Where to find a small, sturdy, inexpensive camera bag?
August 31, 2010 10:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm making an effort to take more photos with my Nikon D90, and I'd like to keep my camera on me 24/7. While my current camera bag is fantastic, it's too bulky for everyday use.

I wish I had the dedication to lug my current bag around, but it's just so... big. I'm looking for something small that can hold my camera with a 50mm lens (if it had room for a 18-105mm lens as well, that would get mega bonus points, but not required). My only other requirements be that it's sturdy and inexpensive (I would prefer to not pay much more than $25 or $30, even better if it's less) and, ideally, available in-store somewhere in NYC.

Or, alternatively, are there any purses that also double as camera bags? Currently if I carry my camera around I just throw it in my purse, which puts me on edge all day worrying about damage. Recommendations for a purse with a padded, secure camera compartment (or lots of compartments for all sorts of things! I like compartments!) would be great.
posted by good day merlock to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
My camera bag is an off-brand, but nearly identical version of this one by LowerPro. It's comfortable, not bulky, and you can access your equipment without having to take it off.
posted by litnerd at 10:16 AM on August 31, 2010

Have a look at the Domke bags at B&H. I use one of these for my Nikon DSLR, and it's perfect - though, like you, often I just throw the camera in by backpack or on my shoulder and skip the bag. These bags are great because they can double as a 'purse' to carry a few other things as well. Stop by the store to try some out - but don't forget they'll be closed for Rosh Hashanah.
posted by jardinier at 10:18 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

The photojojo store has some cool options, like a bowling bag camera bag. They also have lots of fun accessories and toys.
posted by particular at 10:25 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

This thread has a lot of suggestions, including The Cloak
posted by mikepop at 10:26 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you just want to put it in your purse, but worry less about damage, how about a simple fitted case?

Are you a messenger bag sort of person? If so, how about this Lowepro?
posted by supercres at 10:27 AM on August 31, 2010

i don't think you're going to find anything quality in that price range. That said, I had your problem. I have tried everything. I use the following system:

1) Red Oxx Gator. This is my go-to bag for walking around and going to sporting events. It is sturdy, water resistant, and doesn't look like a camera bag. The Gator is around $100.

2) When I travel, need to carry more stuff than the Gator, or need to carry a laptop (which then gets left somewhere), I use a medium Timbuk 2 messenger bag with my camera inside a small form-fitting case (I use the small Tenba Mixx Top Load Holster).

The holster case was under $20, so maybe you could get that and throw that in your purse. I have thrown my D40 with a long lens in the holster inside a LL Bean tote and felt pretty confident it would be okay.

Tenba also has an awesome messenger bag I am seeing more and more people with, but it's $99.
posted by micawber at 10:34 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

www.crumplerbags.com is a popular choice.

I do not use bags anymore, when I'm out and about it's attached to a blackrapid R-Strap http://www.blackrapid.com/
posted by TrinsicWS at 10:37 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

Crumpler has some nice messenger-style camera bags in a variety of sizes. There's a store in the West Village.
posted by bobafet at 10:41 AM on August 31, 2010

What about getting just an insert to add to a bag you already have?

Inserts like these must be avail in camera shops in NYC. You could see if they fit some smaller bag that you already own.

Also these neoprene covers are great when you stick the camera in a bag.
posted by oneear at 10:51 AM on August 31, 2010

My solution was a case for one extra lens, and a camera case that can hold the camera with a lens on it. Then I just throw them in my regular old backpack. Main drawback is the weight is not well-distributed which can leave me with a little pain on really long days. Other than that, it's a great improvement over camera bags I used to use.
posted by bonsai forest at 11:49 AM on August 31, 2010

I have a purse/camera bag from here: http://jototes.com/ and I love it!
posted by moosedogtoo at 1:39 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is the simplest, cheapest camera case I've seen. It will hold most dSLRs with a medium zoom lens attached. You can use it by itself, or do what I do and remove the strap and use the case to protect the camera in a larger messenger bag. I particularly like the Tom Bihn Imago (if the colors scare you, be assured you can get them in all-black), which comfortably holds my Canon XTi with an attached medium zoom lens in addition to the other stuff I carry around every day: Kindle, Moleskine, small first aid kit, largeish makeup kit (actually the Kit from Tom Bihn), music player, and various smaller things. There's also room left over to toss in an additional lens in a protective case as well as my Gorillapod when I need to. It is definitely outside of your price range, but it's sturdy and well-designed and I consider it worth the price if you can afford it.

I used to use Crumpler's Six Million Dollar Home, but it's bulkier than a fully-loaded Imago, and the dividers inside the main compartment keep the rest of my stuff from fitting in there nicely.
posted by rhiannonstone at 2:06 PM on August 31, 2010

I came up with using a Neoprene Netbook Case. Specifically, this HP neoprene case. My huge 14 megapixel SLR with an 18-70mm lens fits right in it and the case contours itself to the camera, while still being smaller than the camera specific sleeves. I then stuff that into my size small Courierware messenger bag, along with a 50mm prime in a tube sleeve when I want to bring that along. This get up transitions well from bag to bag as my needs change throughout the week. Go down to the store and give it a test fit, you may like it. Also loads cheaper than camera specific cases.
posted by No Shmoobles at 3:11 PM on August 31, 2010

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