Thoughts on Think Tank Speed Racer

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by gabesouza, Jul 10, 2009.

  1. Hi all,
    I've been juggling bags for a while and after a lot of searching came across the Think Tank Speed Racer. Seems like it's a good balance for what I want - a waist bag, doubles as shoulder bag, holds a D2 or D3 series camera along with 80-200, and various odds and ends - while also being very accessible in the field. I use a backpack to haul stuff to location but this seems like it would be a good fit.
    A little bit about me is that I usually work with two bodies but don't always want both out, use mainly a 17-55 and 80-200, and one body usually has a flash. I'm a photojournalist so the bag would be used on the fly and need to be readily accessible.
    So, what I'm looking for please would be first-hand experiences with the bag, how practical it is to use, and also any other reccomendations.
    Thank you in advance,
  2. I used a Speed Demon for work on a daily basis (I'm the staff photog at a newspaper) and it's an unbeatable tool.
    Granted my camera is always around my neck, the bag is perfect for smaller lenses and other stuff.
    ThinkTank is great, because you can build a bag only to the size you need by adding on the side pouches and bags.
    Great products designed by real, full-time professional shooters.
  3. Just because things will fit in a waist bag doesn't mean you'd want to carry it far that way. A D2, 17-55 and 80-200 weighs over 10 pounds. Add a second body and a flash, it's about 15 pounds - about the max for extended carry in a shoulder bag. Sheesh!
  4. Nic - Thanks for the input. Very helpful.
    And Edward - let me take a load off - literally. I would never carry all my gear in the pack at once. I always have at least one body (sometimes two) and a lens out in use so the bag won't be ripping at the seams and I don't think that pack would even hold that much to begin with.
  5. You know what? I load that bag pretty heavily, and it's been great. I'm still fiddling with the best way to use it. When I'm not using a pack-style bag (to include a laptop, etc), I really like the Speed Racer. Ready for some pictures? I just spread it out on some seamless paper to take some quick shots for you. Hope you don't mind a few, because here are eleven of them...
  6. Here's how I usually carry it - in shoulder bag mode. The shoulder strap is well padded, and long enough to sling across your torso if you want.
  7. A reverse view in shoulder bag mode, with the substantial waist belt tucked into the stretchy external rear mesh panel.
  8. One of my configurations. That's a D300 with grip, lens mounted, nose down. You can see the lens cap on a 70-200/2.8 next to it.
  9. With the camera body out, you can see other lenses and goodies tucked in lower areas. This is completely user-riggable, and I'm still evolving my own preferred way to do things.
  10. where's the other 9 pics, matt? i want to see this speed racer in action!
    edit: never mind...looks good so far.. i'm trying to decide if the adorama deal on the lowepro offtrail2 would be better than the think tank for me...
  11. Here are the big pieces that were riding around in there. Body with grip and mid-zoom, large prime, SB-800 speedlight, TC, ultrawide, and 70-200.
  12. The front external pouch can hold a LOT more than I have in there at the moment. Usually batteries, memory card wallet/case, cleaning stuff, etc.
  13. Each end of the bag has a stretch mesh pouch, perfect for things like my flask-shaped aluminum SIGG water bottle (not included!)
  14. I'll sometimes tuck a monopod into the rear panel area.
  15. Here are the waist belt halves pulled out. The hardware is light but very strong. The belts are set up to use Think Tank's many cool modular accessories.
  16. For example, I'll sometimes hang a lens changing bag off of one side...
  17. ... and a Speed Changer on the other (say, for a spare body, another speedlight, etc).
  18. ok now i want to see a pic of you weighted down with all this gear, matt...
  19. When this thing is rigged as a waist belt, it's amazing how much gear you can carry without feeling the pain. The fit and finish on Think Tank stuff is top notch, and there are dozens of thoughtful little details hidden into the way seams and zippers are built, pockets are oriented, etc. The materials are rugged and light, and their stuff has a handsome, serious look to it. I use a good mix of their bags and accessories, and heartily recommend it.
  20. Well, Eric, I'm 6'-2", and have a strikingly good-looking Neanderthal frame. I've been known to change tires without using a jack, just for fun.

    Nah, I'm a guy in his forties who spends too much time at a desk. But really - I carry exactly what you see above as my regular go-bag. NOT the two belt-mounted accessories, though - those are just some for-instance examples.

