Hello Ladies & Gentlemen:


I wish to continue this month answering a series of questions I received as an instructor in photography over the year. Interestingly enough, different seasons generate more requests for information than others and now being Autumn, the need appears greater.

Approximately one month ago I received an inquiry from a nature photography enthusiast, Susan, requesting information as to what type of camera bag I own and what it’s contents are. I am pleased to share this information with you today and would highly recommend that a visit to your local photography store(s) would be well worth your time. You have at your discretion, many wonderful options in today’s marketplace!

I have used a photographers vest as well as camera bags over the years. The photographers vest is a product people appreciate who do not want to carry a camera bag with them. The vest generally has roughly 14-21 pockets of varying size capable of holding lenses, an additional body, filters etc. These products are also reasonable in price and a $100. investment or less will provide you with a very versatile product.

A “good quality” camera bag is something all photographers should have for not only the protection of their equipment, but also for comfort when wearing it.


I have had several of these over the years ranging from metal cases to nylon mesh like material. Metal cases are more or less products I used to accommodate my professional 120 film format Hasselblad camera systems years ago. Naturally, weight was an issue with these cases and to solve the problem, I purchased a small collapsible “dolly cart” and pulled my equipment behind me when practical. Henceforth, no appreciable weight concerns.

In today’s time frame when I am out creating imagery of our natural environment, I frequently use a large knapsack style bag. Mine is manufactured by Lowe Pro however there are several additional companies producing a similar product line. At the time I elected to invest in a bag of this style, it’s price was very reasonable aiding the decision making process. *In saying this, don’t purchase a discounted bag if it is not going to do the job! I was fortunate enough at the time of purchase to recognize a promotion of this product which made it’s price favourable.

The bag I am using mentioned previously, is an excellent product. It’s versatility and padding for equipment protection are second to none. When opening the bag, you have at your disposal several velcro sections which permit a customizing of your gear. You can remove sections of the bag entirely or design it’s interior to accommodate each piece of your equipment to your level of satisfaction. Several zippered pockets are also incorporated in it’s design making storage a breeze. Another consideration which I recommend is purchasing a bag advertised as “water proof”. I have often been caught in downpours and today’s digital camera systems in particular would recognize serious repairs should the electronics suffer from water damage.

Years ago I started with a shoulder style camera bag which many people compare to a post office employees letter carriers bag.  After awhile, I found that this design was not practical because of it’s poor weight dispersion. Always having the weight on one side of your body becomes uncomfortable and a person begins to feel lopsided.  Another issue with this design is when you wish to bend down while trying to compose a photograph. The bag at this point sways forward making all of it’s weight land at your front.  I have placed the shoulder strap on one side of my body, or crossed it over my chest to my opposite shoulder area and it continued to feel very awkward. I still have one of these bags but would only use it when on location for commercial photography where it would be placed on a dolly cart eliminating the need for carrying it. 

I carry the following items in my camera bag which have been not only a necessity at times, but also a convenience.

-A camera body, two zoom lenses of varying focal lengths, a cable release, back up batteries, a small portable electronic flash, a piece of crinkled tin foil used as a reflector, lens cleaning tissue and fluid, UV filters on my lenses, a polarizing filter used to slightly enhance colours and decrease unwanted reflections, a large sized clear plastic kitchen freezer bag with an end cut out of it-(I place this bag over my camera body and lens should inclement weather occur), elastic bands, a soft bristled blower brush… “not” a can of compressed air, a poncho for rainy day photography, large size green garbage bags that I can place on the ground should it be wet, memory cards, a camera manual should unresolved technical difficulties arise.

The above items are commonly found in my camera bag.


This is something you have to be concerned with, particularly when your gear is loaded into the bag itself. An empty camera bag is not an accurate judge of comfort levels when placed on your back. As mentioned, visiting a camera store with “your camera” and at least a few of the items above is strongly recommended. Load your gear into the bag when you visit a photo outlet and get a good feeling about general equipment orientation plus overall weight.

The physical dimensions of the camera bag when placed on your back will be an excellent method of determining if you are getting the right product or not. Bags are available in various sizes and depending upon the manufacturer, small, medium and large are your options. Certain camera bags also contain a collapsible handle and roller wheels comparable to luggage. For people who use a tripod for the majority of their work, specific camera bags include straps either placed on the side or bottom of the bag to attach the tripod to.

In regards to the pricing of these knapsack camera bags, Ebay.ca currently features a wide range of them varying from approximately $40 to $400. You truly have to give much thought as to what your requirements are when making a purchase. In a general sense, new camera store pricing could understandably, be considerably higher in comparison.

I hope this article has been helpful in guiding you to make the right decision prior to entering a retail outlet. 

*Thank you for being here!  🙂  🙂

With My Good Wishes Extended,

Jeff Ryan Photography/Ryan Studio Ottawa


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