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Old Aug 31, 2009, 4:38 PM   #1
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Default Cotton Carrier Review -- (long post)

Hi All,

I got my Cotton Carrier last Wed, but didn’t have a chance to use it in the field until the weekend, and then only briefly. I’ve taken to composing long posts with MS Word, and it’s gonna be longer than the 5K character limit, so I’ll split it into two separate posts.


First I’ll establish a couple of definitions to make this easier to write. . . The “adapter” is the insert that’s attached to the camera tripod socket. It fits into the “receiver”, which is the part of the “harness” that actually holds and supports the camera/lens. The “holster” is the secondary removable carrier that can be fitted to either the harness or a belt. And the caveat – I’m not in any way associated with this company – just an enthusiastic user of the product.

The Company is located in Western Canada, so with the least expensive shipping, it took 6 days to go through the import process and get to me near Chicago. I don’t know anything about import duties, so I thought there might be a possibility of additional cost, but apparently there is none with an item in this price range.

The CC comes in a nice nylon mesh bag with a locking drawstring. I’m impressed with the quality of design, materials, and workmanship – always a concern for me when buying relatively expensive “unique idea” item made by a small indie outfit. The receiver is attached to a Lexan plate the size of the front area of the harness, which in turn is covered with some heavy duty ballistic nylon. The adapters with their connectors are very nicely made and finished. The shoulder straps at first appeared to be on the smallish side, but there’s no problem for me with comfort. Even with two camera/lens combos that totaled about 12 lbs (K20+Sigma 300/2.8 and K-7+FA*300/4.5), the harness distributed the load well and there was no digging into the shoulders or discomfort during about a one mile walk. penolta’s concern that this system carries the weight higher up than optimum (at the hips) is probably relevant for those with back problems, but for my purposes, I don’t feel that this is much of a concern, as I will mostly be using it to transport gear from my car to shooting destinations that are usually less than a mile away, and back to the car. Normal people’s day hikes are usually not part of my program, and for those, I’d rarely consider carrying the 300/2.8, so the load would be a lot lighter and would probably not be a problem for most people. I consider myself a rather extreme user for this system, and for my application, it’s surprisingly effortless.

The only niggling complaint that I had at first was that the receivers were a little tight on the adapters, so I had to wiggle the cameras a bit to get them to seat into or dismount them fully. This was very awkward with these heavy lenses. A few minutes with a nail file to open up the channels on the receivers a few thousanths cured this problem.

I use Camdapter grip straps, and since they use the tripod socket to attach to the camera body, they have a tripod socket that’s a little offset drilled and tapped into their base unit. With the CC, this causes the cameras to tilt a bit (maybe 5) when mounted, but this of no real concern because it takes a 90 rotation of the camera to release the adapter from the receiver, so the cameras remain secure with a significant margin of safety. In fact, I think that grip straps are probably the best carrying accessory for use with this carrying system since they’re quick and add security in holding the camera without getting in the way.

Two hands can be used easily to rotate my big camera/lens combo and release it from the main harness on the chest, but with this combo in the main harness, it’s necessarily a one-handed operation to mount or release a second camera in the holster, and the added security of the grip strap is, IMO a very good idea since the action required is a bit awkward. I need to rotate the camera forward 90 which means that I’m essentially pushing the right side of the body down – then I have to hold this position while lifting the body upwards to release the adapter fully from the receiver. I’ve chosen to use the less contorting method demonstrated on the video, and grab the lens body with my right hand, rotate it backwards the 90 to unlock the adapter, and lift to release. I then transfer the cam to my left hand while I slip my right hand into the grip and I’m ready to go. A bit more fiddly, but really not bad. I can, if necessary, get it out one-handed. I didn’t get this system to get the best quick draw capability, and this whole procedure just takes a few seconds, so it’s good enough for me.

continued in next post. . .
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Old Aug 31, 2009, 4:39 PM   #2
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The harness has about a 3”x2” area of Velcro loop sewn to the right side of the belly belt. This adds extra security to the holster which has a 2.5” area of Velcro hook covering almost the full length of the back of it. There are two overlapping flaps on the holster. The full width upper flap has Velcro loop covering the back, and the lower flap with another 1.5” square of Velcro comes up for additional security to holding the holster to the harness. I actually would have liked to see some Velcro loop on the left side, so I could grab and release my second camera with my left hand and then transfer it to my right, eliminating a little fiddling. I’m seeing how well I can adjust to the original configuration, but might get a local seamstress (my mother) to add some Velcro loop to the left side if I decide that I’d prefer this – not really necessary, because the flaps on the holster are very secure, but it would keep the holster from sliding along the belt. The holster also has a full width belt loop on the front if one prefers this or just wants a convenient belt holster to carry one camera alone. It’s big enough to accommodate belts up to about 2” wide.

