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New Think Tank Photo gear beginning to ship  
Thursday, May 24, 2012 | by Rob Galbraith
The numerous gear carriers and accessories that Think Tank Photo has unveiled over the past several weeks are now beginning to ship, including a new trio of Airport-series backpacks, the Airport 4-Sight four-wheeled roller and the iPad-friendly Retrospective 7 shoulder bag.

As of now, the following new products are showing as in stock in Think Tank Photo's online store:
The Airport Essentials and Airport Accelerator backpacks are still to come. Think Tank Photo dealers should now or soon be receiving stock of the various newly-introduced items as well.

We've been test driving Think Tank's new arrivals for several weeks. Here are a few observations:
  • The Airport Essentials, Airport Commuter and Airport Accelerator Backpacks are absolutely great. They have a trimmer appearance than the V2.0 Airport models they replace, thanks to a redesigned front that does away with the foldover flap on the laptop compartment, In addition, each incorporates a pocket, within the laptop compartment, that will take an iPad. So, if you travel with both Apple's tablet and a computer, as I almost always do, these backpacks will accommodate both quite nicely.

    I'd personally passed on the V2.0 Airport backpacks, because I preferred the somewhat less bulky style of the company's earlier offerings, such as the original Airport Acceleration, and in fact it has been my primary travel backpack since it came out in 2006. The features of the 2012 Airports, and their return to a sleeker design, means it's out with the old and in with the new for me.

  •  The four wheels of the Airport 4-Sight work as promised, enabling the well-balanced roller to glide along effortlessly on smooth or even slightly rough surfaces; when the need arises, such as when you're approaching a curb or the terrain worsens, it's easy to tilt the roller onto two wheels without breaking stride. While in two-wheel mode, and moving over small bits of gravel, the 4-Sight doesn't pull along quite as easily as the company's dedicated two wheel rollers, which have beefier wheels. The difference, however, is negligible, and indeed I might not have noticed if I hadn't been pulling both the 4-Sight and an Airport International V2.0 behind me at the same time.

    The 4-Sight's internal space is relatively small, though it can hold camera bodies with some depth to them, such as the Canon EOS-1D X or Nikon D4, on either side of the handle area. And while the outside of the 4-Sight lacks a way to attach a laptop sleeve, monopod or tripod, you can slip the handgrips of a bag like the Urban Disguise 50 V2.0 over the roller's telescoping handle without causing an overbalancing problem.

    The Airport 4-Sight is a solid first entry in what we hope will be a full line of four-wheel rollers from the company. If you've ever steered a suitcase with four wheels through a long airport departure hall, you know that the upright orientation all but eliminates arm fatigue. It's good to see Think Tank Photo heading in this direction with their rollers.

  • The Retrospective 7 is the perfect size to hold an iPad or MacBook Air 11-inch, my two primary on-the-go computing devices, as well as a manageable complement of photo gear. This shoulder bag, as well as the rest of the Retrospective line, is now available in three colours: Pinestone, which has both a texture and hue that I really like; Black, which is just fine; and the new Blue Slate, which isn't my taste really at all.

    If you want the classic shoulder bag look, get the Pinestone colour. If you want it to be able to hold modern gizmos such as the iPad, but not be too too heavy when filled with gear, choose the new Retrospective 7. For my purposes, it's the most useful size to emerge in Think Tank's retro-styled lineup.

  • Strobe Gel Wallet is a useful way to organize your small flash gels, as long as those gels are less than about 3.75 x 1.5in (95 x 38mm) in size. This includes the gels in the sample packs from Lee and Rosco, as well as those in the Rosco Strobist collection.
In one of the bigger simultaneous product rollouts in the company's seven-year history, Think Tank Photo has produced several superb new gear carriers. For me, the revised Airport backpacks are the highlight. The Airport Essentials and Airport Commuter models in particular provide an excellent combination of attractive, minimalist design, useful function and carryable size and weight, even when fully loaded.
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