If you’re a professional photographer, there’s a decent chance that your camera is one of the most expensive pieces of technology you own. That’s not even taking into account the wide variety of lenses and accessories that are necessary out in the field. A good camera bag serves two main purposes: keeping your equipment safe and allowing it to be easily carried while also being readily accessible when the perfect shot arises.
And while novice photographers may be able to get by with a more traditional backpack, bags designed to carry cameras come with a number of distinct advantages. While it’s true that you get what you pay for, you don’t have to spend a fortune for a good camera bag. Here’s twelve of the best options available today.
The Best Camera Bags
- Peak Design Everyday Backpack
- Hadley 505233-70 Pro Shoulder Bag
- AmazonBasics Large DSLR Gadget Bag
- Think Tank V2.0 TurnStyle Camera Bag
- Canon 200DG Digital Camera Gadget Bag
- Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag
- Lowepro Slingshot Edge 250 AW Bag
- Nikon DSLR Camera Bag
- Kattee Leather Vintage DSLR SLR Messenger Bag
- Lowepro Nova 180 AW. DSLR Shoulder Bag
- Tenba 638-371 Camera and Laptop Bag
- Domke F-2 Original Shoulder Bag
1. Peak Design Everyday Backpack
"Peak Design" is more than just a company name. It's a mantra. The design in this backpack-style camera bag is incredibly intuitive, and purchasers will constantly find themselves falling in love with features they may have earlier overlooked. While the 20 liter model is the smallest offering in the Everyday series, it should be more than enough for most photographers. This is a bag that can comfortably hold a laptop of up to 15", a DSLR camera, multiple lenses, and practically all the accessories you'd need without feeling overburdened. Best of all, everything you could need on a shoot is easily accessible. It's also designed for the needs of the photographer on the go. The magnetic latch for the expandable top is a clever choice (and one that can be manipulated with a single hand), while the quick release loop gives you quick access to all your tools.
2. Hadley 505233-70 Pro Shoulder Bag
The Hadley Original has a strong legacy for quality and performance in the field of photography, and the Hadley Pro builds on those fundamentals in some important ways. For about $250, this canvas camera bag offers all of the features a photographer could want in an eminently portable frame. Features exclusive to the Pro model include a carrying handle with a fiberglass stiffener to keep your equipment secure, a zippered pocket that's waterproof and ideal for holding sensitive documents, and AVEA pockets to increase your carrying capacity. The features inherent in the Original are as solid as they've ever been. Brass buckles can adjust the dual front pockets to your ideal fit, while a quick release system gives you quicker access to the equipment you need when you need it. The shoulder sling is also conveniently adjustable.
3. AmazonBasics Large DSLR Gadget Bag
The Amazon SimpleBasic camera bag is certainly cheap, and it's certainly simple, but it's also incredibly utilitarian. You won't find a cheaper camera bag on the market. While it doesn't come with all the bells and whistles you'd find in the best camera bag, it's a great entry level bag for novice and aspiring photographers. This is a hefty bag with a lot of space to spare. Not only is there a pocket that can comfortably hold a reasonably sized tablet, there's also enough area to carry a DSLR camera, three lenses, and a few odds and ends in the main compartments. The mesh zipper pocket at the top is ideal for carrying cables, memory cards, and other small items. While it doesn't offer any waterproofing or easy access features, you won't find a DSLR camera bag at this price anywhere else.
4. Think Tank V2.0 TurnStyle Camera Bag
Think Tank has taken all the things that are great about a sling camera bag and optimized them to suit the needs of urban and nature photographers. Whether you're looking for a Nikon camera bag or something that can accommodate a different brand of camera, the TurnStyle should meet your needs and then some. The slim design allows you to shift this bag from your back to your chest with little effort, so you can easily grab what you need and get shooting quicker. Version 2.0 has only improved on the intuitive design that the TurnStyle is known for. The 20 version featured here is the largest model, and it's beefy enough to hold your camera, three lenses, and a dedicated tablet as large as ten inches. But you wouldn't know that at a glance. This is a surprisingly slim model with an almost supernatural carrying capacity for its size.
5. Canon 200DG Digital Camera Gadget Bag
Canon's 200dg camera bag may not be as cheap as the Amazon SimpleBasic alternative. But for just a little more money, you can get a major upgrade in terms of storage space. This shoulder bag can hold two separate DSLR cameras along with up to three lenses, and the fact that it's designed by Canon means that you know it's customized to suit their frames. It's also a waterproof camera bag, making it a great choice if you do a lot of outdoor photography in extreme conditions. That said, it's not exactly overflowing with features. The easy access side pockets can hold memory cards, and they're padded as well. But other than that, it uses a basic clasp design, so it's not readily accessible. That's not necessarily a flaw. This is a hefty bag designed to help you safely lug a lot of gear to your shooting location.
6. Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag
If you love the smart features that come with the Peak Design Everyday Backpack but you're looking for a shoulder design, you owe it to yourself to check out this messenger bag. Peak Design collaborated with famed travel photographer Trey Ratcliff on this design, and it shows. This is a bag that's designed from the core with the needs of globe-hopping photographers in mind. It includes a pass-through pocket so that it can be attached securely to your suitcase, and the FlexFold dividers facilitate a respectable amount of customization for the interior. A lot of camera bags are designed for specific uses, but this messenger bag can adapt to the needs of the versatile photographer on the fly. The fabric on this nylon canvas camera bag is also incredibly durable, so it should last you a good long time even if you use it as your standard travel bag.
