I have a problem. I have an ongoing problem with camera bags, be they shoulder bags, hard cases or backpacks.
Camera bags are a source of so many problems that I always end up hating them. Even when I kind of like them at first.
Like always turns into intense dislike. Regardless of how much I’ve paid for them, how positive the reviews are and how long I’ve waited for them to finally appear at my door after ordering them online, after tracking their progress across the face of the globe, and waiting, waiting, waiting.
Always the waiting.
I’ve been waiting for a decent camera bag since I began photographing and making movies far too many years ago. Every single one of them has been a compromise, an “I’ll make do with this one and hope for something better to come along”.
And maybe something better has come along, eventually. But then the work I needed to do and the gear I needed to do it with had changed. And what was okay once wasn’t okay anymore.
The all-digital era in stills and moving pictures is seeing constant, disruptive change of a kind that never existed during the days of analog.
Disruption is constant. Almost nothing in our production kit stays the same. Lenses maybe. Microphones and recorders possibly. Cameras? No. No way.
I am writing this at a time when Sony’s A7R II is about to appear, probably to be supplanted soon after by their own inevitable A7S II with its special appeal to high ISO, available light moviemakers.
Design Deep Dive: The Everyday Messenger by Peak Design
That other amazing mirrorless hybrid specially loved by moviemakers, the Panasonic GH4, is about to be replaced, according to rumor, by the GH4R. In some regions anyway. With V-Log L already installed.
And months later, the GH5 that, with luck, will come with the GX8’s dual image stabilization, maybe a higher megapixel sensor and certainly the V-Log L firmware update we’ve all so hoped Panasonic would not demand that we pay for.
No camera bag could hope to stand up to all this constant change much less the demands of carrying different-sized kits every time we go out to shoot.
A case in point. Today I might want to shoot some video in a crowded marketplace, screw a mini tripod-cum-handle into its battery pack and top it off with Røde’s amazing Stereo VideoMic X for immersive ambient audio.
The day after, vanish into the background with the same camera stripped back to lens and body only, fast wide prime lens attached, a longer one in the bag ready for a quick swap, and wrist strap securing the camera in the event of a speedy exit.
The day after that, dual system sound and a tripod-mounted GH4 with Tascam DR-70 screwed in-between for a day-long interview, and three-point lighting carried via my Rotolight Neo 3 Light kit’s wheel-along case with camera bag strung over the case’s extended handle.
And so it goes.
Traditional camera bags makers dropped the ball years ago, so far as I’m concerned, with designs owing fealty to DSLR-using photographers who rarely shoot video and apparently don’t carry personal items or stay out all day long.
Sure, tweak a DSLR bag a little to mollify the mirrorless crowd but even the big blue adventure backpack I bought earlier this year owes its size and shape to Canikon three-lens, two body set-ups.
And I’m still figuring out how to carry all that fragile audio gear. For smaller assignments, it’s overkill, utter and complete.
Don’t get me started on all those dangly straps, job lot clips, constantly slipping strap tighteners and scanty space for personal items that gets claimed by wind shields, cables and rigging.
I am dog tired of getting my hopes up for a bag that will expand and contract to meet my needs. I gave up on shoulder bags years ago after blowing a fortune on a futuristic camera bag system with interchangeable parts, large and small, that the maker suddenly abandoned just as hybrid reality was starting to catch up with it.
And besides, shoulder bags tend to do my neck in. Headaches ensue. The only one that doesn’t is a lonely little bag that barely handles a battery-packed GH4 with standard zoom minus mic and grip gear.
Anything more and out comes the strap-dangling oversized backpack that is clearly made for men. Don’t get me started on trad camera bag makers and the physical and gear-carrying needs of the camera-using female half of the population.
I haven’t seen nor used anything made by Peak Design yet. I hope that lack changes soon. I can’t comment about the quality of their design and manufacturing.
I can comment about what I’ve seen at their Kickstarter campaign page and the extras they’ve revealed along the way.
A tripod or monopod-carrying solution to go with the Everyday Messenger? Yes please! I carry either of mine far too little on those lighter-weight shoots when I make do with a table-tripod-cum-handle and hope my shakycam won’t be too obvious. CoreMelt Lock & Load X, here we come.
The open lens-carrying solution revealed on August 28, CaptureLENs and Lens Kit, “the best camera lens carry and quick-change system ever made”. Guys, guys, if only you’d made it for us Micro Four Thirds people too and not just the DSLR and big sensor mirrorless crowd.
We might find M43 cameras way smaller, lighter bodies and lenses alluring given the in-body-recorded quality 4K video they can shoot but the fact is that M43 zooms and tele lenses can be just as large, relatively speaking, as their cousins in DSLR or full frame land. And we are just as in need of quick-draw lens changes as full frame DSLR users.
Guys, please, I beg you.
I’m in no position right now to pledge to Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger Kickstarter campaign but if I were then I would definitely go for the $225 option – The Everyday Messenger and The Field Pouch.
Had I sold off the contents of the closet over yonder, far too many discarded, bitterly disappointing backpacks, waist packs and convertible handle-anything solutions (ha!) then I might have had the cash to lay down on one last camera bag gamble.
I might have chosen the PD Dream Pack containing bag, pouch, slings, straps, clip and more, but I don’t have firsthand knowledge of any Peak Design product to date.
The engineering behind the Everyday Messenger at the least is intriguing. A former employer gave me a messenger bag as a corporate welcoming gift and it gets used maybe twice a year to carry towels and sunblock. Load it up more than that and boy oh boy does my spine, shoulder and the base of my skull suffer something rotten for it.
I am a little skeptical about carrying anything on my shoulder for an hour much less a whole day. It may be that the Peak Design guys have cracked the code on this one though. Is that stabilizer strap part of the answer?
There’s another consideration, too. Every female friend, relative, colleague and co-worker agrees. Women’s general purpose shoulder bags SUCK! BIGTIME!
Big floppy sacks where everything ends up in a sorry pile and nothing can be found in a hurry, ever. And they’re designed to fall apart to be replaced next season with something equally as short-lived and horribly, horribly costly to the hip pocket and to the planet.
I guess the only way to find out is to put your money on the table and see.
Or if you’re lucky to live in or able to get to the last city where it’s being shown off, San Francisco on September 19, then hie thee thence and go. Everyday Messenger co-designer New Zealand’s Trey Ratcliff will be waiting for you.An intelligently-designed camera bag? Pledge to Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger Kickstarter. Click To Tweet
The Everyday Messenger: A Bag For Cameras & Essential Carry
The Everyday Messenger™ is a beautiful, intelligent and adaptable messenger bag designed around the workflows of photographers, creatives, travelers and commuters. It's more than a camera bag, it's your day-to-day essential carry workhorse, and it does things other camera bags can't.
It adapts to your gear and lifestyle.
What do all camera bags have in common? Foam cubes. Big ones. Bulky ones. Square ones. What do all cameras and lenses have in common? They're not square.
FlexFold™ dividers: instantly customize them to organize your gear and maximize your space for everything else. Fold 'em over and stack gear on top. Note that the final divider color is the same as the rest of the inner bag.
Learn more about the Everyday Messenger™ at their Kickstarter campaign page.
(cover photo credit: snap from Kickstarter)