Ok the time is nearly here to replace my current camera bag (Lowepro Orion Trekker II). Its been a very good little bag, cheap (well free actually) thanks to my good friend Mark Boadey, it holds my DSLR kit with no trouble but it does not have a weather cover and its pretty full now so time to upgrade.
I did a what's in my camera bag video for my youtube channel which shows the Lowepro Orion Trekker II and what it can hold. (click play below if you want to watch)
I have a couple of requirements/reasons for the upgrade. Ok you ready for this Lowepro.
Needs to carry the following….
- Canon EOS 500D with BG-E5 Battery Grip (Currently Own)
- Sony DSC-H50 Bridge/Video SD Camera
- Sony DCR-PC120E PAL SD Camcorder
- Canon EF 50mm F1.8 Prime (Currently Own)
- Canon EF-S 18-55 Kit Lens (Currently Own)
- Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS lens (Currently Own)
- Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS (Future purchase)
- Canon EF-S 10-22 (Future purchase)
- Canon EF 24-105L F4 IS (Future purchase) – Love this lens.
- Tamron 90mm F2.8 Macro
- Up to Canon 300/400mm F2.8 Prime (Considering expandability)
- Cleaning Gear (Rocket Blower, Lens Pens, Lens Cloth’s) (Currently Own)
- Gorilla Pod (Currently Own)
- Tripod(Currently Own – Manfrotto 190XB)
- Flash Guns
- 5 in 1 Reflector (I have 2 of these)
- Chargers/Wires & Various Accessories
- Memory Cards
- 15.4” Laptop
- Small External HDD
- Other Personal Gear
- Water Bottle/Drink Holder (would be nice but not a must)
Now I realise I wont be always carrying all of this stuff together and some Len's double up on focal lengths (They will most likely be upgraded over time) but I am looking for a bag that will carry allot of/most of this gear to a location if needed plus last a while as my gear collection/requirements change. I am also looking for a few features.
- Tripod Holder
- Good shoulder straps.
- Waist support straps
- Airline carry on friendly
- Water resistant
- All weather cover
- Expandability with additional pouches would be nice.
- Fairly future proof, don't want to have to buy again to soon.
- Don't want it to look to big and bulky (more likely for it to be refused as carry on)
- Rather it did not scream expensive gear bag.
Now looking at the above lists it’s a big ask, will I find the perfect camera bag..lets see.
Ok I have looked at a few manufacturers Lowepro, Kata, Tarmac, & Think Tank.
Lowepro have 3 bag that have caught my eye.
Kata have nothing that I liked, personal preference that's all. Not keen on looks and the photo/computer bags did not have enough capacity.
Think Tank – Are too expensive, I'm sure the kit is great but the prices are bit off putting.
Ok so the 3 candidates (all Lowepro) are listed below, in no particular order by the way.
All 3 can carry a tripod, 15.4” laptop, 70-200F2.8, Personal gear,multiple lens are airline carry on approved and have the AW (All Weather) cover. So they all in part meet a good selection of my requirements.
- The CompuPrimus AW
The smallest of the 3 bags both in size and capacity with a max lens size of 70-200 F2.8 so you may ask why I have included it in my selection, well it has a few features that I really like to the point that if I could afford it I would buy one and one of the larger bags but I must be sensible and realistic here and buy smart/buy once.
It is also the only bag to be made up of recycled materials and a portion of the sales of the Primus series of bags goes to the Polar Bears International (PBI) organisation.
The features I like are its compact size, configuration with rear entrance to the gear compartment (more secure) and the laptop sleeve with shade cover. The images below show some of these features.
My only problem is that it has limited gear capacity when compares to the two other bags when looking at lens size and number of lens you can carry when carry additional equipment like flash units. Shame as I do really like this bag. I am also wondering if you can get the laptop sleeve separate and use it in other bags because that's a real nice feature.
2. The CompuTrekker Plus AW
In terms of looks I would say this is the second smallest looking of the 3 bags but is the actual largest (the Vertex 200 looks bigger/bulkier) and it can carry the largest amount of equipment , the carry capacity is very impressive with it able to take a 400mm F2.8 lens, pro DSLR and additional gear. Whilst I am sure it will also carry other personal gear (Lunch,coat etc) it does not seem as suited to do so as the CompuPrimus. Still it does meet more of the criteria in my lists and would be able to take additional kit as it was purchased and carry video equipment along with DSLR with a few lens which would be handy for some shoots/situations when doing behind the scenes videos or just grabbing some footage for youtube. Images of the CompuTrekker Plus AW.
I also like the options regarding configuration in the main compartment, and the removable waist straps which will get in the way during airline check in. So far the sensible money is on this bag I just wish it had the laptop sleeve.
3. The Vertex 200 AW
The third bag in my selection the Vertex 200 AW is not a large as the CompuTrekker but seems larger, the reason is in its design…it looks more suitcase like rather than rucksack and I think this is the reason some people have problems with airlines even though the Vertex 200 is carry on approved. It also seems to have a more professional look to it which is one of the concerns on my list (It looks like an expensive gear bag) so I would have reservations about carrying it on a regular basis. Capacity wise it stacks up to the CompuTrekker Plus AW but just loosing out on the max lens size (300mm F2.8) but it can be configured to carry 2 pro DSLR’s so its a trade off.
Whilst it meets the majority of my requirements the fact it looks bulky and to me screams gear bag is more than a little off putting, I have to consider that I will be carrying the bag on a regular if not daily basis so security has to be factored in.
Some images of the Vertex 200 AW.
Whilst I have not completely discounted the Vertex 200 AW it is 3rd on my list. It has tons of capacity and even has a bigger brother in the Vertex 300 AW if you need more.
The Compu Trekker Plus AW is like I say the sensible option for future proofing/investment but it is missing the laptop sleeve, the portability of the Compu Primus AW, rear access and its capability as a light day pack but it does offer more carrying capacity for current/future gear and more configuration options for different shoot load outs and a better long term investment. As a result I am 90% sure I will be going for the Compu Trekker Plus AW, is it the my perfect camera bag well no to be honest but it gets close enough. The perfect camera bag for me would actually be 2 bags … yup you guessed it the Primus and the Trekker but that would cost to much.
The Bag of Choice (ok 90% Choice) – Lowepro Compu Trekker Plus AW
Oh in answer to the question in the title The Perfect Camera Bag – Does it exist? well I'm afraid the answer is a resounding no I really do believe that it does not exist for anyone but hopefully I wont have to upgrade for a few years. Let me know if you come across the perfect camera bag and what figures the price tag has on it :) .
One other side note - Regarding any gear you look at buying do your research and buy a quality brand after all the saying buy cheap buy twice really does apply to photography gear.
Feel free to comment, provide feedback/suggestions, tell me I can’t spell and thank you for reading.
Now take that lens cap off and go shoot some great photos.