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10-16-2019, 01:00 PM   #1
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anyone else constantly hunting for camera bags?

In light of Peter McKinnon's new camera bag, and his pursuit for 'the best' camera bag, I feel the exact same way.
Every camera bag out there always seems to miss out on one thing or another that prevents them from being perfect.
Too small? Too big? Can only carry Camera gear? Cant fit in flights? Too heavy? Not water resistant?


what are your gripes with camera bags? have you found one that fits your needs perfectly? what wold you like in the camera bag that would be ideal for you?

for me, after trying several camera bags for years, I concluded to Lowepro Protactic 450 as the closest it gets to perfection. Though missing a few key things, and does have its issues, it is the most robust thing i've come across so far.
what i look for in camera bags is its likelyhood to travel with me, and keep up with my never going requests:
1) access from the back. I dont want anyone walking behind me and have access to the camera gear
2) does not look like a camera bag. Sure, those looking to steal a bag will know exactly what is and isn't a camera bag, but dont want to make it too obvious.
3) something that can securely hold my camera body, a few lenses, and gives me room to carry my other travel gear like jackets, food, shoes, toiletries, etc
4) something that is easy to access. I dont have to move one thing just to get to another. everything is available upon demand
5) something i can fit under flight seats

Where I find the Lowepro protacting 450 to be lacking is that it may be a bit TOO big. Or there is LOTS of wasting room. So If i place my bag on the ground, and open from the back, I have a good 3-8 inches of clearing above my camera gear that I could easily store more stuff in, if it was organized better..OR i could carry a smaller bag that would be lighter, and easier to walk around with in crowded areas. with the 450 on my back, i need to be careful when i'm turning around in a busy area as I may wack someone accidentally with the bag. But that is fine, if i could store more gear in it to the rim.

So for my use, perhaps a protactic 400 would be best. the 350 is too small and wont fit the K1 with the batter grip. Moreover, it will make things difficult to access from the top and side pocket access. So maybe if lowepro makes a protactic 400, i'll be all over it.

10-16-2019, 01:43 PM   #2
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O yeah, my wife's about to kill me. The closest two i have to being perfect are the Lowepro Passport and Domke F-5X#. They are both small shoulder bags and when I am on a mostly city type trip or vacation I use either one especially with my Micro 4/3 camera. The Lowepro is usually carrying my Micro 4/3's kit. The Domke also carries the KP and a few lenses very well.

My favorite backpacks right now are my Lowepro Flipside 400 AW II because it can carry the KP and the 20-40, 50-135, and 12-14 with an extra lens or two. its great for an outdoors type of excursion, or when I need to carry a bigger lens. I also have the Manfrotto Street Camera backpack as my current work/camera bag. I do the Daily and/or Single-In challenges and this bag fits my camera, work gear, lap top and a few odds and ends, and it looks a bit more refined than the Lowepro.

I do have to say my wife has the same Lowepro, actually she got it first and she is now starting to complain she needs another camera bag.
10-16-2019, 02:02 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I never bought one, but I've had at least a half a dozen. Still have 4, some I had to throw away due to mold or because they were just falling apart. They all came with film cameras I've bought in the past, and one large Lowepro bag came when I bought my first DSLR, the K20D.

One of them I find to be absolutely perfect, an old Mohawk "large" camera bag (I guess it was large for the film era). They are very easily found on Ebay and other places. Here it is:



As you see, I can have two larger lenses on one side, two smaller lenses underneath the camera with lens attached, so I can always bring 5 at a time. The lays in the middle or sometimes the K-S1 does. I can change that combination but it's just the right size that I can use it as a shoulder bag or even as a messenger bag. The strap is very comfortable, the bag is very well padded and still light enough. It also looks like it will last forever. The inside of the cover had the original owner's name and phone written, but I can't complain since it cost me all of 12 dollars at Goodwill with a working P30T and lens plus a 58mm circular polarizer and even a thiristor flash
10-16-2019, 02:10 PM   #4
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Somewhere I have a shot called a boy and his bags... where I recline on the bed for a selfie surrounded by bags. I have a lot of camera bags. 20+ I think if I recall the numbers. I just grabbed a smaller Nikon the other day for some M43 or small kit APSC stuff.

What's interesting is that I don't find any of them useless - but I do find some are in rotation more than others. The APSC favorite is a Case Logic sling bag. The m43 favorite is an older small Pentax gadget bag. I have many brands and many styles. I have never like messenger bags much, and I really like sling bags for their utility.

10-16-2019, 02:13 PM   #5
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Yes, I picked up a cheap one for $8.99 quite a while ago and it has turned out to be rock solid and very functional
10-16-2019, 02:22 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by hadi Quote
2) does not look like a camera bag. Sure, those looking to steal a bag will know exactly what is and isn't a camera bag, but dont want to make it too obvious.
Years ago, I read a reader tip in Popular Photography along the lines of "I always use a baby diaper bag for my gear anytime I'm worried about theft. Baby bags have lots of padded compartments and at least one waterproof section. People will steal a bag that has a camera company's logo on it. Nobody, just nobody, is going to mess with your diapers."

