The humble camera bag is often overlooked, but in many ways it is one of the most important items in our kits. A camera bag allows us to carry, protect and disguise our precious cameras as well as carry all those small accessories that help us take the picture. However, there is a huge number of different bags on the market in a large number of styles. How do you choose? What should we look for in a camera bag?
If we have a closer look at the primary roles that a camera bag plays we can clearly see that there are a few essential requirements.
- A camera bag must hold our gear – this is capacity.
- A camera bag must protect and disguise our gear – this is protection.
- A camera bag must allow us to carry and transport our gear – this is mobility.
From these primary goals we can find a set of qualities that a good bag must have:
- Comfort – how comfortable the bag is to carry
- Access – how easy is it to get to our gear, so we don’t miss the shot
- Protection – how padded is the bag to prevent damage to our gear, but also how theft proof is our bag.
Now there are so many different types of bags on the market, how do each type rate?
- Accessory bags/lens pouches/wraps are skewed to protection at the expense of comfort and access as they will surely need to be placed within another, larger bag, but give the item that extra little bit of protection.
- Backpacks are often skewed to comfort and protection at the expense of access with varying ratios.
- Shoulder bags offers lots of easy access and varying amounts of protection but forget about comfort.
- Beltpacks offer easy access and comfort, but wont protect as well as a backpack or shoulder bag and will carry less.
When buying a bag you should always consider what needs to be carried and how it will be used. Unfortunately you will struggle to find the one bag that does everything for you, but you may find a combination of a few bags that suit your varied needs.
I own and use Lowepro bags, but other manufacturers that produce good bags include ThinkTank, Kata, Domke, Billingham and Tamrac.