23 December 2010

Have bag will photograph!

"Photography is an expensive hobby" said the Solomon or some level headed photographer probably. I have been working for last 10 years & make a decent salary if not obscene and even then spending close to $ 600 for a DSLR and an additional lens was not an easy decision. Maybe its not about the money but passion - but honestly i wasn't sure if this newly acquired hobby was going to stick with me (the other way infact) or be a another passing fad; so putting out $600 after hours of research was a hard decision and so I ended up cutting the spend by buying a V shaped hostler bag for $20 with my DSLR.
Opteka SLR Bag @$15-20

I soon realized that without a decent camera bag you could be left using the cam like a point and shoot without able to carry your accessories and additional lens. I made up for lack of bag with backpacks etc but honestly was always scared of breaking up something.

Photography gear bags come in all shapes and sizes, and in fairly wide price range. So choosing one wasnt going to be easy, and it soon dawned on me that this was going to be another project (you would have figured out by now that I am no impulsive buyer and would do enough research to get the best deal, am also a practical buyer which would mean you would find me picking up the lesser known brands at times but with much higher functional content). Coming to the point - good photography bags would be in the range of $50 - $300 (you would wonder why the hell! read on..). Usually a good bag for an amateur photographer for one mid range DSLR and 2-3 additional lens / flash should be easily available in $120-$170 range. The difficult part is the form, there are umpteen kinds of bags available

Messenger Bag (C) Vangaurd
1. The messenger bags: For photographers on the move. Unlike the shoulder bags, these are softer with little padding. These bags attract least attention and are perfect choice for photojournalist, street photographers. Domke messenger bags are the most well known of these kinds while most of the other manufacturer also make messenger bags.

Nat Geo Shoulder Bag NG - 2345
2. The Shoulder bags: Most of us are familiar with these kinds, usually your camera would come with one of these kinds. These bags are similar to messenger bags but are with heavy padding and hard side boards. This is the most common choice and quiet versatile, so if you are not an avid trekker or walk in the woods these bags should work for you. All the popular brands like lowepro, kata, vangaurd, national geographic all have a good range of shoulder bags.

Lowepro 400 AW @Rs6500
3. The backpack : For the travelers and trekkers. These are the most sexy looking bags but, not necessarily the most versatile choice. Best suited for photographers who are into landscape, trekking, wildlife or extensive travel on foot , these bags are most comfortable to carry (the loads on your shoulders and evenly spread) but not necessarily the easiest to use. If you are into street photography or a photojournalist genre this is definitely not for you. These come in quiet wide range and I would recommend Lowepro All Weather series, & Kata backpacks as good choices. I also think Vangaurd up rise series is a good choice and value for money.

Vangaurd Up Rise 34 @Rs3600
4. The slingbags: The new age, all purpose, one size fit all - for the urban photographer. Slingbags are the new genre, these claim to offer you the ruggedness of a back pack and the spontaneity of shoulder / messenger bags. These are best suited for urban photographers who need to walk around in the city streets but need to access their gear quickly too. Like all attempts to make 'all features in one' product, one could argue that they do not serve any purpose perfectly, but having used on myself, i have to admit that they are a good choice. You need to however be aware that they are not really comfortable to carry and for long journeys will never replace the backpack.

My personal choice was a Vangaurd Up Rise 34 Sling Bag. Its a  well designed product with a very interesting feature of expanding the size. However, I have to admit, I bought a size lower than what I would have wanted for my DSLR, 2 lens which I can fit currently but would struggle if I were to get a couple of more accessory. I strongly suggest, you should go for all weather bags or ones with rain cover protection which is essential to save your expensive gear.

If you have lasted through this post, you are probably a new photographer looking for a bag now or a seasoned one critically reviewing my views. Either ways I hope this helps, I would be happy to offer specific answers if you have any. Meanwhile I would like to recommend a fellow blogger who claims to be a 'Photographer obsessed with bags'

Love to hear your feedback!
(Disclaimer:None of the products mentioned above are part of any paid endorsements. Use amazon link to buy my recommended sling bag. I also do not claim any copyright and all brands are trademarks of individual companies) aaagh! I hate this part. 


bala said...

Good post Mayank. A photography enthusiast and his "unhealthy" obsession with Bags will never stop! learnt that from personal experience ;-)

mayank said...

@bala - thanks for comments. i so agree with your 'unhealthy' remark. lol

Shas said...

Good info. Thanks for the post.

mayankpandey said...

Thanks Shash. Glad you found it useful.