Photo by Iswanto Arif on Unsplash
If you’re a long-time fan of PhotographyTalk, then you know how frequently I talk about gear. Not only does your gear say something about you as a professional, but it also makes or breaks shoots.
One of my favorite topics is camera bags, namely because I’ve had my fair share of awful experiences with bags breaking, getting completely soaked, or damaging my lenses.
Picking a camera bag is easy, you just need to know what you’re looking for. Here’s what I look for.
Picking a Camera Bag That Fits You
Whenever friends ask me for camera bag advice, I start here.
You need to learn how to choose a camera bag that fits you aesthetically. I know I’ve gotten a number of jobs based on how I carry myself because photography is like anything else, people trust you if you look like you know what you’re doing.
The bag pictured above is the Holdfast Roamographer, which is the bag I found a few years ago and immediately loved. The classic leather paired with steel D-rings mimics the look of a Wall Street briefcase without seeming pretentious.
Plus, you probably want to choose a camera bag that doesn’t necessarily look like a camera bag. I never want to broadcast to the world that I’m carrying thousands of dollars of photography gear on me, and I’m assuming you don’t either.
That’s another reason why the Roamographer works so well for me. It comes in two sizes, a small and a large, and neither necessarily looks like anything other than a carry on.
Don’t Forget About Comfort
When you’re picking a camera bag, this is the number one thing most photographers jump to.
A comfortable camera bag will have large straps, so they won’t dig into your shoulders. Ideally, those straps will also be padded.
The Roamographer uses incredibly soft (and durable) shearling wool, so it’s the ultimate in softness and comfort for your neck and shoulders.
I also like to make sure my camera bags have multiple carrying options, because sometimes it’s easier to grab a handle, like when you’re on crowded public transportation, instead of a bag you have to throw over your shoulder.
When you’re imagining how comfortable a camera bag will be, imagine yourself in the types of situations you’ve been in in the past few months with your current bag, i.e. public transit, climbing a mountain, or chasing your kids through the park.
Look for Durable, Water Resistant Materials
I don’t care what other people tell you, you need a water-resistant bag.
I understand that maybe all of your photography takes place inside, and purchasing a camera bag made of water-resistant material like the Roamographer’s bison leather is more expensive, but a good camera bag is a once in a lifetime purchase and you have no idea where your photography career is going to be in a year, let alone a decade.
Plus, water-resistant materials are typically more durable. While canvas camera bags are all the rage right now, they can get dirty really quickly and might look ratty after a few years.
A camera bag made out of leather, on the other hand, only looks better with age. Plus, it protects your camera gear better from accidental spills, rain or splashes.
Read the Warranty, In Full
This is the least sexy item on our list, but you need to read the warranty for your camera bag.
A good camera bag will have a warranty that lasts for at least one year, and a great camera bag will have a warranty that lasts a lifetime, like the Roamographer’s warranty.
Nobody wants to spend hundreds of dollars on a product a company doesn’t stand behind, which is what I hear when a company refuses to guarantee their camera bags.
If you’d like to check out the Roamographer, head over to Adorama. The large Roamographer, which is ideal for a DSLR kit, sells for $660, and the small Roamographer, which works better for a mirrorless set-up, sells for $560.
While it may seem steep, having a camera bag that you will love for life is worth so much more.