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Friday, 18 January 2019


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In addition to the top zipper, I really like the silent velcro on the Tenba.

I used that messenger bag for a while doing landscape pics but found the weight when loaded too heavy. I went to a backpack style bag. But I liked the Tenba messenger so much, I took the insert out and used it as my work briefcase.

As an aside, I found out the hard (i.e. expensive) way, that when buying a backpack camera bag for using in the woods, always get a bag that open against you back. Not on the outside away from your back.

Don't forget your landscapists! I use F-Stop Gear backpacks even if I'm not hiking because it's a great way to carry lots of heavy gear without hurting your body too much since they use hiking backpack design principles to distribute the weight.

My typical load in their Lotus backpack and large pro ICU typically has gripped Nikon D850 and D500 bodies, a Sigma 50-100/1.8 zoom (which is as large as a full-frame 70-200/2.8 lens), and 28/1.4E, 58/1.4G, and 105/1.4E Nikkors with room leftover for a Nikon Z body and its FTZ adapter, or a couple more primes. With their smaller Guru backpack and small pro ICU, I can carry 1 gripped DSLR, 3 large f/1.4 Zeiss primes, and an Einstein strobe head with its external battery pack.

Their design and functionality is generally very good as is their durability. The logos aren't too visible either.

Recently I was shooting in a venue that didn't allow backpacks, so I had to move my equipment into a reusable shopping bag to carry in a relatively lightweight video setup: a Nikon Z6, shoulder mount, video mic, 24-70S zoom, a C/Y Zeiss 85/2.8 MMJ, and a few batteries. I suppose that's an option too!

A "goldilocks" bag is in the eyes of the beholder.

A little while back, Kirk Tuck spoke favorably of a Home Depot tool bag.

I might be the least hip person ever, but I do love the one-handed magnetic clasp on my Think Tank bag.

I have a couple of Domke bags (F-5xa and F6) that that still look new after years of use and will likely outlast me. The Lowepro ProTactic that I use for everyday carry is easier on the shoulders, so the Domke bags stay at home most of the time...

I applaud you for trying to put together a list for camera bags. Not only are there a seemingly endless number of them on the market, categorizing them is highly subjective based upon each persons personal styling preferences, perceived needs, budget/income, and desire to portray their own idealized/imagined status in the photography community.

It might be interesting to sometime (possibly not now, but in the future, if you're burned out on the topic) discuss camera bag *theory* as opposed to the desirability of specific bags. To ask how people actually use the bags, and what they want in one. There are so many bag designs that almost anyone can find one that is perfect or nearly perfect for their uses, but there are also designs that simply make you scratch your head and ask, "Why?"

So what are the design elements that are desirable and which are head-scratchers? In a way, the bags are like cameras themselves -- there seem to be several non-negotiable features (for most people) but you have a heck of a time finding all of them in one camera or bag. Like IBIS, or a quick-access flap. Shouldn't they ALL have those things, whatever those things may be?

One example: should a camera bag actually look like a camera bag? They don't necessarily have to, or if they do, they can be made very unobtrusive. Shouldn't all *serious* camera bags be like that?

The Think Tank Airport International V3 is 4.4kg empty. That won’t allow you to carry much gear on international carriers where the carry-on limit is usually 7 kg...

Some years ago in the UK there was a brand called Camera Care Systems. Sadly they closed when the owner retired.They had an idea that was so good that I can't understand why no one else uses it. Their shoulder bags had the usual flap held down by two leather straps of Billingham type. When this was opened it folded over the back of the bag and revealed the zip of a Gladstone bag style hinged cover. When unzipped you could close and open the bag in seconds. It was stiff enough to stay closed without using the zip.

Just thought I'd offer a nod to Wandrd's Prvke bags (though their 'we're-too-hip-to-use-all-the-vowels-we-should' naming policy irks me). I got mine just about two years ago and absolutely love it.

I don’t have the experience that you have, but I’m with you re. Thinktank bags. I’ve had a few, but my current one is an Urban Disguise Classic 35. It turns out that it takes my 5DIV, 24-105 f4, 16-35 f4, 70-200 f4, 13” MacBook Pro, iPad, connectors, spare battery and headphones for a (tiny) smidge under 7kgs. Which is handy, as that’s Emirates Airlines’ cabin baggage weight limit, and they’re who I use for my trips to Asia.

A win!

The all-black Foggs, especially a smallish bag like the ‘b-laika’, look fairly discreet, and with no screaming labels...


And after 20 years....film and digital... :) mine looks well used but still robust. The cost significantly less, though, back then.

I bought my large Billingham in the 1970s and it is still going strong,transporting a lot of gear for all sorts of events.

I would certainly not describe Billingham as a Veblen good.

Fogg looks good with the Fuji X100 or X-Pro in it. Just as good as it does with a Leica M4 or newer.

