Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Macro Photography Tips and Digital Photography Reviews

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Meta’s Digital Photography Reviews of the Best Camera Bags and Camera Harnesses

The Best Camera Bags and Camera Harnesses

Meta Reviews her Favorite Camera Bags and Camera Harnesses from Think Tank Photo and Cotton Carrier to hike on remote mountain hiking trails and shooting Macro Photography Photos while remote hiking in the Western North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains.

There are so many different Camera Bags and Camera Harnesses on the market, how do you know which one are the Best Camera Bags and the Best Camera Harnesses for Remote Hiking Trails? This depends on what camera gear you NEED to carry, vs. what you WANT to carry – and HOW FAR you want to carry it on the Remote Hiking Trails.

That Big Heavy Tripod might have seemed like a good idea for the first mile or two, then you’d wish you’d left it behind. Like many Adventure Photographers, Meta used to carry everything that she owned in a Huge Camera Backpack, including her Big Heavy Tripod – but not anymore! Less is Best!

Meta now hikes much lighter and hands free, carrying just everything she needs on the remote mountain hiking trails wearing her G3 Cotton Carrier Harness!

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Meta’s Digital Photography Reviews of the Best Camera Harnesses from Cotton Carrier

Cotton Carrier G3 Camera Harnesses


Cotton Carrier

Meta’s Review of the Cotton Carrier G3 Camera Harness

“The New Cotton Carrier Harnesses Generation 3 comes complete with a comfortable and durable, one-size-fits-all adjustable Camera Harness made of 1680 denier polypropylene material fitted with a super strong Lexan twist and lock camera mount. The C&C machined anodized aluminum components include a patented Universal Tripod Adapter which allows for mounting to your Tripod or Monopod. Available in Charcoal Grey or RealTree Xtra® Camo.”

Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Cotton Carrier Harness Front

Storage and Organization

Some of the remote Blue Ridge Mountains hiking adventures takes Meta deep into the back woods for hours at a time. Meta needs to keep everything on her, including her Apple iPhone X, 2 Sony Camera Batteries, Bens Deet Wipes, Zeiss Lens Cleaning Wipes and an Emergency Rain Poncho. She hooks two BlackRapid Bryce Camo Pouches onto the two front straps of the Cotton Carrier Harness. One Bryce Camo Pouch can hold 2 Sony Camera Batteries in a Dual DSLR Battery Holder and the second Bryce Camo Pouch can hold other personal items like Trail Mix. Her Apple iPhone X fits perfectly in the inside front pocket. Meta keeps her Photos by Meta Business Cards stored in the front pocket. Her Trail Maps fit into the rear storage area.

Style and Functionality

Everywhere Meta hikes, many other Nature Photographers ask her what she is wearing. Meta attended The Grandfather Mountain Nature Photography Weekend, (where she won first prize in 2018). There were about 200 Nature Photographers that head out on the mile high mountain hiking trails for the entire weekend. Many of these Nature Photographers lug around very heavy Camera Backpacks, with everything they own stuffed in them, while others had multiple cameras sliding around on multiple camera straps. Everyone looked totally exhausted from the weight strain of their Camera Gear at the end of the day. Meta was the only one wearing her G3 Cotton Carrier Harness and she had a stress free, hands free, long hiking weekend on the mile high mountain hiking trails at Grandfather Mountain!

Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Cotton Carrier Harness Back

Comfort and Fit

The G3 Cotton Carrier Harness is easier to get in and out of, plus the new back padding is more comfortable. Meta hikes with her Sony Alpha 77 II Camera attached to her Sony 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens. You can be out hiking all day and not notice the weight of the camera and lens attached to you. The G3 Cotton Carrier Harness works very well with the big and heavy Sony 70–200 f/2.8 Telephoto Lens attached to the Sony Alpha 77 II Camera, even with the large Sony Vertical Grip attached.

