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Thread: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

  1. #1
    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    Hi,

    I currently have the basic black and olive "CANON" backpack. It holds the camera with lens attached (up to 70-200) plus 3-4 lenses and a flash and filters. The only problem I have is that it kind of announces to the world "Hey-Camera equipment right here! Come and steal me!"

    I have been looking to get a basic un-labeled backpack but I have noticed a lot of "sling" packs, which basically are a backpack with only one strap that goes diagonally across the body. The idea is twofold as near as I can tell. 1.) allows you to pull the whole thing around from your back to your chest and then access the camera by a side-zipper for a quick shot, and 2.) to look cooler than a backpack.

    I don't necessarily care a lot about looking cool, and maybe I just don't recognize the utility of the swinig-it-round-the-front action, but I am not sure about the sling either. It seems like it might feel lopsided with all that weight sitting off-balance across your back diagonally.

    Or maybe it is great. I don't know.

    Any input?

  2. #2
    PhotomanJohn's Avatar
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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    Scott,

    Take a look at the Lowepro Slingshot AW 102 which is the smallest one. I really like it when I need to hike or climb and it will hold a surprising amount of stuff (Nikon 7000 w/ 16-85 attached, 70-300, (105 VR or 10-24 or SB700 flash), light meter, cpol filters, spare battery, small tripod on the side, etc. It stays put on my back and provides easy access to the gear without having to put the bag down on the ground (often there isn't really any place to put a bag down). Having ready access to the camera allows me to keep it safe in the bag until I need to pull it out.

    Anyway something to look at. I have found that you need a few to cover various situations. My other bags are Think Tank which makes some great bags.

    John

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Stephen View Post
    I currently have the basic black and olive "CANON" backpack. It holds the camera with lens attached (up to 70-200) plus 3-4 lenses and a flash and filters. The only problem I have is that it kind of announces to the world "Hey-Camera equipment right here! Come and steal me!" I have been looking to get a basic un-labeled backpack . . .
    My opinion is the “Canon” backpack only announces you don’t have Nikon.

    If you were carrying a Lowepro or similar backpack tailor made for a camera kit, then you would be announcing just as much to any prospective assailant or thief who knows his trade.

    If you are considering a ‘general’ backpack (i.e. one NOT tailor made for a camera kit), then, I expect you’ll then have issues (concerns) about your gear banging around. (I am NOT implying that such concerns are valid, I am just saying that typically, most Photographers do have that concern of gear banging around in a 'loose' bag.)

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Stephen View Post
    I have noticed a lot of "sling" packs, which basically are a backpack with only one strap that goes diagonally across the body. The idea is twofold as near as I can tell. 1.) allows you to pull the whole thing around from your back to your chest and then access the camera by a side-zipper for a quick shot, and . . .
    That’s it in a nutshell – there’s no element about ‘looking cool’ in it.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Stephen View Post
    . . . maybe I just don't recognize the utility of the swinig-it-round-the-front action, but I am not sure about the sling either. It seems like it might feel lopsided with all that weight sitting off-balance across your back diagonally. Or maybe it is great. I don't know. Any input?
    On the matter of (‘Camera Specific’)Backpack vs. Slingpack – my comment is that a Slingpack for light travel / quick access / maybe ONE extra lens.

    The point is the main IDEA of a Slingpack is to get the camera in and out easily. The way these bags work, you don’t want to unzip the whole bag when it is slung in front of you so (my personal taste) I can’t see any point in having a great pile of gear in any Slingpack as I may as well CARRY the camera ready and put all the other stuff in a backpack.

    To get to the ‘other gear’ in a (the main area of a) Slingpack is a bit of a pain - and nine times of ten, you’ll have to drop to the ground anyway, so why have a Slingpack.

    ***

    I have Lowepro gear and that I can recommend.

    The Slingshot I have is the 102 AW - it can do a 70 to 200/2.8, but it is awkward, because you really want the camera and the lens to slot downwards (lens first) so when you sling the bag in front of you, your RH grabs the trigger handle of the rig, ready to shoot. So if you had a 70 to 200 in it, you would not be able to access the camera and lens as I described.

    The 102 can carry a 1 Series or 5D Series WITH grip and a 24 to 104 lens very comfortably (that lens is fat) and I can get at that rig really easily and quickly. I sometimes carry (max) two other lenses. There is enough room for a pile of note pads, pens, ID and other ‘stuff’.

