Editor’s Manifesto

If you found this website through a search engine, suggestion from a friend, or read the address off my business card, I’m pleased you are visiting packcamera.com. This is a site specifically dedicated to sifting through products, tips and techniques that are aimed at the traveling or active photographer. Both professionals and amateurs are welcome. I will certainly rely upon submissions and suggestions from readers, so your involvement is key to its presence. Of course a lot of page hits don’t hurt either. To give everyone an idea of what is to come and what my purposes are, it is easiest to list what this site is and is not about.

On this site, you will find:

  • Tips on streamlining equipment for lightweight travel.
  • Gear reviews and comparisons.
  • Guides for usage (and misuse) to benefit the photographer. I do not shy away from hacking, modifying and customizing something in order to raise its usefulness. The phrase “Doing this may or will void your warranty” is sure to appear on this site quite often.
  • Long-term or “in-the-trenches” testing of products. Spending an afternoon reviewing a backpack while never leaving an office or home is certainly worse than using it for a single light hike, but both are a poor basis for a good evaluation. Sadly, this is the norm for the industry. The duration of testing periods will vary, but keep in mind there is only one way to measure longevity – and that is time. Therefore, sometimes things will appear on this site well after they were released to the public. I will try my best to keep the span as short as possible.
  • Announcements of seminars and exhibits that I think are beneficial to readers.
  • Upcoming products that show great promise and are worth keeping an eye on.
  • Transparency. In the interest of full disclosure, I will readily admit that I am an employee of a (actually, the) major photo retailer. The relationships I have developed with fellow employees here and the staff of some manufacturers have been of great benefit in my establishing this website. Each of my professional colleague’s thoughts and input have been and will be always something I appreciate and accept as invaluable as it is, but their employer’s influence here will be limited. Currently, I am not compensated in any way to review or mention products and will declare the source of the product on each write-up; whether an evaluation, pre-release or something for which a manufacturer has sought my input. Advertisement support will be kept separate from content creation. I also work in the travel industry, but I doubt any conflict will appear as a result. If it does, I will certainly state it.
  • Comprehensive evaluations that benefit the reader not the manufacturer. I have not finalized my ratings system nor decided if I will even have one. I won’t even bother discussing products that are useless for, or unusable by the active photographer, like this week’s shiniest and newest HDTV. So in theory, most everything mentioned I will be in favor of. To what degree will vary, hence the consideration of a rating system. For the most part, the term Packworthy will be applied to all things that meet my criteria of a must-have for a certain application. Whether there will be a Packworthy scale of 1-10 is yet to be determined.
  • User submitted galleries and “how-I-did-it” stories. What worked and what failed. As a self-described über-packmaster, I love taking everything I want to travel with, spreading it all out, grabbing a scale, then thinning the “wants” into “needs” as I get it to fit into my bag(s). I’d love to see others share their before and after shots of their similar adventures in packing as well. How did you fit 2 camera bodies with 5 lenses, 7-days worth of clothes, food, tent and camping supplies into a single 60-liter pack? How did you and your gear hold up after a week in Glacier National Park?
  • Occasional delvings into collectible, unique and large format cameras. For the past ten years, I have carried a 4×5 with me just about everywhere I have traveled to. I can’t help it so you will just have to deal with it.

What you won’t find here:

  • Straight shilling or reviews that save any criticism for the last sentence prior to the overwhelmingly positive conclusion. The marketing of third-rate goods to tech blogs and magazines is old-hat and easy to do as it is rather hard to pass up free shwag. I will not be regurgitating press releases or company catch-phrases. I intend to filter out the crap and only mention what is useful in the real-world and not just on paper. If you don’t see it here then it probably isn’t all that good despite the fact that it may be a wildly popular item with a strong sales record.
  • E-squabbling – each article will be open for addendum, critique and opinions by readers but this is not a forum for debate or useless trolling. Find another site for that.
  • Anything over 10 lbs. There will be plenty of exceptions, but the focus of this site is to aid photographers in organizing their equipment for use on the road in harsh conditions – whether climbing Mt. Hood or driving across the Sahara. So weight and size are of utmost concern. When possible, I will attempt to independently measure all things without relying on manufacturers’ specifications, which tend to be inaccurate in favor of making their product look good to consumers.
  • Photo galleries. I won’t bore you with my photos if you promise not to swamp me with yours. There are a multitude of other sites with the storage capacity, bandwidth and financial support to host the 400 pictures you took last Tuesday in Singapore. Admittedly, a few of mine and yours will sneak in to complement an article, but the majority of images here will be technical or illustrative in nature rather than being solely aesthetic.

Altogether, I think this website fills a void not explicitly met by magazines or websites. Most are too generalized or beholden to manufacturers to be objective or creative. I hope to bring some of the knowledge I have gleaned over the past 25 years in photography as an amateur, turned professional, turned fine artist, turned consultant, turned writer. I would be pleased if this site brings new insights to myself and other photographers. The narrow scope of interest allows us all to get rather in-depth with the subject matter and this site will hopefully generate an arena where people who have lugged an 8×10″ camera backpacking through Europe can both share techniques and receive some sympathy…