Photography News 69

36 Buying Technique Buyers ’ Guide

Photography News | Issue 69 |

8. Check the fit and the placement of sternum and waist straps

10. Pockets for accessories, water bottle and tripod are important. A hand strap on backpacks is a good thing

5. If you do a lot of travelling, a hard case is worth considering. If you fly often, keep up to date with the hand baggage size restrictions

9. Some bags have space for your kit with a separate section for personal stuff or smaller accessories

7. Wide padded straps make for greater comfort

11. A dedicated padded sleeve for your laptop/ tablet is a good thing

12. Lowepro bags have waterproof covers sewn in and permanently attached to bag. Other bags have separate protection covers

6. Ultimately, you’re going to have to carry a fully loaded

bag and some bags are weighty even unladen

5. Outer size The bag’s overall size is important, especially if you’re using public or air transport. Not only may a too-large bag be an annoyance for others, but you might also have trouble manoeuvring your way around smaller spaces, like old buildings, or snag a big bag on rocks when scrambling to a landscape location. Airlines always supply maximum dimensions for cabin bags on their websites, and no amount of complaining that your bag is full of delicate glass will convince the check-in people. If you intend flying with your new bag it’s definitely worth checking the dimensions against current regulations. It’s measured in simple height, weight and depth, so some bags will also allow expansion, so watch out for that, too. 6. Weight Check the unloaded weight of the bag in its specifications. The weight depends mostly on the materials used as well

as the level of protection it offers. For example, nylon outers are lighter than canvas, and backpacks with a metal frame are likely to be heavier than those without. Again, this is important when using air transport, as though some airlines let you stow whatever you can lift, carry-on bags are more commonly limited in weight to something like 10kg. If your bag, before you load it up, weighs 1.5 or 2kg, this is really eating into your allowance, as well as putting extra pressure on your shoulders. 7. Shoulder straps A tired photographer is a not a creative one, so your bag must be comfortable in the carry. Check the amount of cushioning on the straps, and other contact areas, like the back panel. This is particularly important in the latter case as all the weight will be hanging from one place, so look for a large shoulder pad that won’t slip as you walk. For backpacks, shoulder straps should be

broad and contoured, and also provide airflow if possible to stop you getting too sweaty on the move. Straps also need to be adjustable, so you can alter the seating of the bag on your back. 8. Sternumstraps andwaist belt For backpacks, sternum straps are really important as they’ll reduce the load on your shoulders. These should be adjustable to the size of your chest, and also, preferably, in height. Proper hiking backpacks also have waist straps that will secure the bag and stop it moving from side to side as you walk, and the belt can offer extra storage pockets, too. 9. Compartments Separating gear is good, as it allows not only better organisation, but also different types of kit to be carried. Some backpacks are entirely filled by a camera compartment, but most offer secondary sections, usually above the camera area. On some, this is small, but others have

an even mix of space, so you get to stow jackets, food or other accessories. Some hiking-style camera backpacks also have an expanding top section with a lid, letting you store even more. Again, what you go for it depends on the nature of your shoot. 10. Pockets and straps A good bag should also have lots of additional internal pockets for accessories like memory cards and filters and if these are padded and waterproof, all the better. Having multiple external pockets is also very useful for stuff like your phone, or water bottle. Many bags, whether they’re backpacks or shoulder bags, will also have loops and straps on the outer for attaching gear like tripods or walking poles, so if you think you’ll need this, add it to your list of vital characteristics. 11. Laptop/tablet sleeve If you’re travelling away from home for

some time, or simply want to edit images on the go, choosing a bag with a laptop or tablet bay is important. The size of laptop you can fit will be included in a bag’s spec, but you’ll need to examine the level of padding, as well as where the compartment sits in the bag. It’s preferable to have the sleeve not touch the bottom of the bag, but be cradled above it, so as to avoid contact damage. 12. Weatherproofing All decent bags should offer a level of water resistance, even if it’s just a hydrophobic outer to bead off the odd shower. And many bags will also come with an all-weather cover that can be pulled over the bag to protect it from rain, as well as sun and dust. But if you’re planning on braving serious weather, you’ll need to look for a bag that offers greater protection. This should mean a waterproof outer and storm-sealed zips which have a rubber covering to make themwater-resistant, too.

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