What you need from a camera bag can vary wildly depending on what kind of photographer you are and what kind of kit you carry. We look at the seven main types of camera bag.
1. Camera pouches
Small cameras don’t have to be simple point-and-shoots – the Panasonic Lumix GM5, for example, packs a great deal of functionality into a body the size of a pack of cards. If you’ve plumped for the convenience of a tiny camera body, you may want a camera pouch. These have room for just your camera and a few bits like memory cards and cables. Clip one to your belt and have your camera ready at a moment’s notice. We’d recommend Lowepro’s Apex series, which bring the Lowepro durability to a series of pouches for the smallest cameras.
2. Camera holsters
If you like the idea of a pouch but need a bit more space, try a camera holster. These are a similar size to pouches but will take longer zooms, so are good for smaller DSLRs such as the Canon EOS 100D. With a holster, the grip of the camera is within reach, so you can draw and shoot in seconds. We’d recommend the ThinkTank Digital Holster 50 V2.0. This is towards the larger end of the holster scale, able to fit a pro-level DSLR.
3. Waist belts
Waist belts may not look the coolest, but are very functional. Many come with modular interior dividers, so you can sculpt the storage space to suit you, and you’ll be able to cart around your camera plus some accessories and maybe a small extra lens or two. The National Geographic Earth Explorer Small Waist Pack is slightly more stylish – designed to fit everyday personal gear as well as camera kit, it’s a great all-around solution for a trekking photographer.
4. Shoulder bags
Also known as messenger bags, shoulder bags are among the most popular of camera bags. While many have a great deal of capacity, be careful not to overload a shoulder bag, as it’s easy to do yourself damage by carrying a lot of weight on one shoulder all day. Still, you’ll probably have space for an SLR and a couple of lenses, as well as chunky accessories such as a flashgun or two and then smaller stuff like cards, chargers and batteries. Billingham’s bags are a little more expensive but will prove a sound investment thanks to their durability and high quality of materials. Give the Billingham 307 a try.
The backpack is a classic for a good reason. Larger models can take a DSLR with perhaps four lenses as well as accessories and even a tablet or laptop, and they’re also easy on the back and shoulders. You’ll be able to carry your gear over long distances without too much trouble – great for the outdoorsy landscape photographer. Many also feature hooks to carry a tripod. We’d recommend trying the Manfrotto Advanced Gear Backpack, available in a range of sizes.
6. Sling bags
A sling bag is designed to offer the capacity of a backpack and the easy access of a shoulder bag. Again, be careful not to overload a sling bag, but you’ll find your SLR and lenses, accessories and potentially a tablet or thin laptop all within easy swing-round-and-grab reach. Vanguard makes excellent bags of all kinds, so give its Up-Rise II 43 Photo Sling Bag a look. With space for an SLR and four lenses, plus a quick access side panel, you’ll be prepared for any and all situations.
7. Rolling cases
Also known as trolley cases, these are the ultimate in storage if you have a hell of a lot to carry. You can also upgrade to a hard case, which can survive being dropped, kicked around, run over and even (in some cases drowned). For extreme protection, we’d say get a Pelican 1510 Carry-On Case. It’s impact-resistant, watertight, airtight and corrosion-resistant, to keep your gear safe from pretty much any eventuality.
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