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Darren 06-25-2004 07:34 PM

How big of a nerd....
...will I be if I buy a photographer's vest. When I am out shooting, I use a camera backpack to carry my gear, and for the amount of walking I do during a typical day of shooting, I am happy enough with how it gets my ear around. However, changing lenses is a royal PITA. It is just such a hassle to set the bag down, open up, change lenses, replace lens back in bag, shoulder bag again and finally take the shot or get moving again. This is just not as convenient as I would like, for obvious reasons.

I know I could change to a shoulder bag, which is much easier to get in and out of, but walking for many km a day with my relatively heavy gear strapped over one shoulder doesn't sound appealing to me.

I think wearing a photographer's vest might be a good solution, while still keeping the backpack. Seems with a vest, all my lenses, memory cards and film, batteries, etc. could be easily available should I need them. Problem is, I am vain enough to think I might look like a total dork wearing a vest. Carrying a camera backpack, with tripod attached is bad enough, I really don't want to cross the threshold into complete Poindexterism. Will it look as terrible as I imagine?

Does anyone here use a vest? Are there any more stylish solutions I should consider? Would anyone like to forward me a number of thousands of US dollars so I could simply hire a porter/sherpa for everytime I go out shooting? Any thoughts or ideas {or monetary donations ;) } will be greatly appreciated.

Maybe I should just bite the bullet, admit I am pretty damned ugly, vest or no vest and opt for comfort? Maybe I should sell my camera gear and use the money towards plastic surgery? Arrghh......

joseelias 06-25-2004 08:25 PM

Re: How big of a nerd....
Well, I don't have experience about using a photographer vest and how that affects negativly the image on the girls making them run away... :-)))

But from my sports experience (Canoeing and Mountain Bike) I can say to you that there's NOTHING like using the correct equipment! The correct equipment turn everything more confortble, effective, easier and faster letting you concentrate in what you're doing. All the guys I met resisted at the beggining in using Lycra shorts but after experimenting them no one wanted to use anything else... So be aware that after using the vest and liking the experience you may want to start sleeping with it! :-)))

If you're talking about those jackets without sleeves, and you want more discretion go for the black color (my opinion). If even so you feel shame just buy some big dark glasses matching the vest so no one recognizes you later... A fake moustache and hair is also an option!

About a sherpa, who knows there's someone here on TE willing to volunteer as one, so you don't need to hire one! So, anyone here to carry Darrens bag? :-)

GrahamB 06-25-2004 08:34 PM

Re: How big of a nerd....
Never used a vest but would share your worries about looking like nerd - they do seem to be practical though.

I saw a guy while on holiday the other week who had some kind of belt mounted system. It had holders for a few lenses and a bigger compartment at the front. Not sure if it would be good for all your kit on a long hike but maybe for the bits you need to change regularly.
Don't know the make I'm afraid as I didn't ask. It's dorky enough asking about someones camera never mind their bag!

Cat 06-25-2004 08:54 PM

Re: How big of a nerd....
I also use a backpack, and would much prefer the vest!! I don't where you live but, for myself, it is really hot here right now,and I would just wear a tank top or a sleeveless t-shirt underneath. Since I am female, I like male photographers so, I know I wouldn't think of one as a geek for using the most comfortable equipment. If its hot where you are, just don't wear a shirt under the vest. Then, you will really look attractive!! ;0)

green 06-25-2004 09:17 PM

Re: How big of a nerd....
I would go with Graham suggestion. When I was trekking in Patagonia, I've seen a couple of trekker using that kind of "belt bag" with one or two extra compartiments for long lenses. I think the nice part of this is that you can carry your bag in front of you for an easy access. You could also complement this belt bag by a small backpack to carry stuff you don't need to have an immediate access like battery, film or tripod, leaving the belt bag space free for lenses and cameras. The people have seen carrying those bags didn't seems to be bothered by it when hiking.

As for the vest, I don't if it would be that confortable when you'll have heavy stuff hanging to it and moving around while you'll be walking. Also, back in the nineties in Paris, the vest was kind of fashionable among dorks to wear it even though they were not photographer. ;-)

And you're right, a shoulder bag is very very very bad idea when hiking kilometers. I've tried it long time ago and I manage to rip one of my neck's muscle. Painful.

BobTrips 06-26-2004 02:06 AM

Re: How big of a nerd....
How about a magician's tuxedo jacket?

