To photographers, the term camera bag can refer to a wide variety of equipment. From a small lens case that attaches to a belt to giant rolling hard-sided cases the size of steamer trunks, camera bags come in all sizes and shapes. Many professional photographers will own at least one of each size and type of bag to handle a variety of jobs and purposes. But every photographer has one go-to bag that handles the day to day job of carrying, protecting and organizing their main camera bodies, lenses and supplies. This article will review four bags that fit this job description:
ThinkTank Streetwalker Pro
ThinkTank is well known among professional photographers for quality and durable camera bags built to last a lifetime. The Streetwalker Pro model balances size, performance and flexibility. The main compartment, with all dividers removed, is large enough to hold a pro model camera body with a 400 mm f/2.8 lens attached. Depending on the configuration of the dividers, this same compartment can hold a camera body with a 70-200 mm zoom lens attached along with 2-3 more lenses and a flash. With small lenses, it can accommodate two camera bodies. Numerous other pouches on the back of the bag and attached to the contoured straps can hold other small items, such as light meters, cell-phones, memory cards and extra batteries. A rain cover is provided that is stored in a zippered pocket and exterior straps will hold a tripod in place
Tamrac Expedition 5
Tamrac is a name that is better known to most mainstream photographers and is one of the brands that can be found in most any store that sells photographic gear. The Tamrac Expedition 5, like the ThinkTank bag, is a good medium sized bag for everyday use. The Tamrac is slightly wider and deeper than the ThinkTank, but not quite as tall. The main pocket is also configurable and can hold a camera, 4-5 lenses and a flash, or two cameras with fewer lenses. The Tamrac also has a padded front pocket that will hold a small (12 inch) laptop or tablet. On the back of the bag, two zippered wing pockets will hold a variety of small items. Between these two pockets is a clip based system to hold a tripod.
Lowepro is the other well-known brand of consumer camera bags. The X200 falls slightly outside the normal scope of this article, but with its removable, internal section, which doubles as a backpack, this bag offers the best of both worlds, being both a rolling bag and a backpack. At almost twice the size as the other two, this bag is only for those wanting to carry around the maximum amount of gear. Again, with a configurable main compartment, this bag can carry multiple camera bodies and the longest of lenses with plenty of room to spare. Being larger, it can handle a full-size laptop. There are straps on the sides for a tripod. As a rolling bag, it has a retractable handle and sturdy wheels. Unzip the outer case and pull out the inner bag from the Velcro straps and it becomes a large, but comfortable backpack.
Lowepro Slingshot 302
The size of the Slingshot 302 model is back on par with the first two bags and is the largest of the Slingshot line. The amount of gear that can be stored in the main pocket is comparable to those bags as well, but the Slingshot bag has a unique feature in its single shoulder strap design. This allows the bag to be swiveled to in front of the photographer who can gain access to equipment to the handy side zipper. The bag has a single strap that goes across the chest in front to help distribute weight and is aided by a hip belt. The hip belt carries most of the weight, making the single strap a feasible feature. There is a zippered pouch on the back of the bag to hold the smaller essentials. There is also a large upper pocket for a water bottle and other non-photographic needs.
Most, if not all, camera bag manufacturers have a bag that fits this medium to large category, and will hold a similar amount of equipment, but as they say, the devil is in the details. It’s the little things that can make one bag the perfect choice for the photographer, whether it’s being able to access equipment without taking the bag off or being able to handle a specific body-lens combination. The main thing is to buy a quality bag from a well-known manufacturer that can give a lifetime of rugged use.