What’s (in) my bag? Pro Trekker RL 450 AW II

Intro: An unmissable tool: A good camera bag

Easily overlooked, not talked about enough, and with a bit of a boring reputation, I think camera bags deserve more. I know this sounds silly but honestly, the difference a good camera bag can make is tremendous! It’s so satisfying to have a little pocket for everything, and how good does it feel to be able to bring everything you need in a compact easy to use and carry bag?

Travel companion

I was thrilled that Degreef & Partner sent me this Lowepro bag, that can function as a trolley and a backpack, and wanted to really put it to the test. I’ve been using it for quite some time now and it’s made my travels and location shoots a lot easier. It’s been with me to on-location shoots and workshops, photography fairs, to a shoot trip in Paris, and to random self portrait sessions in a cold, misty field. Every time I have been able to put everything I need into the Pro Trekker RL 45 AW II and it’s always easy to find everything you need in all the neat pockets it has.

Adjust, adapt, and go.

The bag fits pretty much everything I want to bring, with some room for extra’s. I don’t have a huge amount of lenses and accessories, but it was enough to not fit in my previous bag. Because of this, I always had to leave things behind. Not so much with this one! When circumstances call for it, I can rearrange the inside of the bag to fit different things as well. For example, when I went to Paris I had to pack lightly, because I was traveling by train. I had one bag with two lights and all the light shapers and accessories I needed, but I needed another light that just didn’t fit in there. I improvised, took out all the dividers and all my extra lenses and accessories, and adjusted the bag so that it would fit one of my lights in there.

Note: on the picture below I still have an additional lens in the bag, which I took out to make room for a floor stand and the light’s power cable in the early morning before I left.

Ok, let’s talk some details

Because I know this matters too, let’s have a quick lineup of the technical details.

The bag fits: Up to 15” laptop and 10” tablet, large smartphone, pro tripod and accessories, 1 DSLR with attached lens (such Canon 5D Mark IV with up to 70-200mm f/2.8) and 4-6 extra lenses (up to 300 mm)

Sized to meet standard carry-on requirements. Travel friendly with stowable shoulder straps and removable waist belt


  • Weight: 4.06 kg
  • Total Volume: 28 L
  • Main Color: Black
  • Internal Dimensions: 32 x 13 x 45 cm
  • External Dimensions: 36 x 25 x 52 cm
  • Camera Compartment Dimensions: 32 x 13 x 45 cm
  • Front Compartment Dimensions: 33 x 4 x 48 cm
  • Laptop Compartment Dimensions: 32 x 3 x 34 cm
  • Tablet Compartment Dimensions: 22 x 1.5 x 26 cm
  • GearBox Exterior Dimensions: 28 x 5 x 13 cm
  • GearBox Interior Dimensions: 26 x 4 x 11 cm

The bag also comes with a weatherproof cover.

How I use the space

There are many images of the inside of the bag online, both empty and neatly packed. This is great of course, because it shows you how much space you have and what your options are. However, I like showing you a more realistic use-case from a messy creative person, so you can imagine a bit better how it would look when you put this bag to proper use.

First of all, a huge plus for me is that my old chunky laptop fits in the bag. I use this laptop for the bare necessities and for shooting tethered, it can’t do much anymore but it can still handle those tasks. It fits nicely into the laptop portion of the bag, and t here’s another pocket for all the cables I need for data and power. As you can see there is also space for a tablet and some extra accessories that I am not using (yet). I used to have to bring an extra backpack with me to take all of that, and this saves me the additional back and shoulder pain that carrying one heavy backpack per shoulder causes.

The large compartment

In the large compartment of the bag, I keep a bunch of different things. Of course my camera and lenses, but also my Lensbaby optics and omni filter packs, an external hard drive and the water resistant cover that comes with the bag.
As you can see, I still have some room for an extra lens. (Oh dear..tempting)

You can move around the dividers and create a layout that works for you. This is perfect if you want to change up the layout when you get new gear, or want to bring different things to a specific job like I did for my Paris trip. In the flat zipper pockets I keep little things like cables, pens, lens wipes, and there are two nifty compartments to keep memory cards safe.