Having said that, I look for a bag that isn't entirely black. I do a lot of sunset shots and evening hikes, and black bags are much easier to lose in dim light. So a reflective patch, white zippers, or orange trim goes a long way to helping me find my gear after I've set it down. I also appreciate bag interiors that are light grey. Easier to spot dirt, pebbles, loose hot shoe covers inside a light-colored bag.
10-16-2019, 02:37 PM   #7
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I've yet to find a bag I'm completely satisfied with, largely because I have different requirements on different occasions.

The closest I've found was a Kata Lite 445 DL that I bought cheaply when the brand was acquired by Manfrotto. It's light weight, tough, sturdy, well padded all round, roomy, easily configurable with the inserts, deep enough for a 70-200 f/2.8 or DA*60-250, internal zips are well covered to avoid rubbing against equipment, has enough pockets, and comes with an effective rain cover. The strap is great too. It carries plenty for a weekend or even a week's shooting, but as a result it's not all that compact. I wish I'd also bought one of the slightly smaller variants to carry my camera and a couple of additional lenses, as that would be more practical to carry. Plus, it looks like a camera bag, so I would be wary of carrying it around in certain situations - and I certainly wouldn't leave it sitting anywhere unattended...

I would love a Domke or Domke-style bag, but only if it was padded... I've had a couple of situations where I know for sure the padding in my Kata saved the day

Last edited by BigMackCam; 10-16-2019 at 02:43 PM.
10-16-2019, 02:41 PM   #8
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Currently using a Lowepro Format 140 which is small enough to carry my Kalimar slr with a 35mm f2.8 lens attached and small accessories in the side, but looking at possibly getting a Lowpro Rezo 170 AW so I can carry a my 50mm f1.7 lens & extension tubes with me.

10-16-2019, 03:06 PM   #9
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Like many, I too have accumulated too many camera bags, my latest is Thinktank, Photocross 13 which I have finally settled on!
10-16-2019, 03:37 PM   #10
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I have several, three acquired within the last three years and none as good as the TEK-brand bag I picked off of the discount shelf at Citizen Photo in Portland in the early 1990s. Sadly, that bag is a little too tight for my K-3 and lenses, the dividers being fixed and designed for film SLR kit. I actually found a listing for a nice one on eBay so you can see why I like it.


Vintage TEK Tam Padded Camera Bag / Tote Black With Shoulder Strap | eBay


At present, I shift stuff between a larger Manfrotto messenger bag (BULKY and too much for walk-around), a partitioned six-pack cooler (works great for compact kit, but tight for camera + lenses), and an Amazon Essentials Large dSLR Bag (exceptional value, but sort of strange in actual use) (LINK). The Manfrotto, I use if distance is not too far from the car. A plus is that it has the option of a top-rear access through a zip opening. It looks more like a large laptop bag than a camera bag; no protection there, eh? The cooler-based bag is great for city walk-around where I don't need much and where the camera can remain around my neck. It only looks like a photo bag if I am carrying the camera (duh).

Want rear access? Turn the bag around.

That leaves the Amazon Essentials. It is cool in that it may be configured for a typical two-zoom kit + flash + camera and still have room for batteries, filters, and other stuff without being overly bulky or unwieldy. Did I mention that it is also VERY reasonably-priced? The only rubs being:
  • The dividers are simply hard to position in a manner that makes sense
  • The inner flannel lining is loose on the padding (not stitched-through velcro), making placing the dividers cumbersome
  • I have yet to figure out a comfort position for the shoulder strap
  • The tripod loops are not workable. I am going to cut them off.
  • The top entry involves both padded flap and velco-attached hinged padded zip lid. The combo is strange, but works...sort of.
I need to do a full review for this site, but not today.

FWIW: I also have two converted lunch bags that I use for film rangefinder outings and for my 4x5 field camera. Both work great.


Steve

P.S. I bought the TEK bag from eBay. It is in too good a condition and too good a bag to pass up at only $25 USD.

Last edited by stevebrot; 10-16-2019 at 04:04 PM.
10-16-2019, 03:51 PM   #11
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the perfect bag/backpack doesn't exist. The closest I have found to 'perfection' is the lowepro 250, but even this one is either too big or too small in many situations.
10-16-2019, 04:03 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by sergysergy Quote
the perfect bag/backpack doesn't exist.
How true!
10-16-2019, 04:10 PM   #13
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I agree there is no perfect bag and I have a few, but what gets used mostly is my ThinkTank Turnstyles, I have two, a 5 and a 10. They keep me from packing too much and are very easy access.
10-16-2019, 04:13 PM   #14
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I actually have 4 bags that I use right now. I use a Lowepro Flipside 400 as my main camera bag, an Incase Icon as my daily bag, an Incase Icon Slim as my work bag, and a Manfrotto Advanced Active bag for camera and general use. What I really want is a bag that combines the Incase Icon and Manfrotto into one bag.
10-16-2019, 04:14 PM   #15
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Yep, it all depends on what you need to carry and where you want to carry it. For example traveling light has very different requirements (including a kit with a K-01 for me).

However for 90% of my requirements (with a K-1 kit) my Lowepro Flipside 400 AW II, suits me fine. Big enough but not too big for me.

It would be tigher if I was trying carry a couple of DFA* zooms but fortunately for me I will only carry relatively light and small lenses (mostly FA limited lenses).
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