Camera bags are often seen as somewhat of an afterthought, with photographers focusing on what camera body and lens combination they want to spend their money on. However, your bag is more important than you may realise and will play a vital part in your photography experience.
Firstly a bag’s job is to protect and help transport your kit, so there’s no point in blowing all your money on expensive camera kit if you’re going to carry it around in something that won’t adequately protect it. Secondly, if you’re going to be using the camera a lot, you’ll want a bag that gives a good experience and is comfortable. There’s actually a fair few styles of camera bags out there, so our guide will help show you what’s out there, what style of photography each bag is better suited to and why it could improve your photographic experience….
The most general and versatile of camera bags, these rucksacks are the most commonly seen on the market. Available in various sizes, a good rucksack should be able to take two DSLR bodies and three extra lenses/flashgun.
Elements to look out for are extra pockets for accessories such as filters and batteries, along with wide, padded straps to provide comfort when walking a distance with your gear – some rucksacks also offer a waist belt and chest strap to help distribute the weight more evenly. Those on the lookout for a rucksack should also check the bag’s material is waterproof, though those that offer an additional rain jacket are preferable as that extra level of protection could save your kit if you are out in bad weather. Also check for additional straps or holders that will allow you to attach your tripod or monopod, leaving you with two hands free to navigate terrain.
Rucksacks are great for landscape photographers who have to hike to reach destinations. They typically hold a lot of equipment and have good levels of protection
Space-wise, rear-opening rucksacks are much the same as standard rucksacks, but have one important difference. While general rucksacks features zips at the top or front, rear-opening rucksacks offer entry to kit at the back of the bag. This adds an extra level of protection from theft for the photographer as if the bag is on their back, nobody will be able to access the kit.
This syle of bag is good when you are travelling or maybe in confined spaces so will obviously suit travel photographers who still need to carry a fair amount of kit.
Sometimes a big photo rucksack is just overkill, and you may wish to carry a lighter set up with you. Shoulder bags allow for more versatility, and are great when you are working in a crowd of people. As there’s only one strap, it’s important to pick one that’s well padded as it will bear all the weight of your kit. Most shoulder bags also have compartments for a laptop or tablet and many have foam dividers that can be reconfigured to better accommodate your particular kit setup.
Street photographers love the discretion shoulder bags provide, along with the ability to access kit quickly.
For the ultimate in protection, hard cases - such as those made by Peli - provide a rock hard shell around your gear, making them excellent for professionals who need to protect thousands of pounds worth of equipment. Adding some interior foam that can be customised to exactly fit your equipment will hold the cameras and lenses firmly in place.
Studio photographers who won’t be walking miles but still need to transport and protect a large amount of expensive kit.
Some photographers don’t want to heave heavy kit around and less able photographers simply can’t, but this is where a roller case comes in handy. Some of these transport options look like regular rucksacks and have small wheels and extended handles while bigger rolling cases have more functional, boxy design and can hold huge amounts of kit. By using wheels, the weight is taken off the photographer's shoulders, making it easier to pull around a large amount of gear.
Photographers who travel through airports will feel the benefit of a roller bag as they race past queues at speed. Just check your roller case meets any airline carry-on size restrictions.
Belts & pouches:
When is a bag not a bag? When it’s an auxiliary belt and pouch system, of course. Swapping out a standard bag for a belt and lens pouch system will enable photographers to move more freely - particularly useful for event photographers. The downside is that you can’t carry as much as, say a large rucksack for example, but the solution is to set-up a base where you can safely keep your bag and then fill the pouches with what you need to work the event. It’s not just lenses that can be kept in the pouches, battery packs for flashguns can also be stored, along with filters and batteries.
Wedding photographers who need to move freely around venues without being slowed down by a big bag.. digitalrev.com