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Camera Bags

by Philip Greenspun, April 2013


The great thing about camera bags is that no matter how much you spend, you will never be at peace with one camera bag. It will always be too big, too small, not padded enough to check through, not slim enough to carry on, … . You may be sure only of the following:

  • you will eventually have a closet full of camera bags
  • you will never regret having spent big bucks for quality

Ideal Shopping Procedure

The best way to shop for a camera bag is to gather up all of the gear that you think you’ll be likely to use on a typical project and walk into a well-stocked camera store. Budget at least an hour to find the bag that best fits the gear collection.

Minimal

For throwing an SLR camera with lens into an airline carry-on or for rain and shock protection when out and about, the Zing neoprene cases are ideal.

The holster

A holster-style bag is sized precisely for one camera body attached to a particular lens. The ThinkTank web site is a good illustration of the possibilities. Tamrac is an alternative high quality supplier and publishes a useful fit chart. Also see the LowePro Toploader bags. The holster is not used in between photographs; the camera needs to be kept out and ready. The holster is used to protect the camera/lens between projects and when the camera/lens is tossed into a standard backpack or duffel bag.

The small bag

A small bag holds a camera body, three lenses, and maybe a flash. Typically these are rectangular bags with a shoulder strap. Perhaps the classic example is Domke, the perennial favorite of photojournalists. I find this kind of bag good for leaving under a table at a wedding reception, but not great for access to gear while I’m in motion.

A minor improvement on the standard design is the addition of a waist belt that can be tucked back away when not in use. The waist belt, pioneered with the venerable Tamrac 709, stabilizes the bag on a long walk.

Some designs worth investigation:

  • LowePro, especially the AW versions that are rain-proof
  • ThinkTank Urban Disguise (shoulder bags) and Change Up (waist belt, backpack straps, chest harness); the ThinkTank bags include an integrated rain cover that can be spread over the bag

Photo.net reviews of small bags:

The small bag that holds an iPad too

What if you want to carry a camera system but can’t get through the day without an Android tablet or iPad? Tamrac and ThinkTank are ready for you. I have experimented with the Tamrac Zuma 4 holding a Sony NEX-6 and three lenses. It ended up being unstable, wanting to topple over due to the weight of the tablet.

The ThinkTank Retrospective 7 worked out very well for a small Canon EOS system and a couple of tablets. The fold-over flap makes it very convenient to get to the camera gear. This is my favorite tablet-carrying bag.

The big bag

Trunk of Acura NSX (filled up with camera bag + Powerbook.)

Once a shoulder bag becomes large enough to hold enough equipment to cover a wedding or an entire medium format system, it becomes awkward to carry and difficult to dig through. Consider a backpack. The best big camera bag that the author has used is the LowePro SuperTrekker AW backpack.

The SuperTrekker is a big frameless backpack divided up with foam. It has only one level so you don’t have to figure out what goes on top of what, as with big shoulder bags. I’ve stuffed this one bag with two Canon EOS bodies, five EOS lenses (including a big telephoto L zoom), plus a Fuji 617 monster, lots of accessories, a tripod and film (it was that long ago!). The bag was not quite full. You can configure the case to hold a 600/4, a 300/2.8, a folding view camera, or maybe even all three.

Back before I got old/wise enough to hire assistants, I found the SuperTrekker very comfortable to wear and it had thoughtful and clever design features that took years to appreciate fully. The SuperTrekker can be a little tight for putting in an airline overhead bin, though a couple of times I checked it with no ill results. The tripod case on the back is worth mentioning. It separates from the backpack if you wish to carry it separately, is big enough for a Manfrotto/Bogen 3021 and ballhead, and is well padded with foam.

If you are caught in the rain with the bag, unfurl the built-in rain fly.

The photo backpack

The SuperTrekker is too big and heavy to carry while taking pictures and, even if you force an assistant to wear it, getting lenses out while the backpack is in a vertical position is not easy. LowePro makes some smaller backpacks that are worth investigating. The Rotation 360 from ThinkTank is perhaps the most interesting idea in photo backpacks. The lower part of the pack can be swiveled around to your front temporarily. It opens at the top so that you can conveniently change lenses while standing and wearing the rest of the pack on your back.

The photo backpack that an assistant wears

If you can persuade a friend to go hiking with you, why not have the friend wear the backpack? Then you don’t have to put the backpack down on the (dirty) ground in order to begin the process of changing lenses. Your friend essentially becomes a mobile camera closet. Unfortunately, as noted above, the typical photo backpack is designed for access with the backpack flat on the ground. If opened up when the backpack is being worn, nothing stops all of the lenses from falling out. Your friend might be willing to carry the backpack, but is he or she willing to get down on hands and knees every time you want to change lenses?

A very nice backpack that goes part of the way to solving this problem is made by Gura Gear. Their Bataflae system can open in a variety of ways such that not all of the lenses are simultaneously at risk. It is also great for airline travel due to the facts that the straps can be tucked away and the bag carried with a couple of very thoughtfully placed handles.

Also look at the Tamrac Evolution backpacks for this application. I have not tested them.

The photo backpack that is truly waterproof

A unique product that will keep your gear safe if a canoe, raft, or zodiac is part of your day, is the LowePro DryZone 200. This backpack uses a waterproof zipper and a rafting-style drybag material around a standard soft-sided photo backpack.

I used the DryZone 200 backpack on a trip to Antarctica in February 2013. Once you get on the ship in Ushuaia there is no possibility of ordering a replacement SLR body, even for Amazon Prime customers! So it was very comforting to have my gear stowed safely during Zodiac rides and landings. The waterproof zipper is a little bit cumbersome to operate so I would not recommend this backpack in a situation where there is no risk of dunking.

The voice of experience (LowePro versus ThinkTank)

We asked Peter Menzel (interview) to compare a LowePro to the ThinkTank backpack that he had been using:

The Lowepro Vertex 200 AW held the following: two Canon 5D bodies with vertical grips and lenses attached; the 16-35mm, 24-70mm and 100-400mm lenses; 2 Canon flashes; Bogen table top tripod; Minolta flash meter; soft case with extra battery, charger and 10 CF cards; headlamp and maglite; 15" notebook computer and charger. As an all-in-one backback—for photographic missions requiring airplane travel or complex shoots where I need more lenses and gadgets—it doesn’t have the room. For my needs, the Lowepro Vertex 300 AW would probably be more appropriate.

The Vertex 200 backpack is rugged and well thought-out. It looks waterproof, although I wonder how the newfangled waterproof zippers will hold up over the years. I like the waistband and shoulder straps: the harness system offers good support for hiking with minimal equipment. It has good straps for attaching a bigger tripod too.

I normally use a Thinktank Airport Acceleration backpack, which, in addition to the equipment listed above, holds a 70-200mm lens, a 100 macro, and an infared remote receiver and trigger. The laptop slot is less padded than the Lowepro, and the harness system is not as good. I would take the Thinktank for transporting gear at airports, taxis and for moving fragile equipment around. The Lowepro would be better for backpacking and rougher assignments where I need fewer lenses.

Peter Menzel

The bag that stays at home

For less than $200 you can get a waterproof, dustproof, indestructible plastic hard case. It will hold a moderate array of equipment and look very nice sitting in your basement.

If you’re going to be spending a long time in a hostile environment, e.g., a sailboat, one of these might be worthwhile, but they are very user-unfriendly. If you can’t get to your equipment, you probably can’t take a very good picture. A Pelican or Zero Halliburton case is nice if you are collecting cameras but not very practical if you want to use them.

You might imagine that a hard case like this would be ideal for check-through airline travel. However, the last thing that you want is a rigid case transmitting all the shock directly to your equipment. For situations in which water immersion is a possibility I recommend the LowePro DryZone 200 backpack instead of a hard case.

The bag that is at home in the belly of an airliner

Suppose that you need to check or FEDEX lighting equipment and larger cameras/lenses and then, once you’ve arrived on location, work out of the shipping container. You need an “air case”. These are made with a rigid plastic core, strong enough to support this 200 lb. photographer. The core is made of shock-absorbing foam and then it is wrapped inside and out with more shock-absorbing foam. A final boon of an air case system is that all of this foam functions much as the foam around a picnic cooler. This protects gear from temperature extremes (though remember not to put film in checked luggage; airports use much higher strength X-rays on checked bags than carry-on). If you don’t want airport baggage handlers opening your case, you can use a TSA-approved luggage lock on the zippers. Each case comes with a wrapped-foam divider system that is adjustable with Velcro. You have to budget a couple of hours to cut up the dividers to suit your goals.

There are three major brands of air cases: Lightware, Tamrac, and Tenba. I’ve had good experiences with six or seven different Tamrac bags, but have never tried their “protective hard cases.” I have a Tenba case and the dividers come from the factory with sewn-in Velcro. It works perfectly. My experience with the Lightware case:

  • Paid $380 back in the 1990s when this was real money.
  • Spent a whole evening to cut up the dividers and attach the supplied glue-backed Velcro strips to the edges.
  • Ran out of Velcro fasteners because Lightware was rather stingy with the supply.
  • Called Lightware to ask for a few more Velcro strips. They demanded $1/strip to drop a few more in the mail.
  • After a couple of trips out of the house, my dividers were all drifting from their moorings; the Velcro strips had come unglued from the divider edges. I called Lightware and they said “oh yes, that happened to lots of people; we had a bad batch of strips.” They sent me some new strips with allegedly more tenacious glue.
  • After every airplane flight, the dividers shift and I have to reglue the Velcro, despite the fact that I never put more than 45 pounds of stuff in one of Lightware’s largest cases.

Second opinion: I once asked a clerk at Calumet what the difference between Lightware and Tenba was (they had both on display). She said “the Lightware sucks”.

The photo vest

Main lobby of the Getty Center. Los Angeles, California.

If you’re a gearhead, you’ll probably end up with a camera bag too big to carry around an art museum or a city. One effective strategy is to leave the bag in the car trunk and use a photo vest to carry what you need for a specific sub-project. Some photo vests have sufficiently large pockets to hold a 70-200/2.8 zoom lens, but none alas have pockets large enough for a mid-sized body with mid-sized lens attached.

The main problem with photo vests is that they make your neck hurt, but they are still more comfortable than most shoulder-strap bags. Plus your equipment is much more accessible.

Nikon made an interesting vest they called “Vestrap”, which is sometimes available on the used market. The Vestrap has two little runt strapettes that you hook to your camera and then clip to the vest. The weight of the camera you’re using then becomes part of the vest weight as well. The vest looked beautifully tailored, at least by computer nerd standards, and the pockets were large enough to hold 70-200/2.8 lenses or second bodies. I tried this vest for a month in Italy and didn’t like it. First, the pockets aren’t padded on the outside so if I sat down or took the vest off, the lenses took a lot of hard knocks. Second, I quickly discovered that a neoprene strap distributed the weight of a camera more comfortably than the Vestrap collar. Third, when you have the camera clipped in, it is difficult to take the camera or the vest off. You become inextricably linked to the vest and your equipment. I thought it was a reasonably good vest for covering a photojournalism assignment where you’re going to be on your feet and focused on photography for a few hours. However, I preferred living out of an older Tamrac vest.

The belt

If you find yourself melting in the summertime in that photo vest and/or it won’t hold your big lenses, try a belt system. The pioneer in this product category was Kinesis. I used a Kinesis system to cover MIT’s 1998 graduation and found that a Canon EOS-5 body with vertical grip plus 70-200/2.8L lens all fit into one of the pouches with the enormous 70-200’s plastic sunshade attached. I ran into Charlie Krupa, an AP News photographer, at the MIT event. He noticed my Kinesis belt and pointed to his own: “don’t you just love this system?”

More fruits of the Kinesis belt system: Head of the Charles 1998.

LowePro and Tamrac make competitive modular belt systems.

The strap

The thin straps that come with camera bodies are good for keeping a tight leash on your equipment. If you don’t mind a bit of stretch, thick neoprene straps distribute the weight of a camera much more comfortably around your shoulder. The Tamrac “boomerang” strap is a good example of the maximum in width and comfort. I was a big fan of the Tamracs because the same plastic connectors can be used to switch the camera into a (discontinued) Tamrac “Action Strap” in about 20 seconds. The Action Strap was a clever contraption that has the camera hang down from your neck against your chest and a neoprene belt with a hole in the middle comes around your waist to sit over the lens. This presses the camera up against your chest so that you can ride a horse, for example, without getting battered by your camera. When the time comes to snap a picture, you can pull off the neoprene loop in about 2 seconds, raise the camera to your eye and expose. It cost about $20 but was discontinued during the Bill Clinton Administration.

The view camera case

As noted in “Choosing a Large Format Camera”, when using a monorail view camera on location, you probably aren’t going to be carrying it too far (was it Edward Weston who said “if it is more than 500 feet from the car, it isn’t photogenic”?). The most convenient way to carry a view camera is with a huge case that lets the view camera hang from its rails. You can have the camera out and set up on a tripod in less than one minute. Jeff Hirsh at Fotocare is probably the best person to talk to for a recommendation.


Text and photos © 2013 Philip Greenspun.

Article created April 2013

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



Michael Edelman , December 17, 1996; 02:56 P.M.

I like Domke bags. Every other bag seems to have a labyrinth of complex dividers, or a zipper that has to be unzipped before you can get in, or some other feature that looks great but ends up being terribly fussy in use. Domkes use a simple snap lock to hold them closed, the're deep enough so that things don't roll out, they're pretty water resistant, they're rugged as hell and they're pretty cheap compared to the competition.

Twelve years ago I woke up in the middle of a fire in my apartment building. I grabbed the closest pants and sweatshirt and headed out over my porch (right behind the cat) without stopping to take anything with me. When I reentered some hours later, just about everything in the living room was a total loss, covered with wet plaster, ashes and so forth. At the bottom of a pile of rubble in the middle of the room were my two Domke bags, my F3 and F2 and my lenses- bone dry. I still use the bags.

For travel and storage, i.e., anytime I don't need to have a camera hanging on my shoulder, I use Pelican and Seal-Tight cases.

Thom Hogan , February 03, 1997; 01:14 A.M.

I've used dozens of bags over the years. But after doing a far amount of traveling over the past few years, and having watched Galen Rowell at work in the field, I worked out a set of bags that works for me.

For running around light, I actually use a two bottle water carrier with a small pocket. My 28-85 and 70-210 lenses fit perfectly where the water bottles normally do, so I put a water bottle in one, a lens in the other. Filters, film, and other stuff goes in the pocket and the camera around my neck. I also rigged a second strap that goes up around my neck.

For heavier duty (like when I'm using the 20-35 and 80-200 f2.8 lenses), I use a small Tamrac waist bag. After much futzing, I can get the camera, the two lenses mentioned plus a 17mm, my SB26 flash, and a gaggle of filters. Again, I worked out a shoulder strap to take some of the load (and make it easier to move fast without the bag bouncing).

For International travel, I do what Galen does: I have a pack that I found that I fit to the Tamrac waist bag with two caribeners (this entails wearing the waist bag BEHIND you, under the pack). I tried this with Galen's bag first, but as you pointed out, that bag had a lot of faults, so I switched. With this combo, I can carry as much as 45 pounds of equipment in what every airline has allowed as my carryon. Of course, the tripod doesn't fit, but that's another problem.

john iversen , March 10, 1997; 09:47 A.M.

re yr comments re camera bags

i bought the lowepro trim trekker a year ago. shoulder straps are adjustable so you can bring the centre of gravity down which is great for skiing it fits a 35 mm slr with lens plus 3-4 lenses, flash and accessories - furthermore it has a chest strap, which avoids bouncing sideways when you are moving. When I go out shooting for a Sunday afternoon with a spcific subject in mind I do no need it's capacity, but it is so comfortable that I bring it anyway.

Jean Touchette , March 17, 1997; 02:35 P.M.

Phil, I agree with your assessments of TAMRAC bags. I too have a locker full of different bags, for different purposes. I'm into outdoor recreation so I travel light. I find the LOWEPRO Orion waistbag to be the best when I'm trekking with a 40-pound rucksack on my shoulders. Also, I wouldn't dream bringing my expensive Nikon gear on those whitewater canoe trips without it being secure and dry in that Pelican plastic case. For peace of mind in those rapids, it's the only way to go. By the way, congratulations for your web site. It's informative, incredibly well-designed, and most importantly, beautifully illustrated! Jean

Glen Johnson , April 09, 1997; 02:37 P.M.

The Tamrac 614 is quite large and will easily take two SLR bodies, several long lenses, flash, accessories, etc. It costs $175 at B&H.

The problem with this bag (from my perspective) is that it will hold so much that it becomes extremely uncomfortable to lug around. It is a good bag to keep things in if you are working out of a vehicle. It is not a great bag if you are trying to carry stuff around on your person.

If you are trying to carry things on your person, the Tamrac 612 or the Canon Gadget Bag 1 are the right maximum size for someone with my inclination to lug stuff around. When these bags are chock full, they are still light enough to walk around with, and they are still small enough to fit under the seat in front of you on most airline equipment. If you pack carefully, you can get two SLR bodies in, a 70-200 f/2.8 zoom, 100 macro, 50 f/1.4, 540EZ flash, 17-35 f/2.8, hoods, 15+ rolls of unboxed film, brushes, lens cleaning accessories, camera and flash batteries, and a small flashlight.

Two of these bags will hold as much as one of the very large bags, and will offer more flexibility too. The Tamrac 612 costs around $150 at B&H. The Canon Gadget Bag 1 sells locally here in Dayton for $80. For those that don't mind the Canon logo, the Gadget Bag 1 is probably one of the best camera bag values around.

Bob -- , May 16, 1997; 10:26 A.M.

I am a pro photographer and have (at last!) found the perfect small backpack. It's the Lowepro Mini Trecker and sell for about $75.00. It carries two 35mm cameras with a short zoom on one and a medium zoom on the other, flash, several extra small lenses, filters, tons of film, batteries, instruction books, etc., etc. It is small (day pack size), light, opens up all the way to give full and immediate access to the cameras, is well padded, the padding sections are movable so you can customize the compartments to suit your gear. It is so handy and easy to operate out of I even take it to weddings in prefenence to my regular style bag. For anyone wanting this size bag the Lowepro Mini Trecker can't be beat!

Bob at Flash Photography

Charles Ward , June 01, 1997; 10:30 A.M.

Tamrac - I owned one of the older international correspondent camera bags that held 4 lens, a body, lots of filters and film, etc. I took it to Europe a few years back. It was well made and lived up to its reputation. I didn't like the hang and feel of it, however. It was very fat and bulky to carry. Finally gave it away after it sat in my attic for a year.

Vantage Classic - This is a big bulky bag, poorly made, that I keep at home as a stock bag. Holds 1 SLR body and flash, 8 lenses, etc. Too bulky for travel

Tenba - I currently own the Traveler P506. It is the finest camera bag I own. It is sturdy, light weight and will carry one SLR body with a lens attached and 2 other lenses. Not very deep. Will just about hold my 70-300 mm AF Nikon lens. Good construction and padding. Nice zipper front pouch and film holder which detaches for airport security inspection. This is the bag I will take to Europe the next time. Fits easily on my shoulder or when carried by hand.

My latest bag is the Tenba # 655 Pro Traveler. It's better made, if that's possible, than the P506. It will carry 2 SLR bodies with zooms attached, a big Nikon flash and 4-6 other lenses. I have it configured for 1 SLR with the Nikon AF 24-50 mm zoom lens (3 inches long) plus my Nikon AF 70-300 mm lens (over 6 inches long) and the Nikon 100 mm micro lens - and 5 - 4 smaller lenses, plus the Nikon SB25 flash unit. It will hold 2 long telephoto lenses if I needed it. Plenty of room for film with a detachable film pocket; also room for photo manuals, batteries, flashlight, pocket knife, extra filters, remote cords, etc. Great bag!!!

Domke. I own 2 Domke bags and I can see why photographers love them. They are amorphous shapeless things, until you put your gear in them. The F-6 (Little Bit Smaller) easily holds a SLR body with lens attached, 3-4 other lenses or flash (4 padded places for gear). Nice zippered front pouch. There is no film holder so I use a plastic baggie. Nice construction, etc. I also have the small F-5XB, which really looks like a woman's shoulder purse. I bought it to take a camera on the NYC subway. Worked fine. Holds just 1 SLR body with lens attached and another small lens or flash. Just OK for tight, light travel where you afraid for your life and camera gear. The light tan color on both bags resists water and dirt. Both bags still look like I just bought them and they are over 2 years old.

