2016-05-09

Camera Bag Reviews: Our Camera Bag Buying Guide

Camera bags are an item much loved by photographers, with many having a whole cupboard full of them!

So, how do you go about selecting the most suitable camera bag for your needs? When selecting a camera bag, you need to bear several points in mind.
Fstop F1.4 - Khaki Choc Fibre Image 1
The Billingham Fstop f1.4 is just one of hundreds of bags and cases available at Park Cameras
Do you want a bag that will hold all of your equipment - and if yes, will you want to carry all of it? Or will a bag that takes a selection of gear be better for you? In good weather for instance you might take zooms out with you, but in poor light you may want to pack primes.

Will your chosen bag be flexible enough to accommodate what you might require? Remember to allow for expansion - it’s always best to have a little extra space in case you add to your outfit at a later stage.

Does it need waterproofing? If you are going to be using your camera bag in poor weather, then weather sealing and/or a weatherproof cover should be an important consideration.

What environment are you going to be shooting in? For street photography, a brightly coloured bag might not be the best idea and something which blends in - like a messenger camera bag - could be a better choice.

Once all these criteria have been considered, you can choose from a variety of bag categories - all of which have their individual uses.
The Manfrotto BeFree Messenger is designed to complement their Messenger tripod range

Shoulder Camera Bags


Shoulder bags are the traditional choice for the photographer, offering easy access to your equipment while on the move. Recently, there have been moves away from the traditional type of shoulder bags - which tend to scream out ‘valuable equipment inside’, to a more disguised bag.

These can be split into two types - the traditional design with dividers and exterior pockets, and the more modern messenger style that can be worn across the chest or on the shoulder. Many messenger bags have moveable inserts to accommodate your camera gear, and some also offer dedicated space for a laptop, tablet, or often both. The Manfrotto BeFree Messenger is one such bag - with space for a tablet, plus the brilliant addition of a pocket to store a Manfrotto BeFree Tripod.

The shoulder bag is a good choice for working from - they enable you to have a camera and lens on one shoulder and your bag on the other. They're not so great if you have heavy equipment however, as all the weight is concentrated on one side.

Belt Bags and Camera Pouch Bags

Belt bags are modular systems, letting you modify your belt's contents for your situation
Belt bags are designed to be attached to your belt or to a dedicated belt system. They are modular in fashion, with some brands even supplying bottle bags as well as camera cases - they're like the Swiss Army Knife of the camera bag world. Examples include the Lowepro Street and Field system and the ThinkTank Belt range. These are great for really quick access to a limited amount of gear, and are especially useful if you are working in fast-moving environments - such as running along a touchline for example.
The Canon Holster HL100 supplements your Canon DSLR and lens perfectly!

Top-loading Camera Bags


Toploaders are designed to hold your camera with the lens of your choice attached. They are especially good for when you want to use your camera with a large lens on, and have easy access to it without having to attach the lens first. Toploaders - such as the Canon HL100 Holster - generally facilitate the quick grab photography approach, making them a good option for street photographers, but also limit the amount of lenses you can take with you.
The Vanguard VEO 42 Backpack has a useful tripod-friendly side pocket

Backpack Camera Bags


Camera backpacks are the bag of choice for most photographers, as they enable lots of gear to be carried easily and with the weight evenly distributed. Many pro photographers work with a backpack and then two camera bodies - one over each shoulder with different lenses on. The range of backpacks is huge, with varying capacities and protection levels available. The Vanguard VEO 42 Backpack can carry a vast array of equipment in a relatively small package, and has a particularly useful tripod pocket and front-facing camera/lens pocket for quick access to your gear.

The Lowepro Streetline SL40 is a modern solution to camera storage problems

Sling Camera Bags


Sling bags offer a compromise solution between a shoulder bag and a backpack. Most are designed to be ‘slung’ across your back and can then be twisted round to the front or side to allow easy access to your equipment. These are a good choice for flexibility, easy carrying, and access to your equipment. The Lowepro Streetline SL140 is a good example of a contemporary sling bag, with design considerations tailored to fit mirrorless camera setups.
Professional Bags Roller Bag 70 Image 1
The Manfrotto Professional Roller Bag 70 - ideal for transporting lots of camera equipment!

