Photography / Buying Guide

B&H’s Best Bag for your Buck Roundup

Camera Pouches Camera Holsters Shoulder Bags Sling Bags Waist Packs Backpacks Rolling Cases

No matter what type, brand, or model your camera happens to be, you will inevitably need to find a way to store, protect, and carry it, along with all the other gear you may need. And while finding the best camera pouch, case, or backpack can be a never-ending quest for some photographers, we’re going to give you a head start on your quest with a roundup of some of the most popular brands and models of camera bags that can meet your varying needs in the field.


Camera Pouches

Beginning at the smaller, more accessible end of the spectrum, a camera pouch provides quick and easy access to your camera when you need it, and to quickly stow it when you don’t. If your camera is small and lightweight, then a camera pouch may be right for you, and you may even find dedicated pouches designed to fit your camera model. If you go with a generic pouch, you will have more choices as far as construction, style, and color, while a dedicated pouch will be custom tailored to fit your camera like a glove.



 

When buying a pouch for a slim, compact camera, it’s understandable that you don’t want something unnecessarily large, because this defeats the purpose of having a compact camera in the first place. On the other hand, you don’t want a case that’s too tight, because you might not be able to close it or you could damage the camera trying to do so. For a good fit, measure your camera’s height, width, and depth, and then look for a pouch whose interior dimensions are close to but slightly larger than the dimensions of your camera.

Lowepro is one of B&H’s most well-known brands of compact and DSLR camera pouches. Among Lowepro’s camera pouches, three popular models include the Apex 20 AW, Apex 30 AW, and Apex 60 AW, which feature pockets for memory cards and other small accessories. Also ranked highly by B&H customers are two Case Logic models, the DCB-302 Compact Camera Case and UNZB-202 Point-and-Shoot Camera Case, and one Op/Tech USA, the Digital D Offset Soft Pouch. The DCB-302 has room for a small camera, memory cards, an extra battery and other small accessories, and it comes with a detachable shoulder strap and belt loop. The ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) UNZB-202 boasts an ultra-thin profile to fit easily in your purse or pocket. Like many of the Lowepro models, the slim pouches are best suited for compact cameras with retracting lenses. The neoprene Op/Tech Digital D pouch is best suited for small digital cameras with non-retracting offset lenses.




Camera Holsters

Although they do not offer much in the way of extra storage space, Camera Holsters and Zoom Cases are some of the slimmest enclosures available for DSLRs with attached lenses. And like a gunslinger’s holster, they let you get your camera out fast and put it away just as fast. Among camera holsters and zoom cases, popular brands with positive reviews include Think Tank Photo, Lowepro, Tamrac, Case Logic, and Ape Case.

The Top Loader Pro 75 AW, from Lowepro, is designed to protect and store a professional DSLR with grip and an attached zoom lens. It also has several places to store accessories like extra memory cards, and features a quick-release buckle and adjustable dividers. Tamrac’s Jazz Zoom 25 has many of the same features, but is designed for DSLRs with smaller lenses attached.


 
 

Instead of keeping your camera zipped in a holster, you could be even more efficient and just keep it out at all times, attached to the unique Clik Elite BodyLink Telephoto Pack. A hybrid backpack and chest pack, the BodyLink will fit a DSLR with grip and 8.5-inch lens, and it features a height-adjustable frame on which to mount your camera. It provides a solid anchor against your body, still allowing you to move freely while supporting the weight of a heavy camera and lens. You even have easy access to the pack with gear mounted on the frame.

Among the most popular and versatile telephoto zoom lenses among any brand, be it Nikon, Canon, or Sony, is the 70-200mm f/2.8. Frequently used for sports, weddings, or wildlife, photographers who consider the 70-200mm f/2.8 a go-to lens frequently have the least time to spare between reaching for their camera and bringing it up to their eye. The Think Tank Photo Digital Holster 50 V2.0  not only fits a pro-sized DSLR with a connected 70-200mm f/2.8, it does this while saving as much space as possible by following the contours of this specific camera-and-lens combination. Form and function are the taken even further by this digital holster’s stretchable front accessory pocket, which allows an attached 70-200mm f/2.8 lens to sit inside this holster with its lens hood in the shooting position. The designers of the Think Tank Photo Digital Holster 50 V2.0 took into account the fact that 70-200mm f/2.8 users chasing their shot frequently don’t have the luxury of positioning themselves perfectly to their subject, relative to direction of the light, which can make a lens hood as essential to the final image as the camera and lens itself. This thoughtful feature not only adds to the Think Tank Photo Digital Holster 50 V2.0—it helps to keep you faster than the action you are covering.