Andrew Matangi , June 10, 1997; 10:47 P.M.

The bag I have used for some 6 years is a Billingham 335. Billingham is an English company which started out making fisher's bags and then moved into camera bags some years ago. The 335 is a medium size bag which will carry 1 SLR with lens and 4 other medium or wide-angle lenses, plus accessories in two outside flap pockets. It's similar in appearance to LowePro bags or Domke's. Billingham bags use brass fittings and wide woven straps on a choice of canvas or artiifical fabric bags. They can be criticised for being too heavy but they take a good beating and are very popular with UK professionals. Backpack and waistband straps are optional.

Cameron Tully-Smith , July 28, 1997; 08:12 P.M.

I'm also writing because I'm wondering if you've seen the vests made by The Vested Interest (http://www.vestedinterest.com). I bought their Khumbu model and took it on a trip on paths at some parks in Northern California through redwoods. I was stopping and starting to setup for shooting on Royal Gold 25 (so I was getting the tripod out every time) and also had both of my SLRs and 11# worth of a Bogen tripod and head along with other gear (total weight of 30-40#) and found it very comfortable.

Chris Migliaccio , August 14, 1997; 07:51 P.M.

I'm surprised at the negative comments about the Photoflex bags. I've used my M2SB on extended trips to the rainforests in Costa Rica and Ecuador without any problems. Padding is excellent, flexibility is tremendous and the waist & shoulder straps make it reasonably comfortable for long walks. I'm always putting the bag on the wet ground and have had no leaks. I also have used a Domke Day Pack in similar settings because I like being able to just get out what I need, rather than exposing everything in the pack to the elements (as in all the other photo backpacks). Curious to know others problems with the Photoflex bag (or were the problems with other models).

M. Ryan Brown , August 17, 1997; 10:20 P.M.

I have a Domke J-1 that I like really well. It is well made and stands up to heavy use. I find it more water resistant than my other (canvas), as it is made of ballistic nylon. Of course, the Domke name means quality. The bag is very flexible, and holds: Canon 1n w/booster with 28-70L (vertical in bag), A2 w/grip, 70-200L, 20 2.8, 2 540's, *and* a propack of film. WOW. One thing I like is that I can store my lenses with hoods attached, a very important feature when shooting on the run. Or, if digital's your thing, the bag is also high enough to accomodate a DCS 3, and the SCSI cord fit in the other end pocket. You can't attach a lens to the camera, though.

Jay J. Pulli , August 20, 1997; 08:00 P.M.

First a comment about the Galen Rowell camera bag you said fell apart. I've had one for four years now, carried it all around Europe and the US, and it still looks brand new. These models have a lifetime guarantee, so if yours has fell apart, just send it back to Photoflex. As for camera straps, I've had one of those OpTech spongy straps on my N90 for four years, so I must like it, but I see three problems with this strap. One, it slides off my shoulder when I'm wearing a parka; just not enough friction. Second, when you have a heavy camera/lens combination, the strap stretches which tends to add a feeling of insecurity. I tend to carry my camera in my hand, because I have this feeling I'm losing it. Third, since the strap stretches, you can't pull it tight to add stability to hand held pictures. With a non stretching strap, you can apply tension by wrapping the strap under your arm pit and pulling. This does add stability; I've used this technique when photographing in the churchesof Europe.

S Lissner , October 18, 1997; 06:46 P.M.

My Domke F-805 shows little wear despite several years of travel. It's been joined recently by a Domke F-4AF, a superbly made, comfortable, and useable bag for my Canon EOS RT-1, a 430 flash, a few lenses, and odds and ends. Though a Domke seems simple in contrast to the complexity of other makes of bags, it's a good buy.

N. Hopper , October 22, 1997; 07:54 P.M.

While looking for a durable, high-quality camera bag, I tried many bags out.

The one which consistantly came out as my favorite, and the one I purchased was the Domke F-2.

Kevin Turinsky , November 07, 1997; 02:29 A.M.

I live in Alaska, climb mountains, mush dogs, ski, fly, sea kayak...you name it. And my cameras alway go with me. Some times bags work well. Other times individual camera and lens cases are better. The bag I've been using for the past two years is a Galen bag. I'd say it's very well thought out. I like it, and don't use my Domkes much any more. However, I can't take it on hikes, climbs, or any time I'm wearing a pack. So I use SUN DOG cases! They're great!!! Last time I climbed Denali I took my N90, 20-35, 60, & 80-200. The chest pouch fits the N90 with any of the lenses, and the other pouches fit the lenses and my SB-25! I use 'em traveling too. That way I can still wear a normal 3500-4000 ci pack on the plane and on the trail, yet my gear remains well protected. I did this on an expedition to Makalu, and just recently in the Dolomites. The SUN DOG stuff is very versatile. Small stuff like filters, brushes, batteries, I keep in those zippered pouches from REI.

BTW, I gave Galen's old model chest pouch and lens case a try. Sorry Galen - No Go.

I've heard that Lowe-Pro makes a lens case large enough for an 80-200 with Kirk-type mount still attached

As for vests, the one by Vested interest looks very practical, yet very conspicuous in an urban environment...probably couldn't wear it traveling through Europe. It would be great to use on Iditarod, but maybe hard to get in and out of small planes with. I've been using an old, goofy vest from...don't laugh...Banana Republic. The pockets are too small for an 80-200 though.

Whew, too much coffee. Bye.

Mike Taras , February 09, 1998; 01:52 P.M.

I recieved a Pelican hard case as a gift and I must say it is one of the most useful camera accessories I own, and under certain circumstances the only "bag" I take with me.

On normal outings or packing trips I take a soft case, but much of the travel in Alaska is done on all-terrain vehicles or by canoe, raft, etc.

In those cases the Pelican is invaluable, offering unparalled protecion along with, yes, ease of accessibility.

While using the case on an ATV, I just strap it on the luggage rack with straps or bungees placed in strategic locations. The case protects the camera from water, dust, crushings, and when used with the custom foam core, from the massive jarring effects of bashing up and down on terraine fit for a horse. If I see something I want to photograph I just unsnap the two (addmittedly difficult to open) latches and grab the camera. Easy as that.

On the river, the case gets straped to the canoe or raft with easy access. I don' care what happens on the river, I don't have to worry about the camera at all. If we tip over, or someone steps on it or it gets dragged in the rapids, oh well. I know when I pop the lid my camera will be in there snug and dry ready for the shot. I have missed shots when it wasn't wise to leave the camera around my neck, and spent to much time fumbling to open a dry bag and pull the camera from its case. To me the Pelican is the ticket.

I am now working on a way to secure the case to my mountain bike. If I can strap it behind the seat on a rack I can take it with me in all conditions and not worry about crashing and I won't have to have it in a pack on my back.

Thomas Strait , February 11, 1998; 10:46 P.M.

Everything you have said about Tamrac bags is true. I have one myself and am very fond of it. Perhaps you should say something to the effect of it's waterproofness; I know this particular expensive feature has saved me and my entire setup several times. Since I happen to like taking pictures of and around water, perhaps I'm not typical. However, it seems to me that anybody who might be caught in the rain might also want to believe that his lenses won't have to go to a shop for a month to be dried out.

Also, I find that (and again, I'm not typical) the combat web vest avaiable at any army-navy surplus store is almost perfect for carrying stuff around the great outdoors. It supports well the weight of the said stuff, also it's easy to get at the stuff.

Ross Alford , February 22, 1998; 03:46 A.M.

I like photo backpacks, have two and use them a lot. The LowePro Photo Trekker AW (one size down from the one Phil likes) is a great bag, but I find it a tiny bit *too* big unless I'm carrying a mass of gear. For short-term daypack use I have a Tamrac LTX daypack that is great. It is considerably deeper than the equivalent LowePro model, so that anything up to a Super Graphic 4 X 5 will fit vertically. It seems reasonably waterproof, and will hold one (but not more) of a reasonably comprehensive 4 X 5 Super Graphic outfit, a medium-format Graphic or SLR outfit, or a 35mm SLR outfit, plus a bit of gear like a water bottle, some sunscreen, etc.

Packs are nice, but for extended travel in environments that are really hostile to camera gear, such as rainforests, hard cases can't be beat. One compromise, which I have used a few times, is to use a hard case that will fit into a daypack. If the daypack unzips all the way, it's almost as easy to lay it down, unzip it and fold the top back, then pop the latches on a Pelican case and remove gear, as it is to open a photo pack. I have a small, squarish Pelican case (the Mini D model) that has carried my 35mm gear through some very wet environments, holds just enough to be useful, and fits into a daypack with room to spare for my Slik compact tripod and some scientific gear.

Will Crawford , March 08, 1998; 11:57 P.M.

I have two medium size bags, a Tamrac (holds two bodies and a lot of lenses, and stays at home) and a Fotima. The Fotina has adjustable dividers that work very well, and is big enough to hold a body with lens and about six other lens, more if I'm willing to stack a 20mm on a 24mm. It has OK film storage on the bottom of the lid, and a nicely padded shoulder strap. The external pockets are too small for anything but a few filters and manuals, and I have yet to find a tripod flimsy enough to mount with the tripod straps.

For trips without a lot of camera gear, I finally hit on the ideal solution. I went to my local discount luggage store and found a medium-size expandable black laptop bag. It's big enough to hold my laptop and accessories as well as one body and three small to medium sized lenses and an extra pair of socks. The external pockets can hold about thirty or forty rolls of film. The whole assemblage makes it very easy to get through airport checkpoints, and since it doesn't look particularly like a laptop bag or a camera bag, I assume that I am fractionally less likely to get robbed outright. And I even found the bag on sale ($30).

(Also a note to the previous commentor re: the OpTech neck strap. I have one too, and have carted it through several countries. It's a very convienant and non-painful way to deal with heavy cameras, but I have the same problem with it sliding off my jacket when I'm wearing it one- armed, which is something I do often. I have a standard Nikon shoulder strap made out of something vaguely natural, and after a full day, even with just my F3, it can hurt!)

Sergio Ortega , March 09, 1998; 01:21 P.M.

I've been using the large format Tamrac backpack (#624) for 3-4 yrs. Excellent construction. Perfect size and design for 4x5 Wisner, four lenses (90, 120, 210, & 305), spotmeter, polaroid or quickload back, bag bellows, and tons of accessories. (Save space with readyloads/quickloads: no dust or loading film holders in field). But Tamrac's backpack harness sucks! I ended up lashing bag to external-frame cargo backpack for long hikes; still too heavy and cumbersome. The older I get, the lighter I want to go. So I just got Lowe photo-trekker. Much more comfy than Tamrac. Hugs body, harness excellent. Equipment easier to get to. I much prefer Lowe over Tamrac for large format field work.

Bob Walkden , March 25, 1998; 05:04 A.M.

I've found the Pelican case to be v. good for checking through customs - evything is nice and safe. I lock it with 2 combination locks. For day-to-day use I have a Domke F2. If I'm just transporting my stuff (3 bodies, 3-6 lenses) I keep the dividers in and use lens wraps for extra padding. When I'm working out of it I remove all the dividers and put bean bags inside so I can throw the equipment in safely.

Ken Eng , March 25, 1998; 03:12 P.M.

I've just purchased a Domke F-4AF bag a 2 months ago and I could only say I love it!!! Before I got this bag I was using a Tamrac 610 bag to lug my equipment around. I've found that it was too big and conspicuous and wanted a smaller bag. Well, I saw the Domke bag at a great price so I said "what the hey!". I got it and was amazed at how much you could pack into it! I carry a telephoto zoom, a wide angle zoom, a flash, a spare body, and an AF camera with lens attached in the main compartment with room to spare. The accessory pockets are huge!!! This was one gripe I had with the Tamrac, the accessory pockets were too small and specialized to really suit my needs. I just categorize stuff in plastic zip-lock bags and stuff it in the Domke and I never have a problem unzipping this or that to get at my equipment. I could pack at least 20 rolls of 35mm film with plenty of room to spare for the usual miscellaneous stuff that I usually pack. Using the bag is a total joy! Everything seems readily accessible without pulling the bag apart! The camera comes out of the bag fast and easy! ...And I could mount any of my zooms on my camera in a ready position that is quick to put into action! Ever since I got the Domke F-4AF bag I've never taken my Tamrac out of the house. I'm even thinking about getting another F-4AF bag for my medium format outfit so I don't have to switch out equipment everytime. This goes to show that Domkes may not look impressive in the store but once you use one you'll never want to carry your equipment in any other bag! Well, that's my 2 cents worth!

Tom Rose , April 02, 1998; 02:29 P.M.

I've been trying to find the perfect bag for ages, but so far in vain. Here are the attempts:

Various oblong nylon padded efforts. All hopeless. Uncomfortable to carry, and equipment likely to fall out when used.

CCS Holster, and accessory pouches. Excellent padding and waterproofing. Very well made. Great while the camera is actually in the holster, but it flaps about annoyingly when it is empty. The waist mounted pouches just look silly. No longer use it.

Billingham 335. Very well made, good padding and waterproofing, so great protection for the gear. Also lots of nice design touches. Very easy to work out of. Back pack adapter makes it easy to carry, but is fiddly to attach. Swallows three bodies and 5 lenses easily, so great for serious trips by car. Leather and canvas construction isn't obviously a camera bag (except to other photographers). They look expensive when new, but mines now grimy and tatty so no problems there. It is just TOO HEAVY to lug about on long walks. The bag alone outweighs a Nikon and two decent lenses. I mainly use it now as a general luggage bag!

Tamrac Photo Explorer. In the catalogue this looked like the answer to my dreams. In reality, the internal compartments make too tight a fit for most lenses/bodies, and the fold out backpack adapter is useless. As a backpack it is too uncomfortable, and the weight distribution is all wrong. I now use it to carry my notebook PC and its acessories.

Lowepro Mini Mag P. Good width/depth, so lenses slot in easily, (unlike the Tamrac). Almost the right size for me, maybe just a little small. Takes one body and three lenses (e.g. F3, wide angle, 50mm or mid range zoom, and 180mm) easily, plus film and filters. No chance of fitting a big lens in, but then I don't have anything longer than 200mm. Manages two bodies and three lenses at a pinch. Great curved (comfortable), sticky, distinctive Lowepro strap. Also nice waist belt attachment to share the weight, or for comfortable access while shooting. Only 2 criticisms - no zip fastening seal. Relies on large overlap of top flap. So water or dust could get in in rough conditions. Also too obviously a CAMERA bag.

I've heard that Domke bags are spacious, easy to use, not too heavy, comfortable to carry, tough, give good protection to the equipment, and don't look like camera bags. Is this true?

Paulo Bizarro , April 06, 1998; 09:26 A.M.

Camera bags are in constant evolution, or so my closet thinks:-) I have now settled with a Lowepro Mini Trekker, a fantastic backpack, for longer journeys. I also have a Lowepro Orion wasitpack for smaller outifts and touristy trips, together with a Lowepro AW Zoom bag ( I do like Lowepro products).

From older days I still have a Billingham bag (looks gorgeous and is nice for city day trips) and a zoom bag from Tamrac.

Which one I use depends:

1. What I need to carry 2. Mood (can afford that, I have collected a few bags...

Michael Gatov , April 11, 1998; 08:42 P.M.

I've been using a Billingham Liberty bag for about 3 years now, and love it. It is very comfortable and stays close to the body. I can carry a body and 5 lenses (plus film and filters). It has seen a lot of use, and still look new. Also, it doesn't scream "CAMERA GEAR, PLEASE STEAL"

JUAN VELASQUEZ , April 23, 1998; 04:26 P.M.

I too have a closet full of camera bags (eleven to date). The best ones I've found are my domke F2 bag and the sundog day pack. The sundog bag rules. It's light, padded where it needs padding, easy to confiqure and a joy to use. Rod Planck tipped me off to the bag and I've been very happy using it.

John Roberts , April 25, 1998; 03:36 P.M.

After 20 years I decided to add to my F2 system. I recently purchased a Nikon F5 and several Nikkor lenses. I have tried several Tamrac bags, a Lowepro, and finally deceided upon a Domke F2. iT packs the easiest, has huge pockets and is very easy to work out of. The tamrac bags are excellent quality, but with all the padding I needed a huge bag to handle my gear.

I use tamrac bags for my video gear and my kids SLR's. For me, the Domke bag is "phat".

Joe Sutherland , May 28, 1998; 10:05 P.M.

I saw lots of comments on bags but not much on straps, so I'll put in my 2 cents worth on straps. I have an arthritic neck, so lugging a camera around can get painful. The strap that helps the most is the Yukon Harness, which I got from Porter's mail order store. It places the load on the shoulders instead of the neck and it really works -- highly recommended. By the way, my choice of bags is the Domke F2, but I can't carry it around much. It's mainly for storing and organizing my equipment.

Paul Tsong , June 22, 1998; 08:28 P.M.

The best camera bag I've found is a standard backpack. My lenses go into individual lens cases (I like the Outpack cases from Domke - well padded and wide enought to hold lens plus shade) one or two at a time, depending on length of the lens. I use bubble wrap for additional padding. The body plus a lens gets wrapped in a towel, both for padding and for those wet conditions. These go into the main compartment. Flash, flash bracket go there also. Film, filters, miscellaneous other items go into other pockets. Tripod gets lashed to the outside of the pack. I'm hoping that my soon to arrive Gitzo 106 plus small Kaiser ballhead proves a little more portable than my current Bogen 3021 plus 3055 combo and will fit inside the backpack.

My "camera specific" pack is pretty small, but I can carry other small items in it.

When I'm going on a long dayhike, I simply transfer these things to a larger daypack. I often have to carry lunch, extra clothing, water, the "10 essentials" for myself, my wife and my two small daughters (6 years and 18 months). My wife gets the baby in a carrier. If I really have to stuff the pack, the lens pouches go on the outside of the pack, attached by carabiners. Obviously, the setup is similar for backcountry camping only with a still larger backpack.

This is much more versatile for me than a specially designed camera case or backpack. Plus it's discrete.

Boris Krivoruk , July 06, 1998; 03:46 P.M.

I agree with your review of Galen Rowell bag

Perry Taylor, Jr. , July 25, 1998; 10:46 A.M.

Well personally I think that a sales rep. from Domke has been adding to many articles to this web page. Hehehe. Either that or Domke is a super bag. Hum!

Will Strong , July 28, 1998; 04:05 P.M.

The author wrote: "You'd imagine that a hard case like this would be ideal for check-through airline travel. However, the last thing that you want is a rigid case transmitting all the shock directly to your equipment. " This comment is, unfortunately, based on a lack of understanding of the physics of shock. If two cases, a soft and hard case with equal amounts of padding, are dropped from an equal height and contain an equal amount of equipment, the net deceleration, and therefore total G forces acting on the equipment, are identical. The primary difference is that a hard case will protect your equipment from the less-than-lab-like conditions on an airplane, where objects are being dropped onto your equipment as often as your equipment is being dropped.

Paulo Bizarro , July 30, 1998; 10:44 A.M.

I have recently purchased the new Lowepro Omni Pro bag. I was looking for a bag to store my photo equipment at home, and one from which I could quickly select the gear I would be taking on a particular outing.

This bag is also great for carrying your gear in a car or truck over bumpy roads, as it features extra protection with thicker and stronger foam dividers.

So basically, I now function with three bags: the Omni Pro, the Mini Trekker (great backpack), and the Orion waist pack (to carry the camera body plus 2 or 3 lenses).

OVIDIU MOISE , August 28, 1998; 12:35 P.M.

I own a Lafuma (Panodia-VF Reporter) backpack. It's main advantage is that on the outside it looks exactly as a casual backpack. Up until now, nobody, not even people dealing with photography, identifyed it as a photo-backpack. On the other side, it is rather small,and only the lower part is protected and manufactured for photographic equipment use. The upper part can be used for carrying other stuff, or for films, cleaning supplies, etc. The protection for the lower part is really great. It cab handle a camera with a small to medium zoom, a flash, and up to three other lenses or small to medium zooms. No big tele lens or big zoom, unfortunately, but that's what Mini Trecker exists for. It has outside straps for a tripod or whatever else you choose to carry. Ain't heavy at all. I bought it in France for some 90$, should be cheaper in the US. I'm very happy with it.

