Can’t decide what type of camera bag to own?

Sophia with Think Tank Shape Shifter

Sophia with Think Tank Shape Shifter

Gear is exciting to look at, to wish for and especially to own…for me, the type of  gear I love, is the gear that keeps your ‘gear’ in order, protected, to be inconspicuous with and also be comfortable transporting around with. Yes…Camera Bags!!

Photographers with bags are like women with purses. There is never that one bag that will fit all events. And I’m sure most photographers with a good amount of gear and that shoots many types of events would safely say, “It’s nice to have different style bags for the different types of conditions or events.” If some of you disagree, then I may just be a bag freak and may have a spending issue with an insignificant justification for gear hauling ‘gear’ ;)

I consider myself a baby in this awesome photography world, beginning about 2 1/2 years ago with a Canon Rebel t2i, 2 kit lenses and a very compact Lowepro Slingshot 100 AW. As my camera gear grew and going through the practice of what equipment fits our shoots, I’ve spent many research visiting camera stores, websites, YouTube and Craigslisting hours looking for ways in transporting or shooting from a bag. The irritating part of my bag search was, “Well…is this bag going to be too bulky if I decide to use it for smaller bit of equipment?” or “Well…do I need a messenger or backpack style bag?” or “Well…if I have a long lens attached to a body with a hood, will I be able to realistically fit it in this bag with other gear?” But honestly, the MOST irritating issue that I had was not being able to physically try on the bag and load it with particular equipment. 1) Living in Bellingham, WA…the largest retailer of camera bags was 1 1/2 hours away (Glaziers in Seattle). 2) The closest was about 20 mins away in a local shop, but was limited in brands (Quicksilver Photo Labs in Bellingham…awesome staff by far!)

So, after owning and trying on many camera bags of different makes|models, I did find myself gravitating towards Think Tank Photo bags. The fit and finish on these bags are amazing from its tough and smooth  YKK Zippers to the premium grade ballistic nylon fabric. Design elements in each bag made sense for each primary design. Comfort was equal or better with its competitors. Styling is minimalist, but still remains very handsome. YES…I do love what Think Tank Photo has produced and will probably remain a loyal customer as their designs become more ‘with the times’ of a photographers needs and wants changes. I think the only desire that I have is, I’d love for TTP to design a skinnier, taller Logistics Manager. At the moment I’m using an Impact lighting bag (w/ 4 AB heads in it’s own cases, (2) light duty light stands, (2) short stands, grids, umbrellas, extension cords and accessories, a large Photoflex Transpack (storing Heavy duty stands, booms, extension cords, small to humongous umbrellas and accessories.) and (2) Medium Tamrac Stand Bags (empty…but will usually use a bag with an AB800 in its own bag, a PCB 47″ Octobox, Heavy duty light stand and extension cord for example and it fit snugly.) But I guess I may have to keep wishing until the demand of such a light stand bag will be developed, but it would be an impressive bag. Hey TTP…design that lighting bag and name it Logistics Apprentice or Logistics Agent ;)

So what bags do I own?

TTP:

ShapeShifter

UrbanDisguise 60v1

UrbanDisguise 40v1

Retrospective 30v2

Sling O’matic 30

ChangeUp v1

DigitalHolster 50v2

DigitalHolster 40v2

a couple of LC 50′s, 75 popdowns and all the other stuff modulars

Artificial Intelligence 17v3

Airport Security v2

…and they all serve a purpose for us and will remain an invaluable tool in our transporting and shooting gear. In fact, I’m hoping TTP would build an Airport 4-sight v2 with a more robust,single wheel rather than the double, plasticity ones fitted now on each of the four corners. I can envision a their roller blade style wheels, used now on other Airport series bags, partially tucked in a wheel well, freely spinning 360 degrees and its wheel bearings/axles held in place with a rugged, hard plastic composite forks. It’s still a very nice stiff case bag to have and be very mobile in any type of ‘rollable’ environment and can also double as a TTR…’tired toddler rider’ (…it’s inevitable in airports or hotels etc).

So how do all these bags serve their purpose on earth for CaneteCo.?

ShapeShifter (LONG hikes, attached with some modular bags and/or Holster unto front straps, some travel or light lighting rig)

UrbanDisguise 60v1 (Traveling heavy, over flow/main gear transport, city walk w/laptop)

UrbanDisguise 40v1 (Traveling light, overflow/main gear transport, city walk w/o laptop, wifey bag)

Retrospective 30v2 (Weddings, outdoor portraiture, shooting bag)

Sling O’matic 30 (Family outings as in zoos|themeparks|city walks, short hikes)

ChangeUp v1 (Events, weddings, along with other modular components)

DigitalHolster 50v2 (Events with serious elements, along with other modular components)

DigitalHolster 40v2 (Events with serious elements, along with other modular components)

a couple of LC 50′s, 75 popdowns, the other stuff modulars, pro speed belt and steroid belt and pixel harness

Artificial Intelligence 17v3 (Traveling, city walk)

*UPDATED 08.2013

*Airport Navigator (Airline Traveling, Weddings…basically smaller storage|hub. Especially with airlines becoming more stringent with baggage size and quantity, this size is the max they’d accept without questioning. Although, if they decided to have it weighed, I’d be up sh!tcreek haahaa.)

Airport Security v2 (Some Traveling, Weddings…basically storage|hub and currently full that stitching is a bit stretched…just may need to invest in a safe for in home storage. Although we have home alarm AND surveillance in place which I think is pretty cool to have and every home owner should have one)

*Modular System I also use at weddings, portraiture at times…it’s handy to have on when you want to rest your camera into a LC or simply stash it behind a modular to prevent camera swing when using it along with a Black Rapid strap or straps similar in design.

