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Perfect SLR camera bag?


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11 replies to this topic

#1 of 12 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted April 10 2008 - 06:37 AM

Finally got me a sweet, new camera bag (of the sling variety) to replace the beat-up old one. Seems like a perfect fit for me (or as nearly so as a <=$100 bag can be), which has been hard to find. I had actually been looking on-and-off for about 2 years now, and finally had to choose something (in the nick of time) because the metal D rings that held the strap for the old one (the old Tamrac Velocity 5 w/ a Lowepro DRes-25 attached) completely wore out after ~5 years of near-daily lugging. Posted Image Posted Image

For anyone interested, this is the bag I bought (and it pretty much fits my entire essential, on-the-go kit, including my biggish 3lb 70-200mm f/2.8 telezoom, Posted Image which could no longer fit in my old bag since I upgraded to the Nikon D200 ~2 years ago Posted Image ):

Going Mobile: Review of the Kata T-214 Torso Pack | Shuttertalk

It's a very nice bag. Even feels less encumbering than the old (hip-style) sling bag despite carrying quite a bit more. And seems more protective of the gear too. Interestingly (or not Posted Image ), the kit shown in that review is very similar to mine, including the same camera body, though I generally carry a couple small-to-midsize primes instead of an extra ultra-wide-zoom. Posted Image

I had originally considered the Lowepro Slingshot 200 a long while back, but didn't like how it was designed specifically for slinging over the right shoulder, instead of the left. But this Kata T-214 doesn't have that problem and can easily be slung over either shoulder -- and it might also be more ergonomic in general than the Slingshot though it doesn't come in a version that stores as much as the Slingshot 300, if you actually need that. I had actually heard about the Kata nearly a year ago over on the dpreview's Nikon forum, but couldn't find it locally to check out before buying (and didn't have the help of the above review either).

Anyway, seems to be just about perfect for me, but I'm sure one size does not fit all as usual. Well, I suppose it'd be nice if I could somehow effectively attach a tripod to it, but then, it'd probably be too cumbersome for such a sling bag -- well, maybe I can rig something for the rare occasion when I do want to lug a tripod anyway. Posted Image

So anyway, what bag do you use? What's *your* ideal camera bag, if it exists (or even if not)? Posted Image

_Man_
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#2 of 12 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted April 10 2008 - 08:50 AM

I do not know if there is such a thing as an "ideal" bag... but I'd sure like to find one. Posted Image

Currently, I use two different bags depending on the need. My main travel bag is the Lowepro Slingshot 200 that Man mentioned above. It will fit my dSLR with EF 17-55mm f/2.8 lens attached, EF 70-200mm f/4 and EF-S 10-22mm lenses, Speedlite external flash, extra batteries/charger, compact flash cards, CP filter, 1.4x teleconvertor, and iPod Nano (not used for photography). I also have a water bottle holder accessory attached.

The bag's limitations for me are (1) no ability to attach a tripod, and (2) no room for an additional lens when I finally add a longer telephoto to my travel kit. Otherwise, it meets my needs, and is easy to handle in airports, since it functions as a backpack and can fit either under my seat or in the overhead storage on the plane.

I also have a smaller Tamrac shoulder bag that will hold my camera with the 17-55mm f/2.8 lens attached, my external flash and extra batteries and CF cards. I use this for light travel such as holiday family events. I added an external lens holder, but unfortunately it is too small for my upgraded 70-200mm f/4 telephoto, although it worked with the previous 70-300mm telephoto I owned when I bought this bag. I need to see if Tamrac offers a larger holder accessory that will fit my new lens.

BTW, I just upgraded my camera body to a Canon EOS 40D, from my previous Canon Digital Rebel XT (aka 350D). I just got the camera this week, so I'm still muddling through the manual to figure out how all the controls work. The user interface is much different than the Rebel line, but the commonly used settings are a lot easier to get use on the 40D once I find them. Posted Image

#3 of 12 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted April 10 2008 - 10:31 AM

I was thinking of posting this same topic as I've been on the search as well. I looked at the Kata when you mentioned it in the other thread, but I think I'm done bag shopping for a little while.

