For bike riders/photographers: Sling style carrier for dslr while bicycling?

Discussion in 'Travel' started by falcon7, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. When I go trail bicycling, I sometimes take a small Nikon DSLR with one 18-200 lens. I am trying to find an optimal way to secure the camera to my body as I ride. I travel from 10 to 20 mph and stop when I find an interesting subject. The issues that arise are:

    a) finding a strap/sling bag combination that I could carry on my back, b) which would be fairly easy to remove, but c) snug enough so that the camera won't bob against my back. In addition, d) I don't want it to wrap around my shoulder or underarms so it makes it difficult to maneuver while biking because e) sometimes I have to make sharp turns or ride over wooden bridges, or jump over the occasional natural speed bump. It's impossible to eyeball the right rig by seeing images or reading descriptions on the internet.. Any suggestions. The easiest solutions I could think of is a small knapsack or forget about the dslr and just carry a smart phone with a good built-in camera, but give up a lot of features.
  2. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

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  3. I recently bought a Cotton Carrier G3-1 which performs well. I use it to take my Nikon D750 when I go bicycling on my mountain bike(I have not yet tried it with my road bike).. It is comfortable, holds the camera securely and gives me quick access to the camera. There is another company, Movo which makes similar products.
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  4. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Forgot them, good call - can't recall ever carrying a camera on the Road bikes - in those days Weight & speed & maximum effort!
  5. Maybe a smaller camera without compromising so much on picture quality as a phone, in a Pelican or some such case. I have a Canon G7 X that fits in a shirt pocket and a Pelican case that is a tight fit.
    I hate carrying a lens of any size on a bike.

    One of these on a light nylon belt, good to go.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
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  6. Lowepro (Toploader Pro), Kinesis Gear and others have chest mounted holsters. I have the Kinesis Gear version.
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  7. I'd go for some custom modded if needed backpack solution and try to keep the lens hood in place to make up for the time it takes to unbuckle the hip strap of that thing and pull the camera out.
    Look for a fairly waterproof pack since enhanced mobility increases your chances to get soaked badly...
    A recent used camera came with a Lowepro "SlingShot 200AW" which seems to be my so far most breath taking / lungs squeezing camera bag, even loaded with only one small DSLR and 2 mid sized zooms. - I surely wouldn't fancy riding with that one.
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  8. You're having an argument with physics, and physics always always wins.
    IMO there is no way to carry a nikon slr with the 18-200 on a bouncing mtn bike at 10-20 mph, on your person. To keep it from destroying itself or injuring you, the case would be 1) bulky 2) likely affect (negatively) your control of the bike. I agree with marksmith. If you are going to carry it on your person (somehow) get a smaller camera or just use your cell phone.
    I travel a lot by motorcycle. On the back I have a 1550 Pelican case with cutouts for a d810 and three lenses. It is secure, but if I see something I want to shoot it means, stopping, taking off helmet, gloves, getting off the bike, opening the case, taking the pic then loading back up. Over the years there were many pictures I missed and I still regret not stopping etc...soooooo..... I got a Sony RX100mk2 that I carry in a jacket pocket, or my tank bag, and even sometimes that is a bit of a hassle, so I use my Note 4 as a backup to the backup. But they ALL get used.
    That said, I also shoot night time Mardi Gras parades, and I ride my bicycle to them, carrying the d810 with a 24-70. I have soft panniers on the bike so I use a Think Tank bag/case to hold it and put it in a fine, but that is all I am carrying. And when I stop to shoot, I am in one location for the parade, then pack up and ride home. ON the motorcycle I am carrying clothes, shaving stuff, electronics, etc, IOW I am loaded. And stopping intermittantly
    But for the bicycle the Think Tank case, in a rear pannier works great-again, though I am riding to a single destination, shooting and then departing, so your needs sound more like my motorcycle experience than my bicycle one.
    Think Tank - Best camera bags, shoulder bags, backpacks, and rollers
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  9. I agree with John that carrying a camera on your back while riding a bicycle is not a good idea. However, with a small DSLR and the rather tiny 18-200mm, I suggest a well-padded bag attached to your handlebars. I didn't look at the size of this one, so it might not fit, but you should be able to find one that allows the camera to ride securely in front of you, so that you can access it quickly at any time you stop.
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  10. Probably not the best idea for a sports rider with a rigid fork? Back when I was a teen I inflated commuter tires to their maximum and do recall that the bike took a lot of vibrations from cobblestones and similar I was passing which resulted in a broken fender. Those vibrations can't be healthy for the mechanics inside a VR zoom lens and a bag padding is unlikely to eliminate them.
    When I switched to motorcycles later a few thousand km in the front pouch of my backpack stuffed into a 500ccm single's side case killed the battery compartment of my Mamiya U P&S. - I blame the single's vibrations for that. I also read a horror story about a Pentax zoom falling apart inside a mountain bike frame mounted camera bag. I am also suspecting a ride in a bag bungeed to my 125ccm's rear seat might have killed the AF inside my 100mm macro.