Anthony Harrison , November 09, 1998; 02:28 P.M.

This page has a wealth of valuable advice, and I've found it useful. It's not just from patriotism, though, that I'd like to add to the extremely meagre info submitted on CCS (Camera Care Systems) bags, made in England - and I believe they have a US distributor. I've used their camera pouches and holdalls for 15 years, and even the oldest items are still wholly intact - this kit is tough, built to the highest standards of very sound materials. The range is large, and they don't sit still - the catalogue contains an expanding range of products, and they're responsive to user comments. I have rarely bought a competitor's product, and I'm interested in others' experiences of Lowepro backpacks only because CCS make just two backpacks themselves, neither of them especially capacious. One correspondent remarked that he felt silly wearing CCS pouches on a belt. Well, even from my semi-pro viewpoint it's obvious that you can't afford to be so sensitive if you aspire to take pro photographs. Silliness is in the eye of the beholder. Take the pictures and be damned! Dunno who the US agent is, but contact CCS on (int'l code + UK)117 - 963 5263. No, I have no connection with the company. Best wishes - Tony H

Dennis Caspe , November 14, 1998; 01:55 P.M.

Re the Nikon Vestrap. I, too, used it on a recent trip to Italy. I agree that the built in shoulder strap, while conceptually a good idea, is impractical in use. It is too difficult to get in and out of the vest, and the neoprene strap is significantly more comfortable and versatile than the built in. However, the vest itself is wonderful. It is well made and the two big bellows pockets are big enough to comfortably accomodate an 80-200 2.8. I have not found another vest that can do that. The veststrap made it possible for me to shlep three lenses, filters, a flash, lots of film, a couple of other gadgets, and my rain parka even folded into the back pocket. Who needs to carry around a camera bag when you can put all the gear in your pockets? This was a great traveling outfit which I heartily recommend.

Rich Furman , December 04, 1998; 01:27 P.M.

After a good bit of deliberation, I settled on a Canon Gadget Bag 2. Its a smallish bag that can accommodate a body with lens, and 2-3 more lenses, a flash, a fair bit of film, compact binoculars filters and accessories. As much as I would be likely to carry while shooting. Like Phil, I regard a Pelican as something impossible to shoot out of, but since photography on canoe trips is definitely in the cards, I will probably get one for the SLR system to live in while we are underway and carry a Pentax 90WR p&s for shooting from the bow. That way I don't have to worry about the equipment in a submersion -- the SLR will be dry in it pelican box and the Pentax can survive a dunking so long as the lens isn't zoomed while immersed. The canon bag looks like a lunch cooler except for that damn Canon label. Well, I suppose I could fix that with a seam ripper.

Michael J. Kravit , December 05, 1998; 11:21 A.M.

Bags, bags, bags...whats all the fuss about? A bag is a bag..Well not quite. After using my Domke F2 for quite a while I decided to but a Lowepro Photo Trekker. It packed with me through Colorado last summer. Fit in the airline overheads and held all my gear. Well since then I have gone back to my Domke F2 and love it even more. I fill everything that the Photo Trekker held except my AF-S 300/2.8. But then again, I rarely need to pack that baby. I was amazed that the F2 holds just as much as the Lowepro. I find the Domke looks just as good as when I bought it. No signs of wear at all. On my next trip I will certainly use the Photo Trekker, but for day excursions which make up 99% of my shooting the Domke is packed and ready to go.

Donn Inmon , December 14, 1998; 09:22 A.M.

I can't imagine being without my Domke F2. I bought my first one when Jim Domke was making them out of his garage. I've never had the need or urge to try anything else.The bag does what it is suppose to do and it does it dependably. I have had a chance to use other Domke products and have been just as happy with them.

While this may sound bizarre, after my first F2 became unservicable I buried it in the back yard,next to a favorite pet. Five years later, during the installation of an irrigation system workmen dug up the bag and the pet. Other than a little dirt the bag was in the same shape as the day I layed it to rest. I washed it, and it now resides as a wall decoration in my study.

David Carson , December 23, 1998; 01:05 A.M.

I have tried a Galen Rowell's bag too, a waist belt thing, and it seemed rather poorly made. A Lowepro Orion was better, but too small. Then, I found the near perfect waist belt, a tundra ruff pack. I have never seen it sold anywhere but a camera shop in Calif. (forgot it's name, it's off the strip in LA). It's like a Lowepro Off-Road, but bigger and snugger. The two side pouches each hold a liter backpack bottle (at least a 180 2.8) and the center compartment holds a body (without a motordrive) and 1-2 lenses. I've stuffed my A2E in there with it's grip on, but it's tough. The body is nylon and the waist belt is neoprene! This doesn't seem like it should work, but it absorbs the shocks better when skiing or sprinting towards that perfect shot.

And my other bags are Domke. A f-3x and a f-1x. Perfect.

Sergey Zhupanov , December 29, 1998; 06:07 A.M.

After reading this very helpful page, and looking at a number of other sources, I have ordered Khumbu model vest from Vested Interest, Inc. The vest arrived today.

It is extremely comfortable, was fitted to my dimensions perfectly, and is extremely customizable, so I can wear it on a teashirt or on top of a coat with no problem. I got it with the padded belt option, and can't imagine not having it, so highly recommended!

The vest was $320, but is worth its weight in gold (actually it's worth much more than that, because it's the best damn non-lens photo related item I have ever seen!)

In the back huge pocket it nicely and comfortably fit my Gitzo 1228/Arca Swiss B1, or Nikon 500/4, or even Gitzo 1548 with Arca Swiss B1G, which was a surprise, since the ad said it will fit up to Series 3 tripod.

The back pockets fit 2 large lenses, e.g., 300/4 with a TC attached, but I just sold mine, so here is how I configured it:

back central huge pocket: Gitzo 1227 + Arca B1 back pocket 1: Nikon AF 50/1.8, SB-28 flash, SC- 17 cord back pocket 2: Nikon 200/4 micro front large pocket 1: Nikon 80-200/2.8 and 20- 35/2.8 and TC-14B (under 20-35) front large pocket 2: Nikon F5 body front small pocket 1: all my filters (4) + Cokin filter holder front small pocket 2: new film front smallest pocket 1: shot film front smallest pocket 2: cleaning utensils

I am also planning to get Really Right Stuff flash bracket, as well as Kirk focusing rail, and it might be a bit of a challenge to fit them in. however, I have a back-up plan of hanging F5 on the front of the vest (as designed) thus freeing up the huge front pocket F5 now occupies.

With all this equipment, the vest is heavy to lift off the ground to put it on, but once on and properly fastned, it feels almost weightless. I do not know what the hell kind of engineering went into it, but it must have been divinely driven. To contrast, when I put on my Lowe-Pro Trecker with this same gear in it, I feel like a sumu wrestler is strapped onto my back, albeight strapped well. The Khumbu feels like a part of your body.

OK, now the down sides: 1) Either 500/4 or the tripod can go into the huge back pocket. The other will have to go into a separate bag. Trouble is, 500/4 requires heavy tripod, so if it goes into the back pocket, the separate tripod bag will be heavy. So, this system is much better suited for moderate lenses. On the other hand, 500/4 inside and tripod in a separate bag still feel better on me than the whole cabudle in the Lowe-Pro trecker.

Further, the vest, although it has a mesh base, is clearly pretty warm, i.e., I expect some trouble in really hot weather, especialy if it's humid to boot.

Also, the vest is not very convenient to put on. It's not any less convenient (probably more so, actually) than Lowe-Pro trecker back-pack, but it does not beat it as clearly in the put-on category. It is also not nearly as well padded, so I would not feel comfortable throwing it on the ground from knee-height, as I do with the Lowe-Pro. In other words, the back-pack still has its purpose -- protection during transportation.

Finally, it is defintely very conspiquos -- you look like a commando or a member of a SWAT team. So if you are into "I carry all my photo gear in a hobo bag" philosophy, this vest is not for you.

To summarize, the Vested Interest Khumbu vest is the _best_ way to carry photo equipment that I have seen so far, and I tried numerous bags, back- packs, and a belt system (though not Kinesis).

Again, take all the above comments with a grain of salt, since I just got it today, and only had several hours to experiment with packing it, putting it on, adjusting it, and walking/running/deploying/repacking it. sergey

Chris Kulczycki , January 15, 1999; 08:39 P.M.

After shooting for 25 years out of a dozen bags and carrying Pentax 67 systems, 4x5 tech cameras, and a Nikon system more miles than I probably should have, I've concluded two things. 1) Domke makes bags for photographers while most other companies seem more intrested in bags that look good in a catalog. 2) The best backbacks are medium volume (3000cubic inch or so) climbing packs with semi-front loading zippers. You may not agree, but it works for me - I just wish I'd found out sooner.

Chris

Aaron Bernstein , February 12, 1999; 03:15 P.M.

I have a canon eos rebel G and a nikon Fm2 with a md-11, I use this for freelance press work. I keep my whole system which is those two bodies plus about 4 lenses and a flash in A Lowe Pro nova 4 which has been a great bag for me. For video if you are using any kind of good equipment you must use Porta Brace

Timothy Breihan , March 03, 1999; 12:10 P.M.

I recently purchased a Domke F2 in navy canvas as a replacement for my rather small-ish Tamrac, which I was not only outgrowing, but which also found nearly impossible to work out of. I am a serious amatuer who shoots mostly outdoors, and, due to the fact that any zoom lens I can afford is of noticably inferior quality, I must carry around a respectable selection of prime lenses, which I change rather frequently. The Tamrac bag, with its stiff exterior, padded top, and dual-level loading system, was not only uncomfortable but, if one was removing lenses and putting others back, nearly impossible to keep organized. After reading some glowing reports of Domke bags on this very page, I decided to investigate one.

While I liked the overall concept of the design, I was, as I imagine many consumers to be, wary of the seemingly little protection these bags offered, bith from shock and water. However, the proprietor of the shop, a Domke user for twenty years, assured me of their virtues. He related that, as a war correspondant in Central America, his canvas Domke kept his gear bone dry in tropical rainstorms, and that the padding sufficiant enough to protect his Nikons in a rather serious balloon crash he was involved in.

While the Domkes don't look like much, the addage of "seeing is believing" holds true here. The only way one can fully appreciate the virtues of this system is to use it. While there are some things I wouldn't doo with this bag, I do believe it is the best, all-purpose bag on the market, and I recommend that anyont shopping for a bag try a Domke.

Eli Meadows , March 03, 1999; 10:44 P.M.

HELP ME!I have a cheap,no name medium-sized bag that I bought at a camera shop near the UT campus in Austin used for around $20.It is barely big enough for my Pentax ZX-M body with a battery pack(and no lens attached),wich is a small body,my flash,my 70-210 zoom,a small wire table-top tripod,a plastik lens hood and about 12 rolls of film(in the side pocket).I had to pull out the divider on one side to acommedate my 70-210 and my 50mm lenses and re-arrange the devider on the other side,with one half of the velcro-strip on the divider on the velcro-strip on the center divider and held firmly in place with two small saftey pins on either side of the divider.Any way,my point is,does any one know of a medium-to large sized shoulder straped bag in the $50-$70 range that is fairly easy to find at smaller camera shops?The reason I say smaller shops is because I dont really like to shop at the larger stores because theyre too over priced for the most part(well,in Austin any way)and my budget is VERY limeted,as I am currently un employed(I quit my last job because I was not treated well,and I think they were planning to fire me any way).I would really appreciate it if you could help,and keep up the good work on this page.

Peter Elvin , March 09, 1999; 04:59 A.M.

While I own and really like the LowePro Nature Trekker, and have used the Trim Trekker, I have one major complaint: The plastic snaps used to connect the backpack shoulder straps to the top of the bags SQUEAK constantly when you walk. I tried lubricating them with various substances (graphite, vaseline, Crisco, Mobil 1), but I could not get rid of this noise, which goes on right behind my head and drives me insane while hiking in the woods. I finally removed the snaps entirely and permanently lashed the straps to the D-rings. This works well enough, but makes it a chore to disconnect and stow the shoulder straps. Anyone else had this problem? Any comments or solutions?

Sven Sampson , March 16, 1999; 04:06 P.M.

I would like to add my plug for the Domke Outpack Backpacker. I bought one on sale for $150 about 8 months back. It has been great to use. It has plenty of room and the padding systems work well. It fits in airline overhead bins and can be converted to be carried like normal luggage. Additionally, it has a rain fly which has proved to be quite useful.

I keep the pack loaded with a 4x5 and 5 lenses, a polaroid holder, a readyload holder, film, a spot meter, a dark cloth and many gadgets. The pack has made it Mexico and back as well as surviving many hikes into the woods and up mountains. It may not be pretty, but it is well designed and has stood up well to heavy usage. I do wish it had some way to more easily attach a tripod to it.

T C Khoo , March 30, 1999; 02:25 A.M.

This is my plug for Domke. I was almost exclusively a Lowepro user and still hv nothing bad to say about these most excellent bags. But I discovered the Domke F803 little camera satchel,and hv found it almost ideal for day to day use. I can carry an SLR body, 3 lenses, a hotshoe flash, cleaning kit and of course several rolls of film, with space for some mags/handbooks in the back pocket. In tan, it is the most "uncamera bag" like camera bag I hv used. I hv looked at the original F2 and think it may be my next purchase. Solid quality, good design and ergonomics, great capacity, nice compartments, appropriate padding and washing machine proof. What more can one ask for?

Jason Poteat , April 06, 1999; 11:51 P.M.

I have to praise the Lowe-Pro Mini Trekker. I have had one for a litte over a year and love it. It has been to many backwoods locations, stuffed in airline overheads, skiing down black diamond slopes, dropped, slung and scooted. All while keeping the contents in perfect shape. I keep 3 lenses, 2 tele-converters, 2 bodies (35mm) 2 filter pouches (8 filters each), flash, film, batteries, notepad, cleaning supplies, canned air, and a tripod (strapped to outside) in it. It is a perfect midsize bag/pack.

Mario Giberti , April 29, 1999; 10:41 P.M.

My stealth camera bag is an Eddie Bauer daypack with padded straps. It measures 16"X11"x8", and has a waist strap. I happened to have a few dozen used (and well washed) commercial plastic frozen seafood containers with snap on lids. (Big tupperware containers) I took one of these containers, that just happen to measure 15"x10.5"X6", and found it fit perfectly in my backpack. The local salvage lot store has the really good polyfoam (super dense and $27 per sheet at the foam dealers) in 15"X20"X2" pieces for $.99 each. I put a 1" thick layer on the inside bottom of the plastic box, then took a 2" thick piece and made cutouts for my Elan IIE body, 28-108 lens, 100-300 lens,380 Speedlight, film, filters, other misc items. By careful planning, I have room for the legs of a Gitzo 106 tripod. The Leica large ball head goes into an outside pocket of the backpack. The side pockets have ski slots , so a larger tripod in bag could be accommodated, I'm sure. But this is stealth. There is room for another 2" thick layer of foam on the top of the equipment, with cutout indents halfway through the thickness of the foam for the pentaprism of the slr, top of the 28-108 that is standing on end, etc. The plastic cover can be snapped on to make this set up waterproof(or at least extremely water resistant.) When shooting and needing quicker access, the plastic top and top layer of foam can be slid under the plastic box next to the bottom of the pack. The foam center piece with the cutouts holds the equipment in place, and is quite secure with the pack zipped shut. Total cost, as I had the backpack and plastic container already, $2.98 plus tax for the foam.The weight of the plastic container, foam, and backpack is three pounds. I did like a previous post that suggested putting a telephoto lens in a waterbottle waistpack. I will use that idea while shooting! Thanks for all of the posts that gave various ideas about how to carry equipment. Mario Giberti

Jean-Pol Zundel , May 04, 1999; 10:39 A.M.

I recently found a truly effective vest: the Eagle Claw Mesh fishing vest sold by K-Mart for $29.95. Being made of mesh and microfiber the vest is very light and cool. What makes it effective is the overlayed pockets construction: 3 layers of pockets sawn on top of each other allows them to range from small pockets with velcro flaps on top, to large ones with zippers underneath. They adapt to anything from filters to lenses to a body with a 300mm lens. The whole back built on the same principle makes huge pockets. I bought an XL to give room for the zippered pocket to expand with camera and lenses.

Timothy Breihan , May 09, 1999; 04:31 P.M.

Having used my Domke F2 for a few months now, I can honestly say that I love it even more than when I bought it. I have the interior of the bag set up like it comes from the store, with the padded bottom and one of the four compartment inserts. I can easily fill it with the following equipment; Minolta XD-5 with Auto-Winder and 50/1.7 attatched, Minolta XG-7, Minolta 28/2.8, 135/3.5 and 200/4 lenses, and a Vivitar 283 flash in the main compartment; a cleaning kit and Lumiquest Pocket Bouncer in the front pockets; several dozen AA batteries and about 60 rolls of unboxed film in the side pockets; and, in the weather-flap pocket, miscellaneous lens hoods, caps, a cable release and tool kit. The amazing thing is that the bag is not nearly full. I lash my Bogen monopod onto the front of the bag with velcro strips, and I'm ready for nearly any situation.

This is truly the best bag that I've ever come across, and I will reiterate that everyone ought to try it. Not only is it comfortable and spacious, but it doesn't look like a camera bag (especially after it's been through the wash a few times). Kudos to Domke for such a fantastic product.

Dave Mitchell , May 18, 1999; 01:38 P.M.

I recently purchased a Lowepro Specialist 85AW, with the deluxe waistbelt and shoulder harness. While this bag isn't as big as Lowepro claims I was able to fit the following : Eos 1N, EOS 3, 17-35, 28-70, 70-200, 10 rolls of film, filters and a Sekonic 508. This weighed a total of 19 lbs, I was able to walk city streets for 3 hours in absolute comfort. My only dissappointment is Lowepro didn't include a tripod attachment on the bag. If I want a flash with me, I need to leave a body behind or get a belt pouch. The pouches aren't the best system you have to walk like a beat cop, arms up and out. At the same time I tried the Journalist 500AW, returned it. Basically it allowed me to carry a flash and more accessories. To get both bodies in the bag I had to leave the lenses off. As I like to keep a lens on at least one body this didn't work for me. I would like to see Lowepro add a larger bag to the Specialist line, something between the Orion AW and a Photoflex MSB 2. Big enough for the above equipment plus two flashes, extension tubes, tele-extenders and a tripod on the side or bottom. A detachable daypack for rain gear and some snacks would be nice.

Mark Alan Wilson , June 06, 1999; 12:03 P.M.

For dayhikes with my 4x5 system, I use a "Vertigo" pack from Osprey, maker of backpacks and climbing packs. It's from their new 'straightjacket' line, featuring closed cell foam sides that add support for heavy loads while offering added protection. I have several zippered foam containers (from Outdoor Research, also available at backpacking stores) that hold lenses, lightmeters, loupe, etc.

I have a long torso, and this pack comes in several lengths. It is unbelievably comfortable. Only downside is that I needed to have a customized tripod holder added to one side, but it was worth it.

Lytton Martin , July 04, 1999; 04:28 A.M.

I have owned three Tamracs over the years and each one has gotten progressively larger than it's predecesor. I love the layout and the quality of the materials used. Currently I shoot out of a Tamrac 610. It can hold two bodies, four lenses, a flash, and a light meter, not to mention a whole lot of film and other gadgets. Sometimes, when I don't feel like lugging around my lightware case holding my Hasselblad system, I can even put the 'Blad w/ the 80mm attached and the 150 and 50mm lenses in along with it plus my G2 or my Canon EOS w/ a lens or two. It does get a little heavy at times, but it is smaller than any back pack and easier to shoot out of. That's the biggest plus, being able to have the bag on your shoulder and shoot and change lenses and film while walking, or running if the situation calls for it. A backpack requires taking the damn thoing off every time you want a new lens or camera. That's my two cents worth. To address the Lightware problems, yes the dividers do not stay put. It would be perfect if they would correct that problem in particular. Being a big Tamrac believer, I would like to trade up to the Tamrac roller series. Very convenient, especially for lugging around a heavy medium format system.