For many years, the LowePro Nova 4 fit my needs. I also have a Nova 5, but it often seemed a little big for the gear I use most of the time. The Nova 4 could hold my Canon Rebel with grip and 70-200mm f/2.8 attached, along with a small lens or two and a strobe. I think the internal protection could have been better, but stuff was easy to access and compact enough that I didn't feel clumsy. I think I will probably still use the Nova 4 as I have; the only thing is the physical strain that comes with a standard shoulder bag.

For travel (and hiking I imagine) I'm very pleased with the LowePro Fastpack 350. The even pressure of a true backpack makes it an incredibly comfortable bag over the long haul. You sacrifice a little accessibility compared to the Slingshot 300, but not much (you still get the side access feature), and the near elimination of shoulder strain is worth it in my book. I think the Slingshot 300 is a good working bag that reduces the strain and sometimes-clumsiness of a shoulder bag, but the Fastpack is my pick for the travel and outdoors.

I think I'm actually less fanatic about the camera equipment compared to the storage and transport solution for all of it. Posted Image
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#4 of 12 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted April 11 2008 - 12:58 PM

I find the crumpler 6 million dollar home perfect as a walkabout support bag and love my Crumpler backpack for travel with my macbook and DSLR, I think its the sinking barge but could be wrong, been a while since I bought it. I really like the style and durability of Crumpler, they dont scream out STEAL MY EXPENSIVE CAMERA

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#5 of 12 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted June 02 2008 - 04:56 AM

I just picked up a Lowepro Flipside 300 to replace my Lowepro Slingshot 200. The Slingshot would not fit my Canon 40D with 70-200mm f/4 IS lens attached to the camera and still have room for my other two lenses and accessories (it worked with my older 70-300mm IS lens). The Flipside also has a tripod attachment and is a true backpack, so it's easier on my back when the pack is loaded -- the Slingshot only has a single shoulder strap, so the weight was not as well distributed.

#6 of 12 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted June 02 2008 - 05:24 AM

Yeah, I tried the Slingshot 300 and it caused the same amount of discomfort as a shoulder bag over the course of a day with nominal advantages. I didn't have to fuss with repositioning the bag, but accessing the gear wasn't as easy. I wound up putting the lenses I needed in my coat pockets. I suppose the Slingshot 100 or a moderately loaded 200 would be tolerable, but I think sling bags aren't really suitable (at least for me) for all day situations.

So I've actually been looking at Kinesis, which is a belt system, recommended by a concert photographer I admire (check out ishootshows.com: Concert Photography). My stuffing lenses in coat pockets basically clued me in on what might be the solution. I don't really see the system working for casual stuff - unless I want to look like a total dork / mugging target - but when I'm in full blown photographer mode I think it will be perfect for accessibility and hours-long comfort.

Scott, why did you choose the Flipside over the Fastpack?
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#7 of 12 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted June 02 2008 - 06:24 AM

Cameron,

The Fastpack included a compartment for a laptop, which I didn't need. It looked like there was actually more space for camera equipment in the Flipside, and it was less expensive. Also, the Flipside's main gear compartment cannot be opened when it's worn on your back, and we will be walking around Boston for a couple of days this summer, so the idea of a little extra security while in a crowd was appealing, although not a primary reason for the purchase.

Having some sort of extra lens holster, as opposed to a complete belt system, would be useful for me. Sometimes when we are driving around on vacation, I will also try to stuff an extra lens in a pocket for short walking trips where I just want to take the camera and an extra lens. Although my wife can comment "is that a lens in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?" Posted Image

#8 of 12 OFFLINE   Craig S

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Posted June 03 2008 - 08:44 PM

A couple of months ago, after a short search, I picked up a Lowepro Slingshot 200. I like it a lot, it's comfortable for me to wear, it holds a fair amount, and the slip-around feature really works. My major concern was (and is) would it be big enough to hold the stuff I need to take on longer day hikes.

