REVIEW: THE B-GRIP UNO
Photographers are an odd lot.
Combine an artist’s passion and creativity with a scientist’s logic and reason and what do you get? A psychotic schizophrenic? A photographer??
The answer, of course, is ‘yes’.
As Artistic-Scientific Psychotic-Photographers looking to improve our craft we invariably turn our attention to our gear.
Yes, yes – it’s the ASPP* that takes a photo, not the camera. And yet we spend countless hours in front of the computer comparing sensor ratings, analyzing lens performance, and discussing/debating such things in online forums. We spend thousands (not hundreds, but thousands) of dollars on specially coated glass or the most recent black box housing the latest-and-greatest light-reading silicon chip.
It’s a mad world… and I love it.
But you have to admit that it can, sometimes, seem a little bonkers.
This is where the b-grip UNO comes in. The UNO is a $65US piece of equipment that most likely WILL improve your photography. The UNO is a little piece of sanity in the deep, dark rabbit-hole-world of photography.
Those that know me know that when it comes to hauling gear I’m an advocate of ‘carrying the weight at the waist’. You may also know that I’m a fan of the original b-grip (you can read that review here or here).
The thing I like about the UNO, is the same thing I liked about the original: it’s a practical, utilitarian, no-nonsense camera carrying system. And in that same ‘no-nonsense’ vein I’m just going to cut-to-the-chase and give my conclusion on the product right here, right now.
Do I like the b-grip UNO? Would I buy the b-grip UNO??
The answer is… drum-roll please… (hey – I spared you the lengthy lead-up, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for a drum-roll in return): ABSOLUTELY!!
Postscript: looking for a little bit more detail about the UNO? ‘Real-world’ user experience and opinion? Hmmmm… you’re probably the type of person who likes to read instructions too, aren’t you? Alright – just for you.
What exactly is the UNO? The UNO is a camera carrying system, or ‘camera holster’, that mounts to your waist belt or backpack. It provides quick and easy access to your camera and, just as importantly, all-day carrying comfort.
How is the B-Grip UNO different from the original B-Grip? The UNO is smaller and lighter and made for mirrorless cameras (rather than large DSLRs)
Why do I like to ‘carry the weight at the waist’? I don’t always carry my camera on my waist. In fact if I’m just going for a short walk or outing I’ll throw the camera on a strap and sling it over my shoulder (or even throw it in a jacket pocket). But I’ve photographed a number of day-long events. And when I travel, I tend to walk or hike a lot. I mean, a LOT! For those really long days or treks I’ve found there is nothing more comfortable and practical than ‘carrying the weight at the waist’. For further proof you need look no further than the military, law enforcement, or your local plumber (though on second thought, don’t look too closely at the plumber).
Do I really think that the UNO can make someone a better photographer? Yes, actually – I was serious about that. A long day of hauling heavy gear on your back or around your neck is fatiguing. Sometimes even painful. At the very least that discomfort can be a distraction from the photography. At its worst it can not only suck the joy out of your photography but also out of your day. It just doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on camera equipment, or a vacation-trip-of-a-lifetime, and not be able to fully appreciate either, due to fatigue and discomfort.
Why do I prefer the b-grip/UNO to other holsters and waist packs? If I were someplace where I wanted to be discreet I’d use a waist-pack. But when I don’t feel the need for discretion or when I need speedy access to my camera I think it’s the design philosophy of the UNO that appeals most to me. If I expect to own a product for a long time and use it regularly I want it to be well made, and to last. By that same token I don’t need a product that is ‘over-engineered’ and meant to be ‘flashy’ or a status symbol. When it comes to design I have a high regard for quality, simplicity, efficiency, and utility.
WARNING – some scenes may be offensive to some viewers (in particular, my paste-white hairy legs)
Full disclosure: CPtech, manufacturer of the b-grip UNO, was gracious enough to offer me a unit to review
The flip-top box makes it easy to see what you get. I like that. And I think it speaks volumes to the ‘pride in craftsmanship’ of the product.
Note the red cardboard packing insert inside the box. I’ll refer to this again further on.
An instruction leaflet with some nice diagrams. I’ll read this later (maybe). OK, probably not. The UNO is easy to assemble and use. I have to say that the Swedes could learn from the Italians here (re: Ikea!)
These are the parts. You assemble them all to use on a waist belt, or alternately just attach the U-bolt to mount on a backpack strap. The body is made from hi-tech polymers and the quick release plate from brass. The unit is solid and lightweight. Fit and finish is first rate.
This is what the unit looks like assembled in ‘waist belt’ configuration. The red quick-release plate in center attaches to your camera’s tripod socket (be sure to tighten it securely using a coin – trust me on this). Also note the red safety lock in the top left corner.
The UNO is meant to be worn with a belt… but here’s the thing: in the warm summer months (or when travelling to tropical destinations) I like to wear cargo short. Specifically, I like the kind that come with the wide soft canvas belt and D-ring fasteners. That’s just me.
Will the UNO work with such a soft, flexible belt??
Turns out, it does.
The small, light UNO holster was developed for mirrorless cameras. How does it look with the tiny Nikon1 V3?
Pictured above: Nikon1 V3 with grip and 32mm f1.2
The Nikon1 is unique in that it’s the only camera I can sling over my shoulder and wear all day (8 hours) and barely notice it’s there. I think it’s a combination of its light weight and nice balance (plus the provided, well-made, long cross-body strap). But when shooting with the ‘1 System’ I’ll frequently use 2 bodies (one with the wide-angle zoom, and the other perhaps with the telephoto zoom – a fast prime in the pocket of, you guessed it, my cargo shorts). I can see myself carrying one body on a strap, and the other in the holster.
Yikes – where is the Windex? I should have cleaned the mirror! Let’s just call this a ‘real world’ review.
What about my trusty Sony A6000? Yep, fits and works VERY nicely with the UNO!
Pictured above: Sony A6000 and Zeiss 24mm f1.8… and a very dirty mirror.
The full frame Sony A7? Fits like a glove! Granted, the A7 and Zeiss 35mm f2.8 is a pretty small combo – but this is a real world review (as noted above) and the fact is, the 35mm and 55mm lenses are what I use the majority of the time (those two lenses account for about 75% of my A7 shots)
What about a larger camera/lens combo? I had some concern about attaching the A7 and Minolta 70-210mm f4 with LA-EA4 lens adapter attached. The LA-EA4 adapter has a somewhat bulky housing / tripod footing that I thought might interfere and prevent it from attaching to the holster.
But… my fears were ill-founded. The lens (with adapter) does indeed fit.
OK, well… I just *had* to try this. Yes, I know it’s wrong (though I bet it would be functional) but I felt compelled to see what it would look like.
Pictured above: Minolta Hi-Matic E
Final word on the b-grip UNO? How about a thousand of them as I let a picture of the packaging insert do the talking:
Travel light, live the moment, capture the serendipity!
Shawn Reynolds https://tlpserendipity.wordpress.com/