I have a bit of a bag fetish to begin with. I can't seem to find the right camera bag. At the moment I have two - a backpack and a shoulder bag. The backpack is great for when I need to haul everything and a tripod (and it has a laptop sleeve which is convenient). The shoulder bag holds just about as much, minus a lens or flash, but is a bit smaller and therefore better suited for walking around.
Both bags are good, but there are drawbacks to each.
The backpack holds a ton and makes carrying the weight a snap, and it has a holster for a tripod, but what it lacks is miscellaneous pockets for holding smaller things like card wallets, extra batteries, filters, etc. The backpack I have is a Kata R-103. It seems like Kata listened to a lot of the complaints about the lack of extra storage so in their new version of the laptop carrying camera backpack, the R-104, they added removable side pockets that mount on the outside of the backpack.
The shoulder bag I use is a Lowepro Stealth Reporter D300 AW. It holds pretty much everything I need if I am out for a day shooting (walking around the city, etc.) but it screams camera bag. I can load it up with all this and it fits comfortably in place:
- Canon 30d + battery grip with 24-70mm f/2.8 with hood reversed
- 70-200mm f/4 lens with hood reversed
- 17-40mm f/4 with hood unmounted
- wall wart battery charger+ extra battery
- CF card wallet from gepe (the 4 card one)
- holga film camera with a few rolls of film
When it's fully loaded it's pretty heavy, but it all fits.
Now, to what I need...
Even though those two bags can carry pretty much what I'd need if I were out shooting, neither bag works if I am out shooting AND sightseeing for the day. There's really no room in either bag for other stuff like a book, a map, raincoat, etc. etc.
So that gets me back to the posts on Ramblins and Ink on my fingers.
Over on Flickr there are a few groups that contain pictures of the contents of peoples bags. There are even groups that are specifically for camera bags. I've been checking out these groups to get an idea of what everyone else is using for bags and what they can hold.
The 'What's In My Bag' cluster
The 'What's In My Camera Bag' cluster
At one time I had a crumpler bag - the 5 million dollar home I think. It was a great bag for a camera+lens but not much else. Recently I saw a couple shots of the 7 million dollar home and that looked like it could handle what I wanted, so I made my way over to the local camera shop to check it out.
The bag definitely held everything that I had in my current shoulder bag, and it even distributed the load better due to the wider shoulder strap and the fact that I could wear it like a messenger bag, but again, with all the gear in tow I couldn't put anything else in the bag.
I must have spent 20 minutes arranging and re-arranging all the bits and pieces of my kit into that bag.
now, where am I going with this...
...I have come to the unfortunate realization that there is no such thing as the perfect bag. I don't think I'll ever find a bag that can hold my whole kit and still leave room for extras - there's just not a bag big enough for that. And even if I did find a bag big enough, would I really want to lug it around?
When it comes to bags and the things they'll carry I need to remember the mantra of less is more. I don't need to bring every piece of gear I have with me when I'm out shooting. I've been having a lot of fun just wandering around with my Holga and an extra roll of film (no bag necessary), and you can't get much more light weight than that.
So maybe it's not the perfect bag that I should be looking for. Maybe I need to just remember that the important thing about photography is just being there, not being there with the perfect piece of equipment.