Big zoom could go where he hides the rabbit.... ;o)

nmess 06-26-2004 03:10 AM

Re: How big of a nerd....
I use a backpack bag when hiking, but also use a large wheeled attache which carry's my laptop, camera and other gadgets while traveling. I tried a belt bag, but like a lot of guys I don't have much in the way of hips or butt.. so the belt bag was always seeking it's way down to my knees.

I've considered a vest too for that reason. But for now the attache for the traveling and micro treker for hiking seems adequate. But perhaps I'm just the sort of geek who doesn't spend much time wondering if I look like a nerd.

Proxilva 06-30-2004 01:06 AM

Re: How big of a nerd....
you'll look like a big nerd for sure......
who cares????
than don't....
you don't????
than go for it...

but remember nerds wear the parting left...
(i'm making this up)

Burnham 06-30-2004 01:15 AM

Re: How big of a nerd....
I just found this discussion Darren, and I'm laughing my well, behind off reading your thoughts on your looks. Agreeing with everybody, yes you would look like the biggest of nerds, butif that's the prize you have to pay for not wrecking your shoulder wearing a shoulderbag of missing good photos trying to get gear out of your cool backpack, then so be it - mind you if you do so, I'll have to pick on you for it :o)

mdchachi 06-30-2004 07:19 AM

Re: How big of a nerd....
I've been happy with the <a href=" ctlist&sku=153205" target=_blank>Lowepro Off Trail 2</a> waist pack. You can keep extra lenses film, flash all right there in front of you and keep your camera holstered in front of you for quick access. There is also a smaller version. The side lense pouches can be detached so you can adjust the kit depending on the situation. But for what I'm talking about, a vest wouldn't do the trick anyway. I can't hang a 300mm lense off a vest.

philip_coggan 07-01-2004 05:06 AM

Re: How big of a nerd....
Fascinating discussion here. Please keep us informed what you decide on. (Me, I don't wear a vest. Don't cary a backpack, either. Nor a shoulder-bag. Just a camera, with a lens on it. And a tripod. I pay sherpas, i.e. small children, mostly, to carry the tripod and the camera bag. This is an option at places like Angkor, but maybe not where you are :).

Bayleaf 07-05-2004 04:52 PM

Re: How big of a nerd....
I use both a vest with backpack, AND also sometimes the belt that GrahamB and Green mentioned, but obviously not at the same time. I'd say the belt system is probably the LowePro Field & Street system that can be found <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. It is handy if you don't want to carry a lot of equipment. If you do want to carry a lot of gear, and I do mean a lot, you'll basically run out of space without strapping lenses etc. all the way around your back, and then you'll need to be a contortionist to get at it.

The vest I use is called a Four Seasons, but I can't remember the maker, but I bought it here in Japan. It has padded pockets to protect your lenses and lots of other pockets to hold memory cards, cable release, filters etc. It also has a removable back. Basically I can unzip the back and take it off, revealing a mesh back for coolness during the summer months. This is a must in hot countries.

I totally understand your worries about looking like a total geek. I thought long and hard about buying the vest. I finally decided to take the plunge after finding a black one, which in my opinion is not so bad. My wife had actually said she would not leave the house with me if I bought and wore one of the beige vests I'd originally been pondering over.

The biggest thing that really made my mind up was that I was getting tired of missing shots while taking off my backpack, unzipping it and getting out my chosen lens and fitting it to my camera. The same goes for my next CF Card or any other peice of equipment. When it's in your pocket, it's available almost instantly.

What I generally do is put all my stuff in my backpack until I get to where I plan to start shooting, then move all the stuff I think I'll use to my vest pockets before I start. I'm sure I don't look like the coolest guy on the block while I'm wearing it. Far from it in fact, but I don't miss as many shots as before, and that is worth much more to me than looking cool.

One other alternative that I used to do more before I bought the vest is attach LowePro lens pouches to my backpack belt. The LowePro sliplock system that allows you to strap lens pouches and other accessories to the side of some LowePro backpacks (and the Field & Street belt system I linked to above) is easily removable, so you can take the pouches off your back when you start shooting and attach them to your belt or your backpacks waist belt.

Good luck with making your choice.

