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I'm going on a little photo vacation toward the end of March, and my lenses and body have outgrown my current camera and laptop bag. Everything fits in my current bag, but it's not a solution that would allow for any degree of rapid storing or removing of any of the gear.

I'm looking for a camera bag that will hold a D7000; a Nikon 24-70 and 70-300; and a Sigma 8-16. One lens is always attached to the body. Ideally, I should be able to get the camera and lenses in and out of the bag without taking the entire thing off. I'm thinking that a belt pack might be my solution, but I've never tried one.

Does anyone else with a similar collection (medium sized body, three medium size lenses) have any tips on a good in-the-field carrying solution?

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7  
Are you looking for a solution for just this trip, or that you will use for several years? Are you going to be in and out of a vehicle (and will you be driving or a passenger) a lot on this trip, or will it be mostly long hikes (is this solution in addition to a backpack? a daypack? does it need to hold water bottles? granola bars? lunch?)? Do you want something that will breeze through a TSA checkpoint? Will you be in a potentially-high-crime environment? Are you fashion-conscious? Do you want to look like a photographer, or not look like one? –  drewbenn Mar 3 '11 at 7:07
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All-around solution. Will be driving a little, but planning to walk as much as possible (walk and not hike). This will be my sole bag, and will have to hold at least a water bottle, too (or have a loop that I can tie a water bottle to). Won't be going through security; the bag will be empty and in my suitcase when I'm flying. I avoid high-crime areas as I only took a few weeks of Karate when I was 7. Not into fashion when I'm on vacation. I'd like to appear inconspicuous, but I realize that discretion and holding a ton of glass don't necessarily mesh. Whew! Good questions! –  Eric B Mar 3 '11 at 19:15

5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I am really just recommending you what I use but the Lowepro Classified 140 AW is pretty great, and satisfies all those requirements. This bag is exactly designed for three lenses, where one is attached.

I recently carried the Canon Compact Macro, the Sigma 30 1.4, and mounted the 70-200 f4 L on a Canon XSi in this case around Europe for 3 weeks. This was a bit heavy on the shoulder after a lot of hiking(as much as 30 miles per day), but switching shoulders usually was enough to deal with it. If you need more room, I recommend the lens pouch which nicely fits on the side of the 140 AW.

The 140 AW is a really high quality bag. The straps are great, the front cover is very water resistant(kept my shit dry in pretty heavy rain in Belgium), and I feel like the front of the bag was nicely designed for carrying other accessories. One last nice thing about this bag, is the strap has a torso strap, which is nice for keeping the bag from swaying back and forth while you walk.

Good luck and enjoy your trip.

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I gave you the thumbs-up because you suggested a bag closest to what I ended up buying: A Tenba Large Messenger Bag (tenba.com/products/Messenger-Large-Photo-Laptop-Bag.aspx) for cameras and laptops. It may replace my backpack, altogether, but also squishes pretty flat if I want to put it in my suitcase and then bring my backpack on the plane. A bit cheaper than the online store, as well! –  Eric B Mar 18 '11 at 20:31
    
I am glad if this was helpful then! –  BBischof Mar 19 '11 at 3:10

Do you have a price range in mind? (always be wary of someone who starts by asking that question....)

If you think the messenger-style bag would work for you (I've never used one before this bag, so I was a little leery but it's been comfortable) I could recommend the Domke J-5XC. It accessibly holds 2 mid-sized lenses, one attached to a body, and I think it would easily and accessibly hold a third if I set up the partitions better. Right now I use most of the bottom space for accessories (like a blower bulb, 10' shutter release cable, and filter step-up rings) instead of lenses, but I often squeeze another mid-sized lens and another prime lens or two in there. It only has three exterior pockets, none of which are particularly roomy, so those are always crammed full (battery+charger, lens caps, filter pack, gray card, pen, notebook, ziploch bags) but it is very well made.

