Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Best Camera Bag for Travel


You might remember from this article, that traveling with a DSLR is a bad idea - or, to be accurate, travelling with a DSLR on a family/personal vacation is a bad idea. But why is that? Well, as that article described, it is virtually impossible to successfully combine high-quality artistic photography with experiencing and enjoying the place you are visiting. In other words, either you travel with the explicit purpose of taking photos, or you travel for the experience. One or the other. 

What you must do, then, is to have the smallest, lightest, least obtrusive camera (and lens; a mirrorless is useless for that if you stick a 10x zoom in front of it) that will allow you the maximum performance possible. At the same time, you must have a camera bag that supports the attributes above: it must be small, light, and it shouldn't get in the way. I came to the conclusion that a sling kind of design is the best suited for the job, and, value taken into account, the AmazonBasics Sling is my personal favorite

Disclaimer: As you might have noticed on AmateurNikon's Privacy Policy, there is no affiliation whatsoever to Nikon or any other camera/lens manufacturer. At the same time, this website contains affiliate links to Amazon. Since the product I am reviewing today is made by Amazon, I felt the need to underline that. My review is, as always, 100% based on my personal findings and in no way is affected by the above fact. I purchased the bag myself and used it on a personal trip to Rome, Italy, so it is used in "battle" conditions.

Sling: your best traveling solution for cameras

Pros and Cons

+ Superb value, you get a lot of goodness for less than $25
+ Plenty of space, but still discreet (read 'Final Verdict' for more details on what it can fit)
+ The sling design works like a charm, very easy to bring it forward and start shooting.

- Reasonably well weather-sealed, but no rain cover (then again, it would probably slow down the process)
- Compartments fully customizable, but shapes could've been better
- The smallest, bottom pocket (memory cards, batteries) a tad difficult to access.

Final Verdict

It works. It just works. There are other brands out there that make slings of this kind, but I chose this particular one because it was the cheapest. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but quickly realized the construction quality is absolutely fine. The zippers are well-made, the fabrics are fine, and the sling is a fantastic idea: it allowed me to go from tourist to photographer in a couple of seconds. You see, as I've mentioned before, it's easy to be ready when you go some place with the explicit purpose of taking photos. Go around with two cameras hanging around your neck, if that's what it takes. But when you travel with family or a significant other, you want to enjoy the experience, not to drag around things. The AmazonBasics Sling is, in my opinion, the best compromise between "I wanna travel light" and "I need my equipment handy".

I traveled very light: I had in the sling only my D3200 and the 18-55, an F80 with the Sigma 24mm f/2.8 (a film camera, yeah. A story for another day), plus a polarizer. I also carried in it my tablet (mini; 7"), a phone charger, headphones, documents, and other small items. I tested at home, before traveling, and you can very easily fit larger cameras, too - D700 with a midrange zoom, for instance (plus one or two small primes or a flash).

What the review can't convey too easily - although I hope it has to some extent - is how the sling actually helps you take better photos. There, I said it. It's not only a travel camera bag, it can be an everyday bag, too. I started using it for daily walks, and it significantly helps me connect with moments. You see, when you just walk (or visit the supermarket), it's just on your back, it doesn't annoy you, it's not heavy, and your hands are totally free. Saw something you like? It takes literally three seconds to move it around, unzip it, and grab your camera. 

Here is a perfect example. I was leisurely walking in Rome, when suddenly I spotted the following scene. It lasted only a few seconds - and I grabbed it. With some other kind of bag, the delay would have been too long.

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