Photography News 69

Buyers’ Guide 35 Buyers ’ Guide

Photography News | Issue 69 |

Buying T chniqu

Every photographer needs a great bag. But there’s no such thing as a great bag for every photographer. This easy guide will help you find out what to look for in your next backpack, sling or shoulder bag Bag to the future

Words by Kingsley Singleton

1. Hard case

A decent camera bag needs to protect your gear and let you carry it in comfort, but beyond that there’s a profusion of choices to make. As dizzying as the range of photo bags out there is though, those choices can be easily informed by what you’re shooting. After all, a day’s landscaping in the wild is going to require something very different from an hour’s street shooting around town. Then there are factors like do you need storage for a laptop? Or tripod? Or some degree of waterproofing? 1. Type When you’ve identified the amount of storage you need, you can look to the bag type. This defines how it’s carried, and broadly the choice is between backpacks, rollers, shoulder bags and slings. If you’re shifting lots of gear, a backpack is the obvious choice as it can be fairly large and spread the weight of your kit over both shoulders, making it comfortable to carry for extended periods. A roller bag (a) is a good option for this, too, and means you can transport even heavier loads. Some combine the wheeled design with backpack straps for greater versatility, but of course those wheels are only useful if you have a decent surface to use them on. A sling (b) works like a lightweight backpack with a single strap, and one of its advantages is that you can move it around to the front of your body for quick access to your gear. But the ultimate in speed is a shoulder bag (c) which you can dip into at your side whenever you need it, so if you’re working fast that’s often the best way to go. There’s no denying style is important, too, and today’s bag market caters well for all tastes. So, whether you want something low-key for the city or tailored to match outdoor gear, there’s certain to be a model for you. 2. Storage size A good place to start when selecting the right bag for you is working out the amount of gear you need it to take. Tot up the amount of bodies, lenses and accessories you need to pack, and then look for the bag’s internal storage capacity to see if it matches or exceeds it slightly. You’ll then know you’re in the right bracket, size-wise. Storage size is often measured in litres, and given as height, width and depth measurement, but manufacturers will also give literal examples of what a bag can take. For instance ‘a mirrorless body and three to five lenses’, or ‘a pro-

Size is also a big factor, both in what the bag can hold andwhere you can reasonably take it. Fortunately there are bags of all shapes and sizes out there to suit all demands, and, of course it’s sensible to invest in more than one, so you’re all set for different situations and subjects. One of the most important things to physically try out a bag, either at your local camera shop, or by making sure you can return an online purchase, before buying – we are all different shapes and sizes, so some bags naturally fit one person better than another. size DSLR with 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom attached’, so you can get a real-world idea of what the bag is intended for. 3. Protection The security and protection of the gear you’re carrying is, of course, paramount, and this comes from the quality of the bag’s camera compartment (a), which sits within the outer shell. This compartment should preferably have a well padded or even solid plastic exterior, and its internal padding should have plenty of thickness and rigidity to stop it warping or being crushed in use. Look for compartments with a modular design, allowing you to shift the dividers around to hug your gear and stop it moving in transit. And check that there are no weak points at the corners or underneath. These days, camera cells or compartments can usually be lifted out of the bag entirely, turning it into a normal ‘day bag’, which can be helpful. If this is the case, make sure the compartment is easy to remove, but also that it attaches securely. 4. Access type Whether you go for a backpack or a shoulder bag, how you get to your gear can vary, and can affect your speed of shooting and security. Will you need to get to your kit quickly, as on a street shoot, or will you have time to spare? Security features, like clips, are great, but they can slow you down, so it’s a trade-off. For backpacks there’s usually a choice between front or rear access, and the latter can be preferable as the compartment door is against your back, and can’t be opened without taking the bag off. It also means the front of the bag is what touches the ground, so you don’t transfer water and mud to your clothing. Some backpacks also offer quick access features like side-opening panels, and slings do a similar job, but the ultimate in speedy access is a shoulder bag, with a press top – a flap with a zip running up it which lets you get at kit very quickly.

1 (b). Sling

2. You might need a big bag for a full kit on some shoots and other times something smaller would be more practical

1 (a). Roller case

1 (c). Shoulder/messenger bag

3. Many bags have extra provisions for security in crowds or while travelling

3 (a). Quality padding will give your kit the best protection

4. Side access is convenient and means you can get at contents without putting the bag down. Some bags have access from both sides. Rear access is secure and means a clean back because the bag is put down on its front, while shoulder bags have top access

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