IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT CAMERA BAG - PART 1

Camera bags. Where do I begin? I have been into photography for several years now and I have to say that my ongoing dilemma is selecting the right camera bag. Now, I understand that each type of shooting requires a different kind of bag, but I seem to be on a never-ending quest to find the right camera bag.  It’s gotten out of hand. So I thought I would air out my grievances and explain my woes with each bag. This won’t be all negative though, I may have stumbled upon a few gems in the past couple of days that might hold a solution. Also, I’ll cover the bags I currently own and why I like them.

 Lowepro Micro Trekker 200 AW

Lowepro Micro Trekker 200 AW

LOWEPRO MICRO TREKKER 200 AW

This was the first camera bag I ever owned. My wife bought it for me shortly after I inherited an old film camera from my Dad. Lowepro doesn’t make this camera bag anymore, and I think it’s because it could only fit small children with really wide shoulders. I eventually retired this bag from carrying my main camera setup and instead used it to carry my Rode shotgun mic and accessories for video. I have since sold it, but let me tell you what this bag lacked for me and why I went in search of another camera bag.

Aside from being too small to wear properly (I used to let one strap out and wear it like a sling bag), it was too shallow to fit a pro body DSLR or DSLR with attached grip. The all weather feature from Lowepro is nice, I have used it many times, but the lack of space as I acquired more stuff began to hold me back.

LOWEPRO NOVA 5 AW

This camera bag has also been discontinued, however it is similar to the current Lowepro Nova 200 AW. This was a great bag with plenty of carrying capacity. When I was second shooting weddings for a very brief period, this bag worked perfectly. I loved being able to get to everything through the top and having the lid wide open was very convenient. I also loved the fact that any lens could go in any compartment. If I swapped a zoom for a prime lens they could come and go like a line change on a well-oiled hockey team! The bag was deep enough to hold a fast zoom lens with the hood inverted, which made things very convenient. Another added bonus when shooting weddings was the ability to shoot two bodies with different lenses and have them both fit in the top with breathing room. Overall, it was a great bag. 

“If it was so great, why’d you get rid of it?” Good question! I quit shooting weddings, which meant I was shooting more outdoor sports, travel and adventure and needed a bag that would fit that shooting style. Enter the Tamrac 5587 Expedition 7x.

 Lowepro Nova 5 AW

Lowepro Nova 5 AW

 Tamrac 5587 Expedition 7x

Tamrac 5587 Expedition 7x

TAMRAC 5587 EXPEDITION 7x

I should never have purchased this bag in the first place. It’s not the bags fault, I blame it on skinny mirrors. Like clothes shopping, camera bags always look good in the store. However, the inherent problem with shopping for camera bags is the inability to stuff it full of your gear and really give it a good sold test. The Tamrac should have been the perfect camera backpack for hauling everything…laptop included. Problem number one, and I should have seen this coming, is that you have to lay it on the ground (mud, snow, water, dirt) to get into your gear. After taking your award-winning shot you place that nice dirty side right against your back. This made for some dirty photo shoots. The other problem was the weight. Before the pack was even loaded it was heavy. I thought that was needed to help protect my equipment, but it turns out it was needed to help me not want to haul the bag around anymore. The bags life in the field was short lived and it quickly found a place in the closet holding old equipment that “might” be needed someday.

LOWEPRO INVERSE 100AW

Having just left the world of too heavy and cumbersome to do anything, I opted next for something small and light that could carry the essential items for a day out in the mountains. The Lowepro Inverse seemed to fit the bill. In hindsight I should have opted for the 200, but I was afraid of it being too big. This bag lasted a while in the lineup but eventually fell out for two reasons. Reason one, It was too shallow and space was too limited to carry my lens lineup with the included, and much needed, lens hood. Even a standard body DSLR with the 24-70 f/2.8 attached was too deep to really get the top closed. Reason two, I missed my 70-200. The bag couldn’t accommodate anything much longer than the 24-70 and I wanted and needed more reach in my images.

 Lowepro Inverse 100 AW

Lowepro Inverse 100 AW

Now, all of these bags are great and serve a purpose in the right conditions with the right gear. I’ve learned now to test every bag. That’s right, I haul everything I want to carry down to the store with me and cram it in to several bags until I find the right one to go home and buy online. Don’t judge me, you do it too. 

I’ll follow-up this post with my tips for selecting the right camera bag and add in a post about what bags I’m currently using and what’s on the horizon for me. Hope this helped.

Bag selection fascinates me and I really am interested in what you have to say. If you feel the need to gush (or vent frustration) over a bag, go right ahead and share. What bag do you carry and why?