In this review we are going to be testing the best of the latest camera bags, comparing in terms of quality, value for money, features, space and style.
Crumpler Pretty Boy Maxi 5500. £49.99
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First up is the Pretty Boy Maxi, which is designed specifically not to look like a camera bag, and in our view also comes first in terms of style. The over-shoulder style bag is compact and unfussy, with easy access and three well-padded compartments. These compartments are attached can by Velcro so they can be customised to suit the requirements of the individual. In addition to the main section, there is a front pocket with room for accessories such as memory cards, batteries and lenscaps. As with all camera bags in the Crumpler range, the Maxi is made from their own Chicken Tex Supreme fabric, designed to be lightweight, durable and tear-resistant, while the inner lining is waterproof to prevent any moisture getting to the inside of the bag. The Pretty Boy Maxi scores well on all accounts: good quality and stylish with plenty of space and a price that won't break the bank, although while the manufacturers specifications claim room for two bodies plus three to five lenses, the possibility of this is questionable. It is more likely that the bag could comfortably fit two bodies and two lenses, while anything more would just be crammed in. Also features adjustable shoulder strap with removable padding for extra comfort.
Dimensions: 26 x 18 x 13 cm
ThinkTank Airport International. £159
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The Airport International from ThinkTank is designed specifically for carrying equipment overseas, and meets the international carry on size meaning you can keep equipment with you at all times when travelling from country to country. From the outside, the bag looks just like a normal suitcase, with wheels and an extendable handle for pulling the case along, but inside there are several specialised compartments in which to store your camera equipment. The sections are fairly well-padded, and adjustable by Velcro fastenings, and there is lots of room to store both camera bodies and lenses, as well as having space for other smaller items on the inside of the zip lid. The case is easy to access, with one main zip to the whole inner compartment, and there is also a zip compartment on the outside of the bag for items you might need quicker access to. Size-wise the case is small enough to fit in overhead luggage compartment, or on the floor in front of you. Security wise the case includes a security combination lock and security cable allowing you to lock the case to an immovable object. A removable raincover is also included to protect your equipment from the elements.
Dimensions: 33 x 19 x 47 cm
Tamrac Pro 8 5608. £72.99
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The Pro 8 5608 from Tamrac can be carried either as a shoulder bag or by a handle on the top of the bag. It is plain and simple in design but not unstylish, and there are plenty of compartments inside to keep your equipment organised and separated. There is a reasonable amount of space inside the bag, and, as with all the bags in the group, there are various Velcro attached compartments inside which can easily be altered according to the needs of the individual. On the front of the bag are wallet-like compartments specifically designed to hold memory cards and batteries, with a clever labelling system to signify which batteries are flat and which memory cards are full. Additionally there are several clear pockets on the inside so you can easily see and find what is stored inside. While the Pro 8 5608 is spacious and has lots of space for equipment, it still manages to remain quite compact. All inner compartments are easily accessible and, with buckles as well as Velcro fastenings, also secure.
Dimensions: 32 x 15 x 18 cm
Case Logic SLRC4. RRP £79.99
The SLRC4 is a rucksack style bag which, as well as having lots of space for camera equipment, has an additional compartment on the back in which to store a 15in laptop. There are two zip compartments on the front of the bag, one which opens to reveal adjustable, padded lens shelves, and the other which holds a camera body with lens attached. Alongside this there are two additional zip compartments on the side of the bag in which to store accessories. The bag does feel quite big and bulky, and is quite dull and square looking in design, but there is plenty of room inside, and the specially designed compartments make sure that equipment stays in its place. If you wouldn't particularly need the extra space for a laptop, you might want to consider something a little more compact.
Dimensions: 31 x 45 x 26 cm
Lowepro Stealth Reporter D400 AW £129
The Lowepro Stealth Reporter is also designed not to look like a camera bag, hence the name. An over-shoulder style camera bag, the Reporter is easily accessible via a top flap and has various customisable compartments inside, which can be removed entirely should you wish to use the bag for another purpose. The compartments are well-padded and there is plenty of room for equipment, plus extra compartments on the front of the bag for accessories. Included with it is a waterproof cover that can be applied in wet weather conditions to cover the already waterproof outer lining. It feels comfortable on the shoulder and tough enough to effectively protect your equipment. There is plenty of space inside, more than what you would think to look at the bag from the outside, and the bag is not unstylish, either.
Dimensions: 36 x 20 x 53 cm
Kata Rucksack R-103. £139.95
The Kata R-103 is a strong and sturdy feeling rucksack style bag designed to hold a 17in laptop as well as two camera bodies, one with lens attached, and up to five extra lenses. The bag is reasonably stylish in design, although feels quite bulky, and the insides are well padded, adjustable to allow customisation and easily accessible though a zip at the front of the bag. The outer material is weatherproof and there is also camera straps provided which connect to the D rings of the bag in order to take some camera weight from the neck. Extra room is provided in compartments at the top and both sides of the bag for accessories such as memory cards and batteries and the bag also features adjustable shoulder and waist straps plus back padding for extra comfort when carrying the bag around. Also features tripod carrier should you wish to attach one.
Dimensions: 36 x 20 x 53 cm
All items in this review can be purchased from the ePHOTOzine shop.
All images in this review were taken with the Canon EOS 400D.