Think Tank Photo “My 2nd Brain”

Think Tank Photo recently introduced a new line of bags designed not for your camera, but for your computing needs, more specifically, your Mac-centric computing needs. They call it “My 2nd Brain” and it comes in four different sizes with three color options; black, harbor blue and green mist. The model I was sent is their largest, designed for the 15” Mac Book Pro, but they have other sizes which will accommodate an iPad and iPhone, the 13” Pro, the Mac Book Air and the 11” Mac Book Air.

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The exterior appears very minimalist in design and function, almost as if its purpose was to hold just the laptop but when you begin to open up the YKK zippered compartments, you start to think, “what else can I put in here?”

The largest of the bags, the M2B15, which sounds like a character from Star Wars, is designed to hold your laptop, iPad and iPhone along with all the cords, accessories and power packs that Apple would ship with their products with additional room to spare.

The iPad compartment is located in front and is sized just for the iPad by itself but has soft materials so as not to scratch or harm your tablet. It will fit with one of Apple’s Smart Covers but nothing thicker. I regularly use a leather portfolio to carry my iPad around but was forced to remove it and replace with a smart cover to make it work. This was not a deal breaker for me. An alternative storage solution is to use the document sleeve in the back of the bag, which places it along the laptop so it is rigid and flat.  This section is wide enough to support a folio case.

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The iPhone compartment, which can handle all generations of the iPhone is nice to have if you want to be completely be device free like in an airport security screening. Personally, I tend to keep my phone on me so in the future I might find a different use for this compartment.

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Once loaded up and placed on my shoulder, my first thought was that I wished I had a Mac Air as my 15” Pro with disc drive suddenly felt heavier than I had anticipated on the shoulder. It wasn’t the fault of the bag design but with an iPad and all accessories in the bag in such a compact form, I was reminded of the behemoth laptops of yesteryear. I felt that if Think Tank came up with a backpack strap accessory like they did with the urban disguise camera bag, it would be perfect for commuting by foot or on a bike. To be clear, I experimented by attaching their shoulder harness v2.0 but it didn’t fit quite right with the d-ring placement on this bag.  It forced it to sit much lower on my back than it should. In its current form, it works perfectly for short distances like walking from the parking lot into an office or around a college campus.

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Here’s everything I was able to get into this bag.

M2B15-1309021-JLP- 579 Apple MacBook Pro 15″ with protective skin and power cord

Apple iPad

iPod Classic

iPhone 5 w/ powerd cord

Buffalo 1TB Thunderbolt Portable Drive with cable

Think Tank Photo Pee Wee Pixel Pocket Rocket (To hold memory cards)

Lexar USB3.0 Card Reader and cable

Sony RX100 (not pictured)

Micro-Fiber cloth

Think Tank Red Whips

Business Cards

Pen

PROS: Designed to hold everything Apple makes for the portable MAC user.

Slim design

Quality build

Water Resistant

CONS: A bit dense when fully loaded

The designated iPad compartment can only hold the ipad. It would be best placed closer to the laptop.

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT:

A backpack or sling strap accessory could improve long-term usefulness.

IN SUMMARY: Custom designed for the MAC fanatic who wants a catchall bag for all of their devices. A happy medium between Think Tank’s Shapeshifter Camera backpack and their Artificial Intelligence laptop sleeve.

Here are the tech specs and materials directly from Think Tank’s site:

Gear Profile:

Fits 15” Macbook Pro® + any iPad + iPhone, power supply w/ AC cable, portable drives, network cables, USB hub and connection cable, earbuds, monitor adapters, memory cards, pens, business cards, and other small items.

Technical Specifications:

  • Exterior Dimensions: 10.2” W x 14.8” H x 2.6” D (26 x 37.5 x 6.5 cm)
  • iPad pocket: 8.3” W x 11″ H x 0.8” D (21 x 28 x 2 cm)
  • Laptop compartment: 9.8″ W x 14.3″ H x 1.4″ D (25 x 36.3 x 3.5 cm)
  • Weight w/ all accessories: 1.5 lbs (0.7 kg)

Materials:

Exterior: Durable water-resistant fabric, plus fabric underside has a polyurethane coating for superior water-resistance. YKK® RC Fuse zippers, nickel-plated metal hardware with brushed aluminum finish, 420D velocity nylon and 600D brushed Polyester, dual-cross buckle, herringbone webbing, 3-ply bonded nylon thread.

Interior: 210D silver-toned nylon lined, Nylex lined iPhone and iPad pockets, clear mesh pockets, 150D hexa mesh pockets, closed-cell antilon foam, 3-ply bonded nylon thread.

Don’t forget, as my friend when you click on these links and order $50 or more of Think Tank Photo gear you receive a free gift, such as a Pixel Pocket Rocket memory card holder.

Think Tank Photo TurnStyle 20

Think Tank Photo Turnstyle 20

Think Tank Photo Turnstyle 20

The good folks at Think Tank Photo sent me one of their new TurnStyle 20 sling bags last week to check out and run it through the environment of a concert photographer. This bag could not have arrived at a better time as I was covering Seattle’s Bumbershoot music festival held over three-days at Seattle Center. I’ve been using their Urban Disguise 60 shoulder bag to carry my gear to shoots but on more than one occasion, I’ve found myself in a dense crowd covering a concert, and have come to realize that carrying a shoulder bag is cumbersome.  I usually have to put my bag down in order to shoot and worry about its safety with so many people around.   I also have a Think Tank pro speed belt but wearing it for a solid three days did not seem appealing.

The things which I desired most in a camera bag were that it had a small form factor, be versatile yet comfortable, able to hold the bare essentials and most importantly be of a quality construction.

The TurnStyle 20 is the company’s largest of their three sling bags and is designed to carry a DSLR without a vertical grip (like the Nikon D800 or D600) and up to 4 lenses. For my test, I used a Nikon D3s, a 16mm, 24-70mm and a 70-200mm. With this set- up, there wasn’t much room left in the large compartment but that wasn’t an issue for me.

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Living in Seattle, I appreciate Think Tanks’s attention to keeping the gear within their bags dry.  In addition to using water resistant materials they also add a rain water slip cover with their bags. This will no doubt come into use as the rainy season approaches the Emerald City.

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There are two other zippered compartments on the TurnStyle 20, which like their other products feature double stiched YYK zippers so they do not break or split. One compartment is designated for small accessories like a memory card wallet, lens cloth and maybe a spare battery. The second compartment on the backside is designed for a full-sized tablet like an iPad. I imagine it could hold an 11inch Mac Book Air if someone wanted to be able to work on images with a very minimal footprint of gear.

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Where this bag shines is in it’s ability to transition from a sling bag to a beltpack /change up hybrid bag like think Tank’s Speed Freak V2.0. The caveat with the bag in this position however is that if you have anything of significant weight in the bag and it’s around your waist, hopefully you have some back end to keep it from slipping down your hips. This was not an issue for me thankfully. With the bag around my waist I was able to transition lenses with great ease from the photo pit.

The TurnStyle 20 is a great bag for the pro-sumer DSLR market and mirrorless camera crowd.  I feel it is a solid choice for photographers who like to get off the beaten path during vacations or about town and don’t want to look like a photographer among the locals. It currently retails online at Think Tank Photo’s website for $99.75.

Here’s everything I was able to fit into the TurnStyle 20 and I still had some room.

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If you are interested in purchasing this or any of Think Tank Photo’s products, click here and enter code AP-858 to receive a free gift when your purchase exceeds $50.