    If I have to go miles and miles, as I do when out doing my field dog stuff? I've usually got the camera with the 70-200 mounted in my hands - so the bag is quite a bit lighter when I'm covering ground.
  21. LOL, matt.
    thanks for sharing the pics. really shows how much gear one can cram into one of these things. what's cool about the TT setup is that its configurable. that's where it has an advantage, it seems, over other manufacturer's bags. i'm still on the fence about the lowepro offtrail2, which is on sale for 1/3rd of the price of the speed racer, that one does almost the same thing but not nearly as well from the looks of it. i like the quick-change lens bag thingy too.
  22. Matt,
    Thank You! Thank You! and Thank You! That looks first I was a little worried of it being too big but I don't think I'm concerned now. I really appreciate you taking the time to do that.
    I also like how I can add a few extra components onto the bag to make it how I want really is an appealing system. My other thought was to get the Speed Demon and add one of the lens changers to the belt for my 80-200 but this looks perfect so that I can still wear it as a shoulder bag when I want.
    So thank you again and Think Tank will be getting an order from me pretty soon!
  23. No problem, Gabe. I'm sure you'll find it to be a great piece of gear. Just takes a little while to "move in" to a new bag - you know how that goes.
  24. I've also found, at least with my Speed Demon, you can run around A LOT with it packed full.
    Like Domke bags, the bags look small but can hold a lot of stuff.
    I used mine only as a waist bag and carry (with additional pouches): D700 with a 28-70 f/2.8 on my neck.
    In the Bag: (2) SB-800's, 20-35 f/2.8, 50 f/1.4 AF-D, 60 2.8 AF-s, TC 1.4, (2) EN-EL4 batteries, (2) SC-28 cords, a handful of CF cards, (2) Reporter's Notebooks for photo captions, (2) pens, a few 77mm filters.
    It's much, much more comfortable than a shoulder bag for all day work and totally modular for my day's workflow.
    Here's a photo in action:
  25. That ThinkTank "Speed Racer" looks like a shorter & narrower version of Lowepro "Street & Field Specialist 85 AW". Quite a lot can be packed in there (Speed Racer).

    Matt, does the "Speed Racer" accommodate your camera with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, with tripod collar, mounted? (I have Sony A700 & Minolta 80-200mm f/2.8. At some point I will add vertical grip.)
  26. Parv: I believe that if I re-arranged the partitions in the bag, it would. I'll give that a look, and report back.
  27. Nice 600 Nic ;-)
    The comfort does look exceptional though which will be a nice break from shoulder bags especially as they'll be many street festivals I'll be covering for the paper coming up through the summer and into early fall which means lots of walking. Anything to make things more comfortable is a welcome respite as I'm sure you all know.
    Thanks again for all the input folks.
  28. mwr


    To Matt Laur. I want to make sure I got this right. You carry inside the Speed Racer all the things displayed in the photo captioned "Most of what was stuffed in there". Correct? My problem is that I don't see room for those things in the photo captioned "Quick-grab carry configuration". What am I missing? Thanks...
  29. Hi Mick--

    Yes, everything you see sitting there was (five minutes before I took those shots) inside that bag. There are still some other things in there that I didn't even take out (a tripod mounting foot for the 70-200/2.8, and some other odds and ends. What may not be obvious when looking at those shots is that I'm sometimes putting things one on top of the other, vertically.

    For example, the 30/1.4 prime sits on top of the TC17 - with the TC in its own little padded bag, so that they don't mess with each other. The mid-zoom stays on the camera, and the camera body is supported by the two dividers, pointing nose-down. That leaves room below the camera/lens to put the ultra-wide. The strobe stands vertically, next to the 70-200/2.8.

    Really! It all goes in very nicely. It's not lightweight when every bit of that stuff is in there, but it's very compact considering the payload.
  30. mwr


    >Yes, everything you see sitting there was (five minutes before I took those shots) inside that bag. ...<
    Thanks! I'm going to get one for when I don't want to carry my backpack-type Lowepro Slingshot 200 which holds about the same amount (Canon XSi, five lenses - one on the camera, flash, etc).
    Do you need the lens changing bag in order to change lenses while wearing the bag?
  31. Sorry I missed your response and follow-up question, Malcolm. No, you don't need the lens bags if you've got enough room as-is. It's a matter of just how packed-in you have things. If I've got to jugglel a lens that's on the body with one that's less frequently used and is at the bottom of my bag... well, the lens changing bag does help. But if you've got a moment and aren't scrambling, the main bag should do you just fine.
  32. mwr


