Any pro or photo enthusiast knows that there is no such thing as the perfect camera bag. Photographers are to camera bags as Imelda Marcos was to shoes; we have a closet full of ’em. And not unlike designer shoes, camera bags are not exactly budget items. Many good bags retail for upwards of $200.
When it comes to camera bags, you have to consider the compromises, because every bag will be a compromise at some level. I started off wanting a bag that would hold everything I owned– sort of a combination storage and transport system. The problem with the really large bags that can hold everything is that you invariably fill them with everything. Travel through airports and in the field becomes an exercise in back and shoulder fatigue. When fatigue sets in, you stop taking pictures. Any camera bag that makes you want to stop photographing is a bad bag!
What this means is that you not only need bags for different purposes, but also bags that you aren’t going to fill up with unnecessary items. You also have to get yourself out of the “bring everything” mindset whenever possible. For me, most of my travel involves landscape and wildlife photography. That’s a difficult mix, because you can easily pack way too much stuff– super-wide, standard zoom, tele-zoom, macro lens, speedlight(s)… The other challenge is, of course, carrying all this expensive stuff on an aircraft, where overhead bin space is a premium.
I’ve been using Think Tank Photo bags since 2005, when I bought their monster “Airport Addicted” bag (guess which one I use the least). I’ve always been happy with the build and features of the Think Tank bags. They are very strong, have lots of dividers (more on that later), and the zippers are top-notch. They also design many of their bags to fit in aircraft; either in an overhead compartment or below your seat. Because I’ve owned many bags (Think Tank and others) over the years, I get a feel for what works best for me. Since 2006, the bag I reach for most often has been the Think Tank Airport Antidote.
I liked the Airport Antidote ever since it was released (it’s been updated to version 2.0 since I got my original model), and that still holds true several years later. I’ve used this bag for landscape trips and wildlife trips, because it satisfies almost all my needs:
- 3-lens landscape kit with backup body: 14-24, 24-70, 70-200, D3 and D700 plus goodies
- Basic wildlife kit: two bodies plus Nikon 200-400 f/4.0 AFS VR G, TC’s and flash
- Fits in overhead bin of a regional jet
- Comfortable as a backpack for most short hikes
- Outer compartment holds a 15″ MacBook Pro laptop computer
With this one bag, I can carry 90% of my gear on a plane, I’m not overloaded, and I don’t feel like I’m leaving anything important behind. Check out all the Think Tank Photo products and find your perfect bag, too.