Camera Bag Selection

Camera Bag Selection

The obvious answer is the one that works for you, but how do we know which is best with such a wide and varied selection on the market today? Personally I own several types of camera bags – all for different purposes. What I can say is that I own bags from three manufacturers Lowepro, Domke and Pelican.

Let’s start with the Lowepros that I own. It is the Inverse 100AW Beltpack and it is dedicated solely for use with my DSLR converted for infrared use. The camera has an 18-70mm lens attached, that I do not remove and it fits nicely along with a 40GB hard drive, microfiber cloth, pen, small notebook and a memory card wallet. I selected this bag due to the light load it would carry and the ability to walk long distances without it becoming a burden. Also because my infrared kit is compact and limited in equipment, the selection of a small bag was the obvious choice. Another nice feature is the rain cover tucked neatly in an outside pocket.

The second Lowepro is a recent purchase – The Flipside 500AW. With the backpack purchase I considered the following – what am I planning to shoot? Mostly wildlife and landscape. Where am I going and for how longand how do I get there?– most of field trips are for a couple of weeks and involve air travel. What activities do I plan to do while shooting – walking and hiking, shooting close to the roadway and a car are almost never an option. This backpack carries a lot of gear along with a tripod, snacks and water bottle – enough to support my activities far away from a rental car.

The next bag I use is more just for transport. It does not go out in the field. The Pelican PCS-247 RSV Wheeled Upright Camera/Computer Case is perfect for doing on site portraits, when I go from my vehicle to an office or when I board a cruise ship, visit a hotel. It is used as my storage on wheels. I carry a smaller camera bag to keep with me and grab equipment from the rolling case as it is needed. Wheels on a backpack or rolling suitcase do not work in remote field locations in any case. This type of bag is meant for urban environments, where I am transporting gear only.

For day bags, I use the F-1X, F-2B and the F-3x Domke Shoulder Bags. I try and travel as light as possible, but also be prepared for what may happen in the field. A photographer must always be self-reliant. These bags all have large flaps for easy access to my gear. To ease the burden on my shoulder I use the Domke FA-031 shoulder pad.

Finally, I do also own a backpack. It is a Lowepro Mini Trekker. I bought this bag more than 20 years ago and it has help up exceptionally well. The backpack style allow you to carry more by better balancing the load, but the inherent drawback is that you pretty much have to take the thing off to get at anything inside. I find myself using this most often going through airports and for landscape work far away from my vehicle.

Another item I own and use is a Domke camera vest. Many folks believe that they are not a worthwhile investment because they only offer minimal protection for what you are carrying in them. Mine is mainly used for a couple of lenses, notepad, cleaning supplies and white balance card. I find it indispensable for replacing my camera bag, except in the very hot weather, when the extra layer becomes too much here in Florida.

Besides the use of the camera bag, I look at the ability to clean it thoroughly. Dust and dirt tends to accumulate in the inside corners, pockets and seams of the bag. It is inevitable! This dust in turn coats your lenses, filters camera and the camera’s sensor. Routinely I remove all my gear to a clean table for “bag cleaning day”. I have chosen the bags that have removable inserts, liners and that can be put directly into my washing machine. My clothes dryer has a shoe rack that can be inserted into the drum and that works great for drying my bags.

But in the end, you must find the bag(s) that works for you. If you know someone who has a bag you like, ask to try it out, ask how it works and what the pros and cons are. Study the bag, what will it be used for? How much gear will you want it to carry? Your camera bag is a personal decision. If, you are like me, you will end up with several bags in your closet.

Here are my bags!!