You have just acquired a new camera and now you need to buy a camera bag. This is where things get complicated, because you don’t know which camera bag to choose, or how to choose it. Don’t panic! In this article, I will try to guide you in your choice. From defining your needs to the different types of bags, as well as the selection criteria and my recommendations, you will have all the information you need to find the perfect camera bag!
To know how to choose your camera bag, you will need to define your needs. The purpose of your bag is therefore the first question to ask yourself. In other words, ask yourself:
- If you need to transport a lot of equipment, and what types (camera, personal effects, work materials, etc.);
- If you usually take long walks in nature with your gear, or if you use it more in the city;
- If easy and/or quick access to your camera and its accessories is essential (for spontaneous shots, for example);
- If you use it frequently or occasionally.
All these questions will condition your future purchase.
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Well, it depends on the equipment you already have, but also on the equipment you will need in the future. Let me explain: you may currently have one camera and two lenses, but who’s to say that you won’t buy another camera and three lenses in the near future? Your camera bag will have to be adapted if you don’t want to have to buy another one. But beware: the bigger your bag, the heavier it will be. So it’s up to you whether you want to plan ahead or not!
When you’re traveling, or even on a day trip, there’s often more than just your camera gear to carry. A phone, wallet, water bottle, and sometimes even a computer may need to be included.
Some bags will carry your personal belongings in addition to your camera equipment and accessories (e.g. tripods).
This is a question that should not be overlooked when choosing your camera bag.
The circumstances, and especially the places where you shoot, play a role in the selection of your future means of transporting your photo equipment.
Indeed, you will not have the same needs if you are shooting in the city or in the rainforest. In the first case, a discreet bag (so as not to arouse envy) is the best choice. In the second case, your choice will be a backpack, more comfortable, more resistant to extreme conditions, and better padded (to avoid shocks).
Are you the type of person who will pull out your camera faster than your shadow, or are you more likely to use it once or twice a year? If your camera bag is going to be used intensively, then it is a good idea to choose a quality product with hard-wearing materials, durable zips, etc.
But just because you use your camera occasionally doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself!
The backpack has many positive points and remains one of my favourite ways of transporting photo equipment. Here’s why:
- It allows the load to be distributed over the shoulders and lower back, offering a comfortable carrying experience. You can carry it for several hours without any problems, making it ideal for hiking enthusiasts like myself.
- It has a large storage capacity, allowing you to carry all your camera equipment and even a laptop or other equipment, depending on the model.
- As there are many models on the market, you can find one that is adapted to your size and the intended use.
On the negative side, it can be quite heavy when overloaded. Additionally, accessing the equipment is not always easy. If accessed from the back, you have to unload the bag, put it on the ground, and open the pockets on the back to access your camera and accessories. This can be impractical at times.
The shoulder bag, is compact, space-saving, and allows for quick and easy access to your equipment, unlike a backpack. Its lightweight and small size make it ideal for urban photography. You will feel more comfortable on public transportation or on the streets of a big city with a shoulder bag rather than a suitcase!
However, it is not recommended if you need to carry it for an extended period, as all the weight is on one shoulder. You will quickly find it heavy, even if it is not heavily loaded! In addition, it does not allow for the transport of a lot of equipment or cameras with too big/long lenses.
The Sling bag is a combination of a backpack and a shoulder bag: it is worn on the back and has only one strap. It offers the advantages of both:
- comfort: better weight distribution compared to the shoulder bag (keeping in mind that the weight is only on one shoulder, so in the long run, it can be heavy!);
- practicality: it is lightweight, small, and you can access your equipment in just a few seconds by pivoting your bag in front of you.
Its main disadvantage is that it is limited in capacity: it is not possible to carry a lot of equipment.
Your equipment will be well protected in a case, especially in damp conditions. It is ideal for avoiding damage to your camera gearif you are traveling by plane, train, or bus. Another positive point: it allows for the transport of a lot of equipment. But it is not practical at all: although it has wheels to avoid carrying it, it is heavy and cumbersome, and it is, of course, not compatible with hiking! I therefore do not recommend it for daily use.
If you do opt for a case, you will need to complement it with a backpack, shoulder bag, or Sling bag.
