The Search For The Best Camera Bag
The following are not the only bags out there, but these are bags I have personally bought with my own hard-earned money in my endless search to find the best camera bag.
It has been like forever when I started with my photography hobby. Alternating between my Huawei P30 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max, any bag would do. Unless of course, I include all the accessories for my photography, like my mini tripod, bluetooth shutter grip, and my Ulanzi lenses, then that gets me riled up with the limitations of an ordinary bag. Add to the fact that with time, my photography kept evolving and so are my needs.
Update: As my photography needs evolved, so are my gears. In the middle of writing and editing this piece, I have moved from mobile phone photography to using mirrorless cameras. That being said, there is an increasing need for more photography-centric bags more than ever.
Clunky, heavy, and just down right inconvenient, using normal bags started to irritate me. I used to like such as they didn’t scream “expensive” and it’s nice to know I have an EDC (every day carry) bag. This led me to my journey of finding the best bag for my photography game. The search is on! My credit card on hand, I scoured the internet for the “best” out there. I bought a
few but they did not sit well with me lot. Some were good and others were a disappointing investment.
The Leacat Sling Bag 10L
The Leacat Sling Bag, or most commonly known as the Peak Design knock-off is actually really good! It ticks a lot of boxes on my list and it actually served it’s purpose even when I got it for just mobile photography. Sadly, it having all the bells and whistles, it was just too heavy for me. Bringing it along, my brother always makes fun of me for being overkill. For the size, it actually is. I can’t even remember why I chose the 10L model compared to the 5L version. Ah…yes, because I thought the bigger, the more things I can stuff in it.
The Peak Design knock-off is a feature-rich camera bag on steroids. Like the original, this has photography and videography in mind upon it’s creation. Here are some of the Pros for the Leacat Sling Bag:
- Convenient Strap – I don’t like backpacks, but I like their strap design. The foam cushioning the user from the heavy load is always a plus. And this bag has it, and as a sling.
- Compartments – This should have a category of its own as it has a good amount of pockets just like the original Peak Design!
- Thick velcro partitions – For a knock-off, they did the extra mile by providing thick partitions not common on knock-off brands. The bag comes with two velcro partitions that allow you to set the module according to your needs.
- Slick Design – Taking on the feature of the aforementioned original bag, this bag is close to iconic!
- Dirt-cheap – This specific model got me at less than two thousand pesos (Php. 1,702.00)
Of course, being the first on the list, this surely have some cons worth mentioning:
- Too heavy – even without anything in it, this sling bag is heavy. The bulk is from the extra protection it provides. But unfortunately, this puts it at a disadvantage when you just want to walk around town and shoot.
- Zipper – Unlike the original bag where this took influence from, this did not use YKK zipper system hence opening and closing is a bit of a hassle sometimes making me miss important shots.
I got this bag from Lazada at 1,699php (30USD)
Firely Doppkit Camera Bag
The Firefly Doppkit Camera Bag is the best casual photography bag you’ll ever need. I used it on most of my outdoor adventures (roadtrips, malls, etc) and it never let me down. Until I got more lenses.
The bag is enough for one mirrorless camera with kitlens, an extra manual focus lens, and a battery. It has mesh pocket on the flap allowing for slim items like some cash, credit cards, or spare memory card and usb cable.
Going for a minimalist carry-on type of bag, this bag is very convenient, albeit the few stares from people due to its lunchbox design. If you are up for a vintage look, you should definitely try this out.
- Inconspicuous – This doesn’t look like a camera bag at all, but a sling bag for kids.
- Velcro partition – Velcro partitions is always a win! I’ve taken the partition from the freebie bag when I got my first mirrorless camera and used it here making it a three-module carry.
- Wrist/Hand Strap – This allows you to get rid of the sling strap and just go commando and carry it like any hand-carry bag, but you run the chance of shaking your camera inside with the vertical positioning.
- Canvas material – This is water repellent but not waterproof/rain proof. So do not go around shooting in a cloudy or rainy day.
While the use of minimalist carry-on bag is becoming quite popular, it is somewhat highly impractical.
- There isn’t just enough space – trinkets like wallet, vaccine cards, sanitizers ands extra face masks just won’t fit.
- Not enough protection – the canvas material may be sturdy but it will in no way protect your gadgets in a fall.