    It does not bounce around – there is another strap across your body which secures the pack when carrying it on your back: the Lowepro is very well designed – I can easily run with it loaded and on my back.

    Also it makes a nice (but small) work bench when it is in front.

    Also (something didn’t realize when I bought it) – it is ‘designed’ to be worn ‘in front’ of the body – and that fact got it (and me) into restricted areas where ‘backpacks’ are not allowed.

    It can carry another (DSLR) body if that is really necessary, but it is easier to carry a small backup camera in the top pouch – if a backup camera is necessary.

    You could swap a Lens for a Flash (might have to bend it) – so – you could do: one Camera & three Lenses; one Camera & two Lenses and one Flash or Two cameras and two lenses – obviously depending upon the size of the lenses: BUT I stress that the lighter & fewer objects are better for me to utilize the best FUNCTIONALITY of the ‘sling’ idea.

    Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    Note that the main lid if completely opened – when it is slung and in front of you, those zippers only open to where the two clips are, so the camera (or those other lenses) do not ‘fall out’.

    Lowepro, (I think), still make one model smaller and several models larger than the one I have ('100 Sports Slingshot' is smaller than the 102, I believe) – the model smaller was too slim to fit the camera’s dimensions from tripod mount to pentaprism – I couldn’t get the 1 Series or a Gripped 5D in it, such that the rig was in the ‘ready position’ for extraction.

    The models larger were counter to my 'minimalist' thinking.

    ***


    Concerning Backpacks – it’s my opinion that IF I am going to carry a backpack – then it MUST have the capacity to have a good, diverse rig – otherwise why should I bother.

    So, my thinking is Slingpack = I know exactly what I need I am in total control, I need light, small, easy and quick with gear stacked ready to go.

    But if I want a Backpack that means I am going away for a while and/or I don’t really know what I will need so I better take a comprehensive and system redundant rig with me.


    Hence, my Backpack (now discontinued - one of the Computrekker AW Series) is reasonably big and will accomodate a lot of 'stuff', if a lot of 'stuff', is necessary -

    Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    Inside:

    Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling



    WW

    PS - not that you specifically stated it . . . but
    IF you want to carry you camera 'ready' with a 70 to 200 on it, you'd be better to look at a belt mount or over the shoulder 'Toploader' bag.
    Last edited by William W; 6th March 2013 at 04:04 AM. Reason: mentioned my Backpack is now a discontinued model

  4. #4

    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    My friend said that there is no perfect camera bag because as you keep upgrading and upgrading you'll buy a bigger one. About the sling and the backpacks, backpacks are ergonomically designed to balance the weight on both shoulders. This will also be a bigger problem if you are suffering from medical conditions like scoliosis or other spine related conditions. I have a blog: http://shootdigitalpicslikethepros.c...-forum-support Cheers!

  5. #5
    kdoc856's Avatar
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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    I travel with 2 bags- one the "big one", a large backpack that carries all the usual gear, and more recently I added a LoewPro Passport sling, which is just a small cross-shoulder sling that is just big enough to pop in an extra lense or two and whatever filters the shoot might dictate. The sling is small enough that that I can carry it in the laptop compartment of the large bag. When I travel, I need to bring a bunch of stuff, but when I go out to shoot, once I know where I'm going to be I can narrow down the kit and not have to carry 30lbs of stuff.

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    Melkus's Avatar
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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    I got the Lowepro Slingshot AW 102 as well and just love it and for the camera strap I use a Blackraptor Sport another must have for me

    Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

  7. #7
    DanK's Avatar
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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    Slings look convenient to use, but if you get the point where you are aware of your back, having substantial weight that is lopsided can become quite painful. If your back is entirely fine, you may not have to worry about this, but if not, you might want to try having your camera gear supported asymmetrically before you buy. I have had repeated back injuries, and at this point, I find it really uncomfortable to have my gear supported off center. I use camera backpacks (two different ones for different purposes) and just got a cotton carrier vest so that my camera will be supported dead center on my chest while hiking with it.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    The ergonomics of slings is not good as the weight distribution on your body is quite skewed. Camera backpacks are a bit better this way (I have a now discontinued Kata model), but even this is not as good as it should be, as your shoulders take all the weight.

