Camera/lens backpack advice please - lots of lenses and no need to remove backpack?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by valdore, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. valdore macrumors 65816


    Jan 9, 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri. USA
    I currently use a Canon 5D with 5 lenses accompanying it, the largest being the 100-400 Canon telephoto. The rest are of moderate size. I could be getting two or even three more lenses here shortly, and the choices are overwhelming as far as bags to accomodate the lenses and DSLR body. Overwhelming in that I'm frightened I'll spend hundreds of dollars on the wrong bag.

    Say I'm in Manhattan or Chicago's loop or wherever else, taking urban wide-angles, urban-fisheyes, and urban telephotos, all within a close period of time. That's a lot of lens changing. (And a lot of time for dirt to get inside and on my sensor too! :mad: )

    As I was saying, it is very cumbersome to go through the following set of procedures:

    1) Mount wide angle 17-40 to camera body, close bag, put bag on back.
    2) Get my wide angle shots
    3) See some things that would look great with the fisheye
    4) Take bag off back, lay on ground in busy urban sidewalk, dismount wide angle lens, mount fisheye lens, close bag, put bag on back again.
    5) Get my fisheye shots
    6) Oh, but damn! Look down that huge "urban canyon" streetwall of tall buildings - perfect for telephoto-induced urban chaos and drama! So, take bag off of back again, dismount fisheye, mount telephoto, close bag, bag goes back on my back yet again...

    mind you this is all happening within a manner of minutes, and it's a really pain and incredibly inefficient.

    What can I do? Slider backpack that holds 6 or 7 lenses and a DSLR body? Does such a thing even exist? Could I throw a Mac Book Pro in there too!? Can I carry it on a plane? Can I switch between wide angle and fisheye and telephoto and prime and all that possibly without having to remove the backpack from my back for EVERY SINGLE LENS CHANGE?

    Or some combination of lesser backpack but use a bag at the waist in addition to the backpack...?

    advise, plz. k thx.
  2. jampat macrumors 6502a

    Mar 17, 2008
    I use lowepro sliplok cases for what you describe. Depending on the trip, they are either mounted to the backpack belt or on a S&F harness. The camera and lenses travel in the pack, then get pulled out at the beginning of the day and kept in the cases. I have 3 small (size 1 or 2) cases and one large (size 4) case and there may be room for two more cases on the belt of the pack. The S&F harness is nice in tight places as the backpack can get in the way. No backpack means no weather proof place to hide the camera if the weather turns though.

    I have a Nature Trekker pack. It works really well. My only complaint is that the pack itself is quite short vertically, so to carry it comfortably, the harness has to be extended quite far out of the pack. It loses a lot of stability this way. If you are close to 6' tall, I would recommend a Photo Trekker as it should fit more comfortably and have more room for your gear. Nature Trekker maybe the largest size that is acceptable as carry on luggage though, so keep that in mind.

    Lots of people use a vertical bag for walk around. This would work really well for all of your small lenses and is much less obvious that the SlipLok cases, but it may not comfortably accomodate your 100-400. Good luck.
  3. mcarnes macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2004
    USA! USA!
    Only way is to hang it in front from your shoulder straps. But really, anything you hang in front is a pain in the butt. You feel like a overloaded pack mule.

    Ultimately, I settled on a P&S for while I'm walking with the pack on, and a SLR system with tripod for when I'm stopped with the pack off. Not saying that will work for you, but it is what worked for me and I enjoyed my trip much more.

    Edit: I thought you were talking about overnight backpacking in the woods.
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Get a pelican case with wheels. The 1500 seeries might be the correct size. The case opens and closes fast, no taking it off your back and you can stand of the case if you need to shoot over the heads of a crowd. With the case on the ground, lid open all the equipment is accessible at once so you have fast access. The case lid is much faster than a zipper. Also the case is tough. You could kick it down a stairway or drop it in a river. (I've actually done the "river test".)

    Try it. Because the case is always on the ground you never have to lift it or set it down, saves time. If you don't like it then use the case for storage and transport on airlines, busses and so on. Many times I put a packed camera bag inside the pelican case and then ditch the case in a hotel room or camp site and use the bag. But I've worked out of a hard cas too. It's quicker. In fact the only thing quicker than working out of a hard case is using one of those big red roll-a-way mechanics tool chests with pull out drawers. But those are totally impractical outside of a studio.

    I would never take that many lenses with me. I have a few but I select them and will carry at most three. I prefer two or even just one. Yes I miss some shots but I get others. I think if I waked around with just a macro lens I'd get about 200 shots off. If I had fives lenses I'd still get 200 shots but different ones.
  5. NintendoChick macrumors regular

    Jun 30, 2008
  6. vga4life macrumors 6502

    Jun 16, 2004
    If you absolutely insist on carrying all that gear in the city, I recommend the Lowepro Fastpack. I've got the 250 as I occasionally carry my MBP in it (handy for studio shoots.)

    The few times I've taken it out for a full day in the field with a wide selection of gear, it was loaded as follows:

    Quick-access (size-zip) pocket -
    • Canon 28-135 USM IS (w/ hood)
    • Canon 70-200 f4 (w/ circular polarizer & collapsible rubber hood)
    • Canon 50mm f1.4
    • Zenitar 16mm f2.8 fisheye
    • 5D body, attached to one of the above.

    Top pocket -
    • Canon 300D body w/ 1.4x TC & 300mm f4 IS attached
    • 2 spare batteries

    Laptop pocket -
    • ball-head monopod (carried vertically along the laptop-pocket zipper, head poked out the top a couple of inches but held securely)

    Front pocket -
    • Additional CF cards, filters

    This layout allowed quick and easy lens changes on the 5D and relatively easy access to the long lens body & monopod. The waist strap is great when carrying this much gear for any length of time.
  7. Kebabselector macrumors 68030


    May 25, 2007
    Birmingham, UK
    Just a quick thread hijack!