Some will question why go to all this expense and trouble – a very good question. I’ve gotten used to using two bodies for birding. I use a either a long fast lens, or a very long slow lens (both are very heavy – all over 5 lbs) mounted on a tripod, but like to have a second body with something like the FA*300/4.5 for hand held quick shots that would be outside even the gimbal’s range of motion or too slow with the tripod mounted glass. Just carrying one body with one of the big lenses is cumbersome and most times painful. Adding a second body with a moderately long heavy lens and a tripod that’s up to supporting the big lens, yet wanting to be able to possibly take advantage of any shooting opportunities while transporting all this stuff is a study in pain and frustration.

Backpacks are out – few have the capacity to carry a 300/2.8 reasonably without necessitating removing the hood and reversing it, and having to get a camera out of a pack usually means losing any possibility of that opportunistic shot. Neck straps are out – I’ve got maybe 10 different neck straps, and none really work well with a lens that heavy, and I found myself having to hold the camera against my body with a hand to keep it from banging around with each step – so much for keeping my hands free. . .I’ve tried many combinations of bags and straps to carry my gear, but nothing I’ve tried is as efficient or convenient as the Cotton Carrier. If I find the need, I can add my web belt with some belt mounted lens pouches and a fanny pack to carry extra lenses and accessories, all immediately accessible. With the camera mounted on the main harness, it’s fully supported and can be rotated to easily change lenses or mount/dismount TCs while having both hands free. I had always previously made it a point to sit down while changing lenses, but now this is not necessary.

Bottom line – the Cotton Carrier is the best multiple camera carrying system that I’ve found. It allows me to carry my big lenses with easily the best security and comfort of anything I’ve tried. It’s a quality product, but might look a bit geeky for those who care about such things – I really don’t. I’d recommend this product to anyone who has occasion to carry their camera with a large, heavy lens – it makes it virtually effortless and comfortable, and there’s no banging against your body.

The camera is reasonably quick to employ, and there are no straps hanging off the camera to get in the way. With my use, the adapters do get in the way of using my Camdapter Arca Swiss compatible QR plates, but I don’t use these for my most used lenses anyway – they all have their own A/S lens plates. If I start finding this to be a problem, I’ll just buy a cheap A/S style clamp and make up a CC QR system like they show on the site. The CC is pricey, no doubt about it, but my cameras are quite a bit moreso – so the system’s price is very easy to rationalize for me.

Hope this might help some here. . .(phew. . . )

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Old Aug 31, 2009, 5:42 PM   #3
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Hey Scott,
I can't say how much it means to me, (and I'm sure others) that you took the time to share this info. This is the type of equipment review that really means something because you aren't beholden to an advertiser or manufacture there is no reason to be less than honest about it. Thanks again for the report, I'll be getting one as soon as the cash flow problem is no longer a problem.

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Old Aug 31, 2009, 9:20 PM   #4
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Scott, this looks like a great product, and I had never heard of it until you brought it to my attention. Don't know if I'm likely to buy one, but it's really nice to know they are available. And, as GW said, thank you for taking the time to post such a detailed and extensive review.
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Old Aug 31, 2009, 10:43 PM   #5
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Hmmm - interesting product. I'll have to keep it in mind if I decide to go with some type of modular system for carrying cameras etc. I used to often carry two cameras but got away from that when I got the K20 (it was so different than the K100). Now I'm actually considering going back to it with the K20 and K7.
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Old Aug 31, 2009, 11:27 PM   #6
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Thanks for taking your time, I find both the product and your post very interesting.

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Old Sep 1, 2009, 1:45 AM   #7
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Well written review, Thank You.

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Old Oct 25, 2009, 10:27 AM   #8
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If you watch the video, the demonstrater mentions the break-in process for the receiver and adapter. Possibly made to too tight of a tolerance. I have found that a Teflon based lube works wonders for situations like this. I use a product called Breakfree on all my firearms & other precision machined small parts mechanisms. I haven't experienced any problems with it coming in contact with plastic or rubber parts.
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Old Jul 26, 2010, 11:26 AM   #9
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Great review, snostorm. I also took the Cotton system through its paces and found I agree with your comments. I have posted the review:


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