112 — Why camera bags suck

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #112 addresses a ques­tion posed by Gor­don Laing on Google+
The best cam­era bag — what do you use?

I replied to that ques­tion say­ing that these days I usu­ally shoot bag free and keep my lenses that are in lens hold­ing cases, attached to my belt as per the pic­ture below. In case peo­ple are inter­ested, here is a list of the items that I carry with me most of the time with­out a bag. Gitzo car­bon fibre tri­pod (2540LLVL) also referred to as ‘my baby’. That’s on a Gitzo tri­pod shoul­der strap slung diag­o­nally around my shoul­der. It’s an ‘OK’ strap, no bet­ter. I’m still hunt­ing for the per­fect tri­pod shoul­der strap. Usu­ally I carry 3 lenses;  Nikon 14–24, Nikon 28–300, Nikon 50mm and 1 flash, the SB-800.

More details on the exact lenses and lens hold­ers are listed in the affil­i­ate links below from B&H.

I also carry in my pock­ets a cable release, spare bat­ter­ies, lens cloth and a hex key for my cam­era bracket plate. Not shown is the flash­light that I’ll often have with me for night shoots. Not shown are the cokin fil­ters that I some­times keep in a pouch around my neck.

Obvi­ously this setup will not work for many peo­ple car­ry­ing very large lenses and heav­ier gear — but this will work for most peo­ple that shoot with lenses that are about as large as an aver­age 70-200mm  F-2.8. This setup is also meant to give peo­ple new ideas on car­ry­ing gear.

I’m also seri­ously into know­ing if other peo­ple have alter­na­tive gear car­ry­ing meth­ods so please feel free to share by commenting.

No camera bag

Although it’s no fash­ion get up, this set-up allows my back to feel great and it allows me to change lenses quickly.

Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

Lowe­pro S&F Lens Exchange Case 200AW at B&H - My favourite lens hold­ing case. It’s FAB!

Pear­stone Onyx 60 Lens Case — In the pod­cast I talk about the Lowe­pro 2S but it seems to be dis­con­tin­ued. This model seems to have sim­i­lar specs.

Lowe­pro 50mm lens holder at B&H

Lens Changer 75 Pop Down V2.0 from Think tank for larger lenses like a 100-400mm or for shoot­ing 70-200mm with the lens hood attached. You may need to buy their belt to use this though.

Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5–5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens at B&H — I just love the ver­sa­til­ity of the focal range.

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF Lens at B&H - This lens and I are hav­ing a won­der­ful rela­tion­ship, I love her.

Gitzo GT2540LLVL Lev­el­ing Car­bon Fiber Tri­pod at B&H - This tri­pod works well for me. Fairly big but not too big.

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Thanks as always to every­one that sent com­ments by email about our last pod­cast. Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Thanks as well to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board. Most of the links to actual the prod­ucts are affil­i­ate links that help sup­port this site. Thanks in advance if you pur­chase through those links.

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You can down­load this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast directly by click­ing the pre­ced­ing link or lis­ten to it almost imme­di­ately with the embed­ded player below.

Thanks for lis­ten­ing and keep on shooting!


  1. Gianni says:

    Hello, I am an Ital­ian pho­tog­ra­pher and I have come across your blog seek­ing infor­ma­tion on the Pear­stone Onyx 110 lens case. I have a Tam­rac Evo­lu­tion Super Tele­photo Lens Pack 5793 and I need an extra case for my Nikon 24–120 f/4 lens, to attach to the pack itself, which has purpose-made side straps. No major brand makes a lens case wide enough to host the 24–120; the only one seems to be the Onyx 110, which is not imported in Europe. My ques­tion (which I have emailed to Pear­stone, but they haven’t answered) is: is the rear belt loop on Onyx cases long enough to attach to one of the straps on my Tam­rac pack, or does it only fit on reg­u­lar belts? I also have a (smaller) Lowe­Pro lens case, and its loop does fit the Tam­rac strap, so my guess is that all belt loops on lens cases are of a stan­dard size. Would you be able to tell me how long the loop is on any of the Pear­stone cases you have? Also, can you sug­gest an online dealer? B&H has out­ra­geous ship­ping charges for such a small item. Ama­zon only sells the 110 through a 3rd-party seller that doesn’t ship over­seas.
    Thanks a lot for your help!

    • Marko Kulik says:

      Hi Gianni,

      I just pro­duce the pod­casts, I don’t carry stock on these items so i have no idea how long loops are or any tech­ni­cal details.
      I sug­gest you look for the largest online store that serves Italy to get you reduced ship­ping charges…but in my expe­ri­ence Ama­zon and B&H have the best selec­tions.
      You can also try adorama.com Hope that may help

      • Gianni says:

        Thank you for your quick reply, Marko. I hadn’t read down to where you explain that you don’t actu­ally own the Pear­stone case. They seem to be very hard to find. It would be very inter­est­ing to know if they any­one who reads this actu­ally owns one. I’ll have to keep on look­ing for that per­fect case I guess!

  2. Simon says:

    I love to carry a lot of mate­r­ial all around the place. I tried so many bags, every­time, I was look­ing at this ‘belt gear’ you are using… think i’m gonna give it a try! :) looks easy.… car­ry­ing a 35mm DSLR, 3 lenses (14–24,24–70 and 70–200 + TC 2x) and one or two flashes (depend­ing) can get pretty heavy ! Thanx for your recommendations!