Camera Rain Shield

The Western North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains are actually classified as a “Temperate Rain Forest”, which means it rains here almost daily, especially in the late afternoons in the spring and summer months. The Cotton Carrier Camera Rain Shield is a must if you are miles down the trail and get caught in a short afternoon thunderstorm.

Hands Free Remote Hiking at Last

Whether is hiking on the Appalachian Trail, the Mountains to Sea Trail or along the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park, she needs to be totally hands free on these remote mountain hiking trails, which can often involve sliding between rock walls, or climbing over fallen trees, large rocks and boulders, or crossing small streams and small waterfalls on slippery wet rocks.

So What’s Improved in the G3 Cotton Carrier Harness

• New Cotton Carrier G3 Wanderer Side Holster – Small and Compact Design
• Three Stash Pockets (Front, Inside Front and Rear)
• Adjustable Shoulder Straps
• Vented and Padded Back Panel
• Quick Release Waist Belt
• New Silent Lens Strap (no more noisy Velcro)
• Quick Tightening Torso Straps
• Camera Rain Shell (can clip on front or be stored in the rear pocket)
New Generation 3 Twist and Lock Camera Mount Flat Hub Design
• Two Color Options: Charcoal Grey or RealTree Xtra® Camo

Meets Requirements

The G3 Cotton Carrier Harness meets the hands free hiking requirements, keeping her camera and lens securely in front of her at all times, and not rolling around her side like so many other camera strap systems. If you are a Hiker, or are into Nature Photography, Macro Photography or Adventure Photography, you really need to check out the new G3 Cotton Carrier Harness.

The New Cotton Carrier G3 Flat Hub Design

The new G3 Cotton Carrier Harness receptacle is made of Nylon 6 and is much stronger. Cotton Carrier changed the Twist Lock Camera Hub design to the New Cotton Carrier G3 Flat Hub Design, so the older Tilted Cotton Carrier Hubs won’t work on these new G3 vests, but the new Cotton Carrier Flat Hub will work on older Cotton Carrier vests – So if you are upgrading to G3, all you need do is order a new Cotton Carrier G3 Flat Hub. The new Cotton Carrier G3 Flat Hub doesn’t tilt the end of the camera lens downwards, towards the front pocket anymore, making it a lot faster and easier to rotate the camera to get it on and off of the harness. This is a big improvement when carrying a long lens like the Sony 70–200 f/2.8 Telephoto Lens.

Build Quality

These quality Camera Harnesses are made from Kodra Synthetic Canvas with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) Coating. Cotton Carrier warranty their Camera Harnesses for 3 Year Warranty against manufacturing defects!

Recommended Cotton Carrier Camera Accessories


Cotton Carrier Universal Adapter Plate – Faster Mounting to Tripod or Hand Strap
New Cotton Carrier Flat Hub – Connects Camera to the Cotton Carrier Vests
New Cotton Carrier G3 Wanderer Side Holster – Attaches to Harness Belt
Cotton Carrier Hand Strap – Fabric Hand Strap for your Cameras
Cotton Carrier Strapshot EV1 – Connects Full-Sized DSLR to Backpack Strap
Cotton Carrier POV System for GoPro – Connects GoPro Camera to Backpack Strap

Optional Side Holster

For your Second Camera the New Cotton Carrier G3 Wanderer Side Holster is fast and easy to use. It allows you to carry two cameras at the same time! This holster was redesigned in 2018 to a smaller, more compact design.

What Does Meta Carry when Hiking Remote Mountain Trails of Western North Carolina?


