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What do you carry your gear in? I've found that as I get older, and less fit, I evaluate my decision to bring my DSLR along more and harder (trips and outings that aren't 100% dedicated to photography). I want to enjoy and be present in the experience as much as I want to capture it with my camera. But that reluctance sucks because I've got a LOT of money invested in really nice gear. (Dumping it all and changing to mirrorless would get me murdered by DH!) 

 

I've got two backpack-style camera bags. One, a small Tamrac, that can hold my camera body and a couple of lenses, but not the 70-200. And a big Tenba that can carry my body, most of my lenses, and a laptop. Neither feels easy to work with when I want to get my hands on something or want to swap a lens. 

 

I would love to have a Pelican hard case with wheels to carry/store all my gear for transport, I just need to bite the bullet and make the investment. But that still leaves identifying the best choice that isn't too burdensome for taking on excursions and casual activities. 

 

What's your "perfect" camera bag? 

Edited by Shellbelle28

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I have a number of camera bags for my mirrorless camera system (Olympus) that I use depending on my mode of vacation travel. 

 

In all cases I bring an empty, limited-capacity, Lowepro sling bag in my checked luggage for use on excursions.  If flying on a small aircraft, I have a Think Tank backpack that will fit under very small airline seats as well as train seats on Alaska railroads.  For larger aircraft, I bring a Lowepro medium bag that can fit in both the overhead bin or under the seat in front of me.  In all circumstances, I plan my camera bags to NEVER allow my camera equipment (bodies and lenses) to be placed in a luggage compartment on the aircraft. 

 

For local travel by car, I bring whatever camera equipment that I want/need in a large Lowepro camera bag that is too large for aircraft.

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Over the years I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a perfect camera bag.  That's how I wound up with 6 bags.  :classic_biggrin:

 

When I go out on a photography activity or plan a trip, I pull out either the:
1.  gear I think I will use for that outting/trip and chose a bag the gear will fit in, or the 
2.  bag I want to carry for the day/trip and limit myself to only the gear that will fit in the bag.

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I understand your frustration. For my upcoming cruise I’ve decided to only take my old Canon G12 point and shoot and a small external flash.

Too many times I’ve found myself wrapped up in getting the best possible shot instead of enjoying the moment. 

I would make an exception if traveling to a place not visited before, if it was rich with photo opportunities.

I’m actually looking forward to leaving the pro gear home and challenging myself to getting the most from lesser gear.

 

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2 hours ago, jayarrG7 said:

I understand your frustration. For my upcoming cruise I’ve decided to only take my old Canon G12 point and shoot and a small external flash.

Too many times I’ve found myself wrapped up in getting the best possible shot instead of enjoying the moment. 

I would make an exception if traveling to a place not visited before, if it was rich with photo opportunities.

I’m actually looking forward to leaving the pro gear home and challenging myself to getting the most from lesser gear.

 

 

It's pretty annoying that my cell phone takes such good photos, it even can do RAW! 

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I use a Lowepro Protactic 450, which easily handles 2 DSLR bodies, 4 or 5 lenses (including 70-200), flash and 15" laptop. When on the cruise, I only take the equipment I need that day and leave the rest in the cabin. We do longer crises, so find this works well.

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Checkout Thinktank.  I have several for different occasions.  The one that serves me best on cruises when I can't take much is their "Lens Taxi"  It's a small backpack that made for 400-500 exotic lens;however, it comes with many dividers that allow you to create your own space.  It will work with your 70-200 attached, plus 3 more small to medium size lenses+some accessories.  It can fit under any aircraft seat because it's only 9" wide and 8-9 inches tall.  Another feature it has is a tucked away waist belt that can transfer weight off your shoulders if needed.  Extremely versatile IMHO.

 

https://www.thinktankphoto.com/collections/long-glass-backpacks/products/glass-taxi

 

  Hope you find that perfect case.

 

framer

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Thank you all for your bag insight! I'm checking all your recommendations out. Framer, that Lens Taxi bag from Think Tank looks interesting. 

Keep the suggestions coming! I've got an Australia/NZ cruise coming in about a year that's got me looking for options to keep the gear carry on approved for international flights, and then easy to carry when ashore. 

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I also use a Lowepro Sling bag for daily walk about when on cruises.  It amazes me how much I can comfortably cary in that bag (especially when the extender is unzipped.  For more serious wildlife photography I use a Loewpro 400 flipside, which easily carries a body with a 200-500 lens attached, several other lenses and a smaller backup body (D5500 in my case).  It also has the waist strap, which helps with weight distribution.

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Like others mentioned, my search for the perfect bag took decades, and finally was solved by having the perfect 5-6 bags...I use the one that best fits the particular day's needs.  When I travel, I usually bring 3 to 4 bags with me, packing the smaller ones in my luggage and all my camera gear in the largest which becomes the carryon.

