Not Your Everyday Banana

by Bart Arondson

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I had a look through some previous post about bags, but I did not find anything related to bags/backpacks for telephoto lenses with wildlife photography in mind (please correct me if I'm wrong).

At the moment I have Canon EF 100-400mm with Canon 500D, Tamron AF 28-300mm + hoods and sometimes a monopod or tripod.

What I'm looking for is something compact (I do not wish to carry whole "lens store"), comfortable, with easy access to the camera with attached lens, good protection, and ideally some extra space for lunch or other items.

In sling-style bags, the Kata 3N1-30 seems to be very compact or new version of 3N1-35 PL that seems to be more comfortable. Then there are backpacks such as Bug-203 PL (I like the easy access to camera) BumbleBee-222-B UL, Lowepro DryZone 200, Lens Trekker 600 AW II or Nature Trekker AW II

So what are you people using?

EDIT:

I took in consideration David proposal and while bag-hunting in the shops I tried different harnesses with cases attached. David approach would work for me in case that I would be carrying backpack to counterbalance the weight on the front.

However at the end I closed up on my original path for bag. I found that Kata 3N1-30 and 3N1-35 PL are rather robust and almost in the size of BumbleBee-222-B UL. Their smaller sibling Kata 3N1-20 is actually big-enough to fit in camera body attached to 100-400mm lens plus 2 other lenses, with some space on top of the bag in separate compartment. Only downside is no direct way to attach tripod.

I'm sort little disappointed with Lowepro offer only reasonable products been Sling 180 AW and Fastpack 200, but in my opinion they been lacking on equipment protection (thin padding) and comfortability.

At the end of the day I decided to go with Tamrac Evolution 8 (model 5788). This does provide comfort, protection for equipment, chance to attach tripod/monopod and has reasonable price (£80 + delivery in UK).

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Looking for the same option .. let me know if there is any store in pune-India –  user11992 Oct 11 '12 at 12:12
    
I wouldn't know as I'm located in UK –  peter_budo Oct 12 '12 at 7:47
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1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Here's what I've been doing. This is a little different direction, and you might not care for this at all, but it's worth listing here with the more traditional dedicated photo bag approaches.

I arrived at this solution largely because I do most of my photography while hiking, which menas that I've got other stuff to carry (besides photo gear) and I want fast access to my camera and lenses. I use a regular (non-photo) backpack on my back to carry general gear, plus photo items I use less often such as a strobe, cleaning kit, extra batteries, and so on. On my chest, I clip on a LowePro TLZ (available in several sizes) and LowePro Lens Case (I'm using the 2S, which I don't see listed on Amazon anymore). The LowePro lens cases use a sliplock attachment that hooks it securely to the TLZ.

Front view, showing TLZ and lens case: enter image description here

In this photo, of course, I wasn't photographing wildlife, but I think you get the idea.

Advantages of this approach:

  • I can use any backpack I want on my back. In this photo, I've got a small day-pack, but I can also use a large backpacking outfit in the same way. When choosing a backpack, it's helpful to get one with a sternum strap.
  • I can use a backpack with a hydration bladder. For some reason, photo backpack manufacturers seem reluctant to include spots in their packs for hydration bladders. Go figure...
  • I have immediate access to my camera and lenses (I can carry additional lenses in back if I wish). When hiking, it's helpful to have my camera handy if I do see any wildlife, and when I'm hiking with others, they usually don't want to wait for me to dismount my pack, unload my camera, take photos, and then put everything away again.
  • The TLZ top open away from my chest, which helps with access to CF cards and permits lens change on the fly.
  • Both the TLZ and lens case can be sized precisely for my gear.
  • If I don't want to use a backpack at all, I can clip a shoulder strap onto the TLZ and carry that (with or without lens case) on my shoulder.

I haven't found this solution to be perfect, though. Disadvantages:

  • It's little bit of a pain to put on and take off -- probably an extra minute or so, versus just mounting a pack.
  • This solution by itself doesn't help with tripod access. There will obviously be plenty of places on your backpack to clip on a tripod, though, and if I'm hiking with someone, I usually just ask someone to grab it off my back if I need it.
  • In the combination I'm using, the TLZ bag has an AW cover, but the lens case doesn't. You might be able to find a lens case with cover, though.
  • I'm still experimenting with ways to clip the TLZ to my chest without the lens case causing it to sag to that side. You can see that tilt in the photo.
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David as I said I'm open to suggestion, recommendations as it is helpful to me in choosing and judging on best suited product (for me) and I expect to other users too ;) –  peter_budo Aug 9 '11 at 12:56
    
Good -- it looked like you already had a pretty good handle on the traditional approach, so I figured it was worth tossing in a "now for something completely different" answer. As I mentioned, I don't think this is the best solution for everyone, but it's got some benefits. –  D. Lambert Aug 9 '11 at 13:06
    
This just brought another possible dimension to whole thing to take in consideration, which is in some way exciting. Taken I do own and use Quechua Forclaz 40 air decathlon.co.uk/EN/forclaz-40-air-172310990 I'm already thinking how can I possible utilize this with photo equipment... –  peter_budo Aug 9 '11 at 13:23
    
That was one of the main factors in my decision. I use a full-size Lowe Alpine pack when backpacking, and I can use the exact same setup w/ that pack, or with a day pack, or with no pack at all. –  D. Lambert Aug 9 '11 at 13:33
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