And the main reason I bought it: it fit inside my laptop backpack. I picked this bag so I could have a single carry-on that held my backpack, camera equipment, and some other stuff; but I could pull just my camera bag out and take it for a walk (leaving the backpack with its heavy laptop in the hotel or at my friend's house or in the car while I go on a hike).

Oh and while there is some padding, it's not super-padded. A fall from a high-enough height would probably break some gear. I'm not the most precise person, but I don't consider myself clumsy, and I don't throw my gear around, so I wasn't too concerned about thick padding when I bought it. Also, it's not set up to have a tripod mounted to the outside of the bag (I really wish someone would make a solid, 6-foot tripod that collapsed down to < 12 inches, fully extended in seconds, and cost under $100. Well.). Errr, and the velcro can be kinda loud; anti-sneaky-theft and anti-skittish wildlife, take your pick.

So, even though I'm really happy with my bag I wouldn't recommend it without some reservations. It's a high-quality bag, though, has plenty of room and lets you configure it however you wish, and it doesn't scream camera bag (no big, bright Canon logo on the outside).

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Less than $200 bucks. Hopefully, right around $100. Thanks for the tip! –  Eric B Mar 3 '11 at 19:16

Bought me a Tamrac Velocity several years ago. Great bag.

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But why it is a great bag? –  koiyu Mar 3 '11 at 11:27
    
why? Comfort. I've chronic back problems and it has a very good weight distribution across my body. And the way it's carried, it sits like a backpack almost when you want to, yet can be carried at your front as well without removing it from your back, just swing it around. With the size and shape, you'll also be forced to think about what you carry (it's not too small, but there's almost no excess space for junk), reducing weight and clutter. –  jwenting Mar 7 '11 at 6:49

Note: Ups, writing that answer I was sure you asked for a backpack not a non-backpack. However I leave the answer, maybe you like the bag nonetheless ;-)

I am carrying my Nikon D7000 with 3 lenses plus one attached lens in my Kata 3n1-20 Sling Backpack. There is also an additional (top) compartment that may also take a 4th lens and also some further, smaller compartments. I will not go into details of the bags features since they are all very well described on Katas website. You can vary between several modes to wear it. This comes in very handy since you can wear it properly and comfortable for longer hikes as well-as in the city for quick access to your gear. You will not have to take it off to get your gear out. However, I like the concept and the quality of the bag and can really recommend it. The sole drawback is that it is clearly recognizable as a photo bag, so if you are looking fore something subtle it might not be the right choice.

I'd recommend to try if all your gear fits in, at your resellers store.

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Thanks! I'm going to use my existing backpack for travel (as there's another pouch for my laptop and miscellaneous other gear). However, when I'm in the field, it takes forever to get my stuff into or out of the backpack, hence the non- prefix. Nothing's truly off the table, yet, though. –  Eric B Mar 3 '11 at 19:10

The ideal type of bag to go for when you want rapid access is a shoulder bag. You can always access right where it is and you can move it out of the way to sit, crouch and compose your shots (unlike a belt-pouch).

Among shoulder bags the best designed is Lowepro's Rezo series. It comes in several sizes, the Rezo 190 AW being the biggest one and can accomodate 1 camera with lens attached plus a several more lenses (I've packed 4). You can probably fit your current stuff in the 180 but may want to leave room for expansion.

The best part of the design is that it opens away from you and the main compartment opening is flush with the top, so you do not have to reach down between you and the bag. This makes it much easier to change lenses than with any other design. You open it and it stays open while you move the lens caps, swap lenses and change filters.

This bag has a built-in rain cover which saved my gear. I wouldn't buy a bag that didn't protect from rain.

Disclaimer: While I own one of these, I now use the Lowepro Nova 200 AW more because I often carry too many lenses for the biggest Rezo. I've reversed the strap and wear it backwards, so that it opens away from me. This makes it harder to open but at least I can swap lenses easily because the bag stays open while doing that.

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