Searching for a Camera Bag, part 2

So, after checking out some camera bags in-person, I’ve learned a few things. First of all, I really need to have a better idea of what all I plan to store in a camera bag, and how I plan to use it. That will give me a better idea of which camera bags to look at, so I can try them on for fit and comfort. Having said that, I did try on some camera bags in the store, to check out the fit.

The Tamrac Velocity 7x may be a decent camera bag for a guy, but I can’t recommend it to any female photographer. The strap goes from the left shoulder to roughly the right armpit; clearly women have a few things in the way, impeding the strap. It also felt rather “flappy” on my back, due to the position of the strap. Of course, it has a waist strap for stability, but that looks like it must be unclipped to rotate the bag around. Overall, it seemed like an ok bag, just not for me.

The Lowepro Slingshot 100 AW had a much better fit, for a sling bag. The shoulder strap goes from the left shoulder to roughly the right hip, so it stayed against my back much better than the Tamrac. It had a stability strap which buckled from the left hip to the main strap, but I thought the bag felt stable enough without the strap. I had a slight issue with one of the features of the Slingshot, though. When spun around to the front, the bag was positioned just under my ribs, to provide a platform for changing lenses or whatnot. It seemed a little high for my tastes, but I may have just had the strap too short. Also, the exterior accessory pouches aren’t as accessible while the bag is on, due to their orientation.

While I was at the camera shop, I also checked out the Lowepro Rezo 160. Yes, it’s a shoulder bag and not a sling bag, but it seemed nice. The top opens away from the body, so you can still access the camera without taking off the bag. It had a fair amount of space, and didn’t seem nearly as “box like” as my old camera bag.

After checking out the store, I can firmly say that I don’t want a Tamrac Velocity. I really like the look and feel of the Lowepro bags, but now I just need to decide which one I like best. The Rezo was easier to get on and off, and looks more traditional. The Slingshot was nice for the sling bag aspects; weight on the back more than shoulder, and the ability to have the bag on your back and out of the way, but quickly accessible. For everyday use, the Rezo would be perfect. However, if I want to bring my camera along on a bike ride, or wear it for long periods of time (like on a vacation), the Slingshot would probably be more comfortable.

Capacity is also going to be a concern. At this point, I don’t really have much gear; the Canon XT with kit lens, a spare CF card, a spare battery, the battery charger, a few filters, lens cleaning supplies and the manual. Obviously I want a bag with a little room to grow, but I don’t want to lug around a huge, unwieldy bag. I figure as far as lenses go, I may eventually get a mid-range zoom, a wide angle lens, a prime lens for portraits, and a macro lens. At some point I’ll probably also see about getting an external flash. Something that could accommodate the gear I have now, while still leaving space for some gear I plan to get eventually, would be great. Obviously, this means I’m going to need to further research the capacities of the camera bags I’m thinking about.

Searching for a Camera Bag

For Christmas, Matt got me a beautiful digital SLR (Canon Digital Rebel XT). It’s really nice, but now I need to get a case for it to keep it safe. Obviously it’s not going to fit in my old camera case – the old Powershot A610 just barely fit in there. I have the case from my old film SLR, but that is still occupied by the Minolta, and it’s not the greatest of cases anyway. I bought that case over 8 years ago, and at the time all I knew was that it had to hold my SLR. Experience has given me a better idea of what to look for in a bag.

For starters, I need a camera bag that is comfortable. The bag for my old film SLR is basically a big, unwieldy box on a strap. Functional, but not terribly comfortable. Also, I’d like to be able to to get the camera out without having to set the bag down to unload it. For that, I’m going to need a sling/messenger style camera bag. Something that I can carry the weight of on my back, but slide around to the front to access the camera.

Second, I want a bag that has a little room to grow. At the moment, I only have the kit lens for my DSLR, but hope to get another lens or two in the future. I don’t want to get a camera bag that is fitted to just the DSLR, because once I get more lenses or an external flash, I’ll have no where to put them. On the flip side, I don’t want to get a massive backpack style bag that I will never fill, as I’m trying to keep the camera bag mostly streamlined.

Those are the two most important criteria. Some of the other things I’m looking for seem fairly standard. For instance, I want the camera bag to be at least vaguely weatherproofed. It doesn’t have to survive a drop in a lake, but if I transport the bag of gear in a mist or light snow, I want the camera to stay dry. I also want a nice little pocket to store my spare memory card and battery pack. Space to stuff a little notepad might be convenient, in case there is anything important I need to remember about photos or locations.

I’ve been checking out some camera bags online, and the two bags that top my list right now are Adorama’s Slinger, and Tamrac’s Velocity series. Lee has a Slinger bag, and it seems to be quite nice – I’ve obviously not pawed through it, but he recommends it highly, and it meets all my criteria. I checked out the Velocity series online, and it looks like it meets all my criteria, but I would obviously want to check one out in person before I made my decision. I had at first considered Crumpler as I had heard that they were nice bags, but they look to be online only, and I find their website to be painfully obnoxious and unhelpful.