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Blackrapid Tripod Jacket test

Posted on Apr 24, 2018

Blackrapid is renowned for its across- the-chest straps. With excellent build quality, secure high quality fittings, design features and ease of use, its straps are some of the best camera straps of their type around.

The Tripod Jacket is a recent arrival in the company’s accessory collection as it expands its product range. It is an organiser jacket that will fit any tripod and, made from 100% honeycomb nylon, it is rugged, hard-wearing and weather resistant.

To attach to a tripod, wrap the jacket around the top of the tripod and secure the neck clip to take the weight of the jacket while you secure it in place. The two ends have enough material and Velcro to wrap around the tripod legs, and there’s also a Velcro tab to keep the jacket attached to the third leg. The mesh cover is then also rolled up but ready for use when the legs are collapsed. Once secured, tighten the neck clip if needed. The whole fitting process takes less time to do than to describe!

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The thinking behind the jacket is that you can fit and pack it and leave it attached to the tripod fully loaded with your accessories. The mesh cover even means you can safely carry the loaded jacket still on the tripod from location to location. You do not have to fit and remove the jacket after each shoot, although that is possible if it’s your preferred way of working.

Once secured in place it is time to load it up. Clearly, this is a personal thing but as a guide there is a large pocket which is roomy enough for a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens with hood, a deep slimmer pocket for a flashgun and another pocket for a narrower lens. There also is a small accessory pocket for extra batteries, cards and some screw-in filters. These pockets are secured with Velcro fastenings and the largest has the extra protection of a draw cord cover Finally, in terms of pockets and pouches there’s a zipped pocket large enough for a tablet – my 10.5in iPad fitted easily. More storage is possible by using Blackrapid‘s weather resistant Traveler and Lens bags. Two supplied carabiners and webbing loops mean extra items can be attached.

I approached loading up the jacket from two perspectives. First, as a studio/indoor/social photographer and then as a landscape photographer. So, imagining I was the former, I loaded up with spare batteries, flash meter, a flashgun and an extra lens; while as a landscaper, I packed a selection of Lee filters, filter holder, adaptor ring, a spare lens, remote release and some camera protection gear. Both outfits, while not comprehensive, are more than enough for most situations and the jacket is spacious enough to handle them.

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It certainly suits indoor use or weddings where any moving around is usually done by simply picking up the tripod without retracting the legs and just relocating. Here, the jacket worked well, with nothing falling out and everything quickly accessible. In the studio, it was great knowing that your essential kit was in one place rather than scattered everywhere.

For outdoor shooting, the jacket is designed to be packed up and transported while loaded, using the mesh cover stretched around it to keep your accessories in place. This worked well enough, although it was more of a stretch when a 10.5in tablet was in place.

A few things occurred to me using the jacket outdoors. First, if your tripod is a four-section model with shorter leg sections (or a shorter tripod) the jacket’s body is so long that it covers the highest set of leg locks which makes unlocking and locking the legs awkward, but not impossible. Secondly, while the jacket holds everything in place, you still have to carry the tripod. Tucking the tripod/jacket combo under your arm is fine over short distances, but for longer distances a photo backpack is the better option and, of course, that also offers greater protection against the elements. The other option worth considering is a tripod strap that allows you to sling the tripod over the shoulder or across your back.

Another observation is that the jacket could be an issue on windy days if you have a penchant for long exposures. It will have a windbreak effect and any buffeting will affect sharpness. You could, of course, take off the jacket but that partly defeats its whole point.

Verdict:
The Blackrapid Tripod Jacket is a well made and practical accessory, but its appeal and usefulness depends on the photographer or the photographic situation. It will not suit every tripod user but it is a very interesting accessory that will appeal to those who like to have a few essentials readily to hand during a shoot. I can imagine architectural, social and studio photographers taking a close look at this accessory.

Pros: Build quality, practical, attaches firmly to the tripod
Cons: Doesn’t suit tripods with shorter leg sections, limited protection levels, the risk of camera shake at long shutter speeds on windy days

As featured in issue 54 Photography News.

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