In the main compartment there is a removable pouch which fits perfectly at the bottom. This is ideal to keep your charger, extra batteries, and any other small items you want to keep close. Like in my case, the spare trigger for my lights.

The exterior

Some nice exterior details are few additional zipper pockets. Like the one on the front, it is quite spacious but I just keep some random tidbits in there like a small sunscreen and lip balm. Additionally, there’s another one on the side, which is ideal for a water bottle or small umbrella.

The wheels are soft and smooth and not noisy at all. They roll over most terrain pretty effortlessly. Then there is the option to convert the bag from a trolley to a backpack, or the other way around. The comfortable shoulder straps and waist belt are tucked away behind a nice piece of padding, and can be easily revealed. This quick change is ideal for travel on terrain where the bag can’t roll, you have other items to carry with your hands, or when you just prefer a backpack over a trolley.


While my previous bag was nice, safe and comfortable, this bag is a huge upgrade. I think I could fit about half the stuff in my old bag that I can pack easily with the Pro Trekker RL 45 AW II. Also, it wasn’t a backpack/trolley combo. I’m a big fan of this camera bag, and would recommend it to any photographer that, like me, likes to travel with ease (i.e with as few bags as possible) but enjoys the peace of mind of being able to bring everything they need to every job.

That about wraps up everything I had to say about this bag. I hope it was informative, and helps you appreciate the importance of a good camera bag!

Want to read more about gear I love? Try my Tablet review!
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Playing with something new: Lume Cube Panel Pro

Intro: Challenge yourself

You won’t improve if you don’t challenge yourself, right?! I usually work with either studio flashes or natural light, but I got the opportunity to test with two Lume Cube Panel Pro lights recently, via Degreef & Partner, and I figured why not give it a shot? Let’s see what I can do with these! It’s interesting how different the workflow is, and how you need to change the way you think, when presented with different, new equipment.

What is the Lume Cube Panel Pro?

In it’s essence, pretty straightforward: they’re a battery powered LED-light rectangle with a full spectrum of RGB colour options. You can use them on top of your camera or on a tripod, handheld, standing on a table or thrown into a corner, under your bedsheets, in your shower or.. you get the idea, they’re small and lightweight and battery powered, so you can use them anywhere in lots of different ways. They’re very easy to use, since I haven’t had to read the manual to figure anything out about the buttons and functions so far. That’s a plus for someone like me who just likes to dive in and explore.

Self portraits with Lume Cubes

For a while now, I have been interested in doing more short video projects, just little clips to accompany my photographs. I have a feeling these lights will be perfect for that, and I look forward to exploring the possibilities. For now though, I’m in the test and try out phase, so I shot some self portraits.

I think these lights are an ideal starter tool for anyone who wants to shoot self portraits at home, since to shoot something like I have done you’d only need a white wall and two Lume Cube lights. You don’t need a lot of space, equipment or a difficult setup.

Being used to working with studio lights, a variety of light shapers and lots of power, it was definitely a challenge for me to create a setup I enjoyed and was happy with. When I decided on the colours I wanted to use, it took a lot of tweaking and moving around of the lights to find the right balance. What does help is that you can see what you’re doing in real time. Now don’t get me wrong, the fact that I had a hard time isn’t due to a fault of the equipment, these lights do exactly what they’re supposed to do and they do it really well. It is just a matter of adjusting my expectations and ideas to work with different gear than I am used to.

Here are some results from my first shoot with these lights. I kept the colours and intensity of the lights the same, but just moved them around me and put them in different positions to get different looks. Harder shadows, a softer look, a dramatic glow, all with little adjustments of the direction and position of each light. I then edited each image with slightly different colour toning for a set that definitely looks like they belong together, but they all have their own unique feel.

