The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

The Think Tank Retrospective 30 for Street Photography (like my shoes?)

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!).

Photoshoot

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!

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

You can purchase this shirt in my store by clicking this image.

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Style

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.

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Holding the bag, getting ready to take out my camera

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Boom. Contax IIIa Film Rangefinder ready for action

Materials

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.

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Front

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Left

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Right

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Back

Features

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.

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Front of the bag

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Front of the bag opened

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Velcro on the inside

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Velcro'd on the outside

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Velcro'd on the inside

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Look into the left pocket

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Look into the right pocket and two rolls of my film left.

Silencer straps

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.

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Currently in the "silencer" mode

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Velcros activated

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Velcros silenced

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.

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Inside my bag. My rangefinder on the left, my Canon 5D in the middle, and some film on the far right about to go to snapfish

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Inside back zipper

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Inside the compartment of the back zipper

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Water-bottle holders on the right and left of the bag

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Also probably can hold flashes

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Compartments to put in pens, notepads, and other miscellaneous things

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

To hold your key

The handle

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.

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Back shot

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.

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Holding up the handle

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.

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

Zipper

1x1.trans The Sexiest Bag for Street Photography: The Think Tank Retrospective 30 Review

The back. Not quite big enough for a laptop.

The Strap

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.

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Video

I also put together an in-depth review of the Think Tank Retrospective 30 on video. Make sure to check it out as well!

Concluding thoughts

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!

Upcoming Street Photography Workshops

If you want to conquer your fears and meet new peers, join me in Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, San Francisco, Stockholm, London, Portland, Chicago, Toronto, and New York City:

See My Upcoming Street Photography Workshops

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/exi87 Jaap Barnhoorn

    Nice shoes! :)
    I’m very interested in the Retrospective 5 or 10, especially for the rubber grip shoulder pad.
    My Crumpler Messenger Boy is a pretty good bag, but it keeps sliding around on my shoulder which is a bit of a pain (ita).

  • http://silentxpression.wordpress.com/ Simon Wallerstedt

    Looks good! But I think I’ll stick with Domke. :)

  • http://www.photosfromthetopfloor.blogspot.com Carsten / topfloor

    Hey Kim, nice feature about the bag you fell in love with. IMHO it all depends on what you want to put in it. The bag is (same as most ThinkTank products) very well (=smart) built for a premium price. With 1.5 kilogram it is a bit on the heavy side, and a bit too small. Only 7 cm less in internal dimensions than my preferred messenger bag make a big difference for me as I stuff medium format cameras in my messenger bag from time to time.
    I guess the Retrospective 30 is too large for rangefinder shooters, okay for 135 SLR shooters that do never need to carry their laptop with them, and definitely too small for people who shoot medium format from time to time.
    Not wanting to say it is a better bag, but a different one that might fit your needs well, is the Tenba Laptop Messenger Bag (Large). The weight is 1/3 less (around 1 kilogram), it has more internal storing options, will carry a Laptop (up to 17 inces), fits medium format well and is also a low key appearance for 99 dollars. Link to BH is here http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/552256-REG/Tenba_638_238_Laptop_Messenger_Bag_Large.html
    At the end of the day, it might also be a question of personal taste, budget and size of cameras you use. I never carry the Laptop with me, but often 20 or more rolls of 120 film, a 6×6 SLR with a lens attached, a spare lens and 2 filmbacks. This is not a typical load for streetshooters, so your review might come to the right conclusions for the majority of the streetshooters.
    Thx for putting this up. I would appreciate if you could post a follow up about your experience with this bags in a few weeks when you took it to UK / Brighton and around your city a bit and have made the first 50 miles walking with it.
    Have a good time, CU and your nice bag in Brighton,
    Carsten
    P.S. One can never have enough camera bags ;-)

  • Jon Savage

    Nice review Eric. If I wanted a dedicated stealth camera bag that would definitely be a good choice. Since I usually also have work clothes, laptop(s) etc. to carry I’ll stick with my chrome metropolis (that bag is a bit huge though).

