Camera Bag Recommendations

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by birdie, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. birdie

    birdie Mu-43 Regular

    I've bought a second hand Olympus OM-D EM5 and kit 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 from another forum.

    Now I wanting to get a new camera bag that will fit the OM-D with lens, plus room for a couple of extra primes (at some point), an iPad Mini, and a few accessories like SD Cards, Batteries, and chargers...

    What's out there in the small bag market...

    Something that doesn't look like a camera bag would be a bonus for our holiday to Bali in January...
  2. f2&bethere

    f2&bethere Mu-43 Rookie

    Jun 28, 2013
    Bags are a very individual choice. Many of us have owned a few as we figure out what works best.

    For any long term carry where there is much weight involved, a backpack is the best choice because it balances the load and doesn't stand out as a camera bag. The down side is that it is not easy to work out of (although there are a few good designs that load from the side and let you keep the pack on one shoulder strap as you get out your gear).

    But I'm guessing you want a shoulder bag, which is not unreasonable given your wisdom in selecting an MFT camera :).

    My favorite is the Billingham Hadley Pro. There are other sizes available in the Hadley line.

    The Billingham Hadley line is a classic English bag that doesn't scream "camera gear." They provide great protection from rain (British!), last for decades and still look great, open silently if you are into discreet street photography and look appropriate with almost any style of dress. They hang well, close to the body and hold a lot of gear for their size. The insert is easy to remove. They also hold their value well.

    They are not cheap, but they are a good value for the price. If you get a good deal on one used, you can probably use it for years and get back what you paid for it.

    Several video reviews on YouTube. DigitalrevTV did a video on them, too.

    You can also get a camera insert and use it in a messenger bag.
  3. f2&bethere

    f2&bethere Mu-43 Rookie

    Jun 28, 2013
    Forgot to mention: the Hadley Pro will easily fit all you mention and a good bit more.

    If you want "just enough" bag, you would want one of their smaller bags in the line. Their website will let you download a free PDF of the paper catalog, which gives detailed dimensions and good graphic illustrations of how much they can hold.

    Domke is also worth looking at. Some of their bags blend in and the design is good in a minimalist way. I want a little more protection than Domke offers, and they wear out more easily than a Billingham.

    Thinktank has bags that I like, but there is always something I don't like on each model. But all our tastes are individual, so there may be a good choice for you. Many of their designs are discrete.

    Crumpler has some nice designs. The Million Dollar line provides good protection and is well put together. For a given size, they hold less (there is generally a trade-off between bag bulk and protection).

    Best is to find a local store where you can try bags and even load them up with your gear and feel them on your shoulder as you walk about the shop.

    I have, over the years, collected a number of camera bags. The last time I was shopping, I decided what I thought I wanted, went to a local store and tried everything that looked interesting and then thought about it for a few days. I repeated this process several times.

    I already had solutions that worked, they just didn't work well.

    Since my local store didn't carry Billingham, and it really seemed like the right solution, I ordered one from B & H. Haven't bought another bag since :).

    I support my local shop as much as I can, since I value being able to try stuff and want them to be here in the future. But when they don't have it, I trust B & H. They have a good return policy (I haven't used it, but I have never seen anyone have a problem with it over the years).

    Best of luck with your hunt for the perfect bag! I would love to hear what you finally decide.
  4. gochugogi

    gochugogi Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2013
    Oahu, gathering place of many cars
    Real Name:
    Peter Gunn
    I have a Billingham Hadley Pro and I agree it will fit your kit well. It doesn't have as many dividers and hidden pockets as a Retrospective or Crumpler, but it makes up it in refinement and simplicity. There is no iPad pocket but one can fit between the insert and bag, albeit sans padding protection. This bag screams for a shoulder pad when loaded and, sadly, after paying all that money, you'll have to buy one separately.

    If you want a dedicated iPad slot with padding, the Retrospective 7 is one of the better offerings in the un-camera bag category. It's more manly and rustic in appearance than the Billingham. Sorta an army surplus look with inner urban muse. It's only flaw is it's a bit heavier than average. I actually wrote a review on the R7:

    Think Tank 747 Retrospective 7 Camera Bag Review

    The smaller brother of the Retrospective 7, the wee Retrospective 5, is ideal for M43 but lacks an iPad pocket.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. f2&bethere

    f2&bethere Mu-43 Rookie

    Jun 28, 2013
    Great review of the TT Retrospective 7.