- Not good for quick fire shoots – due to its very limited capacity, you can squeeze in extra stuff but will run the risk of stuff falling when you wish to grab your camera for a quick shoot. Either your trinkets will fall or your camera will. I had my phone fall twice when using this bag.
I got this from Shopee for 1,127php (20USD)
ATVA Camera Bag
This is the best in-between bag so far. It is convenient to bring like the Firefly Dopp kit but provides protection like the Peak Design Everyday Carry rip-off that is the Leacat bag. The ATVA Camera Bag is actually an imitation of another popular EDC Camera Bag from Moment. From far away, one may mistake it as such. But taking a closer look, it is devoid of anything that made the Moment bag popular to photographers.
This modern-looking camera bag is pleasant to the eyes. A tad bulky but this is a great starting point for a serious camera bag on a budget.
- The design – for all intents and purposes, this is a camera bag that will not embarrass you. It has a very urban feel to it. You can even use it to house non-photography gears and use it solely as an everyday carry by removing the velcro partitions.
- Spacious – I find myself bringing my XT100 with a 16-50mm zoom lens attached plus an 85mm f1.8 OR both 23mm and 33mm from Viltrox AND my fixed lens camera – X100S while still having enough space for my vape, wallet, vaccine card and cleaning kit. And still make it look compact.
- Extras – the two rings on the ends of the strap provides extra value. You can hook your wireless earphones in one and your keychains in the other. It also has slim pockets to avoid keeping those trinkets mentioned from dangling around. Sometimes, I use it for spare batteries of my two cameras.
- Handle – true to the form of the Moment sling bag, the ATVA Camera Bad has a dedicated top handle to make hand-carrying it a surprisingly welcome experience.
While aesthetically pleasing, this bag has its share of demerits.
- Velcro partitions – the included velcro partitions are a joke.The moment I opened the bag, I immediately looked for my camera cube insert and used the two better-looking partitions. The included velar partitions
- Not enough extra compartments – other than the main one, it only has a slim zipper compartment in front and two very narrow pockets on both sides.
I got this from Shopee for 1,407php (25USD)
Elecom Off-Toco Camera Backpack
The Off-Toco line from Elecom is focused on tech and camera bags and this backpack pretty much is proof of that endeavor. Water repellant with rain coat, removable velcro partitions, and substantial internal padding for additional protection. This being feature-packed, it’s hefty price tag is understandable.
This is not a pure camera backpack but rather an all-around tech bag which is actually ideal for those who include laptops or tablets in their EDC.
- Versatile – This backpack provide secure compartments for both tablet the size of a 10″ iPad and a 13″ MacBook Air M1 while keeping a low profile.
- Contrasting internal color – The bright orange color imitates more popular camera bags allowing for better visibility when trying to reach something inside the bag.
- Strap Support – Just like any standard camera backpack, there is an adjustable strap support to better manage the weight of the bag.
- Removable Tech Pouch – This tech pouch doubles as your camera compartment so users can use it in sling mode and make more room in the backpack. This is where the velcro compartments come in clutch.
- Sleek Profile – Despite massive offerings in space and features, this retains a very slim profile to be an acceptable EDC backpack. It also helps that there is minimal branding in the bag.
So yes, because this crosses as an EDC – Tech – Camera Backpack, there will always be some compromises. And these compromises may or may not be a deal breaker for some.
- Heavy – One would think that because it has a slim profile it will be lightweight. Nosireeebob! This thing will be heavy with two camera bodies, two lenses and a few daily trinkets like wallet, phone and power bank. Wait til you include a laptop and a tablet.
- Sling – The removable compartment is a great idea – if only they included a dedicated strap that will carry it. Unfortunately we are only left with a hand strap in both sides.
I got this from a physical store from Urbanize but it is also available on their site.
Searching for bags that work for you is a tediously daunting task. Prepare to shell out money or build patience and wait for payday sales and discounts. It also pays to read reviews a lot and check out legit sellers along the way.
Like any other hobbies, your thirst for better camera gear will evolve – and it will be solely up to you if you will succumb to GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) or not. Nonetheless, these are the bags I got from Shopee and I was able to determine which ones are a good purchase and which ones are not so you don’t have to.
P.S. This took me months in compiling old photos of me using the bags, overcoming my all-around laziness, and finally, this coincided with us moving in on our new home. So bear with the different writing tones.