Shoulder Bags

Where shoulder bags are concerned, Lowepro stays high on the satisfied customer list with its Adventura 170 Shoulder Bag. Domke offers up its larger F-2 Ruggedwear Shooters Bag, while Tamrac and Pearstone join the ranks with the 5612 Pro 12 and Onyx 1040 camera bags. The Adventura 170 is a budget-friendly option for those who need to fit a single DSLR with attached lens, plus two additional lenses or a flash and other small accessories. It can also hold a camcorder and accessories. Although Lowepro’s Adventura 170 is highly recommended, it is far outmatched in the number of lens and accessory compartments by Tamrac’s 5612 Pro 12, which has room for two DSLRs with attached lenses, several additional lenses, a flash, and many other small accessories. It can definitely support a professional photographer in the field with multiple camera body and lens options. And for those who want to go a step further, to look and feel as though they’re on safari, the National Geographic 2478 Earth Explorer Large Shoulder Bag will provide unique functionality and style. It offers ample space for your DSLR or camcorder, with accessories. 

For top-notch quality and construction materials, the Tenba Messenger Camera Bags are comfortable and versatile enough for any type of wedding, press, editorial, or event photography. The Messenger Camera Bag is dressed in ballistic nylon over a high-density, closed-cell foam interior. Protection is provided against water, stains, wear and tear, as well as from accidental bumps and impacts. The Messenger Camera Bag has enough room for two of your DSLR bodies, three to five lenses, a flash, and accessories. When you want to be prepared for any photographic eventuality, Tenba’s Large Messenger bag is designed to help you be just that. It’s lightweight and rugged, with enough room for a DSLR, two to three lenses, a flash, 17" laptop, books, magazines, and accessories. It even features an anodized-aluminum plate on the front flap that can be engraved with your own logo or company name, letting customers know who you work for, or the name of your business, without having to say a word. When you want your bag to look and feel as good as you shoot, Tenba’s assortment of professional bags will not disappoint.

When not in the field, perhaps back in the big city, ONA supplies a range of stylish and sophisticated camera bags that provide both form and function. They even have an insert that turns any old bag into your very own padded camera bag. For a light amount of gear, say a DSLR, a flash, and couple of lenses, The Brooklyn and Prince Street bags will keep you looking great while shooting around town. They include additional pockets besides the main one, allowing you to store your phone, e-reader or tablet—and both bags come with removable dividers to allow you to rearrange and re-organize your gear. Put them in when you need them, and take them out just as easily when you don’t.



 

Should you need to bring more gear with you, ONA offers a larger shoulder bag: The Union Street. The Union Street is designed to hold anything and everything you might need for a day of shooting, including a DSLR, three lenses, small accessories, personal effects, and even a 15-inch laptop. You’ll be ready for anything, from an impromptu photo shoot to a classy gallery exhibition.

If you already own a bag you love, but wish it offered better protection for delicate camera gear, ONA’s Roma Camera Insert and Bag Organizer might just be the ticket. While it might not replace a dedicated camera bag, it is great for quick trips with a camera and lens, as well as anything else you carried in your bag without the insert.


Sling Bags

While there are many great sling bags from a plethora of manufacturers, Kata has been well-regarded in this category. Kata’s KT DL-3N1-22 Sling Backpack can hold a DSLR camera with battery grip and attached zoom lens, an 11.6-inch laptop computer, three to four additional lenses, a flash, and plenty of accessories; this roomy bag also features a built-in rain cover. Other manufacturers have created their own sling bags in various shapes and sizes.

Tamrac’s Velocity 7z, capable of transporting a DSLR with six-inch lens attached and a couple of extra lenses, is a compact, rounded shell of a sling bag featuring a unique memory card and battery-management system, in which red flags are used to identify fresh batteries and full memory cards. There’s also a fast flip top that opens away from your body, concealing the contents from others. Lightweight and easy to swing around from a backpack to a sling bag, it is quite versatile and comfortable to wear anywhere.



 

Similarly, Vanguard, Case Logic, and Lowepro offer their own sling bags and swinging backpacks. The Vanguard UP-Rise II 43 sling bag has a sleek matte-black polyester finish, as well as a bright orange foam-divider interior, providing better visibility of contents in the dark, and holds a DSLR with grip, attached lens, and three or four additional lenses, plus flash and accessories.

The Case Logic SLRC-205 has a unique asymmetric design for added comfort when worn over a shoulder, a hammock system to suspend a DSLR, for added impact protection, and is built to house that DSLR with a standard lens attached, plus an extra lens or flash.



 

Lowepro’s popular SlingShot series sling bags, specifically the 202 AW Camera Bag, sport an ergonomic sling strap for added comfort and speed of rotation when swinging the bag from back to front. The 202 AW carries a DSLR with attached standard lens and three to four extra lenses or flashes (plus accessories), as well as a tripod or monopod. Even more popular than the SlingShot bags, however, is Lowepro’s more unique Passport Sling III Camera Bag, designed for travel enthusiasts who wish to carry an equal amount of camera and personal gear along with their DSLR camera. It features an expandable compartment that increases its capacity by 30 percent when needed, and accommodates a DSLR with attached zoom lens, an additional lens or flash, a memory card, and personal items.