Darren 08-22-2004 06:07 PM

Poindexter Alert!!
Well, putting my vanity aside somewhat, I made the purchase today. Actually, rather than a true photographers vest, I bought a fishing vest. It was a color more in line with what I am used to wearing (beige instead of black) and is made largely of mesh, which was important to me, I tend to get hot. It seems to have enough space for all my daily lenses, cards, batteries, filters, my cell phone, etc. I haven't really tried it out in the field, but can tell already it will be a much more comfortable method for hauling my stuff around.

I have also found a cure for my vanity. As an accessory to go with the vest, I bought a pair of glasses, a fake nose and a fake moustache, nobody will recognize me ;)

thien 08-22-2004 06:27 PM

Re: Poindexter Alert!!
Hummm, something smell fishy around here... :D

MKING 08-22-2004 06:30 PM

Re: Poindexter Alert!!
Should I ever visit Taiwan I'll spot you in a crowd no doubt with that large fake nose of yours Darren. Congrats on coming to a decision. I sometimes wonder if my camera bag is too empty (since it fits everything I own)... perhaps this is the cap on your recent gear buying spree?


Galeota 08-22-2004 06:34 PM

Re: Poindexter Alert!!
Please tell me I'm dreaming and that this thread is not real... ok..forget it..

that's the way to go Darren! Send us a self portrait.

jrj 08-22-2004 06:44 PM

Re: Poindexter Alert!!
The vest, glasses, nose and moustache - of course all to be topped by a TE cap - that's the way to go. Best of luck Darren with this fishy experiment, as it also is supplied in the right colour: 'earth look'..

Darren 08-22-2004 06:59 PM

Re: Poindexter Alert!!
Definintely not a cap on the buying spree. I doubt that will ever truly end, but still thinking of a carbon fiber tripod, 300mm f/4 lens, higher end fisheye, second flash, second body, 85mm f/1.4 lens, etc. etc. etc.

It will never end. :)

Galeota 08-22-2004 07:07 PM

Re: Poindexter Alert!!
"Some of them are photography fans..

..others are gear nerds..."

ps: I read this one somewhere in ;o)

Darren 08-22-2004 07:37 PM

Re: Poindexter Alert!!
Hahaha. This must have been on one of the Canon forums. Gear nerds are rampant there ;)

Galeota 08-22-2004 08:07 PM

Re: Poindexter Alert!!
LOL..I wish I had a 20D.

tsiya 08-23-2004 02:45 PM

Re: How big of a nerd....
I suppose People think I am strange, when I go crawling on My belly, like a python with a camera, sneaking up on something right in the middle of a park. Know What? I don't care! They will never get so close to a shore bird as to be able to smell the fish on it's breath, I just consider it their loss, and pity them. Go for the vest, but if You want to do some crawling, You will need the pockets in the back! I use a little fanny pack, or belly bag turned backwards. "Look, Momma, what is wrong with that Man over there". "Don't stare at the poor thing, Child, it is not polite to stare at the insane"! As long as they don't mess My stalk up, I just don't worry what they think, have fun, take pictures, "tempus fugit"! When they bother You stare back at them, and grimace, wave Your arms and gnash Your teeth a bit, they will go away and leave You to take pictures.

MKING 08-23-2004 03:05 PM

Re: How big of a nerd....
I suppose that's true to an extent; but what if your target is the person making the remarks themselves? All of a sudden, what they think can start to matter...

(I realise this sounds a lot more melodramatic than the context probably allows)

Burnham 08-24-2004 09:16 PM

Re: Poindexter Alert!!
Allright buddy Darren, I promised you Iīd have to pick on you big time if you bought that vest! And I donīt care about the colour ;o)
the thing is I see Gal is doing just fine picking on the side of you that is such a gear geek ;oD
Glad to be following this thread about your most recent purchase, donīt ever stop, itīs a laugh for me ;oD


sohrab 08-24-2004 11:31 PM

Re: How big of a nerd....
hi darren
i dont think you could look as dorky as i did when i was travelling. i had a huge back pack just for my camera. it was huge because of all the padding for the camera. since the back pack was huge the tripod was slung around my shoulder and neck in front of me and i could hardly see what was in front of me. i hadnt washed my shorts and most of t shirts 2 months. i was wearing slippers that were broken and half the time i had to drag my feet so that my slippers wouldnt slip off my feet , my shorts kept slipping off, so i was walking with one hand holding my shorts up and the other holding this huge ,extremely colourful umbrella that i bought in burma. the saddest part was that whenever i took the umbrella out ,it never rained, so i felt even more stupid. oh yes i hadnt shaved for a long time as well, so in angkor wat one guy mistook me for a beggar as i was sleeping in the gallery.
so dont feel bad about however little a dork you look like :)
take care

thien 08-24-2004 11:38 PM

Re: How big of a nerd....
ROFL..... Your post was great Sohrab!