Lytton Martin , July 04, 1999; 04:51 A.M.

My thoughts on vests. I've tried them all and I finally decided on the Domke Photogs vest. I hate their bags, but their vest is the best. As I mentioned before, I love Tamrac equipment as a general rule, but their vest is lacking in a few departments. 1. I live in "Hotlanta" and the Tamrac's venthilation sucks. The Domke is predominently mesh with the exception of the major framework of the vest. Needless to say, it is a wonderful vest for a hot day in the sun. 2. The pockets in the Tamrac vest are not lined, they're just canvas. Canvas that invites dust and lint to deposit in the pockets and on your lenses. The Domke vest is lined with an anti-static microfiber. Not only does it prevent dust and lint from depositing in your pockets, it is also safe to put a lens in a pocket without a front or rear cap. There's no need to worry about scratching any of the elements, due to the non-scratching microfibers employed there. 3. There are 18 pockets in the vest total. 18 pockets = Tons of gear storage. 4. Another nice touch is a hidden pocket for the contraband items (such as the roll of film you never shot) ;). 5. For all of you photographers with credentials, there is a very handy, removable, see through I.D. holder. It attaches to the vest under the chest pocket via velcro. No more searching for the wallet for those credentials/I.D. Finally, I'd like to add that the Domke Photogs vest is the most stylish/practical vest I've seen. Bannana republic has a very schnazzy vest but it isn't too practical. We'll leave that one for the posseurs.

Lytton Martin , July 04, 1999; 05:05 A.M.

And now for the strap dilemma. This one is best left up to personal preference. It is YOUR neck on the line here, so do yourself a favor and take your camera with you to the shop and try the straps out in the store. I'm relatively young (my neck is not broken yet), so I like the simple Domke professional strap, aka the "Gripper". it has rubber woven in with the canvas to prevent your strap from slipping. Best of all, the strap is extermely small and packs with little effort. I used to use a Tamrac strap with the cushioned suede neckpad. Super comfortable, but it also took up too much room in my bag. A nuissance for over-packers, myself included. Personally, I think that the neoprene straps are too bouncy. It's much like having your camera tied to a bungie cord. Not a great idea for those on the move a lot; you're likely to hit yourself in the face with your telephoto lens!

Bill Schaffel , July 15, 1999; 02:28 P.M.

Like many people here, I have a Domke F2 and think it is fantastic. I often take the bag on business trips where it doubles as my camera bag and brief case. I will readily toss in my Palm Pilot, pens, pencils, a small rain jacket, medicine, electric shaver, and business papers. I've also taken the compartments out and used the F2 as an overnight or gym bag.

One thing I like is that the Domke looks more like a gym bag than a camera bag. I've heard some Domke users cut off the labels, drag the bag around the yard a couple of times and then was it to death to get that don't waste your time stealing this look.

Now that I use a G2 with 2 lenses and a Hexar as a backup, I am thinking of getting the smaller F3X as a local bag.

Ben Woodruff , July 22, 1999; 04:13 P.M.

On the subject of camera straps, with out a doubt the best strap is the Domke Gripper Strap. Wide enough to be comfy, and doesn't slip off. Ive used one carrying an n90s and a 300 f/2.8, for about 5 hours, wasn't sore or stiff at all. So get a Domke and worry no more

Ben

Thomas Maschke , July 29, 1999; 08:56 A.M.

Generally, I agree with the said.

Domke J-1 and F-2 are nearly perfect to pack and to use (with heavy equipment, it is a little bit difficult to work out of) Billingham 335 is good to load, possible to work out of, the gear is very good (!) protected, but the handling is imho a little bit odd (try to fasten the handgrip)

But - do you all shoot in sunny weather only?

Besides the Billingham, I know of no other bag, which I would trust my equipment if it starts raining heavy: in a domke, all sidepockets will be full of water. like with most other bags.

Think of a sandy beach - sand everywhere - and again, you have to pay too much attention to your bag, because there are so many holes in it...

Or think of this: the ground is wet (rain, dew). Place your bag there (you want to take photos, not take care for the bag!). it will soak up water in the meantime. Again, besides Billingham, I know of no other bag which is really watertight from the bottom.

Of course, I could use a case for transport. Of course, I can protect the gear with wraps or the like.

But - isnt that exactly what I bought the bag for?

So, does anyone know of a bag, which is as easy and comfortable to handle as Domke and as protective as Billingham?

Thomas

Nolan Bailey , August 01, 1999; 01:06 P.M.

I've used hard cases for years and like them. In fact, I have a complete Hasselblad system stored in one Pelican case, and a Canon EOS system in another. Since they are supposedly air and water tight, I just throw a can of desicant in each to keep the equipment dry. In the humidily of the South it doesn't hurt. In case of "fire," I just grab two cases and head for the door. They are great for keeping equipment stored at home or in the studio.

I'm investigating purchasing a fairly large Pelican case and finding a Lowepro, etc., that will fit inside. The hard case will provide better protection enroute, and in hazardous situations. In addition they can be double locked, or locked to a bed in a hotel room, etc., with a bicycle lock. The soft case can be removed from the hard case upon arrival and will be easier to handle on location.

Nolan Bailey - August 1, 1999

Dave Mitchell , August 03, 1999; 10:47 A.M.

I have used my Photoflex MSB-2 and several Lowepro AW bags in the Great Northwet for years. In every kind of rain Portland and the Columbia Gorge can throw at them. I have never had a problem with the bags soaking water up from the ground. The MSB-2 and Lowepros are constructed from cordura (or some similar material) and are water resistant. The Lowepro AW's come with a built-in rain cover that doubles as a drop cloth, which I have only used in downpours. Since Photoflex has ceased bag production I would recommend the Lowepro bags, they are very comfortable to carry especially the new S&F system.

Tan Chung , August 05, 1999; 03:26 A.M.

Hi,

I am not happy with the Lowepro Compact AW camera bag I have.Check out why this bag is disappointing.

Gerry Siegel (Honolulu) , August 09, 1999; 02:46 P.M.

Tan Chung's comment on his Compact AW is that 1) the top seams have split, 2) Velcro patches on the web side pockets have come off, 3) the vinyl waterproofing coating on the fabric itself is starting to shred. Sure sounds like failures which are covered by Lowpro warranty-which is a generous one they say. Best next step at this point seems to me is to e-mail Lowepro directly at their international address,- info@lowepro.com- with the full story-attach graphics too.( My bag is still in fine shape after six months. I am very careful to snap the two plastic clips that lash the top cover before carrying it by the handle I point out. That may or may not be relevant to the seam separation.)

I S , August 17, 1999; 03:49 P.M.

Having finally tired of lugging around my Lowepro Nova 4, when all it contained was an EOS 5 (A2E) and VG-10 grip and two lenses, I wanted to get into a belt system. However, most case manufacturers are living in the dark ages and still seem to design their cases around old SLRs such as the Nikon FM2. Since a modern SLR with a power booster or vertical grip is much larger, there are no cases which can accomodate them. I have searched for several months and found two: The CCS (Camera Care Systems, a small british company) Kangaroo and the Kinesis C-series. Since the two lenses I use are both relatively compact zooms, the CCS was too big, and so the only reasonable choice as far as I can see is the Kinesis C500.

Stuart Fysh , August 20, 1999; 06:39 A.M.

The bag I use at the moment is a Victory 20 and I love it! I only have an old Canon FTB and two lenses so I dont need a really big bag such as one of the Nova series (neither do I have the money) so this bag suits me perfectly. It even has room for my collection of cokin filters and about 10 Rolls of film - I am only 15 and shooting 4+ rolls of Black and White film a week so cost is a real concern so $60 Australian is pretty much my budget. I also have a Lowepro Topload Zoom 1 for taking on hikes and I dont want all my gear but even that hold about 5 rolls of film and a few filters.

I S , August 25, 1999; 03:26 P.M.

In addition to my previous comment, I have now found a bag that fits the bill perfectly: the CCS Mammoth. I agree with a previous comment on the page which says that CCS bags are indestructable because I have been throwing one around for years and, apart from a few stubborn stains, it looks identical to a new one. Great. If you are after a reasonably sized shoulder bag then I have no hesitation in recommending the smaller Lowepro bags: Nova 1 and 2. I loved my Nova 2 except for the fact that I could not fit my EOS in with the vertical grip attached. However, the person who now uses that bag fits in an EOS 3, 20-35, 28-105, 100-300 and a Speedlite 430EZ+all lens hoods etc. There is also space for plenty of film, camera manuals and notebook. I have not investigated CCS shoulder bags, but they do exist so are probably worth looking at. I have not looked at Domke because they do not have extensive dealers here in sunny England.

David Klotz , August 27, 1999; 11:39 A.M.

Another vote for Domke: I just bought a J-3 in ballistic cloth. It is a medium smallish shoulder bag but comfortably holds: 2 point and shoot cameras (big point and shoots), a pair of Leica 7x binoculars, a bird field guide book, a Nikon F2a with 35mm 1.4 mounted, Nikon 105 2.5 and 135 3.5 lenses, a Fuji GS 645S rangefinder, tewnty rolls of film, and some gadgets. The bag is simply, but thoughtfully designed, "rides" very comfortably when loaded, and is easy to get in and out of. I like it much better than the LowePro Nova Series bag it replaced, but then it did cost almost twice as much ($110 v. $60). It looks more ruggedly built than any of the other bags I considered: Tamrac Lowe Pro Tenba.

Gerry Siegel (Honolulu) , September 24, 1999; 10:30 P.M.

Tamrac is a safe purchase in my book. Granting there is no ne plus ultra bag. (Meaning everyone springs for at least a couple for different purposes) My latest grab-and-run TAMRAC is the Superlight Model 444. I like it a lot for comfort and sleekness. It holds a fat-body camera with a moderate zoom in my favored top down position, plus two other separated, protected yet accessible lenses, including a 200mm. This is a deep bag. The layout is sensible and allows limited alternate arrangements with foam dividers. Speedlite, cable and film go in with room to spare. Roomy document pockets and pouches front and back natch. Strong zippers and clips. All the basics, with a light comfortable feel and a narrow profile. (Efficient and smart appearance with black cordura and tan piping may I add.) TAMRAC seems to be continually redesigning little improvements, and thinking of comfort and strength tradeoffs. Offering something to their old customers rather than just be a jump on the competition. Their well illustrated catalog beats the other literature,e.g. Lowepro and Saunders-Domke by a mile. I bought the 444 from photos and a phone call. I give a hand to the people at the end of the 800 customer line at the company. This $94.00 bag is padded more lightly than some of the more traditional TAMRACS I have seen and several I have owned, but it is well thought out with the appearance of good design, smooth sewing and security from the elements, not hurrricane deluge though. I can recommend this bag as a day tourist thing not likely to disappoint if you like the padded, lens pillar support concept. Get their catalog and see what you think.

I S , September 30, 1999; 04:49 P.M.

Just to wrap up my saga, I have now bought the CCS Mammouth and the variuos pouches and I have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone else. My only grip is that my diminuative waist of 30 in only just fits

Kevin Witty , October 05, 1999; 08:54 P.M.

Nice reading this page.... I thought I was the only one who obsessed over bags.

My 2 cents: I was looking for a bag that would hold my Maxxum 9 with a good-sized zoom attached and a prime or two, with space for filters, film, a few gadgets, maps, glasses and cigarettes, without looking and feeling like a suitcase, for a trip to Mexico. The closest I could find, after 1 1/2 hours at B&H, was a Tamrac. They had virtually nothing else close, but I figured, "if you can't find at B&H, where else are you gonna find it?". Bought it, took it home, and hated it.

Next day walked into Willoughby's (42nd St, NYC, 1/100th the size of B&H), and spent another 1 1/2 hours trying out the 6 (6!) bags which met my specs better than anything B&H had. Wound up with a LowePro Nova 2, which is almost perfect (the front pocket could use a little redesign). The bag assumes a zoom will be attached, so the camera points down into the middle, leaving compartmented space on either side of the zoom for whatever, has mesh bags on both sides, a drop-down but not flop-down compartment in front, and a slit pocket in back big enough for maps and a small book. Also has the most comfortable slip-free strap I've ever seen.

Took the Tamrac back. Recommend the Nova 2. All the web browsing I did before even walking into B&H in the first place didn't help much. In the case of the camera bag websites I visited, a picture wasn't even worth half a word. Philip, maybe you should be talking to those folks <g>!

FWIW,

Kevin Witty

John Wright , October 08, 1999; 03:42 P.M.

My wife and I just moved to the Boston area, and we've been playing tourist. We finally replaced her little point-and-shoot with a Canon Rebel 2000/Tamrom 28-200 combo, and needed a new bag.

She wanted a bag that would protect the camera, yet not look like a camera bag. She also wanted to stuff other things in the bag, like maps. We had a very difficult time finding anything that fit that description, but finally ended up in a luggage store. We found a convertible shoulder bag/backpack with padding on five sides (not the top), with a roomy front pouch for keys, maps, etc, plus big enough for the camera (and a 2nd lens if she decides she wants one). The brand is not one I'd heard of before: Travel Gear - Eagle Creek. It does not look like a camera bag at all, just a shoulder bag.

For me, I ended up with the Lowepro Sideline Shooter hip pack. It is big enough to carry my body with a Tokina 100-300/f4 attached, or one body and 3 smaller lenses (like 28, 50, 100 macro). My only beef is the webbing on the inside and out; I'd prefer a longer front pouch on the outside, and the webbing on the inside gets in the way.

We went to the Stone zoo last weekend and both bags work great. And we got some good Snow Leopard photos!

For longer trips away from civilization, we have a Lowepro Photo Trekker. It works well when you are not afraid to set it down.

Alfred Stegmeyer , October 10, 1999; 03:45 P.M.

For a great non slip strap for camera or camera bag's go to the website upstrap.com.

phil steinhardt , October 17, 1999; 09:27 A.M.

I'd just like to say that I agree with your review of Domke bags, they are great. However, I have been using a Billingham (445) for a while now to keep my F5, flash and 5 lenses (+ filters, film & light meter) safe and snug. This is one great bag, waterproof and easily the best bag to work out of when you need to dip in and out for bits. Plus it looks great!

Bin Yu , October 21, 1999; 02:40 A.M.

I have a domke F-2 and it is a good bag. However I found that the four-lens divider that comes with the bag is too small. I cannot comfortably stuff my 20-35/3.5 and 70-200/2.8 in the bag, especially that latter with hood attached reversely. Does anyone know of alternative padded dividers for this bag?

Thanks,

BY

Quang-Tuan Luong , October 24, 1999; 09:39 P.M.

I own a new super-trekker (beware of older models available on the used market, there are some differences that i found important). I find it fast to operate and good for shipping, however be aware that it is extremely heavy and does not carry well. It weights almost 12lbs ! That's half the weight of the equipment that I carry in the field, including 5x7 camera and Nikon SLR system and tripod ! I find the super-trekker fine for working close to the car but for any significant (>4 mi) hiking, I use a backpacking pack. For more details on this, and other packs suitable for carrying large format cameras, check http://www.ai.sri.com/~luong/photography/lf/lfpacks.html

Jim MacKenzie , October 26, 1999; 06:15 P.M.

One reader posted some negative comments about his LowePro Compact AW bag (if you read his web page, he got a satisfactory response from the manufacturer and is happy with how things went, which is good to know :) ).

I own this bag, and I love it. I've had it for five years.

I can fit an amazing amount of equipment into it: Nikon F90 (with mounted 35-135), F601 (with mounted 28/2.8D), FM2 (with no lens mounted), 55/3.5 Micro, 24/2.5, 35/2 or 50/1.4, 75-300 zoom, 105/4 Micro, and SB-22 flash (as well as several filters, two tripod mounting plates, cable releases, 12 rolls of film, etc. etc.). This is a lot of equipment.

I'm curious, though, about the Domke F2 and will check it out. (I need a second bag.)

Do look at the LowePro bags; I'm very pleased with mine.

Ian Porteous , October 28, 1999; 09:26 P.M.

For those looking to travel quickly and lightly for a day trip I have found a bag that looks like it will work pretty well. I was looking for a bag that I could use to travel quickly from campgrounds to where I want to be for best light in the mountains. The bag I decided on was the LowePro Off Trail 2. It carries a body with a lens (70-200 2.8) and 2 side pouches for lenses or water bottles plus a couple of pockets. I was able to put an EOS3 28-105, 75-300, 28, water bottle, film, filters, in it with a total weight of 9 pounds. I found this suprisingly comfortable during a 4 mile run today to test the setup out before I head to the mountains this weekend. I am sure there are alternative belt setups, but I think this one might work pretty well for photographers looking to run with their equipment. It cost me about $75 at REI.

Carl Brody , November 11, 1999; 01:34 P.M.

From Carl Brody, Ortlieb USA: Although I cannot offer a 'solution' to all of Philip's comments, there is one line of outdoor bags, including camera specific cases, that is waterproof from external elements, or what we prefer to call 'weatherproof.'

Ortlieb is a designer and manufacturer of soft packs, bags and cases, including a small line of personal-sized camera cases.

The technology behind the line is one which combines high-frequncy welding and heat-seam-sealing of fabric panels. Basically, leak-prone, stitched seams do NOT exist with Ortlieb bags.

Also, the fabrics used throughout the industry are lightly spray-coated. Fine, if exposed to a light mist.

Ortlieb uses specially-sourced Dupont Cordura fabric that has been LAMINATED with a solid sheet of urethane. This fabric is waterproof!

The surface is also spray treated with a light coating to promote water-beading.

Finally, fabric panel edges are cut in sucha way that exposed threads will not draw mositure into the fabric.

The design emphasis focuses on protection for the active outdoor photographer or person who expects to be near water. I offer this comment because there is a tendency to want everything: low price; protection; function; and convenience.

Ortlieb camera cases (4 styles) offer protection and function. In the grand scheme, and considering the contents, prices are reasonable: $60 to $100, suggested retail.

The photo bags are not designed to be submerged, although current designs will withstand a quick submersion or dunking if a boat capsizes. Air and interior foam pads will keep the bag afloat briefly. Of course, this assumes that the bag is closed properly when it goes over.

Ortlieb also offers numerous other types of bags, all of which are designed to keep water, dirt and dust out, when the bags are closed properly. Some bags feature the company's own waterproof zipper, TIZIP.

Questions regarding the line may be referred to me at cb@ortliebusa.com; the entire product line can be viewed at http://www.ortliebusa.com .

Thanks.

Edward Kang , November 20, 1999; 02:17 A.M.

I have an EOS300/BP200, an 80-200/2.8L, a 20/2.8, and a 50/1.8, in addition to some filters, plenty of film, and some miscellaneous accessories.

Why I love my Domke J1: It looks good. It comes in black ballistic nylon. The construction is sound. Its 4lb weight is virtually unnoticeable with my full load on the shoulder. It fits my load PERFECTLY with plenty of space for a future upgrade to EOS-3 with booster, and 550ex. The protection is great because of the removable "full-enveloping" dividers. All the lenses are inserted nose-end first for easy removal. The side pockets have an elastic on the quick release that makes opening them very quick and easy. The front-mounted pockets are fully covered by the weather flap and are wonderfully large enough to hold tons of film. The bag just FEELS so good on my shoulder and around my hip. It has these yummy so-soft rubber pads on the bottom that _really_ keep the bag from moving on smooth surfaces. It's extremely versatile in terms of carry options. It's CHEAP compared to other camera bags given its construction, size and function.

Things I don't like amount my Domke J1: The side mounted pockets have a weather flap that leaves the rear corners slightly open. I dunno if this will leak much water, but it leaves the possibility, so I keep all the precious stuff in the main compartment. The main weather flap has nice beaner-type steel closures, but the velcro used to keep it semi-closed for accidental turnovers is way too small! It's like half the size that it should be and I don't understand why Domke didn't make this patch wider. It may be to make opening faster/easier, but it just seems like a design weakness to me.

Oh well, that's it. I'm keeping it, using it, and loving it.

Arjay Uwe , December 14, 1999; 04:27 A.M.

I am based in Sydney, Australia. The two brands of bag I favour are Tenba and Billingham. However, these are the two types of bags most difficult to obtain in this country. Personal imports (via mail order) would seem to be the way to go.

