Peak Design CapturePro Review
December 7th, 2016
Part of what I do as a reviewer is connect with different brands. I enjoy the process of building a relationship and getting a sense of a company. When I began a new partnership with Simons Camera (a retailer in Quebec) I was asked if I had ever reviewed anything from Peak Design. I hadn’t, though I was familiar with the name. I spent a little while on their website and quickly saw a few products that caught my eye. One was a great looking camera strap called the Slide, while the second was the product I’m reviewing here – the CapturePRO camera clip. Once I spent some time with the products I quickly discovered the Peak Design is an aptly named company; their products stand out as not only be well engineered but “common sense” engineered. There is some great design in the DNA. The Capture Pro is a case in point.
When you use a lot of gear (as I do), you quickly learn that it is the little things that set great products apart from the pack. There are simple details that when you see or use them make a light bulb come on and you think, “That’s clever”, or, “That’s the way things should work.” I had a number of such thoughts as I used the CapturePRO.
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Common Sense Concept
I have a lot of different carry systems. I do a lot of different kinds of photography, I travel a fair bit, and, as a reviewer, I use a wide variety of different gear. I have straps, bags, backpacks, harnesses, and clips. When carrying a backpack I have frequently lamented the fact that I can have all kinds of gear on my back but actually getting at it (even for a quick shot) requires stopping, removing the backpack, accessing the camera, taking the shot, and then reversing the whole process. While doing a review of the Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 macro lens this summer I was wearing such a backpack with a combo of gear, food, and water in it. Because I kept using the camera I gave up on putting it away after the first few stops and ended up carrying it in my hands for the remainder of the three hour hike down a mountain. I thought, “How stupid! I’ve got a nice camera backpack on my back and I end up carrying the camera!” What I needed was a way to clip the camera onto the strap of the backpack I was wearing for easy access.
What I needed was the Peak Design CapturePRO.
It is a roughly palm-sized metal device that can be attached to backpack straps, bags straps, or even a belt and has a clip mechanism that allows you to securely lock the camera onto the clip and then quickly release it by engaging the release mechanism. On that day I could have put the CapturePRO on the strap of my backpack, clipped the camera in place, and kept my hands free while still having near instantaneous access to the camera. The CapturePRO is a common sense device that works exceptionally well.
During my review period I quickly left my office to pop into my children’s school for an event. I was running late, so I grabbed just the camera (a Canon 5D Mark IV with the Tamron 85mm f/1.8 VC lens attached) and the CapturePRO. I stood at the rear of the gym to have a good angle to capture photos of the event. I simply attached the Capture Pro to my belt and was surprised how well it worked to snap the fairly heavy camera combo into place on my belt to free my hands in between shots. A small thing that made a big difference, which I think is a pretty apt description for the CapturePRO itself.
Peak makes a number of products in the Capture line, including one for smaller cameras (the Capture) and even one for binoculars (the CaptureBINO). The CapturePRO is the flagship, a professional model that is more heavy duty in construction and designed to accommodate heavier pro gear. Its all-aluminum construction is extremely durable, and, in fact, Peak states that it is capable of supporting 200 pounds of force! That’s way more than what I’m interested in carrying!! They call the construction on the CapturePRO “weatherproof” and “built for especially rugged environments”. That sounds like just what I need!
The common sense engineering manifests itself in the design of the CapturePRO. There are are two knobs on either side of the CapturePRO that allow you adjust for a variety of thickness (up to 1/2″/1.3cm). The front plate rotates up, allowing you to slip the rear plate behind the strap or belt and the front plate to come down in front. You then tighten everything down for a snug fit. I found it easy to make adjustments to the variety of straps and belts I attached it to. Another important point is that once in place the system is designed to hold the camera rigidly, so you get less bouncing or sagging that becomes annoying during active moments like hiking. It works just like you think it should.
Common Sense Quick Release Plate
The camera locks into place via a quick release plate that you attach to the tripod mount of your camera. The common sense engineering shows up here, too, in a couple of ways. The recommended means of tightening this plate is via an allen key. I’ve used other systems that needed an allen key, and have often thought, “I’d love to have an allen key drilled out so that I could hang it from a loop and make sure it is handy.” What did I find when I opened the package? An allen key with a hole drilled out so and a little keychain loop where it could be attached to a bag or strap. Common sense. On top of that the tightening lug is also slotted so that you can use a coin or flat edged screwdriver in a pinch. Nice.
On top of that the quick release plate serves multiple purposes. It is compatible with Arca-type tripods; take your camera out of CapturePRO and put it directly into your ARCA-type tripod with the included PROplate quick-release plate. It also includes a set of adapters so that it can fit right into most Manfrotto RC-2 tripods. For a complete list of compatible models, go here. The CapturePRO clip is designed in such a way that you can also attach the camera in multiple directions (the plate slides in from both vertical and horizontal directions), giving you even more versatility in how you attach your camera.
Beyond this, the CapturePRO has a solid aluminum backplate with a female screw thread, allowing you to screw the unit atop your tripod plate or 3/8″ head mount and used as a quick-release clamp. This is the way that things ought to work. It’s clear that some real photographers have contributed to the design process, as, unlike some products, the CapturePRO has been designed with more than just itself in mind. Photographers need connectivity to the different systems that are a part of our work. Peak has considered that in the design of this product.
Once you’ve attached the quick release plate to the camera, it slides into place with a satisfying, definite “click”. I like this aural confirmation that everything is secure so that I can keep focusing on the task at hand. If you want a little more reassurance you can twist the quick-release button 90 degrees and lock it, preventing accidental release. In one final thoughtful touch there are four anchor points on the quick release plate where you can easily connect Peak Design’s Anchor attachments, which would allow you to connect one of their straps and thus save a bit more time when moving from one carry system to another. When you want to release the camera, simply depress the red release button and it is easy to slide the camera out. You waste very little time either attaching or removing the camera from the CapturePRO – perfect!
Real World Use of the CapturePRO
In addition to the event use I primarily used the CapturePRO for the various active things I do while carrying a camera. Hiking, snowshoeing, cycling, etc… It worked the way I thought it should, holding the camera secure when moving. I particularly liked the easy of attaching and then removing the camera and felt like I wasted very little time getting the shot I wanted and then getting back into the activity. It is a very practical tool for the kind of work and activities I do.
There are limitations, of course. While being able to support 200 pounds sounds great in the marketing materials, there is a practical limit to what the CapturePRO’s design can actually support. Lighter and shorter combos work the best, while trying to use longer telephotos may cause the strap you are attached onto to bulge and tilt a bit, making it less comfortable. You need to work within the limitations of such a carry system. I prefer a harness system for carrying heavier gear (I use the Cotton Carrier).
So forget the 200 pounds and focus on using the CapturePRO to its strengths. If you want quick access to your camera (from mirrorless to a DSLR with medium sized lens attached), then it’s hard to beat the CapturePRO. It just works… The price in the US is $79.99, or $99 bucks here in Canada (use code PEAK100 to get a special gift with purchase) While not a “bargain” item, this is a beautifully designed item that will last as long as you (it carries a Lifetime Warranty). The added convenience over the years will probably make you think of it as a bargain in the long run.
Thanks to Simons Camera for providing me with a retail sample loaner to test!