The most important non-photography equipment you may ever purchase is a camera bag. As with cameras, lenses, cars, blenders and any consumer products, there are a great number of camera bag types and brands. Choosing the right one depends on what kind of camera you own and photography you shoot today or what kind of camera you may own and what kind of photography you might shoot in the future.
If you’re shooting with a compact camera that easily fits in a pocket, purse or everyday pack, then you probably don’t need a separate camera bag. You can’t change the lens, these cameras have built-in flash units and you seldom need a tripod or other accessory to capture casual images and video with your camera.
Compact cameras at the high end of the price range often look more like a DSLR and can be larger than compacts that easily slip into your pocket. If you’ve spent $300 to $800 for these types of cameras, such as the Nikon Coolpix P7700 or Canon G1 X, then you might want to protect your investment with a small bag, such as shoulder or waist bag. This could also be a wise investment if you travel often with your larger compact camera, so it is more accessible than being buried in your luggage.
Before buying a small bag, however, you may want to ask yourself if you think you might want to advance to a DSLR or an interchangeable lens camera system (ILCS) someday. If you think that might occur, then, as a smart consumer, you’ll want to consider buying a first bag that is larger than your current need. It will serve you well today and will have the capacity for that DSLR, extra lenses, flash unit and other accessories and supplies that you hope to own in the future.
Whether you’re currently shooting with a DSLR or an ILCS or aspire to acquire pro-like equipment, you’ll want to define carefully and thoroughly the type of photography you mostly shoot, or plan to shoot. Owning a DSLR or ILCS generally results in purchasing additional lenses and other equipment, so you must pick a bag that will accommodate the gear you have today and tomorrow.
This PhotographyTalk article can’t explore every type of photography and the right matching bag, but here are a few examples.
Events photography (weddings, family gathers, corporate receptions, etc.): Typically, these photographers don’t require much equipment for these assignments. Some photographers will have more than one camera body, each with a different lens. Some will use a flash, while many of the most famous wedding photographers purposely never use one. Events photographer must usually have one camera in their hands at all times to be ready for the action as it occurs. Events photographers need a camera bag of a sufficient size for all of their equipment; however, their bags are not usually carried during a shoot.
Because events photographers need immediate camera accessibility, they would benefit from the use of Cotton Carrier’s StrapShot, which securely holds the camera on the chest or stomach. Another excellent choice is the SpiderPro Camera Holster System that puts the camera on the hip, leaving the hands free, but the camera easy to draw and shoot.
Wildlife, nature and landscape photography: For this type of photography, rugged wear and a high degree of equipment protection are required as well as plenty of room for a greater array of gear. If you’re headed into the backcountry, then a backpack-style bag is often the best choice. Not only must it have plenty of interior compartments and pockets, but also exterior attachments to carry a tripod, and a rain cover.
Two good choices to consider are the f-stop Satori EXP Photography Equipment Pack and the Think Tank Photo Shape Shifter Backpack. The Satori’s 2.2 cubic feet of space not only holds all your equipment, but also camping equipment and personal items, so you seldom will need a second pack. The advantages of the Shape Shifter are that it expands from a slim profile to a full-size backpack, so it’s like having two bags, and the inner zipper opens around the entire outside dimension of the backpack, giving you access to all your equipment.
Travel-on-assignment photography: Many photographers must travel by air to their assignments, so they may need an actual hard case on wheels to roll through an airport, but that also qualifies as carry-on luggage. Another important feature of this type of bag/case is security. Many will have highly developed locks and metal security straps to make sure no one can access the interior or steal the entire case.
Think Tank makes the International Airport V 2.0 Rolling Camera Bag. It conforms to TSA dimensions as carry-on luggage that fits into an overhead compartment. It accommodates multiple camera bodies and lenses, an optional laptop case and exterior pockets and straps for a tripod or monopod. Security is paramount with this bag, as each roller has an ID plate with a unique serial number, and the bag has two security cables.
General photography: More and more people are joining the ranks of enthusiast and hobbyist photographers who enjoy the creative challenge. They want more of an experience than what a compact camera can offer and don’t have an interest in becoming a professional. These hobbyists are serious about their photography passion, however, and are buying entry-level DSLRs and mirrorless cameras with their expanded creative options. They also want to carry their cameras with them most of the time, which requires a comfortable and versatile, but not oversized, camera bag.
The Lowpro Event Messenger Series is designed for these general photographers because it has more style than a conventional bag, but has just enough space for the amount of equipment most hobbyists have. The Lowpro Event Messenger 250 bag is the largest of the series. It also space for a 13” laptop and plenty of outside and inside pockets for photography accessories and personal items.
Whatever your favorite photography, there is more than one camera bag that will match with your specific needs. You’ll find many of the types and brand names in PhotographyTalk’s Review Section, so that is a good place to start your search for the right camera bag for you.Photo copyright Adorama
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