How to Protect Your Camera and All Its Accessories

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How to Protect Your Camera and All Its Accessories


A serious photographer who may own several cameras and a host of additional accessories will be aware of the value of this equipment. Naturally, they want to ensure that expensive items are well-protected from accidental damage or theft, so most photographers will want a camera bag that holds all their equipment, allows ready access, and protects everything well.
There are many different designs of camera bag available, but choosing the best one needs careful consideration.

What to Consider When Choosing a Camera Bag

There are several aspects that need to be considered when deciding on the best design of camera bag to purchase.

How Much Photo Equipment Needs to Be Stored?

Firstly, consider how many cameras need to be stored; more than one camera will require a larger bag. How many additional lenses need storage and what kind? Does a tripod need to be carried? What other accessories will be included e.g. filters, memory cards, flash gun etc.

How Will the Bag Be Used?

Next, consider how the bag will be used. Is intended to carry all equipment or just some? Will it be used mainly on long journeys or shorter day trips? Is it principally for casual photography such as family events? Or is it for professional purposes, e.g. wedding shoots, sporting events, or nature photography?

Where Will the Bag Be Used?

It is also essential to think about where the bag will be used. Will most photography be done outdoors? Will it be used mainly in a crowded, urban area, or a crime area where security may be a problem? Will it be used where rain is heavy and prolonged, or a hot dry country where dust is an issue?

How Will the Bag be Transported

The way in which the bag will be transported may also affect the decision. Will it be mainly worn when out photographing? Does it need to be put in the boot of a car with other items? Will it be used in crowded situations, such as a train journey, on the underground, or on buses? Will it be needed for frequent air travel, when size and weight restrictions may apply and the bag will need to fit in an overhead locker?
All these questions are helpful to be asked when thinking about what kind of bag is best to buy.

Different Camera Bag Designs

With so many designs to choose from, it is worth doing some research into the pros and cons of each style and, in particular, thinking about the level of protection they offer for photographic equipment.

Carry Bags

This design is usually a straightforward bag that can be carried with handles. Carry bags are available in a range of sizes, depending on how much equipment needs to be fitted inside.

 

Advantages


 

Strong outer material
 

Most carry bags have strong, durable outer material to keep equipment protected from bumps

 

Padded compartments
 

Variety of padded compartments for cameras and accessories. May be constructed of padded strips with velcro so the design can be altered to suit.

 

Disadvantages


 

Light outer material
 

Some bags have lightweight outer material – little protection

 

Not easily portable
 

Needs to be put down to be used – may be vulnerable to theft

 

Access
 

May need to be put down to access equipment

 

Handbag-style Bags

Handbag-style camera bags are relatively small when compared with other bags and can usually only carry one camera and a limited number of accessories. They are generally designed with a shoulder strap so that equipment is easily accessible. Some are brightly coloured or patterned, functioning as fashion accessories.

 

Advantages


 

Lightweight
 

They can be carried all day in relative comfort – less vulnerable to theft

 

Padded compartments
 

Most contain compartments for camera, an additional lens, and other accessories – prevents equipment moving around

 

Easy access
 

Camera and accessories can be accessed easily

 

Fashion accessory
 

Not immediately obvious that it is a camera bag, offering added security.

 

Disadvantages


 

Limited size
 

Only houses a limited amount of equipment – can't carry a tripod or telephoto lens

 

Weight
 

May be heavy to carry all day

 

Shoulder bags

Shoulder bags have a strap that can be worn on the shoulder or across the body. Similar to the handbag-style bags, they tend to be relatively small, and only hold a little equipment.

 

Advantages


 

Shoulder strap
 

Can be worn across the body for extra security

 

Outer material
 

Usually thick and strong to protect equipment from knocks

 

Padded compartments
 

Compartments to hold equipment securely in place

 

Easy access
 

Equipment is easily accessed when needed

 

Disadvantages


 

Limited storage
 

Only limited amount of equipment can be housed. No provision for tripod or long lens

 

Weight
 

May be heavy on the shoulder

 

Strap may slip
 

Bag could slip from shoulder when photographing

 

Protection
 

Less protection than with a backpack or case

 

Slingbacks

Slingback camera bags are similar to a backpack, but have one strap which reaches across the body.

 

Advantages


 

Strong outer material
 

Usually have durable outer material which affords some protection against damage

 

Padded compartments
 

Protect cameras and equipment during movement. Some have a suspension system for cameras which gives added protection

 

Easy access
 

Bag can be swung round easily to access equipment

 

Comfortable
 

Can be worn all day – added security

 

Disadvantages


 

Lightweight
 

Lightweight bags offer less protection for equipment

 

Balance
 

Single strap may be less well-balanced than two straps – may cause back strain

 

Strap may slip
 

The strap may slip off the shoulder when photographing

 

Backpack

The backpack is an extremely popular design as it is versatile and comfortable to wear. Backpacks may be completely devoted to camera equipment or a combination of camera equipment and other items. Some may even have removable camera storage so the bag can be used as an ordinary rucksack when needed. Many backpacks also have storage for a laptop.

 

Advantages


 

Strong outer material
 

Protective outer material to minimise risk of damage

 

Moulded shell
 

Some designs have a moulded shell for superior protection

 

Storage recesses
 

Wide range of storage solutions for cameras and equipment, including some with suspension storage for cameras. Can store a camera with lens attached.

 

Protection from elements
 

Some backpacks are waterproof, and / or dust-proof. Additional rain-cover sometimes supplied.

 

Two straps
 

Good for posture and balance. Leaves hands free for photography. Straps usually padded for comfort.

 

Disadvantages


 

Size and weight
 

Can be bulky and heavy, especially large padded designs. Moulded versions may not fit in aircraft lockers.

 

Access
 

May need to be put down to access equipment.

 

Hard cases

Hard cases provide the ultimate in secure storage for cameras and accessories. They have a hard shell (often aluminium) and are ideal for professional photographers with lots of equipment that needs extra protection.

 

Advantages


 

Extremely strong
 

Offer excellent protection against accidental damage. Can be stacked if necessary.

 

Foam inner protection
 

Storage recesses individually carved out of foam for perfect fit

 

Protection from the elements
 

Outstanding protection from water, dust etc.

 

Disadvantages


 

Cannot be worn
 

Need to be put down to use – may be vulnerable to theft

 

Weight
 

Large boxes may be heavy although some are fitted with wheels and handles

 

Buying a Camera Bag to Protect Photographic Equipment

Before making the decision to purchase a photo bag, take time to consider which bag would be best suited to individual circumstances. An occasional photographer with limited accessories will have very different needs to someone who has lots of equipment and uses them frequently. If possible, try to view and test some bags to get a feel for their size, capacity, and comfort.
Decide on a suitable budget. The most expensive bags are not necessarily the best, but as a general rule, cheaper bags have fewer extras, such as a rain-cover, waterproofing, or tamper-proof zips. Buying a cheap bag may prove to be a false economy if they are not durable or they don't protect equipment securely.

Conclusion

Many photographers believe that a good camera bag is the most essential item in their photographic kit after their camera. There is little point in having expensive cameras and accessories if they are not well protected, so buying the best possible bag for individual circumstances should be a high priority for any photographer.

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