Recommend camera bag for day trips w/ Nikon F80s + 2 lenses

Discussion in 'Travel' started by vinodkutty, Nov 14, 2004.

  1. I'm going to be traveling around Western Europe for about 1 month, mostly in major cities. I'd like a bag to carry my Nikon F80s + 70-200mm VR + 28-80mm lenses + film, in addition to some documents and other smaller accessories. I haven't decided yet whether I should buy a compact monopod/tripod for this trip (I own a relatively heavy tripod which would be a pain to travel with).
    The concerns I have are that it should be comfortable and somewhat safe from thieves grabbing smaller items from the bag's compartments. I'd like to have the F80s w/ either the Nikkor 70-200mm VR or the 28-80mm safely supported inside the bag, without having to detach them from the body.
    In my mind the pros/cons are:
    • easier target for theft
    • more comfortable than a sling bag
    • less practical in terms of equipment accessibility
    • Sling bag:
      • easier to access equipment
      • less comfortable than backpack (all the weight is on one shoulder strap, unless there's a waist strap?)
      • more secure when swung around to side/front ?
      • possibly less obvious that I'm a tourist (when the camera is in the bag and I don't open my mouth) ?
    • It would be nice to carry the bag with my equipment + other items like a change of clothes + toiletries on board my flight from the US, then use the same to carry just the items I need for photos when I leave my hotel room.
      I've posted on another website and read some other reviews, and these bags have been mentioned:
      • LowePro Stealth Reporter 200 (sling bag with an optional waist belt too)
      • Domke 802 sling bag
      • Lowepro Orion Trekker backpack
      • What's your advice? This will be in Dec, so I'll be wearing winter clothing if it makes a difference.
  2. Crumpler 15Love, I love mine. I carry Nikon FM2n, 2 lenses, small flash, film, and usually a 2nd, and occasionally 3rd camera.
  3. Domke F-5XB Shoulder and Belt Bag - Sand. Sold at B&H
    designed for exactly one SLR body + 2 lenses
  4. I recently went to Europe for a month and bought a camera backpack made by Etsumi. It's a Japanese company and I'm not sure how available their products are. The backpack doesn't actually have a name (sorry, I know that's a lot of help!) but it is the MOST comfortable backpack, of any kind, that I have ever owned. I carried two cameras (F80 and FE)and 5 lenses in it and never felt the weight of it, even on 15-20 hour long days. The top compartment can handle the camera with zoom attached, plus two smaller lenses.

    I'm short and its a small pack -- I'm not sure how it would if you're a tall person. Also, its not a recognizable name brand (like Lowepro or Domke) although to anyone who knows camera bags, it looks like a camera backpack. Because it was small I was able to wear the pack in the front and access my camera from the top (not all the time, but in certain situations).

    However, I think the best advice would be to go down to the camera store with your gear, make sure everything fits, and try the pack on. What works for a lot of people may not work for you (and vice versa). And think of other things you may want to keep in your pack (guidebooks, snacks, etc) or on the outside (water bottle, tripod). After I bought the pack I found a (fairly) sturdy tripod the same length as the pack, and it proved to be no burden to carry around on the side of the pack.

    In terms of a tripod, what are your interests photographically? What will you be doing during your travels? I love taking sunset/dusk shots but seriously reconsidered whether or not I should bring a tripod. In the end I did, and I'm really glad I did -- I have beautiful dusk (and dawn) shots of Venice, Florence, Rome, and of Wurzburg and Rothenburg in Germany. However, I found that I didn't really use it otherwise (other than on the photo holiday that I did :)).
  5. If you have a VR lens, why do you want to take a tripod or monopod?

    That said, the VR 70-200 is going to be a 'lead' weight after the third day of your trip. You might consider a smaller zoom (AF 70-210mm Nikkor?) and then a light tripod would be good.

