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Recently I ordered a bunch of GoPro stuff hoping to dive into video. Instead I ended up diving into a heap of random parts. As someone with a mild case of OCD, I needed to find a practical solution to not only organizing everything, but finding a system where I could account for each and every piece out in the field. I thought of old camera bags, Pelican cases, tool boxes, whatever, but none of those choices seemed like a solution to me.
Since I began photography back in the ’80’s, I’ve always had some sort of system. Making sure everything had a place and those places were occupied by everything meant that I should leave an event with the same number of items I arrived with. As aviation photography became more my forte, it became even more crucial that nothing gets left behind. If a random part were left on a tarmac or taxiway after a nighttime shoot, that part could easily get swallowed by the intake of an aircraft resulting in a very expensive mistake.
I had heard of a company called Cocoon and these boards with webbing aptly named ‘Grid-it’. On one side was a random series of straps used to secure small items and on the other side was a pocket perfectly sized for an iPad…or perhaps, instruction manuals, pens, lens cleaning tissues or whatever else you could fit. I ended up purchasing three of these for $25 each; one for each GoPro set up and one for the remaining oddball clamps, housings and other components.
An unexpected benefit to the system is the ability to cover the lens of each GoPro with the webbing meaning no scratches. Once all three boards are set, they can be stacked and placed in any bag safely. Removing a single board enables a complete set up to be used without messing up everything else.
There are no doubt other ways of organizing your system, hopefully this will just be another tool in your belt. And if this system ends up not being the best solution, the Grid-it boards can be used for just about anything.
As for a useful bag or carrying case, check out Sporty’s or PilotMall’s collection of flight bags. These bags are specifically designed to carry books, charts and other paperwork where the Grid-it boards will fit perfectly. Additionally, the exterior pockets will provide plenty of additional room for larger accessories and components that wouldn’t otherwise fit on the Grid-it boards.
Above my desk lies a shelf full of various camera bodies. These tools have been instrumental in sharing my experiences and memories over the years. My very first camera, a Kodak Instamatic 126 rests alongside my first SLR, a Pentax K1000 and my first medium format camera, my 501C/M Hasselblad. The first automated camera I owned was a Ricoh KR-10M and sits next to my first pro-camera body, a Canon EOS-1V/HS. Two digital cameras also reside with my antiquated collection, a Canon 10D and a 5D.
Some equipment I had once used is no longer with me such as my Pentax Super Program bodies, Pentax ME, my Nikonos V bodies, Canon EOS-1 and others. The point being, I’ve had the pleasure of utilizing the technology provided by many camera brands.
It was tough moving from Pentax to Canon in the late 1980’s, but Canon had some very impressive AF technology at the time. For the next 20 years, I had moved through the Canon professional line until digital became the norm. In the late ’90’s I owned an EOS-1 and an EOS-1N which performed incredibly…until they were stolen. They were then replaced with two EOS-1V High-Speed bodies which performed well until 2003 when digital could no longer be ignored.
The switch to digital would not be an easy one. At the time, each EOS-1V body cost about $2,200. A professional digital SLR couldn’t be touched for under $5,000…and actually closer to $8,000. A compromise had to be made.
I ditched the pro-level bodies and ventured back to the pro-sumer category. After all, digital technology was changing practically by the minute. A 6-megapixel Canon 10D was about $1,500 at the time and served me very well. In 2003, the camera was put to good use covering the 100th Anniversary of Powered Flight and images from that camera were first published in Air & Space Smithsonian’s issue covering the Dayton Air Show. It was clear digital was not going away. In 2007, the 10D was retired in favor of the $3,000 Canon 5D full-frame camera.
In late 2009, Canon introduced the EOS-1DmkIV with an unprecedented ISO range and a terrific frame rate all in a solid body. With resolution reaching a steady and versatile range, it was now time to think about reentering the pro-level of camera bodies. With my 5D showing age and my lenses all reaching their 10-year age, it wasn’t just the body that needed to be replaced, but my whole camera bag. Now would be the time for me to take a look at what the ‘other guys’ were up to.
Canon is and has no doubt been an incredible company and their products have served me well. I had candid conversations with Nikon representatives, Bill Pekala and Bill Fortney along with other Nikon photographers. They, along with Canon, allowed me to make use of their products in order to come to a more educated decision.
Just like buying a home, one needs to consider where the community is headed and what level of resources are available. When comparing the variables, the product quality, long-term support, ease of transition and ease of communication, Nikon squeezed ahead of Canon.
It’s going to be a long journey for me to relearn the basic camera functions and differences between Nikon and Canon. From component compatibility and accessory part numbers to zooming, focusing and menu functions, the two companies couldn’t be more different. But, a camera is a tool and an investment and needs to best suit the photographer and their needs. For that, I feel Nikon has best filled the criteria and I look forward to what they have to offer in the future.
Many thanks to Nikon’s Bill Pekala, Bill Fortney, Jose Ramos, Deborah McQuade, Melissa DiBartolo and many others for assisting in the acquisition and future relationship. And of course a big thank you to Dave Carlson from Canon for his continued friendship.