After six years of photographing weddings and portraits, I have gone through numerous camera bags, trying everything over-the-shoulder bags to sling bags to roller bags. For me, it has came down to four beloved bags, whose use varies depending on the type of wedding or portrait session I am shooting.
Here are my favorite camera bags, what I use them for, and what I like and dislike about them.
Kelly Moore: 2 Sues Camera Bag
First up in the running is the 2 Sues Bag by Kelly Moore. I met Kelly at WPPI several years ago and instantly fell in love with her brand and the look and feel of her camera bags. They are stylish and look like cute purses, yet are very functional and comfortable at the same time. As adorable as the raspberry and mustard colored bags are, I personally love black-colored bags because 1) black is timeless and it literally goes with any outfit and 2) it’s less likely for me to stick out like a sore thumb in the back of my second shooter’s images compared to having a brightly-colored bag.
What I Love:
- It’s a camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag. It looks like a purse, which may conceal the fact that you have thousands of dollars of gear inside.
- There are SOOooOOoo many buttoned and zippered pockets that are ALL so functional.
- A quick-access, zippered area on the back with slots to hold CF card, business card, credit card, and your driver’s license allows you to bring everything with you and no need to bring along a wallet.
- There are removable, adjustable dividers to custom fit the gear you have.
- The entire inside is colored bright PURPLE (right??!) which is not only super adorable, but it makes it so much easier to see your black-colored gear, especially when you are in darker lit areas
- It includes a long messenger-style strap an a shoulder pad so you can wear it cross body and keep the weight distributed lower across your body.
- I can comfortably carry two lenses and one camera body, perfect for when I don’t want to lug all of my gear around but just have my favorites with me.
- The top of the bag can zip all the way to enclose your gear (a common complaint I’ve heard about older styles of some Kelly Moore bags is the lack of this feature) to ensure no sticky hands taking anything inside.
What Could Improve:
- I would love to see this bag have the capability of straps adjusting and turning into a backpack. And this isn’t necessarily specific to this bag, but shoulder bags in general. Part of my reasoning with this is after years of carrying heavy gear, I notice myself constantly putting it down or switching sides to balance the weight on my shoulders, which causes a lot of my upper back and neck pain. This is why you’ll see I love to use this bag in conjunction with my favorite roller bag (read more about this later).
- After owning this bag for over four years and due to the fact that the bag is made up of a fake leather, the material on the bottom of the bag has significantly worn down after being put down on the ground so many times. And with a heftier price tag of $200, I feel like it should be a bit more durable. While this doesn’t affect the functionality or concern me for the safety of carrying my expensive gear, it just isn’t very attractive and takes away from the overall classiness of the bag… But then again, it’s the bottom, so who really looks at it?
Buy It Here: Kelly Moore 2 Sues Camera Bag
Photos courtesy of Kelly Moore Bags
ONA: The Bowery Camera Bag
This stylish, gender-neutral little bag is perfect for traveling and if you want to carry the bare minimum of gear with you. They offer beautiful leather fabrics but I personally love the black waxed-canvas material because, again, I like black bags, but it is also significantly cheaper. And being a quick on-the-go camera bag, I didn’t want to invest several hundreds of dollars in this kind of bag, but at $139, it is definitely worth it.
What I Love:
- The bag is small and compact and relatively weightless compared to others, even with gear inside.
- It is the perfect size for travel, a walk around the park, or to shoot a quick mini session.
- It holds my camera body plus one lens, which is typically either my Canon 24-70mm 2.8 (all-around workhorse lens) or Sigma 50mm 1.4 (great portrait lens for most situations). Sometimes, I will have my camera with a lens attached around my neck and then keep my Canon 70-200 2.8 IS lens in the bag (with the divider insert removed) so I can easily switch lenses quickly while shooting.
- The cross-body feature of the messenger-style strap is very convenient for keeping the bag close to your body yet out of the way and not weighing down your shooting arm.
- Being such a small bag, the padded inserts really protect the gear well.
What Could Improve:
- I wish the side pockets had a bit more flexibility to actually fit items in them because they are pretty tight and don’t have much give to really put anything useful in them.