    Domke makes a few bags that would be good, but with the larger VR 70-200 lens (again) size is going to be the thing to watch out for. LowePro makes a series of single tube cases for larger lenses, one of these and a small bag would put the weight on either shoulder while walking about.
  6. I travelled for 6 months through asia and australia with:
    F80, 70-300, 20mm, 50mm

    I know my lenses are smaller , however I just tossed everything in my regular backpack. (Dueter 28, does not have 'camera bag' written all over it. They were individually packaged just to keep them clean and separate from my lunch, snorkel...ect..

    I know your probably looking for a photobackpack and that is great, just thought I would post an alternative. It worked for me!

  7. VK,
    I travel a fair bit and I would recommend against a backpack-style bag because it makes the camera so inaccessible. When travelling, photo opportunities arise without warning and are often fleeting, especially in urban areas.
    I often need to reach for my camera while still walking and that rules out a backpack right there. I have a LowePro Trekker that has gathered dust since the day I bought it.
    On trips, I bring both my LowePro Stealth Reporter 200 and 400 together with some accessory pouches which hang from the outside. On days when I need all my gear, I use the 400, when I want to walk around light, I take the 200.
    I carry the bag cross-shoulder to make it harder for thieves to target me.
    You will not be able to fit additional clothing items in either of these bags, however. I used to just stuff the 400 with my gear inside a regular carry-on suitcase which would allow me to fit some extra travel items.
    These days, I use the carry-on suitcase to fit my laptop and keep the 400 on my side while in transit.
    I hope this helps.
    Best regards,
    Travel stock photography at
  8. "Domke F-5XB Shoulder and Belt Bag - Sand. Sold at B&H designed for exactly one SLR body + 2 lenses"

    I have one of those and I love it dearly, but there's _no way_ he'll get his equipment into it. The 70-200 VR will fill the bag all by itself, with room for maybe a couple rolls of film. I carry a couple Leica rangefinders and 3-4 lenses in it, no room left even for film.

    Personally I can't recommend a specific bag because after buying a slew of bags over the years and none of them are perfect, I think buying bags should be done in person. Bring your equipment to the camera store and try out a few bags, also backpacks. I only use a backpack for wildlife shooting. In civilization I don't like to have to take it on and off to get at stuff. One thing I found after reading a recommendation on was to replace the manufacturers straps on all my bags with the SOS straps from Optech. The straps have some kind of elastic or other in the middle which stretches to take all the shock of the bag bouncing as you walk. So comfortable its amazing. My wife snatched one off my heaviest bag to use on her carryon bag and I had to buy another one!
  9. You might want to look into the large belt packs called "lumbar packs", in backpacking stores and sites

    Mountainsmith, a respected backpack company, now has some camera bags out, I got the Phaeton (I think, too lazy to go see) and it's great, a backpack capable of carrying 25 lbs. easily, in a top camera compartment in which all the foam comes out, with a general cargo compartment under it, the reverse of one of the Lowe models.
  10. Thanks for the responses so far. My problem is that a lot of the stores near me (downtown Chicago) don't have a great selection of camera bags. Not to mention that I'm busy enough with work and other activities that online-shopping in the wee hours of the night is the most practical option :cool:

    Rachelle: I'm 6ft, but it doesn't matter as I haven't seen the Etsumi bag in the US. Regarding type of photos: I would like to take sunset pics as well ... that's my favourite time. Unfortunately I don't have a light tripod at the moment, so that is something I would need to purchase before my trip. This complicates the question of what bag to get :cool:

    Gerald: I'm trying to avoid taking a tripod/monopod, and rely on the VR. In fact I wasn't too concerned about fitting one into a bag/backpack at first. However, as I play with it more I realize there are still a lot of low-light situations (such as dawn/dusk) that can't be exploited with VR alone.

    Ben Z: I like the idea of the Optech straps ... I will look into them. How does the SOS compare to the "Bag Strap" ?

