Is there such a beast? The ultimate camera bag, does it even exist? They are a bit like tripods, over your photographic lifetime they may multiply in the cupboard. Each purchase adds to the pile. The trouble is that you get seduced with the promise of more space, and as soon as you get that space, you start to fill it up with more camera gear. It keeps growing, and so does the requirements for the camera bag.
I have gone through a fair few in my time, so without recommending the perfect one I do recommend considering a few things.
- What do you want to carry in it. Lay your items out, and consider your contents over a period of time. Do you actually use everything you're planning on putting in there. Can you get away with less.
- Do you go out on walks with your camera bag? Because if you go bush with one, I recommend you take with you a few things, including: raincoat, jumper, small first aid kit (here in Australia that means at least an elastic roller bandage and your favourite medications), snacks and sufficient water. I like to take a thermos of tea too, and a map, compass and EPIRB or PLB
- Comfortable, it has to be comfortable. The best way to test comfort is in the shop, and put 20 kgs in the bag and put it on, and stand there or walk around the shop for an hour. If it is still comfortable then go for it. This is the same strategy we use for choosing bushwalking shoes. Nothing beats the test of time.
- Size, the only way to really test the size is to take everything you plan to put in your new camera bag to the shop and put it in there and make sure it fits.. Rearrange the dividers and check to see your camera fits in with all the lenses, batteries, filters and accessories you want to take with you. Look to make sure it is deep enough. That the dividers can be rearranged to fit you gear. Some now have lower dividers for smaller cameras, giving you extra space for your laptop (great idea Think Tank).
- Consider weather proofing, and if your bag is going to get soaked regularly you may want to go with a more water resistant or a water proof bag.
Regardless of how well you do all of this, you will still end up with more than one. Each one will suit different trips and equipment. What you take on an animal trip to Africa is different to what you walk along the streets of Sydney with. Different equipment, different requirements, different needs.
Ok, so I am currently considering an f-stop Loka, as I need to be able to carry a first aid kit and a whole lot more safety equipment (and special treats) while running photographic tours. :)