    Does the Fastpack have a AW cover (as I'm thinking of getting one for walking). - edit, saw one today - nice bag, no AW cover though.

    Anyway, I have a Lowepro Vertex 200 which should hold your kit well enough. I've used mine for 2 5D bodies, 300mm, 70-200mm, 15mm, 50mm, 24-105mm and a 17-40mm. Plus you can fit a MacBook in there as well (and probably a MBP).d
  8. CATinHAWAII macrumors member


    Aug 21, 2007
    --== Hawaii ! ==--
    i have 30D with three lenses,,, and had the lowepro
    slingshot 200 AW, found that it was a tight fit, and then just
    got the Slingshot 300 AW,,, bigger, and definately enough room..

    really, you dont really need to carry more than 3 or 4 lenses...

    i dont see the point... carry it everywhere.???:eek:

    PS the 350 can accommodate a portable computer too...
  9. Mantat macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2003
    Montréal (Canada)
    Why would you need that many lenses or urban touring?

    With experience, I have found that the best lenses for urban are the 17-40 and a 70-200 (but a 100-400 would be even better). On top of that you can add a fisheye if you want to.

    If you are carrying too much gear you will be slow, cover less ground and have less opportunity to shoot. When I am on a trip I use the 17-40 70% of the time. Unless you are really digging the circular effect of the Zenitar fisheye you are getting more coverage with the 17-40 if I remember correctly.

    I would advice to carry a foam pad too for when you have to crouch on the groud to get your shot!
  10. vga4life macrumors 6502

    Jun 16, 2004
    Yeah, no AW cover built in. I usually stuff a garbage bag in a pocket just in case, but I've only ever needed it once. (extremely heavy downpour)

    It stayed dry inside through a couple of days walking through Southeast Alaska drizzle without a cover.
  11. Kebabselector macrumors 68030


    May 25, 2007
    Birmingham, UK
    Nice to hear that. Still undecided bag wise though, the FastPack is nice, but the top compartment could do with being a bit bigger. I'm going to have a look at the Thinktank rotation 360 which is a stupid name for a bag, but it looks to offer something different. Price is a factor though as it's 2x the price of the Lowepro gear.
  12. valdore thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jan 9, 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri. USA
    I wound up rummaging through my local brick-and-mortar photography store looking at their camera/lens bag inventory, and after extensive consultation with a dedicated but very older and ditsy sales lady, I bought the Lowepro Slingshot 300 AW - their sling backpack. It's just big enough to fit my 5D and six lenses plus accessories I carry around.

    No laptop compartment though. :( It came down to the compromise of having a do-everything mega-bag that could hold a 17" laptop and all the lenses I could possibly through at it - BUT be stuck taking the thing off my back constantly when I'm out in city streets taking photos. That's huge - I'm really looking forward to this whole slingbag thing. It's my first.

    I paid about $120 for the Lowepro, so I guess it's all good since I was prepared to drop $250 on a Crumpler from B&H.
  13. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

    May 28, 2004
    In a false sense of reality...My Mind!
    valdore, is the bag going to fit like this image or on your back yet allowing it to swing around to your side? Just wondering if front or back placement on the model you ordered.

    Attached Files:

  14. valdore thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jan 9, 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri. USA
    That looks very similar.... just that big in the picture you attached looks more artsy and embellished than this lowepro I bought. But I think they do the same thing.

    EDIT -- not like that bag apparently, this lowepro I bought will go on my back, with a "sling" across my front, and I can slide it around and open it when I need to change lenses.
  15. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    The idea behind all sling bags (including the one pictured, which I think is made by Kata) is they are normally worn on your back, but can be pulled around to the front (as demonstrated in the picture) when you need to grab your camera.

    I've got the Tamrac Velocity 8X, and it's the same way.
  16. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    You need to carry less stuff!

    The best thing that I ever learned while in school for photojournalism was to CARRY LESS STUFF and work on being efficient.

    At most, I have one body, a standard zoom (17-35/17-55) a mid range tele (70-200), and either a standard (50mm) or specialty (60mm Macro/fisheye) and that's it.

    Then I add pouches to my Lowepro if I need to carry strobes or another body.

    Take the basics with you to the camera store, then find the smallest yet most modular bad you can find to stuff it all in their with. That's the bag you need.

    Carrying all that crap slows you down, hurts your back, and is a big liability waiting to happen. I don't know of any wildlife photogs that even carry that much crap with them ALL the time. And forget about the lappy. Take it with you if you plan on outputting and toning in the field.... the real field not Starbucks. Otherwise just go home or back to the office. When on location, most photogs don't carry their portables with them, they keep them back at base and lighten their load.
  17. sonor macrumors 6502

    Jan 15, 2008
    London, UK
    I have the Slingshot 300 AW. You can get a lot in it, but it starts to get heavy pretty quickly then, as it's just on one strap - it is a nice wide padded strap though. Now I mainly tend to use it with one body, a couple of lenses and a flash. The slingshot idea works well - you can spin it round the front and grab the camera in just a few seconds.
  18. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    There are people who even have every Leica len$. Buying lenses is fun and feasible for many people and they like the style of carrying stuff around. It is fine. It creates jobs, incomes and the sales volume makes it cheaper for all of us to buy stuff. I used to get upset, thinking this wasn't a good plan or look, but there is no harm, no foul. Have fun.
  19. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

    May 28, 2004
    In a false sense of reality...My Mind!
    Sounds pretty nice since most aren't as limber as an octopus :p I really never looked at sling type bags before but for what little I have one might work just fine.

Share This Page