    Rubens: Thanks for the tips ... that's the 2nd recommendation I've had for the Stealth Reporter bags. I might get the 400 and simply avoid stuffing it when I don't need the capacity. However, I just noticed that the internal hight dimension is 9.5", which is too small for my F80s + 70-200mm attached. Do you carry a lens attached to a body and if so can you lay it horizontally in this bag? Also, do you carry a tripod/monopod around, and if so how?
  11. VK,
    I carry a D100 + vertical grip with a Nikon 12-24mm F4 DX attached facing downwards and vertically. Although there's enough room inside, I also carry a general purpose 28-200mm zoom in its own LowePro pouch attached to the outside of the bag to keep it more accessible.
    I carry a Manfrotto travel tripod in its own bag only on the days and times where I know I will need it. In Cuba, for example, I knew I was going to spend a whole morning making images inside the Capitolio, so instead of walking there I took a taxi with the tripod. On the evenings that I set out for night/sunset images, I will carry it too. The rest of the time, it stays in the room.
    The tripod bag has its own strap which I carry on my shoulder. I duct-taped over the "Manfrotto" logo to keep it less conspicuous.
    Everything about travelling is a compromise. The more you carry with you, the less mobility and comfort. The better you are able to plan your days, the more you gain in comfort and mobility.
    I usually take most of my equipment with me on a trip, and tailor the contents of my bag each morning before I set out.
    I hope this helps,
    Travel stock photography at
  12. I use a Tamrac Velocity 7 for exactly this purpose. Hangs on my back like a backpack (more comfortable than a shoulder bag), but can swing around to the side/front for quick access. I can fit my N70 with a 105mm attached, 18-35 and 50mm on the sides. I then put film in an outer pouch, and can put another accessory pouch - flash or filters, usually - on the other side. Whole package is light and small.

    You can also consider the Velocity 9, but that's big enough to defeat the purpose, for me.

  13. "Ben Z: I like the idea of the Optech straps ... I will look into them. How does the SOS compare to the "Bag Strap" ?"

    The SOS has a much heavier-duty stretch section and will take more weight without stretching to its max and no longer acting like a shock absorber. The bag strap is for lighter bags. However the SOS comes in a Mini size also and is much better than the Bag Strap.
  14. VK -In downtown Chicago, you could check out Central Camera on south Wabash if you haven't already. The Army-Navy stores around town also have interesting selections of bags to consider.

  15. Another possibility - a Tenba photo-briefcase? I have one and it should not have a problem fitting the 70-200, but I haven't tried it with my 80-200. You'll have to store the body without a lens attached to it, but they have tons of room. Mine isn't made anymore but they have others available.

    The advantage is that you'll have a lot of extra pockets for documents and a small portfolio if that matters, and it looks less like a photo bag. On the other hand, it looks like a laptop bag so that might be trading one bad idea for another...
  16. I live in Europe and prefer non-photo camera bags. Means I'd take some cotton back, usually military surplus, stuff in the 2nd zoom wrapped into something big enough for the larger zoom, put the camera with the other wrapped into some towel or spare t-shirt above it. For marching I add some backpack with my other lugguage., which should include the films for the day after tomorrow. The next film is in a can taped to the camera strap. Camera bags are at least suspicious and who needs them traveling light?
  17. Well, I've been scouring some of the stores here in Chicago (including Central Camera -- where the service has never impressed me -- and Helix), and I find that the dedicated camera bags are too bulky/heavy and are not quite flexible enough to serve any other purpose well.

    Bags with a single shoulder strap (e.g. Stealth Reporter) are convenient for quick access, but they will get very uncomfortable after walking around for 5 hrs.

    So I seem to be arriving at a similar type of solution to what Jochen has suggested. I'm looking at outdoor/hiking stores for day packs, and I'm planning on simply stuffing my Lowepro toploader AW (barely holds the F80s with the 70-200mm) into it, as well as a small tripod. This seems to be the best compromise.

    I guess my experience from this trip will help me figure out what works best for a future trip.

    Thanks for all the input so far!

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