    Loading camera gear on a comfort optimized bicycle seems OK to me. I wouldn't be reluctant to stuff it into side cases of flat twins or flat six touring bikes either. Tank packs of modern motorcycles seem pretty safe to me too, since tanks get isolated from the vibrating rest on most brands besides Royal Enfield (where the tanks themselves still vibrate apart, like on pre-WW II bikes). I'm seriously planning to mobilize my LF stuff with a cargo bicycle but I'll go much slower than @falcon7 or @Sandy Vongries on that and my behind learned to appreciate less inflated tires too.

    The rider's back is most likely the least vibrating part on a bike, so it looks like a safe place for camera gear to me. - I am aware of the increased risk of injuries during accidents though.
    Considering that my kit costs more than the bike I am riding, I prefer to have it with me, whenever I dismount, so I am still looking for a backpack converting tank pack to hit roadside restrooms with. (No rush; I hope the current ride will last me another couple of years.)
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  11. This is what I was talking about... Lowepro Toploader with chest harness - used by cyclists, skiers, etc...

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  12. A bicycle will beat a lens/mirror to death.....The smaller cameras like the Canon Power shots have come a long way in a short time with larger sensors and low light capabilities, and the weight/ size greatly reduces the beating they take, especially if carried on a belt
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2018
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  13. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Comes down to the mission, and degree of engagement in either. Serious riding - why bother with the camera, tho a photo enthusiast / fanatic, I never carried a camera on a road bike.. Bike as efficient transportation to interesting places on a photo mission, anything that works for you. Apples & Oranges.
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  14. I haven't used a bag of that kind yet. - How does it bounce? - The OP mentioned jumping... I guess a backpack with tight hip strap is appreciated during such situations? The rest is a question of shooting style. Spot subject unclick just one foot, take shot, ride on vs. dismounting and switching to photo mood.
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  15. It's been a while, but you never forget how to ride, right?

    I don't like anything on my chest, because it interferes with keeping cool. A hard object in a backpack can cause serious injury to your back in a crash (and everybody crashes).

    Anything attached to your body must be supported symmetrically, so that it cannot swing. There's enough give in a handlebar bag to cushion the camera, particularly if you packing something soft around it. However handlebar bags change the handling significantly, especially bombing downhill. A bag behind the seat, preferably on a back rack, is stable and fairly well protected in case of a crash.
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  16. It works very well assuming the chest harness is well-fitted. It performs better than a backpack or sling bag in jumps because it allows more movement. It's also easier to deploy when you stop to take a photo since the top lid opens away from you. As I had said, I've seen many cyclists and skiers with this or the Kinesis Gear toploader, which is what I have.
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  17. I prefer not to use backpack when bicycling. I have smaller bag on handlebars and tree bigger ones on track. The handlebar bag is perfect for camera, maybe few rolls of film, repair tools and map.
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  18. I've done a fair amount of photography on a bicycle. As above, I dislike backpacks both for comfort and sweat.

    Most of mine is on upright Dutch city bikes around various cities throughout Europe and between villages in NL, DE, SE, etc. I'll usually carry a D5 or D800 with a 24-70 hanging to my side on a black rapid strap. I can easily grab it with one hand and take one handed shots while riding when necessary or easily stop to take photos. I'll often have other bodies, lenses and stuff in a bag mounted to either front or back rack. It takes a bit of adjustment to find the right length for the strap so that the camera hangs properly and doesn't annoyingly bounce around but once I got it figured out it's worked quite well.


    For road bikes my first option is my iPhone that I've always with me in the back pocket of my jersey. For better quality photos I've a couple of bags that strap to the underside of my seat. One holds a D800 + 24-70 and another holds a Nikon 1 J5. Both are quite snug, rear entry for just the camera+lens so that they're as small and light as possible and make grabbing the camera as easy as possible. If it was difficult to get at I'd never use it. I've thought about getting a custom one made for the D800 that will also hold a patch and inflate kit. I'm always concerned about what the vibration and bumps are doing to the camera and lens but so far, knock on carbon fiber, no problems.

    A buddy who does a lot of mountain biking and shoots for Nat Geo and others had a custom holster made. It's a belt with cross-straps system that he can attach stuff to. He'll use bags similar to my underseat bags that fit the body+lens quite snuggly. He said that it's critical that the bag attaches on both ends to keep from bouncing around and he usually puts them on his hips unless he thinks he'll be in a lot of tight spaces. It's not overly comfortable but the best option he's found for keeping the camera on him instead of a bag on rack.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2018
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  19. Thank you all for the various perspectives and advice. It's going to take me a while to digest all of it.
  20. check out peak design product. i was a long distance cyclist and would would recommend their product.

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