It's a constant source of amazement to me how much people spend on their camera, and then put it in any old bag. I've even seen some miscreants carry around an SLR in a shopping bag from a supermarket, which beggars belief. To help you protect your investment here are some of my favourite camera bags and cases for summer travels and photo shoots.
1) The carry on case
If you're a keen travel photographer like me, you will do anything you can to avoid having to check in your camera bags to the plane's hold. Who wants the risk of your precious gear ending up in Bogota when it should be in Bangkok? If funds allow, the perfect solution is the Pelican Urban Elite case.
As well as carrying a lot of camera gear in well padded compartments, it's a Peli, so it will withstand everything but Armageddon. As well as being compact enough to take into the cabin it doubles up as a rucksack (though it's bulky rectangular shape does make you feel a bit like a radio operator GI from World War II).
2) The courier style bag
If you want to look good and get easy access to your lovingly protected gear, than a Billingham bag is hard to beat. They have real old school charm, and are extremely well made – Billingham also offers and excellent repair and refurbishment service. Wedding and travel photographers swear by these bags as they look great and make it very easy to access lenses and flashguns without having to fumble around in rucksacks.
3) The retro system camera Case
Do you remember those elegant leather camera cases that your dad or grandfather used to proudly shoulder back in the day? The good news is that there is now a wide range of keenly priced leather cases available for your camera, and they look perfect with a retro styled system camera such as the Olympus OM-D series.
The better ones will protect your camera from the elements and also have an aperture at the bottom to allow you to fit a tripod – they look so much smarter and 'Cartier Bresson' than those horrible little black 'bucket bags' you see in camera chain stores
4) The rucksack
The Peli case aside, I really don't like big camera rucksacks. They weigh you down, are bulky and annoying in tight spaces and have so many silly little pockets and unnecessary zips that stuff can easily fall out – they are often ridiculously over-engineered. Even worse, you have to keep putting them on and off to change lenses.
On the positive side, they can carry a lot of gear, and have useful side connectors to carry a tripod. I find the fstop range is amongst the best; though not particularly cheap they are well designed, offer decent protection and are very capacious. One word of caution; if you do get a rucksack or shoulder bag, try to keep it just for photography rather than for outdoor leisure or letting your kids use it.
Those cushioned compartments are there for a reason and it's surprisingly easy to scratch or damage an expensive lens if it's just banging around loose in your bag. Throw your expensive SLR in there along with a drink and your lunch and you're asking for trouble....
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