When you pick a camera bag, everyone tells you to look at its quality of construction and the flexibility of its interior spaces.
That’s sage advice, indeed.
But making a solid camera bag selection goes beyond just making sure it’ll stand up to the rigors of your work and adapt to your various needs.
Often, though, people don’t think about things like the ease of getting into the bag or the weight of the bag until they’ve made their purchase, only to find in the field that the bag is impossible to get into with one hand and weighs a ton.
What’s more, I’d be willing to be that many photographers don’t consider how a camera bag looks.
I mean, plenty of photographers care about aesthetics, but many of us don’t consider that a camera bag that looks like a camera bag is like a giant billboard screaming “I’ve got expensive gear inside!” to everyone around.
With that in mind, allow me to explain these practical camera bag features in more detail, and convince you of their importance when picking the right bag for you.
Easy Open is a Plus
Call it a pet peeve of mine, but I’ve had one too many camera bags that were just plain impossible to get open.
I like the comfort of a backpack, but having to take the bag off every time I want to get something is annoying.
I’ve had traditional bags in the past, but some had terrible zippers that required two hands to unzip. Others just had impossibly small zippers to begin with, making it a chore just to get the unzipping processed started.
Then I realized, why get a bag with a zipper in the first place?
Look at the bag above, and tell me that you aren’t mesmerized by how wide open it is!
You have direct access to every nook and cranny in the bag, making it a simple, easy process to get the gear you need and do so quickly. That’s a feature that is sure to change your workflow for the better.
And, you’ll notice that this bag remains perfectly secure with a thumb tab that’s easy to open and close - even with one hand. It’s a small feature, but one that is incredibly useful when in the field.
Look for a Lightweight Bag
I’m assuming this is a no-brainer, yet I know plenty of photographers that carry around an enormous, heavy bag.
Is it not bad enough that your cameras, lenses, and related gear already weigh a lot? Why add to your back’s misery by loading all that gear into a camera bag that doubles the weight you’re carrying?
Granted, you have to strike a balance here. On the one hand, cheap nylon bags are as light as a feather, but can be of questionable construction quality.
On the other hand, a high-quality leather bag like the one shown above is a great mix of the quality construction you want and being relatively lightweight.
Better still, this camera bag can be worn with a camera harness, making it not just incredibly versatile and light, but you can also spread its weight across your shoulders and bag, making for a comfortable time carrying it around.
Look for a Camera Bag That Doesn’t Look the Part
As I said earlier, too many camera bags look way too obviously like a camera bag.
For me, I’d prefer not to advertise the fact that I’ve got thousands of dollars of photography gear in the bag I’m carrying. Call me crazy!
Instead, I’ll take a bag like the one shown above, the Roamographer by Holdfast.
The Roamographer is obviously a striking bag, made of fine, handcrafted American Bison leather. And those aesthetics mean that it doesn’t scream “camera bag.”
Instead, the Roamographer combines vintage charm with modern functionality for a bag that has multiple purposes. Get a large version to carry a DSLR and all the associated bells and whistles, or use it as a weekend getaway bag or carry-on.
Opt for the small Roamographer bag if you shoot with a mirrorless camera or rangefinder, then use it as double duty for an overnight bag.
That’s the point here - these bags could just as easily contain your overnight clothes as they do your $5,000 camera rig. The simple, yet elegant design make them a joy to look at, but they aren’t so flashy as to draw undue attention from people that might want to abscond with your belongings inside.
Get a look at the small Roamographer bag in action in the short video below:
And remember how I said construction and versatility are important?
Well, one look at this bad boy and you no doubt get a feeling for the craftsmanship that goes into creating it. It’s a gorgeous bag that’ll stand up to the test of time that you can carry in comfort with the shearling-lined shoulder strap.
Inside, take out the camera insert when need be to make room for larger items or to use the bag for any array of uses aside from carrying your gear.
So, basically, with the Holdfast Roamographer, you get all the versatility and quality you want with the practical features that make using the bag easy.
If you ask me, that’s precisely what a camera bag should be!