Backpack for the Sony FS7 – Think Tank Airport Accelerator

17May

Perhaps the ideal backpack for the Sony PXW-FS7 camera… but not by choice. Meet the Think Tank Airport Accelerator.

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It’s pricey, but it’s roomy. Very much adjustable, but at the same time – not the best in terms of comfort. Most importantly – if fits the Sony FS7 and could go on an airplane as carry-on luggage. Few other bags would allow you to do that with the ease of the Think Tank Airport Accelerator. Read on for a balanced quick review, showing not only the positive sides, but also the negative.

Currently selling for around $300/€330, the Airport Accelerator doesn’t come cheap. For that price there are a lot of photo/video backpacks to choose from. Most of them featuring much better comfort and flexibility. But very few (if any) would swallow a Sony FS7 with the handle and display attached, a ton of lenses and accessories AND – most importantly – allow you to safely carry all of it in the cabin of an airplane. The lack of choice is what makes the Think Tank Airport Accelerator the best backpack for your Sony FS7.

Click here to watch Think Tank’s own review on the backpack’s product page.

I can’t speak much about the durability of the backpack just yet. Time will show this. But at first sight, the build quality is up there with the high class packs of Lowepro. The materials are strong, the stitching is precise and appears solid. The padding is sufficient. The zippers are large and solid (although, sadly enough – not water resistant).

The biggest selling point of this backpack is its sheer size:

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What you’re seeing above is more than enough for a day of shooting, and with some additional optimizations – an extra lens or two could be fitted, as well as a pair of batteries or an on-camera light. But as any other review would warn you – watch out for what you put in, because at the end the load can become very heavy (easily 10kg/22lbs).

If you’re trying to decide between the Airport Accelerator and the Commuter – go for the former. The Airport Commuter is too small for the FS7 and comes with a lot fewer and thinner dividers, so it’s much more difficult to modify it to your exact needs. Also, the overall padding isn’t as solid, while the price difference isn’t big enough to justify the sacrifice you’ll be making.

Below is a closeup of the zippers of the Airport Accelerator.

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As you can see, the outside zippers are quite solid and well balanced for the size of the compartment they open or close. The main compartment and the laptop/tablet one is lockable, but you can’t lock both at the same time with the provided cable+lock combination.

The zippers of the inside mesh pockets are also good and have a protecting cover, so your gear doesn’t get scratched. One issue, however, is that the cover is too tight, so you need to really push the zipper in, if you want it to be fully covered. Lowepro tends to do these much larger, which is also easier to work with. If you use the inside pockets a lot, this might be a point of annoyance.

While the backpack is OK in terms of comfort, it’s clear that this is a city/air-travel solution. The harness is well padded for a day-long city shoot, fully loaded. But it’s definitely not good enough for a day of hiking in the wild. The ventilation for the back is only minimal and the straps aren’t well padded. The level of adjustment is also quite low. For a lot of hiking, the old Lowepro Vertex 300 is a far better solution. It will also fit the FS7 (with fewer lenses), but you can’t take it as carry-on on most airplanes (and nowhere within Europe).

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While the shoulder straps are sufficient, the waist padding is there just for the marketing. Given that the waist support is removable, I see no reason why Think Tank haven’t made it larger and thicker. Yes, you can use their belt systems instead, but the largest belt that would fit this bag doesn’t provide enough padding either.

The sternum strap is adjustable, but it slips up and down the side far too easily. This is something that you generally don’t adjust each time you put the backpack on, so it should have been made a little tighter. On the photo below, you can see that the left side is already higher than the right, and that’s from wearing it for only a few minutes.

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Perhaps the last big issue with this bag is the one-sided tripod mount. This makes the backpack seriously unbalanced and because there’s a pocket only on one side, you’ll need to choose between putting the tripod or a water bottle in it. You can’t have both. Think Tank could easily have added another stretchy pocket under the handle on the opposite side.

The tripod mount, however, is an issue with many recent backpacks of this class. The overall design approach tells me that the companies aren’t really looking into making the best possible product, but instead choose to emphasize the class separation of their product lines. As a consumer, you always end up with a compromise which is far from ideal.

So is this the best backpack for flying with a fully loaded FS7 – probably, yes. But only because there’s no other options.

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