Professional bloggers...yeah, I'm not one of them. I admire those who can get their posts up on a regular schedule with perfectly edited photos and table settings. Colorado's been an inferno lately...figuratively and literally, and it's been too hot to find the motivation to cook much of anything. The above Mango and Blueberry Quinoa Salad has been pinned on one of my Pinterest boards for ages and I finally found the little bit of motivation in this energy sucking heat to boil up some quinoa. The fresh berries and mango are perfect with the lemon zest dressing. I followed the recipe exactly...without any adaptation except throwing mint on top so I hardly feel justified in just reprinting someone else's recipe here. I'll let you follow the above link...it's definitely worth it.
So with mostly bowls of takeout or cereal coming out of my kitchen, I've had little to blog about. I did however find some motivation to organize my basement recently and happened upon a "few" camera bags. Just to torture myself, I added up the cost of those "few" camera bags and was appalled to see that I'd spent well over $500 on bags. The pain of that realization is still a little fresh but finding that perfect camera bag is a bit of an adventure. There are features that you don't know you want or don't know you hate when you buy that first bag. There are features that you want after you buy new camera lenses or accessories. Camera bags are tough.
And here's a secret about camera bags. The perfect camera bag does not exist. You read the forums or blogs and everyone always says their bag is "almost" perfect. The perfect bag does not exist because what we all secretly want, but cannot admit, is a bag that holds all of our camera equipment and only weighs 1 lb.
Yes, a bag that weighed 1 lb fully loaded would be ideal. The same bag made by Burberry would be perfect. A girl can dream.
My thoughts on some not so perfect bags for me, as well as my current favorite:
This Tamrac Velocity 7 bag is one my oldest. It's a sling style bag that allows you to wear it right across your chest so that you can grab your camera at any point. I found the lenses a bit hard to get out because you had to stack them on top of each other. I also didn't love how it screams "Hey, look, I'm a camera bag"
Also, it's not so cute. I was still holding out hope for a cute bag.
So onto a cute bag. This one is the Snugglens from an Etsy seller. I picked out the Amy Butler fabric and she made the bag to order. Great quality, great padding, great layout inside and metal feet on the bottom. I love this bag still.
But ultimately I felt like I was carrying a diaper or crafting bag and I was sure a camera bag should be more purse like and not quite so cute. Amy Butler fabric while super duper cute, is not my preferred handbag style. This camera bag easily transitioned a knitting bag. Not too shabby in my opinion.
The Jo Totes Missy Bag. It's discontinued but I am a sucker for a bag with pockets on the front. (Update: it's back!) It's a bit of an obsession really. This bag is really well made with tons of moveable dividers so that you can configure the inside to hold lenses, camera body, diapers, wallet, water bottles or whatever else you carry in your day bag. They also use some fun contrasting fabrics for the interior of the bags.
Jo Tote's (along with Epiphanie bags and Kelly Moore bags) are all entirely way too darling. What they aren't however, are light or made of real leather--I've held and caressed many of them. I know they are synthetic leather to be more weather resistant and protective, but I am just personally not a huge fan of synthetic leather. The bigger issue for me though is that they are meant to be handbags or shoulder bags and once you put one camera and one lens into the bag and throw it over a single shoulder, it's pretty heavy. This Jo Totes then became a knitting bag as well. Seeing a pattern here?
So with my need to have a sleeker, more everyday handbag type camera bag, I tried the insert in my own bag option. I still use this one as a purse that holds a camera with one additional lens at most. You can buy an insert on Amazon or Etsy and then buy an actual handbag that you like. I purchased this buttah soft leather bag with a strap long enough to be worn messenger style. The lack of weatherproofing is not a problem for me because hey, it's Colorado and it almost never rains here.
So, the dreaded backpack. This Kata photography backpack is great because it doesn't scream "hey, I'm carrying tons of camera equipment" and has the well thought out functionality of a backpack specific to photographers. I love the zip out monopod/tripod holder and rain jacket. The bottom half zips out and holds your camera equipment and the top half holds your jackets, snacks and accessories. I heart the yellow interior because the black lenses jump out against it and it's so much easier to find things in it. It also has a back zip compartment that holds a laptop--I can fit my 15 inch laptop in there with room to spare. I like this backpack for shorter trips, but still have the issue of not being able to fit everything I want to carry. The nylon webbed waistbelt wannabe also made me sad.
The undfind bag. Love these bags, especially the smaller hip shooter bag. These are really more lens bags than they are full camera bags. The hip shooter attaches to your belt (I really need to wear more belts) and the you have your lenses within easy reach. The bigger bag has a lens divider that can be removed so the bag turns into a laptop bag. There are tons of organizing compartments in the front pocket and the strap is super stretchy and comfortable. The bags are made of neoprene similar to the Shootsac but with a more structure and the ability to fully cover the top of the bag so no lenses fall out. I also met the undfined designers/owners once when I was in Vegas and I am a big fan of supporting new entrepreneurs again especially when they are so friendly and helpful.
And finally, my favorite camera bag. After all this time, I've come full circle to a Lowepro Flipside 400 that does look suspiciously like, well, a camera bag. The tripod holder does zip away when not in use and after I painted over the Lowepro logo(couldn't bring myself to actually cut it out of a new bag), I found that it looked a lot like any other backpack. It has an attached hidden rain cover that can be pulled out for those 5 minute passing storms that we get here.
The front pocket has a padded pockets and a padded pouch perfect for an iPhone.
This thing has a killer waistpack and sternum strap that distributes the weight very well. If you can't have a pack that reduces the weight of your camera equipment, you can at least have one that distributes it well. This backpack is the closest I've come to actually making my camera equipment feel lighter than it is.
My favorite part of this backpack is that it opens from the back. It's a little awkward to get the flap to stay open, but the tradeoff for that awkwardness is that the camera equipment feels much safer without an external zipper. And of course it's called flipside for a reason...theoretically you can just slip the shoulder straps while leaving the waist belt on, swing it around and open from the back to quickly and easily grab your camera. It's not as easy as the girls in videos always make things look, but it does work.
I love how something the same size as my Kata backpack holds so much more camera equipment. The dividers are configurable so you can adjust the size to carry jackets and snacks as well and there are many places on the outside of the bag to add additional pouches.
Flash card pockets. Love that.
And while I'm on the subject of almost perfect camera items, have to share my ultimate favorite camera accessory...the BlackRapid Strap. I've had this strap for about a year and I can't imagine using a neck strap again...seriously has made carrying a camera around so much easier. When I'm feeling the need to be minimalistic, I just grab my camera with the BlackRapid strap and it really feels like I'm not carrying a camera at all.
The BlackRapid allows you to wear your camera cross body, messenger style. The camera sits at your hip and then can be brought right up to your eye without taking it off. The women's version has a curved strap on the chest to umm, curve around a woman's curves. If I had to do it again, I think I'd opt for the men's cargo version that has a phone, ID and memory card carrying pouches in the shoulder strap because I rarely find my curves getting in the way. Throw your keys into the cargo strap you'd be ultra minimalistic.
The strap seems a bit scary at first because it mounts to the bottom of your camera and the camera does hang upside down. But after an entire year of using it, I've never had an issue or close call--just make sure you lock the carabiner and check it periodically. I use a Manfrotto RC2 quick plate on the bottom of my camera and BlackRapid even has a specific fastener for that. It works perfectly for the RC2 though I've heard that others have tried unsuccessfully to use it with other quick release systems.
Seriously love this strap. Maybe more than any of the bags.