It never ceases to amaze me how many avid photographers are prepared to spend hundreds or even thousands on their camera gear (because they know specific kit will give them the desired results), only to scrimp on the protection of those precious items.
Maybe it’s because bags just aren’t as sexy as cameras. Or maybe it’s because bags don’t appear to offer value for money because, well, they don’t really do much, do they?! Regardless, these photographers simply don’t see the value in purchasing a decent bag to house their camera gear in.
This is, as Julia Roberts once said a big mistake. Big. Huge.
But that’s easy for her – and me – to say. The variety of photography bags available on the market now can be truly overwhelming. So where do you start?
For me, the first questions I ask myself are:
- What do I need to carry?
- Where do I need to carry it?
- What sort of bag do I prefer?
With a shortlist of candidates, my next considerations are:
- Will the bag easily accommodate all of my camera gear, with room for additional items?
- Is it a practical, easily-accessible design?
- Is it going to be comfortable to carry and transport?
- Are there any key features which I think are missing, specific to my intended use?
As you can imagine, I’m a bit of an old hand when it comes to this process; much like my camera equipment, I tend to know instinctively whether a product is going to be suitable for my needs. If, however, this is your first time choosing – or if you are a little unsure – I would recommend scribbling down these questions and making a basic check list to have by your side when browsing and comparing models.
If you’re going to be wandering around the outdoors most of the time, for example walking up and down hills, it probably makes sense to take a look at backpacks. Shoulder bags are great, but they’ll do you no favours in the long run over the course of a strenuous day on your feet.
Likewise, roller cases are perfect if you’re travelling between railway stations, airports, hotels or conference venues. They are great for throwing quickly in- and out of the back of your car, but really are going to be hard work when dragged along a beach!
My guess is that the majority of you reading this will be making your bag purchases online, which is absolutely fine. However, a word of caution: all bags are not created equal. For example, a backpack is not a backpack, is not a backpack. Wherever possible, if you can take a look at the actual bag you’re interested in, thats ideal. Try it on for size and comfort, check the capacity (take some of your kit along) and have a play.
If you didn’t see it when first published, a good place to start when making your decision is this Buyer’s Guide that I wrote for the Wex Blog.
If you have a question about photography, writing, the outdoors, being freelance etc – just ask and I’ll give you a no-waffle 500-word answer. If you’re on Twitter, add the #QA500 hashtag and send your question to me @gilesbabbidge.