Latest From The Phoblographer

Camera Bag Review: Tenba DNA 15 Backpack

The Tenba DNA 15 Backpack is so incredibly functional; and it doesn’t look too bad either.

For the past few months, one bag has really dominated my use: the Tenba DNA 15 backpack. The Tenba DNA messenger line was designed for commuters in large cities and was billed as being stylish–though quite honestly it’s nowhere near as eye catching as their Cooper series. The Tenba DNA 15 backpack follows the same ideology but brings the idea to a backpack. They’re nice, but more so in a functional way that gives a photographer all they need while not being super ugly, breaking the bank, or making you look like you subscribe to the bro culture deeply rooted in everything Peak Design ever manufactured. Instead, the Tenba DNA backpack is a beast all in its own, incorporating a roll-top style design, pockets on the side, pockets within pockets, and a really nice way to access your gear.

Best of all: it works really, really well when you’re traveling on airplanes.

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Review: Shimoda Explore 40 Backpack (the Essential Adventure Camera Bag)

The Shimoda Explore 40 is arguably overkill for most photographers.

I’ve known about the Shimoda backpacks well before they were announced, and for a period of a few months I’ve been reviewing and testing the Shimoda Explore 40. For the first time ever, I’m shocked to say it – this bag is overkill for most photographers in almost every single way. For the working professional, the travel photographer, or for the photographer who essentially needs to bring their life with them as they traverse their nomadic lifestyle, the Shimoda Explore 40 backpack will let you do all that and more. With tons of weather sealing, a three way zipper, pockets within pockets, dividers that can be placed throughout the entire bag, lumbar support, expandable storage, and a whole lot more there is so much the Shimoda Explore 40 backpack has to offer.

Again, I’m going to preface this by saying that this is a very extreme backpack. If you live in a city, there’s no reason to have this thing. If you trek out, hike, camp, or essentially need to carry all the things with you, this bag will become your best friend.

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Review: Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L (Don’t Call it a Fanny Pack)

Though it can be used as a fanny pack, the Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L is much more versatile.

When the Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L came in for review, I was almost put off by it. You see, the Peak Design Messenger bag left a very bad taste in my mouth because of how little thought was put into making it both versatile and comfortable at the same time. But after a few emails between the Peak Design team and I, I learned that the Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L is perhaps one of the best bags for a photographer who wants to carry a minimal kit for a day out. If you’re a biker in a big city and you don’t want to feel as if you’re carrying the equivalent of a small person, the Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L will ensure that doesn’t happen. It’s small and so it really only houses a camera with a lens (and perhaps an extra lens), along with small pockets for a bit more stuff. I often bring it out when I’m shooting film. But one of the absolute best things about it is that it doesn’t look like a camera bag at all.

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Review: Vanguard Alta Sky 510 Backpack

 

The Vanguard Alta Sky 510 Backpack won a Red Dot design award

For the last many years I’ve been a Tamrac / Lowepro user and I spent years in a local camera store using, training on and selling those brands and several others. This backpack was my first real world foray into the Vanguard’s products and I was eager to see how it would compare to the many types of bags that I’ve been through already. And, as it won a Red Dot design award this year, I was eager to give it a go.

After pulling the Alta Sky from its box, I was first blown away by the sheer girth of this bag and then impressed by the quality feel and build of it. Size wise and access wise, this is a bag for someone who has been looking at the Tenba Shootout 32L or Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L or a backpack in the 24-32 liter range. From its pro level hiking style strap construction to its drone pouch on the front, any casual mirrorless user or anyone with a few kit lenses and normal camera body need not read farther: this bag was meant for big camera users. This bag is also not meant for anyone who is looking for an airline carry-on bag. Empty, the Alta Sky weighs almost 7 pounds, measures just outside of FAA dimensions and its lack of a removable waist belt mean that you’re going to look like a crazy person trying to get this beast into an overhead bin.

