Leon Rose heads out on what’s usu­ally back-break­ing work — a full-day shoot with a bun­dle of gear in tow. But, equipped with the new range of Van­guard’s new­est range of packs, shoot­ing’s a breeze.

New Zealand D-Photo - - CONTENTS -

Leon Rose sets out on a full-day shoot, test­ing Van­guard’s new­est range of Alta Sky photography bags.

Most pho­tog­ra­phers have a prob­lem find­ing the per­fect pack. Throw­ing too much money away each year on the quest for the per­fect bag, many ’gra­phers have a bag for travel, a bag for the ev­ery­day, a bag for con­ven­tions — that’s at least four dif­fer­ent bags, sim­ply to lug the same gear around.

It’s no won­der many pho­tog­ra­phers ac­quire so much gear over time — pixel-peeper cam­era bod­ies are dou­bling in MPs, and lens man­u­fac­tur­ers are re­leas­ing great glass, year af­ter year. Photography back­packs, too, have evolved sig­nif­i­cantly over time, al­low­ing nu­mer­ous con­fig­u­ra­tions of cam­era gear, ac­ces­sories, and lap­tops to suit any ’gra­pher’s re­quire­ments. De­spite so many op­tions, it too of­ten seems as though you can’t have it all — smaller day packs skimp on the cam­era gear stor­age space, and large strap-equipped packs aren’t ideal for hold­ing travel ac­ces­sories, wa­ter bot­tles, and lunches.

The Van­guard Alta Sky range are bags, yes, but not just any bags. If you are like me, and you are al­ways in a hurry to get to the next job or project, you will need a place for ev­ery­thing, and more im­por­tantly, ev­ery­thing in its place. For this, the Van­guard Alta Sky se­ries back­packs cer­tainly de­liver.

At first glance, both mod­els are essen­tially the same in ev­ery way other than di­men­sions, with the 51D be­ing the larger of the two. The 45D car­ries one pro-DSLR body, with a 70–200mm lens at­tached, while the 51D of­fers the op­tion to fit in a sec­ond body, if needed.

To­gether with the ca­pac­ity to fit a DSLR body and mul­ti­ple lenses, the 45D com­fort­ably fits a 13.3-inch lap­top, while the 51D can ac­com­mo­date a 15-inch model. Re­ally, you only no­tice the dif­fer­ence in size when you com­pare the com­part­ment sizes — the lens pock­ets are no­tice­ably smaller on the 45D, and squeez­ing the Canon 5D MkIII, paired with its 70–200mm lens, into the side open­ing is a bit tight with a dou­ble bat­tery grip at­tached.

Fea­tur­ing innovative two-thirds, and onethird divi­sion, the larger com­part­ment of Van­guard’s Alta Sky 51D pack can be fully ac­cessed from the rear, quickly reached from the side, or sep­a­rately opened from the top.

The smaller com­part­ment, per­fect for lenses and lens ac­ces­sories, en­joys quick in­di­vid­ual open­ing from the bot­tom front.

With this in mind, I packed all my other favourite lenses in the bot­tom com­part­ment — my 24–105mm, my 16–35mm, my 100mm Macro, and my 50mm f/2.5 Macro, a po­lar­izer, and an LED light, just in case. Last, but not least, I packed my drone, too. The con­troller and iPad mini fit­ted per­fectly into the top com­part­ment, while the DJI Phantom se­curely strapped on the front via two ex­te­rior clipped straps, cov­ered with the drop-down tri­pod holder. The same flap that se­cured and cov­ered the drone folds down and has a pocket for the feet of your tri­pod to rest in, while the straps used to se­cure my drone can then se­cure your tri­pod.

Even af­ter adding all this gear into the kit, I could still com­fort­ably fit my lap­top in the ded­i­cated padded sleeve clos­est to my back. Af­ter all this, I weighed the pack and found it was 13 ki­los — and there was still room for an­other two lenses, or a lens and a speed­light.

Re­serv­ing the 45D pack pri­mar­ily for my main shooter — the Canon 5D MkIII DSLR with Canon 70–200mm f/2.8 L-se­ries lens at­tached — Van­guard’s Alta Sky 45D of­fered am­ple room within its lower third. Though a larger lens, the 70–200mm f/2.8 is a per­sonal favourite as it al­lows me to shoot a great range of im­ages, and it’s per­fect for panorama land­scapes when shoot­ing hand-held. It fit com­fort­ably side­ways within the pack, while I could eas­ily ac­cess it through the side open­ing.

This al­lowed all the other gear needed for the day trip to sit eas­ily within the top two-thirds of the 45D day pack — some bits and pieces for the kids, as well as our lunch, and some snacks for through­out the day.

We spent the day walk­ing through some of Kerik­eri’s idyl­lic spots, and I found the 51D to be ex­tremely com­fort­able, even fully loaded. We trekked through the Rain­bow Falls Walk back to Kerik­eri, which is a lovely walk through na­tive bush, past the falls — which were ma­jes­tic af­ter all the rain we have had lately — be­fore we made our way to the old pā site above the Stone Store, where I fi­nally got a chance to launch my drone over the pic­turesque in­let with yachts moored in the fore­ground as the sun started to set. Through­out the jour­ney, the packs kept things com­fort­able with er­gonomic back and har­ness sys­tems, fea­tur­ing a well-padded,

breath­able 3D back. Uniquely shaped, easy to ad­just shoul­der straps per­fectly con­tour to your back and torso, via ad­justable ster­num straps and a well-padded sup­port­ing waist belt.

Func­tion­ally, th­ese packs are very ver­sa­tile, and just as suit­able as a gen­eral travel pack as a ded­i­cated cam­era kit. They’re per­fectly de­signed to cater for your equip­ment and the other es­sen­tials you will bring on your trek — both packs also fea­ture a good-size stretchy wa­ter bot­tle pocket, and a place to store your phone/iPod with a head­set port which will con­ve­niently ex­tend the cable from the in­ter­nal smart­phone pocket. For your mem­ory cards, there are nu­mer­ous stor­age pock­ets, in­clud­ing a ded­i­cated one lo­cated in the ac­cess point on the side of the larger two-thirds com­part­ment, which are la­belled full/empty me­dia stor­age.

Van­guard’s new­est range of Alta Sky back­packs sat­is­fied my ev­ery need — both as a travel pack on my day out with my fam­ily, and as a ded­i­cated cam­era bag while shoot­ing. It made trav­el­ling easy, even though I had a slew of gear in tow — and kept ev­ery­thing on hand for when I needed it.

Need­less to say, I’m sold — and I think the 51D is the backpack for me: it’s time to re­place my older back­packs for some­thing that holds all the an­swers.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the new range of Van­guard Alta Sky bags, and to pur­chase, visit

Dur­ing 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in com­mer­cial photography, Leon Rose’s unique shoot­ing style has ful­filled the vi­sions of ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies, de­sign houses, and cor­po­rate cus­tomers. An early adopter of dig­i­tal photography, Leon has been in­volved in dig­i­tal cap­ture for the past 10 years. His lat­est project, a mono­graph on Muay Thai kick­box­ing in New Zealand, Live, Train, Fight like Thai, was pub­lished with PQ Black­well, and rounds out his com­mer­cial and per­sonal port­fo­lio.





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