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For the Love of Camera Bags

Discussion in 'Photography' started by JohnRice, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    I thought maybe we'd have a little discussion about camera bags. What you have that is especially awesome, or seriously short of awesome. I can't believe how many there are these days. So many options for specialized uses.


    One I recently got is a LowePro Magnum 650 AW as a "base" for everything. It's big, as in really big, but I wanted a bag that can hold everything, for when I'm not shooting, or as an easy way to lug the entire outfit to the car, then pull from it and put into a smaller bag as needed.


    Another favorite is a Case Logic DCB-308 Sling Pack. It's cheap and kind of cheaply made, but it's very functional and can carry a decent amount of gear. It even can hold my Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 with tripod mount, which is the same size as your standard 70-200 f/2.8. In other words, a large lens. If I was using it heavily, I'd probably plan on it not lasting terribly long and get a backup.


    Anyone else?
     
  2. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    I love Crumpler and Think Tank. My favorite bag is the TT Urban Disguise.
     
  3. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Bags are kind of a weakness of mine. For a time I was exploring a lot of Domke products, then Think Tank. These days I pretty much look to Think Tank for anything new, but my day-to-day bags tend to be Domkes.


    The largest bag I have is the Think Tank Streetwalker Hard Drive backpack. I bought it to use at Comic Con, then didn't really need it until recently when I needed to lug a dual-camera set up somewhere. I had considered selling it, but it definitely has come in handy when the need arises (and for whatever reason, some time after the year I bought it, the price on it when up by about $50).


    The next one is the Domke F-2, which I got basically brand new off Craigslist for $50. I haven't used it that much, but it can be a good storage bag.


    I also have the Domke F-5XB and F-5XC. The XB I tend to use when I'm traveling as it will hold my Olympus compact camera, accessories, and my 7" tablet. It also is nice for when I just need a single lens with my DSLR. The XC I pull out when I need my core kit - DSLR with 17-55mm lens, a full size flash, an 85mm lens, batteries, and a couple small accessories.


    If you count belt systems as bags, I also use a Think Tank belt with a Skin 50. I have other Skin and Modular components, but frankly don't use them as much once I started using a sling strap and Peak Capture Clip.


    My current "go to work" bag is a Think Tank Urban Disguise 35. For this scenario, I have had various makes and models which I've modified and adapted to suit my needs. My brother gave me a fancy Jack Spade bag that had a horrible strap that kept sliding and lengthening, but once I slapped a Timbuktu shoulder pad on it, which stopped the sliding problem, it became quite useful. I also picked up a Swiss Army bag from Target that has so many pockets that sometimes it's hard to find things in it. I took the fixed strap off that and made it so I can attach a Domke shoulder strap to it. It's the perfect size for a tablet and 5x7 notepad, pens, etc.


    I haven't even talked about my carry-on luggage yet. :)
     
  4. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    I have bags going back to probably 1980. There used to be a company here in Colorado called Atan. I still have several of their bags, including one that is a total ripoff of the Domke F2, just made with cordura nylon instead of canvas. If I remember right, I think Domke actually sued them over that bag and put them out of business. It was my favorite bag to shoot out of back in HS, but now I find the lens compartments aren't wide enough to hold most of the modern "fat" lenses I have.


    I guess I should look into Think Tank. The stuff looks good, though plenty expensive. I can see why Sam likes them in particular, since they have lots of good, functional shooting bags that accommodate very long lenses. I can see maybe eventually wanting something that I can quickly shoot out of that will hold the body, and any of my 18-35, 50-150 or 150-500 mounted on the camera. My only options with the long lenses right now are to take them off the camera to go in the bag. If I decide to try some wildlife or any kind of action, that won't work so well.


    I always liked LowePro, so I'm surprised that nobody mentioned any of theirs.
     
  5. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I used LowePro for many years, and still do for consumer grade equipment (e.g. my camcorder and random electronics gear I just need a little protection for). But once I learned about Think Tank, their stuff seemed a better fit. It probably didn't help/hurt that I tried out their belt system and that became the gateway product to the bags.
     
  6. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    Regarding Atan and Domke, I came across my own post here on HTF and it refreshed my memory. I worked in a camera store starting in the late '70s and now what I recall is that Atan actually came up with the design that became the Domke F2. They went out of business after only a couple years, and sold the design to Domke, or maybe one of the Atan founders actually started Domke. It was a huge hit right away with photojournalists. Amazing that over 35 years later it's still being made.
     
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  7. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I like Domke's inserts quite a bit. I've used them not just in their bags, but other bags as well, turning a non-camera bag into one by just adding one part. I used one in my bicycle panier to keep things organized and I'm still using one of Think Tank's rain covers as the panier cover when it rains. I guess my favorite part of the bag addiction is mixing and matching pieces of different things to make something suit my needs.
     
  8. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    It's interesting you say it that way, because the LowePro stuff I have is heavily protected. Probably more than necessary for most use. The Magnum cases are actually kind of semi-hard because the foam is very thick and maintains its shape. I have three variations of the Magnum going back to the original version. The new one has a rather solid, injection molded bottom plate. You could actually set it down in at least 1" of water and it would stay dry.
     
  9. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    When I started using Domke, it was basically a shift in attitude about what I needed in a bag (one to work out of, not for storage or high level protection), so the LowePros I had used (Nova 4 and 5, not sure if they are still made) became obviously over-padded and heavy. I also had a bad experience with a LowePro sling bag, which made me start exploring other makers, leading me to Think Tank.
     
