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Monday, March 31, 2008

Toolbox: It's In The Bag

Safe, stylish transport for a variety of gear and situations

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Whether you're setting out for a big trip or just a day hike, you need a camera bag to protect, organize and keep all of your gear together in one place. The right bag for the job will balance convenience with necessity, and since necessity depends on circumstance, you'll probably want a couple of bags at your disposal: one for daily use and one that can fit most or all of your camera system when you need everything with you.

toolboxDay Packs
Tamrac camera bags are designed not only for transporting your gear safely, but also to provide quick, convenient access. The Tamrac Aero 80 Photo/Laptop Backpack is divided into various compartments, so if you need your laptop, you can get to it quickly without touching your photo gear. The foam-padded lower compartment holds a D-SLR with grip and lens attached, plus two to three additional lenses and accessories. The rear compartment holds up to a 17-inch laptop, while a large top compartment has space for personal items. Two zippered pockets inside the main compartment hold memory cards, filters and other accessories, while mesh front and side pockets provide quick access to other accessories. A foam-padded backpack harness helps distribute the weight across your shoulders. Estimated Street Price: $89.

toolbox Designed for urban photographers who don't want to advertise that their bag contains expensive camera gear, Think Tank offers its line of Urban Disguise bags. Each bag retains the functionality of a camera bag, but disguises the contents with a simple black design for avoiding unwanted attention. Models are manufactured of tough ballistic fabric and include locking zipper sliders, a clear business-card holder, a seam-sealed rain cover, a front flap with pocket, a top handle and a front pocket that holds a D-SLR without a lens attached. Each Urban Disguise bag offers room in the main compartment for a D-SLR with a lens attached, plus extra lenses (up to two in the basic model and up to six in the high-end bag). Capacities, dimensions and extras vary by model, including the ability to carry up to a 17-inch laptop. Estimated Street Price: $69-$189.

toolbox Computers are becoming just as important to photography as the camera. Tenba, known for its popular line of Shootout series, has expanded its line of professional photography bags to include the Gen-3 Photo/Laptop collection, aimed squarely at the digital age. The backpacks offer easy access for a full D-SLR kit with two to three lenses and a flash, as well as separate protective storage for most laptops (15 and 17 inches, respectively). The bag includes movable and removable divider panels and a wallet-sized accessory pouch, which carries a phone or portable audio device. There's also a removable divider shelf between the top and bottom compartments for conversion into one large storage space. Gen-3 bags are made of weather-resistant nylon. List Price: $172 (small); $183 (large).

toolbox Security can be as important as convenience, and some camera bags provide both. The Lowepro Flipside 200 and 300 are unique for their back-panel access point. When wearing the bag, the Flipside keeps your camera and any access to it snugly positioned against your back. As soon as you need to start shooting, take off the bag, unzip and shoot. The Flipside 200 accommodates one D-SLR with an 80-200mm ƒ/2.8 lens attached, as well as up to three additional lenses or flash units. The Flipside 300 has enough room for up to four lenses, and both models include outer storage panels for accessories and personal items, plus a hideaway tripod holder. The removable accessory pouch enables users to carry or leave behind the extra weight of cables, chargers and other peripherals that aren't always necessary. A water-resistant outer fabric protects from moisture, and the detachable waist belt and adjustable sternum strap provide a customizable fit. The series is available in black, arctic blue/black and red/black. Estimated Street Price: $59 (200); $75 (300).


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