Waist Packs

Waist packs aren’t just your regular old 1980s fanny pack—they can provide some of the easiest ways to access your gear. For a comfortable and very breathable option, the Clik Elite Seeker Waist Pack is specifically designed to do well in both areas. Featuring a supportive back panel, corrugated circulation channels, and a padded belt with bi-directional buckle to distribute weight evenly, it offers a great blend of form and function. Waist packs vary in style from true waist packs to slings and hip bags, and are available for both still and video cameras. Designed to be smaller, faster alternatives to full-size backpacks or camera bags, waist packs are an efficient and lightweight solution for storing and retrieving your gear in a flash, while not being quite as small or limited as a compact holster.


Backpacks

Moving up to true backpacks—no more swinging or spinning here—we find the usual suspects. Tamrac’s 5588 Expedition 8x and Lowepro’s Pro Trekker 400 AW standard backpacks have room for one or two DSLR cameras, half a dozen lenses, and a 17-inch laptop, with more buckles and pockets than some photographers will know what to do with.



 

Like many backpacks, Mountainsmith’s Borealis Backpack is capable of carrying a 17-inch laptop and a tripod, along with cameras and lenses, but for comfort and stability while taking gear over rough terrain or especially long distances, padded, adjustable dual-density shoulder straps with load-lifter suspension, as well as padded waist straps, are built in. Its Anvil Airway Suspension system, which consists of comfortable padding that allows air to circulate against the back, helps to keep the wearer cool. Lowepro returns with its Vertex 300 AW Backpack, which has such useful features as a removable tripod holder and spaces to attach pouches from the company’s Slip-Lock line. This provides the ability to make the Vertex 300 AW the center of an easily expanded carry system.

If you’re concerned about water damaging your gear, Aquapac’s 25L Wet & Dry Backpack and OverBoard’s Classic Waterproof Backpack offer varying levels of waterproofing to ensure your gear is properly protected. The Ikan Explorer Bag holds two DSLR camera bodies, up to eight lenses, a pro flash, and dozens of smaller accessories, and a removable rain cover that keeps your gear dry in bad weather. Never again will you fear getting caught in the rain or slipping into the river you’re shooting.

For nature and sports photographers, or anyone who uses long telephoto lenses, there are special backpacks designed to accommodate long lenses. The Tamrac 5793 Super Telephoto Lens Pack can house a camera with a 600mm lens attached, while the Kinesis L622 PolyCore Long Lens Case 600 holds up to a Canon 800 f/5.6 IS lens with a camera attached. A modular lens case, the Kinesis L622 PolyCore Long Lens Case 600 can be converted into a backpack with an optional backpack harness and harness adapter strap.



Rolling Cases

If you want the storage capacity of a small suitcase combined with the portability of a backpack, then a rolling case, such as the Ape Case ACPRO4000 Digital SLR and Laptop Roller Backpack is an ideal choice. It’s designed with numerous compartments that can be reconfigured to hold various cameras, lenses, and flashes. Fully adjustable harnesses ensure optimal comfort, while the built-in telescopic handle makes for effortless transportation.

 

 

Depending on the amount of gear you have, or at least how much you need to carry at any given moment, this roundup offers multiple luggage options in all shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. From large to small, sling pack to fanny pack, the bags outlined here will most definitely provide an answer to the question, “Which bag do I need?”

Discussion 7

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Disappointed not to see any mention of Tenba bags. I've got a messenger shoulder bag and a backpack and love both. They've travelled the world and have held up great and when I had a minor issue they were super helpful in solving it.  Plus they offer great student discounts which is great. 

Also, surprised not to see think tank  products here too. 

-Michael. 

PS. Sorry for the typos-I'm on my phone. 

Thanks for the comment Michael and I am glad you've found a couple of bags that work great for your needs--not to mention a positive customer service experience to boot!

You may be interested to know that some of Tenba's bags are actually in the early planning stages of their very own InDepth article, and you will likely see that in the next few weeks. In addition to that, Think Tank's bags also have thier own article that was recently written and sent on its way out the door of our Publishing Department.

Keep an eye out for both, and thank you again for contributing your perspective and recommendations on this article.

I ***** FOUR mentions of Think Tank in this article, and THREE of Tenba.  Study hard in school, Michael!

No Think Tank products or suggestions?

For all photographers who like to carry a long lineup of equipment’s but want maximum safety of every small components http://www.dslrcameras.info/lowepro-pro-trekker/

I have the Tamrac Expedition 7x Backpack - Have not seen another backpack that I would rather have. Excellent quality and functional product!

I got the Tamrac  5612 Pro12  and I love it! its a great Bag for all my stuff !