  10. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    I've been loving my Kata T-214 Torso/Sling bag for daily carry-everywhere w/ my DSLR+widezoom (usually 17-55 f/2.8), a telezoom (upto 70-200 f/2.8 though that's a tight fit) and a small-ish prime (usually 85 f/1.8 or 105 f/2.8 micro w/ lenshood attached plus neoprene hood sock) and rocket blower in the main compartment (w/ dividers) plus assorted small items in other compartments -- I used to keep my SB800 speedlight in the front accessories compartment, which is just big enough for that, but no longer do so since the speedlight broke... and I haven't felt compelled to replace it. The back compartment is just big enough to fit a fullsize iPad... though some extra padding or a decent screen cover is probably needed to prevent stress damage to the screen... and these days I just keep a small-to-medium sketch pad there instead.


    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/426301-REG/Kata_KT_T_214_T_214_Torso_Pack.html


    It's basically the only bag I use (over the last ~10 years). I occasionally lug a separate lens case for a 2nd telezoom or my 180 f/2.8 prime and/or pocket a small prime (like 35 f/2) in my jacket, but it's not often enough to compel me to switch to a bigger bag to handle that. Would be nice though if I could attach my tripod or even monopod to it, but I've been fine just lugging those in their own bags (on different shoulder) since this sling bag isn't that bulky -- I also like that I can actually lug a violin case fairly well on the other shoulder because of that.


    Sadly, Kata's apparently been sold to Manfrotto and no longer makes quite the same bags -- actually, they seemed to have changed their design even long before the sale to Manfrotto. The new bags look a bit less ergonomic, a bit more bulky and a bit more spartan and/or bland to me, but are probably more or less equally functional. I may end up getting this Manfrotto Active Sling 2 to replace my Kata sling bag soon enough (as the Kata developed a big tear along the connecting seams of the outer side of the main shoulder strap where it connects to the bag... though it still seems fully functional for now).


    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1131964-REG/manfrotto_mb_ma_s_a2_active_sling_2.html


    I did originally consider the Lowepro Slingshot bags as well as Tamrac Velocity sling bags -- I actually had a Velocity 5(?) that I liked well enough before I moved up to the Nikon D200 and the 17-55 f/2.8, which just wouldn't fit -- but I find them a bit too "boxy" as sling bags plus the Lowepro doesn't sling on my preferred (left) shoulder.


    I also just noticed this Mountainsmith Descent sling pack that might be worth considering, especially if I want something bigger:


    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1024935-REG/mountainsmith_14_81250_65_descent_camera_backpack.html


    I'd consider a Think Tank sling bag, but they don't seem designed to store as much as the old Kata and new Manfrotto sling bags...


    _Man_
     
  11. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I have a couple Lowepro backpacks -- a Flipside 400AW and smaller Flipside 300. Since a lot of our travel is by air, my backpack needs to be small enough to fit under an airline seat just in case there is no space in the overhead. The 400AW is just small enough to do so, and I can squeeze two DSLR bodies, three zoom lenses (16-35 f/4, 24-105L and 100-400L), a 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens, and various accessories into it. I had the Flipside 300 first, and hung onto it for trips where I will be taking less equipment, such as one body and a subset of those lenses.


    I tried a Lowepro Slingshot bag previously, but found that it did not work well as a backpack, as the single shoulder strap did not distribute the weight well across my shoulders, which resulted in a sore back and neck when taking it on hikes. I also tried a Lowepro Flipside 500AW, but it was just too big to hike with, and would not fit underneath an airline seat.


    I also have a Tamrac messenger bag that I will use for short trips or local outings when I am taking just 1 or 2 lenses and maybe a flash.


    Finally, I have a couple of inexpensive Case Logic bags for my small Canon EOS M mirrorless setup -- a very small case that just fits the body with the 22mm f/2 pancake attached, along with a pocket for a spare battery, and also a larger case that will fit the entire mirrorless kit (body, 22mm and 18-55mm lenses, small external flash, holster, and battery charger).
     
  12. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    My bad experience with LowePro was with a Slingshot (the largest model).


    To be fair though, it's not so much LowePro's fault as I don't think any sling bag would be right for carrying large amounts of gear without stressing my neck and shoulders.
     
  13. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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  14. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    That was my conclusion, too. I cannot remember which Slingshot model I owned, but it wasn't too bad as long as I didn't put too much equipment in it. However, when loaded and weighing more, it quickly became uncomfortable and hurt my back and neck. A backpack really needs straps across both shoulders to distribute the weight, so it's a design flaw for any single shoulder sling bag.
     
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  15. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    Since I don't use my Slingshot 200 as my main camera/gear bag, I'm usually either already single/dual-strapping my camera (via Black Rapid style straps), and then just piling in either a lens or two, plus some speedlites and extra cards/batteries, triggers/receivers, so the discomfort level of a Slingshot doesn't faze me, and I use it as intended, to be able to access other lenses/flashes without having to take the bag off my back, which saves me time and trouble while shooting. But, I totally get why no one would use a Slingshot as their primary bag to carry a lot of gear in it.
     
  16. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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  17. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    Thanks. Excellent site.
     
  18. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    It's made better with user contributions and reviews, but I haven't sent in anything in awhile. I will probably start doing so again.
     
  19. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    I don't know what's going on with LowePro, but I keep coming across outrageous closeouts of discontinued models. Looking at their website it seems like they offer a staggering array (absurd really) of bags, and they're constantly being discontinued. In about the last three months I realized I've gotten six bags, to cover every conceivable situation. Is there a camera bag support group?
     
  20. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Haha. I know how you feel. I picked up an Event Messenger 100 from Amazon Warehouse because of all this talk, even though I really don't need another bag.
     

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