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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2005-01-31

Think Tank Photo Debuts
By Sports Shooter Staff

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin

250 Think Tank Photo Speed Demon beltpacks like this with the Canon logo on the front and all the features such as the removable foam insert and the seam sealed rain cover will be given away at the Canon Super Bowl lunch in Jacksonville.
(Editor's Note: Since their splashy public debut (including a top-of-the-page presence on the important Rob Galbraith site) Think Tank Photo and its products have created quite a buzz within photographic equipment circles. Founded by Doug Murdoch and Mike Sturm, both formerly of Lowepro, Think Tank enlisted input from the San Francisco Chronicle's Deanne Fitzmaurice and Kurt Rogers on concepts and designs. But how can this newbie company compete with the established companies like Lowepro, Lightware, Domke, Kinesis and Tamrac? To find out, Sports Shooter sat down with Murdoch and asked him a few questions.)

How has the first couple of weeks gone since Think Tank went "public" with your line of photo gear?

The response from professional photographers has been incredible - we received 6,600 visits to our site in the first four days, and I've received hundreds of e-mails from photographers around the world. Many photographers had technical questions, like whether or not a 500 f4 would fit into our Airport Addicted backpack (the answer is yes), or wanted further clarification on our Modulus Speed System.

Because our modular system is designed only for digital SLR systems, with a focus on photojournalism, we have gotten a huge response from digital SLR shooters from about twelve countries. Many of the photographers gave me their website address, so I've checked out at least a hundred websites to learn about the type of photography that they specialize in. As a designer, it is very apparent that photojournalists want products designed specifically for them.

Talk about the design of your products and how you're "thinking different" than the other bag companies out there. And what kind of feedback have you gotten so far.

There are a couple of very key issues here. The first is that we are designing our products specifically for photojournalists. In the quest to increase sales, other bag companies make their products more "generic," but ultimately this means that they don't perform particularly well for any one group of photographers. Second, we are focused on digital SLR shooters, which means that the gear will actually fit correctly into our bags. Third, our goal is become a specialty company manufacturing very high quality and innovative products.

Concerning feedback, there have been a lot of questions because very few people have actually tested our products yet. I sent out a batch of bags last week to 15 photojournalists and we look forward to their feedback. I think one reason why we are getting such a response on our modular system is because of its improved functionality. With our system, the modular components can "rotate or lock" around the waistbelt, and can be taken on and off easily. We have had a HUGE response to our Airport Addicted backpack because going through security at the airport has become a critical issue, as well as keeping your valuable equipment with you at all times.

Think Tank's Test Drive program is very unique. What is behind this program?

We have had an incredible response to our Test Drive program. We want to take product testing to the next level, to really refine the details of our products and make changes as required.

Because our products are sewn together, we can make changes very quickly based on feedback. We have already received feedback from the photographers currently testing our Pro Modulus system, which includes new modular components that they would like to see as part of the system."

How exciting is it to be involved in this year's Super Bowl through your association with Canon?

The deal with Canon is something of a miracle ... Brad Mangin called David Metz of Canon, and we agreed to a deal in less than 48 hours, which from a business perspective is quite unusual. The bags were in production at the time, so we simply embroidered the front pocket and shipped them in by air to meet the Super Bowl deadline.

Going to the Canon Super Bowl party is going to be awesome, and I look forward to meeting all the photographers to whom we will be giving bags. All of us are going - myself, designer Mike Sturm, Deanne Fitzmaurice, and Kurt Rogers (both photographers for the San Francisco Chronicle). This is an incredible opportunity for us to give photographers one of our Speed Demon beltpacks so they can test it during the Super Bowl.

I can honestly say that this will probably be the most expensive belt pack ever given away at any event. Most give-away bags are stripped down to the bare bones, because, after all, they are free! These bags are our regular Speed Demon beltpacks, with the Canon logo on the front, with all the features such as the removable foam insert and the seam sealed rain cover. 250 bags will be given away. Besides giving away the bags, we plan to also celebrate at the Canon party!

And lastly .... what kinds of things do you see product - wise in the future for Think Tank?

We have some "surprises" lined up for the near future - products specifically designed for photojournalists, so stay tuned. I think it is very important for photojournalists to recognize that their needs, in terms of carrying solutions, are very different than other types of photographers.

As a group, photojournalists almost exclusively use digital SLR's. Speed and accessibility are vital to success and having bags that are travel-friendly, compressible, and with an appropriate amount of foam (or no foam at all) is essential. In my opinion, photojournalists have had to accept compromise solutions because there is no one catering specifically to their needs ... and that is exactly what we intend to do.


(For details on Think Tank Photo's products, check their web site at: http://www.thinktankphoto.com/index.html)

Related Links:
Think Tank Photo

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