18 Dec Best camera bag as presents for photographers
What is the best camera bag as a present for the photographer in your life?
Well whether it’s Christmas, birthday or any time of year there are always things that most photographers need so a special occasion is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself or the photographer in your life. We’re not talking about the new 85mm f1.2 lens that requires a mortgage or the sale of a kidney but every photographer loves camera bags (we certainly do). We would like to showcase our best camera bags.
So what type of bag?
We have 3 types of bags. Our ‘hold everything’ bag that only leaves the house when we have to photograph a commercial job. This bag holds our cameras, lenses, speedlights, microphone and all the ‘stuff’ that one needs for a commercial shoot. Our backpacks are the bags we use mostly when we travel and carry our cameras as well as a tablet, spare jacket, lunch and water bottles. Lastly, we have “grab and go” bags that we use when we are just off to the river or coast or local day trip and need only our camera. Camera bags though are as personal an item for photographers as their underwear and everyone has their best camera bag favourites.
These next 5 camera bags are our favourites
Before buying any bag, you need to have a good idea what you will use it for or a spur of the moment purchase will sit unused in the cupboard until finally ending up on eBay. We know as we have done this on more than one occasion.
To help you decide you need to take a good look at what you will use the camera bag for and then also consider the following.
- Does the bag need to be waterproof? Yes, for us if were traveling. Our photography backpacks are water resistant and have rain covers.
- Does the bag need to be weasel proof? Yes, for us if we visit places where pick pockets are rife (I spend a lot of time in central London and while most Londoners are amazing people there are a few that would take anything that is not nailed down. (Same as most big cities.)
- Is the bag comfortable enough to carry all day? Remember that your creativity can be inversely proportionate to the pain or tiredness you are experiencing.
One thing that most photographers agree on is that you can never have enough camera bags so here are a few we use and would recommend. The one we would recommend every photographer has and if they haven’t it makes a perfect present.
The “grab and go” bag
The Billingham Hadley bag
This beautiful timeless bag is a classic. We have one that Ally bought for me quite a few years ago and it still looks like new. They are very well built and superbly designed with ample padding. Ours is canvas with brass and leather trim and as the inserts are removable it gets used not only for camera equip but anything that will fit.
Tim with his Billingham Hadley bag
The Domke F3X
Jim Domke designed these bags as ‘run’ bags for pro photographers so they are not ideal for protecting your beloved camera from a rhino attack but they are perfect as a quick bag that looks professional. A second hand one that has been through the mill looks uber cool. Mine has lasted 20 years and is now been retired due to the rip in the pocket but I still use a Domke backpack when traveling.
A new version of my very loved and now retired F-3X
Out with my well loved F2 Domke backpack
The F2 backpack
The Domke backpacks are quite small. Ours has a main pocket that is just big enough for a camera and 2 lenses and then another section above that large enough for a lightweight jacket and a few odds and ends. These lovely litte bags have all sorts of pockets on the ends, but like the F3X shoulder bag equivalent, they’re not terribly well-padded and the pockets on the sides are definitely not weasel proof. The big plus is that is doesn’t look like a camera bag.
Crumpler make some superb bags. These well-made bags come in all shapes and sizes. We have travelled extensively with the “Muffin Top” (no longer made) backpack and have used the smaller shoulder bags for travelling with both camera equipment and laptops.
Ally with our trusty and well-travelled Muffin Top
Tim with Crumpler backpack in Venice
The interesting thing about these apart from their style are the wacky names the various models have from Crippy Duck to Lounge Lizard and the new interesting one called the female flasher. Crumplers are well-made and come in a range of styles and colours and the ones we’ve had have been extremely well-padded for good equipment protection, appear to be quite well rain-proofed and seem to have cavernous storage.
“All my gear” bags.
We use a large Billingham 335 bag for all our ‘stuff’ but a lot of our equipment at home is stored in aluminium cases with foam inserts to keep things neat and protected. Ally used to use the 335 for photographing weddings as it’s easy to get things in and out of in a hurry. There is a tendency for us to overstuff it, making it very heavy to carry. It’s good for short jobs where you don’t have to carry it far but need a reasonable amount of equipment. It also helps if you have a very well-built assistant! The padding on the Billinghams are very good and therefore safe for your beloved cameras etc, as well as being pretty waterproof too. Not only that, but the build quality means that these bags last for decades and as a result, command high second-hand prices on eBay.
See our ideas on best cameras for travel photography.
So, which bag you choose will be dictated by the type of photography you do, how much equipment you carry, your budget, and finally, your own personal style. However, we all love bags and our motto is “you can never have too many”. (Internal groan by Ally, as Tim has way more bags than she does!)
Do let us know your favourites.