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Camera Bag Review: Vinta Type II (Prototype)

The Vinta Type II backpack has some nice upgrades, but not necessarily the ones I wanted

When the Vinta Type II was announced on Kickstarter, I was pretty excited. The Vinta S series backpack has been one of my mainstays for a very long time. Any time that I’ve brought it out, folks fell in love with it. But in addition to that, I warmed up to it after some time. I didn’t like the lack of quick access, but I learned how to work around that. And even further, I thought that the arrangements of the pockets was a bit odd. To be honest, I still do. But it taught me to pack light and I continued to use it because it’s such a damned comfortable camera bag. I told myself that Vinta would make a much better bag the second time around. In some ways, the Vinta Type II is that bag. But in other ways, I genuinely feel like the company created even more problems.

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Camera Bag Review: CRAVAR Rana 13 Messenger Bag

Photographers who want to carry their gear in style at an affordable price will love the CRAVAR Rana 13.

The CRAVAR Rana 13 is a bag that I really thought that I wasn’t going to fall for due to my moving away from messenger bags for my back’s sake; but CRAVAR got to my heart like a bad ex that woes you back into their web. In some ways, you know that it can be bad for you, but it works. It’s what you need for the moment. The CRAVAR Rana 13 is a gorgeous leather messenger bag designed for the photographer. They’re made of all leather and have weather resistance built in alongside a number of other of standard features for photographers. Specifically, it may appeal to mirrorless camera owners a bit more considering that it can surely hold a lot of gear and it can double as a daily work bag.

Are there groundbreaking features that differentiate it from the rest though?

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Review: Vanguard Alta Fly 49T Roller Bag

All images and words by Feroz Khan. Used with permission.

If there’s one thing photographers are obsessed with, as much as with bodies and lenses, it’s camera bags. In the nine years or so that I’ve been shooting professionally, I’ve owned no less than 10 different backpacks or roller bags. Most of them have been phased out as my gear list got bigger or as my personal requirements for a camera bag changed. Despite looking them up before, I’ve never owned a Vanguard one so far. I took the Alta 49T for a few spins around Dubai, to see if it matched up to my current bags of choice.

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Review: Manfrotto Manhattan 3-Way Shoulder Bag Changer 20

The Manfrotto Manhattan 3-Way Shoulder Bag Changer 20 is a bag I was wary of had predispositions about. But in the end I was pleasantly surprised and rather infatuated with just how good of a camera bag Manfrotto created. Indeed, they’ve made the only good three-in-one camera bag that I’ve ever used or tested–better than anything Peak Design or others have made. Considering the fact that I personally have never had any sort of affinity for Manfrotto camera bags, the Manfrotto Manhattan 3-Way Shoulder Bag Changer 20 has really changed my mind. The bag has the capabilities of being a tote shoulder bag, a military map case style messenger bag, and a backpack all in one. Plus, it does it in a very functional and sensical way.

In truth, it really is one of my favorite bags reviewed this year so far.

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Review: BlackForest Bags Vinson Messenger Bag

As I’ve become slightly older (at 30) and more conscious of my personal health, I’ve also mostly moved away from messenger bags. They’re not so great for your back, though some of them encourage you to carry less gear. Despite the fact that the BlackForest Vinson is designed to help you take less gear, it’s nice to know you can stuff a whole lot of camera into there. Not only that, but it’s also pretty comfortable, deceptively durable, nice looking, and they’re hand made in India.

In regards to that last statement, I didn’t think much of it until it actually came out of the box. Then I was completely shocked.

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Review: Vinta S Series Backpack Camera Bag

More and more, I’ve been leaning away from messenger bags and towards backpacks. No one has really gotten what I want perfectly, but some are close. When you consider what Vinta makes, the Vinta S series of backpacks seem very much in line with what lots of photographers would want. They’re stylish, minimal, low profile, and able to carry a fair amount of gear if you’re a mirrorless camera user. The company markets it to being used by outdoor and landscape photographers very often. But in real life use, it seems to be better for city trekkers.