The classic/archetypical Pelican cases are actually not roto-molded. Their roto-molded line comes from their acquisition of Hardigg, which are generally very rectangular cases with removable lids.

By the way, I did not comment on this issue earlier but I have used an upstrap but found that when stored in a bag with Nikon cameras, some sort of reaction occurs where the rubber becomes sticky on lens barrels etc. When I stopped using the strap, the problem resolved. Might be something in that sticky pad they have. Not a very scientific test but was wondering if anyone else has noticed this? Often an observation like this can lead to a testable hypothesis and maybe one of your readers has been more diligent than I have and sorted this out.

This is funny. I didn’t read the bags post until a few days later. I felt like you were a little dismissive of Lowepro, and not giving ThinkTank their just due. But I wasn’t going to comment because it was late and I thought this had moved on.

Then I saw this and you read my mind. I agree that ThinkTank makes great products. I have several, and just really think they have it figured out.

Just so you know, the Pelican cases used to transport gear are indeed injection molded. Their rotomolded products are more like industrial containers. Just as Robbie said, I just say his comment.

[Fixed now. Thanks to you and Robbie. --Mike]

Ooh yeah, Billingham Hadley.

I have a small and a large, both of which have been used regularly for the past 12 years or so. They have actually become more useful as my cameras have decreased in size. The large Hadley comfortably holds a Sony A7 III body and three Sony F4 zooms (12-24, 24-105, and 70-200). Not exactly lightweight, but still shoulder-strappable and way, way lighter than the two Hasselblad 500C bodies and 3~4 lenses I used to carry around in a LowePro backpack. Now that was HEAVY! The small Hadley is perfect for an APS-C kit, specifically my a6500 and 2~3 lenses.

Given that both bags are sill in great shape, and that I can't see any reason to replace them, I'd have to say they were a good investment. Good value for the money, even. People like 'em for a reason.

The poor ol' LowePro backpack that had to support the heavy stuff back in the day was a darn good bag too. I still have it, but almost never use it anymore. A memento of the good ol' days, as we like to remember them.

Camera bags are the universe's way of reminding us that perfection will always be just out of reach.

I wonder if there are people out there, I mean genuine working pro photographers, who carry their cameras on a factory standard strap? Or should there be the ultimate list of hipster camera straps to accompany the ultimate list of hipster camera bags?

Yes -- camera bag theory!

Transport bags vs. working bags (and how many of us try to make one bag perform both functions; but for example I don't need a working bag in a studio).

How horrible top zippers are (too narrow an opening). The importance of the top flap, and storage in the flap. How the idea of attaching a tripod to a bag is so obvious, and apparently so useless (I've set up for it twice, most of my bags are clearly equipped for it, but I've never found it useful). The lack of places to store discharged batteries. The need to accommodate your good body with the 70-200/2.8 mounted for quick access.

The Oberwerth brand is named after the Oberwerth district of the city of Koblenz in Germany as this is where the owners of the company live.

In using any camera bag, said device is assumed for cameras less than a negative size of 4" x 5" !
That noted when I was much younger (50 years earlier)
cameras were built different; of metal and non-"plastic"
materials. Said hardware was heavy in weight. Now add the additional weight of a Billingham all
leather carry case and you've got a serious weight problem. My age has increased, however find here in Canada a whole lot of product cases are simply not available; probably would be well over 30%. higher in price over the pricing in the USA.

Best carry bag? Used camera bags are like used automobiles; too many to count, lots of variety, and available for cheap expenditures. Thrift shops are
the best place to start looking; am I cheap,
let's say just say practical, eh?

I think it goes without saying -- for many photographers with a range of gear and pursuits -- that one camera bag is never enough. Over the last 30 years I have accumulated several camera bags and I keep them all (in one place). A little while ago I dusted off a camera bag I hadn't used for 25 years!

I find the whole "Stylish Women's-Fashion" category to be pretty offensive. To me, it looks like a cynical and highly sexist exercise in marginalization on the part of bag manufacturers. Sure, there might be a marginal market for it, but historically speaking photography is, arguably, the most gender neutral of art-related activities. The list of notable photographers who were women is a long one and goes back to photography's very beginning. I'm pretty sure these women never suffered for the lack of a bag that matched their shoes, or that looked like a large purse. I think the executives pushing this stuff, almost certainly men, should be forced to dress in drag and schlep around camera gear in these ridiculous bags they're selling.

There. I feel better now.

I’m a big fan of Think Tank, and use a ‘Hubba Hubba Hiney’ shoulder bag/waist pack which is the perfect size for a m43 camera and a handful of lenses.
Doesn’t have a top flap, but generally tends to be a lens and sunglasses case store, while the camera is in hand.

Also as it’s modular, it can strap onto Think Tank’s belt system.

Incredibly useful when hiking or walking, as it can strap onto the waist or chest belts for backpacks, for a practical way of carrying your camera gear.

Durability and build quality is exemplary, as reported by all other users.

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