Reading Terry Chay’s recent blog post about camera/laptop bags, it made me start thinking about my own camera gear a bit. I’ve been long hunting the “best” camera bag for a long time and have unfortunately found such a thing doesn’t exist or I am looking in the wrong places. Instead I have found several bags which seem to each fit a specific niche of my needs.
Niche #1 – Taking my camera + laptop somewhere
I’ve went through many cases in this area and nothing has really stuck with me. What I have found that works best for now is a Case Logic bag they generically call their SLR & Computer Backpack. The problem I have with it is that to hold a camera + multiple lenses like they show in their photos you have to leave you camera lensless in the bag. I at first thought that wouldn’t be a problem, but I’ve found the inconvenience of having to assemble in the field makes that a bit unattractive to me. So what I did was rip out the dividers and put a camera + one extra lens in the main pouch and used the side pouches for things like a flash, a Gary Fong Lightsphere, or whatever else I needed with me. It’s not the most comfortable pack on long hikes, though, so I am still looking for something better. Here’s a couple shots of it courtesy of Case Logic:
Niche #2 – Taking just my camera somewhere
Sometimes I want to take the minimal stuff needed. Just my camera, maybe a flash, and nothing else. The best bag I have found for that is also coincidentally made by Case Logic, which also has a very generic name, the Large SLR Camera Case-5 Lens. Why the five is in the name I dunno, as it definitely wouldn’t hold five lenses. My only complaint with it is that I wish it was more sling like. I’ve seen many slings, but never found one I liked any better than this one, so I’ve stuck with it. It seems to work well and it’s made of the same material as the backpack which proved to hold up to rain and mud quite well and still keep the camera dry. Here’s a shot of it also from Case Logic’s website:
Niche #3 – Hauling all my gear somewhere
The requests for me to do headshots and related photography at Yahoo! have been picking up a lot lately, especially after I did the headshot for our new CTO, Ari Balogh. I’m not sure if anyone outside a select few knew I did his photo, so the timing is probably coincidental, but the point is still I have been doing more shots recently. I’ve also been having more requests than in the past to do photoshoots off of main campus where I have a nice studio I can use. This requires me to have the ability to easily haul a large chunk of my gear to other places arriving intact in one piece, and thus I have the following three Pelican cases. Pelican is the defacto leader of sorts when it comes to heavy duty robust cases and while they are a bit pricey, I feel they are well worth the money.
This case holds my camera bodies, several Canon flashes, my light meter, and other misc accessories. While I can’t remember the last time I used my 30D on a headshot, it does come in handy for corp events as it allows me to have a second lens ready for shooting without having to swap lenses in the field.
This case holds all my lenses, some filters for my 50mm, and my pocket wizards. I’ve found it extremely helpful to have several different lenses on hand because of the fact you can’t always predict the environment you will be shooting in (especially with last minute location changes). When it matters to get the shot right the first time, I make sure I am over prepared.
This is the case I affectionately call “big bertha” as it’s freaking huge. The picture really doesn’t do it justice, so the best way I can describe it’s size is that I have a Honda Accord and I have to put the passenger seat all the way back and it still barely fits in the front seat. This case holds most of my studio lighting gear, all but softboxes and light-stands, as I have heavy duty cloth bags for them.
Right now, the only niche which is really well filled is #3, the one using Pelican cases. I am still hoping to find something which works better for niche #1 and #2. If you know of any good products, I am sure either Terry or I would be all ears.