Meta carries the following Camera Accessories in her Cotton Carrier Harness G3 with Side Holster and in her two Bryce Pouches:
Emergency Rain Poncho – It rains a lot in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains
Bens Deet Wipes – Must Have Item For North Carolina Mountain Chiggers and Deer Ticks
Zeiss Lens Cleaning Wipes
Sony Camera Batteries in a Dual DSLR Battery Holder
Think Tank Photo Are You Hot Pouch – Carries up to a 1 liter bottle of water
Small LED Flashlight 300 Lumens – Essential for Beginner Macro Photography to Get a Wider Depth of Field
Apple iPhone X – Fits perfectly in the Cotton Carrier Inside Front Pocket
Photos by Meta Business Cards

Meta’s Conclusions

If you’re like most Photographers, you probably have a drawer full of old camera straps, camera strap systems, bulky camera bags, heavy backpacks, camera belts and maybe even a harness or two that didn’t work as well as you thought they would. Nothing works as well or as securely as the Cotton Carrier Harness. Like most other Nature Photographers, Meta has tried a lot of other camera strap systems, camera belts, camera backpacks and camera harnesses, but the Cotton Carrier Harness is by far the Best Camera Carrying Products out there, especially for Beginner Macro Photography, Nature Photographers, Adventure Photographers and Wilderness Hikers!

Meta’s Modifications

Meta used some Fabric Glue to attach a small 1/4” x 1” Velcro Strip to the top front pocket flap to keep it more secure. Meta mounts a Think Tank Photo Are You Hot Pouch on the left side of the vest, which can carry up to a 1 Liter bottle of water. Her Small LED Flashlight 300 Lumens clips onto the Harness Belt. Meta polished some candle wax onto the vest connector, which will allows for a smoother connection.

Macro Photography – Close Up Photography – Digital PhotographyMeta wrapped Velcro around the Allen Keys to make them thicker, then she added a small rubber end tip so that it doesn’t tear the fabric. She painted the Allen Keys top with bright orange nail polish, to make it easier to find if she drops it on the trail. She keep two of these bright orange Allen Keys in the inside pouch.

Informational Video

Watch the Informational Video below for more information.

Cotton Carrier Harness for One Camera.

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Cotton Carrier Harness for Two Cameras.

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Thanks to Brook Parker at Cotton Carrier for his assistance in making this review possible.
Cotton Carrier Generation 3 Camera Harness System

Meta’s Digital Photography Reviews of the Best Camera Bags from Think Tank Photo

Think Tank Photo Digital Holster Camera Bags


Think Tank Photo

Meta’s Review of the Think Tank Photo Digital Holster Camera Bags

“Designed by Photographers for Photographers, Think Tank Photo Digital Holster Camera Bags are the Perfect Photographer’s Solution.”

Comfort and Fit

Each of the six camera bag models are custom fitted for the exact camera and lens combination and size for a perfect fit. These camera bags feature a zippered pop down extension that increases the bag’s depth for use with a lens hood extended, plus a built in rain hood.

Storage and Organization

Meta keeps all of her Digital Holster Camera Bags setup using the same configuration. There’s nothing worst than looking for something when you are way out on a remote hiking trail. In the top of each Digital Holster Camera Bag is a small business card pocket which can hold a few business cards and one Sony Remote Shutter Control plus a spare 2025 Battery. Inside the top flap is a larger storage pocket that Meta keeps one or two lens filters stored in Single Lens Filter Pouches. The Outer Rain Cover Pocket has some room for 2 extra Sony Camera Batteries and SD card inside of a Camera Battery / SD Card Case plus any Short Camera Cables or SD Card Adapters. On the outside is an elastic pocket that can hold the Camera’s user manual plus a few Zeiss Lens Cleaning Wipes. The two taller 30 and 50 model bags add a small outside square pocket, as seen in the top photo. Meta keeps a spare Slik Tripod Adapter in here. There is also a removable LCD screen protector flap.

Think Tank Photo Camera Bag Attachments

On the back side of each bag is a sturdy 1” thick strap that can be used to attach other Think Tank Photo Pouches or Smaller Bags. Meta uses this strap to attach the App House 8 Pouch or the Little Stuffit Pouch, for carrying the Polaroid LED Ring Light, Energizer Intervalometer with 5 Meter Extension Cables. You can also attach 2 Little Stuffit Strobe Stuff Pouches to the larger camera bag for carrying two remote flashes.

