Product

Anja Camera backpack from f-stop gear

Anja Camera backpack from f-stop gear

I did a review of the Anja pack from f-stop Gear for Tyres and Soles. Like all the f-stop Gear mountain series backpacks it’s the attention to detail that makes it stand out from the crowd.

The New f-stop AJNA Has Your Back, No Matter What!

f-stop has done it again with their AJNA 40l pack. If you consider yourself a serious photographer, then you should seriously check out the AJNA.

f-stop makes great packs. They came out strong about 12 years agp and quickly became a market favourite with their Mountain series and for good reason, they’re toughversatile and comfortable. I have been using F-stop packs for a few years now and I am a big fan.

Mountain series include 5 packs (Lotus 32L, Ajna 40L, Tilopa 50L, Sukha 70L, Shinn 80L), apart from the Mountain series they also have the Ultra Light Series that include: 25L Guru UL, Kashmir 30L and Loka UL 37L.  The Kashmir UL is the pack with shortest torso length. It is suitable for both men and women with some benefits for female shooters such as the slightly curved should straps.

F-Stop Anja - Pack Review

The Ajna (orange) fits in around the middle of the range at 40L. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Features

f-stop packs are very water resistant. I’ve had mine in heavy downpours without a rain cover and there was next to no water getting into the pack, and better still, none even got close to my camera gear. However, rain covers are an optional extra and the packs do have a storage pocket and attachment loops for them.

ICU

The internal camera units (ICUs) are a great piece of interchangeable gear. It’s basically the removable guts of the bag that allows you to customise and fit your camera gear safely. I have a couple of ICU’s that hold different kits and I’ll just throw one into the pack depending on my needs. All setup and ready to go.

 Comfort

What really sealed it for me was how comfortable the Ajna felt on my back. My full kit weighs in around 12-14kgs. When I need to spend all day lugging this around, comfort is of the maximum importance to me. f-stop has not only made a pack that can store photography gear, they’ve looked long and hard at what makes a pack comfortable.

The comfort comes from an internal aluminium frame which provides the overall structure and rigidity, maintaining good shape whilst still being lightweight. Combine this with the ergonomically designed hip belt and shoulder straps, which have been injected with a gel-like material, and you get an exceptionally comfortable pack.

F-Stop Anja - Pack Review
A rare shot of myself in a photo, I’m usually behind the lens. The f-stop Ajna is incredibly comfortable when fully loaded with camera gear.
F-Stop Anja - Pack Review
A shot of Jason (Chief Editor Tyres and Soles) testing the f-stop Ajna high up in mountains. 

Storage

There’s enough storage in the Ajna to easily store all my camera gear plus food and water for a day on the hill. This is ideal as I’m out on location for long sessions at a time and need to ensure that I have everything with me.

Access to the ICU is via a padded rear panel constructed with heavy gauge catch-free YKK® zippers which opens up to give you full access to the entire ICU unit. Having this rear access means that you can place the pack down on its front, access all your gear and avoid getting mud on the harness straps and your clothing.

The main internal access is from the top zippered panel and is roomy enough for all sorts of gear, clothing etc. There are also easily accessible side pockets with full-length zippers and an expandable design, so you can cinch the pack in or keep filling it out. All zippers are heavy duty wet weather resistant and are remarkably catch free…ah heaven!

There’s also a multipurpose internal sleeve that can fit either a 13” laptop or can be used as a hydration bladder pocket.

F-Stop Anja - Pack Review

Shooting F-Stop Gear Anja camera backpack

The Little Things

The Ajna has more pockets, attachment loops, bungee cords, straps and hooks than you could possibly need on a single trip. The pack has ice axe, avalanche shovel, sleeping bag attachments but I tend to use these to keep my tripods strapped and secure.

And for storing smaller items like passport, wallet, keys and phone, there’s a zippered mesh underside lid pocket. It’s the small details like this that can make a big difference when your travelling interstate or overseas.

f-stop ajna
It’s the little things that make a big difference. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
f-stop ajna
More hooks and loops than you can throw a stick at. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon

Durability

Unlike many products these days the F-Stop packs are robust. Being none too gentle with my equipment, my bags tend to take a bit of a beating. They get thrown down, dropped on rough surfaces, rained on, tossed on the wet muddy ground and dragged around. To date, I have never had anything get damaged inside my pack aside from managing to squash a banana.

The packs have been designed for use in the mountains and you can see this in all the materials and parts used. The material, zippers and attachment points are all of the highest quality and can withstand years of abuse. I know from personal experience with my other F-Stop packs.