Buy It Here: ONA The Bowery Camera Bag
Photos courtesy of ONA
Think Tank: CityWalker 20 Camera Bag
A lightweight, yet workhorse of a bag and probably my favorite all-around bag and it’s only $145. The CityWalker is a nearly ideal bag for everyday toting about and perfect for carrying all of the essential gear I need to be successful at a wedding or a portrait photoshoot.
What I Love:
- I love the fact that this messenger-style camera bag doesn’t slip off your shoulder.
- It holds a camera body, two to three lenses, and a flash all in the same bag… therefore making it very easy to overfill and it can get heavy, but of course, you don’t have to put all that in there 😉
- I like the fact that it has an hand strap attached to the top of the bag so you can pick it like a bag and don’t necessarily have to use the shoulder strap when on the move.
- It’s easy to put gear in and take it out and well protects everything from moisture and dirt. Another bonus is that it also comes with a rain cover.
- The padded insert does a really good job at making me feel secure about protecting all of my gear but is also removable for when you want to transition the bag into a messenger bag, making it even more lightweight.
- Again, this to me is a camera bag that doesn’t necessarily look like a camera bag, but moreso could be concealed (and really double up for that matter) as a baby diaper bag.
What Could Improve:
- I wish the top flap of the bag was padded, even just a little more than the thin fabric that exists, so that if the bag got tipped over or you dropped something on it, it would ensure a little more safety to the gear inside.
Buy It Here: Think Tank CityWalker 20 Camera Bag
Photos courtesy of ThinkTank Photo
Lowepro: Pro Roller x100 Camera Bag
THIS bag is the savior of my shoulders for weddings. For so many years I went on with only shoulder, messenger-style bags and I would carry everything but the kitchen sink in them, til I realized I can off-put all that weight into something I can drag behind me. As a destination wedding photographer, this bag is perfect for packing all of my gear in and is airport-friendly. It’s basically a great piece of luggage with the convenience of a mobile photoshoot. It carries pretty much all of my gear I need for most any photoshoot, and when I get to my destination, I just unload only what I need into my shoulder bag.
What I Love:
- All of the removable, adjustable, padded inserts make it easy to custom-fit the gear you have.
- Pockets, pockets, everywhere. Some to hold backup memory cards, some for business cards, and zippered ones for smaller items like video lights, batteries and personal items.
- I really like the handy kickstand feature on the back of the bag so you can prop up your gear to have faster access to it, especially handy when shooting in the studio or on-location when you are not changing locations for awhile.
- It wasn’t until I was photographing a session on the beach when I didn’t want to lug this guy out on the sand that I realized the usefulness of the “Reserve Pack” option which basically let’s you unzip the main gear compartment and turns it into a backpack. Another benefit is it allows you to downsize in last-minute scenarios where smaller airlines requires smaller carry-on dimensions or if you just want another carry-on bag for all that last-minute shopping on your trip 😉
- There is a TSA-approved locking system which makes me feel more secure while traveling.
- I’ve personally never used it, mostly because I forget that it’s there and plus I’m usually already carrying most of my gear with me, but there is a threaded camera mount on the top of the handle that turns it into an impromptu tripod or lightstand.
What Could Improve:
- I wish it could magically become lighter even though I basically have my entire gear list in this bag LOL. 95% of the time I am rolling it around behind me, but there is that 5% when I’m lifting it into my car and up and down stairs.
- Sometimes I wish I could cram more stuff in there, but an easy fix would just be to get a larger bag, which I don’t want to do.
- So in reality… there is nothing that belongs under this category, haha.
- But for real, there is a newer version of this bag, the Lowepro Pro Roller x100 AW Camera Bag, which seems like it has some good improvements, like thinner and stronger dividers to separate the compartments, better wheels, and an all-weather (hence the AW in the name) cover to protect the contents better from wind and moisture.
Buy It Here: Lowepro Pro Roller x100 Camera Bag
Photos courtesy of B&H Photo Video
All the links to buy these items are Amazon affiliate links, meaning if you click through and then purchase something on Amazon, you’ll be supporting my blog – thanks!
I’m so glad you did this! I’ve been painstakingly trying to decide which bag to get for shoots.
This is a great post and I also clicked through to your gear list and that was a nice post also. I have added you to my reader! 🙂
Tina, that is an Excellent article you produced. The way you have presented the bags is wonderful and well written too! You never cease to amaze me! 🙂
3 Comments on Favorite Camera Bags for Photographers