When Mathieu first went completely mirrorless, one of the first problems he encountered was that every camera bag that he owned was oversized relative to his gear. The camera bag he had once used to carry around his Nikon D700 and three lenses now seemed to swallow up his Olympus OM-D E-M5, Fujifilm X100s and three Micro Four Thirds lenses. The only solution was to pick up a new bag that would suit the small size of his mirrorless gear.
In the end, we went with two bags: the National Geographic Earth Explorer Medium Pouch and the LowePro Event Messenger 150. We’ve been extremely happy with both so far.
- The National Geographic Pouch is perfect for walks around the city, day trips and simple jobs. It will hold one camera plus a small lens, such as the X100s or the OM-D E-M5 with the 12mm attached. If your camera is as compact as the X100s, you should also be able to fit your wallet and smartphone into the main pouch.
- The LowePro Event Messenger 150 is the bag Mat uses for professional assignments or long trips abroad. It can hold an OM-D E-M5-sized camera plus two to three lenses in the adjacent pockets. There is also space for a tablet, batteries and a smartphone.
While we love these mirrorless camera bags, we know that they aren’t the only, or even the best options out there. As such, we decided to poll our photographer friends on Facebook and Twitter about which camera bags they use to see which would come out on top. The results are shown below!
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1. Think Tank Retrospective 5
The Retrospective 5 by Think Tank was the most frequently mentioned by our fellow photographers. Kristin on Facebook states that it is small, fits all his gear and most importantly, doesn’t look like a photo bag. Similarly, Justin on Twitter cannot believe how many pockets it has.
According to its product description, its minimalist outer appearance conceals the fact that it is a camera bag with expensive equipment inside. With its hook-and-loop sound silencers, the bag doesn’t make any noise when you open it. It is constructed well, with sturdy zippers and seams, and is light to carry around. Many have stated that, at 7.7 x 9.4 x 4.5 inches, it is too small for a DSLR kit but the perfect size for MFT, NEX or Fuji X.
2. Think Tank Retrospective 7
In second place comes another product from Think Tank, the Retrospective 7. Andy on Twitter uses his to carry around his Fuji X-E1, 35mm lens, and miscellaneous non-photo related items like his wallet. Olivier on Twitter says that he is really happy with this bag and uses it for his Fuji X100s and X-E1.
The Think Tank Retrospective 7 differs from the Retrospective 5 mostly in terms of size. It is 19.7 x 11.8 x 7.9 inches, enough room for a standard DSLR, lenses, a tablet, wallet or anything else you can think of. Of course, if you’re using it for your mirrorless camera(s), you could easily fit more than one along with a couple of lenses.
It comes with Sound Silencers to make opening your bag a soundless operation, a cushioned shoulder strap, zippered pockets and a removable divider set.
3. LowePro Messenger 160
Having owned the amazing Messenger 150 for a few months now, it doesn’t surprise us that a similar LowePro product made it onto the list! Jeff on Facebook says that the LowePro Messenger 160 is discreet, roomy, doesn’t scream “camera bag,” has quiet opening (magnets) and a rain cover. Nicole on Facebook agrees, saying that it is small, comfortable, has lots of useful compartments and is very durable.
According to the product description, it also has a removable and adjustable grab handle and a fully padded and adjustable interior. It will easily fit a mirrorless camera, a few lenses plus extra accessories and/or personal items.
4. Kelly Moore B-Hobo Bag
Fellow X100s-user Rachel on Twitter decided she wanted to speak for the lady photographers out there by suggesting Kelly Moore. According to her website, she uses the Kelly Moore B-Hobo bag because of its adorable appearance and the amount of gear it can hold.
The great thing about Kelly Moore bags is that you really wouldn’t mistake one for a camera bag on the street. What’s more, the feminine appearance of these bags doesn’t clash with the way women dress as many camera bags would.
This bag is made of water resistant material, has two straps (one for your shoulder and one for cross-body use), and will fit a mirrorless camera and a number of lenses.
5. Billingham Hadley Pro
As refined-looking bags go, you can’t get much better than the Billingham Hadley Pro. It almost resembles a very handsome briefcase! Rafa on Twitter uses his to carry around his X-Pro1 with a lens attached, four other lenses and his Ricoh GX200, which shows just how roomy this bag really is.
According to the description, this bag has lots of great features including a back zip protected by a waterproof flap, two generous front pockets, adjustable straps for increased loading, an easy-to-open-and-close release system and a removable camera insert. It is well-constructed and durable, and while it looks small, it has been designed to hold a lot of gear.
6. Ona Union Street Messenger
Eric on Twitter owns the Union Street Messenger and uses it whenever he goes out with his two cameras, 4-5 lenses and flash. The bag is handcrafted with Waxwear to enhance its strength and durability, and is accented with leather, base and antique brass. Inside are five dividers, including an area for your laptop. It is lined with a soft protective padding to keep your cameras safe and sound. Like many other bags here, it resembles a work bag more than a camera bag.
7. Domke F-803
R.W. Boyer on Twitter has gone through three different Domke F-803 bags in a decade, which is testament to his love for this brand. According to his website, the new one he has just ordered is the Domke 701-83A F-803 (long name!).
With its durable waterproof canvas and padded side walls, you know your equipment is well-protected. The waxes and oils that cover the canvas give it a well-loved weathered look and make it look less like a camera bag. With its seven compartments and pockets, it is ideal for a couple of mirrorless cameras and lenses as well as extra accessories and/or personal belongings.
8. Alchemy Goods Pine Messenger Bag
The cool thing about this Alchemy Goods bag is that it is made from 100% recycled bike tubes and seatbelts, making it very ecofriendly! It was suggested to us by Emmer on Twitter, who uses it along with an Express insert for M4/3s and mirrorless cameras.
It is durable, water resistant, features a number of pockets and has a super slim profile. As the description on Amazon states, it is a messenger back that has been “distilled to its essential functions.”
9. Lowepro Flipside 200
The Flipside 200, the only backpack in this selection, was suggested to us by Colin on Facebook. It has a back entry compartment which gives you easy access to your gear while protecting it from being stolen. It contains a removable access pouch in which you can store cables, chargers and other important accessories. Made of tough water resistant fabric, it protects your gear even in bad weather conditions. Seeing as this backpack is actually made for DSLRs, you should be able to fit a couple of mirrorless cameras and quite a few lenses into it.
10. Cupcake Crumpler 2500
The Cupcake Crumpler 2500, suggested to us by Paul on Twitter, is the one bag we could not find on Amazon.com, but it is available in the UK. According to Paul, it can fit his Fuji X100, Gorillapod, ND filters, cloth and two spare batteries – not bad for such a small bag!
It has a soft protective lining which is waterproof, and side-pockets with integrated love-handles for accessory fastening. It is the perfect bag for those who only carry around one mirrorless camera at a time without extra lenses.
Which do you think are the best mirrorless camera bags? If you already own one any of these bags, please tell us about it in the comments section!
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