As a street photographer who is always trying to capture fleeting moments, its important to always have your camera by your side. With the craziness of everyday life this can often be extremely difficult. That’s why I highly recommend everybody to get a messenger bag for their street photography, as it is a casual way to always have your camera by your side (without sticking out like a sore thumb). The kind folks over at Think Tank photo were generous enough to send me over the Think Tank Retrospective 30, their specialized camera bag for street photographers. Having used it for about two weeks now, I can say flat-out that I am in love. Read more on this review to get the gritty on this essential piece of equipment. Warning–there is a ton of photos below (and also a video!).
Before heading over to the actual review of the bag, Cindy (my beautiful manager and girlfriend) and I decided to model the bag. Hope you enjoy the photos!
I think it is important to have a camera bag that is casual and doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. That is where the Think Tank Retrospective 30 really shines, as all the people I encountered didn’t even know it was a camera bag. They assumed it was simply a normal messenger bag. Not only that, but having a stylish camera bag is a huge plus for me. I don’t see the bag as simply a object to carry my camera, but as a part of my wardrobe–something I wear by my side everyday. Also the fact that it is low-key, I am sure that the likelihood of me getting mugged for my camera stuff is also highly less likely.
When it comes to equipment, it is all about quality. This is one of the places where the Think Tank Retrospective 30 shines because everything the bag is made of has careful attention to detail– from the stitching, to the padding, and to the overall materials. The straps feel strong and sturdy, the zippers are strong and firm, and the padding inside of the camera is soft enough to help my camera even survive a fall.
It is obvious that the designers of the bag were avid photographers themselves, as the way everything is thoughtfully created for the street photographer on the go. The space of the camera bag is well-utilized, and there is more than enough room for everything.
The front pockets
There are two front pockets which are massive and hold in a ton of stuff. I currently utilize one front pocket to put in all my rolls of film, and the other one to carry random other things, such as my sunglasses.
One of the most awesome things about the bag is how flexible and customizable it is. With these “silencer straps” you can make the velcro attach to the outside of the bag or not (when it is closed). This is great if you don’t want your camera bag to make that loud “velcro noise” when opening your bag. However if you like to keep your gear more secure, you can set it up that way as well.
Inside the bag
If you look inside, there is a ton of room for your camera gear. I currently only carry around my rangefinder, my 5D, and some film– but you can fit so much more if you want. Also the bag comes with a ton of dividers which can help customize the interior however you’d like it.
Believe it or not, the handle is an incredibly useful feature which is often omitted from many camera bags. It helps a ton with handling the bag itself, and also allows you to carry it in a way other than on your shoulder.
The handle is a great touch in the camera bag, although a bit thin for my tastes. I wish the handle itself had more padding to grab, but it is still functional otherwise.
The back compartment
Unfortunately one of the things that the bag doesn’t have is a compartment for laptops. There is enough room for possibly an iPad or a netbook computer, but my 13” laptop was far too large to fit inside. This is annoying at times when I want to have my laptop with me, but I figure keeping it at home helps me focus on what matters the most when I am on the streets–which is shooting.
As a street photographer, nothing sucks more than having your shoulder hurt after a long day of shooting. The shoulder pad for the Think Tank Retrospective 30 is seriously one of the most comfortable shoulder pads I have used. It is extremely cushy, and has these nice little rubber grips that stick to your shoulder and don’t slip. Also the straps themselves are nice and thick, and distribute weight evenly throughout your body.
I also put together an in-depth review of the Think Tank Retrospective 30 on video. Make sure to check it out as well!
For those of you street photographers who are interested in picking up a stylish, functional, and well-built bag you should definitely get the Think Tank Retrospective 30. The bag definitely isn’t cheap at $179, but Think Tank guarantees a lifetime-warranty on all of their camera bags. I recommend getting a well-built bag and keep it forever, than having to cycle through many cheap bags.
If you decide to purchase a bag, please purchase it by using this link here. If you purchase the bag through my link, not only do you help support me and my blog but you will also receive a FREE gift!
If you want a smaller bag for a cheaper price, make sure to also check out Think Tank’s new Retrospective 5 Camera Bag, which is smaller and more portable for $129. Check out Edmond Terakopian’s great review here.
Do you have any questions bout the Think Tank Retrospective 30 camera bag? If so, leave a comment below!