attached
  • Canon 16-35 2.8L lens with hood attached
  • Spare batteries
  • Flash cards
  • Filters
  • Miscellaneous accessories such as bottle of water, model releases, pens, business cards, etc.

This setup perfectly suited this particular type of shooting as it would many other situations. Although the Speed Freak worked really well for me, if I were buying this again, I would choose the Think Tank Speed Racer instead. It is identical in every respect, but offers a llittle more room for camera with grip or a pro body. Bearing in mind that proviso, I really couldn’t fault it in what it offered me and, having the ability to attach other components to the belt, such as additional lenses or a pouch is what really can make this bag your own. I own several photo bags and this has definitely become my preferred general purpose camera bag.

See more of Think Tank Speed Freak camera bag, including video on their site.
The Whip It Out Lens Case information is also on their site here.
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