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Minimizing bulky cables and adapters.

In this section, I will review how I minimize the bulky cables and adapters I need to carry in my photo bag. While there are not a lot of cables to carry, reducing their bulk will minimize the space required in your photo bag.

The typical photo nut will carry more than one camera, and perhaps a portable laptop, netbook, or iPad. All of these devices means an assortment of cables, chargers, and adapters are required. At some point, the collection of these items can grow to an unmanageable pile, and can be hard to find places in your photo bag for them all. The alternatives are to use shorter cables, or multi-purpose cables so that they take up less space, and can be stuffed in your photo bag. I use a Think Tank Cable Management 10 pouch, and am able to get all of my cables and adapters into this small bag. As an added bonus, the pouch also contains 3 bungie keepers for organizing your cables.

Specifications
Manufacturer: Think Tank Photo
Model: Cable Management 10
Material: Clear PU laminated mesh
Dimensions: 7.5" x 2.25" x 3.75"
MSRP: $14.95

 

Power Cables: The typical power cable is around 6ft. long. Popular connectors include IEC C5 (also known as a Mickey Mouse connector), IEC C7, and a polarized IEC C7. IEC C5 connectors are more typical on laptops while IEC C7 connectors are usually found on camera battery chargers. These cables are probably the bulkiest items, and just two or three of them will all but fill the Think Tank Cable Management 10 pouch. These cables can be minimized by purchasing either 1ft versions or right-angle adapters as shown here:

IEC C7 Adapter
IEC C7 1ft Cord
IEC C5 Adapter
IEC C5 1ft Cord

 

USB Cables: Similar to power cables, there are various USB cables you might have, including cables for an iPad and cameras, all of which are typically 6ft as well. Camera cables typically have USB Mini-5 connectors, USB Mini-8, and USB Micro 8 connectors. Many times you can find these cables in 1 ft lengths, or you can use a universal cable adapter kit such as the JDI GoldX kit which consists of a cable and various adapters. Note that as shown in the attached video, you may wish to purchase additional adapters with the JDI kit.

1ft iPod/USB Cable
JDI GoldX 12 in 1 Camera Kit

JDI Goldx 12 in 1 Camera Kit - Compatible Cameras

 

Other Adapters: One nice item is the Belkin combo Surge Suppressor, outlet expander, and dual USB charger. If you have the room in your photo bag, it's a nice to have.

Belkin Surge Suppressor/Dual USB Charger
The Sharper Image 120VAC Dual USB Charger

 

 

OEM Chargers: One item you may want to avoid are third-party camera chargers (as well as batteries). The primary issue is fast charging your batteries with a charger of unknown quality and capability. You could quickly destroy an expensive camera battery by improperly charging/overcharging it. Only use the manufacturer provided batteries and chargers in your equipment.

When a manufacturer specifies a battery, the charger is designed to safely charge the battery - both in primary and trickle charge states. A typical 3rd party charger is more-or-less a universal charger, designed for many different batteries. There is no way that a charger such as this can anticipate the battery's voltage and capacity - and without these factors, a charger cannot properly fast charge a battery.

If you need to buy a 3rd party charger - the only safe ones are the SLOW, or overnight chargers that require 16 hours to recharge a battery. These chargers will not typically damage a battery in the overcharge state.

Often, 3rd party batteries have different voltages and capacities, so in a similar fashion, the OEM charger may not be able to properly charge it as it is expecting a different battery.

In the worst case, mixing 3rd party chargers and batteries may result in damage to the battery, charger, or even camera. At best, the battery may not perform as well as it could.

Additional Battery Charger Ideas: Lenmar makes a pretty nice universal battery charger that is worth looking into; however, it is not probably going to save much space unless you also use rechargeable AA batteries for devices such as flash units. Lenmar's BCUNI3 adjustable charger can detect the battery voltage and chemistry and auto charge virtually any LiMH or Li-Ion battery. It also has a nice USB charging jack. If you only need to charge AA batteries, then Lenmar's R2G804U 4 hour charger will charge 4 LiMH batteries in 4 hours, and also includes a USB charging jack.

Lenmar BCUNI3 Universal Charger
Lenmar R2G804U AA/USB Charger

BCUNI3 Charger description and video
BCUNI3 Battery Compatibility chart

 

Conclusion: By replacing the long power and USB cables, I am able to get all of my cables and adapters into a Think Tank Photo Cable Management 10 pouch. This easily fits into my photo bag.

Sources:
Think Tank Photo Cable Management 10 Pouch
Conntek 30001 Travler Male Plug Adapter U.S. Male Plug To Laptop/Power Adapter IEC C7 Female Connector
Conntek 30013 Travler Male Plug Adapter U.S. Male Plug To Laptop/Power Adapter IEC C5 Female Connector
Notebook Power Cord, IEC C5 Plug, 1Ft.
Notebook Power Cord, IEC C7 Plug, 1Ft.

RadTech ProCable Shortz 20cm Charge/Sync Cable for all iPods and iPhones (Black)
JDI GoldX QuickConnect 12 in 1 Camera Kit - USB adapter kit ( USB / Hi-Speed USB )
Individual JDI GoldX QuickConnect Adapters
For Nikon EN-EL10 Charger; Coolpix S700, S510, S220, S570 and others
EN-EL3 EN-EL3e Digital Camera Battery Rapid Charger for Nikon DSLR D700, D300, D200, D90, D80

Belkin BZ103050vTVL Mini Surge Protector/Dual USB Charger
Sharper Image Dual USB AC Wall Charger With LED Indicator
USB 2.0 Shortys, A Male To Mini 5-Pin Male, 1 Ft.
Lenmar Bcuni3 Adjustable Battery Charger (with LCD Display)
Lenmar R2G804U R2G 4 Hour Charger Includes USB Output with 4 R2G 2150mAh NI-MH for AA/AAA Batteries