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Review: Hawkesmill Jermyn Street Camera Bag (Small)

Without a doubt, some of the most luxurious camera bags on the market are made in England by Hawkesmill. Not only are the bags luxurious, but they’re also built very well overall for the most part. With the new release of the smaller versions of the company’s larger bags, there have been a few changes. For example, the Hawkesmill Jermyn Street camera bag has a few new updates like the use of a hook system to keep the bag closed.

Otherwise though, it’s business as always: a beautiful bag that’s well built.

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Review: Brevite Rolltop Camera Bag

Brevite got their start on Kickstarter a year or two back with their original backpack, which mimicked the look of that classic ‘Jansport’ school book bag. I used it regularly as my day trip bag for everything from business meetings to photoshoots; I loved its versatility and its overall build. (My one complaint was the plastic looking faux leather used.)

So when I got word that I was going to be getting a chance to checkout one of the companies new additions to their line, the Rolltop, I was excited to see what it had to offer. I have had this bag now for well over a month, and have used it for everything from day trips to local wildlife refuges to cross country air travel.

Today it is finally time to share my thoughts on the Brevite Rolltop, so lets get into it.

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Review: Peak Design Everyday Tote Camera Bag

When Peak Design announced their new updates to the Everyday Bag lineup, I was incredibly cautious. Sure, we’re a news website and we’ll report on it–but there was a major problem that I had with the Everyday Messenger bag. Then the review unit request came in and I called in the Peak Design Everyday Tote. “There’s no way they can screw up a tote bag,” I thought to myself knowing just how much work goes into their products. But indeed, very few manufacturers have made totes targeted at photographers.

Thankfully, Peak Design really did a truly fantastic job here that I think is worthy of even more praise than the Everyday Messenger bag has. The Tote goes from tote bag to backpack with ease, allows for quick access where you need it and provides the photographer with a lot of versatility. In many ways, this is a perfect bag; but it’s also not the most attractive.

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Review: WANDRD PRVKE 21 Backpack Camera Bag

When WANDRD came out with the PRVKE pack a while back, it immediately became my favorite backpack style camera bag. The WANDRD PRVKE 21 is essentially the same bag, but smaller and thinner in some respects. Designed for the traveling photographer, my PRVKE pack has served me well for more than just traveling. On shoots where I need to bring lights, modifiers, tripods, and other big items that are essential, the bag has been a godsend–far better than any messenger bag that I’ve ever used. But for when I’m not traveling, the PRVKE 21 has served me even better.

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Review: Filson Game Bag (Modified for Camera Bag Use)

A while ago, Filson teamed up with two photographers to create their own line of camera bags–but if you’ve ever spotted the Filson Game Bag, you’ll realize that it’s more than good enough for most uses that a photographer would need. Those bags are low profile, durable, American made, and designed to really not look like camera bags. Indeed, they’re much different in both construction and looks. While the Filson Game Bag was never really designed for use with photography gear, it does a great job at being a more affordable version of the Filson camera bags.

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Review: ZKin Yeti Backpack (Camera Bag)

For a while now, I’ve been on the search for the perfect camera bag; and in some ways the ZKin Yeti is a contender. It’s a beautiful camera bag with lots of space and great access for a working photographer. Considering the fact that I’m usually a messenger bag man, this bag does quite a bit to justify itself as something seriously worth looking at.

To be honest, not only does it have low-profile great looks–but it can also be a great option for traveling or shoots that require extra from you.

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Review: WANDRD PRVKE Pack Camera Backpack (31)

For the most part, the WANDRD PRVKE Pack 31 is the perfect camera bag for photographers.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with backpacks designed for photographers: but the PRVKE Pack may be the only one that I actually like except for the Langly Alpha Pro. When the Kickstarter launched, it was very aggressively marketed to be the single backpack that the traveling photographer needs. To that end, the PRVKE pack has loads of space, dividers, expandability, features that try to turn it into a tote bag, and other features that make a whole lot of sense when used during actual travel. In fact, I’ve taken it on two press trips and many a shoot.