The main fabric is made from a breathable oxford-weave ripstop nylon and AdvantaTM, a thermoplastic polyurethane film giving it high tear resistance. The Ajna also features a Hypalon® reinforced base for extra protection if you drop your bag onto rocky or hard surfaces.

Key Feature List

  • Highly tear resistant, wet weather and breathable fabrics
  • Hydration system with Velcro® sealed tube port
  • 4 Internal ICU attachment points
  • Heavy-duty 3-fold carry handle
  • All-day support provided by an internal aluminium frame
  • Quick-release side compression straps
  • Adjustable sternum strap with an integrated whistle for emergencies
  • Soft Flex injection molded EVA belt and shoulder straps for all-day comfort
  • Water and weather resistance YKK® Aquaguard® zippers
  • Fast and catch-free closures
  • Reinforced base
  • Multipurpose internal and external pocket configurations inc laptop storage.
  • Accessory attachments via 16 GateKeeper mounting points (GateKeepers sold separately)

Specifications

  • Height: 59.7cm | 23.5in
  • Width: 33cm | 13in
  • Depth: 26.7cm | 10.5in
  • Volume: 40 Litres
  • Weight: 1.7kgs | 3.75lbs
  • ICU sold separately

Where To Buy/ Availability

The F-Stop Ajna is available to buy at most good photography stores. Click here to discover the full F-Stop range.

Price: $399 approx

Conclusions
  • 8/10
    Aesthetics - 8/10
  • 10/10
    Materials & Construction - 10/10
  • 9/10
    Weather Proof - 9/10
  • 8/10
    Features - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Storage - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Weight - 8/10
  • 9/10
    Comfort - 9/10
8.6/10

Summary

If you’re serious about protecting your photography kit, looking for high levels of comfort and support and a design to withstand harsh weather and an array of features, then we think we may have found what you’ve been looking for with the Ajna.

F-Stop has designed a pack around that supports your needs when out on a shoot, no matter what the weather or location, the Ajna has your back. It’s no wonder F-Stop are becoming the number one choice for amateur and professional photographers, worldwide.

 


If you are into camping, hiking, MTBing etc and wondering about new gear go check out Tyres and Soles because there is a good chance they have reviewed it.

Posted by Richard in Gear Review, Product
Review: Sleeklens Landscape Workflow

Review: Sleeklens Landscape Workflow

 I was asked by Sleeklens to put their landscape workflow to the test and give it a review.  The workflow pack contains 51 presets and 30 brushes, a guide on how to Stack/layer presets and brushes, a guide on how to layer/stack the presets. and instructions on how to install the presets and brushes,  all available for instant download

My first impression upon opening up the workflow was that the example photos they showed were too over-processed for my taste. They have been pushed well into the realms of heavy HDR and over-saturated in some areas which is really not to my taste. That being said the processes and tools that got them to that point are a great set of tools and they don’t necessarily have to be taken that far.

I thought the best way to test it out would be to take one of my photos from the original RAW file through to a finished product using their tools and suggestions. 

Sleeklens review before image

Original RAW capture

I picked this shot from Bright in Victoria. Although I have shots from the same morning that are similar I have never edited this one, which seems a shame as I love the sunburst on the mountains.

I used a total of 6 presets, Deep Blue Skies, Add Contrast, Brighten Shadows, Add Clarity, Warm It Up and Subtle Black to get it close to what I was after. Then 1 of their brushes for finer adjustments and finished off with just a little tweeking of the settings to adjust things a bit more to my taste. The whole process was very quick. I could certainly keep tweaking and going into the finer details.

Sleeklens review after image

Final Image: Sunrise in Bright

 All in all its a great package stuffed with a fantastic collection of stackable brushes and tools, Presets are always a handy time-saving tool to have in your bag of tricks. They are a tool that I don’t utilise nearly enough though especially considering the mass of work that I put out with OuterImage

 I think like most of your tools you need to be familiar with what each one does and how it affects the final image. I intend to dive further into these so I know what each one does. Before looking through this workflow I never thought about setting brushes as presets. If you use Lightroom in your photo editing and are looking for a way to speed up your processing or even just a way to get some new ideas on what direction to take a photo then these are well worth having a look at.

You can find everything here on the Sleeklens Website

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Richard in Product, Software, 0 comments
Outdoor Retailer Australia Show ’17

Outdoor Retailer Australia Show ’17

 I went to the ORA (Outdoor Retailer Australia show) for a day to have a chat with some people and check out all the new gear that is coming to Australia over the next few months. I teamed up with guest blogger Jason Lorch, editor from Tyres and Soles, who wrote the words below. T&S do loads of great gear reviews on their site and I thought this was exactly their cup of tea. 


