One of my passions is photography and I’ve collected a sizable amount of 35mm and digital photo gear from Nikon over the years. I also have a decent Olympus 35mm system from my dad, that includes the OM-2 and OM-4 with several lenses, and an old Canon AE-1 and lenses from my grandpa. I used to do Mamiya medium format, but have since sold that off. I’d like to re-ignite the medium format flame, but that is for another post, and lots of money later.
The trick, when you have more than a point and shoot, or digital SLR with one or two lenses, always becomes: How do you carry it all? The simple answer is: You DON’T. Like Ken Rockwell advises here, if you carry everything, you’ll end up using none of it and just get frustrated with a sore shoulder. I have to echo Ken’s comments. The more we take, the less focused we become. The hardest lens to use, in my opinion, is a superzoom that does everything, from wide to telephoto. These lenses, like the 18-200 or the 18-135 or the 28-300, let you zoom all over the place, but don’t do any one thing extremely well. They also don’t allow the photographer to focus on one perspective or one focal length, so all the photos tend to be random and lack much thought. It’s much easier, especially for the beginner, to use just one lens with one focal length, like a 50mm or 28mm. After those are mastered, then move on to the superzooms.
The camera bag is the same way — carry it all, and it is too cumbersome and you end up shooting nothing, or take too little, and you miss a lot of opportunities. Small bags, like the Lowepro 140, is a small bag for our D40 and one we use for vacation shots, but doesn’t allow me to carry the lenses that I want to carry. My goal was to find a bag that could hold three, maybe four lenses, and my camera, the Nikon D700. I own too much to carry it all and decided I’d pick four lenses to carry all the time: 17-35mm, 50mm, 80-200mm, and a small fisheye for fun.
Backpacks are stupid because they have to be set down on the ground to get into them, and are targets for thieves. I don’t want to be on vacation with a huge bag on my back that screams, “Nerd.” I also didn’t want a shoulder bag because they can cause too much discomfort after carrying it a while, and can slip off when I bend over or twist. Small bags won’t hold enough. Fanny packs, like the ThinkTank system are great for pros, but again, scream nerd if you are just walking around on vacation or on a photo shoot. I was in a quandary as to what to do.
My wife finally pointed out the Lowepro Slingshot 200. It’s a hybrid bag that can fit all I want into it and more. It’s like a backpack, but can swing around to your chest to get into it (so it doesn’t have to be placed on the ground). It’s like a shoulder bag, but has a much better strap to disperse the weight. It’s also a lot more roomy than a fanny pack. I’ve loaded it up and it feels really great over my shoulder and back, and I don’t look like a nerd (at least according to me!). Here’s a quick product video of it and shows how it can be slung around to your chest to access the bag:
If you are looking for a great bag that will carry a decent amount of equipment, isn’t too big, isn’t a backpack, is easy to get into and out of, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, check out the Slingshot 200. I got mine from Adorama and got free shipping. I highly recommend Adorama. I ordered the free 7-10 day shipping on Saturday, and it came the following Wednesday via UPS. They don’t charge sales tax and have the best selection of all kinds of gear, as good as anyone in the U.S. I won’t say here how much I’ve spent over the years at Adorama, but it’s many thousands and I’ve never had a bad deal from them yet.
Let me know what kind of camera bag you use. You can also read more about the Slingshot here.