There is nothing more frustrating when you want to take your camera or lens out of your BAG that is across your chest or on your shoulder and it does not want to come out easily. Even worse, you are running to catch the plane, bus, buggy and you are trying to get your camera back into your bag and it does not FIT. What’s the deal? It came out of that spot.
What it means is the bag is to small for what you decided to carry. Maybe you have added to your system or maybe the bag you bought looked handsomely compact and neat but did not have that extra inch in width, height or depth that would have been perfect.
If you have not figured it out, and most of have not, there is no such thing as a perfect camera, lens and accessory solution.
A camera bag or backpack should be based on functionality not looks. It falls under the same age old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.” That holds true for many things. Don’t be fooled by marketing that promises adventure.
I am not writing this article to suggest what you should carry your “stuff” in.
II am not writing it to suggest what to purchase. I’ll say it again. Do not buy a bag based on how it looks or how it makes you look. Buy a bag on functionality.
I know for a lot of people it is easy to buy the bag you like on line and I also know that rarely results in getting a bag that is really functional, durable, weather resistant, easy to clean, etc.
While there are not a lot camera stores left in the United States, there are enough to enable you to go to a real brick and mortar location. It is also important to support brick and mortar stores or there will be none. Try and buy where you are able to handle equipment.
Why should go to a camera store? You should go to a camera store with all the gear that you intend to carry and find bags at that store that you can sit down with and load your gear. Now you can tell how well a bag will work for you. Take special note of how well your accessories get packed. Make sure there is enough room for them. Make sure that your lenses all have separate slots and do not have to be stacked. Make sure that there are places to put a camera with a lens attached. As a matter of fact you want the camera and lens space to be able to hold a combination that would allow for a bigger lens than you normally shoot with.
Now that you have found a camera bag for ALL of your gear there are a few more things to consider.
How heavy is the bag itself? There are a lot of bags add up to five pounds plus to the load. That could be two zoom lenses, but instead it is in the build of the bag. Heavier is not necessarily better. Modern bags are made from light weight materials and still provide great protection, weather resistance, and comfort.
Now that you have loaded the bag in the camera store you want to make sure that you have easy in out access to your cameras and lenses. That means you should be able remove and insert your gear easily with a few fingers without having to PULL hard to get that into your hands.
You may realize at this point in this blog that I have not told you to take inventory of what you carry. I have not asked if you are willing to leave something behind. That’s because a lot of photographers do not want to leave anything behind and incorrect rationale is that you always want to have the right gear for any given photographic situation. This is where I recommend to treat your gear as if you were down sizing a home. Be honest with yourself and try to eliminate lenses and accessories that have not been used in a long time or rarely.
I carry five (5) fast prime lenses, one body, cable release, lens cleaning packets,batteries,flash,flash/camera radio trigger, two pre moistened sensor swabs, small flash light, multi purpose knife tool. SD cards, and three (3) batteries. Nothing is crammed in, everything can be grabbed easily, as needed. This is my number one go to kit and because it contains primes which are faster lenses, it serves well in all lighting situations.
My second kit is a much smaller set up. The smaller bag holds one body, two zooms, one prime and the accessories mentioned above. This makes a great travel kit.
It does not matter which bag you decide upon. It can be a shoulder bag, backpack, sling bag, or a camera and lens holster bag that carries one camera and one lens However make sure it is light weight, has comfortable strap or straps, allows easy access to all gear and has a rain cover. Use common sense. Also try to apply some of the suggestions.in this blog.
I cannot end this article without mentioning belt systems that are available from a variety of manufacturers and use individual bags on a belt. And there are also other folks like me who at times will carry a few lenses and a camera and use a photo vest for storage of lenses, filters and batteries.
Of course your choices are exactly that, choices and my suggestions are just that suggestions. Just make sure it has enough room to easily get cameras and lenses in and out.