tsiya 08-24-2004 11:51 PM

Re: How big of a nerd....
My Jeep is nearing 20 years old, fuel prices are up, When I head out, I have to make a trip take care of many things. Best shooting times for Me are early in the day, so by the time I get to town, I am muddy, smell like swamp water, and probably look even more like an Alligator than usual. Storekeepers run in My wake with mops, to clean the trail I often leave. If You can frighten People more wearing Your vest, than I do in the course of an average expedition, You must be wearing a really horrid vest!
We are Photographers, for goodness sake, normal Folks will never understand Us. I hope You will stop worrying, put Your vest on, and go take some pictures!
Sohrab, You just gave Me an image of Robinson Crusoe holding a camera, that must have been an excellent expedition!

Darren 08-25-2004 04:27 AM

Re: How big of a nerd....
Sohrab, I am affraid I will never be able to top that story, or at least it would be a huge effort to try. Certainly, I won't worry so much now, thanks.

Take care

sohrab 08-25-2004 07:58 AM

Re: How big of a nerd....
to be honet with you darren
i look like that even now :)
ill be meeting eric (eleparc) today so i guess i'll trim my beard. dont want to scare him like i feel i scared claude (claudreno) when i met him. on the whole i think a vest us very convenient. also what you can look for are these lens cases which you can attach to the buckles of your trousers or shorts. they might not look very good. but are extremely convenient. a lot of professional photographer use these lens cases while wearing a vest. honestly i think the vest looks good as well. but thats just my stupid opinion. ever noticed how dorky some of the outfits in these big fashion shows in paris. milan and new york look ??????

DiaAzul 08-26-2004 08:08 PM

Re: I know you have bought, but another option... a belt system which would take most of the weight off your shoulders. I currently use a Crumpler shoulder/messenger bag with a bum bag up front to carry small items - I find this to be quite comfortable for 4-5 hours a day, however, I would like to move everything to the belt to leave my upper body free to move around more easily.

Anyone else looking to buy a belt system may want to look at the list on Kinesis web site which lists most of the belt system providers.

bjtindle 09-01-2004 08:14 AM

Re: How big of a nerd....
I am glad you posted, I did not know there was such a thing!!! It sounds wonderful to me!! But, that is me. I have 1 camera with removable lenses, 5 lenses for that one camera, a digital, and 3 other 35 mm without removable lenses!! (Take the 35mm non-removables with me just in case but leave them in car and can go back to get them if I need them.) I also have 2 camera bags, not a backpack. I think the vest sounds like a wonderful solution. Now, where do you get 'em??!?!? And who cares what I look like. It might just start a conversation and maybe I can get another pic!!!! :)


bjtindle 09-01-2004 08:17 AM

Re: Poindexter Alert!!
A fishing vest? Really? I know where I can get one of those. Does it have a lot of pockets etc....Is it comfortable? Please let me know. Oh, and just in case, if I happen to run in to you anywhere in Wyoming, leave the fake nose, fake moustache and pair of glasses on. I will know who you are! LOL


Proxilva 09-01-2004 02:57 PM

Re: How big of a nerd....
Hee if any of you get such a vest, please make a selfportait and put that in you intro :D :D :D A good laugh is always apprieciated ;D...


dawekato 09-01-2004 05:37 PM

Re: How big of a nerd....
When I travel I concentrate on what I am looking at, not how I look. I always wear a photo vest, in fact, a fisherman's vest -- because they are cheaper. May not be the sexiest sight on the streets but it's comfortable and convenient. I never take it off. One of the advantages is that they have so many pockets, a pick-pocket would have a hard time finding your wallet. Just make sure you get one with a mesh back because in tropical countries it can get hot. Also, make sure you have some pockets with zippers, preferably on the inside -- so they can't be pick-pocketed. That's where you put your cash, tickets, passport, etc.

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