The size of your camera bag will depend on your equipment. Therefore, you should ask yourself several questions before buying your bag. Will you be carrying multiple cameras, lenses, filters, and other accessories? Do you have telephoto lenses? Do you use a tripod? Do you need extra space for items other than your camera gear (water, food, etc.)? This last point is, in my opinion, very important. If you start carrying multiple bags, you risk becoming overloaded. Always prioritize practicality!
This criterion is essential because you will be carrying your camera bag for hours on end, and the goal is not to exhaust yourself. Photography should remain a pleasure, not a burden. Of course, the larger your bag, the more likely you are to load it up. Your camera equipment will weigh down your bag, so if you can, choose a lightweight bag!
We have already discussed comfort above with the different types of bags. A bag that is worn on both shoulders will be more comfortable to carry in the long term than a shoulder bag or a sling bag. The wider the shoulder straps, the more comfortable you will feel, as they distribute the weight more evenly across your shoulders.
Some bags are well-designed for carrying camera equipment. For example, you will find photo bags with multiple compartments, with openings at the front, top, or side:
- for the camera body
- for lenses
- for filters and other small accessories
- possibly for a second camera body
The compartments (often foam plates fixed with Velcro) allow you to store your equipment securely, access it easily, and protect it from shocks between different elements. I find that choosing a compartmentalized camera bag is essential.
I’m sure you’ll agree with me: you need a quality bag! Don’t forget that weather conditions are not always favorable, your bag can be abused during transport or excursions, and you should always prioritize comfort. Here are all the elements to consider:
- interior padding: it should be thick, and the interior partitions should be stable. This prevents your equipment from moving around in your bag and getting damaged.
- seams: check that they are strong, as a loose seam means that your bag can get wet.
- zippers: make sure they are large and durable for long-term use, as you will be handling them dozens and dozens of times. Your bag will be of no use to you if you can no longer open or close it properly.
- shoulder straps or straps: they should be padded and non-slip.
- bottom of the bag: make sure the lining is made of rubber, or possibly polyester fabric, and that it is waterproof and resistant, as you will have to put it on the ground, sometimes on a wet or dirty surface.
- waist belt (if applicable): it should be large and easily adjustable, to give you more comfort. It also helps to distribute the weight of the bag.
Depending on your needs and the use of your equipment and photo bag, consider certain accessories such as:
- rain cover: it can be sold with the bag or separately. Make sure it is easy to use (that you can put it on quickly in case of bad weather).
- tripod holder: you may say that you don’t use a tripod, and I’ll tell you: not at the moment! After all, you should always think about the future.
So it would be a shame to do without this accessory, which allows you to carry a tripod in a practical and comfortable way.
Here are a few recommendations for photo bags. Of course, I have only selected a few models and you will have to adjust your choice according to your needs and budget.
This bag combines quality, strength and practicality. It also comes with a protective cover, a tripod module and even a bottle holder. You can also find other great photo backpacks via this link.
Its interest? Its low weight (less than 2 kg), for interesting dimensions. The bag has plenty of storage space for all your camera equipment!
Although this is a shoulder bag, it has several compartments and pockets for all your photo and other accessories. A padded cover is specifically dedicated to your camera and is accessible from the top, without having to open the bag entirely. You can find more shoulder bags at this link.
Compact, but practical, this is the ideal bag to carry a SLR and 2 lenses. Peak Design is a very reputable brand and offers exceptional quality in this shoulder case.
Si vous devez acheter un trolley pour appareil photo, je vous conseille celui-ci. Ce 2 en 1, permet d’avoir à la fois un sac à dos avec housse de pluie et une valise à roulettes. Un super compromis ! J’ai trouvé aussi de très bons produits .
If you need to buy a camera trolley, I recommend this one. This 2-in-1 allows you to have both a backpack with a rain cover and a wheeled suitcase. A great compromise! I also found very good products through this link.
We have reached the end of this article on camera bags. I hope you found it comprehensive and that it will help you choose your future travel companion! And don’t forget: take the time to think carefully before your purchase, because it’s your bag that will be the keeper of all your photo equipment. It is therefore precious! If you want to go further, I invite you to read our complete article on photo accessories for travel.
See you soon,