At present I've got two Billinghams and no Tenba - the latter are REALLY difficult to obtain. (I hope you're reading this, Tenba sales team!)

I'd like to buy the Tenba Pro Pak 'P895' as it would be more practical than my Billingham 335. The latter is of unsurpassed quality but it needs to be much more accessible. This is where the Tenba would win out.

What I do like about Billingham is that they don't look like camera bags as much as the other brands of camera case do.

What I like about Tenba is their looks. I like the big pockets on the Pro Paks because it almost doubles a bag's capacity for someone like me who uses very small (Olympus) cameras and lenses.

For a small, low-key bag, I truly recommend the Billingham "Photo Hadley". Like the ads say, it swallows vast amounts of gear without attracting attention in a crowd. It also has two large front pockets, probably bigger than those on the Tenba Pro Paks, in fact.

However, the Photo Hadley is, ultimately, a small-ish bag. It is ideal for day-trips with a basic 35mm outfit, but not for a full-scale shoot, nor when using larger medium format gear like Mamiya (and Pentax) 6x7 cameras.

The Billingham 335 is hugely waterproof, but so it should be considering its many flap, straps, buckles and layers of protection in the lid. This sort of protection borders on the bullet-proof, but it does little for speedy accessibility.

Until Tenba becomes a little more freely available in Australia, is anyone interested in trading a (black) Tenba P895 for my fabulous (but under-used) Billingham 335? It's mint! It doesn't rain often enough here in Australia to warrant such a weather-resistant bag, anyway!

mark kehoe , December 27, 1999; 06:55 P.M.

It seems strange to me that despite the range of camera bags on the market, neither camera design or bag designers have taken seriously the long term problems that affect many amateur and pro photographers. Many a good photographer has been forced to give up due to back problems. The 'curse' is now starting to cast it's shadow on me and Ihave recently tried to take steps to keep the problem at bay. For most of my working career as a photographer on a British National Newspaper, I have used a Domke 'little bit smaller' bag. I nicknamed it 'The Tardis' (after a British TV series -Dr. Who) as it seemed to be capable of containing more than Imelda Marcos's handbag. I used Canon T90's and for 11 years the bag, four lenses , flash, quantum pack. film, passport, lastolite et all crammed into that bag and travelled the world to all sorts of places. Then technology happened.

I now use EOS 1's and the lenses that go with it. Whilst it is always a treat to get shiny new gear, I soon grew to resent being forced by Canon to change systems ( The withdrawal of service/parts back up on older equipment from Canon is more like blackmail). The simple fact is I now carry half the equipment and yet it weighs twice as much and a much bigger bag.

I've now had 2 new Domke bags which I cannot fault on quality or anonimity ( they look like train drivers bags here ) but after a year of pounding the streets lugging this gear over my shoulder I have had enough. I know that the weight is compromising my work as I am carrying less and less. I can do most jobs with the minimum of equipment but there are times when I wish I had a few other items to get a bit more from a job.

I have been looking at a backpack type bag and my picture editor let me spend an afternoon in the basement of a London Camera store with all my day to day equipment trying every bag they had. I left without a purchase but with a tip off from one of the sales staff. Try and find an Outpack Daypack. I have just tried one and it is light, tough and carries all my gear with room to spare. It is no good working from it whilst on a news shoot but fine for features etc. It may do as a stop gap., but bag and camera manufacturers really must sit down with each other and us users and set about designs that will make using heavy equipment less of a health risk.

Howie Wong , December 27, 1999; 10:15 P.M.

My present gear consists of a Nikon F-100, AFS 80-200, 105 macro, 20mm, Nikon Ring Strobe, SB-28 and numerous filters, changing bags, monopods et al. I have tried the Domke Bags but found them too heavy by far. Next came the Lowepro Nature Trekker which is very good for it's purpose but useless for getting stuff out in a hurry. My last purchase has been the Lowepro Reporter 500AW. Excellent!! This bag is extremely light. I mean EXTREMELY light. It has a waterproof zip for easy access and loads of add-on accesories In particular the film pouches which are velco attached to the side enable me to take about 80 rolls of film (without cannister)through x-ray for hand checking. The cost here in Hong Kong is only 70US which is very cheap. It is also very water proof. One word of advice:Buy the padded belt accessory. It makes all the difference. Without it is is just another shoulder bag hurting your back. With it, you will not realise you are carrying a camera bag. It works that well! It takes a while to adjust, but once you do it is really comfortable. even with a fully packed bag, if you tighten all the straps it becomes a part of you and does not swing too and fro. My only complaint? the bag is not tall enough to place my F100 and AFS 80-200 upright with the hood on. Even without the hood on it make the bag bulge out. Of course lying it flat is no problem but personally i like to reach in through the top zip and pull it out in one go. The pouches it comes with are a little flimsy too. However you can sort this out by buying some other pouches and replacing them. Overall though this bag really is the dog's bollocks (i.e. superb!)You can even add a back pack harness to convert it into a backpack!

Howie Wong , December 27, 1999; 10:29 P.M.

One bad design flaw in all Back Packs is that when you set down your pack e.g the Lowepro photo-trekker you place it straps down pn the ground so you can unzip the cover and open it up. The problem here is if the floor is wet and gunky, when you have got your gear out and put the bag back on your back you automatically give yourself a nice smearing of goo all over your clothing. Why can't backpacks have the zip biased towards the straps sp that you put it down on the floor with the straps facing up! Remember the AW covers in these backpacks only cover the outerside not the strap side anyway. This would make it perfect for putting down in a swamp. Has anybody got any innovative solutions to this problem?? Lowepro are you there??

Mark Barkasy , January 09, 2000; 01:25 A.M.

For the few weddings that I shoot (1-2 per year for friends) I enjoy using my Tenba 685 (under airline seat sized). With careful placing of the velcro edged dividers, I pack my Bronica GS-1 with marco 110mm and 250mm, speedgrip, three 220 backs, and two 120 inserts into the the Tenba with 4 outside pockets for gadjets and film. I like how the bottom is padded first with soft foam, second with ridgid forming foam and then third with hard plywood. The plywood allows me to place my bags of used car priced equipment on rocky surfaces outdoors without damaging anything. When I gain a back-up body, a 50mm, an 2X lens extender, and 3 more back I plan buy an identical bag to fit those in. I found the best price for mine thru Smile in Shutterbug.

Jim Pope , January 25, 2000; 09:36 P.M.

Bags, boxes, sacks....I would have thought that the hardest decision to make about photography is the brand of camera. Nope, that is easy, hard to make a bad decision, they are all pretty darn good. But a bag, yikes, there are some horrible ones out there. I started with cardboard boxes and grocery store sacks back when I only had $15 to invest in a camera. I suppose like everyone, I eventually purchased a Tamrac....what a mistake. Impossible to work out of, zippers were always sticking, the one piece of gear I really needed was always piled under other stuff. Used it for one month. It still sits in the closet in near new condition years later.

Picked up a small Canon bag for everyday use. Nice bag, easy to carry, holds just the right amount of gear, cute as can be ( I like cute, could not resist a T4), Problem is...it lasted exactly one year before it was completely worn out.

Next came a Lowepro Mini Trekker...great bag, well made, holds a "ton" of stuff, any body/lens combo I own, good protection. Only problem...I can't lift it when it's full. When I do get it on my back, however, it is the most comfortable thing I have ever owned. Terrific, but really holds too much for day use. I use it for the one or two week trips.

Most recent purchase was about a year ago. I had walked in to a local chain photo shop, just killing time, kicking around in the bag section. Noticed something dusty, hiding behind the shiny Tamracs, calling my name, it seemed. The tags were tattered from years of display, the scan code unreadable, a thick layer of dust making the color hard to determine. The logo on the side said Domke. Hey...I've read that name on PhotoNet, supposed to be pretty good...sure doesn't look so good...where's all the fancy zippers, velcro dividers, chrome trim? "Will you guys take 50 bucks for it?" I ask. They attempt a price check in the computer. Bag doesn't even appear on their records, it must have trickled down from two store owners previous. The fifty bucks is fine. A closer look at the near destroyed tag shows the model to be an F2.

Can a bag actually be perfect? Certainly not, so I'm certain that someday I'll find a fault with it, but truth is, I have now used it every day for a year, it carries everything I want for day use, is the easiest thing to work out of ever. It doesn't look like a "camera" bag, which can save your butt in the neighborhood where I work. The dividers are perfect, keeping everything within easy reach. I can detect no wear at all, and hope it really does last forever, but even if it doesn't, I will replace it with another F2.

Great photo resource, this PhotoNet.

Iori Suzuki , January 26, 2000; 11:46 P.M.

With all the glowing feedback regarding Domke's F-2 model, I took my camera gear and headed for the nearby camera shop to try it myself. I filled the bag, hung it on my shoulder, checked for ease of access, played with the hardware, and found it every bit as delightful to use as others reported.

I then found on the same shelf an olive/sand Tamrac Superlight 8. Design-wise, it was VERY similar to the Domke. Just as light, just as accessible, and with just as many pockets. For me, however, the comparison ended there. The Tamrac's outstanding fit, quality of materials, and military-grade hardware instantly sold me on this bag. An added benefit was the adjustable foam pillars that enabled me to take an SLR with long zoom (7") attached and vertically slot it into the bag.

Now, it's by far my favorite bag for when I want to carry my three primes, two zooms, and flash, not to mention the myriad filters, film, lens cleaning kit, notebook, camera manual, flashlight, cell phone, etc., etc. And with the lenses removed, I can even fit two SLR bodies. The only thing missing is the tripod straps, and the bag even has attachment points for those. Amazing.

Robert Moon , February 23, 2000; 10:39 P.M.

I travel quite a bit and found that I can carry the most gear, the most comfortably in a back pack. The big problem with the Lowe Pro and Tamrac's etc., is that they advertise "I contain Camera equipment come steal me". My solution, I bought a $35.00 day pack at a local Mountain Shop and and a sheet of 3/8" closed cell foam and some contact cement from a dealer that sells foam for mattresses and pillows and custom built a back pack that I believe surpasses those from the big Manufacturers for protection and doesn't have the "come steal me label". In addition I've only invested about $65.00 and a Saturday afternoon and my 2-35mm camera bodies, 2 dedicated flash units, 6 lenses, 12-15 rolls of film, spare batteries, Stroboframe, light meter and various and additional parifinalia fit perfectly in a bag that is comfortable and easy to carry. Also I agree what has been said about the Tamrac foam cushion strap, but on mine I have modified so that the straps that connect to the camera body have a male and a female with about 3" of strap on each so that when I remove the foam around the neck portion of the strap I am able to connect the 2 pieces on the camera together to make a hand strap. BTW, I gave this idea to a Tamrac factory Rep. about a year ago but I guess they didn't think it was worth while.

Gerry Siegel (Honolulu) , March 05, 2000; 11:42 A.M.

I just got a Lowepro bag that I like,for its protective strength and sensible compartment layout. Lowepro Professional All Weather Compact. It may be dubbed compact, but it holds a Canon body w/ medium zoom attached, another body facing it with a 50mm attached. Two or three other lenses under the rigid swing "platform," and a Canon shoe flash. The side pockets are roomy and expand more than most. A heavy mesh see through zippered pocket on top under the comfortable suede carry handle and also on two on sides. Curved padded shoulder strap is great. Hardware is excellent. The two clips on the top flap are the easiest to use I have run across. When you are in a hurry, you can use them without the zipper and feel secure about contents staying put. Usual tear-away film pouch with septum velcroed inside but clearly not an afterthought. Heavy nylon outer construction. Robust wide zippers that slide easily. Solid, nonresilient base(a negative for some, because of the stiff quality ). This is the bag for when you carry the cameras in the back car seat and have to brake suddenly. When I did that with my Domke Original, I prayed a lot. . With the Compact AW, the rigidity of the bag foam makes for a pretty safe flying object I predict. Street price was 130.00. Not "hip friendly" if you value that quality. The base feels like there is a rectangle of masonite inside, with two rubber lugs that act as feet and support for that base. Clearly designed and durable for vehicle travel and laying on the ground to work from. I also like the front flap which you can use to lay your camera when changing lenses. Bag just fits when loaded into the overhead bin of a 737 with 3" clearance. I would not hesitate to rest my feet on it from an airline seat either. Has the slots for a stabilizing hip belt accessory which I plan to try later on...Foregoing written about a year ago.My update as of 3/5/2000 follows: I used the bag on a two day car excursion and it worked well for me. The beauty of having a bag that is non floppy and compartmented is that one can set it down and it becomes a little tool chest to work in and from. I found that I can hold a monopod with one hand and close the two Lowepro snaps with just the other hand. Good design thinking Lowepro. The bag is big enough that I can slip a few non photo items in it and use it as my sole airline carry-on. Don't underestimate this capability. And it will survive if someone spills coffee on it crossing over your seat. This one has a place in the pantheon of bags. And the bag is not as uncomfortable for short forays away from my car as I first thought. The hard base is actually good when working on leafy trails. I know the world is divided into hard bag types and soft Domke types just as it used to be martini and manhattan drinkers at one time. But why not both kinds.

Michael Darnton , March 05, 2000; 03:36 P.M.

I notice that no one had much to say about straps themselves. After 20 years out of photography I just got back in, and have a bit of dismay to discover that narrow leather straps are no longer even made. Let me delineate the advantages for the unfamiliar: narrow and slippery: narrow enough that you can put four of them on and still be able to extract the bottom one from under the pile; slippery enough to slide out from under each other; narrow so that they will dig into your shoulder and stick in spite of being slippery; classy, which is to say, not plastic (yuk!) I've got a new-fangled one, and don't like using it (as far as I can see, the single advantage is comfortable weight distribution, with complete loss of function) but fortunately when I sold my cameras I kept my leather straps. :-)

Christian Deichert , May 01, 2000; 08:01 P.M.

Another vote for the LowePro Nature Trekker AW. Rugged, expandable (by clipping/lashing accessory bags to the outside), very comfortable, and you wouldn't believe how much stuff you can fit in there if you pack it right. Just be careful about overstuffing, it may force the zipper off-track, something which from reading the warranty I don't think Lowe covers. Also, yes, they do squeak a bit, but you only really notice it if you think about it.

On expanding: in addition to just the bag, I have the little film accessory pack, a 300mm lens case, a CamelBak water bag (flexible canteen with a hose, if you don't have one GET ONE!!! They're life savers!), and the daypack accessory bag. All accessories from Lowe, except the CamelBak. Also have lashed a portable umbrella to the front of the bag, under the daypack. It's just a great bag.

The key to packing it is to pack lenses that are shorter than they are wide on top of one another in the same pocket. Use two extra padding inserts, one as a horizontal rather than a vertical divider, and one as a lid to keep the top lens in place. If you run out of padding inserts, use a cheap padded lens case on one lens instead, and use an elastic strap on top instead of the padded insert. Inserts shouldn't be a problem, though; if you're like me, you have at least one older camera bag that you outgrew and it's got all the extra padding you need.

Charles Mackay , May 11, 2000; 08:54 P.M.

Domke bags are fantastic. The F6 which I just got cheap for $50 (apparently factory seconds, indistinguishable from the real goods, move around between different camera stores) will hold N90s, four lenses (including 80-200 2.8 with hood reversed, all vertically so you can get right at them), flash, sync cord, plus lots of film, filters and other junk.

It is comfortable to carry with all that and is also non-ugly.

I also use Tamracs which are better padded but bulky to carry and which have multiple levels of velcro to slog through.

A minus (for this Domke at least) is that there's no way to carry the zoom attached, unlike the Tamrac's "lens bridge" gimmick.

toan Nguyen , May 17, 2000; 05:54 P.M.

Have been using my Lowepro Mini Trekker for over a year and I must say it's a perfect bag. It's not too big, not too heavy, well made and just the right size to carry A2 w/ lens attached, another spare body, 80-200, 20-35, 100 macro lenses, 540EZ, light meter, films and filters. Even has room left for a lite jacket, water bottle, and a makeup bag for the wife. Highly recommend for those don't have lots of equipment to carry around. I traveled with it through Europe, Canada, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and it's still going strong. For $100, it's worth every penny.

Yuriy Vilin , June 19, 2000; 01:10 A.M.

Tamrac Superlight 8.... Design is almost identical to Domke F bags, except that buckles are plastic. The same tight hugging feeling when you carry it, nice non-slip shoulder strap with curved pad. Impressive welded D rings, looks like they easily can withstand load of couple of hundreds pounds. Inner space has fully customizable compartments and yummy movable pillars to store camera with attached 28-105 zoom lens in vertical position. Lots of pockets (they are simply everywhere). Same as in Domke bags velcro strips to keep the main flap in place, if buckles are not locked. The bag easily holds camera with attached booster and lens up to 180 mm, 70-210 2.8 zoom (with hood attached backwards), 2-3 shorter lenses, flash, 15-20 rolls of film, filters and other smaller items. Large side pockets are fully covered with weather flaps locked with both velcro and buckles. Bag is very easy to work out, unlike the rest of Tamrac products burdened with labyrinths of dividers and bridges. What this bag is lacking? I do prefer metal buckles. Additional rings for accessory waist belt would be nice. Bag is not that deep as advertised (perhaps because of removable bottom stiffener), so camera with attached 70-200 2.8 zoom will lean out of the top of bag. You still can cover it with the main flap but buckles won't be used in this situation. Bag is washable (just don't forget to remove dividers and stiffener). What else? It is very light. Khaki color reflects sun well, so the precious gear won't be overheated. The rain protection seems to be good, along with reasonable thickness of padding. The padding is not as heavy as in some other bags but does its job pretty good. Overall, I am quite positive to recommend this bag.

barry prager , July 08, 2000; 03:44 A.M.

Count me in as a Domke fan. After a number of padded bags which are bulky and bounced around on my hip, I bought a Domke little bit smaller bag. Everything came into focus. I would like to suggest a look at the Domke camera straps. The strap is only 3/8ths inches wide which then connects to a larger piece that supports the cameras weight accross the neck or shoulder. It has a non slip surface on the underside that works o.k. The connecting peices can swivel so the strap remains strait and can be easily removed for tripod work. What I like best about this strap is that when I put the camera up to my eye the strap fold up and kind of fall out of the way. I'm not fighting the strap. A for comfort.

guymond simpson , July 18, 2000; 11:03 P.M.

I fell in love with Lowe products while in the Boy Scouts. Their internal frame packs were and are still one of the best. So when I needed a camera bag I looked absolutely no further than LowePro. Lowe Pro is the family staple. The "Napa", psuedo leather flap purse bag conceals my wifes Rebel 2000 system. A trident of "Photo Trekker AW's" hanger my F3 system, RZ67 system and my dads M645 and 645 Pro system. And my 9 year old son keeps his X700 in a "Nova Mini". There are a number of people who are paranoid about the theft issue and how LowePro "screams" camera. Soooo What! Of course it says camera, its the best system on the market for any application, what is it supposed to say? I don't worry about any particle of camera gear for any type of loss because I have a rider on my homeowners policy if anything happens for any reason, it's covered, 100% replacement cost, 0 deductible including gross negligence on my part. IE forgot my wifes Rebel 2000 in the subteranean mall in Vancouver BC. Dropped my 50mm 4.5 Mamiya RZ67 lens into Spokane River. Both covered no problem, in fact I got the new LD version of the mamiya lens. I actually thought in retrospect dropping my 50mm was a good thing. My premium for this is about 100.00 annually. I have piece of mind and our gear lives in the best bags.

Ravi Nagpal , August 03, 2000; 02:51 P.M.

I hate bags, I hate lugging around anything when around a city. I hate photo vests to. What do I do. I own 2 cargo pants that I picked up at gap. Each with 2 huge cargo pockets. A camera with a lens goes around my neck. A spare lens or 2 in the cargo pockets as well as extra film, etc. If I cannot fit everything in these huge pockets... well, I do not really need it.

Borja Marcos , August 26, 2000; 09:08 P.M.

I am very happy with a Lowepro Nova 2. However, I use it in a quite atypical way. I carry a Yashica Mat 124G camera (medium format TLR), a Sekonic L-408 lightmeter, an Olympus Mju-II and an Itorex flash unit (a bit big). I can also carry three 120 film pro-packs and some 35 mm. films (these in their plastic cans in the external mesh pockets). I chose it because it is quite compact, more comfortable to carry than the typical photographers' bag.