    An ideal camera backpack would be designed the way the proper hiking packs are, with the weight positioned on the hips and the shoulder straps being primarily used to stabilize the pack on your back. I know at least one commercial photographer who specializes in nature work who uses a regular backpack to carry his gear. Even his Gitzo tripod fits inside, so when he is out, nobody can tell he is carrying photo gear. On the other hand, the places he goes to have minimal theft risk; there are not a lot of potential thieves lurking in the back woods.

    To date I have not found a great commercial camera backpack, so I'll stick with my Kata until it either wears out or somebody puts out a compelling model.

  9. #9

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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    I use the Tamrac Velocity pack that is their second-largest sling-style model. I'm in my 60s and hike mountains with it for hours at a time and don't even notice it, though keep in mind that I'm fortunate never to have had any back problems. That's mostly because it has a waist belt that can be optionally used (I use it all the time) or hidden away inside the rear part of the pack. When the waist belt and sling are adjusted properly, the weight of the bag is evenly supported by my lower back and hips, preventing my upper back and shoulders from tiring. That's despite that my bag is completely filled on the inside, has lots of stuff including a 300mm lens on the outside and weighs 16 pounds (7 kilograms).

    It is very convenient to be able to slide it around to the front rather than having to remove it from my body. However, the company's claim that it allows access to a camera within a ridiculously short period of time was blatantly false advertising, at least based on my repeated attempts to determine if their claims were accurate when I had nothing hanging outside the bag. I don't see that advertisement at their website anymore, so I wonder if they were sued.

    I'm not under the illusion that anyone would think my pack isn't carrying camera equipment or that it makes me look cool. On that latter point, I can't imagine anything that will do that.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 6th March 2013 at 11:49 AM.

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    davidedric's Avatar
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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    Another Lowepro Slingshot user. I don't carry a lot of gear, and I find the the top pouch will hold my binoculars, which sets me up nicely for a day out, or when travelling.

  11. #11
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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    You don't say where you are typically going when you carry your gear which could make some difference. I'm about like Kevin in that I have two bags. The one that currently carries all my gear (but is about at it's limit) is a LowePro Fastpack 200 and is a regular backpack style. We hike with it and have no problems carrying the load, partly because we carry the cameras separately with good straps. The CarrySpeed strap that supports my long lens works pretty well for hiking and the camera is out and ready. If we know that we only need a subset of our equipment then we use a small shoulder bag which I'm looking to replace with a smaller backpack or sling.

    I haven't yet figured a good way to attach the tripod to that backpack so we carry it separately with it's own strap. Almost always though, there are two of us to share the load. When I've been on my own and carried the backpack for a long period of time I have noticed that the shoulder straps seem to be a little wide for my narrow shoulders but my husband doesn't have any problem with it.

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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    I like the Lowe Flipside Camera backpacks. They do not have to touch the ground to get your camera out which is nice if you are on a beach or snow. They have zipper pockets for filters and such and a couple of small mesh side pockets.

    http://products.lowepro.com/product/...AW,2116,14.htm

    Here are some serious backpacks for camera gear:
    http://fstopgear.com/
    Last edited by rambler4466; 6th March 2013 at 04:00 PM.

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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    One solution might be the Lowepro Fastpack range. I have one of these,the 250, which I use when hillwalking. It carrys a 7D 70-200 15-85 plus extender with room in the top for lightweight raingear and snacks. One advantage is its a cross between a sling, access style, and a backpack, carry style. Really happy with it, only criticism is the waist strap could have been a bit broader.

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    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    From some of the ideas presented here, I may have been trying to make 1 bag do the work of two. I am warming to the idea of a small sling or lens pouch for light travel, and then a beast of a backpack to carry all my gear when I need that much.

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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    Scott,

    I think you'll be happy with that arrangement. I made do with one bag until recently when I expanded my lenses and got a much bigger backpack. I want access to all that stuff but rarely need more than a fraction of it after I know where I'm going, and only carry what I anticipate to be appropriate. It's worked great, but as Terri mentioned, you just have to carry the tripod.