Rolling Camera Bags & Hard Camera Cases


These are designed for easy transport of heavy equipment - ideal for moving equipment from location to location. They can then be used as an equipment store during a shoot. Hard cases are designed to be the ultimate protection for your equipment, so are ideal if you are travelling in harsh conditions or where your equipment has to go in an aircraft hold for instance.

The Manfrotto Professional Roller Bag 70 is a good looking piece of luggage, capable of transporting a huge amount of equipment and designed to hold a couple of cameras, a plethora of lenses, and a lot of extra gear - including laptops, tablets, and tripods!

The choices don't end here though. Once you've decided upon a style, you may have a preferred brand you wish to consider. Park Cameras has a great stock portfolio, split across numerous camera bag brands for you to choose from!
Lowepro Photo Classic BP 300 AW Mica Image 1
The Lowepro Photo Classic BP 300 AW in Mica
Lowepro camera bags are especially well known among wildlife and nature photographers for their weatherproofing, and have recently launched some extremely well priced backpacks including the Lowepro Photo Classic BP 300AW which combines some rather nice looking styling with convenience - and can store a deceptive amount of kit.
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Manfrotto RedBee 210
Manfrotto bags have some great design features; as well as the aforementioned bags, they manufacture some great sling bags and a superb range of backpacks including the Manfrotto RedBee 210 Backpack which is capable of holding a couple of camera bodies and a lens up to 400mm.
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The Urban Disguise Classic 60 V3
ThinkTank's great range of bags are especially lightweight and blend in well. The Urban Disguise range is designed to not stand out from the crowd - with the idea of security in mind - but retains some panache in doing so.
VEO 37 Shoulder Bag Image 1
The VEO 37 shoulder bag
Vanguard provide some well designed bags including the Vanguard VEO 37 Shoulder Bag, which has a separate section for one of their VEO compact tripods - a truly innovative solution meaning tripod carrying becomes much less of a hassle! Their Supreme range of hard cases are a strong competitor when looking for ultimate protection of your equipment.
335 - Imperial Blue Tan Image 1
Billingham 335 in Imperial Blue & Tan
Billingham are a world renowned brand offering a blend of traditional materials and innovative design. Their bags are on the higher end of the budget spectrum, but their quality and style carries great appeal. The Billingham 335 in Imperial Blue and Tan is a particularly attractive and eye-catching member of their range.
The Everyday Messenger - Heritage Tan Image 1
Peak Design Everyday Messenger in Heritage Tan
Peak Design offer their Everyday Messenger Bag - a new type of bag which has a very flexible and innovative feature set and has been one of our most popular models at Park Cameras since its launch. The interior of the bag has a large amount of cubbies and pockets for various accessories, plus innovative dividers to enable a flexible payload.
F-803 Camera Satchel - Ruggedwear Image 1
Domke F-803 Camera Satchel - Ruggedwear
The Domke range includes some extremely practical ‘shooters bags’ which are very popular with press photographers.The Domke F-803 Camera Satchel is capable of holding two or three cameras, plus a lens or two and accessories. It won't break the bank, and is also very subtle.
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The Tamrac T0601 Stratus 6 Shoulder Bag
Tamrac bags and cases include a wide range of traditional and messenger bags as well as backpacks. Tamrac also supply great value lens cases to protect your precious glass. The Tamrac T0601 Stratus 6 is a good solid shoulder bag with accessibility and organisation in mind.

These are just some of the bag and cases brands - camera brands themselves also tout bags and cases to complement their equipment. Canon, Sony, Olympus, Nikon, Leica, and Fujifilm are just some of the brands who want you to match their hardware with their accessories!

So, if you are still undecided on which bag to choose, a visit to either our Burgess Hill or London stores would be well worthwhile, as they both offer some of the widest selections of pro camera bags in the UK - in stock and on display - as well as expert advice. Why not bring along the kit you want to house and try out the bags you are interested in, prior to purchase?

If you found this article helpful, you might like to view our related articles:

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