Ok, let’s talk some details

Because I know these details are important when deciding to spend any amount of money. There are plenty of LED lights on the market so what sets these apart? Well, the ease of use and build quality are definitely up there. These lights don’t come cheap (usually between €150 – €190) but the user experience makes the price tag an understandable one. Read the technical details below.

What’s in the box?

  • Lume Cube Panel Pro
  • Diffuser
  • DSLR camera mount
  • USB-C to USB-A cable

Key Features

  • 3000 to 5700K Color Temperature, >96 CRI
  • 360 RGB Colors and Special Effects
  • iOS/Android Remote Control App
  • Vertical and Horizontal 1/4″-20 Mounting
  • 1500 Lux Output at 1.6′
  • 1 to 100% Brightness Dimming
  • Battery Rechargeable While in Use
  • Removable Softening Diffuser

Lots of potential

I definitely haven’t used them to their full potential yet, simply due to a lack of time, but I have some really fun ideas I hope to work on and share with you on my Instagram page. The fact that they’re already inspiring these ideas is a huge gold star for these lights in my book!

Let’s compare some tablets! Newbie XP-Pen vs veteran Wacom

What’s on my desk? #1

Intro: Wacom vs XP-Pen

The most essential thing for me to have on my desk during my retouching process is a good drawing tablet, so in this first entry of ‘What’s on my desk’ I want to talk to you guys about the one I am currently using vs my previous one!

I can’t think of doing all these hours of retouching without a tablet. Ever since I started digital creative work (graphic design, digital art, retouching) I worked with Wacom tablets and my latest one was the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium. When I was contacted by someone from XP-Pen Netherlands to try out and review something from their new line of products I made the switch to my current tablet. My first non-Wacom tablet!

I always love trying new gear and this seemed very relevant to me, because though I’ve always done my work with a tablet, I never tried any other brands than the one I was used to. Apart from that, there’s a pretty significant difference in price so definitely felt worth looking into. I always advise people that follow my retouching classes to work with a tablet, and I’d love to be able to offer them a good lower price option. So it was time to test!

When deciding which tablet to test I chose a XP Pen Deco Pro medium to compare to my current Wacom Intuos Pro Medium because they are the most similar. This way I could easily switch without having to change up my workflow dramatically and I could make a pretty good comparison between the two.

Looks and build

They have similar buttons, a similar layout and a very similar working area. The XP-Pen tablet is larger on my desk but only has a slightly larger active area as the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium. Aesthetically, I like the look of both tablets. The Wacom one is all black, has smaller buttons and wheels and a more toned down look whereas the XP-Pen tablet has silver accents, larger buttons (works well for my big hands) and some accent lights on the screen to mark the active area and in the ‘wheel’. Both tablets have a similar weight and feel with a nice finish. Neither feel ‘cheap’. Both have a smooth surface, but the XP-Pen tablet feels a little more textured and paper-like when using the pen. A big difference is that the Wacom Intuos Pro has touch-functionality. I can’t speak on that much though, as I have actually never used it, I only worked with my pen and always had the ‘touch’ function turned off.

Pens & buttons

One thing I noticed when I started working with my Wacom Intuos Pro Medium is that the pen tip would wear down really quickly. I’ve had to replace it quite fast, after a few weeks. This was never an issue with my old Wacom tablets. At the moment, after using the XP-Pen for almost two months the pen nib is still going strong. Both pens have the same thickness and feel. The XP-Pen pen works well and feels nice to hold. I have multiple chronic pain issues as well as hypermobile joints in my already overly sensitive hands so this is an important detail to me. It’s not too thin and I can hold it in a way that makes my hand-therapist happy. I could do with a bit of a thicker pen, but it does the job fine as is. Both tablet pens have buttons that you can assign your own desired functionality to. The main difference is that the Wacom pen has an eraser nib on the back, the XP-pen one does not have that functionality. I don’t miss it though, as I always use my keyboard shortcuts to switch between tools in photoshop.