It was our first time at the ORA show and I only wish we had gone for more than one day. It was on from the 18th – 20th June 2017 at the Royal Hall of Industries and the Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park.

We couldn’t shoot every product as some were pre-production and prototype models, and the exhibitors didn’t want us shooting those, which is totally understandable. We understand that you need to keep a few tricks up your sleeve in this industry. It’s also worth noting that this event is primarily focused on B2B, so business is key here and media although welcomed, are not the highest on the agenda for the exhibitors. Again, we understand and respect that.

But rest assured, we saw a lot and you should all be getting excited about the new products heading your way.

AXISGO (Aquatech)

Aquatech have been around for years making submersible camera housing and other protective gear, at the highest quality. After making very specific products for a certain target market, Aquatech have now jumped into the global market of the smart phone with their AXISGO iPhone underwater case and we managed have a play with it.

The AXISGO is a housing kit that allows you take your iPhone down to depths of 10 metres! It comes in 3 colour choices, with a trigger handle (which was brilliant!) and different housing lenses for different image effects. We saw some of the photos that had been taken with this gadget and the results were astonishing!

AXISGO

Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
The impressive AXISGO underwater housing for iPhones from AquaTech. Pic:©Richard McGibbon
Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
The AXISGO has several different dome options that produce some incredible imagery. Pic:©Richard McGibbon

Barz Optics

Barz Optics is an Australian based family company located at Burleigh Heads in Queensland on the east coast of Australia. They offer a huge range of optics and frame types for any situation. Floating models, kids polarised models, melanin infused polarised sunglass lenses, polarised lenses with bifocal reader, prescription lenses….

New products at the show included their latest floating model, the Polarised Photochromic BiFocal Reader – the Cabo, as well as the new kids floating polarised model, the Grom. They’ve also released a cycling focused model which have been very popular with the cycling community to date. We recommend you checking them out.

Barz Optics

Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
Barz Optics had a huge range of their glasses at the stand. Any combination or prescription type can be tailored for. Pic:©Richard McGibbon
Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
The Barz Optics polarised sunglasses with Bifocal reader lenses! Pic:©Richard McGibbon

LifeStraw

LifeStraw started in 1994 with their first filter that could remove Guinea worm larvae from water. It then evolved into a more effective pipe form in 1999 and is essentially the design you see today. Since then, more than 37 million LifeStraw Guinea Worm filters have contributed to the near-eradication of the disease.

The design is simple, elegant and highly effective at removing 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella. It weighs only 57grams and can be placed into your pack or pocket. You can literally drop down to a dirty puddle and suck it up. The effect it has had on third world communities has been hugely impactful.

LifeStraw now have a range of products from the individual LifeStraw, LifeStraw Go, LifeStraw Mission and the LifeStraw Family. Plus, for each LifeStraw that is purchased, one school child in a developing community receives safe drinking water for an entire school year.

LifeStraw

Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
LifeStraw. A device that’s helping millions of people around the world access clean water. Pic:©Richard McGibbon

UQUIP

One of the main purposes of attending the ORA 2017 show was to discover new brands. One such brand is UQUIP. A small company based in Bad Bramstedt in Northern Germany (close to Hamburg). They produce a range of camping products such as stools, beds, portable storage, mats and lights.

What impressed us was the detail and the level of quality in their designs. One item caught our eye straight away. It was a teeny weeny folding chair, that looked as if it would fit a very small dog or kitten. In fact it can hold up to 150kgs of weight yet it only weighs 250grams! So we just had to test this out for ourselves.

Although I’m nowhere near that weight, it felt incredibly secure and rigid under me. It was also surprisingly comfortable.  We could see this stool being incredibly handy for many uses especially for the professional photographer who needs to carry a lot of stuff around and sitting in the same spot for long periods of time.

UQIP

Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
UQUIP are developing some very high quality camping products. Definitely worth checking them out. Pic:©Richard McGibbon
Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
No, there was no forced perspective or crazy Lord of the Rings photo magic going on here. The stool really is that small and incredibly strong. Pic:©Richard McGibbon
 

THERMAREST

We’re fans of the THERMAREST products, namely their air mattresses and sleeping bags but we haven’t had much exposure to their tent range, so were happy  to see their Tranquility tent on display.  The tent itself appeared well built and had all the quality you would expect from this brand. It is aimed more at car camping, so don’t expect anything lightweight that you can carry in your pack for multiple days.

The 4 man tent weighs in at 5.19 kg. If you’re looking for high quality and not concerned about weight for those short trips to your favourite car camp spot, then you’d do well with these tents. Thermarest offer a range of 4 to 6 man tents, shelters and footprints.

