by Paul Gallagher Published 01/06/2010
McNamee & Gallagher get outside for a change
Taking up any excuse to get out into the wilds your editor willingly accepted an invitation from Paul Gallagher to meet up in the English Lakes for a day out. Paul was actually taking a one-to-one tuition with Doug Thompson (who's forbearance with our antics is gratefully acknowledged). Gallagher was dressed more or less head to toe in Paramo gear (we didn't look too closely) including trousers, a sweat top and a waterproof top. He was packing the new LowePro Trekker AW 400 sufficient to hold more 35mm gear than he actually possesses. Gear did, however, include the new Gitzo GT3541XLS, some Lee filters and an ACS-modified infrared Nikon D70. To complete the inventory of kit, McNamee was trying the Manfrotto 535 along with the VR 304 head but in particular the Manfrotto MBAG90P bag. The English weather provided a perfect mix of test environments; despite the fact that we got a slight touch of sunburn, we also endured rain, sleet and wind. The terrain provided some mild scrambling and sufficient walking distances to see if any of the bags had annoying itches when carried for extended periods. Ground conditions varied too, ranging from soft, steep ground, covered in boggy grass, true bog land, rock, scree and grass. Overall we were carrying a substantial load of gear, too much for a casual stroll or summit-bagging, but within the bounds of a normal day's low-level landscape photography. Typically the first thing we saw was a dipper fishing in the river, the one thing we did not have was a telephoto lens!
The Manfrotto MBAG90P
Carbon-fibre tripods are stable, light and expensive. The one thing they do not enjoy is being biffed into a rock face or (more likely) being knocked into each other in the boot of a Range Rover. A decent, protective bag is therefore a wise investment. The 535 Pro has quite long legs and so does not sit very comfortably on the back or side of a backpack, especially for the shorter photographer. The sling strap of the MBAG is therefore very useful although we found the middle handle also very comfortable for distances of half a mile or so. The opening, like an arrow quiver, is really simple to use, making access very straightforward - this can be particularly important on steep ground where the last thing you need is a tricky zip and snaggy fabrics. Overall then, the bag passed with flying colours but make sure that you look into the length of both your tripod and head when choosing the model.
The Manfrotto 535 MPRO and Manfrotto VR 305 Pan Head
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