Just like motor vehicles have critical parts that are crucial to the safety and functioning of the vehicle, so too do photographers have gear that they need to work every time to get the shots they desire. It’s what makes you able to get the shots you want and it also gives you your unique style which translates into your photography and work. Second to that, you get the items that change and improve your process of making images. And with the style of photography I pursue, often straight from my bike, the Capture Pro Clip is one of those game-changers.
I wanted to get the camera out of the way when I was biking, but within reach when I saw or anticipated a shot to take place. I had a camera strap for carrying the camera around my neck but when on my bike it was dangling around over the handlebar. This made me feel uneasy and it was not ideal, especially when getting on and off the bike. Getting a backpack was the second option, but getting the camera ready for when I wanted to take a shot took time, something you don't have with street photography. You need to be ready, so it wasn't the answer. I then went searching for mounts and came across Peak Design. They made a belt-mountable clip to carry the camera. It wasn't too costly, and it seemed like the best solution. I went to one of their stockists and picked up the Capture Pro clip.
I mounted it to my Fujifilm X-T20 camera with a vintage 70-200 Tamron lens. I bought the camera because it’s smaller than a DSLR, but a DSLR will work with the same setup although it’ll obviously be heavier on your hip. I haven’t tested it with a larger camera yet, although I think it’ll cause much less strain than a camera around your neck, and in my opinion, it's the better option, especially with longer lenses.
My camera was going to hang from it, and for this being my first Peak Design product, I had trust issues. So I mounted it to my belt and took to jumping on my bed for about five minutes as a test to make sure everything works as it should. It held it without any sounds of stress.
I then took it out on my bike and it worked flawlessly. I wear a thick leather belt which has been around my waist for over eight years, for every single day of the year and I’ll probably wear it for the next eight too. At first, I tightened the clip on the belt on an area that caused my camera's weight to squeeze into a double-stitched part of my jeans and into by hip-bone which caused discomfort after about an hour. But after moving it around I found a sweet-spot, which is comfortable and makes the camera easy to get to.
I’ve been using it for two weeks now without issues. Here are my pros and cons for the belt mounted approach which is the only way I think I’d use it.
It’s a new solution to a problem everyone has. A camera around the neck makes you look like a tourist and draws attention. This is exactly what you don’t want when you want to get the candid street photos I aim for. It has an all-metal construction. This makes me feel at ease, it won’t break and leave my lens or camera falling on the ground.
It’s about the quick draw. The one-button release and having the camera so close to hand is the solution for rapidly getting into position. Riding around in Paris often lets me come across an interesting space where I can anticipate a person to walk through a passage or past a shadow. This makes it easy to get off the bike, get to where I need to be and get ready for the shot.
When you’ve got it strapped to your belt like I do, you need to be aware of it when you walk through doors or small passageways. You are essentially wider than usual, and this extension can cause some unwanted knocks on your camera and lenses.
Because it’s a critical part of your camera and your livelihood, you screw the mount tightly onto the bottom of your camera. I do it tighter than I do a regular tripod mount. It works well, but when you have it screwed in, you can’t access the battery or memory card slots. I suppose it’s Fujifilm’s design error, but it's still an issue. This means you have to have a coin or screwdriver nearby to unscrew when you run out of battery, and you have to do it every time you want to download photos to start editing.
The belt-mounted approach only works well if you’re not wearing a coat. As you can see in the image below, it bulges out quite dramatically.
The one-button press can make me feel uneasy and there’s no safety latch. So if it’s pressed in by mistake by your body while riding a bike, it's at a risk. It hasn't happened, and I don’t think it will, but it could.
Peak Design as Product Developers
They develop bags, mounts, clips, and straps for photographers. During my visit to the photography stores in Paris, I picked up and felt through one of their bags. It was of great quality, and I imagine if I had one, that it would last for a couple of years. From their approach to designing gear, it is clear that they want to design the best products possible, and, with every purchase, you get 1% of your spend going to a charitable cause.
Overall I’m happy. It works flawlessly and I feel completely safe with my camera mounted to my belt. It leaves the camera with no padding like a bag would, but the benefits are that it’s easily accessible and allows for a much faster shot than a bag would allow for. I still carry a backpack for the other lenses and if I need to protect the camera from rain.
I’ll use this clip when I travel abroad now too and not just for street photography. It gives me the feeling of being a cowboy with a gun on my hip. Who’s got the faster draw? I'd beat anyone with a showdown. They've recently launched a new clip on Kickstarter, which should be even better than this one too. The video is below of how the company has become what it is today.