Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Search for the Perfect Camera Bag

Hello world.
Welcome to another episode of The Search for the Perfect Camera Bag!

Since I started shooting in 2006, I've gone through a fair number of camera carrying and storage systems. As my photography needs change and evolve, so do my requirements for camera bags.

For the last 4 or 5 years, I've been using the LowePro CompuTrekker AW Plus II bag. It's big, it's bad and it *barely* fits carry-on requirements. By barely, I mean I have to use my feet to shove it under the seat in front of me and flight attendants scowl at me when I do it.

Anyway. The main zipper on the LowePro bag started freaking out a few months ago and finally failed outright two weeks ago. That bag served me well for a long time - I figured I might just replace it with the newer version of the same bag, until I realized the cost. Upwards of $200.


Still, if a bag like that lasts me 5 years, I'm only paying $50/year or so, which isn't all that bad.
Just in case a better deal could be found, I decided to cruise for alternatives.
I found one.

 It's smaller than the LowePro but it still holds all of my essential gear. This forces me to be more careful about the gear that I carry and what stays at home. It also provided me with the opportunity to go through all my crap and discover some of the junk I have been carrying around for years in forgotten pockets of the LowePro.

It feels solid, especially the zipper, which is high on my radar after experiencing the zipper failure on the LowePro. Granted, I have only been shooting out of it for two weeks, so in four years I may be experiencing another tragic zipper malfunction, or perhaps something worse. Something about the feel of these zippers inspires confidence though - and I am optimistic about this particular bag lasting me a long time.

Best part? All this functionality for $40! (the price I paid two weeks ago).

Here's the old gear list, showing which items I removed for the fit into the new bag.

  • 18-55mm kit lens
  • Rain cover
  • 50mm f/1.8 lens w/ lens cloth
  • 28mm f/2.8 lens w/ lens cloth (sold)
  • SB 600 flash and Polorizing filter (never use it)
  • Nikon D300s Body with grip
  • BlackRapid R-Strap. RS-5 It carries an extra D300 battery as well as all of my Lexar memory cards
  • On the camera is the 35mm f/1.8 lens.
  • 3x PocketWizard Transievers
  • Portable USB HDD - Right now it's a 250gb Seagate. It will soon be a 500gb Seagate
  • 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II lens
  • A spare pair of socks. Gotta have 'em
  • Backup Camera Body is my Nikon D300 that recently had its shutter replaced to the tune of nearly $500
  • 2x Spare En-El3 battery
In the top pockets I have a notebook, zipties, and a bunch of spare Mini and Micro USB cables for HDDs/cameras/phones/ etc. I also carry a card reader, nail clippers, my old media pass and a flashlight. You never know.

Some of that gear has moved on to better homes, while some of it has been moved into a different carrying system. The hard drives and my computer now have a proper briefcase that I picked up at a thrift store, along with blank model releases. 

I anticipate continuing with this setup for some time to come. If anything drastic changes, I will (of course) write a post for you, my loyal readers.

Stay tuned for images from yesterday's photoshoot with a new face to the Vault Blog...