    You described the bag very well and hit all the key points of what I liked and didn't like about the bag in your review.

    Your review is also a great starting point for looking at discrete camera bags.

    Thank you for sharing.
  6. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    I like Domke bags they are relativly simple and mould themselves to the body well. I hane an 802 that is a bit big for ยต43 so think I might have to find a smaller bag, it will most likely be either another Domke or a Billingham I have loved both bags for their relative simplicity.
  7. Gillymaru

    Gillymaru Mu-43 Veteran

  8. monk3y

    monk3y Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 14, 2013
    in The Cloud...
    Real Name:
    Maybe you want to check out the Thinktank Turnstyle... I saw it earlier and I think it's nice for travelling. Small, unobtrusive and doesn't really look like a camera bag.

    TurnStyle Sling camera bag, Think Tank Photo
  9. sircam1

    sircam1 Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 6, 2013
    Hi Birdie, I considered several bag options. I agree with the come ta on the Billinghams, but a bit out of my price range. Crumpler also got short listed, but I finally chose the Retro5. I saw the Retro7 also, but found it still a little too big. In the Retro5 I can fit my ungripped OMD with 12-50 mounted. Also Oly 12, 45, 75 and Bower 7.5 fisheye, Oly FL600 flash, charger, spare AA batteries for flash x2 spare camera batteries, charger cables, several SD cards and my Samsung Note8 (almost same siz as iPad mini.

    In terms of being inconspicuous, it's not perfect. If that is a primary determinment, a Crumpler Haven insert into any ordinary bag is an option as is a Lowepro passport sling. Maybe too big for what you have now, but useful carrying space for water bottle, jumper,
    Bit of tourist shopping.
  10. STR

    STR Mu-43 Veteran

    May 16, 2013
    No, they scream "expensive tourist bag". People in the 3rd world often assume you have expensive stuff simply because you're from The West. Throwing away $200 on a bag does not dispel this belief. Domke and Billingham's products are fashion accessories first. They look good, and yes, they work well too. They are not a cloaking device, however. Get them if you like them (again, they look great), but let's not underestimate the intelligence of our fellow human beings.
  11. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Real Name:
    It's not often that I hear of a Domke bag being called a fashion accessory, and it's even more rare for me to hear a Domke bag being called good looking. Are you sure that you do not work for Tiffen? :biggrin:

    They are not cheap, but many consider them a form follows function design. And many of the Domke bags I see look like they were dragged behind a vehicle for miles on end. Perhaps I'm hanging out with the wrong photojournalists?

  12. f2&bethere

    f2&bethere Mu-43 Rookie

    Jun 28, 2013
    STR makes some good points. If you are in the third-world, we all look like the super-rich, which, relatively speaking, we are. The cost of the plane ticket to get there is a small fortune.

    In general, if the bag says "camera" it looks more tempting, even to thieves in the "first-world."

    The suggestion about inserts in a generic bag is a good one. The Crumpler inserts have a drawstring top, which I don't like as much. Timbuk2 now sells their inserts, which are nice. You can also buy Billingham inserts, which are great but cost a bit more. Domke sells inserts, but they don't seem as good (not sufficient bottom padding, not in designs that seem as practical for use in non-Domke bags). Many other brands sell inserts.

    So if you want the ultimate junky bag look, inserts are a good way to go. Just find a bag that rides well with the weight you plan to carry.

    I value a bag that doesn't look like a camera bag for other reasons as well--you look more like a person with a camera and less like a photo-nerd or working photographer.
  13. flipmack

    flipmack Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 23, 2012
    irvine, CA
    Camera bag insert.

    I bought a messenger bag (generic, canvas, inconspicuous) and a cheap $20 USD insert from ebay. The insert is thickly padded, comes with dividers, and has a cinch-type closure. It can hold a body and four-five lenses.

    This works great for travel since it can also carry my tablet and other stuff (light jacket, water, souvenirs...). The insert is soft and molds to my body, so the bag isn't big and it just looks like a normal bag.

