GEAR REVIEW - PEAK DESIGN CAPTURE PRO
Just when you thought it wasn't possible to reinvent the wheel, Peak Design came along with their highly innovative line of Capture camera clips and other related items. Here I will be reviewing the Capture Pro version. Is it all it's cracked up to be? Does it do away with the need for a camera strap? We shall see!
When I first came across the Peak Design clips a year or so ago, I was somewhat skeptical of the whole concept and saw it as more of a gadget for small cameras used by hikers, mountain bikers or extreme sports photographers - something my paunch will testify to the fact I don't do. However, as time progressed, I realized just how useful this device would be to my photography.
I often shoot hand-held in the studio and need to make adjustments to lights, stands, hair, wardrobe, reflectors or backdrops, etc. Before doing this, I would return to the tripod and place the camera upon it for safe keeping. Not only was this an annoyance but, it restricted the organic flow of the shoot. Similarly, those who photograph young children will understand the small window of opportunity to shoot before a tantrum ensues. Being able to clip the camera onto my hip, frees up both my hands, allowing me to make the necessary alterations, quickly and safely, then instantly grab the camera to resume shooting.
On a trip to Canada last year, I discovered the importance of having both hands available for wildlife photography. This was most notable whilst in woodland, as I found myself climbing over fallen trees, or pushing branches out of the way to track an animal.
A strap was no good in these scenarios, as the camera would be swinging about and I'd run the risk of hitting my 300mm lens into something. To prevent this, I was forced to keep one hand on the camera at the same time. This of course was a major pain in the ass and also potentially dangerous, so securing the camera in these situations can be vital.
Upon unboxing the Capture Pro, you immediately notice the quality and ingenuity that has gone into designing this clip. Scanning your eye over all the contours of the powder coated chassis and features, it is abundantly clear this product has been extremely well thought out. Despite its diminutive size, the Capture Pro is very sturdy with an all-aluminum construction, resulting in a refreshingly lightweight product. Significantly, it can hold up to 200lbs, which is absolutely fine, as I can't!!
It may surprise some of you reading this, to learn that the clip is manufactured in China. Many moons ago your first suspicion would be that in 2 weeks time, you'd have a broken purchase. However, in recent years the Chinese have significantly upped their game and now produce many very good quality items. Let me also put your concerns to rest regarding the Capture Pro. It is beautifully precision-engineered, as smooth as a baby's bum and made from the highest quality materials.
It is evident that the Capture is all about speed, versatility and security. The whole operation of mounting the clip to your bag, camera strap or belt takes but a matter of seconds and locks firmly into place. Once the two clamping bolts are tightened down, believe me when I say "that thing isn't going anywhere."
I had the D800 + grip (including 2 batteries), 300mm f/4 and 1.4x teleconverter attached to the camera bag's strap and the Capture Pro felt completely secure. Obviously that little ensemble would be better suited on your hip in most instances but, I was just testing it out for the purpose of this review. Of course if you find yourself wading through deep water or climbing over rocks/downed trees in pursuit of your subject matter, fixing the camera to your chest would be a good idea.
Once the quick-release plate is fitted, placement and removal of the camera on the Capture Pro is very simple. By customizing the position of the clip to suit your needs, the camera not only feels secure but is easily accessible in what becomes a natural, fluid movement. To release the camera from the chassis, you simply push the red button and slide the quick-release plate out. For those who immediately think "Wait!! What if you accidentally knock it??" Fear ye not! The release button can be rotated 90º clockwise, which prevents it from being depressed. Clever, huh? However, I still prefer to use the clip horizontally on the bag strap or belt, so that the plate can only be removed vertically. That way, even if you did accidentally depress the red release button, gravity keeps the camera safely in the chassis.
When you're not going to be using your camera for a while and are on the move, there is also a plate lock. This is the black button on the opposite side of the clip from the red button. This fixes the quick-release plate into the housing and prevents it from moving. It is still possible to remove the camera whilst the plate lock is engaged but it makes it somewhat stiffer to unclip and impossible to replace the camera. Be sure to unscrew the plate lock before use. If you have the chassis mounted to a tripod, I would recommend tightening the locking plate for added camera stability. When doing bracketed exposures manually, you will have a harder time lining up your images if you have any movement. Long exposures could also incur unwanted motion blur.
Plates & Accessories
When deciding on what Capture Clip to buy, I was pleased to see the array of quick-release plates available for it. There is the standard "Arca-type", a dual Manfrotto "RC2/Arca-type" or a micro "Arca-type" plate for small point-and-shoot cameras. Peak Design have also release a Pro Plate that combines the features of the other 3. I opted for the older dual plate, which enables me to use the it with both my Manfrotto 804-RC2 head and 3 Legged Thing "Rick", without the need to remove anything. What I also like is the fact that the plate allows me to use a Peak Design "Clutch" hand strap at the same time. On top of all this ergonomic deliciousness, the Capture Pro also has a tripod mounting hole, so you can fit the entire chassis onto of your tripod or monopod, without the need to remove the clip. The non-pro clip doesn't have this feature and for the extra money, it's definitely worth having this feature and the Pro Plate too.
For added versatility, an accessory called the Pro Pad is available to use in conjunction with the clip and it is very worthwhile purchasing with the Capture Pro. The pad can be attached to a belt or backpack strap and allows the clip to mounted in different ways to suit you. Along with the pad, two longer length clamping bolts are supplied, enabling you to attach the clip to thicker bag straps and utility belts like the Tamrac M.A.S., Lowepro Technical, or ThinkTank Pro Speed belt.
For example, the standard clamping bolts will fit the padded straps of my Kata 123-GO-30 but, the straps on the Lowepro Vertex 300AW are much too thick and require the longer bolts. These cost £10 on their own, so in essence you are only paying £15 for the Pro Pad itself. Depending on the shooting situation you find yourself in, the addition of the Pro Pad will make photographing and stowing your camera a whole lot easier and comfortable.
If like me you don't like handling the camera without some kind of "anti-drop" device, Peak Design do a number of products that are compatible with the Capture. These include two different neck/shoulder straps, a wrist strap and a hand strap. Due to the ergonomics, all can be quickly removed to allow unrestricted use of the camera. For those of you who suffer with bad backs or necks, the Capture is an ideal accessory for your camera. When placed on a belt, it takes all the weight off your neck and shoulders, allowing you to walk around longer and carrying heavier lenses.
Okay, so this review pretty much ended up being a brief introduction to the entire Peak Design range. In my defense, it would have been remiss of me to do otherwise.
So does the Capture Pro do away with the need for a camera strap? In my opinion, the answer is both yes and no and will largely depend upon what you're doing with your camera at the time. It certainly frees up your hands when you need them and allows unrestricted use of the camera, which is a huge bonus. It keeps your camera out of harms way, without having to store it in the camera bag and potentially miss a shot. Conversely, I wouldn't want to be hanging off the side of a cliff or building taking photos, without having the camera tethered to my body too, which is why there are so many strap options available.
Flicking through their new 2015 catalog, all I can say is how impressed I am with the entire range and how well conceived each product is. These guys just seem to think of everything and if they haven't, you can bet it will be appearing on later evolutions of the products, as they really listen to what their customers want. In addition to DSLR accessories, there are also clips for binoculars and Go Pros too, making the system even more expansive. On top of all this, there is the life-time guarantee as well!!
To put it quite simply, the Capture Pro system is Peak Design by name, peak of design by nature.
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