The camera case is probably the most important piece of protective gear you’ll ever own. Not only is it a convenient way to transport your camera, lenses, flashes, and accessories, but it serves as a protective barrier the bumps, jostles, scrapes, and thieves. There are hundreds of different styles of camera bag on the market, ranging from traditional rectangular bags with foam dividers, to sling packs and messenger bags. Finding the right one for you depends on a few factors, including your height and build, what you intend to carry with you, and how you’re going to use the bag. Let’s take a look at just a few bags that I use on a regular basis. Your mileage may vary.
The traditional camera case is ubiquitous on store shelves around the world. Usually rectangular, with an overabundance of pockets and interior dividers, it serves as a pretty utilitarian camera transportation system. That’s not to say it’s bad. It’s just…basic.
Many photographers prefer the backpack to a traditional shoulder bag. While the interior of the bag is likely similar to a traditional bag (foam dividers, padded sides, etc.) the advantage to a backpack is that it distributes weight evenly when being carried. That leads to less fatigue and strain on your shoulders.
Messenger bags are the new trend in the carry world, and with good reason. Their low profile and across-the-chest mounting make them a convenient way to carry a lot of gear in a small space. One of the drawbacks to messenger bags is that the majority of the weight is carried on one shoulder, though because of it’s form fit, it carrys the weight closer to the body, which allows for better weight distribution than a traditional.
Slingpacks are a revolution in the carry world and offer most of the benefits and few of the drawbacks attributed to other forms of pack. They have the cargo space and customization options of a backpack, with the form factor, accessibility, and stability of a messenger bag.
Ok, aside from looking a bit silly, these cases can actually pack quite a punch for their size. Large enough to pack a DSLR body and lens (or small camcorder), flash, cables, memory cards, and accessories, but small enough to carry on your waist, this type of pack offers quick, convenient access in a relatively small footprint. You probably wouldn’t want to wear this all day, but getting from here to there with it can work out nicely.
Other bags on the market include pouches, rolls, pockets, satchels, and purses. Which bag you choose boils down to a few things:
- how much gear you need to carry;
- whether you’ll be traveling;
- what feels most comfortable and natural;
- and which one is least conspicuous.
The best thing to do is to try before you buy. Go to a camera shop, load up a case, and try it on. Walk around and see if there are any places it pulls, jabs, or scrapes on your body. Can you imagine yourself lugging all your gear in this bag? Does the bag distribute weight evenly? When you’ve considered these questions, and factored in your budget, you’ll be well on your way to enjoyable travel photography.
*Top Photo by thejasp on Flickr