I would look into the Kata Sensitivity V. It is made of neoprene, so you can overstuff it and it will mold to the shape it needs to be. I love mine with all my heart.
While it's not big enough to hold my Mamiya kit, I can hold my digital SLR (nikon D40) with it's 3 lenses (18-55, 55-200, and 35 1.8), and my Nikon FG with two lenses (50 1.8 and 28 2.8), with filters, memory card reader, lens cloths, several rolls of film, etc. comfortably.
There's a back panel as well that is useful for magazines or a small laptop as well (my 15" MacBook Pro is way too big, but I'd imagine a 13" laptop would fit, and of course a netbook). There are also pouches on the sides and on the straps for smaller things like a small lightmeter, logbook, etc.
I think it's at least worth a look. I did the research you're doing now back in March and found the Kata. From what I hear their customer service is also very good, though I haven't needed it.
A friend has a Domke F-803; see
It doesn't look like a camera bag, holds two Leicas and a few other things; looks like it's good for 50 years of everyday use. Very, very nice.
For the low-budget person: I have a Lowe Terraclime 100; see:
I holds a Leica, two lenses, meter and film. Or Rollei TLR, meter, films and a bit of space left over. CDN $40.00. I've covered thousands of kilometers with it on my bike. Machine wash!
I'm in Kingston, Ont.
It's better to have one and not need it, than need one and not have it.
Get a small good quality one - Domke makes lots as well as other makers. You can always leave it behind but there is always a use for one. Lots don't look like camera bags, which is my personal advice.
If you have one bag, you are fine.
If you get more than one, they breed like rabbits when you are not looking .
I have lots of bags.
Some are larger and are used mainly for storage (it is handy to keep everything associated with one camera system or flash system in one location).
Some are smaller, and I tend to either:
1) leave them (mostly) empty, with the knowledge that I can easily load into them a small convenient kit suitable for a particular purpose; or
2) leave them filled with a particularly useful combination of equipment, that experience has taught me will fulfil my requirements under a wide variety of situations.
If possible, it's great to be able to leave in each bag certain universally useful things, such as:
a) a quick release plate for my tripods;
b) a cable release;
c) a selection of usable backup batteries; and
d) a lens cleaning kit.
The trouble with bags is that they're like cameras : there's no one that's best for everything. I've about five, not counting bags that aren't camera bags but serve that function without saying 'I am a camera bag, steal me'. I have a Lowepro Trekker type, being a backpack where the photo kit is in the bottom bit and your vacuum flask and sandwiches are in the top bit. A good idea, but you always have to put the bag down to get at the photo stuff. I have one of those Lowepro Slingshot type, which is good if your kit isn't too heavy, but it can still carry all you normally need. With this one you can swing it round from behind to in front and get at your kit without taking the bag off or having to put it on a solid surface. I've a Lowepro Nova, an over the shoulder type which carries a modest amount of kit, and is easy enough to access. There's a Lowepro D550 which is big enough to hide a body in, and far too big for your needs. Or mine come to that, I'm afraid I can't resist a bargain. I have a smallish nondescript over the shoulder bag I got from a national pharmacy chain, which holds my rangefinder and a couple of lenses and a small flash. It's also the one I use if I'm taking out a folder with a couple of rollfilms. I do like to take one of those tabletop tripods, which can be propped against your chest to give a support when there's nothing else around, so my bags all have space for one of those.
I prefer a small bag to stuffing things in pockets, mostly because I hate the feel of things in my pockets, but also because I just find it handier to keep everything together. I try to go as light as possible these days.
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I have lots of camera bags and I don't really like any of them. The problem is that I often end up walking around holding the camera and carrying an empty camera bag.
The bags I have are useful for storing stuff in whilst at home but they don't often go out unless I want to take my RB67 with three lenses and two film backs. A bag is essential then.
However, there is one bag I like. I converted a small dark green army style canvas bag with a foam base which I cut out to take a Minolta SLR and three lenses. It is small and doesn't look like a camera bag. And best of all, it only cost £5.
Wise words. At last count i have...
Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
<goes off to count>
... eleven! One for each camera kit, and several for different purposes, for example when I don't want to use a bag that screams 'Expensive gear in here!'
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.
A bag has two possible uses, organization and carrying in the field. As already Posted, a bag can organize your 'kit' amd have it ready to go.
The use of a bag while actually in the field, identifies one for possible theft and is an undeeded encumerance.
I keep two M7's with lenses, a third lens, flash, batteries etc in a large Leica bag(current catalog model) as a ready to go kit. Rarely do I take the bag but just grab cameras and stow in net compartments in my vehicle.
I can easily and have for many many years carried two cameras without a bag. A good multi-pocket jacket or vest certainly helps but not in hot weather.-Dick
Try a cheap soft-side cooler. I use the various lunch-box size that I have picked up at yard sales for carrying what I'm using on a particular trip. They are not as easily compartmentalized as dedicated camera bags but they are cheap, padded, insulated and it looks like you've left your lunch on the seat of the car and not an expensive camera. Very few people will try to steal your lunch.
hey- my advice is to get an inconspicious-looking (=cheap) messenger-style bag, and a couple of Domke inserts. Add a little foam padding to the Domke inserts, as they are not only padded on the sites, strangely enough. This is inexpensive, flexible, and does not attract too much attention.
keep in mind to get a messenger bag with a flap that you can make friends with - some of them are just plain cumbersome, and you'll - presumably- want quick, unhindered access to your stuff.
Also - another reason for not buying a dedicated camera bag is that these usually leave room for stuff like a rain jacket, drink bottle, books, and all the other paraphernalia that you usually carry around with you.
"We are much more likely to act our way into a new way of thinking than think our way into a new way of acting." - R. Pascale