Bought a camera but scared to take it out into the wild without a way of keeping it safe and secure? It’s a common problem. Most people make do with whatever case or strap came bundled with their camera purchase. Or they buy the cheapest camera case they can find, only to regret it weeks later when they find it’s not up to the job. In this article, you’ll discover a range of camera bags, cases, and straps designed to keep your camera and accessories safe and you comfortable all day long.
Camera Bags & Cases
“What’s the difference between a camera bag and a camera case?” I hear you ask. Camera cases are usually more compact with just a small pocket which lets you store a lens cleaning kit and a spare battery. But beyond that, you’re going to have to find another way to carry anything else you may need. Camera bags are, on the other hand, larger, and more flexible in terms of how you use them. They are well equipped with spare pockets and straps for carrying additional, bulkier items like tripods.
Which is right for you largely depends on whether carry or intend to carry, many additional camera accessories – such as lenses, filters, spare batteries, a flash-gun, etc.
It’s perfectly ok to have a camera case and a larger camera bag. A case is perfect for short trips where perhaps you know you’ll only need one lens. A camera bag workes better for longer trips where you’ll want all of your camera accessories available, all the time.
Camera Bag Features
Camera bags come in all shapes and sizes. From subtle, shapeless shoulder bags through to large rucksacks capable of accommodating a laptop and doubling as carry-on luggage.
Style-wise, there’s everything from ubiquitous, functional black designs through to stylish, patterns or pastels, in a range of attractive materials.
In terms of features, the following are useful:
- Additional pockets so you can store smaller accessories
- Generous padding providing extra protection
- Adjustable padded inserts so you can create custom-shaped compartments for a better fit
- External Straps so you can attach bulky tripods
- Stretchy side pockets for a drinks bottle or smaller tripod
- Padded laptop or tablet compartment – for editing your photos on the go
- Waterproof cover
Below we’ll look at several good examples of camera bags.
Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II
The Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II is one of a family of professional products which is very versatile, well-designed and well-manufactured. The bag has three main storage sections – one at the top, one at the bottom, and a padded section which can take a 15″ laptop and a tablet.
With the lower compartment unzipped, you have access to the camera and any other accessories, such as lenses or a flash gun. The “Fastpack” reference in this product’s name refers to the fact the camera can be accessed quickly by slipping off one of the two shoulder straps and slinging the case around to the front of your body. This lower compartment is then easily accessed without even having to fully remove the camera bag.
Tenba Messenger DNA 8 Camera and iPad Mini Bag
The Tenba Messenger DNA 8 Camera and iPad Mini Bag is a compact camera bag aimed at smaller bodied cameras such as mirrorless or rangefinder style cameras. It’s available in several different sizes – “DNA 8” (pictured below) through to “DNA 15” – and can also store up to three lenses and a tablet device.
Kattee Professional Canvas SLR DSLR Camera Backpack Laptop Bag Case
The Kattee Professional Canvas SLR DSLR Camera Backpack Laptop Bag Case pictured below – accommodates a 14″ laptop and comes in black, blue or pink.
Jo Totes Gracie Camera Bag
Maybe you’d prefer to use a less noticeable bag or carry your camera bag inside another, less obvious bag. Aimed at female photographers, the Jo Totes Gracie Camera Bag below doesn’t look like other camera bags at all, yet it has the same padded compartments you find in more conventional camera bags.
Camera Case Features
Most camera manufacturers sell camera cases designed for specific models, or which will accommodate a range of models. It’s better to look to specialist camera case manufacturers as camera companies can’t really compete on quality or features.
In terms of style, there’s less choice here, but there’s something for everyone.
Feature-wise, look for:
- Generous padding
- Hard-wearing, tear-resistant material
- Space to store a spare battery, lens cleaning kit and spare memory cards
- Secure closing mechanism
- A comfortable carry strap
Let’s look at some example camera cases.
AmazonBasics Holster Camera Case
The AmazonBasics Holster Camera Case is a no-frills camera case for DSLR Cameras. It can take an SLR camera with up to a 110mm lens attached and features three compartments for accessories, with 2 dedicated slots for SD memory cards.
MegaGear “Ever Ready” Protective Fitted Leather Camera Case
The MegaGear “Ever Ready” Protective Fitted Leather Camera Case is a stylish, attractive fitted leather camera case for the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GM1 with 12-32mm Lens. Cases are available on Amazon.com for all major mirrorless cameras. Simply search for “Fitted camera case” plus the name of your camera.
The larger, top cover can be removed for easier handly when in use.
Camera Neck & Shoulder Straps, Shoulder Harnesses & Wrist Straps
Without some kind of strap, you will drop your camera one day, so it just isn’t worth the risk.
Neck & Shoulder Straps
Most new cameras come with a basic, manufacturer branded neck strap, and typically these are narrow and thin. If you regularly carry your camera around with you for long periods of time, make sure you get one with a larger, padded contact area over the shoulder.
Camera neck straps come in a variety of sizes, designs, and colors – so you’re sure to find something you like.
The Mimi Green “Shelly” Designer DSLR Camera Strap is a great example of something a little different and is available in several colors.
Most simple straps leave your camera dangling down your front, or swinging around your hip. This can be a nuisance if you often bash it on things, especially with a longer lens mounted. Also, suspending heavy cameras and lenses from your neck can cause serious discomfort. A popular alternative to the neck strap is a shoulder-harness as these usually incorporate connecting strap which passes under the arm. These are more comfortable because the weight of the camera is supported by your shoulder, not your neck. In addition, the under-arm strap keeps the strap from slipping around your body.
The Movo Shoulder Strap pictured below shows how the strap is worn.
Another good solution, if you don’t like having camera equipment hanging around your neck, is the wrist strap. The Altura Photo Camera Hand Strap below is a good example.
Regardless of which products you buy, it’s important that they help rather than hinder you. A camera bag that’s too bulky is likely to spend most of its time back home gathering dust. A camera case that’s too small will mean you’ll leave vital equipment at home and miss out on photo opportunities.
Consider whether it’s wise to buy bags, cases or straps that shout “I’M A PHOTOGRAPHER! I’M CARRYING EXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT!”. If you’re shooting candids, reportage or street photography then you might want to be more discreet. This will help you get your shot in before people become aware of your presence. On the other hand, it can be helpful to be easily identified as the official photographer. This is especially if nearly everyone else present is carrying a camera too. This is because your subjects might not know which photographer to look at!
Whichever products you buy:
- Check online product reviews so you get peace of mind
- Compare prices across a range of online and physical retailers so you pay a fair price
- Look for the features we’ve covered in this article so you can check the product is suitable for your needs
This way, you’ll arrive at the right product for your needs and for your camera equipment.