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Why you probably do not need a standard camera bag

Photography Camera Bags Alternatives

There are several reasons for real camera bags to be less useful today than in the old years of film photography. Times have changed and here are to you a few points to consider:

  • Compact cameras today are really high quality, thus allowing most people to avoid buying bulky reflex cameras. A slim point-and-shoot can rest hidden in any jacket inner pocket.
  • Changing lenses (in reflex cameras) causes tiny particles of dust to easily reach the sensor: while the professional photographer will not bother and still use the best lens for his/her job, the average photographer will prefer to use a single zoom lens in order not to expose sensor to dust.
  • Zoom lenses are rather good today, and lots of people simply do not own prime lenses any more: one single lens can be enough for all (but the most requiring shots).
  • Black-and-white photography does not require any colored filters any more: that array of round or square yellow/orange/red/green/blue/whatever filters simply does not exist any more.
  • Film itself is not required any more: those rolls of exposed and unexposed film to take care of are all gone, replaced by small (though roomy) memory cards.

The result is that, for any average/good photographer, a lightweight approach could be a wise choice: a tiny (but wonderful) camera like Canon G12 is perhaps the best pick.
No bags, just slip your camera into your pocket and go!

Sure, you might still need to carry more equipment than a simple compact camera with you.
Here are some ideas you can consider in place of standard, bulky, ready-made camera bags.

Photo bag alternatives

In case you are a woman, you will definitely want to avoid hauling those bulky bags men seem to like a lot. We have a list of very nice bags which can safely carry your camera without loosing your style.

But, really, there are many alternatives to standard photo bags.

Photo vests

Photo vest
Photographer's vests are a very interesting alternative to bags in many circumstances. They are small jackets with a lot of pockets and have the advantage to be used as regular clothes as well. A few of them are both light and padded enough to comfortably and safely carry your basic gear without hassle. Vests come (or can be tinted) in any color.

Some special travel vests models have a lot of hidden pockets: they are perfect for both photography and travel.

Fishing vests (as well as other vests you can find at outdoor and workwear stores) might result in the cheapest (yet effective) choice ever.

For people requiring extra space, we suggest the Jaktogo jackets.

Diaper bags

Diaper bag

A diaper bag (possibly with some extra padding added) can very successfully double as a photo camera bag: they usually feature multiple inside and outside pockets, as well as a changing pad which makes a good bottom padding for your gears.

The real advantage here is that few people would ever be attracted and steal a baby bag which is supposedly full of powder milk, dirty diapers and some other parenting suff.
Thus, you can load your bag with the most expensive gears, without fear.

Also, baby bags are usually rather cheap, which is quite positive.


ready-made padded insert

Anything at hand can easily be turned into a suitable carrying container. The key feature is appropriate padding, in order to protect you camera and lenses.
Several supermarkets offer reusable bags, often made of cotton, as an alternative to paper or plastic shopping bags: get one of such bags. Or, you can get something more durable and stilish, just like this beautiful hand-made large Delft Blue tote bag.

Inner padding can easily be made from closed-cell foam gymnastic mats/camping pads, properly cut and shaped with a sharp cutter and kept in place with some gaffer tape or glue. Or, if you do not feel like making inserts from scratch, you can buy and adapt any ready-made padded insert from standard camera bag suppliers.

It is really up to you and your creativity, skill and taste. Not to mention budget.

Safety first

At the end of the day, it might even turn out that placing your valuable gears into an ordinary polythene shopper could be safer than using a regular bag, overall.
This is particularly true when walking through big cities’ bad areas, where a stealth camera bag is definitely a wise choice.

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