My Search For That Perfect Camera Bag…….
I have been searching for that perfect bag for quite a while now, a bag that looks like a handbag while secretly doing an undercover job as a camera bag. It also hds to be a bag that I would want to be seen with. You would think this bag would be easy enough to find, but that’s probably because you woudn't have taken my geographical location and my rather subdued style statement into account.
I have a really nice backpack that has quite enough space for my camera, 3 or 4 lenses and a flash, a laptop and lots of little pockets and pouches to keep all the other smaller stuff that goes with photography like cables, extra cards, battery, charger, etc.
I’m quite happy with that bag and it’s what I carry a majority of my photography gear when I need to, even more so when travelling. Unfortunately, it’s a little too big (and unwieldy) to lug around when all I need to carry is my camera with attached lens and an extra lens on a short trip, a photo walk, a visit somewhere close or a trip into town when I want my camera with me just in case a photo-op presents itself.
That bag also screams “photographer on the loose” when it’s with me, which is not how I want announce my presence everywhere I go. A lot of the time, all I want is to be able to put my camera in my everyday hand bag. Sometimes, I would like to carry it in one of my better-looking bags when I’m not really planning to take a whole lot of photographs but would like to use my camera if the opportunity presented itself.
One way to work around this would be to carry a smaller Point Shoot on such occasions. The only problem is that I have a very basic PS which I’m not very happy using some of the time and I’m not planning to on spending on a second one. I’d rather spend that money on a bag that would suit my purpose.
To be specific, I wanted a camera bag that looked good, wasn’t huge or weighed a ton, and would protect my camera and lens while accommodating the various basic knick-knacks we women tend to need to carry around with us. I know a lot of people (read men) would think this was a tall order or impractical for camera bags but ask any women and she would disagree!
Many of you would wonder what the fuss is all about since there are any number of fashionable options out there for women’s’ camera bags like this, this, thisand this. The problem for me, is a couple of things, actually.
One is that I’m a bit particular when it comes to the bags (and shoes) I buy. I look for comfort as well as style, and by that I mean my kind of style.
My daughter tells my style (lack of) equals boring and unadventurous. If the fact that I refuse to buy or carry bags in pink, bright red, purple, parrot green and mustard yellow, or that I don’t like bags with a lot of buttons, flowers, tassels, bling, zippers everywhere, bulging pockets and the like, then I’m probably boring and I can live with that.
I also don’t like the Satchel style of bags which come in more sober colours but tend to look (to me) like the bags I see pharmaceutical company representatives carry around with them! So you see, it seems like most camera bag makers don’t share my idea of style.
My Handbag-cum-Camera Bag (with the Padded Insert from the Sling)
Then it just so happens I live in a part of the world where camera bags made especially for women are not available. If I did order them online from abroad, the shipping costs would over two times more than the cost of the bag itself and it would all add up to something quite insensible.
Given these limitations, I have finally come to the conclusion that there’s probably no perfect camera handbag solution for me, unless I take to manufacturing them myself! I have however, come to a compromise of sorts and settled for an acceptable alternative in the shape of a Lowepro Passport Sling
The bag did get some good reviews, it came personally recommended to me and it was available locally at a reasonable price. So it seemed a good option considering it was the probably the only one that was halfway close to what I wanted or was likely to get.
The Passport Sling is not the greatest looking bag out there but it does have a lot going for it, including the fact that it’s affordable. It is a unisex sling bag made from nylon fabric, and the padded part of the bag has enough room to accommodate my Canon 60D with an 18-135mm lens and spare space for a 50mm lens or a flash. There’s also enough room to carry my purse, keys, phone (I have a small one but the bag will take an iPad), a medium sized bottle of water (make sure its leak proof!) and a couple of pouches inside for memory cards, and stuff. You can also open up the side to expand the bag to create about 30% more space.
The Passport Sling
It has an adjustable strap and the bag can be worn on the shoulder or across the body. The outer pockets are ok but I’d have liked it better if they had zippers to them. Watch this video and this one for more details about the sling.
The best part of this bag (in my personal opinion) is the padded section for carrying the camera and lens is attached with Velcro strips and can be detached. This means that the sling can also be used as a normal non-camera bag minus the padding. But even better for me, I could slip that into any of my bigger non-camera bags and carry my camera along with no one wiser until I take it out of my bag!
Other good options to create your own one-of-a-kind carry around camera bags is to buy a padded insert specially made for cameras (if you can find them) and use it along with your own bags. An even better option, provided you’re nifty with a sewing machine or can find someone to stitch to your specifications, is to make your own customised padded insert. Whichever way you go, you’ll carry your dSLR safe, in comfort and in style.
Disclaimer : I have not been commissioned or paid to write this post. I'm just sharing my experience as a woman who loves photography, lives where camera bags of (any sort) for women are non-existent, and my search for a stylish everyday handbag that would also carry and protect my camera and lens.