    If I have a choice between a $200 bag or $200 of activities while on vacation, I'll choose the latter.
  14. gochugogi

    gochugogi Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2013
    Oahu, gathering place of many cars
    Real Name:
    Peter Gunn
    Haha, Domke is a fashion accessory and good looking!? I admit I own one but it's about as rustic as it gets short of an ammo or medic bag.

    A crook in a 3rd world country will assume any bag carried by a Western tourist to contain nice goodies. They don't care if it's a diaper bag, muse or Domke...
  15. STR

    STR Mu-43 Veteran

    May 16, 2013
    It's still a bag. If it couldn't handle being literally dragged behind a vehicle I'd be disappointed. Beyond that, citing the Modernist creed (meant for designing buildings) to a bag is intriguing. The only way a bag's form wouldn't follow function would be if one left the bottom out of it.

    I've read of photographers buying a random sack or bag at a local market after they land and sticking inserts in it. Aside from wondering what might get into my lenses that way, it seems a far smarter idea than a bag that costs as much as a month of the locals pay.

    I'd even disagree with this. If you have a 10" wide bag, far more people these days will assume "computer" or even better "iPad". Both of which are much easier to sell at a higher price (relative to MSRP) than black market camera gear which has a much narrower audience. An iPad might go for as much as an L lens in some territories, but will sell far, far quicker.

    And in the 3rd world, it would be assumed you have some cash stowed in there too. Because we're all loaded and carry around money by the wad.

    I was specifically thinking of their F-5X line, the ones with "DOMKE" in enormous, usually bright letters. If it has a giant logo, it's a fashion item. It's just directed at trying to impress other photographers, rather than the general population. Though, the thieves out there will get the message.
  16. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    A couple of my most used camera bags are actually regular department store shoulder bags that can be found real cheap. I also use Fossil city bags occasionally I too also just drop in inserts that can be found from EBay or Domke branded.

    Traveling with toddlers?

    Those plain black diaper bags work well..... lots of pockets.

    I like Domke and Billingham although they are not perfect either. Billingham is expensive and a bit tall. Very well made. Domke's have that awful DOMKE branding they insist on all their stuff... WHY? The wax wear is less impressive than the traditional canvas.. its a thinner seemingly less durable material.

    I've always gravitated towards non-camera-bag-looking-bags.... but not for the same reasons. The regular lowepro, tamrac, and such bags look terrible in m opinion. Think tank is a little better but just like many of the other brands they look like you are going to War or something. Too much ballistic nylon... not enough style to blend in with the urban regular consumer crowd. Face it... if a thief sees you with a camera in hand, they will assume your bag is also valuable. It does not matter what type of bag.
  17. Savas K

    Savas K Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 10, 2013
    I like my gear being in the protective, waterproof, high-quality and practical limousine that is Billingham. I give a crap about hubbub surrounding what bag looks like what. I mean, once you retract the camera out of the bag, the subterfuge is all over. These days, you'll see me walking with two dangling bodies and lenses.
  18. birdie

    birdie Mu-43 Regular

    I've discovered the Thinktank Mirrorless Mover 30i, it might do what I want as far as size and capacity (iPad, camera, lenses, accessories) but I will have to try find a retailer that stocks it to check it out...

    Another option is just a generic eBay bag as it is less likely to have big branding on it...

    I also already have a Tamrac Zuma 4 which will fit it all, I use this with my DSLR gear when I don't want to take it all or don't want my backpack... so it would work, but its a bit bigger than the Mirrorless Mover... I'll see how I go once I have the OM-D in my hands... (hopefully end of the week)
  19. 2mnycars

    2mnycars Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2012
    Real Name:
    We all work differently I prefer camera out, using the bag for lens changing, and weather protection

    I am a bagaholic. Jon at POTN has one of each Domke made. I have 2 Domke bags. One I recommend is theF3. I don't like my F2.

    I had Think Tank Retro10 and sold it after a trip Hated its rain cover that Much!

    Current favorites are Bellingham Hadley Pro and Hadley Digital Love the water resistance, and no Rain cover!
    • Like Like x 1
  20. sabesh

    sabesh Mu-43 Veteran

    Timbuk2 Informant sling XS. It's light, small and can carry all you want.

    Sent from my HTC One using Tapatalk 4