Well, my bag lust was satiated only briefly. A few weeks ago, I came across this review of the Think Tank Rotation 360 backpack system on the TWIP blog (Here's a direct product link for the Rotation 360).

Wow. This looks like a great system for the longer day hikes that we like to take when on vacation in the National Parks. It combines the comfort of a full backpack with the accessibility of the rotating belt pack. In addition to the extra space, other things it has over my Slingshot include lots of accessible attach points on the belt for things like water holders, and it accommodates a tripod on the back. Plus I really like that the included camera strap can attach to the shoulder pads - no more neck strain when you have to put your camera down for a few moments.

This thing is pricey, but it looks like they've thought of everything for the photog who's on his/her feet all day, especially out in nature. I suspect I will be ordering one of these before my next hiking trip.

Think Tank makes tons of other gear as well, including luggage, backpacks, and modular belt/harness systems. I don't have any of their stuff (yet), but I wanted to provide these links as one more choice for those here still searching for their perfect bag.

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#9 of 12 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted June 04 2008 - 10:53 AM

I've seen those Rotation 360 packs before, Craig. It looks like a sweet bag. Pricey, but well designed.

#10 of 12 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted June 04 2008 - 11:26 AM

Craig,

The Rotation 360 looks pretty cool, but seems like you cannot access a long lens that way though (nor any gear you need to put in the main backpack).

When I began looking at bags a long while back, I also heard about ThinkTank (along w/ Kata). They also offer some other sling-type bags w/ interesting configurability, but IIRC, they seemed a bit more extensive/complicated (and expensive) than I need.

Scott,

That Flipside looks like a nice bag also.

BTW, my Kata T-214 can also actually fit a DSLR like Canon 40D w/ 70-200 f/2.8 glass attached. I can do it w/ my Nikon D200 + Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 just fine -- and still have 2 partitioned compartments to hold one mid-size widezoom (like my 18-70 DX w/ hood in forward position) and probably *another* 70-200 f/2.8 telezoom (or similar), if need be. Posted Image The smaller front compartment is also large enough to fit my SD800 speedlight (w/ diffuser dome attached). And I do find the bag comfy to lug around (even w/ it stuffed full) as I mentioned in the first post -- it seems to do a nice job of distributing the weight across my back/waist and not only rely on my shoulder.

_Man_
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#11 of 12 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted June 09 2008 - 05:29 AM

I had a chance to check out a Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Home the other day. I had pretty much decided against one, but I needed a hands-on to confirm. If you're looking for something low profile then it's probably not a bad way to go, but I couldn't see myself getting one either as a working bag or for travel.

As a working bag I didn't like:
- non-swiveling shoulder strap
- excessive velcro on main closure (very loud and too strong a hold, which can slow down access)
- pockets not subdivided

Most of these can be fixed by user adapting, but for the price you shouldn't have to do that sort of thing.

For a travel bag I was looking for something that I could fold down into my luggage to then be unpacked for use later. The Crumpler is too heavily padded and rigid for that.
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#12 of 12 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted June 12 2008 - 03:32 PM

I was in Costco last week and there were LowePro Slingshot 200s selling for $70. Not a bad price. Costco.com is also selling them for that price.

After some evaluation I went for the Domke F-6 as my "stealthy" walkaround / working / travel bag. I definitely like the style of it - I got olive green so it looks like something from army surplus. And I'm pretty impressed with how much it can hold - looks are definitely deceiving. The shoulder strap is not anything special for comfort, but I'm hoping the Domke post office shoulder pad will alleviate that. I may eventually get the Domke F-2.

And anyone obsessed with bags needs to check out cambags.com. I've submitted a few reviews and find myself just perusing the different brands and models.
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