Last Updated on 09/02/2018 by Mark Beckenbach
The humble camera bag is often overlooked, but it’s actually incredibly important. After all, you are placing thousands of dollars worth of equipment into it. You owe it to yourself to get a solid canvas bag that looks good, and that you can trust.
As photographers, when we talk about new gear we tend to think about new camera bodies, or new lenses, but we never really think much about the gear that actually carries all of the above; camera bags. The humble camera bag is often overlooked, but it’s actually incredibly important. After all, you are placing thousands of dollars worth of equipment into it. You owe it to yourself to get a solid canvas bag that looks good, and that you can trust. A camera bag also says a lot about each individual photographer as well. There are so many styles to choose from, it is easy to find one that matches your personal taste. Today we are going to be looking at canvas bags. Canvas camera bags are stylish, easy to care for, and incredibly durable. Lets take a look at the best canvas camera bags for photographers.
The Tenba Cooper 13″ Slim Canvas Bag
If you are a portrait photographer who primarily uses just a couple of lenses, or a street photographer who does not want to be weighed down, the Tenba Cooper 13 inch slim camera bag is for you. The Tenba Cooper has a simple design that won’t draw much attention, and it uses a special, quiet velcro to secure the bag (perfect for if you are in a quiet location and need to switch out lenses).
In our review we said:
“This is a bag designed for the photographer who won’t overpack, but will instead bring just the right amount of gear–if they’re a mirrorless shooter or a DSLR shooter that brings one or two lenses, a laptop, and smaller things. It works out very well, is lightweight, comfortable, etc. Again though, what I’m really amazed by the most is that absolutely no one asked about it and they probably then didn’t even believe it to be a camera bag. To a photographer, that’s the most important thing of all.”
The Tenba Cooper 13 inch bag has rain flaps that will help protect your gear, and is also weather resistant. Also included is a weather wrap that will protect your gear in the strongest of downpours. The shoulder strap is well padded, which makes this bag very comfortable to carry over long periods of time. The quick zip gives you direct access to your camera and lenses without opening the front flap which is a nice touch. The Tenba Cooper 13 inch slim camera bag is a good choice for those who don’t want to be over burdened by their gear, and who want to stay out of the spotlight themselves.
Buy it now for $229.95. Amazon
Pro Tip: Accidents can happen and SD cards can fail . Keep extra memory cards in your camera bag at all times.
The Think Tank Retrospective 30
The Retrospective 30 is a serious bag for serious photographers. This large canvas bag can carry gear galore and is well suited for the professional who needs to carry it all with them. The Think Tank Retrospective 30 can fit two gripped DSLR’s, a 70-200 f2.8, a 24–70 f2.8, 16–35 f2.8, a tablet or small laptop and accessories. Carrying this much gear around will give you a workout for sure.
In our review we said:
“This will be the bag that I carry for my personal shooting needs anytime I need to carry more than one lens and my flash which is 95 percent of the time. The bag fits squarely into the larger end of shoulder bags but never feels so bulky that you don’t want to carry it but while not being bulky it maintained a good level of protection for my gear that I was very happy to have. If you shoot with a larger camera and flash system and want to carry your accessories without jamming them into your pockets this is a perfect bag for you.”
As well as carrying enough gear for a photography army, the Retrospective 30 is made from soft canvas and looks nice too. The bag is form fitting and can be reconfigured to your heart’s content. No matter what gear you have, you will be able to fit it into this bag without any problems. While it isn’t waterproof, it does come with a rain resistant cover that you can throw on in case you get caught out in the elements. If you need to carry it all, this is the bag for you.
Buy it now for $194.75. Amazon
Pro Tip: Be sure to keep a camera cleaning kit in your bag.
Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag
The messenger bag is a timeless design that looks classy and is functional, even for the most demanding user. The Peak Design Everyday 15 inch canvas messenger bag is a great choice if this style suits you. This bag is large enough to carry a full size DSLR and up to three lenses, along with a laptop and many other accessories. The divider system is quite possibly one of the best we have seen, and the top zipper gives you almost instant access to your camera and lenses.
In our review we said:
“I like the Peak Design Everyday Messenger bag; and if I like it other folks will love it. It has a damned great build quality, it’s comfortable when properly set up, can carry lots of gear, has a great way to take the weight off your back, the best locking design I’ve seen thus far, and looks nice. Plus, it’s available at a fantastic price point.”
The Everyday Messenger bag is water proof thanks to it’s waxed canvas, so you can rest easy knowing your equipment will be fine outside in the elements. The Everyday Messenger bag is also very stylish with its color coded stitching, and its two inch, internally padded strap. The maglatch is a quiet and secure way to seal away your expensive gear, and also gives you quick access to everything inside. This is a great canvas bag that will hold a lot of gear, and is perfect for portrait shooters, photojournalists, and documentarians.
Buy it now for $249.95. Amazon
Pro Tip: Ensure your gear stays dry by using rain covers to protect everything from the elements.
ONA “The Bowery” Camera Bag
The Bowery from ONA is a bag that will suit mirrorless and Micro Four Thirds shooters down to a T. This canvas bag is a little smaller than some of the others on our list, but it is just as capable of carrying and protecting your gear. ONA is known for producing top quality bags at affordable prices, and the Bowery continues that tradition. The weatherproof, waxed canvas is soft to the touch, and the brass accents elevate the look and feel of this bag too. You can see and feel that this bag was built to last.
In our review we said:
“The beauty of this bag is really in the details. The stitching, the high quality hardware, the sturdy waxed-canvas material, and the extra secure foam inserts all come together to make a truly excellent bag for someone looking for a great carry-around solution for their mirrorless camera system.”
The Bowery will work for those who have full size DSLR’s as well, as long as you only want to carry one small lens and perhaps a cell phone. The real winners here will be mirrorless shooters. With great looks, weather proofing, excellent internal padding, and a comfortable strap, the Bowery is a bag that will receive as much attention as the model you’re shooting.
Buy it now for $149. Amazon
Pro Tip: Ditch the uncomfortable strap that comes with your camera and upgrade to a comfortable camera sling.
The Vinta S Camera Bag
If you prefer backpacks over messenger-style bags, but still want a product that is stylish and functional, the Vinta S is where you should look. The Vinta S is a mixture of weather resistant canvas and leather, and it can hold a full size DSLR and three to five extra lenses and accessories. There is a dedicated slot that can house a 15 inch laptop or tablet, and the magnetic clasps are a nice design touch. BTW, we’re fans of the original; not so much the second version.
In our review we said:
“In terms of its own build quality, the Vinta S series of backpacks are pretty solid. They feature canvas and leather as part of the design and feel very durable. I’ve taken the S into heavy rainfalls here in NYC and the gear inside didn’t seem to suffer at all. In fact, the S shrugged off the rain a lot better than my jacket, scarf or hat did on those particular days.”
The Vinta S is a bag that can hold a lot of equipment. It can protect everything well due to its cushioning, and its thick padded straps make this bag incredibly comfortable to wear for long periods of time. However, the trade-off is that, being a backpack, quick access to your lenses and camera body isn’t permissible. If you are a photographer who likes to use one lens for the majority of the time this will not be an issue. The overall build quality, storage space, and the fact that it doesn’t really look like a camera bag combine make the Vinta S a great option for those who love backpacks.
Buy it now for $224. Amazon
What are your favorite canvas camera bags? What do you currently use? Let us know in the comment section below.