Paulo Bizarro , September 11, 2000; 07:33 A.M.

Well, two days ago I had a Domke Gripper strap breaking on me. The small plastic part where the strap goes trough just broke. Luckily, I was able to catch the falling camera by the end of the strap, before it hit the ground. The camera was a 1N with booster and 50mm lens. It is the first time that I had a camera strap breaking. The design is good, but after this experience i will give OP/Tech a try.

Alex B. , September 16, 2000; 03:42 P.M.

I would like to list my 4 favorites, the REALLY useful bags for my everyday shooting needs (from the biggest to the smallest respectively):

1.LowePro Super Trekker: The best backpack there is. I use it for my 4x5 Cambo these days but before it could hold A LOT. Carrying is great, also the protection.

2.Tenba 899 MetroPress Pro: The best bag there is. Period. It holds my entire Pentax 645n kit (body + 4 primes and 2 zooms PLUS the Polaroid 600SE with lens attached, 500AF flash, 3 inserts, lightmeter, filters, bouncers, film bag and STILL it has 2 side compartments empty for a cell phone (quick release cover with antenna opening), documents and notes book. I wish I'd found this bag sooner. It stays with me on all bigger jobs.

3.Domke F2. Great to actually carry in the field, holds a camera and a few lenses perfectly, but can't squeeze the Polaroid in. Still, it's a great bag, I agree with all positive comments. Buy it if you have to carry equipment daily.

4.LowePro Mini Trekker: Goes with me on a plane, holds the 645n AND the Polaroid body + a rich selection of lenses and leaves enough space for film. Sometimes I attach my monopod and take this bag instead of Domke.

T T , September 23, 2000; 12:59 A.M.

I recently switched from a heavy Nikon SLR system and lenses to a much lighter Leica rangefinder system. I decided this would also be a good time to switch camera bags.

I've always liked and used the LowePro Nova series bags for their great value, build, and usefulness. But, they are a bit boxy and I wanted to get away from a camera bag that screamed 'camera bag'. I knew that I didn't want a camera bag that looked like a purse or lunch sack either. Now that all my gear and lenses could be comfortably carried around on foot (rather than before with my Nikon system, I usually left the entire bag in the car and only brought with me the lens or two that I felt I would use), I needed a bag more suited to walk the streets with.

The Billingham brand bags appealed to me in that they look like an attractive nice bag, rather than a 'camera bag' per se. They are expensive, but I went ahead and splurged on a Billingham Hadley. Although I tried both the Billingham Alice and the Series 3 bags, I felt that the Hadley (original size) better holds my Leica M6, a few lenses, small flash, and accessories. Also, the Hadley looks more like an attaché bag, whereas the Alice and the Series 3 look more purse-like. The Hadley with my gear in it has a little bit of extra room in it for more film or other small things I may want to carry. The canvas material of the Billingham bags is quite nice and conforms to your body better than other non-canvas bags. It's comfortable to walk around with, whereas my previous LowePro bags always felt like a burden on my side. The canvas Billinghams seem to offer plenty of protection for your gear and they seem fairly waterproof as well. One thing I do miss is the handle that the LowePro Nova bags have on the top lid. It's nice to be able to handhold the bag by a handle, rather than just the shoulder strap.

I later discovered the Domke F803 Satchel bag. It's of the same relative size as the Hadley, and has a handle on the top, a better shoulder strap, and is less expensive. It doesn't look as fancy as the Billingham, which is probably a good thing since I don't want to draw attention to myself when I'm walking the streets with my equipment. And having lived with the Domke for a bit, I can say that I like it better than the Billingham in terms of useful pockets, comfort, feel and price.

I also recently discovered CourierWare bags at:

http://www.courierwareusa.com/

Although they specialize in bags for couriers (bike messengers, etc.), they also make a photobag in different sizes and colors. I have no first hand experience with these bags, but they seem nice and certainly worth a look. I like that these have a lifetime warranty and are based in Harvard Square (Phillip Greenspun's stomping ground).

Recognize that your camera bag needs will probably change over time. You will probably acquire more gear and need a bigger bag. You might then decide that you need a big bag to carry all of your gear to your location, and also a smaller satellite bag for a lens or two to walk around with once at the location. As for me, I've been trying to shoot with mostly one or two lenses lately so I often just put the camera around my neck and grab a few rolls of film and take off, bagless. However, when I want to bring all or most of my gear around, I find a canvas shoulder bag a welcomed companion.

I do not believe that there is such a thing as the 'perfect camera bag'. Your needs may change as you learn and grow in your photographic endeavors, and a bag that you buy today may not meet your needs two years from now.

Barrett Benton , September 25, 2000; 06:37 P.M.

I have a Domke F2 which I've owned for just about twenty years, having lasted through four camera systems and its share of rough-and-tumble travel. Its flexibility, versatility, and visual low profile have grown on me over time. It carries everything I ever need on a serious shoot (full working system for me: two 35mm bodies, five lenses, flash, a small cache of accessories, and, of course, a good amount of film) - in fact, my rule for any camera gear I end up using is that if I can't fit it *all* into the F2 - tripod exempted - it's good for little more than gathering dust on a shelf, and thus doesn't get bought. This rule has served me quite well, as has this bag.

Suhas Dutta , November 28, 2000; 03:32 P.M.

I agree with Tristan and the fact that there is no "perfect" camera bag. Neither is there any fit all, for all occasions bag either. A bad which I have found extremely useful is a small back pack type - LowePro Orion Trekker. It holds an SLR and 4 lenses, has a little space for a flash. the upper compartment is like any backpack which you can use to store any thing. I use it to store my filters, cable, film, a point and click etc. the only major disadvantage is that it does not inherently have a mechanism to take on a tripod. I use a dog collar (don't laugh) on the bag handle and twist it around a tripod.

Lee Shively , December 27, 2000; 08:38 P.M.

There are no perfect camera bags. Used a Leica bag for a while but I had to stack equipment on top of equipment. It was deep but too narrow. Used a Domke bag for a while but constant rubbing on the hip on a daily basis wore through the canvas (the nylon would be better, but...). Used a Lowepro Magnum for a long time but the zipper wore out and the rough nylon back scuffed up a nice leather jacket when used daily. All these experiences were years ago when I worked as a photographer. Now that I'm an amateur again, I use two bags regularly: the Lowepro Photo Trekker AW (backpack) and an F64 shoulder bag. I'm not sure of the model of the F64 bag--I bought it out of necessity several years ago when I was making a trip and had no decent way to transport a couple of old Nikon F2's. It has a belt which stuffs behind a smooth (non-scuffing) nylon cover, has two removeable and very large end pockets. It can hold 2 Canon EOS A2E bodies and 3 Canon EF consumer weight zooms, quite a bit of film, a few filters and other necessities. It's good for light weight photography. The Photo Trekker holds a lot more equipment and the suspension system is good for my middle aged back and neck when I have some hiking to do. I would recommend either of these bags, however, I have to say a very useful carrying method is a photo vest. I have an old Banana Republic Photojournalist's Vest which I bought many years ago when the company actually had unique clothing, I still use it occasionally and it is the most comfortable way to carry smaller lenses, film, filters and lightweight camera bodies.

phil kneen , January 06, 2001; 03:27 A.M.

The Domke F-2 is the most splendid of all the bags.Pop it in the washing-machine,on a long boil cycle,and Bob's your uncle(which in fact he is,on my fathers side)you've got(gotten isn't a proper word here on the Isle of man,or any where else in the World come to think of it)yourself a nice little purse to keep keys and coins in.Buy the larger F1-x and use a slightly longer boil cycle and hey presto!a nice litte case to keep your smart new Leica M6 in,great eh!

Dave Baldo , January 26, 2001; 12:55 P.M.

I have decided that the heavy-duty rolling travel cases from Timberland would make an ideal camera bag hauler. Now I need to buy foam and cut it to fit the dimensions of this rolling backpackable case. What kind of foam should I buy? Is there another kind besides closed-cell foam? I don't want it to crumble and become gooey. Please let me know. Thanks. (Davekny@email.com)

Jim Horvath , February 09, 2001; 04:13 P.M.

ALL hail the great Domke! No,the Domke f-2 is not the greatest camera bag ever made.It has many flaws,no zipper top,no exterior padding,and the canvas sucks up water like a sponge.There are much better bags out there. Jim Horvath Feb 8,2001

Jim Horvath , February 10, 2001; 02:14 P.M.

Adding to my last comment,Domke now offers a ballistic nylon option for most of the popular bags,and I think its the only way to go.They are more durable,easier to clean,and far more water resistant than canvas could ever hope to be.Canvas versions are soft and supple,but when it comes to staying dry,forget it.Go ballistic!Over the years I've owned several bags from Domke,Tamrac,and Tenba and they were all excellent.It a matter of personal preference.I just parted with a Tamrac 777 backpack.Superb,but heavy loaded up.I can't imagine hauling around those huge packs like Lowe pro supper trekker or the big ones from Tamrac or Tenba.I'm using a Tenba Venture 307 for a day bag.It holds my Eos1n with booster,lens attached,two other lenses or my Pentax 67 with one lens.Made of durable ballistic nylon,this little gem only costs $51.00.Anyone not familiar with Tenba should check them out.They're made in New York and the overall quality of these bags is unequalled in my opinion.Yes,that includes backpacks for all the Lowe pro fans out there.I think Tamrac and especially Tenba have better overall construction quality.Go see a Tenba backpack and you'll see what I'm talking about. One thing is for sure,there is no perfect camera bag,small bags- limited space,large bags-way too heavy loaded up.The search goes on. Thats my two cents worth,good luck and good shooting!

John Stillwell , April 04, 2001; 12:58 A.M.

I recently purchased the Domke F-6(little bit smaller) bag. You can fit a large amount of equipment into a small space. I like to just slip my F-100 with 28-70mm attached directly into one of the lens slots. In the other padded dividers I keep my 70-300mm and SB-26. This leaves plenty of room for my spare N70 and many other items.

Stanley Sizeler , May 21, 2001; 05:47 P.M.

The Domke vest is extremely well designed and functional, has large pockets for lenses, filters, moderate sized lenses, some pockets with zippers, mesh back for coolness. It holds up very well in the field (Asia, Africa, Europe), washes well.It is much more useful than the Banana Republic vest (12 years old)which I still have, and in my opinion is preferable to the Tamrac, if you can get to a store selling both (for comparison).

Rick Roth , June 06, 2001; 02:30 A.M.

TAMRAC 747 Backpack WANTED in Good Condition. rickroth44@hotmail.com

Louie Labayen , June 10, 2001; 12:11 P.M.

After a lot of searching, I use a Tamrac 787 Extreme Super Photo Backpack. It is a very snug fit, but I don't want to carry more weight or bulk on my back and it can be hand-carried in the plane. I tore off all 4 D-rings after I tore one off accidentally and replaced them with inexpensive locking clips from the hardware store. This way, the clip bears the pressure of tying up my sleeping bag on top and my little duffel bag in the bottom while secured also by Tamrac cinch lock straps on the lashing tabs. I can even lash on some rope on one side and other personal items on the other, or attach the Extra Large Tamrac Extreme Backpack Pockets. The harness is excellent. I stuff the harness cover with a couple of hand towels to form a lumbar support. The great part of this pack is how it can carry a heavy tripod. I have a Manfrotto 3020 with a levelling ball head and a 3047 pan-tilt head. Why all this weight? It speeds up my levelling and enables me to do triptychs and nontychs very quickly when I want to. The QuickClip tripod attachment system is flexible enough to carry that tripod upside down to lower the center of gravity and also carry a long Gustbuster umbrella for wilderness downpours and shielding the bellows from wind. And the external mesh pocket is great for my tripod snow shoes and large plastic bags for wet groundcover and putting the pack in during a downpour.

While I think it was designed more for 35mm and medium-format, I creatively arranged the dividers to accomodate my 4x5 Tachihara with 3 Nikkor lenses packed in soft pouches, Schneider loupe in a small vinyl pouch, dark cloth, Adomara Cokin filter wallet, Tamrac Photographer's Toolpack, 3 Cokin filter shades, Kodak Readyload Film Holder, Kodak Readyload packs, Nikon N80 camera with Nikkor 28-105 lens for composing, Nikkor 70-300 lens for spot metering, Adorama 5-in-1 reflector, and various small items in the pockets.

Jay Walsh , July 07, 2001; 01:12 A.M.

I finally found my dream bag: a Tamrac (of course) 467 Photo Messenger Bag. I’ve got a blown disk in my lower back, so the idea of lugging around a duffel bag full of equipment or trying get into a knapsack isn’t all that appealing to me. Most of the shoulder harnesses I’ve come across are too short to wear cross-collar (i.e. the shoulder harness hanging on your left shoulder, cross diagonally over your chest and back, while the bag hangs on your right side). The 467 works for me.

Not only can I get two Elan 7 body’s, a 300/f4, 70-210/f2.8, 17-35/f2.8 and 100mm/f2 lens, 540ez flash, filters, film and personal knick-knacks in... but it also has this great pouch that fits my PowerBook G4 while still having room in the front pockets for a mouse and extra battery. And to top it off, my Gitzo monopod just fits layed across the top of everything!

The entire bag with gear weighs just under 25 lbs and is about the size of a bulky briefcase (about a foot and a half long, a foot tall and about half a foot deep). Also, not only does it fit in the overhead compartment on an airline, it actually fits quite nicely under the seat in front of me (where I prefer it to be... close at hand... or close at foot!)

This bag has been a God-send to someone with a bad back... oh yeah, they even thought of a neat little pocket on the outside the fits my pager and cell phone!

d b , July 17, 2001; 09:20 P.M.

I am hoping to go to NYC this summer and spend the day shooting (pictures) and have concerns about looking like a tourist target with some easy goods to steal. Any suggestions as to how one can carry some camera gear inconspicuously (body, 70/200 2.8, 28/70 2.8, flash, film? One person wrote about some pants that had long pockets. Any other idea’s and do you think my concerns are valid? Any tips for in the city would be great, Thanks.

Joseph Liftik , July 19, 2001; 12:21 A.M.

Here is what works for me. First, when I travel I do'nt want to a. advertise "here I am with expensive photo gear." and b. have a comfortable way to carry gear. I use a Lowpro camera bag (Nova 3) and place it into a back pack that fit the Nova size just right. I have room for other day gear if I hike etc. A pod can be strapped outside, if its a large one, with webbing, to the daisey chain. You get double padding from the camera bag and the pack, easy to carry and take stuff out of, and you also have a day pack to haul around stuff when you are tooling around without the gear.

Jeffrey Sutton , August 08, 2001; 04:14 A.M.

In 1998 I purchased a Lowpro mini trekker to take on safari in Kenya. Large enough to carry 2 bodies and motor drives fitted with 300mm and 35-70 mm zoom respectively plus3 other lenses (28mm 105mm micro and 180mm), extension tube, teleconverter, film, flashgun and binoculars. Yet this bag is small enough to get under the standard airline seat. Webbing straps on the outside hold a small tripod and terrestrial telescope. Two other pockets on the front face may be used for wet weather clothing. Oddments carried in the pockets of a photo vest make for a comfortable, easily transportable system. All round, well worth looking at.

Hedley Davies , August 10, 2001; 02:47 P.M.

I have three CCS bags (Camera care Systems, UK). I purchased the first one almost 20 years ago. They are still in great shape. I've just ordered another from them. As far as I know they do not have a US distributor. Their website is www.ccscentre.co.uk. Email Andrew Woods at Andrew@ccscentre.co.uk. He's very helpful. I'm probably going to sell two of my Wharthog hip bags. Email me at HWDX347@AHTD.STATE.AR.US.

Gavin Bell , August 18, 2001; 08:53 A.M.

I have spent a long time looking for a flexible way to take a camera when backpacking which will allow me to walk with a full pack and have easy access to a camera. I looked at over 20 different packs and I have found this in the LowePro Toploader 70 AW, which works well with my EOS30 with grip, 28-135is lense with hood attached. I can't use a backpack or a belt pack as I'll have a 70L rucksack on my back, so the chest harness works well.

See the review on the neighbour to neighbour section of photo.net of the toploader 70 aw for more information. Lowe offer several packs in this range in differing sizes.

Neibaf Cavel , September 04, 2001; 02:16 A.M.

There seems to be other people like me who don’t like camera bags.

I have a fanny pack from LL Bean (the type of sport bag worn around the waist) and it is perfect for my needs. It has plenty of room to put my canon rebel with a 28-80 zoom, more rolls of film than a trigger happy like me can spend in a day, a filter, a snack, all the regular useless stuff, and there is still space for a flash or another lens. Like Ravi Nagpal said, if it does not fit in I do not really need it.

I like this bag because it doesn’t look like you are carrying photographic equipment. I am not too too scared of being mugged but who knows. A camera is easy money at a pawnshop. I hate to look like a tourist or a show off. When I visit places, I like to blend with the crowd. I find you can approach people more easily if they don’t think you are nice only to get a picture of them in front of their house.

When there is something interesting to shoot, I just pull my camera from the bag, click, and slip it back in. Wetter you go hiking in the woods or walking around town, this type of bag will never bother you. In case of rain, I always keep a big freezer Ziploc handy.

To my opinion this is the best type of camera bag.

Hubert C.M. Janssen , February 06, 2002; 01:48 P.M.

I have been using a variety of bags over the years. About 12 years ago I treated myself to a Billingham 445, which I use when I am going to carry around a large outfit. I can easily stuff 3 bodies, a flash, 6 to 8 lenses and lots of small odds and ends into it with room to spare. No need to mention that it is a hard day's work to tote it around all day! A couple of years after I bought a Billingham F4.5, which is very convenient to carry 1 body, 3 lenses and a flash; in particular on walks through towns when I do not want to take much gear along. Two years ago I bought a secondhand Tamrac 606; mainly because it was cheap, but I was looking for a bag sized between the two Billingham bags and the materials and finish of Tamrac bags were better than those of Lowe Pro. After a while I was convinced about the quality Tamrac bags offer and when I needed a backpack (as I find the backpack straps of the Billingham 445 too fiddly and the balance of the bag on your bag is not very stable) for those trips when you have to walk a lot and cannot put the bag down when it is getting to strain your shoulders, I bought the Tamrac Expedition 5. It was the only model in this series available at that moment, but it had exactly the right size for my requirements; the benefit of the add-on sidepockets and lenscases made it even more versatile. It takes two bodies (Minolta X-700 with motordrive or winder), a Tokina 3.5/17, a Minolta 3.5/24-35, a Vivitar 2.8/35-85 Series 1, a Tokina AT-X 2.8/80-200SD, a Minolta 4.5/300 or Sigma 5.6/400, a teleconverter, a flash, a compact camera, a Gossen VarioSix F2, and loads of film and accessories. Even then it is still quite comfortable (although heavy) to carry. Of course two sidepockets and a large lenscase are fitted to take the telephoto, the Gossen and spare films. And there is still room in the frontpocket for a changing bag, a tabletop tripod and some personal stuff; the mesh on the front of this pocket holds a rainjacket, maps and the sandwiches. The main tripod can be strapped under the bottom of the backpack with a pair of accessory straps. I have recently bought a Domke Photogs Vest; it was a low price offer and I have only tried it once, just to see how it works out when loaded with gear. I like it; when I combine it with the Tamrac backpack, another two bodies, 3 or 4 lenses and lots of small stuff find their place. I guess my legs will need some exercise to carry the weight around the countryside, but I CAN take almost every piece of gear I own with me if needed! When my wife started into photography, I bought her a Tamrac 604; just because I liked the 606 so much. I do also have a Domke F-3X in which I carry my Bronica EC-TL with 3 lenses, an extra back and spare films, filters and some lenscleaning stuff. I do not like the Domke bag; the sidepockets do not close well enough to keep even the lightest of rain out and the main compartment always deforms in such a way that there is always a gap between the cover and the compartment. I have walked through a few really torrential rainfalls and the only bag that was 100% watertight, was the Billingham 445. The wetter it gets, the more watertight it becomes! I have a aluminium hardcase that I have used a couple times to carry my gear, but it is too uncomfortable to carry and you can only access your gear by putting it down, flat on the ground. Nowadays I only use for storage of my macro gear. Bottom line: the best bags are Billinghams, second best Tamracs. Unfortunately, Billingham bags have become too expensive for me; luckily a Billingham will last for life, so a replacement will not be needed.

