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Camera Bags and Purses

This post appeared on one of my other blogs that did not make the transfer. It was posted in August 2009.

I could never understand why my wife or my daughter had to have so many purses when men had a single wallet that might last for several years. Recently, I have developed an appreciation of why women have so many purses.

When I purchased my first camera, a Yashica D twin lens reflex in 1966, I purchased an inexpensive vinyl camera bag that I still have. I used that bag to carry the Yashica D, then my Pentax Spotmatic, and finally a Nikon FM. Occasionally, I might have a working flash unit that also lived in the bag along with a cable release and film. When I started using digital cameras, I learned that one camera bag was not enough. Digital cameras and equipment pack differently. I now have six different camera bags.

I started with Domke J-1 which is a great bag if you can manage to stand straight while carrying it on one shoulder. One shooting trip and I needed another bag and a week to straighten my spine. The second bag was a Lowepro 200 AW which is a sling bag. While it rests on one shoulder, there is a chest belt to help provide support. It works well, but my equipment has outgrown the bag. The third bag was an M-Roc McKinley 526 rolling backpack which is too heavy to use as a backpack, but a nice feature just in case. I used this bag a couple of times, but never as a carryon bag. The handle sticks up on this bag and makes it larger than at least one carrier’s maximum dimension for a carryon. Bag four was purchased to replace the M-Roc, it was a ThinkTank Photo International roller bag that is built like a tank. I can pack everything I need plus a laptop. The fifth bag is a backpack that holds my main camera, lenses, filters, CF cards, and other miscellaneous equipment. I use this bag to carry equipment to location. It is stuffed, if I purchase any more gear (including a batter) either something is left behind or I need to purchase bag number seven! Bag number six was a ThinkTank Photo Speed Freak which is a waist pack. When I am on location, I place my lenses, filters, and sometimes my backup body in it. My primary camera is placed on a tripod or hung from my neck. This setup works much better than the sling
bag or backpack. Of course, it takes some planning to make sure I pack the right gear.

Camera bags have several advantages over purses. First, most are gray or black so you carry them with any color clothing and shoes, although some folks would probably shy away from brown shoes with a black or gray bag. Second, unlike purses, camera bags can be used in every season. Some even come with rain covers for the rainy season. Third, camera bags have nifty interiors that can be rearranged to accommodate new equipment. You generally need to buy a new purse when you buy a bigger or smaller wallet. Fourth, camera bags are tough and will last years unlike a purse. Fifth, camera bags only go out of style when gear changes from film to digital or the next iteration—current camera bags should be in style for many more years. Sixth, you will need a large suitcase just to transport your bags when flying; purses easily fit in a single suitcase with the clothes. If you have room in your closet, buy another bag!

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