I have a fairly easy commute to work in Bucks County, PA. I'm fortunate enough to not drive on an expressway but rather rural backroads with farms, barns and horses. I recently was inspired by my friend and Olympus Trailblazer Jamie MacDonald, to be a commuter shooter. Check out his video here. I take my camera to work on occasion, but I rarely stopped to photograph the beautiful scenery I pass every day. Watching his video and hearing him talk at the Out of Chicago Conference last weekend really got me thinking about carrying my camera to work every day and making an effort to shoot along the way.
At the conference Jamie spoke about what he carries in his commuter camera bag, a Think Tank Photo TurnStyle 10 sling bag. It's small and light and fits everything he needs to shoot on the road. When I'm at conferences or around a bunch of other photographers, one thing I love to do is check out the bags they use. I like to inquire what they like about the bag they are carrying and what they dislike. Sometimes I'm brave enough to ask for a look inside! I did just that when on my second Chicago workshop. Co-leader of the workshop Alanna St. Laurent was sporting a Lowepro Passport Sling III. I had seen the bag before at a Best Buy and passed it up. The bag is now in it's third revision. I asked her for a peek inside her bag and she politely obliged. I liked that it had a mesh zippered pocket inside as well as a padded iPad sleeve. It also has an expandable front compartment that gives you 30% more room. While I liked the bag, I didn't think it would be a replacement for my current street bag.
On the way home from Chicago, I started thinking about Jamie's talk and the bag came to mind again. This could be my commuter shooter bag. At $46 on Amazon, the investment wasn't that significant. Currently when I take my camera to work, I'm carrying my purse, a camera bag and a laptop bag. My thought process was that I could use the sling bag to carry the items I currently have in my purse in this bag instead and eliminate one bag. Now when I go to work I could carry my sling bag with my camera and all of my personal items and my laptop bag. When I go out to lunch, I just need to carry one bag and I'm ready to stop and photograph anything I see along the way, including my food, which is a post for another day! :)
So I ordered the bag and it arrived on Saturday. The bag is not overly padded, but the camera insert is sufficient to protect my gear and there is plenty of room with the expanded compartment for all of my personal items. I can wear it as a shoulder bag or as a sling. The camera insert does puzzle me a bit though as there is an open slot on the bottom and the padding on the bottom is folder over and can be stretched out (it's a little hard to explain). It's possibly constructed this way so you can fold it flat in case you want to take it out and compress it to pack it in a suitcase. My other gripe is that the insert in the older models of this bag seemed to have been more well thought out with velcro on the side as well as the bottom. The current edition has velcro only on the bottom to secure the insert to the bag. The previous edition of the insert also had a side compartment or two for a media card, etc., while this one is just a plain foam insert. That being said my Tenba BYOB 9 fits in the main compartment rather nicely, so I may swap the insert out at some point if this bag ends up being my daily carry.
I'm all packed and ready to give it a go tomorrow. We'll see how I like having everything in one bag and if I find any shortcomings with the bag itself. I'm sure I will...no camera bag is perfect after all. I'm sure all of you can relate to that! Thanks Jamie and Alanna for the inspiration!