Digital SLR Photography - - Contents - Test: RICHARD HOP­KINS

A bag is just a bag, right? Well, no, there’s quite a lot to con­sider when pick­ing a bag. Find one that’s right for you in our group test of eight models from lead­ing brands

ASHOULDER BAG is an es­sen­tial pur­chase. Ev­ery pho­tog­ra­pher needs one – or three! Some col­lect even more, in an end­less quest to find the ul­ti­mate so­lu­tion. The un­for­tu­nate truth is that no such bag ex­ists, not for ev­ery out­fit in all sit­u­a­tions, and we all have dif­fer­ent pref­er­ences. But some bags get a lot closer than oth­ers and a re­ally good bag, care­fully con­sid­ered and se­lected, is well worth the ef­fort and in­vest­ment.

' Shoul­der bag' is a bit of a catchall de­scrip­tion and cov­ers a wide range of types and styles. For this re­view, we've ex­cluded par­tic­u­lar de­signs like mes­sen­ger bags ( re­viewed Fe­bru­ary 2017, is­sue 123), sling- bags ( a cross be­tween a shoul­der bag and a back­pack) and waist- cum- shoul­der bags. This se­lec­tion con­tains a wide va­ri­ety of styles, shapes and sizes, mostly of­fer­ing tremen­dous value in the sub-£ 100 bracket, some of which don't re­ally fit any other cat­e­gory and there­fore tend to get missed out.

For ex­am­ple, the bar­gain- priced Case Logic Re­flex­ion has a cou­ple of great fea­tures that shouldn't be over­looked – no­tably a Glad­stone­type top that opens wide and away from your body, and a pull- out equip­ment com­part­ment. The Cull­mann Am­s­ter­dam ' doc­tor's bag' is un­usual, also with a Glad­ston­estyle open­ing that re­veals the en­tire con­tents, and is ex­cel­lent at lug­ging large amounts of gear. Then there's Lowe­pro's Pro­tac­tic that of­fers a mod­u­lar so­lu­tion to ac­com­mo­date just about any ac­ces­sory. We've also in­cluded the Billing­ham 207, a bit of a lux­ury choice ( and yet still some way short of per­fec­tion!) but a bag that for some en­thu­si­asts is Nir­vana in can­vas and leather.

There's a wide range of sizes here, and sev­eral of these bags will be avail­able in both larger and smaller ver­sions. Al­most re­gard­less of size though, the temp­ta­tion is to cram ev­ery­thing in and fill ev­ery cor­ner, but that of­ten means mak­ing things harder to get at. A bet­ter idea is to go a size larger and keep all items ac­ces­si­ble. An ex­tra inch in­side can make all the dif­fer­ence, yet the bag will only be a few grams heav­ier and no more dif­fi­cult to carry.

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