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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    I originally started out using a camera bag, single camera and lens, that's it. I upgraded to a modular belt and loved it. Very comfortable to carry as the shoulders do not have to hold any weight, which also means that the abs and back don't have to support it. So very comfortable. Balance seems great as well, although deceptively good until you try to make really fast movements or jump (then -whooops!).
    I use a large camera bag and store all my lens in camera pouches so they are doubly protected (incidental, not deliberate) and already to go for the camera belt.
    I would like a small backpack to go with it, but stores are limited where I am (and shipping - don't go there, plus import fees ).
    So, a modular system that you can adapt to any situation (including incorporating backpacks as Mike, post 9, indicated). Of which there are quite a few variants out there. (I use Lowe, but just because it was there - others with more experience can comment).
    As for the cool factor??? On a wedding shoot - I reckon it makes you stand out as a pro (even if not). Trampling through bushes - not so good due to the extra width of the hips. Open territory - great.
    And if you have an extra pouch - drink and snacks.
    Graham

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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    I have a low-profile back pack ( Everest $15) but has good/tough seams & material. It can carry 3 cams in 3 plastic boxes(like tupperware) lined with styro or foam. One box for my wide-angle the other for my 200mm. The 3rd plastic box is small, just enough to hold my extra Nikon D3100 body. All the boxes are waterproof/drop-proof. Plus all the accessories needed: extra lens, hat, water, snacks, plastic bags for more waterproofing, spare batts/mem cards. pocketsize tripod/duct tape, folding umbrella. xtra jacket if needed.
    Oh, some of these can go into my belt-bag.

    I can just load one or 2 cams/plastic box if the situation calls for it.

    Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling
    Last edited by nimitzbenedicto; 7th March 2013 at 11:31 PM.

  18. #18
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    If you are considering a ‘general’ backpack (i.e. one NOT tailor made for a camera kit), then, I expect you’ll then have issues (concerns) about your gear banging around. (I am NOT implying that such concerns are valid, I am just saying that typically, most Photographers do have that concern of gear banging around in a 'loose' bag.)
    . . .
    Quote Originally Posted by nimitzbenedicto View Post
    I have a low-profile back pack ( Everest $15) but has good/tough seams & material. It can carry 3 cams in 3 plastic boxes(like tupperware) lined with styro or foam. One box for my wide-angle the other for my 200mm. The 3rd plastic box is small, just enough to hold my extra Nikon D3100 body. All the boxes are waterproof/drop-proof. Plus all the accessories needed: extra lens, hat, water, snacks, plastic bags for more waterproofing, spare batts/mem cards. pocketsize tripod/duct tape, folding umbrella. xtra jacket if needed.
    Nice.

    WW

  19. #19
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    IMO, many photographers carry far too much gear when they are out shooting. I have witnessed some camera club members who even carry their computers when they do walk around photography.

    I use a backpack when traveling from one place to another but, never carry one when I am shooting. I am a minimalist when carrying equipment except for two thngs:

    I usually shoot with a pair of cameras because IMO that is the most efficient way to shoot
    and
    I always carry at least one flash - often two - depending on the venue in which I am shooting. I use flash frequently outdoors for fill as well as indoors.

    As far as a shooting bag; I don't always carry one since I prefer to have my cameras out and ready to shoot. I use an OPTECH Dual Harness and a Domke Photo Vest for the two cameras and two lenses which are my standard kit.

    I carry Canon 7D and 40D cameras and 17-55mm + 70-200mm f/4L IS lenses. I wll carry 430EX and 270EX flashes and will sometimes take my 1.4x TC. The weight + bulk vs. capability of the 1.4x TC makes that a good choice.

    I change around my kit depending on my expectations of shooting. For sports, I will most often carry my 70-200mm f/4L IS and 300mm f/4L IS lenses plus my two cameras. When I bring these two lenses, I will slip the 40mm f/2.8 Pancake lens (which I just purchased) into a pocket of my photo vest. This tiny lens has pretty darn good IQ, a decently fast aperture and reasonable autofocus capability. The greatest factor though, is that it is small and extremely light in weight. It is easier to carry in my photo vest pocket than even the 50mm f/1.8 Mki. When I have my pancake mounted, I carry the lens I have just removed from one of the cameras in my photo vest pocket. I have a lightweight pouch into which I will slip the long lens...

    On the rare occasions when I want to carry a camera bag; I like the Domke F-2. It is light weight and conforms to my body. I don't believe that I need all the stuffing of many other camera bags...

  20. #20
    Tringa's Avatar
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    Re: Camera bags; Backpack vs. Sling

    My preference is for a backpack. I'm happier knowing that whatever way I move it won't swing around at the wrong moment.

    On the issue of not wanting any sort of pack/bag that screams, "Loads on expensive photographic gear inside", how about using an insert which you can modify and put into a bag/sack of your choice.

    If yo Google for 'padded camera inserts', you will find lots.

    Dave

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