    Just a follow up. I got the Speed Freak instead of the Speed Racer (not on purpose; not going to tell the story here) and I find that this smaller pack holds my XSi and five lenses, one mounted on the camera, and a flash unit plus a few accessories. So it does the job for me in an even smaller package. I'm still getting used to accessing everything. I'll mainly use that bag to carry everything to where I'm going, then use a small selection of equipment in a smaller bag.
  33. Hey, glad that's working out, Malcolm. It does take a while to move into a new bag, and to hash out the best way to arrange the guts for real-world use. But hopefully you're now appreciating the way Think Tank makes their gear.
  34. This thread has been asleep for while. But (partly on the basis of people's comments here) I just bought one. I have yet to use it in anger but my immediate reaction is a bit mixed. Very well made, but at £107 for a bag - a US built photographic bag - that's the least one might expect.
    I've tried it on with a D700 plus grip (8 AA's) and 24-70 with a 70-200 VR1 alongside but not fully populated with spare batteries and additional lenses and bits. For 10 years I've been primarily using a Lowepro Mini-Trekker but I doubt that the Speed Racer is going to be replacing it much (yes, I know, entirely different products, but...). My first comment would be that the waist belt, which I had to shorten almost to the limit to fit my skinny 32" waist, when sitting above or over the belt on my trousers, tries very hard to drag the trousers down. This was absolutely the first impression the Speed Racer created - disconcerting and uncomfortable. I tried setting the belt so that the pack sat lower, which was just uncomfortable. And heavy and offbalancing! This surely can't be compared with carrying gear in a backpack equipped with shoulder, waist and chest straps.
    I also tried it with the shoulder strap fitted, diagonally, with the friction pad removed as suggested. Well, with the waist belt set tight enough, rotating the pack, as suggested, is extremely awkward, with the friction dragging clothes round with the belt.
    So I'm not convinced I'm going to be able to get on with the Speed Racer. It looks like it's going to be a rather expensive shoulder bag for occasions where I don't have to walk very far at all. One other observation; I have a set of Nikon soft bags supplied with the 2.8 zooms and have yet to find a practicable way to attach them to anything. Weight considerations aside, it would be useful, potentially, to attach them to the SR's belt. But you can't since even though the belt loops are the right size (for the webbing section that latches), it's impossible to free the webbing belt from the shortening buckle without first cutting off the folded-over return on the end of the strap. Which I'm reluctant to do, simply as an experiment. Of course I couldn't find a practicable way of attaching them to the Mini-Trekker either.
    Anyway, I have a brief shoot tomorrow evening, 10 yards from the car park, so we'll see how the SR works out for short-haul, short duration jobs.
    Afterthought: I also have a Cotton Carrier (aka flak jacket). Relocating the camera to it would solve the weight problem substantially. But somehow, useful as it is (unless there's a very big lens on the body), I find the CC geeky in the extreme. And at 62 "geeky" is not a good look.
  35. Worth noting is the fact that this is a working solution primarily, rather than a transportation solution. TT split their gear along those lines quite deliberately.
    I am considering one for a project in India. Personally I cannot abide backpacks for working from for numerous reasons - too hard to change gear, too sweaty in hot climates, can be awkward in crowded places etc.
    I will transport my gear - probably inside TT Modulus bags in a Pelican 1510 with the foam removed. When I go out for the day I am thinking of taking the Speed Racer, augmented by Modulus components as needed.
    As an alternative I am discussing with the best luggage maker I know the possibility of a one off custom photo conversion of one of their bags.
  36. Well, reading this thread few months ago convinced me (I was looking to be convinced of course) that I needed a Speed Racer, having become bored with my 10-year old Mini Trekker and its limitations - for example it's a back-pack.
    The Speed Racer is a beautifully made product, there's no question. I tried using it once. Why only once? It's the most uncomfortable solution to the problem of how to transport photographic equipment that I can remember trying. Cripplingly uncomfortable with any quantity of gear on board whether strapped to the waist - in which case it's a cruel practical joke - or as a shoulder bag, in which mode it's, well, a shoulder bag like any other.
    I's say that the Cotton Carrier (which I also have) plus a belt pack for a frequently used lens is vastly preferable (weather protection aside) as a comfortable way to work, although it looks horribly geeky: not a good look at over 60. I've since acquired two additional backpacks. The Lowepro Vertex 200 AW and the Fastpack (250?). The former is a great way to transport a lot of gear although the laptop slot is big waste of space (for me anyway). The Fastpack is basically complete rubbish, made down to a price. No external straps or fixing points (!!!); the side access panel is of no practical advantage, plus it's an accident waiting to happen.
    The Mini-Trekker is by far the best of this bunch 10 years after I bought it and despite a failing outer zip. There's lesson there somewhere.

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