 

It's the same approach I use with lenses when traveling - I bring many lenses with me, but many will stay back in the room and each day I pick the 1-4 lenses I'll need for that day of shooting.  Which lenses I need also dictates which bag I bring that day.

 

My first category of bags are travel/transport bags - large carry-alls used as carry-on luggage to transport most or all of my gear from place to place, not used while actually shooting on locations. My Kata backpack handled a DSLR and up to 10 lenses, including a big Tamron 150-600mm plus all accessories, flash, tripod, etc. I've used it for many years and lots of travels.

 

However, since I've really gone to mirrorless for almost all travel needs, I can fit a lot more into a smaller shoulder bag...so my current travel/transport bag is a Tenba Discovery shoulder bag. I can fit my A6300 body plus 18-135mm, Sigma 16mm, 10-18mm, 35mm F1.8, Voigtlander 35mm F1.4, 55-210mm, Konica 40mm F1.8, FE70-300mm G, two adapters, 4 batteries, two chargers, remotes, cables, spare cards, etc all into that bag. On rare occasions, I may actually use this bag in the field too - in order to bring my FE70-300mm along with 2-3 other lenses - leaving all the other stuff back at the room/cabin/rental.

 

I have two specialty holster bags - a Think Tank dual holster that can handle two long birding lenses side-by-side, mostly used in my DSLR days more, and a Tenba 635 top-load holster which I bought specifically to handle my FE70-300mm or FE100-400mm lens attached to the camera body, plus batteries.

 

For mostly a place to secure my camera with one lens attached if it's raining, I have a Lowepro Rezo 110 - it fits nothing more than the A6300 with small prime or kit attached, plus batteries.

 

My lightest multi-lens bags are my Tamrac Zuma Compact bag, which can fit my mirrorless body with one attached smaller lens and two additional small primes. It's a super-tight fit, barely zipping closed with the 3 lenses and camera inside.

 

Just a hair bigger, cheap Ritz Gear compact bag - this one can also fit the mirrorless with lens attached plus two extra lenses, but the lenses can be a compact telezoom or fat ultrawide...and there's a small outside zipped pocket for batteries.

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I use a ThinkTank Airport Advantage it fits in the overhead bin or under the seat with a laptop on regional jets I use this to get my gear where I am going. Then I have several bags depending on where and what we are doing. The other bags are packed in the check bags. I use either a typical backpack (Jansport) so not to draw attention that I am carrying camera gear. I will have a couple of lens in a lens pouch / bag and towel for more padding. If it is raining or going where it might get wet (beach, etc) a waterproof dry bag, once again lens in lens pouch and towel. I also have a ThinkTank Digital holster for hiking where I might need to not have my camera out (like raining, climbing a trail, etc.)  But urban settings tend to just put the camera in the back pack, I really tend to like not advertising "camera gear" in this bag. I do not know if this is really going to save me from getting ripped off but the less I stick out .....

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I have a Kata backpack (looks like they merged with Manfrotto) that I carry my gear in for travel (fits as my personal item for air travel) and a LowePro holster for day to day stuff

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I have 4 bags I use situationally...

 

My primaries are peak design backpacks and messenger bags.  Durable and very configurable space wise, and light.   The backpack can hold everything up to my D500 with a 150-600 on it.  The problem is, they don't lock, so...

 

For travel, when I am not carrying the big lens normally, I use a medium pacsafe bag.  Very light, secure and holds my D500 with my 18-400 on it and my 24-105 art just fine along with extra batteries and cards.

 

Finally, for traveling to the big photo destinations, Alaska, etc, I have a Pelican case that just meets overhead compartment size rules.  I use that to take the big lenses.

 

I do also have a Tamrac bag and a lowepro backpack but only tend to use them as secondary bags when carrying a lot of gear.

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It's also small enough that nobody ever ask to weigh it and with no wheel you don't need to worry about having it gate checked.   WOW! Australia/NZ that a real vacation, enjoy.

 

framer

 

 

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I have a  Tenba Messenger DNA 8 bag on my wishlist for Christmas.  I've been using a backpack for day trips, but it's not convenient when I want to pull out the second camera or grab a filter.  I have to find a place to put the bag down to get anything.  I'm hoping this messenger bag will be easier to grab stuff out of.  Does anyone use this or one like it?  Any comments?

Thanks,

Vic

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Two bags cover me for 97% of my work: a traditional backpack serves as my transport mechanism to and from almost everything, and a "Shootsac" serves as my typical lens carrier while shooting. The backpack ends up so much emptier once I get everything out to shoot, and it's tedious to take off, open up, change lenses, close up, and put on; the Shootsac has changed how I shoot as it makes the lens changes so much more convenient.

