Dec 10, 2017

Think Tank Shape Shifter 17 v2 and Perception Pro backpacks review

Introduction

There are many types of camera bags. From the rolling cases to the sling, messenger and backpack, choices are almost limitless. Even within a type, subcategories offer even more options. This is particularly true of backpacks.

Hiking camera backpacks usually focus on offering quick access to the equipment, the faster the better. The downside is generally a smaller camera compartment.

Other backpacks concentrate on carrying, and protecting, a lot of gear. Quick access is less of a requirement in that case. Almost always, these bags have a front panel which opens all the way to reveal a grid of thick dividers.


The traditional approach

Such bags are extremely commonplace; it seems almost every bag manufacturer offers a variation on this theme. Differentiating elements are few: some offer side or top access or a novel way to carry a tripod, but the mold is rarely broken.

In this context, the recent releases from Think Tank are a breath of fresh air. The company, well-known among photographers and recognized for its Retrospective line of messenger bags, recently released two backpacks which try a different approach.

The first is the Shape Shifter V2. Available in two sizes, dubbed 15 and 17, this bag offers an easy way to compress or expand the main compartment as needed (thus “shape shifter”). The second is the Perspective Pro which is a sort of hybrid between an urban and a hiking backpack (the Pro has two smaller siblings, the Perception 15 and Tablet).

These two bags share one important feature: their means of carrying and accessing photo equipment. Instead of a grid of dividers, they both rely on pockets fixed to the back of the main compartment. This opens up a world of possibilities and changes the paradigm of carrying and accessing a lot of gear.

In this review, we will take a look at each bag individually as we normally do. We will then compare them to see in which circumstances each one would be the better choice.

Will this new approach really set these two bags apart? Read our review to find out!


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