Speaking of shortcuts, you can assign any of those to any of the keys on the tablets. Both tablets have 8 buttons and 2 wheels in a different layout. The wheel on the XP-Pen works better for me because for some reason I noticed a lot of ‘accidentally touching both wheels at the same time’ on the Wacom. Quite a recipe for chaos sometimes. It might be the difference in size (XP-pen wheels are bigger) or the fact that the XP-Pen wheels are more distinctly separated from each other. I should say that while I call them wheels, the XP-Pen software calls the outer wheel the ‘dial’ and the inner wheel the ‘trackpad’. Because although I use it as a wheel (to zoom in and out), the center circle has trackpad functionality and can be used in a variety of ways. I set the outer dial to function as the ‘[‘ and ‘]’ keys so I can use it to quickly resize my brushes in Photoshop.


With any tablet, it takes some time to figure out all the keys you want to have and what works for you, and I find myself still switching the buttons from time to time, but it’s so easy to do with the tablet software that this isn’t an issue at all. I’ve assigned ‘open tablet setting’ to one of my buttons for a quick change if I feel the need. The XP-Pen software gives you lots of options to customize the way your tablet works, and while Wacom software does that too I feel like I get a more custom experience with the XP-Pen software, if only because I find it a bit easier to navigate. It’s easy, straightforward, quick and it feels ‘small’ and uncomplicated, which makes it a breeze to work with. Wacom and XP-Pen software both have some ‘issues’ with Windows Ink, and both require the same fix to work properly with pen pressure in Photoshop. That’s more an issue on Adobe’s end though, and once you know this fix it’s not a big deal, even if it’s a bit frustrating that we still have to deal with the software and OS not working together properly.

Technical details

The part that is not so interesting to talk about but important to know: How similar are these tablets, technically? Where is XP-Pen saving money to offer a lower price? Is it still worth it? Let me put some of the main specs side by side.

XP-Pen Deco Pro MediumWacom Intuos Pro Medium
Active area 157mm x 279mmActive area 148 mm x 224 mm
Tablet Pen Pressure 8192 levelsTablet Pen Pressure 8192 levels
USB C USB C & Bluetooth
Tablet Resolution 5080 lpiTablet Resolution 5080 lpi
Tablet Tilt 60 DegreeTablet Tilt 60 Degree
Around €129Around €389

As you can see, at first glance and after reading my review, there are a LOT of similarities. The XP-Pen is a bit more toned down and misses some fancy features like wireless connectivity but in return it offers a more affordable option with great functionality.


Both tablets are great, at its price point I am highly impressed with the XP-Pen Deco Pro Medium, and I haven’t had a single reason to switch back to my Wacom since I started using it. The only reason would probably be a few cm’s of extra desk space and one less cable 😉

Interested in purchasing this tablet, or a different XP-Pen product? Check out their website www.xp-pen.nl and use code 10%JoseFienH for a 10% discount! (valid until 31-1-2021)

Play with something new

Playing with the Lensbaby  Sweet 80 optic for Photofacts Academy. They’ll have a full course about Lensbaby lenses soon!

The focus is slightly different in all of these images. It’s not always necessary to have a fully in focus model or perfect eye focus. When you want to shoot creative portraits, you can definitely say “fuck the rules” sometimes 😉 when it’s about the total package, colour, emotion, composition, creativity and your own personal touch, all of those things are more important than some rules about what’s “correct”. Sometimes it’s about the things that flow naturally and invoke an emotion. With lenses like the Sweet 80 you can create a totally different mood by shifting your focus and totally blurring parts of your image.

That being said, which one is your favorite and why? Have you ever shot portraits that go against rules and expectations?

Check out Lensbaby and all they have to offer here (affiliate link)

Model Migésa Gaidy at APL Model Management
Make-up and hair Charlotte van Beusekom
Top by Dark Virtue Designs

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