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Do you bike as well? Chromes are notorious amongst bikers ;)

      • Jon Savage

        I commute by bike most days Eric.

    • http://www.photosfromthetopfloor.blogspot.com Carsten / topfloor

      looked these up on the net – cool biker bags they are :-)

  • http://allcitysf.com/ Stuart

    This is interesting. I’ve been reconsidering my domke for a while now, but I think i’m just over sling/messenger bags for now, unless they have some kind of locking mechanism to convert it to a backpack on the fly.

    Otherwise, this bag looks really dope. A bit sharp on price. I’ll check it out!

  • http://www.citysnaps.net/ Brad

    Great review!

    Being really pick about my bags and kind of a bag nut, I’ll prob check out the smaller Retrospective 10 at my local camera store.

    Two concerns going in though are the weight (3 lbs for the Retrospective 10 is a bit much). And velcro closures. Even if they can be silenced, I much prefer SRBs like on my Maxpedition bags…

  • Al

    Why does that bag look pink in the first couple of photos?

  • http://www.photopatzer.com Dan – PhotoPatzer

    I got the Retrospective 30 over 3 months ago and I am just as enthused about it as you are, Eric. Don’t know what I would do without it! Great review!

    Keep on using that Ricoh! :P

  • http://www.ardini.nl/ Valerie

    Commented before but I think something went wrong (?) either way, thanks for the reminder, had seen the bag before but forgotten about it, bought it after I read this (the 5, smallest one)

  • http://www.sketchesoflila.com Stewart

    I bought a Retrospective 10 a while ago, and it’s the only bag I use now. Highly highly recommend it. (Expensive though!)

    I thought about the 20 or the 30, but the 10 is already very big – I found the large two would have been too large for my purposes.

    Another important point is that the 10 and 20 have a single front pocket – and it fits an iPad, or a small Macbook Air, or other smallish netbooks. The 30 has two pockets – both are smaller than the one on the 10 and won’t fit that gear.

    • sam s

      stewart, any idea if the Retro 5 fits the MB Air? I think the absolute supreme setup that a bag like this needs to fit includes an M8/9, 2-3 lenses, the little accessories (cards, battery, etc, I suppose a hard drive/backup device would be good too), and an 11″ MB Air. You could travel anywhere with that bag of treats. Perhaps it’s too small though and the 10 is the minimum. I might have to try these one day. For bigger trips with the SLRs one could use the Kiboko bag but still have the street kit ready in the Retro 5/10. I bet it carries on planes as a personal item, too.

  • CodeMonkey

    Way to blend in with the t-shirt Eric! ;-) Nice review Great website!

    • http://www.erickimphotography.com Eric Kim

      Thanks CodeMonkey! Stay tuned for more stuff ;)

  • http://imagesbytru.wordpress.com/ Tru Pettit

    So glad I found your review! I was debating between the 20 and the 30 and now that I can actually see the 30 scaled next to a person I’ve decided on getting the 30. I also took the time to check out a few of your posts and found your ‘equipment’ heading very informative. Will definitely use your site as a resource. Thanks~

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  • http://www.bestofferbuy.com/hobbies-toys-photo-camera-c-273_282.html camera bags

    I prefer camera backpacks such as lowepro computreker…same capacity but more versatile, like a shoulder bag or even better a backpack/shoulder bag

  • razie

    hi…is it possible this bag to hold 60d with 150-500mm sigma attached to it?

  • Yann

    Thanks for the images with your friend… For some reason, it’s always hard to find images that let you see exactly how big a bad is… I used your link to buy mine so you should get a little kick back ;) Thanks!

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  • Jamie MacDonald

    Thanks for the review!! Stoked I have one on the way and now I know EXACTLY what to expect vs. my Retro7

  • Ukihopper

    Hi Eric, cool review, wondered how you think the Lowepro Pro Messenger AW200 compares with this?

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