If you're a photographer I'm positive you have countless camera bags like most of us do. I've owned LowePro and Tamrac bags which I still use regularly, but given my switch to Fuji one of my Tamrac bags became way too big while another was a good size, but not as discrete and rugged as I would like.
Having done a lot of research I had always heard great things about Think Tank products. I've decided that over the shoulder types bags are right for as they give me freedom of movement, quick access to gear if I need it and don't tend to wear me down too much. I have an everyday camera bag that I'll probably still take on photo walks here and there, but I wanted something a little nicer that would take a lot of use. Think Tank offers a variety of solutions, but the Retrospective series had always interested me. These are made with great materials, feel solidly built and are favored by many photographers.
So, I decided on the Think Tank Retrospective 7 in Pinestone. They have a 5 which is smaller and three sizes larger as well. In fact the originals were only the larger ones. Given the small size of my camera equipment this would be a comfortable size that could easily fit two cameras, which I always use for weddings, and a couple lenses. It will also carry my tablet and other odds and ends if I like.
Things important to me:
Good durable build quality - You'll see in the upcoming photos that it really is built well. Their shoulder strap is really well built including a rugged, but comfortable shoulder pad. This keeps it in place and helps distribute the weight comfortably.
Enough room to hold two cameras and lenses - There are three main compartments in the bag, but you can move the dividers around to your liking. There are even a few extras in there. I also found a nice pocket on the far side as well.
Easy access - I've always enjoyed the messenger bag style and this one works just as well. It has a large flap that protects your gear, but is very easy to fold back to get access to your gear.
Secure, but quiet - My current bag is similar in that it has velcro to secure it. For easy access this is much better than having to unzip a bunch of things. But, the velcro always ends up being very loud and distracting. As you'll see you can bend back some of the velcro to hide them completely or only secure the bag slightly if you need really fast and quiet access to your gear. Most high end bags have this feature and it was one that I really wanted.
Something that looks good - Yes, aside from carrying my gear I also want something that doesn't scream camera bag, but also of a good design. The Retrospective series is just that "classic" in styling. And a style I really enjoy.
Bags I considered:
The ThinkTank Mirrorless Mover 30i - This is a new series from Think Tank specifically designed for smaller mirrorless camera systems. They did some great things with these bags including a magnetic flap and not velcro as well as camera opening up towards you instead of away from you. Also, these are much more affordable. But, I preferred the styling and materials in the Retrospective 7.
Tamrac Apache Series- These are very new bags and didn't exist when I was looking at bags last year. These also seem very well built, high quality and were over the shoulder bags. Having only one choice in color I felt it might stand out too much. But, I really can't say anything bad about these bags. They look awesome! I think my mind was set on Think Tank.
Domke bag - These are also extremely popular and come in a few colors. This is similar build to the Think Tank, but not as expensive. The one thing that I was concerned with was the size. There was only one size of the styling I liked of theirs and it was a little smaller to the Think Tank Retrospective 7. It was more on par with the 5 which I had decided was too small for carrying two cameras with lenses on them.
In the end I decided on the Think Tank Retrospective 7 and I'm very pleased with it. This will by no means be my last bag purchase so as my kit grows I'll be keeping an eye on other bags in the future.
The first photo is the bag closed. It just looks like an average messenger bag. This photo shows you the bag with the flap up. You'll see there are two large velcro areas. So you know when the flap is down it is very secure. Notice the camera bag straps. These are really well made.
This is the underside of the flap. You can see that I folded back the sound silencers onto this part of the velcro. This way the bag will be silent. In the middle you see a business card holder. You can easily fit about 12 cards in there, not bad.
On the opposite side of the bag you'll find the logo and product name. This is the part of the bag that rests on you when you walk. So this also helps to hide the fact that you are carrying a camera bag.
This is a photo of the backside area with the underside of the shoulder strap. I'm very impressed with the quality of this strap.
This is a photo of the side of the bag when its open. As you can see there are some large deep pockets to protect your gear, but also this extra pocket on the side. This would be a great place to put batteries and/or a battery charger.
This photo shows a more central look of the bag. Also, you can see on the left side the large opening where you can fit a small laptop or tablet. I think it'd be a great place to put a notebook or binder as well.
This is a side photo of the bag. You can see there is a hang carrying strap as well, but that is removable. To some a bag is a bag, but when you're out taking photos all the time you want something you enjoy, looks good, is functional and that will last you a long time.
All photos were taken with an X-E2 and 60mm
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