THERMAREST

Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
The Tranquility tent by Thermarest. Perfect for car camping. Pic:©Richard McGibbon

The Tent Field

We headed out to the tent area where a lot of tents were set up, in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
One man tent from Zempire. A New Zealand company making it’s way here to Australia. Pic:©Richard McGibbon
Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
The Easy Up tent by Outdoor Connection. Super-easy to set up but you may need a degree in mathematics to pack it down. Pic:©Richard McGibbon
Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
We are a big fan of the fly style shelter. So easy to set up and you can arrange them in a variety of ways, depending on the location and the weather conditions. This was from Outdoor Connections. Sometimes simplicity is the best. Pic:©Richard McGibbon

PELICAN

Pelican have been around for years and are best known for their virtually indestructible travel cases. What caught our eye this year was their range of drinkware and cooler boxes. The Traveler Tumbler can store hot or cold liquids at the correct temperature all day, and come with a narrower bottom section so they can fit into most vehicle holders.

We were told that the cooler boxes can retain ice for ten days!  One of the Pelican exhibitors recently came back from a ten day fishing trip where he had fish stored in the box but was dubious about opening it up and releasing all the cold air, but he took a gamble and opened it anyway. To his surprise there was still ice in the bottom, after ten days!

Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
The new cooler boxes and travel tumblers from Pelican. They even come in colours other than black and white. Pic:©Richard McGibbon

ONE PLANET

The reason we didn’t shoot as much as we wanted was that we got stuck at the One Planet stand for longer than expected. We’re big fans of One Planet and any opportunity to catch up with them is a bonus for us. One Planet are based out of Melbourne and have been manufacturing outdoor equipment for more than 30 years. They have a reputation for creating gear that’s incredibly tough and durable.

It’s was great to see how the One Planet range has evolved over time. Offering more and more products each year, from their beloved backpacks and sleeping bags to tents, jackets and footwear. They still remain true to their core market and their consistency for high quality, super-tough gear can be seen across all of these products.

Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
The Stiletto High Visibility pack is stunning and was a pleasant surprise from their usual dark blue or red colours. Pic:©Richard McGibbon
Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
It’s been great to see the One Planet brand and product range grow over the years. Check out the little kiddies range, bottom right. The One Planet range at the ORA 2017 show is a testament that they are providing solutions not only to the hardcore adventurer but also the daily commuters. Pic:©Richard McGibbon
Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
The new down jackets coming out are impressive and we’re very excited to see these hit the shelves. The two models on offer were targeted at typical Winter conditions through to high altitude mountaineering conditions. Pic:©Richard McGibbon
ora 2017
The Cocoon Sleeping bag from One Planet. There are some very nice features on this bag. Small details that make a big difference when out in the field. We particularly liked the way they have designed the baffle as to not get caught in the zip. We know only to well how frustrating that can be. Pic:©Richard McGibbon

 
Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
The Duffle bags come in a range of sizes and colours. We think you could literally hang a small car off the straps of these. They’re called Tuff Nut for a reason. Pic:©Richard McGibbon
Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
One Planet admit that the “4Midable” tent, blurs the line between a tent and a fly, and defies pigeonholing, we’d have to agree. It’s simple and versatile. The tent can be pitched using trekking poles to save weight. You can add the footprint and an optional inner mesh, turning it into a bug-free retreat for two. Pic:©Richard McGibbon
Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
There was a new shoe on display at the ORA 2017 show. It had a mix of an approach shoe with its lacing system and rubber toe area and a hiking shoe with its  grip and aggressive tread. We really liked it. Pic:©Richard McGibbon
Outdoor Retailer Show 2017
No show is complete without a few freebies. Yep, someone has to look like a plonker, so I took that award out on the day, but thanks to XTM Performance for this awesome little free gift. A beanie with a detachable head light. Pic:©Richard McGibbon

All in all it was a really good show with a ton of interesting brands and products on display, I just wished we’d come for more than one day. If you want to find out who was exhibiting, then just click here for the full list of exhibitors.


Author: Jason Lorch

Born and grew up in Wales but now a fully fledged Aussie. A passionate mountain biker, hiker and general nature addict. He also fancies himself as a bit of a muso and enjoy a good craft beer every now and again (probably too often).

His blog at Tyres and Soles will inspire people to get out there and experience first hand, the natural wonders that surround them. and is well worth checking out. Be sure and go get lost in the stories and reviews over at Tyres and Soles.

 

Posted by Richard in Events, Gear Review, Outdoor Kit, Product, What's going on