  3. Mac Sokulski says:

    Hi Marko Just found your pod­cast, and been slowly catch­ing up. I have to ask about your setup here.… doesn’t it restrict your move­ments when you have to get low to the ground? I found that car­ry­ing all the heavy DSLR gear was get­ting annoy­ing, so I switched to a smaller cam­era :) Now two mir­ror­less cam­eras with 5–6 lenses fit into a nice small Domke bag. It’s light, easy, and works very well.

    • admin says:

      Thx for the com­ment Mac. It doesn’t bother me much being low. I have shot on my belly like this before.
      Nar­row places are a has­sle some­times but aside from that, it’s pretty good.
      In the blog pic­ture I’m wear­ing 4 lens hold­ers — usu­ally I wear 2–3.

  4. Dave Johnson says:

    Still too much stuff for me, which is why I tend to shoot prime lenses. I’ll carry a few things in a bag that gets left in the car but go out with a 100mm macro lens on the cam­era and a 50mm in a pocket. Some­times I’ll cary a 28mm to, but it doesn’t get used much. I fig­ure that if 50mm was good enough for Cartier-Bresson…

    I sup­pose that this is very lim­it­ing but it works for me.

    I love your pod casts… Thanks for doing them.

  5. Enrique Waizel says:

    Marko. I totally agree about this alter­na­tive approach. In my case I found myself shoot­ing in devel­op­ing coun­tries or places that are not very safe. In many cases you don’t want the world to be aware of all the gear and invested money you are bring­ing with you. Hav­ing a small back­pack works for me.
    Now, if you feel you are in a totally safe place, yes, let you back relax as you explained in the pod­cast.
    Thanks as usual.

  6. Bernard Dallaire says:

    Hi Marko,

    In regards to your lat­est pod­cast and its sub­ject, I started with a Low­er­pro 180 AW a few years back when I first bought my DSLR.

    Less than a year later, I needed some­thing to store/fit all my gears, I got a Tenba Shootout Back­pack medium size back­pack, won­der­ful for me when I go teach­ing (I teach pho­tog­ra­phy to adults, in the Ottawa area), every­thing in one bag, and VERY solid bag.

    In the past cou­ple of years, I’ve been look­ing for a bag, or some­thing to carry my 70–200 f/2.8 IS II USM lens, a 17–50, my 40D and a cou­ple acces­sories, like spare bat­tery as I go and shoot sport­ing events. Some­thing not to bulky, I looked at the lens bags, I looked at the hol­ster type of bags, but I finally set for the Tenba Mes­sen­ger bag, and love it, I can eas­ily access my equip­ment inside with­out risk­ing drop­ping every­thing, and I can do so with­out putting it down, all while hav­ing it sus­pended around my neck, like a purse if you want.

    For loca­tion shoot­ing, I love the mes­sen­ger bag, haven’t looked back since, I have one bag to carry around with every­thing I need for the shoot inside.

    It’s a per­sonal choice, and I’m glad you dis­cussed this on your pod­cast, some­thing impor­tant for pho­tog­ra­phers to ‘think’ about, for me, the lens case don’t work to well, as I’m on the over­size side, hav­ing things hang­ing off my belt just didn’t appeal to me.

    If I can con­clude with this, any half/serious pho­tog­ra­pher who thinks they’ll find one bag that will address all their needs, is mis­tak­ing, as I found out ;) LOL !!!

  7. JP says:

    Yes, the pod­cast audio was a mess on the first down­load, but I got the point of the dis­cus­sion. In fact, I was lis­ten­ing to the pod­cast on the way home from sell­ing my DSLR and a cou­ple of slow lenses and buy­ing a Canon G15. The G15 with its 28-140mm f/1.8–2.8 lens is all I need for 90% of my shoot­ing, which is mostly travel and fam­ily shots. After 50 years of lug­ging big cam­eras the time has come to chase the light and GO LIGHT. Thanks again…

    PS. Gor­don Laing looks pretty silly with all that stuff on his hips and neck. But, he’s a pro­fes­sional, so we’ll give him a break.

  8. Bret Farris says:

    I started with my first DSL about a year ago and was tak­ing all of my equip­ment with me all the time. I’ve tried out sev­eral bags and after a while real­ized that car­ry­ing so much was just a pain. So, now when I travel, I have my bag I use on the plane, and when I go out for walks to shoot, I do what you are now. I have a cou­ple of pouches I use to carry extra lenses on my waist and have quick access to change them at will.

    How­ever, I still carry a smaller bag that will fit those items because, when I’m done with my walk I can put them back in the bag for the train or taxi ride back to my hotel. But, it’s just an empty bag while I’m walk­ing around. Works great for me.

  9. Sylvain Racicot says:

    Hey Marko, I don’t know if some­one already reported this yet, but there’s a prob­lem with this pod­cast, both down­loaded & the embed­ded player on this page. For a big part of it, we hear you twice, but from a dif­fer­ent sec­tion of the pod­cast. I tried con­cen­trat­ing on just one part, but I almost went mad, so I had to stop… Can you please fix it? Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Wow thanks to every­one that emailed me. I was sure I dou­ble checked the file before upload — so sorry about that! I have re-uploaded the audio file and it sounds good now. Thx!!!!

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