I also own the LowePro Computrekker PLUS AW which is an awesomely large, older and comfortable backpack, just a bit bulky for my taste. It mainly sits on top of my shelf and I’ll eventually sell this off if I decide to purchase a pack that carries the same amount of gear…then again I’d rather roll that much gear around on a TTP 4-sight with the new and improved wheels and a hideaway backpack straps ;)

I also own the LowePro Classified 250 AW (which is comparable to TTP’s UD 60) and I definitely like the UD 60 over the LP Classified 250 AW. There’s many brands of camera bags out there and in some form or another, some companies have the same style offerings what TTP builds very well.

For example: “In the large shoulder bag category…Think Tank Photo’s UD 60 is much more desirable than the LowePro 250 AW in my opinion (both designed with almost equal purpose and capacity).”

Why so you may ask? 

Design & Finish: UD 60′s shape is slimmer, but holds about the same amount of gear fully loaded. LPC 250 AW main compartment zipper, ‘winged out’ on both sides (maybe to help divert rainwater from entering the ends main compartment and/or to widen the mouth for ease of access). With this ‘winged out’ design, the ‘D’ ring sewn directly below it, the shoulder strap catches on the ‘winged out’ thingy’s and gets to be obtrusive…TTP UD 60 is free from obtrusiveness. When carrying TPC  250 AW by the double handles and even the shoulder strap and with the zippers shut closed, the top of the bag really concave’s, causing it to puddle when it’s raining and eventually leaks through, even with the extra flappy, zipper cover thingy over it…I don’t think LPC 250 AW zippers are YYK, but the UD 60 hasn’t leak through yet and it holds its shape better (these are bare exposure to rain without rain covers). UD 60 has neoprene side pockets on both ends for even more gear carrying capabilities if needed…TPC 250 AW does not. UD 60′s straps seems to look and feel stronger and has a much more thicker, grippier and comfortable strap pad than the LPC 250 AW by far. UD 60′s luggage panel zips closed to double as another pocket and when zipped closed, there’s a Velcro tab to hold zipper handle in place…TPC 250 AW is only an open baggage panel. UD 60′s material is a more handsome and rigid woven look and it’s smaller ‘D’ ring attachment points it metal…TCP 250 AW’s small, ‘D’ ring attachment points is plastic and it’s overall skin material is decent, but definitely not in par with TTP UD 60.

These two bags are really the only ‘real use’ comparisons I can make with bags that are similar in purpose,design and capacity that I have used intensely. I have tried other bags that has a unique design approach and features, that TTP doesn’t offer in retail stores or from other photographers. But those bags to me, would either fall short on fit and finish or doesn’t come in black ;)

Now, I understand that TTP bags are not perfect by any means…personally, no bag is. It’s just a matter of budget, taste, efficiency, comfort and usability. Can you imagine a backpack you can also sling and shoulder AND with a main compartment flap with silencer tech, that you can slim down for a handful of gear AND then convert to a fatty for 2 pro bodies attached with both a 300 2.8 and the other with a 70-200 2.8, 5-6 other lenses, 3 speedlights and accessories AND then tuck the straps away and use it as a roller bag with a retractable handle AND if your rolling two bags, you can attach it unto a luggage handle AND then you can also convert it into a modular system and strap it around your waist. PERFECT Transformer Bag right?

To me, PERFECT for 2013 would be like having (2) 14-400 1.2 Carl Zeiss glass that’s embedded into an iPhone 5s loaded with 16gb of RAM, 1TB of mem, LR4 or Aperture 3 and PS6 software and capable to Thunderbolt into a 27″ Apple LED AND can project unto a wall with 10k of lumen AND can do virtual Wacom 5 Tablet with any pointy object that resembles a pen.

How do you like them apples?!? I’d take out a second mortgage for that Super Apple Geeknology!!

I do admire other makes and model bags that are offered that’s currently on the market. Think Tank Photo is blessed with designers with my tastes in bag styling and accessories that’s honestly, reasonably priced. Sure there’s comparably sized bags out there that’s priced much cheaper and some that’s priced much more, stylized with leather and brassy material. What ever you do, don’t agonize too much on it for there is literally hundreds upon hundreds to chose from. It’s really a personal choice that you will be researching for it’s features and style. What’s your budget? How much camera gear will you be carrying? Do you like backpack, shoulder or sling style? Would you like your bag to be able to hold a laptop and other things? Some people can live with one or two bags throughout their lifetime and some love to hoard or feel the need to have plenty of choices to select the right tool in their collection.

Well, I love having just the right tools and Think Tank Photo provides…and it comes in black ;)

4 Comments

  1. Brian Carey February 5, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    Yeah the more types of photography you do the more bags you need :-( I got three now and need another, a biggie for back packing!

  2. nicetocanete February 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    No kidding ;) Is there a pack you got your eyes on? Have you checked out the MindShift Bags through TTP yet?

  3. Troy Hendrickson February 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    I have a Tamrac Expedition 7x and a ThinkTank modular system with enough gear to hold almost everything the backpack can. I could care less what it looks like, looks don’t do much to protect a $2500 lens, and ergonomics trumps aesthetics too, when you’re belly crawling through goose poop… :)

    • nicetocanete February 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

      Agreed Troy, for that scenario :) I too love the that modular system when I’m on the run, dipping and diving…just not sure if our wedding clientele would dig goose poop art on any of our bags…although, I could be wrong ;)

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