Mindshift gear (ThinkTank’s little sister company) just came out with a piece of gear I am pretty happy about. It is called the Contact Sheet and it is a lightweight, waterproof tarp aimed at the outdoor photography market.
I am happy because a photography tarp is a great idea, this tarp is seems to be made extremely well (I have not touched one, this is based on their PR, site and product specs).
I’ve been using a tarp myself when going on location, and think it is one of these essential pieces of gear that you learn to appreciate only after you’ve used one for a while. Once you do, you’re hooked. Here is why:
Use it to avoid forgetting equipment on location. Here is a rule that I use with a tarp – if you are not using that piece of gear, place it on the tarp. It works great with big teams as well. Now you don’t have gear placed all over the location. It is all placed in a single location – on the tarp.
Use it to protect your gear from dirt – this is kinda the obvious use, you can use a tarp as a makeshift “table” on muddy or sandy areas and keep your gear off the ground.
Use it to keep your knees dry – Ever shot in a wet location? Right after it rained? You can rest a tarp on the ground and now you can kneel without getting your pants wet.
Use it to protect your bag – since it is waterproof, you can set it on top of your bag as a rain shield. The contact sheet is black on both sides, but a black/white or a black/silver would make great sun protection as well.
Use it as a reflector – Most good tarps have holes on the frame which can be used to stretch the tarp and convert it into a makeshift reflector. Sadly, the Contact Sheet is pure black so it can only act as a flag.
The contact sheet is priced at $39.99, and you can get it direct or via Amazon. Of course your other option is to get a non-photography tarp. If you went to camping store, you would find that camping has a similar price range for simple products too.
Anyone else? would love to hear your thoughts.