Three other photographers (Syx Langemann, Morten Rand-Hendricksen, John Biehler) and myself each presented a topic at the W2 Woodwards Media Café. Each topic varied widely from the other, giving the session a something-for-everyone feel to it.
My talk was titled “Bags, Straps, and Slings: Taking your DSLR and accessories on the road in style and comfort.” From that talk’s documentation, I pulled together an overview for those who couldn’t attend the conference.
It was on a trip to Europe earlier this year that I came to realize the many day-to-day decisions to be made when it came to carrying my gear. This inspired me to put together a talk to present at Northern Voice. And here I am.
If it’s true that the best camera you have is the one that you take out with you, then I believe that the bag you carry it around in should be equally convenient. And as far as DSLR cameras are concerned, a camera that’s seemingly lightweight at the beginning of the day will feel different by dinner time!
You’ve bought a DSLR, a flash unit, and a couple of lenses. Now you’re faced with a wealth of choices for porting it all around.
Do you take out one lens for the day and leave the speedlight at home or in your hotel’s safe? And how heavy IS that speedy zoom lens?
If you’re jet-lagged from a long flight, take the point and shoot along for the first day or so, getting a feel for a new city. You won’t run the risk of leaving your best camera and lens behind in a restaurant. Landmarks can always be revisited with your DSLR.
How much will you REALLY need to take? Are you travelling locally to cover an event for the evening, or heading out for a full day of touring?
Planning your day before leaving the hotel can save a sore shoulder, neck, back or hip later.
Decide how you will be carrying your camera and gear on an average day. For example, on major museum days, I’d often leave the camera in the hotel room safe, and took a point and shoot instead. You’ll be faced with either checking in your camera at coat check or carrying it around and not being able to use it, as most museums allow no flash photography, and many, none at all.
Are you prepared to carry a bag on your back where you’ll constantly need to look out for potential pickpockets? Are you most comfortable carrying your DSLR around your neck? Using a wrist strap? At your hip?
Is the bag compact enough to be worn in front when in busy areas? If you can’t control the bag due to size or bulk, it’ll probably be more in your way and stand between you and enjoying your holiday. If the bag’s bulk won’t matter in your specific situation, make sure that the lenses are easily accessible without too much fuss.
Find a bag that will not only fit your DSLR and accessories, but also your essentials. Having one bag is easier to look out for, especially in crowded airports. Tip: Carry a foldable shopping bag that can be filled with snacks, a newspaper, etc. as a second carry-on item, one that can be easily accessed during the flight and can be packed down later.
Does your bag offer zippered areas for stowing away extra digital cards or batteries, cables or chargers?
Pack up a bag and take it out around town for the day. Try to use the camera often, grab at other essentials, and see how handy the set up is before taking off on longer trips. Assess your back, shoulder, and neck the following morning. Is the setup doable?
Bring an extra DSLR bag that can be collapsed into your luggage. Like travelling with an extra pair of shoes, it’s a luxury to be able to switch up bags during the course of any trip, as long as they’re equally productive ways of taking your gear around.
Is the bag waterproof? Are your lenses and camera prepared for wet, dusty, or hot climates?
If you’re in a car, it’s easier to bring a larger bag along for the ride, but if you need to take it in and out of the car several times, is it still a handy setup? Perhaps your partner or road companion won’t mind carrying the bag once in a while to lighten your load.
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