7. Lowepro Slingshot Edge 250 AW Bag
The Slingshot Edge 250 AW has been designed with the specific demands of urban photographers in mind, and that means it needs to accomplish three major things: provide space for a decent amount of camera equipment, make that equipment readily accessible for spontaneous shots, and offer a level of security when the photographer is in crowded urban environments. This Lowepro camera bag succeeds admirably in all three regards. With a carrying capacity of one DSLR camera and a single extra lens, it's not the most spacious sling bag on the market, but it is a favorite of female photographers due to the level of comfort that it affords. The all weather covering makes it a reasonably good bag for nature photography as well, and the smart pocket design puts everything you could want easily in reach.
8. Nikon DSLR Camera Bag
The advantage of buying a camera bag from your camera's manufacturer is that you know it will be suited specifically to the needs of the cameras you carry with you on a day to day basis. But the Nikon camera bag is a great choice even if you're using off-brand cameras. Sure, you can be guaranteed that this will accommodate any DSLR cameras produced by Nikon, but you can also rest easy knowing that it has a sturdy build and a spacious interior. But all told, this is a pretty basic bag intended primarily for those first starting off in the world of amateur photography. If you need a starter bag, you can get this bag for a song, but you'll likely want to upgrade if you start moving into more serious photography.
9. Kattee Leather Vintage DSLR SLR Messenger Bag
This options from Kattee demonstrates that a leather camera bag doesn't have to cost you a fortune. Sure, it's only cow leather trim over a canvas frame, but it's an incredibly handsome camera bag that puts off an evocatively retro look. This is an incredibly stylish bag given that it rocks a price tag of under $50. Supporting that vintage look is the fact that its spacious interior can comfortably fit both modern DSLR cameras and bulkier retro models. And despite its aged look, it takes advantage of modern sensibilities and expectations. The padded dividers are self adhering, letting you protect your cameras and lenses while also giving you the flexibility to create a custom interior layout.
10. Lowepro Nova 180 AW. DSLR Shoulder Bag
Unlike the company's Slingshot, Lowepro's take on the over the shoulder bag isn't exactly an innovation. But then, it doesn't need to be. This is a solid workhorse of a bag that gets the fundamentals right and promises exactly what you'd expect from a camera bag in its class. Space is available for a full DSLR camera along with an attached lens or drone, and there's even space for up to four separate lenses. The inclusion of an adjustable and removable strap, belt loop, and grab handle provide you with a variety of different ways to carry it, and the interior space can be easily customized to accommodate the particulars of your kit.
11. Tenba 638-371 Camera and Laptop Bag
Another workmanlike entry to the over the shoulder camera bag market, Tenba's messenger bag is a stripped down option that focuses on the fundamentals. There's a lot of space in this bag - enough to hold a mirrorless camera with three to five additional lenses or a DSLR camera with two to three lenses. The real appeal here is the quality of the build. This is a sturdy and well put together bag, and it offers a greater level of security. The tapered front flap helps seal in your belongings while keeping water out, while magnetic clips give you easy access to the interior without sacrificing security.
12. Domke F-2 Original Shoulder Bag
Professional photographers have a reputation for being obsessive lens collectors. Chances are that most of those lenses won't see regular use, but if you want to take the whole kitchen sink with you, Domke has a solution. The F-2 is an absolute beast of a bag, capable of holding up to two DSLR cameras and six to ten lenses while still leaving room for a range of accessories. This obviously isn't the bag you want to bring with you on the subway or the trail, but concessions have been made to ensure a comfortable fit. The Gripper Strap is adjustable and designed to prevent slippage, and you can easily shift to the hand carrying strap if need be.
Best Camera Bags Buyer’s Guide
Should I Buy a Camera Bag From My Camera’s Manufacturer?
Two of the bags on our list are made by camera manufacturers – namely Nikon and Canon. But we chose them due to the quality of their build rather than the cameras they can accommodate. Cameras by most manufacturers are comparable in size, and you won’t get a great advantage by buying a Nikon camera bag for your Nikon camera. You should instead evaluate the size, features, and durability of the bags.
Finding the Right Style
No two photographers operate in exactly the same way. Whether you carry a wide variety of different cameras and lenses and focus on studio portraiture or you’re a street photographer who likes to travel lean and seeks to capture the “decisive moment” in your subjects, you deserve a camera bag that’s suited to your needs. There are a variety of different features in the camera bag market, but most bags can be split into one of three categories.
Camera backpacks offer a huge amount of storage, and that makes it an ideal choice for photographers who work a lot in the studio and need to change between a variety of different lenses. But it’s about more than just storage. The ability to secure your bag over both shoulders means that you can distribute that weight more evenly and carry all your gear more comfortable. That makes them great for nature photographers as well. But it’s not a great choice if you need quick access to your equipment, and they can become unwieldy in crowded environments like subways.
A shoulder camera bag is the flip side of the coin to a camera bag backpack. They’re designed to rest comfortably over one shoulder so that you can quickly flip them around and access the contents, and most come with intuitively designed pockets that segregate the items in your bag and let you reach them in a matter of seconds. Many also come with anti-theft protection that makes them great for working in crowded, urban environments. Just bear in mind that traveling with a sling bag means that you have to travel much lighter than you would with one of the alternatives.
A sling shoulder bag largely splits the difference between a shoulder bag and a proper backpack. They can hold a bit more gear than shoulder bags do, but the fact that they hang over just one shoulder means that they’re still accessible. Most come with a stabilizing strap that allows you to carry more equipment without exhausting yourself, and they’re more easy to manipulate in crowded environments than backpacks.
Finding the right camera bag is an incredibly personal choice. How much you travel, how much gear you need to carry, and what kind of photography you practice are all major considerations for both the style and model of bag you need. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend hours of research seeking out the right bag. Our list covers all the core bases, and you can count on all of the bags on our list to offer great value while also being durable enough to last a good long time.