Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Camera Bags: You can not have just one

There are more types of camera bags than hairs on your head. There are backpacks, waist packs, shoulder bags, soft cases, hard case, waterproof, all weather, big and little versions of all the previously stated, and the list goes on. Also, as you can imagine, the price range can vary from thirty to five hundred dollars or more. I can not tell you what bag is right for you because we all have different equipment needs. That is to say, a street-photographer will usually carry different, in both size and quantity, equipment from a sports or landscape-photographer. My advice is talk to people at your local and/or favorite camera store for there experiences and insights.

What about my experiences? When I was new to the DSLR crowd (still am really), I only owned two lenses
  1. Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM and
  2. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM.
Believe it or not my first bag was a CCM lunch bag from Canadian Tire. The insulation provided some padding and it fit my camera body with either lense attached.

After a month of shooting I notice that my 70-200mm, although big, became my walk around/primary outdoor lense. I also like the shoulder bag idea vs the backpack. The shoulder bag allows you to pull out your camera quickly take the shot and then move on until the next photo opportunity. What about just keeping the camera around your neck you ask? Well, if you are shooting a sports event then yes around the neck is a must because the action is evolving fast. However, if you are out with no particular agenda the 70-200mm at 1.3 kg gets a little heavy around the neck. So whatever shoulder bag I would decide on must beable to transport this lense but more importantly transport this lense attached to the camera body. This criteria narrowed my section significantly. In the end, after a lot of internet surfing and visits to my local camera shop, I bought a Lowepro Toploader 75 AW with a size 4 lens case.

I have since added another tube lens case. I'm not going to go into the endless details of this bag but I will highlight the fact that it is compatible with the Lowepro sliplock system, has metal clips and D-rings, it fits a camera body with an attached 70-200mm f/2.8 lense (hood reversed) and I find the strap very comfortable. The size 4 lense case will accommodate the 70-200mm f/2.8 lense but most of the time carries my 17-40mm f/4.

The above setup is great for urban shooting and short hikes but it is not waterproof enought for my annual five day canoe trip in northern Ontario (see photos here) . Since this trip is not just a walk in the park I had to address the following questions:
  1. Should I just take my point and shoot (Sony DSC-P10)?
  2. What about rain?
  3. What if the canoe flips or takes on water?
  4. What will I do during portages?
In previous years I did take my Sony DSC-P10 in a yellow 1150 Pelican and got some great photos but just not the quality of the 20D with L-series lenses. This raises the question: Should I get a Pelican case for the 20D and two lenses? The yellow Pelican case stoodout no matter where I put it down, was waterproof, almost indestructible, and easy to portage because of its size. After looking into the matter it became clear very quickly that this was not the solution. The size of case required to carry my equipment was too big (needed to fit body with 70-200mm attached) and two hundred dollars to boot. Also, the cases size and shape would have made quick access to my camera, while in a fully loaded canoe, impossible. Meaning I would have missed shots. Another big problem with the Pelican case is that it lacks versatility, it great for putting in the trunk for long trips but that is about it. Next, I looked to the DryZone backpack by lowepro. There are no shape and size issues here. It is fully waterproof, so no rain or flipping issues, and I could wear it on my front with my main pack on my back during portages. This sound like a keeper but how much? Well, after tax I was looking at about four hundred canadian. There must be another option and there is. For about seventy dollars a got a dry bag, specifically a 35 liter vinyl portage pack by SealLine.

This bag is the prefect size to slide in Lowepro Toploader 75 AW with a size 4 lense case attached.

Since that bag adventure I have added two more lenses
  1. Canon 100mm f2.8 USM macro; and
  2. Canon 50mm f1.4 USM
which means I have trouble carrying all my gear again. What new bag is in the futrue? Who knows...


Blogger martin said...

"What if the canoe flips or takes on water?"

a much more probable event after this past years trip eh?

11:00 AM  
Blogger David Tyner said...

After our last trip I be less lazy about roping my gear in, thats for sure. And maybe cut down on the Crazy Ivans.

3:40 PM  

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