Style and Functionality

There’s a top hand strap plus a detachable shoulder strap with shoulder pad.

Build Quality

These camera bags use top quality YKK RC Fuse zippers and have a durable water repellent coating. Think Tank Photo warranty their camera bags for as long at you own them – You can’t beat that!

Photography Travel Bag

For car and air travel, two of Meta’s Think Tank Photo Camera Bags fit perfectly into this American Tourister Rolling Travel Tote!

This Rolling Tote was especially designed to fit under the seat in front of you on most Commercial Airlines – 8”’x14”x18” – So no more checked baggage fees and no more checking your carry on bag at the gate, when all of the overhead bins are full.

Meta’s Conclusions

Meta owns 5 Think Tank Photo Digital Holster Camera Bags in various sizes and configurations. Meta loves these custom fitted camera bags!

Digital Holster 20 Bag – Fits Sony Cameras with Shorter 50mm or 100mm Macro Lens.

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Digital Holster 30 Bag – Fits Sony Cameras with Taller 70–200 Telephoto Lens.

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Digital Holster 40 Bag – Fits the A77 II plus the Sony Alpha A77 with Battery Grip with shorter 50mm or 100mm Macro Lens.

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Digital Holster 50 Bag – Fits the A77 II Plus the Sony Alpha A77 with Battery Grip with taller 70–200 Telephoto Lens.

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Think Tank Photo Digital Holster Bags

Meta’s Digital Photography Reviews of the Best Sony Hand Straps and Hand Grips

Sony Genuine Leather Hand Strap

Any serious Photographer knows the value of a Quality Genuine Leather Hand Strap for all day comfortable, secure shooting in a wide range of situations. This Genuine Leather Sony STP-GB1AM Hand Grip gives you a safe and secure one handed hold on the Sony Camera. This is Meta’s Favorite Camera Accessory.

This Sony Genuine Leather hand strap works well with the Cotton Carrier Harness Plate, a Leather upgrade to their Fabric Cotton Carrier Hand Strap.

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Fantaseal Ergonomic Camera Grip Mount

This Fantaseal Ergonomic Camera Grip Mount attaches to any 1/4” Tripod Mount on a rubber pad. It can easily support the weight of most Sony SLT Cameras or White Lenses. It’s handy for Video Photography. Maximum weight supported is 6.6 lbs.

Meta uses her Camera Grip Mount for Beginner Macro Photography, attached to the Tripod Mount on her Sony 70–200 f/2.8 Telephoto Lens, and Sony Alpha 77 II with Sony Vertical Grip. (6.2 lbs.) See how this attaches to the Camera.

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Meta’s Digital Photography Reviews of the Best Camera Pouches from Think Tank Photo and BlackRapid

App House 8 Tablet Cases

The Think Tank Photo App House 8 (Apple iPad Mini) is designed to clip onto the side of any Think Tank Photo Camera Bag, or be carried with on the included shoulder strap or handle. Meta uses the Think Tank Photo App House 8 Tablet Case to carry the Polaroid LED Ring Light or the iPad Mini. They can also attach to the side of the Think Tank Photo Digital Holster Bags.
Interior Dimensions: (W x H x D) 5.3” x 7.9” x 0.8”.


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My 2nd Brain 11” MacBook Case

Think Tank Photo’s My 2nd Brain 11 Laptop Case is a slim case that fits the 11” laptop (MacBook 12” or MacBook Air 11”) and has an individual dedicated padded pocket for the Apple iPad Mini and the Apple iPhone X. The Apple iPhone X pocket includes a pouch for earbuds. Many clear, dedicated, zipped pockets are provided for accessories such as adapters and cables, as well as pens and business cards. The rear pouch provides ample space for small manuals. Available in Black, Harbor Blue or Mist Green. Think Tank Photo makes a larger 13” and 15” models of this case.

