By Joseph Roybal
With so many photography products in the market to choose from, figuring out where to begin almost feels like drinking from a fire hydrant. From cameras to lenses, tripods to filters—you almost want to quit before you’ve begun. You have to think about your interests, style, and budget. What product do you truly need to add to your arsenal of gear? What product is going to help you in the field, and how much are you willing to spend on this item that may or may not improve your productivity?
As a professional landscape and portrait travel photographer based in Denver, my primary focus is landscapes. This means I need a product that is lightweight, compact for my camera bag, and efficient and functional in the field. For this review, I was graciously provided several products from Peak Design and used them on a three-week trip to California’s deserts and coast. Peak Design sent me its Slide, Clutch and CapturePRO tools.
A unique aspect of Peak Design’s product line is that in addition to being well thought out in terms of aesthetic, design and materials, everything works together in a symbiotic relationship. This makes Peak Design a one-stop-shop for your camera gear needs.
Upon receipt, I was immediately impressed: the packaging is a 10. Attention to detail from the get-go is spot on, and the materials used in construction are solid, lightweight and well thought out. Each piece is well designed and intended to make functionality and user experience a top priority. Not to mention making your camera look even sexier than it already does. It’s like a face-lift for your gear and will garner compliments from even the manliest, bearded men.
The first aspect of design that sets Peak Design apart from its competitors is its attachment system. It utilizes Anchor Links that attach to your camera via your camera’s attachments locations and can be left on at all times. And if you invest in several other products such as Clutch or CapturePRO it provides you with Arca-Swiss compatible tripod plates that screw into the base of your camera and have slots for Anchor Links, which is pretty slick. This makes for an incredibly clean and uncluttered camera body that is ready for any of Peak Design’s straps on a whim. When you want to attach a strap you simply slide the Anchor Link into the Link Clips and boom, it’s done!
I don’t use a neck strap very often, but for when I do I have tried pretty much every style and design out there—from neoprene suspension styles to other high-end manufacturers, and none have fit my needs just right. What I love about Peak Design’s Slide is it’s fast to attach and de-attach when not needed, incredibly quick to adjust length on the fly, and does not screw into the bottom of your camera, taking up valuable tripod mounting plate real estate. This last point is huge for me. It is also incredibly comfortable and sturdy.
The Clutch hand strap blew me away. No joke. I cannot tell you how many different hand straps I have used, and they are all the same: clunky, hard to attach, and difficult to adjust. I use a hand strap full-time, and one is always attached to my camera body. This product doesn’t disappoint: it is comfortable, super quick and easy to adjust tension with one hand, and if you decide you would like it removed, simply un-click the Anchor Link from the Link Clip on the bottom of your camera and boom, done! I like this strap and can’t see myself switching to another product anytime soon.
The final product I want to discuss is the Capture and CapturePRO system. This product is genius and yet so simple that I think it will change the game for all styles of photographer out there. The product takes advantage of a super sturdy all-aluminum construction that is also very lightweight. The concept of this product is to have your camera in an easily accessible and convenient location outside of your camera bag, saving you from digging for your camera when that shot happens. Your camera clicks into the Capture lock that you can mount to any flat surface on your backpack, belt, etc.
For those of us who use tripods, Peak Design has thought through many prohibiting aspects trying to accommodate all of our needs. First, if you have a proprietary mounting plate that is not Arca-Swiss, you can still take advantage of this system by attaching one of Peak Design’s Clips to the tripod plate you are currently using and leave that plate clipped into your head. You will need to have a separate Clip for your bag, belt, etc., but this is a pretty neat universal design allowing shooters to use their existing system in conjunction with the CapturePRO system.
The only drawback with this product, especially for landscape photographers like me, is the lack of a better attachment method for L-bracket users. This makes for an added item to be mounted to the base of your bracket. On the positive side, it adds minimal weight, but on the negative side, it does not mount flush to the back of my camera’s body.
I have spoken to some of the guys at Peak Design about this asked and if they have any future plans for creating L-brackets for several primary camera bodies that most landscape photographers utilize and there has been no word as of late.
A potential work-around for this would be to notch out small grooves on the mounting plate itself allowing the user to be able to better fine-tune the mounting process as a dedicated L-bracket may not be necessary. I also can’t see how having a proprietary Peak Design L-bracket with the attachment portion all-in-one would save any height or weight, save a couple of grams and millimeters. But, if they do decide to do this and create one for us I know it will work well and look super sexy.
The team over at Peak Design is not just putting another product out on the market hoping for a piece of the financial pie. They are photographers who need a real product and are combining this with an educated approach to design and workflow. I like what they are doing, and I am looking forward to future product designs and improvements on the already awesome products in their line.
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