Lex Jenkins , March 25, 2002; 02:33 A.M.

I hate velcro on camera bags. Oh, it's okay for dividers and stuff that doesn't have to be adjusted or opened frequently. But if you carry a bag often enough you'll eventually be caught in the embarrassing position of having to rip open that velcro and break the moment during a wedding, theatre or other delicate situation.

I'm not even particularly fond of zippers, tho' some are quieter than others. Another test is whether the bag fabric generates noise against clothing or its own straps. Noisy bags are out.

My favorite large bag is a cheap, no-name knockoff of a Domke. It's generally well-made and only the redundant velcro closures are weak, having torn loose in most places. Just as well since I hate velcro and all closures are mainly supported by strong, smooth zippers.

One currently available new bag that meets my admittedly unusual standards is actually a promotional bag bearing the Nikon label. It's black cordura, 12" wide by 8" by 8". It has a hinged (at the back) top that opens and closes very easily (and quietly) despite the generous protective flaps. Four plastic buckles, two on the front and one on either side, secure the top - no zippers. The buckles feel like tough nylon or similar material that should last for years. A wrap-around shoulder strap supports the bag from the bottom so it isn't necessary to fasten the top unless you want to lug the bag by the padded single hand strap on top.

Inside the lid is a generous zipper mesh pouch. At the front, a more generous dual-zippered storage area deep enough for notebooks or a PDA, with pockets for filters, pens, etc. Hidden beneath a flap at the front of the lid is a long, shallow, narrow zippered pouch suitable for odds and ends like cleaning cloths, cable release, etc. The zippers are reasonably quiet.

At the bottom of the bag are two large tough, flexible rubbery feet to protect the bag material from abrasion. The top inside of the shoulder strap is lined with a grippy rubbery material that helps prevent slipping.

The basic configuration of the main storage area consists of a center compartment large enough to accomodate my Nikon F3HP with MD-4 motor drive and the 28/3.5 PC-Nikkor attached, with an inch of headroom over the prism and footroom in front of the lens. Beneath the lens is a Z-shaped padded lens suppporter adjustable to accomodate most lens configurations.

This configuration doesn't leave a lot of room in the four surrounding pockets for large diameter lenses but will accomodate smaller diameter lenses, my Minolta Autometer, another body without motor drive, etc. It's fine for the gear I carry when shooting the architectural project this Nikon is devoted to. And these well-padded dividers can be adjusted via the velcro to accomodate a limited variety of other configurations.

Overall this is an extremely well thought-out medium sized bag, much better than most generic bags marketed under camera brand names. It appears very well constructed of good materials with secure stitching. An excellent value at the $39 I paid at my local shop, a pretty good value at the $59 B&H is charging, not so good at the $99 original suggested retail price. Oh, yes, the bag comes with a 58mm protective filter, a booklet with good instructions for the beginning photographers and a booklet of outdated coupons. Don't buy the bag for the coupons "valued at $66". Buy it because it's a good bag. If it were available without the gratuitous Nikon label on the front I'd buy another - I don't like advertising that I'm carrying camera gear.

Jeff Stevens , June 19, 2002; 02:19 P.M.


There is one piece of equipment that I find invaluable. I wear my Domke Photo Jacket (with or without sleeves) whenever I shoot. The one disadvantage I have found with backpacks is that they are difficult to get into when you are wearing them. I can keep small (or even large) components in my vest, filters, film, flash where they can be retreived in a moments notice. While this is true of all vests, the feature that really sets the Domke apart is the inclusion of a hood, no not because it keeps the rain off of your head,but rather the rolled hood keeps camera straps, tripod straps and backpack straps from slipping on to your neck or causing any painful abrasions. It doesn't matter if you are using a camera bag or a backpack, it is a simple feature that you will enjoy. I have been using this jacket for about a year, and it is the most used accessory I own.

Leif Olstrup , June 21, 2002; 05:01 A.M.

I too like the Domke jacket. In particular I like the detachable sleeves. Years ago I had a jacket made by the Swedish firm Tenson which had detachable sleeves, and since that jacket wore out I have been seeking another one like it. The Domke jacket was the answer to that, and I use it a lot even when I don't carry photo gear and even though I prefer to carry the gear in an bag.

I like the Domke bags as well. Some years ago I used a canvas bag I bought from an army surplus outlet and equipped with some old dividers I had from another bag. Since that army bag wore out I missed the feel of soft canvas - ballistic nylon just don't feel that way. So some time ago I ordered two Domke canvas bags.

The one is a F2 set up as it came to hold my (old) Canon F1 gear. It's a confortable bag, soft and gentle against the hip. The strap is broad and soft, adding to the feel of comfort even when carrying heavy gear, and thanks to the wowen in rubber the strap don't slip off the shoulder. Maybe the strap will wear faster than the ones made of safety belt material because of the softness and the cotton material, but then that is the price to pay for the comfort. It holds one motorized SLR with (a short) lens attached or two motorized SLRs without lenses plus four lenses in the padded insert plus film and all the small items in the front and side pockets. It is tall enough to hold a Metz CT 45 flash.

The other one is a F3X, which holds my Leica M gear. This bag could in fact use more padding. There is only a layer of canvas between the main compartment and the two lens compartments, which will cause the lenses to rub and bang against the camera. However, two of the above mentioned old dividers and ten minutes of stiching solved that problem (Don't throw out the dividers from your worn out bags - you may need them some day). In my setup it carries one camera with a 35 mm lens, three extra lenses + an extra camera body + film, small flash etc., and yet there is room for more. The F3X is rather tall for a Leica outfit, but because of the height it will hold the CT 45 flash in one of the lens compartments and I can still close the weather flap. The Domke bags are easy to work out of. Everything is readily accessible from the top - no zippers to open, no stacking of gear. They are disigned according to the KISS principle ("Keep It Simple, Stupid").

For travelling I have for many years used a Tenba P 215 satchel. It easily holds two Leica M bodies plus two or three lenses and it is tall enough two take the CT 45 flash (you guessed it - I use that flash a lot). It will also hold a non motorized SLR, but NOT a motorized one in the standard configuration (a larger insert is available). In addition it has room to hold a spare shirt, a jacket, has multiple zippered pockets that safely holds passport, airline tickets, wallets, candy bars and whatever you need.

richard newton , August 14, 2002; 02:44 A.M.

I started photography in high school(back in 1966). I got one of the original Domke bags in the early 70's when Jim Domke was making them. I still have and use it. Also, I like the F6 when I don't want to carry the whole kitchen with me.

Only complaint I ever had about the F2 is that you can put so much stuff into one, I started getting back pains as have other professional photographers I know. I am using a lot less equipment these days since photography is now a hobby.

Check out the MClassics bags. Canvas duplicates of bags Leica imported in the 60's and 70's. I just ordered one to use with my M system and it looks great.

David Livingstone , September 19, 2002; 07:27 P.M.

For U.K members - the black canvas Domke F6 bag is on special offer at GBP 24.95 (~USD 39) + P&P, on the Kodak U.K. shopping site

Ron Stecher , January 06, 2003; 06:43 P.M.

The bags I use are the Tamrac 608 and 706. The 608 is large enought to carry more than I need...not always a good thing...but the smaller 706 with tuck in waist belt is too bulky to actually wear around your waist. As for a good alternative to the Domke Photo jacket, for years I've wore an army field jacket during the colder months (NYC) and it's great. It has four big pockets in front and they are somewhat water resistent. You can pick one up off ebay for $20.

Jose Pedro Espinosa , January 12, 2003; 01:35 P.M.

My previous camera was destroyed by vibrations riding my motorcycle. Then now that I bought a new Canon EOS 500 N with two lenses, I bought a Pelican 1400 case. Yesterday January 11 2003, traveling from Chile to Bariloche, Argentina, a car driver didn't stop in a Stop signal and crushed me. My motorcycle was serious injured, me only a little injured, but my camera is in perfect condition in spite of the box receive a lot of big scratches. Thanks to Pelican for make so strong boxes.

Daniel Deitrick , March 03, 2003; 11:41 P.M.

Two stories:

I bought a Tamrac Tele-Zoom Pac, probably equivalent to the 517, when I was 15 years old and lugged my Ricoh KR30sp with a 35-200mm zoom around Mexico twice and Alaska. I gave away that camera (big mistake) and bought a Hasselblad 501CM kit used - I think off this site - from a professor out of Berkeley. I didn't have any extra money at 19 to buy a bag, so I used my Tamrac. To date, I have not bought another bag for my 501CM and find the bag to be very suitable for adventure travel photography (3 years Hawaii, Korea, Guam, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates)... the bag fits the medium format camera perfectly for traveling and shooting. When I fly I just put the bag in my backpack. I recently purchased an Elan 7E with 75-300mm IS lens. Again, I don't have any extra money for a new bag so I'm using the Tamrac - nevertheless I still haven't found a reason to get another bag... The only change I've made to the bag was putting on a new and heftier shoulder strap.

Story 2:

My friend Greg and I were kayaking the Na Pali Coast - Kauai. Of course I had to bring a camera. I had my Hasselblad 501CM in a Pelican Case (1400) bungeed to the back of the open two person sea kayak. We were pulling into the Kalalau beach, one of those uniquely magical places, when a rogue wave crashed the beach and lifted the back end of the two person kayak while plunging the nose into the beach flipping us completely over and incidentally launching me about 15 feet through the air. It was a mess, everything was wet, all our gear floated about -- including the pelican case. I nervously opened the two latches and found the inside to be completely dry and my camera completely intact. Obviously the next thing I did was start shooting.

I have three Pelican cases now, the smallest for film and still only one bag.

Respectfully,

Daniel Deitrick

Stephen Scharf , April 02, 2003; 02:58 A.M.

I used a small Tenba camera that had only one front pocket and an upper film compartment built into the cover for many years. I bought it 20 years ago, and it held two Olympus OM-1 bodies, and three lenses, as well as a large no. of filters, film and accessories. After all those years, I still use it from time to time as a well padded small bag to carry in a saddlebag on the motorcycle. The seams on the front pocket have opened on one side and along the top cover, but the bag is still serviceable for carrying a couple of small 35 mm SLRs and some lenses. A couple of years later I bought a larger Tenba bag that resembles the Pro Traveler, but is not as flexible as the newer, current designs. It, too, has had a seam open up in the cover/film compartment, but is still eminenty usable as a larger, full sized bag. I keep the majority of my OM gear in this, and will hold several large lenses, including a Zuiko 300/4.5, two bodies, and five or six other lenses or teleconvertors.

The bag I bought most recently is a LowePro MIniTrekker, which I use to carry my Canon D60, and its lenses, a 100-400 IS, a 70-200/2.8, a 28-135 IS, and a couple of teleconvertors. It also has room for my battery charger and cable, a pro flash, lens caps, filters, and neckstraps. The pockets inside the cover are perfect for flash cards, a PC card reader, Jumpshot cable, lens cloths, and the like. The outside compartment is perfect for stowing a notebook, Lightware rain cover, a rain parka, pens, keys, CD-ROMs, etcs. I like this pack a lot, and as I will be using this gear primarily for motorsports photography, it will be a great way to transport my gear over hill and dale as I walk around racetracks.

The one camera bag that I have seen very little reference to here, but seems to be a de facto standard amongst pro motorsports photographers is the LowePro Orion AW fanny bag/pack.

Stephen Scharf , April 02, 2003; 03:00 A.M.

I used a small Tenba camera bag that had only one front pocket and an upper film compartment built into the cover for many years. I bought it 20 years ago, and it held two Olympus OM-1 bodies, and three lenses, as well as a large no. of filters, film and accessories. After all those years, I still use it from time to time as a well padded small bag to carry in a saddlebag on the motorcycle. The seams on the front pocket have opened on one side and along the top cover, but the bag is still serviceable for carrying a couple of small 35 mm SLRs and some lenses. A couple of years later I bought a larger Tenba bag that resembles the Pro Traveler, but is not as flexible as the newer, current designs. It, too, has had a seam open up in the cover/film compartment, but is still eminently usable as a larger, full sized bag. I keep the majority of my OM gear in this, and will hold several large lenses, including a Zuiko 300/4.5, two bodies, and five or six other lenses or teleconvertors.

The bag I bought most recently is a LowePro MIniTrekker, which I use to carry my Canon D60, and its lenses, a 100-400 IS, a 70-200/2.8, a 28-135 IS, and a couple of teleconvertors. It also has room for my battery charger and cable, a pro flash, lens caps, filters, and neckstraps. The pockets inside the cover are perfect for flash cards, a PC card reader, Jumpshot cable, lens cloths, and the like. The outside compartment is perfect for stowing a notebook, Lightware rain cover, a rain parka, pens, keys, CD-ROMs, etcs. I like this pack a lot, and as I will be using this gear primarily for motorsports photography, it will be a great way to transport my gear over hill and dale as I walk around racetracks.

The one camera bag that I have seen very little reference to here, but seems to be a de facto standard amongst pro motorsports photographers is the LowePro Orion AW fanny bag/pack.

Aaron J. Heiner , April 20, 2003; 09:05 A.M.

I've been running with three Domke bags for over a decade plus one Domke vest that I seldom wear unless the assignment calls for it.

I mainly use my F2 for storage as a bag that size impedes my mobility. For most assignments I use an F6, and I will note it's a pretty tight fit to keep the OEM 4 compartment section i there and fit a Nikon F4s and F5 on the ends. Domke claims it will work but IMHO I find it much too tight a fit. Most of the time I use a 2 compartment insert in the F6 instead of the 4 that is OEM. This way the F5 is mounted to a zoom with two lenses in the insert. I line the bottom of the bag with a beanbag to add support to the lens.

The last bag I use is a Domke F-806 camera satchel with a second tall insert. I find all my Domke gear to be top notch and without fail after a decade of heavy daily use. Needing a backpack for non-PJ related work may take me to a LowePro Trekker or not, because there are not many places here in DC that carry Domke and the oens that do carry a limited supply, so I have yet to been able to check out the Quest line or not. I'll add that the Domke camera straps and (newer) padded postal style pads for their bags are a good investement as well.

Anycase this working pro lives by his Domke and doesn't plan to stray off course anytime soon, though a Pelican would be nice to add :)

Jason Antman , May 15, 2003; 07:24 A.M.

My Calumet 810N came with a giant wood/aluminum shipping case when I bought it. The case is the size of a large steamer trunk. It is now a permanent piece of furnature in my bedroom, the only place where it will fit. I have just begun carrying the 810N into the field. I have an older Jansport internal-frame backpack. It fits fine! The U-shaped rear standard support gors in first, the front standard support opposite that, the standards between them, bellows on top of that, lens in bellows (perfect fit) wrapped in focusing cloth, GG 8x10 back in bubble wrap on top of that, and a film holder on top of the glass to protect the other side. The main compartment gets sealed, and my rail clamp, meters, accessories, ets. fit in the side pockets. The monorail gets taped to my tripod, which gets slung over my shoulder with a soft camera strap. Extra film holders can go in an attache-style shoulder bag.

Anupama Mohanram , May 22, 2003; 06:34 P.M.

My third camera bag in the last year is the Tumi Fusion Z ballistic nylon camera bag. I love the wide shoulder strap. I also like the internal padded sleeve that is removable, if I want to pack the sleeve with SLR, extra lens/flash into another bag. The bag looks like a messenger bag, not a camera bag, which is another feature I like.

Hubert C.M. Janssen , June 08, 2003; 05:39 P.M.

I have owned a lot of camera bags. When starting out on photography, I bought some cheap bag to carry my gear, without knowing what would be a good bag. Over the years I learned from experience and now I have: * Tamrac Expedition 5 backpack, great for hiking trips; it easily takes 2 bodies, a 80-200/2.8 plus a host of smaller lenses and it takes additional pocket and cases, so a 300/4.5 can be carried inside or in a lens case attached to the side of the backpack. * Tamrac 606, takes a body plus 4 or 5 lenses and some accessories. * Tamrac 604, similar to the 606 but without external end pockets. The Tamrac bags are well made (IMHO the materials used and the finish are better than on comparable LowePro bags) and very easy to divide internally, yet the velcro used is very strong. The optional pouches, cases and pockets that can be attached to the bags increase the usefulness of the Tamrac bags very much. * Billingham 445, into which I manage to stuff 4 bodies, 6 or 7 lenses, plus a load of accessories; its large capacity is also its biggest disadvantage: it gets too heavy to carry comfortably ;). I have a set of custom-made end pouches (some time later, Billingham came with a set of standard end pouches), that increase the capacity of this bag even more. These end pouches are great for film, lunch pack, etc. * Billingham F4.5, nice small bag for one body and 3 or 4 smaller lenses plus some accessories. * Domke F-3X, which I picked up at a bargain price; after some time I realized that Domke bags are not the best around. At least mine is not capable of keeping the contents dry! The water leaks even into the main compartment, so I only use it to store my Bronica. It stays at home most of the time, since the Bronica gear fits into the Billingham 445 or the Tamrac 606 as well. The Billingham bags are really worth every penny I paid for them. They are extremely well-made, with excellent craftmanship, from the best materials (I have had the 445 for over 10 years now and it still looks almost like new). They have the added advantage of not shouting out "expensive photo equipment inside!".

Bert Janssen (The Netherlands)

David Talmage , July 10, 2003; 11:27 A.M.

I don't like photo vests. I tried one from LL Bean. The pockets were too small for a 200mm zoom lens. The vest was too hot to wear in the summer time and not big enough to go over warm clothing in the colder seasons. It also made me look like a geek. Yuck.

I carry most of my gear in a Domke "Little Bit Smaller" bag. There's enough room for two bodies, a winder, and four lenses, plus film and little do-dads. I carry my tripod in a Domke tripod bag.

When I'm playing tourist, I carry one camera on a strap around my neck. I put an extra lens or two, some film, and some snacks in an expandable fanny pack I bought in '91 at Eddie Baur. Sometimes I carry the tripod bag; it has some empty space for more snacks and a poncho. Even with the tripod bag slung over one shoulder, I don't look like a photo geek. Yay!


I'm adding to the comments I made in 1997, almost six years ago.

My new favorite bag for my new favorite camera, a Fuji GW690 III, is a Timbuk2 Dee Dog canvas courier bag. It has just one big compartment and it's big enough to hold my '690 on its flash bracket, my old Sunpak Auto 421 flash, a light meter, some film in a pouch, and lunch. It has the advantage, I think, of not looking like a camera bag, of not advertising, Hey! I have a $1000 piece of glass here!

Jay Linsenbigler , July 17, 2003; 01:01 P.M.

Camera bag manufacturers DO NOT know how to make a comfortable and reasonably priced camera bag! Go to an outdoors store, and check out the internal frame backpacks by Gregory and Osprey. The Gregory "Corn Holio" backpack is AWESOME! And it has a pocket on the front which can easily hold a medium sized tripod! The prices Lowepro asks for their semi-comfortable camera bags is rediculous- especially if you do a lot of walking and backpacking.

Gus Whittle , October 14, 2003; 11:43 P.M.

I use the new UPstrap on my modified Domke bag AND my camera. Great combo! UPstrap straps and Domke bags.

Rockne Roll , January 01, 2004; 07:02 A.M.

It dosen't seem very many people use holster bags. ?????????? Oh well. I like the Tamrac 517. When I had one body and two lenses, I could stick the short on it's side in the bottom and put the long(er) one with body on top. I did have to fix a plastic part (a ring that keeps debris from getting in under the focussing ring) that was knocked off the short lens from sitting in the bottom of the bag for a while. After the camera repair guy used a crappy gule compound to try and fix it, I just super glued it back in place. When I got more gear, including a 300 prime, I got a Lowepro MiniTrekker (Non-AW) Nice bag. Getting a Lowepro Compact AW. Hope its good. Sorry This is longwinded.

Matthew White , March 11, 2004; 12:07 P.M.

I'm by no means a pro, or even an experienced amateur, just a student on a budget. I went looking for something to hold my meager collection of lower-level stuff, but got lucky when I found this Roots mini backpack.