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Little Stuffit Pouch

Think Tank Photo’s Little Stuffit Pouch is slightly larger than the BlackRapid Bryce Pouch, and can carry Small Camera Flashes, Remote Shutter Releases, Cables, Camera Batteries, Cell Phones, Wallet, Power Bars, etc. It’s part of Think Tank’s Modular Belt System, so it can easily attach to any Think Tank Photo Belt or Think Tank Photo Digital Holster Bag.
Interior Dimensions: (W x H x D) 3.5” x 5.6” x 2.5”.


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Little Stuffit Strobe Stuff Pouch

The Think Tank Photo Strobe Stuff padded belt pouch has enough space to accommodate the Sony HVL-F43M Flashes or the Sony HVL-F60M Flash, with standard diffusers attached. The front pocket fits an external battery pack with a cable pass through to keep it attached to the flash. Includes interior pockets for flash feet, hot shoe covers and three sets 4 AA Batteries. It can easily attach to any Think Tank Photo Belt or Think Tank Photo Digital Holster Bag.
Interior Dimensions: (W x H x D) 4.3” x 9.3” x 3.0”.

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BlackRapid Bryce Pouches – Camo

Meta uses Three BlackRapid Bryce Pouches attached to her Cotton Carrier, to carry the many smaller pieces of camera gear, such as her Apple iPhone X, Energizer Timed Remote Shutter, 2.5mm Extension Cables, Wireless Shutter Releases, 4 AA Batteries, and 2 Sony Camera Batteries. Meta attached three of these BlackRapid Bryce Pouches around each Tripod Leg and attached them two of them on her Cotton Carrier Harness front straps. The small front pocket can hold a few Zeiss Lens Cleaning Wipes. Comes in Black and Camo. This great product has been discontinued.

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Meta’s Digital Photography Reviews of the Best Sony Camera Batteries

Sony Camera Batteries

Meta carries two Genuine Sony Camera Batteries with her on the Remote Hiking Trails. Two of these Sony Camera batteries will fit into the BlackRapid Bryce Pouch in a Dual DSLR Battery Holder or into the Rain Coat Section of the Think Tank Photo Bags. These Genuine Sony Camera Batteries work in the Sony Alpha 77 II, Sony Alpha 99 II and Sony Alpha 65. Use in Sony BC-VM10 Battery Charger.
• Capacity: 11.8Wh / 1650mAh.
• Operating Temperature: +32°F to +104°F – Do Not Use Below Freezing!


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Dual DSLR Battery Holders

Meta carries her two Sony Camera Batteries in her Think Tank Photo Dual DSLR Battery Holders. Each Dual Battery Holder holds two Sony Camera Batteries perfectly inside. These Dual DSLR Battery Holders can be stored in the outer zippered Rain Coat compartment in the Think Tank Photo Camera Bags, or on the Cotton Carrier Harnesses. Meta labels her Sony Camera Batteries with white numbered stickers to help identify any problem batteries.


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Meta’s Digital Photography Reviews of the Best Sony Vertical Grips

Sony Vertical Grip for A77 or A77 II – Dual Battery Compartment


Sony

Meta’s Review of the Sony Vertical Grip

The Sony Vertical Grip / Dual Battery Compartment, is ideal for shooting the Sony Alpha 77 or Sony Alpha 77 II in the Vertical Position. This very handy Sony accessory gives you a firmer grip on the Sony Camera with shutter button at your fingertip and all other controls conveniently positioned for comfortable Vertical shooting. This features rugged Sony Quality, design, dust and moisture resistant design for highly reliable under various conditions, with built in compartment for two Sony Camera Batteries, doubling the shooting capacity up to 1,060 shots. Camera readout shows in percentage about how much each battery power remains and which battery is in use. This is a must have for the Sony Alpha 77 or Sony Alpha 77 II, doubling the shooting time, especially if you are into Time Lapse Photography.

