I’ve been one of Lowepro’s “Loweprofessionals” for a while now, which means that every now and again they’ll ask for my opinion on one or two of their products to help with their R&D process. Before I go any further I want to make it clear that I’m not on their payroll and I’m not obliged to give a glowing review of their products. The opinions expressed below are my own, they’re honest and true…disclaimer over.
Hit the jump for the video and my thoughts on the S&F Series.
Most recently I was asked to try out the Street & Field Series – a modular carrying system comprising of a technical vest, waist belt and a tonne of interchangeable pouches. Great for keeping your gear on you whilst shooting and also for using as a SWAT Team fancy dress outfit at the weekend.
I’d seen this system used by press photographers and journalists before, but my first hands on experience with it was last year whilst shooting an advertising campaign for Honda Motorcycles. We had unrestricted pit access with the Honda World Superbike team at Imola and I knew that having bags full of gear laying around the garage wouldn’t be an option. Using the S&F series there meant that we could operate at full capacity with the smallest footprint possible so as not to get in the way of the pit crew.
Fast forward to October this year and I found myself planning a shoot in the slightly less glamorous Forest of Dean with a buddy of mine, pro 4x racer Nathan ‘Natedog’ Parsons.
I knew it was going to be muddy as hell and as we were on the new downhill course there wouldn’t be many places for me to dump my bike and backpack as we made our way down. So it was a great opportunity to test out the S&F series again in a more extreme environment.
What struck me straight away about the S&F series is how comfortable it is to wear, even when heavily loaded with pouches. Because the technical belt clips to the vest, the whole set up feels very well balanced and the weight is distributed nicely between the two. I was able to move freely and as the pouches can be attached anywhere on the vest and belt I made sure I had everything where I wanted within easy reach. The pouches themselves are sturdily made and would offer reasonable protection should they take a knock or be dropped when not attached to the belt.
My favourite accessory is the Lens Exchange, It works as a second pair of hands when you’re changing lenses on the move. It has two lens compartments – one contains the lens you’re carrying and the other is empty. When you remove the lens from the body, you pop it in the empty compartment and then pull out the other. As you zip up the pouch the two compartments concertina together and it turns into a regular looking padded lens pouch. It’s a godsend when you’re out in the woods and can’t put lenses down or hand them to an assistant.
Talking of assistants, because the vest and belt can be worn separately I’ll often share them between myself and James – my right hand man. If he’s capturing audio or B roll footage he’ll often use the vest with a couple of small pouches, whilst I use the belt with a lens exchange and utility pouches. Another handy bit of kit we use often is the Audio Utility bag, which has room to hang headphones, store a shotgun mic and keep XLR cables organised.
The S&F series is an extremely versatile solution for carrying your camera gear – whether it be the convenience of having lenses and accessories to hand or the ensuring you maintain a small footprint on location, the vest, belt and pouches work well as an alternative to a backpack. There’s still a lot of situations where I’d grab my Flipside or roller case instead but I think that’s the key here, that it’s an alternative and not a replacement.
If you have any specific questions about the S&F series, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you with my thoughts.
Here’s some of the shots from the shoot: