PhotographyTips.com - the #1 guide to better conventional and digital photography Become a Member iPhone Posing GuideGuide to Posing the Female Model BookGuide to Posing the Model CD
Search
Login

Member Login

Find us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Find us on Flickr
Connect with us on LinkedIn

SPONSORS

Sell Photos Online

FEATURED SITES


Camera bag

Buy the camera bag that is right for you.


A camera bag should be sturdy, afford protection from bumps and the weather, and have enough room for the gear you normally take on the road plus space for film or memory cards and spare batteries.
A camera bag should be sturdy, afford protection from bumps and the weather, and have enough room for the gear you normally take on the road plus space for film or memory cards and spare batteries.

Buy a camera equipment bag that will hold and protect the equipment you most commonly use. This statement may seem to be little more than common sense, but it is good advice since many people purchase more or less in a camera bag than they actually need.

SIZE

Camera bags are like sailboats and studios; they are never big enough. But, if this is your first bag, don’t make the mistake of buying too large a bag that you can’t lift and carry comfortably, and don’t get too small a bag that will be impractical.

CONSIDERATIONS

Keep in mind the need for extra space for film, which can take up a lot of room, or secure protective compartments for your digital camera's extra memory cards and for spare batteries, tools and other small items (see Handy tools and gadgets). And consider the likelihood of your purchasing an extra lens or some new filters in the future. You'll need a place for it in your bag. You will also need a place for your camera's manual, one of the most helpful items you can carry.


FEATURES TO THINK ABOUT

Soft, single strap shoulder bags provide quick access. Be sure the strap is sturdy and wide where it rests on your shoulder. Place the strap on your shoulder and push down on the bag to test how the strap feels. Does it cut into your shoulder? If so, it may not be wide enough or may need better padding or a softer material. Does it slide around? Perhaps the material is too slippery. Can the strap be adjusted to shorten or lengthen it? Will it stand up to reasonable wear and tear?

Side pockets are a useful addition. Interior small, protective pockets for extra memory cards are useful, but test them to be sure you can easily get a memory card out in a hurry, but it won't fall out by itself.

Is the handle sturdy and comfortable? Can the bag be securely closed with a zipper and, for extra security, straps that connect together? Can you attach a small padlock to the bag? Is there a tag or another suitable place to put a card with your name and contact information in case the bag gets lost?

Plastic or metal camera cases (see below) are more resistant to abuse, but unless your camera bag will be on the bottom of a luggage pile, they are usually less practical than soft cases.

USED CAMERA BAGS HAVE ADVANTAGES

Buying a used bag sight-unseen can be a mistake, but a used bag that you inspect when thinking of buying it, and approve of, may have more advantages than just lower price. If the bag looks used but is still serviceable, thieves might think it contains older, less-valuable camera gear and pass on it.

Examine all of a bag's features to ensure they suit you. This one has zippered side-pockets, a drop-down front pouch and a pull-out, protective weather cover.
Examine all of a bag's features to ensure they suit you. This one has zippered side-pockets, a drop-down front pouch and a pull-out, protective weather cover.

Most photographers find two bags more practical than one large one.
Most photographers find two bags more practical than one large one.

TWO BAGS ARE EASIER TO HANDLE THAN ONE HUGE BAG

If you have a lot of gear to haul around, consider more than one bag, in sizes suitable for different situations. Why two instead of one very large bag? Because you can more easily balance two in the field. Because you may not always need a large bag. And because some other kind soul who's with you may offer to carry one of them for you.

BAGS CAN PROTECT AS WELL AS HOLD YOUR GEAR

Some camera cases are completely waterproof, if that’s what you need. Others have a stowed-away nylon overwrap that you can pull out to make them dust and water-resistant, while many others afford very little protection from the elements. Make sure to get the right one for your climate and shooting conditions.

BACK-PACK BAGS

Haversack-type bags are designed to carry heavy loads where immediate accessibility is secondary. You have to set the bag down to remove items. Like a suitcase, everything has to be stored carefully back inside before you can move on. But, they have several advantages, too. The main one is that they allow you to carry more equipment, more comfortably, than a conventional shoulder bag. They also free up your hands to take pictures without your having to put down the bag. They allow others to open the bag while it's on your back to remove or replace items. They may even permit you to move more quickly to capture that picture that won't wait. And, if you're travelling, your hands are free to carry or tow your suitcases.


If you want to test your bag for sturdiness, there is no better place than the West Coast Game Park in Bandon, Oregon. We left our bag on the ground there, heard some growling behind us, and saw that two leopard cubs had discovered it. The bag survived.
If you want to test your bag for sturdiness, there is no better place than the West Coast Game Park in Bandon, Oregon. We left our bag on the ground there, heard some growling behind us, and saw that two leopard cubs had discovered it. The bag survived.

A camera case with a handle in the middle should be loaded so that its contents are balanced, making it easier to carry. It is easy to pluck out the pre-cut foam cubes to create a hole into which your lens will fit. Don't make the hole too large.
A camera case with a handle in the middle should be loaded so that its contents are balanced, making it easier to carry. It is easy to pluck out the pre-cut foam cubes to create a hole into which your lens will fit. Don't make the hole too large.

CAMERA CASES

Camera cases are an alternative to camera bags for photographers who require maximum protection for their photography equipment. They often look more like a suitcase. They are made from a hard, protective material, generally a sturdy plastic.

Characteristics to look for when selecting a quality camera case include:

  • unbreakable,
  • airtight,
  • dustproof,
  • waterproof and watertight,
  • able to float in salt or fresh water when loaded with your gear,
  • fitted with valves that equalize internal and external air pressure,
  • chemical resistant and
  • corrosion proof.

Cases that come with foam cushioning in the body and the lid will absorb shocks, protecting your equipment from rough handling, hard knocks and even when dropped a short distance. If the foam has been pre-cut into small cubes, the cubes can be selectively removed so that a camera, flash unit or other equipment can be fitted into the resulting holes.


Don't make the holes too large, though. You want a snug fit. It is better to make a hole smaller than necessary at first, then "fine tune" it by removing one cube of foam at a time until the hole is the perfect size.

When deciding where to place your equipment in a camera case, be sure to keep weight in mind, locating relatively-heavy gear in a way that will provide the case with balance when it is being carried by its handle. A case that is unbalanced will be cumbersome to carry. It is also a good idea to place the heaviest items in the middle of the case.

Very large lenses are typically supplied by the manufacturer with their own carrying case, designed to hold only the particular lens.

The 600mm Nikon lens on the right is heavy at 10.5 pounds (almost 5 kilograms) and too large to fit in a typical camera bag. Its case is strong and the lens fits snugly into it, providing it with the protection it needs.

Long telephoto lenses, such as this 600mm Nikon lens, usually come with their own case, specifically designed to protect them.
Long telephoto lenses, such as this 600mm Nikon lens, usually come with their own case, specifically designed to protect them.
Further information...

Handy tools & gadgets
Related topics...

Secure your camera bag in your vehicle