Editor’s Note: Updated November 2019; and we love this one so much. You can pick it up from Adorama

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Review: Cub and Co Shooter Camera Bag

Cub and Co has been around for a number of years, and while they’re not necessarily as prevalent as Tap and Dye or Holdfast Gear, part of that has to do with the fact that they’ve been slower at making products. But when a Cub and Co product comes out, you generally know that it’s very well made by hand. That’s the case with the new Cub and Co Shooter Camera bag.

You see, this isn’t’ like anything that other camera bags are–instead it’s a blend of leather, Domke, more leather, Artisan and Artist padding, more leather, and the simplicity that mostly an ONA can offer. With that said, this is in its own special category. It’s not a messenger bag, it isn’t a backpack, and it isn’t quite a sling either. Instead, it’s pretty much like a special pod that you sling around you and that makes a whole lot of sense ergonomically.

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Review: Hawkesmill Sloane Street Camera Bag

If there’s any place that photographers typically go to on the web to find out more about the latest and greatest camera bags, the two biggest sources are the Phoblographer and Steve Huff. But in true entrepreneurial spirit, I’m always thrilled when a new brand approaches the site with a new product–such is the case with the new Hawkesmill Sloane Street camera bag. The company is based in England, and is determined to grab your attention with their new wares.

Take the Hawkesmill Sloane Street for example: this high end bag is designed for the photographer that is also a serious business person and that at times needs to embrace a different aesthetic. While the likes of Tenba, Think Tank and others make some great practical bags that you may want to bring around for the very general and typical shoot, there are those moments where it would make sense for you to spruce up your look a bit more. That’s not to sit here and defend what some may call a hipster or elitist attitude; instead it’s an embrace of a major reality in the world of a professional photographer who needs to look the part of a business oriented creative at times. And most professional photographers will tell you that they shoot less and do more business.

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Review: QamaySF All In One Waxed Canvas X Grid Bag

Arguably, the Phoblographer is the first place many folks come to when they want a camera bag: and no, we don’t get them all for free. Every now and then I get bored, surf the web and look around for camera bags; and that’s how I came across the QamaySF All In One Waxed Canvas X Grid Bag. They’re not a well known brand like your Tenba, ONA, Filson, Think Tank, etc. QamaySF is a bag manufacturer here in the US. Rather than hit them up, tell them that I run a large photography blog and use the powers I’ve created over the past six years to get a free product as a review sample, I went ahead and bought one. Why? I wanted the same experience you folks get.

So what makes this bag so special? It promises a heck of a lot. Not only do you get a camera bag that can be a shoulder bag, but it can be a backpack, hold a 15 inch laptop, hold a tripod underneath, has waxed canvas, and can hold a load of gear. Plus, it looks like nothing else really out there.

At least that’s what I thought before purchasing it. Judging from their product photos and promises it seems to make, you’d think to yourself that you’re getting the ultimate camera bag in some ways. But in other ways, it’s the ultimate let down.

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Review: Able Archer Mapcase

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Able Archer MapCase product review images (1 of 11)ISO 2001-200 sec at f - 2.8

“It’s not really a camera bag, but it can be used as one.” is what I was told by Able Archer when the Mapcase was presented in a catalog after the company approached me. Reviews like this are problematic at times because theoretically, any bag can be used for any reason. Lots of camera bags can double as every day bags, and with some clever tinkering a normal bag can be made to hold all the camera gear you really need.

Able Archer is a new company looking to get into the bag manufacturing game and their process takes inspiration from the past. For example, the Able Archer Mapcase was designed and inspired by literal map cases that soldiers used to carry with them. Obviously, it’s been modified for today’s needs and to suit a different purpose.

One of said purposes is a camera bag–for $300.

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