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Review: Think Tank Retrospective 50 Camera Bag

by Bobby Zhang on 12/01/2012

Think Tank has become the brand to go to for your photography bag needs. Their excellent build quality and meticulous attention to detail is second to none. We’ve reviewed our fair share of Think Tank here on The Phoblographer and have yet to be disappointed. This is no exception. The Retrospective 50 is comfortable, durable, and stylish packed into a equipment-swallowing shoulder bag that I have grown very fond of over the past week or so since its arrival.

Head on past the break for the full review!

 

The Retrospective 50 is an excellent choice for the hobbyist or the professional photographer. It carries an insane amount equipment like a boss and makes it look easy. This isn’t the kind of bag that you see at the store and buy on a whim, oh no, this is the big daddy of camera bags and at a $240 price point, it’s not exactly something you’d just randomly pick up one day.

Construction

Coming in a variety of flavors ranging from a tannish Pinestone cotton canvas, a blue tinted Slate cotton canvas, and the classic black poly-spun nylon, the Retrospective 50 feels like it’ll hang on right along side you, even in the worst of conditions. The cotton canvas quality provides a denim-esque feel to the overall bag that is both rough and sturdy to protect your investments, but also gentle and soft to the touch.

Every attachment on the bag is constructed out of metal, which comes in handy due to their strong and resistant nature to wear and tear while adding another layer of durability to the bag. The zippers are all of the tough YKK variety, which are famous for their long-lasting and dependable qualities. It’s hard to imagine what you’d have to be doing for you to put an end to this Retrospective 50’s life.

Conveniently designed, this shoulder strap features both an extremely well-cushioned, anti-slip shoulder pad to reduce any shoulder pains from a long day out on a shoot and a handle strap for when you want to switch things up. Assuming you’re not packing your entire studio’s worth of equipment in here, you’ll find it to be a comfortable experience.

Capacity

How much equipment are we talking about exactly? We’re looking at two full-size DSLRs with 3-6 lenses, a 15″ laptop on the side, and who knows how many other accessories you’d want to bring along in the separate compartments and pouches. The pockets on the side are deep enough to fit an assortment of flashes while the many other smaller pouches can fit memory cards, filters, lens caps, and whatever your heart desires. There is even a business card holder for some quick networking.

Features

Standard with any of the Retrospective bags, you’ll find two huge Velcro strips that makes sure the single large flap that protects your precious hardware stays shut when you want it to. We’re all too familiar, however, with the annoying and sometimes awkward ear-splitting Velcro noise that nobody is a fan of, so here comes the Sound Silencers to the rescue. Brilliantly designed, the Sound Silencers allow you the option of keeping the Velcro on, or tucking it away for quick and silent access to your gear, perfect for when you’re constantly going in and out of your bag.

Journeying into the mouth of the beast, you’ll find dense foam padding to protect your gear and microfiber cloth lining the interior for a smooth and safe environment for your precious glassware. Think Tank also threw in an extra set of pads just in case. Once you’ve got it set up, the Retrospective 50 keeps its form without awkwardly collapsing on top of itself. Attached by a Velcro strap, Think Tank’s foldable and storable rain cover can be used for when the weather just isn’t willing to cooperate.

Downsides

Before we move on, however, I’d like to point out that I personally would have liked to see some more padding on each of the separate compartments, especially the laptop section. It felt like one solid hit would have rendered my MacBook useless, but I can’t say it has happened yet, thankfully.  Additionally, after my experience with the Retrospective 50, and as well as any of the other Retrospective options out there, I would have liked Think Tank to have included some form of rubber feet on the bottom of the bag to prevent any damages, even if it is just cosmetic.

Conclusion

If you’re a photographer who likes to pack some serious heat and bring an arsenal of equipment with you on shoots, then the Retrospective 50 is a must-have. The quality of this monster has gone unchallenged and after you get over the slightly higher price point, you’ll never look back again. However, as a college kid who doesn’t have what you’d exactly call a “dream setup,” it wouldn’t make sense to haul around such a large bag to carry a camera body and maybe two lenses. For a shoot that will require more than just a single camera setup, the Retrospective 50 is an excellent choice, especially if you enjoy bringing your laptop along for the trip for some immediate post-editing. Of course, the sheer size of this shoulder bag may be an issue for some. Fortunately, there are many other form factors in the Retrospective lineup that will fit your personal needs.

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