A camera bag that I won't lose
October 21, 2013 4:50 AM   Subscribe

I have an Eastpak Delegate messenger bag which I tend to use as my day bag when on holiday/out with my camera. What kind of padding can I get that would fit it well to protect my lenses? Preferably something that can fold flat for storage/luggage.

I don't want a specially made bag for cameras, as most of these are too dark, and being dyspraxic means that I'm more likely to lose it. Right now, I have a Toploader Zoom Mini, which is fine but doesn't allow me to easily carry lenses with me, and I'd like something that is both colourful and doesn't scream 'I'm carrying a DSLR, mug me!'. Ideally, I'd have a girly camera bag like this, but getting it shipped to the UK and paying the customs make it prohibitive for me.

If it helps:
- I'm in the UK, so prefer to buy here. Amazon would do.
- I have a Canon 550D, and generally carry the 18-55mm kit lens as well as a nifty fifty; I'd also like to make it easier to carry my Sigma telephoto and my macro lens with me as well.
- I also sometimes like to take an extra camera, like a Diana F or a modified TLR for TTV photos.
- My bag is strong (and I say this as someone who abuses bags) and if I'm away and out for the day with it, I will carry my wallet/water etc in it too. Having a separate bag for my camera feels a bit fiddly.
- If I am travelling on a plane, I would like to be able to take the padding/lenses out and put them in the backpack I use for hand-luggage (my messenger bag folds away to fit in the front pocket) so compact is good. Last time I went on a plane I ended up wrapping clothing around the lens and putting the camera itself in there in the small bag I have now.

Thanks in advance!
posted by mippy to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
You want Domke protective wraps--soft padded material with Velcro on it that you wrap around gear and stow. I have a couple, and they're great for wrapping lenses and spare bodies in non-camera bags. And take the lens out, and the wraps are flat and pack able.

Link is to amazon US, but you should have no trouble finding them abroad.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:30 AM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think you have two options here.

1. Lens wraps, like the kind Admiral Haddock mentioned. Mine are Tenba brand. These are the fancy version of wrapping a t-shirt around your lenses.

- Pluses: One wrap can fit a variety of gear (if you get it big enough). Can fit it any bag.
- Minuses: Not easy to access gear quickly. Noisy velcro closures. Not really a ton of padding.

I mostly uses mine to wrap a camera and a few lenses to stuff in my backpack for hiking and when traveling by air. I don't feel like they offer enough padding when my lenses are in the bottom of the backpack, so I also add a little something extra (rolled up fleece, for example) in case I drop the bag.

2. Camera bag inserts. They're basically compartments just like a made-for-cameras bag have inside, but they're standalone so you can drop them into any bag you want.

- Pluses: most have adjustable compartments so you can carry a variety of gear. Offers more padding.
- Minuses: Not quite as flexible in terms of size & fitting in bags as lens wraps.

You can try searching Amazon for "camera bag inserts" to find some. B&H Photo (US based but they ship internationally) also sells several under Bag & Case Accessories -> Compartments. Sorry I don't have any specific ones to recommend!
posted by geeky at 8:51 AM on October 21, 2013

Specific to geeky's answer, Domke makes what you're looking for. I've used a variety of standard messenger bags and backpacks over the past several years, and I have two of those Domke inserts that I can use to instantly turn my bag-of-the-week into a camera bag.
posted by cebailey at 1:53 PM on October 21, 2013

Thirding the recommendation of Domke inserts. They don't look fancy, but you can customize to your specific needs and they'll last a long time.

My everyday bag is one of the Domke satchels, the Reporter, and after five years it's still going strong. They don't scream 'camera bag', and they definitely don't look girly, but you can pack in a lot of gear and they come in nice muted colors.
posted by zedediah at 4:39 PM on October 21, 2013

Response by poster: Unfortunately Domke is more than double the price here - that satchel you linked to is £153 from their UK supplier. Customs charges here are about 20%, and shipping for stuff like this is nearly the cost of the bag, so ordering one from the US would be about the same in the end.
posted by mippy at 3:25 AM on October 22, 2013

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