 

Two other "bags" handle the other 3%: a Pelican 1610 handles the overflow transport, air travel, and anytime that I want to know that my stuff is in a hard case. I also have a "photographer vest" setup that I use for Alaska cruises and event shooting. I look like I'm shooting for NatGeo or BBC, but it keeps the weight manageable for a day/week. I have a BlackRapid double strap "integrated" into the vest, and a variety of cases are velcroed into the belt that's part of the vest. Key is the LowePro "LensExchange 200AW" case, which carries one lens but opens up to temporarily hold two lenses, making lens changes safe and fast (even faster than the Shootsac).

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Our primary bag is a Peak Design Everyday backpack 20L (the smaller one).

 

It fit a full frame Nikon D750 with f/2.8 24-70mm lens attached + f/2.8 70-200mm with room on top.  It was tight though.  Switched to mirrorless and even with a f/2.8 24-70 attached, it fits much better.

 

Very configurable, but with giant lenses like the 2.8s, you basically split the bag into 3 sections inside.

 

However, it's NOT light.  It's actually pretty heavy IMO.  When packed to the gills, since it expands up top, it can leave space for water to get in if it rains.  The straps, because they're designed to allow the Capture clip to attach, are thin, barely padded, and quite uncomfortable if you carry heavy gear (like full frame and 2.8 lenses).  They're also attached too closely together.  It's a pretty sweaty and uncomfortable bag if you do any kind of hiking or moving around at all.  They have great customer service though.  However, I don't expect it to become a great product until the 3rd version comes out (they haven't even designed a version 2 yet fwiw).

 

So, why do we use it?  Cuz it looks freaking fantastic.  And I love the Capture clip.  It also doesn't scream camera bag.  Other manufacturers claim that, but it's pretty obvious that their "stealth" bags are clearly camera bags.  They're increasingly popular though so you can't really hide the fact you're wearing a camera bag from anyone who's into cameras at all.

 

We also have a ThinkTank Speed Freak and a variety of Lowepro bags.

 

I'm not thrilled with ThinkTank at all.  The back of mine frayed on its first trip/use, which was only 7 days long.  No velcro.  Just rubbing against cargo shorts and jeans.  Customer Service department was useless.  I generally like the construction, but at the prices they charge, I can't say that they're worth it.  I'm FAR more pleased with my various LowePro bags and they're a tiny fraction of the cost of a comparable ThinkTank.

 

On a budget, I'd say get a LowePro.  I'd still recommend the Peak Design, but understand it's limitations (it's heavy, the straps are uncomfortable, and it makes you pretty sweaty).  I wish Osprey would make a camera bag.

Edited by gambit57

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Speaking of HEAVY. My everyday carry (oh wait, that's my Glock 43). My briefcase is a Saddleback leather messenger bag that weighs 6 pounds completely empty. I drop a 10x6 Apecase pouch into the bottom that can hold my D750 with the f/2.8 24-70 on it, cinch it shut a drop my little purse and other junk in on top. Heavy, but that bag gets so many comments and I love it. I've had it 3 years and I feel like I'm still breaking the leather in. 

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On 10/31/2018 at 12:51 PM, gambit57 said:

I'm not thrilled with ThinkTank at all.  The back of mine frayed on its first trip/use, which was only 7 days long.  No velcro.  Just rubbing against cargo shorts and jeans.  Customer Service department was useless.  I generally like the construction, but at the prices they charge, I can't say that they're worth it.  I'm FAR more pleased with my various LowePro bags and they're a tiny fraction of the cost of a comparable ThinkTank. 

 

For the record I've used their Customer Service and found it the best.  I even once lost my special tripod straps to secure it under the bag.  Call them up trying to buy them and they mailed me a new set at their expense.  I got 4 different bags one over 10 years old with heavy use that still looks fantastic. 

 

framer

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For a walk around mode I like the Clik that doesn't scream "camera bag"

 

DSC02811%202_zps78dw3cwo.jpg

 

DSC02812%202_zpsdangawfe.jpg

 

And for hiking I favor the Lowepro flipside 400 AW

 

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It fits in our carry on luggage .

 

 

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I've carried all different size bags in the past but wanted to be more mobile with my gear for our last trip.  I went with a Peak Design messenger bag on the plane ride to hold all my gear and went with a Peak Design 5L sling for walking around.  The sling bag held an additional lens plus a small filter pack and the mini tripod pictured.  I was able to enjoy myself much more without the extra weight and the ability to move around with out knocking into things with a large bag on my back.  I also used wrist straps on both my Fujifilm X-T2 and X100F as well as a capture clip for when I wanted to be hands free, especially helpful for restroom breaks. 

untitled shoot-1780.jpg

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