First Blood: Think Tank Belly Dancer Harness Breakage

Note on Think Tank Photo in 2023: I’ve now used their kit for almost 15 years and it’s totally fantastic.

Their harness systems have been much updated since I bought mine, the current version is the Pixel Racing Harness and the only reason I don’t have one is that my original harness is still going! The harness and belt are now separate items, the entire thing is fully modular, but I think I prefer my existing, reliable setup!

UPDATE: Dan the Man from Think Tank instantly returned my email to apologize and mention the lifetime warranty. And they’ll FedEx me a replacement - now this is why you choose decent companies to give your money too. More info when the dust settles.

It’s not that serious, but kit failure is a major annoyance. This stuff is not cheap, is always touted as high quality, reliable, professional, lalala, so when it fails, both my judgement in buying the thing and the manufacturer’s inability to get something (usually basic) right, is called into question. Today, my Think Tank Photo harness strap broke, or more accurately, the stitching failed on the part where the adjustable front strap loops around the belt, allowing the harness on one side to fall loose, and for the weight to be transferred to the right side. I’ve been happy with the kit so far, although the harness did seem a little under-engineered to me. I’m used to my climbing gear, straps, karabiners and loops, which are all stitched to withstand huge forces and save lives of dumb climbers who go places they shouldn’t be. I don’t really expect that from my camera gear, but if I saw it, I’d be impressed enough to show my mates. Single stitching on load-bearing points is bad design, and I’ll be letting them know that - they’re a good company and I’m 100% sure they’ll sort this stuff out in the future. But right now, I need to get my arse to a tailor with a decent sewing machine to get this put back together. And I’m going to look at getting the other side reinforced. In the meantime, I’ve tied a knot in the strap. Works perfectly, comes loose occasionally :) Ah, if only Billingham could be persuaded to broaden their product range. No offence to South-East Asian manufacturing, but it’s not up to Billingham standards. What’s the old adage? Good/Fast/Cheap: Pick Two. One of these days, I’m going to convert some climbing gear into camera gear…

Canon 5D and 5D II are antiquated

_Warning: Droning, rambling rant ahead.

Low tide on the Thames

Background: So I’ve talked myself into taking the gf’s D300 to India, for I need a zoom telephoto while I’m there, my least-preferred lens, but I either shell out 700 quid for a new Canon lens which isn’t as fast as my old Nikon 80-200 f2.8, or just borrow the damn Nikon. Easy decision. So it’s time to start learning the Nikon, a system I haven’t touched since I chucked the D1X and D70, and so far, it’s been fun. Setting aside the (rather endless) question of image quality, what we have here is a lightning-fast camera. It just responds. The focus is rapid, the drive is twice as fast as the 5s and it all just works. Last night, I was shooting with the 5 in a dark, dark nightclub. 25600 ISO all the way, which, incidentally, I absolutely love. So it was dark, and the 5D was just refusing to lock focus. Not surprising, but the 5D often does that when working at speed. But the D300 isn’t. The focus points are large and easy to catch, there’s 51 of them, and focus tracking, watching the point zip around the viewfinder, works well. I tracked some seagulls flying over on the South Bank and all was good in the hood. Last time I tried it with either of the 5s, it was a complete waste of time. So. What we have here is Canon putting photographers somewhere other than first. We get a camera that barely focuses, but does put out 21 megapixels. A camera with a poky viewfinder, but does shoot video. I have no brand loyalty, by the way, so this isn’t an advert for one company over another. But Nikon seem to realize that it is possible to make a series of high performance professional cameras over a wide range of prices and sizes without disabling them in some way, rather than only two at the top end, like Canon. Some of us, indeed, plenty of us, don’t want a massive heavy body, let alone two of them. But we do want good weather sealing and excellent build, top-notch AF and high-speed motors. And with Canon, there’s this huge patch occupied by the 5D series. A good camera, but I wish it was better.