Bags, Bags, Bags, My Journey to the best DSLR Camera Bag
This post is about my journey to the best DSLR Camera Bag. Now of course this is a highly subjective statement. But its the best bag that I have found for my purposes. Its the LowePro Flipside Sport 15L AW.
So why is this the best DSLR Camera Bag and how did I get to that conclusion for my purposes?
Well…… It starts about 5 years ago.
I was a big point and shoot guy. I would laugh at all you DSLR idiots loaded down with your large cameras, huge lenes, filters, flashes, and tripods. I could always have a tiny camera in my pocket, ready to take a shot at any time. But then I began to notice that photographers with bigger cameras got better shots. There was more control over depth of field, richer more accurate colors, and lots of data room in each file for processing images that were not perfect to begin with.
So I got a larger prosumer or hybrid camera.
Whoops now it wont fit in my pocket any more. But at least I still did not have to carry all that other stuff. But now I have a camera that wont fit in my pocket. I did a bunch of research and came up with a bag that was well rated but did not look like a camera bag. The Crumpler 3 Million Dollar Bag.
So now I am not quite the fool that I thought the DSLR guys were but I am carrying a bag… but its a cool bag… yah!
Here is where I start doing microstock work. And the Canon 3S IS is not quite making it. I could get a few images accepted into microstock but I really needed to get a DSLR. So I get a Canon Rebel XS also known as 1000D.
Turns out the 3 Million Dollar bag fits in this camera great. I mainly used the Canon 17-55mm f2.8 lens ( a really nice lens).
But as I got more involved with Microstock I started experimenting with lenses, flash units, tripods. Then I upgraded to a Canon 50D. The 3 million crumpler was really only good enough to carry one camera and a medium size lens.
So I went crazy and bought a big Tamrac backpack. They don’t make my model anymore but it was like the current Tamrac model 5789.
The model I got had a frame, padded waist belt, vented back, an interior section that came out for storage of the equipment. I loaded it will all of my lenses, my camera, filters, flash unit, and tripod. All of my stuff fit in this bag. I hung it on a hook in my closet and would admire it every time I walked by. My admiration stopped on a hike with my daughter. I loaded up all of my stuff on a short hike up a hill to three different waterfalls. I died at the first one and had to turn back. I weighed the pack when I got home and it was 38 lbs. When I was 30 that was doable but at 60 it was a different matter. So I started paying attention to weight. The bag itself was over 5lbs!!!
I had officially become the “DSLR Idiot” that I had made fun of several years ago.
I had to find a solution. So I went into two different directions. The Black Rapid Strap RS-4. I wrote about it here. So no bags, just the camera, its lens, and a strap. In the strap are extra cards, battery, and rain cover. This covers 80% of my photo needs. But when I travel or want to have an expanded kit a strap will not suffice… So I upgraded my crumpler to a 6 million dollar bag.
Now I have the camera and a lens over my shoulder and in some cases this bag over the other. I would only load it with one or two added lenses and filters. The new 6 million dollar bag has straps on the bag for a tripod. On mine I would pull the flap over the tripod. It mostly worked but it was cumbersome. But even without the tripod I found pulling the lenses in and out of the back a little cumbersome.
So…… I got a Thinktank Retrospective 20:
This is a great bag. Its light. The internal padding is thin, light, and slick. Moving lenses in and out of the bag is easy. And the look of the bag is very professional. And with the nice wide padded strap its a very comfortable bag. Lots of extras too. I reviewed it with a video here. I still have this bag and its great. But it can get a little heavy when fully loaded. And there is no feature for a tripod so I put it on top and pull the flap cover down tight which is ok for travel but not the greatest in the field.
So I would have stayed with this bag but we recently moved to Portland, OR. Portland has got to be one of the bicycle riding capitals of the US. Everyone does it. Great bike lanes everywhere. And despite what you hear about the rain….. we have GREAT weather up here.
Hmmmm….. riding a bike with my camera stuff. Strap won’t work. Thinktank bag won’t work. I don’t want to put any of my camera equipment in the panniers. I need a backpack but not a huge one like before. But now I am smart enough, from my previous experience, I hope, to know what I really want.
1. It has to be light
3. It has to fit a least the camera and a couple lenses and my filters
4. It has to be as small as possible
5. It has to allow for easy lens replacement
6. It needs to have the ability to carry my tripod
So I did a lot of research. By the way there are easily a few hundred camera bags out there and many that come close to meeting these. But the Lowepro Flipside Sport 15L AW fit them all.
Here is a good video that shows how this bag works. Note that they are selling it as a sports camera bag and it is, but what that means to me is small and light weight while still being able to carry enough stuff:
So that’s my perfect bag now. If I go on a bike ride I put the RS-4 strap on the camera and then put all of that in the backpack. My camera will usually have a Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC lens mounted on it. Then I will also pack my Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens for distant shots and my Sigma 70mm macro for really close work. I will also load up some graduated ND and polarizing filters. The pack is not too heavy. I can shoot from the bike. If I leave the bike I can use the strap for quick shots and then change lenses easily. Its a very comfortable and light pack. If I am in a car, train, or plane traveling then there is room for some flashes as well, my battery charger, remote shutter release, AND my tripod. Its heavy but for travel its fine.
So… ok…. I am still a little like the DSLR idiots that I made fun of but I am much cooler than when I could only make it up to that first waterfall with my 38 pound pack.