Time Lapse Photography

Two Sony Camera Batteries are required when you are shooting well over 1000 photos to create Time Lapse Photography Videos, but you can’t touch the camera to swap out a single camera battery.

Intervalometer

Meta uses a hard wired Energizer Intervalometer / Remote Shutter Release to control and shoot Time Lapse Photography Videos. The Intervalometer also functions as a Wired Remote Shutter Release, without batteries, and can be extended using 2.5mm Stereo Extension Cables, to 1 Meter, 2 Meter and 5 Meter lengths. This setup comes in very handy when shooting Hummingbirds from a far away distance.

Mounting Instructions

To attach the Sony Vertical Grip to the Sony Alpha 77 or Sony Alpha 77 II, turn off the camera. Open the battery compartment and remove the single camera battery. Carefully slide the grip connector into the battery compartment. The camera’s battery door will slide into the grip. Tighten the thumb screw. Open the dual battery door and slide out the dual battery tray. Insert two Sony Camera Batteries and slide the dual battery tray back into the Vertical Grip. Turn on the Sony Camera. You will now see the battery status of each Sony Camera Battery.

You’re Going To Need a Bigger Bag”

Adding the Sony Vertical Grip to the Sony Alpha 77 II, attached to the large Sony 70–200mm Telephoto Lens, required Meta to upgrade to the largest Think Tank Photo Digital Holster 50 Bag, because the new square size of the camera body, now resembles that of a full size professional SLR camera. It wouldn’t fit into the Think Tank Photo Digital Holster 30 Bag.

Extra Batteries Required

Order extra Sony Camera Batteries, and an extra Sony Battery Charger, because you’ll be swapping out two batteries at a time now, instead of just one. Meta keeps two spare Sony Camera Batteries in the rain pouch pocket of the Think Tank Photo Digital Holster 50 Bag Camera Bag.

Hand Strap Compatibility

The Sony Vertical Grip also works well with the Sony Leather Hand Strap, which easily attaches to the right side of the Sony Vertical Grip.

Meta’s Conclusions

This was a bit of an expensive upgrade for Meta, because she had to upgrade the Think Tank Photo Digital Holster 30 Bag Camera Bag to the Think Tank Photo Digital Holster 50 Bag Camera Bag. Overall she is very pleased with the Sony Vertical Grip setup. It totally feels like a different camera now and makes taking Vertical Macro Photography Photos that much easier. Having two Sony Camera Batteries in the Camera instead of just one is a must for Time Lapse Photography.

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Other Camera Models Supported

Sony also makes an A99 Sony Vertical Grip for the Full Frame Sony Alpha 99 and Sony Alpha 99 II Cameras.

Macro Photography – Close Up Photography – Digital PhotographyFor a more secure installation, Meta mounted the Sony Vertical Grip using three tiny squares of 3M Double Sided Tape, rather than relying on just the single thumb screw alone to hold it firmly together. The unit is very solid and doesn’t flex or move.

Meta’s Digital Photography Reviews of the Best Camera Bags and Camera Harnesses

The Best Camera Bags and Camera Harnesses

Meta hopes that you found her Reviews of The Best The Best Camera Bags and Harnesses for Beginner Macro Photography and Close-up Photography interesting and an insight into Meta’s Magical and Miniature World of Macro Photography and Close-up Photography.

If you have any Macro Photography Tips for Beginners or New Digital Photography Products that you would like to see Reviewed on Meta’s website, please Contact Meta.

If you found Meta’s Reiews Helpful, consider Sending Meta a Donation!

“Oh Lord, won’t you Fund Me, a Sony Zeiss Lens?
My friends all use Nikons, I must make amends!”

~ Meta

Photos By Meta

The top Macro Photographs featured on Meta’s Macro Photography Tips are available at Photos By Meta. Framed Prints available in Blowing Rock, NC at Rustic.
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