Like I said, I'm on a budget and don't have a lot mid- or high-end gear to carry. For what I need, though, it's perfect. This backpack will take my Rebel 2000 with battery pack, along with the attached 50mm/1.8 and a couple of consumer Sigma zooms, a Metz flash, a boatload of film in a big front pocket, and several filters in some inner padded pockets. There's also a couple of tripod straps on the bottom of the pack, perfect for my little Manfrotto 714B.

It might not be suited for people who fly a lot. There's no real way to lock it, aside from stuffing it in a bigger case. It might be small enough for carry-on, though. I mostly use this for biking (pedal, not motor) or social situations where I can always wear it, keep a close eye on it, or trust the people I'm around.

The shoulder straps are very well padded, making day-long outings a breeze. I barely notice the weight. There's two straps across the chest; one thin one across the upper chest, and one wide one on the lower. I've found that the lower one is perfect for the belt loop on my Lowepro topload, and the top one is nice for my little P&S digital's case.

I really like the look of the pack. Roots isn't really known for camera bags, so when I'm wearing it without a tripod slung underneath, I look more like I'm on my way to class instead of looking like I'm carrying camera gear. It's not suited for bad weather, or any situation where you'd need to lock it, but it's perfect for me. Roots makes a more deluxe backpack that's comparable to the Lowepro mini trekker, but it was just overkill for me.

Just my two student-budget cents.

Sushrut Patel , March 22, 2004; 11:32 P.M.


"Titan" by High sierra with mousepad, in Green and Black

CHEAP, COMFORTABLE, DIGITAL PHOTO HIP PACK, Photo travel bag, Photo hiker

I have read most of the comments here, on Billinghams, Domkes, Lowepros & Tamracs. I own a couple of nice Tamracs including the covertible(from shoulder-bag to hip-pack) Velocity 5, as well as a Lowepro. While these bags serve me well on occasion, they tend to be heavy, uncomfortable, and often quite expensive.

Reading some of the earlier comments, I went the other way when I decided to do more digital photography. I decided to find a very comfortable waist/hip/lumbar pack that could be easily adapted to a camera bag, to hold my Minolta Dimage 7HI, and later my Dimage A1, with stepup rings/filters attached, as well as other accessories.

After much research, I found one that met my criteria. It is the "Titan", made by High Sierra. I used a free promotional COMPUTER MOUSE PAD to convert this very well made bag. The pad(the thicker/stiff/rubbery kind) lays snugly, unobstrusively, securely, slip-resistent rubber side outside, on the bottom and outer wall(front) of the bag, edges neatly against the inner seams of the bag. Most standard sized pads should fit this bag, because of the dimensions. The bag is protected from impact on the lateral walls with the water bottle setups, and the top by the soft handle. The back wall is amply cushioned for comfort and impact. You get a generous, well protected zippered main compartment, and 2 other zippered pockets.

The main compartment is easily reachable when worn on the hip, and will hold the described cameras or larger(I have used it with a SLR with attached medium zoom lens, but without flash) and is very comfortable when worn for prolonged periods, as in hiking or travelling. It will also carry a couple of water bottles with impunity, and sans the bottles, it does not feel odd or uncomfortable, if the broad belt is thrown over the shoulder, as a temporary shoulder bag, as long as the zippers are fastened.

The bag is available 3 colors. I picked one up at a outdoor equip. store called Gander Mountain for $14.99. It is also available, with detailed specs/reviews at various etailers s/a ebags, Amazon, etc for under $20. I hope this is useful.

Lisa Isenstead , July 18, 2004; 10:28 A.M.

I've a neck/shoulder problem which has developed from carrying and lifting heavy objects over the years and which has almost stopped me from doing anything but point/shoot with a lightweight camera. My Nikon and its lenses are in the closet. Think I've found a solution with Kinesis Belts suggested on this site. No one else seems to suffer this kind of injury except that I read that people have neck pain wearing photo vests and backpacks. The belt is an obvious solution, though perhaps, not as efficient or convenient as the vest. As soon as I can get belt and pouches, my Nikon and lenses come out of the closet!

Paul Cope , October 21, 2004; 04:53 P.M.

And I thought I was the only one with a camera bag obsession! I have generally gone for Billinghams as I have found them very tough. I have had a Billingham 335 for over 20 years and that has done very well. I also have a massive Billingham 445 in canvas which I carry my medium format things in and an old Metz 45 which will go upright in these bags. I often use an old Billingham f4.5 bag which is a great size, just right for a camera and a flash and a spare lens etc. However it has an alarming propensity to fall over and shoot everything out of it as the internal dividers are complete rubbish. They don't fit any camera at all! I do use that a lot but just really carefully. I use a Lowepro backpack too, one of those with a camera bag at the bottom and the sandwich/book bag at the top which is good for a trip round a city. What I really want is one of these Domke bags which are so popular in the comments above. They aren't being imported into the UK at the moment however. Perhaps someone has one they don't want.......?

sherrie tanner , February 07, 2005; 01:41 P.M.

I take the opposite position concerning the Lightware line of cases/bags! These were designed for professionals and owning two dozen in the various shapes and uses [1623 for Elinchrom Mono Lights, own three] or the [1420 for my Nikon bodies/lenses, I have three of these too!] these are very high quality and they travel the world with me. Lightware keeps my ton of camera/computer equipment safe/dry/sound. When I arrive at clients location the first thing they see is my cases, their professional "look" tells them straight away I know my stuff! I recommend this companies entire stock list with no reservation, excellent!

Conrad Fischer , March 01, 2005; 10:35 A.M.

I have been pretty hooked on M-rock for bags and Pelican for a hard case for a bit now. The M-Rock bags are tough, well constructed and work together well. As for the Pelican case, I have had one carrying around my film cameras for about 20 years now and it still looks good, I did just recently have to replace the O-ring, but now it is once again truly air-tight.

Patricio Murphy , November 11, 2005; 03:36 P.M.

Got a Lowepro Mini Trekker yesterday. It fits my camera (currently a good ol' Nikon F601), lenses (400 mm f/3.5, 75-300 f/4.5-5.6, Sigma 105 f/2.8 EX Macro, 50 and 28, flash, teleconverter), is confortable to carry, and has a lot of nice details like the Street and Field System, waist strap, big compartment for extras, little compartments for filters and stuff. Great backpack. Only minus is the system for carrying a tripod, which is lousy, at least for a proper tripod... Anyway, great bag. I'm sticking with Lowepro...

Dave Wyman , December 09, 2005; 01:53 P.M.

- Minimalist: Lowepro Nova Micro, carried one prosumer digicam or a Rolleiflex with ease, barely holds my D70s; can hold a few accessories in a separate pocket.

- For serious hiking with a couple of bodies and a few lenses below, sweater/food on top: Lowepro Orion AW.

- Photo Journalism: Domke F-1X over the shoulder bag, same gear as above, but large enough, with interior inserts and large exterior pockets, for flash, third camera body (Rolleiflex, plus weird Rollei accessories and 120 film), flash, spot meter.

- When I need more capacity: Lowepro Classic Trekker, holds two bodies, a few large zoom/primes, accessories, plus my laptop - for me, it's the most comfortable camera backpack I've used - I'm not sure why, but even walking up steep terrain with the pack fully loaded, it feels light on my back (and mine is an older model, without the waist belt of the newer models).

Cory Johnson , July 04, 2006; 01:58 A.M.

Ahh, the balance of photography, and I ain't talking about composition :) When I started in 1991, with my Pentax ME Super, I immediately had to have a camera bag (still have it too! it comes in handy when I want to travel "light" :) However as the years went on and I acquired more gear... well you know how that ends... I got to the point where I had a shoulder bag jammed with two 35 mm systems and a tripod hanging off the bottom. In order to close it the contents had to be placed just so. We all know how difficult it can be trying to take any photos with a camera bag hanging off your shoulder. Ouch! Then I acquired my Mamiya C220 (see my post in the MF forum) Well now I was in a pickle. What to do? There wasn't a shoulder bag big enough to accomodate all that. If there was I don't think I'd want to carry it around all day! So I began to do some research. I knew a camera pack was someway, somehow, in order. So I began thumbing through my Lowepro catalog, but still couldn't determine which model. Well, I contacted Lowepro, explained what I had for gear and the response was the Nature Trekker AW Pro. It contains a Pentax Me Super with 80-200 & Sigma 600 mirror lens, a Canon EOS Rebel with 50 & 80-200mm, my Mamiya C220, and a Manfrotto pro series tripod strapped on the side. Sometimes I'll bring my lighting gear, so my 7 ft umbrella (compressed) will be strapped on the other side! Never mind all the other accessories and stuff jammed inside :) Well, I tell ya, it weighs 40 lbs! I can carry that pack around all day and think nothing of it! All the compartments can be configured any way I want. Nothing moves. I even have a film drop and another pouch attached to the waist strap. It can withstand a light rain, but in a downpour I pull out the rain hoody from the velcro slot underneath, and, voila, it's now waterproof. Absolutely the best investment hands down. I highly recommend it for those adventures when you just have *got* to take *everything*! :)

David Crenshaw , December 14, 2006; 03:58 P.M.

I see a lot of folks strongly suggesting backpacks. They are great for carrying a lot of heavy equipment and making it seem not-so-heavy. Roller-bags are good for this, too, and the roller-backpacks are a pretty decent crossbreed.

But for those of us who are primarily photojouralists, there's just no replacement for the tried-and-true shoulder bag. They're just so much easier to get into when swapping out gear than a backpack or roller-bag. And when it comes to shoulder bags, Domke's popular with photojournalists for a reason; they've just got such a wonderful, "shapeless" form that hugs the body so nicely (as opposed to more heavily padded bags like Tamracs and Lowepros that sit stiffly off the hip) with just enough form to facilitate easy access to your gear.

If it's a backpack you desire, then I think the Lowepros are some of the better ones; nicely laid out and well padded to protect your gear. And to me, they just seem more thoughtfully organized and put together than a lot of the other backpacks on the market.

If, however, stealth is important to you, then you might wish to think about Crumpler. Whether you get a shoulder bag or a backpack, one thing Crumpler clearly has going for it that hardly anyone else does is that Crumplers don't look anything like photo bags. Their shoulder bags look more like messenger bags, and their backpacks look like book bags or day packs.

Randal R. Ketchem , December 27, 2006; 09:18 P.M.

Lowepro's web site (http://www.lowepro.com) has a product finder tool that will walk you through a series of questions and come up with a short list of possible bags. Pretty handy.

Jurgen van der Pol , November 18, 2007; 06:25 P.M.

Just stumbled over this website (in German, but that shouldn't hold you back at all):

http://www.taschenfreak.de/

Has tons of photos of many a brand/model bag that are *in actual use* (so filled with bag user's equipment). Simply brilliant.

Edward Kang , November 18, 2007; 10:53 P.M.

As a matter of course, I have used my Domke J1 for eight years now and it still looks like new. The strap has faded a bit because it is made of cotton, but the rest of the bag looks like it did when I bought it.

Here's a picture of the bag holding an EOS-1D Mark II and EOS-D30 with EF 135mm f/2.0L and Sigma 10-20 f/4.0-5.6 mounted, in "ready" carry. The battery chargers fit into the respective side compartments. The total travel weight is 16 lbs with a 50mm lens, but the bag still carries the load with ease. I, on the other hand, bear the weight less easily.

The Domke won't protect your equipment from hammer-whacks, rough handling, or bandits. It is not something you take hiking, even if you buy the optional backpack straps.

Still, unlike many of my opinions which have changed over the years, I still recommend the J1 as a phenomenal working-man's camera bag. It protected my cameras through three south China sea typhoons, bearing winds and rain that tore my little Seven-Eleven umbrellas to shreds. The difficult metal clasps and heavy-duty nylon make it impossible for thieves to steal your equipment without attracting your attention.

Image Attachment: domke_j1_plus_cameras.jpg

Logan Jarrard , February 05, 2008; 01:39 A.M.

I just got the Think Tank Airport Security bag. I love it. It has wheels and best of all it locks. There is a cable and lock to attach it to any stationary object. The zipper itself also locks. You can leave it and not worry to much about someone running off with your gear. The size is the ideal size to take on a plane and store over your head. I highly recommend this bag. It stores lots of gear and keeps it safe.

Ismael Negron , May 07, 2008; 10:15 A.M.

The perfect camera bag? After many years of trying different brands and styles, I finally found the bag that works best for me.

I bought a $15 shoulder bag from my local Target store, $20 worth of foam rubber sheets from a Michael's craft store, and $40 worth of labor from my neighborhood's tailor. He removed the lining of the bag, inserted the foam rubber sheets and added a few dividers here and there, and PRESTO! A fully-padded custom-made camera bag that fits my gear perfectly, and nobody knows its a camera bag, for less of what I would had paid for a regular "look-at-me-I-am-camera-bag" bag.

Skip Converse , July 12, 2008; 07:35 A.M.

You might want to look into Lowepro's Pro Roller 1. Just the right size for air travel carry-on, holds plenty of your equipment, extremely sturdy, wheels are above average in durability, and most important: The price is right.

alwin meyer , November 25, 2008; 12:23 P.M.

Hello,

Like most photographers I tried a lot of different bags and packs over the years. My partner thinks I am nuts, to her all camera bags are the same. For me there are several different photographic situations that each have specific requirements. For each situation there is one type of bag that offers me the best solution.

1) WALKING IN THE CITY (?photojournalism?). REQUIREMENTS: ability to get and store camera quickly / bag should never be put on the ground / not too conspicuous / must hold A4 size magazine and some other stuff like small tripod, rainjacket, etc. / must have a zipped main compartment (in order not to loose things) and padding from the top in case the bag falls upside down from a car/train/bus/any seat. IDEAL BAG: messenger style shoulder bag, (billingham, domke, tamrac, any bag you like with your own inserts, etc) COMMENTS: Back packs drive me crazy in the city because you have to take it off your back to get to your camera. The sequence is; to take it off your back/put it down/unzip/get camera/zip/put back pack back on back (otherwise equipment stolen or left alone because you may be walking as you talk with or photograph subject)/then reverse sequence in order to proceed. With a shoulder bag you just get your camera while you are walking and that's it.The flat messenger style hugs the body more than the brick style photobag. Bags with a lot of hard thick padding also get irritating. I take the padded compartments for the equipment I need and leave the rest of the bag unpadded. Do not forget to consider the weight of the bag. A bigger canvas bag weighs easily around 2 kg. That is more than my “street” rolleiflex gear.

2) WALKING LONGER DISTANCES OR ROUGH TERRAIN (nature photography) REQUIREMENTS: comfort/ability to carry more. IDEAL BAG: Back pack COMMENTS: Speed of working is less of an issue as is being unconspicuous and having your camera in the bag unless you want to take a picture. Comfort is the issue here. Unless it is wet or muddy it does not matter if you put your pack down while you work. For the wet situations there are packs that stand on their bottom and have drawer style compartments.

3)(INDOOR) ASSIGNMENT (wedding, studio) REQUIREMENTS: ability to take kitchen sink / bag should stand securely by itself (messengers usually don't) and give access to all equipment IDEAL BAG: brick style photog bag (domke f2 style) in the size you need, or for air travel and more equipment wheeled bags / hard cases. COMMENTS: comfort less of an issue because you do not walk much.

4)SPECIAL USE LIKE SPORTS mountain biking, climbing. IDEAL BAG: waist pack COMMENTS: keeps your back free so you don't get a back sticky with perspiration. Can be turned to the front to give easy access to equipment and you have “a little working table” to prevent your lens from falling in an abyss if you drop it. A waist pack fits snugly and does not move when doing sports like mountain biking. For running I prefer a back pack though.

What if you have a photojournalist style wedding in a remote small city that requires a long jungle hike and sophisticated indoor lighting? Well, it is personal in the end. I know a street photographer who loves back packs. But her style is different from mine. She takes out her camera and then leaves it around her neck for hours. I do not like that approach. Good luck in finding the ultimate bag (and the next ultimate bag, and the next, ...) for your style(s).

MY BEST ALL ROUND BAG: 30 X 40 CM messenger with tuck away back pack harness and custom padding.

Cheers, Alwin

Johnathan Aulabaugh , November 17, 2009; 11:58 P.M.

I see that this thread has been dead for a while. there have been some great bags released this year and I thought I would note some of my faves. Although I settled for the lowepro fastpack 300, not sure settle is the right word, I have tried several backpacks. I do a lot of outdoor photography, much of it on small day long hikes of 5 miles or less. Click Elite has really upped the ante for the outdoor adventure photography. if I decide to buy a large 2-3 day hiking pack they have my bid. Tamrac, with there expedition 7 is nice if you want to carry the entire sink. I have found a minimalist approach to hiking photo backpacks so these just do not do it for me. 3 lenses is all you really need so pick your glass wisely. Because of my build most backpacks rub my neck raw in just a few short hours on the trail so this is always a major concern of mine. the Fastpack 300 carries my D90, 70-200 2.8 and a few other lenses. it also has places to add external cases so i can haul an extra lens or flash depending on my mood that week.

Art Roose , August 24, 2010; 07:31 P.M.

I have been using a Lowepro Mini Trekker II to carry my camera gear for quite awhile. This product has been replaced by a newer model recently. I would have to say that this camera bag is perfect for carrying gear, plus taking on trips. The Mini Trekker II fits perfectly in my carry-on bag. The support is so good that you really don't feel any weight. The weight is transferred to your lower back. It holds a huge amount of equipment for its size.

I recently needed support from Customer Services on a general issue. I can't say enough about Lowepro's support. They were extremely helpful.

So, what can I say...a perfect product from an outstanding Company.

Diane Hooper , January 22, 2011; 09:34 P.M.

While looking for a camera bag recently, I came across Dolica bags - on Amazon. Very reasonably priced and I just couldn't justify the price difference between the Dolica and some of the other 'name brands'.  They have bright orange interiors - makes it easy to see things in the bag and I've been very pleased. Padding is fine for my use. I'd encourage anyone looking for a bag to check Dolica out. 

Ken Colborn , April 14, 2011; 01:11 P.M.

I recently purchased a new shoulder camera bag, the Retrospective 30 from Think Tank Photo and I'm very happy with it.

Think Tank's Retrospective line are camera bags that do not to look like your ordinary camera bags, which, if you've spent any time in places where it's best to not to stand out, then you can understand how valuable a bag like this is.

The Retrospective comes in several sizes and color styles. I got the 30 which is the largest one. I also chose the Pinstone color so it would look more like an ordinary bag. The bag also has tons of room. I can fit 2 camera bodies, various lenses, a couple of flashes, cables, batteries, and everything else in there. There are a bunch of pockets for all your little accessories and you can adjust the velcro dividers to fit your camera.

These camera bags are really nice to wear too. It has soft sides that are comfortable so you don't mind carying your gear around for long periods of time. Overall a very nice camera bag, I highly recommend it!

Gerald Wallace , December 23, 2012; 01:13 P.M.

Is there a roller bag that will house a Canon 600mm F/4 IS II lens and be acceptable to both domestic and international travel?  

The subject lens comes housed in a very tight fitting case however, I am looking for a case that has space for an additional  3 to 4 lenses. I like the ThinkTank Airport Security bag but, it doesn't say that the case is good for international travel.

Thanks for your help.

Sven Felsby , February 27, 2014; 03:31 A.M.

Should I choose a Tamrac Apache 6 or a Think Tank Retrospective 7?
I may not be able to see the bags before purchase. Could anyone advise me?

http://www.thinktankphoto.com/products/retrospective-7-pinestone.aspx

http://www.tamrac.com/products/apache6/

Jim Hall , May 18, 2014; 04:29 P.M.

Hello, I am looking for a backpack to hold a camera and a few lenses for day trips. I recently purchased one from Caden, a canvas - vintage bag.  It looked nice in the pictures and had a few good comments, but unfortunately it is not working out. The stitching is coming undone after only two trips. Any recommendations for a nice bag, that does not scream 'camera bag'!  Preferably canvas.  Thanks, Jim 

Sven Felsby , May 18, 2014; 04:47 P.M.

I ended up with a Tamrac Apache 6. It holds more lenses than according to the homepage info, I can easily pack my D610, 70-200/4VR, 24-85VR, 50/1.4, 20/3.5, 16/2.8 and 55/2.8.

It does NOT scream Photo bag. All seams seems OK ;-)


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