My uncle recently asked me for some advice on getting a new DSLR and we came to the subject of camera bags. I personally hate all bags designated as “photo bags” for three reasons:
1. Insurance is a better bag
I prefer to pay extra in insurance every year for a low deductible (mine is $200 for equipment and it doesn’t matter if I throw my camera off a cliff) so I guess that’s my bag alternative. Nice insurance. Instead of a lump sum I make yearly payments but it’s not much, and is part of our business insurance. Then I just toss my equipment in the most comfortable bag I already have.
2. You have to want it
All those huge padded backpacks or shoulder bags are overkill and limit portability and creativity. They are like home exercise equipment – very likely to go sitting unused. If you have a favorite bag or one you like – you are more likely to take your big ass DSLR with you, and that’s the most important part of all. Most photographers would not agree with me on this. But the best protective gear you can get for your DSLR is a clear filter that screws on the end of each lens. That protects against the biggest hazard – dirt, dust, and sand getting in your lens. The second most important thing is a slim padded case for each lens and your body. People are paranoid about screens on the body cracking, but I just make sure I have soft materials or the body case handy and that part is always covered.
3. Protect components instead
Just using a couple small lens cases and a nice slim padded liner for the body and you can ship or pack these things anywhere. I use a 5D2, 2-3 lenses, a strobe, timelapse controller, filters, and a slik travel tripod, and have taken all this crap to 4 or 5 countries and god knows how many cities in the last 2 years. Never had any problems related to transporting or carrying around the camera, although the body is being repaired right now because I left it outside overnight in Iceland for a time-lapse. Don’t judge me.