Which camera bag is best?

Digital cameras are expensive investments, so you must protect them from water, dust and the elements. A camera bag is the best way to keep them safe.

The design of these bags is to house digital cameras and your accessories, making it easy to always have your gear with you and prevent damage. An excellent choice for portrait grip digital single-lens reflex cameras is the Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW II. In addition to storing your camera, there is a slot for a laptop up to 15 inches for on-the-go editing.

What to know before you buy a camera bag

Shoulder bag vs. backpack

Camera bags are available in various forms, but generally, photographers struggle to decide between a shoulder bag and a backpack. Of course, there are pros and cons to each, but your choice of storage primarily comes down to how you take photos. A shoulder bag has a flap over the top, and you access your camera from above, which is good if you don’t have a lot of gear or prefer to take photos with a single camera setup. A shoulder bag can also look more elegant than a backpack, but a backpack often doesn’t have the customizable abilities of a shoulder bag. 

Solid clips, buckles and zips

The camera bag’s materials are important for keeping it safe, but some element that most people overlook (or fail to test before buying) are the clips, buckles and zips. You can have a solid bag against damage, but your bag could fall to the ground if a buckle or clip malfunctions. Likewise, stuck zippers will not only prevent you from getting a perfectly timed shot, but you might have to cut the bag open if you can’t loosen the zipper.

Accessibility

Another fundamental difference between shoulder bags and backpacks is how you access your camera and gear. As explained, a shoulder bag opens from the top, but a backpack unzips from the side. Again, consider your primary photography focus and how quickly you need to change lenses, the flash or the batteries. A backpack has ample space for all your gadgets, but accessibility is limited. Often photographers need to put the backpack on the ground before retrieving additional components. But with that said, some backpacks have a zippered slot for you to reach in your backpack without putting it down. 

What to look for in a quality camera bag

Durable, waterproof materials

The primary purpose of a camera bag is to protect your equipment. Therefore, a good-quality bag uses durable materials that won’t tear easily, keep dust and debris out and are relatively waterproof. Some bags have extra padding on the interior walls to prevent shocks and drops from damaging the cameras, but they are not as common as you would think. 

Padded straps and handles

Depending on the size of the bag and the equipment you are storing, it can get heavy — especially if you are on a daylong photo shoot. Look for a good-quality bag with extra padding on the straps and handles to take the strain off your back. It can be a lifesaver when the weight starts cutting into your shoulders or hands. 

Customizable compartment

It’s great if the bag has enough space for your camera body, a few lenses and accessories, but sometimes you want to change things. A good-quality camera bag has a customizable interior so that you can rearrange and resize the compartments. This comes in handy if you need to pack a drone or extra equipment. Most good-quality bags will also have additional, smaller pockets where you can store your lens caps, memory cards or straps. 

How much you can expect to spend on a camera bag

The average price of a camera bag largely depends on the size and functionality. For example, a basic over-the-shoulder bag with a few compartments usually retails for $20-$30, but a larger backpack with a customizable interior costs $100-$200.

Camera bag FAQ

Do I need to get the same brand bag as my camera?

A. No, and the choice of bag brand is entirely up to you. While some photographers are fiercely brand-loyal, there is no added benefit to having the same brand camera and bag.

When do I need a solid carry case?

A. Robust and durable carry cases are mainly used by photographers who have a lot of gear and travel frequently. However, photographers also use it when they go to remote locations or where there is an added danger of their equipment getting damaged.

What’s the best camera bag to buy?

Top camera bag

Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW II

Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW II

What you need to know: For photographers who take protection seriously, this backpack has a top armored section and thick padding all around the bag. 

What you’ll love: The internal compartment is customizable through several padded dividers with Velcro on the ends, letting you quickly change the sizing. The shoulder straps have thick padding, and there are two quick-lock straps to hold a tripod securely in place. In addition to the main compartment, a separate zippered slot can hold smaller accessories and a padded slot for a 15-inch laptop.

What you should consider: Some users noted that the backpack might be too big to qualify as carry-on luggage when flying. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top camera bag for the money

Amazon Basics Large DSLR Gadget Bag

Amazon Basics Large DSLR Gadget Bag

What you need to know: If you need a basic shoulder bag to hold one camera and a few accessories, this camera bag is a great option.

What you’ll love: The main compartment has five sections, with the largest dedicated to one camera body. The other sections are for additional lenses and a flash, and there is a pocket for smaller items on the front and a zippered pocket on each side.

What you should consider: Some users indicated that the stitching on the buckle is a bit flimsy.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Fosoto Waterproof Antishock Camera Case Bag

Fosoto Waterproof Antishock Camera Case Bag

What you need to know: This shoulder bag is an excellent choice if you are looking for a waterproof solution to keeping your photography gear safe.

What you’ll love: The main compartment has a special overlap zipper that seals it off from dust, and the bag also comes with a rain cover. There is one divider to customize the inside according to your camera and equipment, while a mesh pocket on the lid can house your smaller gadgets, such as memory cards or cables.

What you should consider: The bag’s interior is only big enough to safely protect one camera body and one lens.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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