Buying a camera bag can be a really stressful experience if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Like a good pair of shoes, your camera bag can really make or break your day. However, without a proper camera bag buyers guide, a lot of entry-level photographers make the mistake of purchasing a bag that isn’t comfortable, that isn’t in their price range, or that isn’t durable.
I know about this from a first-hand experience. My first camera bag was absolutely awful. It was a really cheap camera backpack that wasn’t breathable. It was uncomfortable to wear for even a few minutes, and since it was made out of a cheap plastic and cloth, it also wasn’t waterproof. The first time I got caught out in a storm with that camera bag, I went home and threw it away.
In order to prevent you from buying a camera bag that treats you this poorly, I have some camera bag questions that you should ask before making a purchase.
What Equipment Will You Be Carrying?
Obviously, you need to know what type of equipment you will be carrying in your camera bag in order to choose the correct one.
A small camera bag won’t fit a DSLR kit and a large camera bag isn’t necessary for a mirrorless.
So, figure out what camera you will most often be shooting with. Figure out which lenses you will most often be carrying. Plus, figure out if you foresee yourself carrying any drones or extra camera equipment at any time in the future.
The Hex Ranger DSLR sling is the perfect camera sling bag for someone who needs a little extra room for a DSLR kit, for instance, while the Hex Ranger Mini is far better for a mirrorless photographer. Since the Hex Ranger DSLR is the larger camera bag, it is more expensive. A mirrorless shooter who doesn’t need as much room can save a few dollars by getting the Mini instead.
What is Your Shooting Environment?
photo by DieterMeyrl via iStock
If your camera bag needs to be able to protect your equipment from serious rainfall, then you likely don’t want to purchase a leather camera bag.
Likewise, if your camera bag will be following you into the blazing hot desert, then you likely don’t want a camera bag made out of nylon.
What type of environment will you be shooting in the most often?
I frequently find myself working in moist environments. I’m not out in the pouring rain all the time, but I do get caught in small showers frequently and need to protect my equipment from the extra moisture.
For this reason, I recently purchased myself a Hex X Serj Tankian Backpack. This backpack is made out of a fabric that has been treated for water resistance, so I know that my equipment will stay dry, but it’s also large enough to carry all of my camera equipment for the longer shoots I’m usually going on.
This bag can fit up to two 15” laptops and has a total volume of 24 liters. It is very roomy and helps me to keep all of my camera gear organized.
How Long Are Your Trips?
One last question that you need to think about before you purchase a camera bag is exactly how much room you need in it. For example, if you only need a day pack, then a sling camera bag like the Hex Ranger DSLR bag could work perfectly to keep you nimble on your shoot.
However, if you’re planning to go out of town for a short weekend trip, then you likely need a larger bag that can double as both a camera bag and a carry on. For trips like these, the Hex X Serj Tankian Backpack would be far more appropriate.
Even if you’re only planning on taking a few longer trips per year, it may be worth it to invest in a larger bag so you don’t have to buy a new one the first time you jump on a plane.
Of course, the Hex Backpack is $130, while the Hex Ranger DSLR bag is only $100, so you should also factor in your budget.