If you’re just starting out in photography, chances are you’ve bought a camera with a kit lens and added a memory card and a strap to it. And now you need a bag to carry your new gear around. Or do you? In this video, James Popsys discusses why you may not need a dedicated camera bag after all, and why it could be clever to skip buying it, at least in the beginning.
If you still have relatively little gear, James suggests you go for a regular backpack instead of buying a camera backpack. First of all, it will save you some money and you can invest it in a new lens or a trip. Another advantage is that a regular backpack won’t draw too much attention. You can turn any bag into a camera bag with a few accessories, and it could be a better solution for a start. Plus, you can also fit other items along with your camera.
Alternatively, you can go with a dedicated camera bag but choose a small shoulder bag. It will be enough for a camera and a lens, and you could add a few more personal items in it. There are some stylish models that don’t look like camera bags (such as this one), so they won’t draw much attention. On the downside, a bag like this won’t be of much use if your gear collection grows. In this case, you’ll need to get another, bigger camera bag with time. However, I think you can still use the smaller one when you want to pack light, or just take a casual walk with your camera and one lens.
Finally, there could be a need for you to buy a dedicated camera backpack. As I mentioned, your gear collection might grow, so you may need more space to carry it. But also, if you immediately buy lots of gear, this is where it also makes sense to immediately buy a large backpack to carry it. Now, it could be quite a challenge to pick the perfect one. But perhaps you can find some inspiration and help here and here.
Now, do you need that camera bag? You might, in some cases, but James’ general advice for beginners is – don’t get a dedicated camera bag. It won’t help your photography, and it’s an extra cost in the beginning when you already spend a lot of money on gear.
Personally, a camera bag was one of the first items I bought along with my first camera and a kit lens that came with it. It was around $30 if I remember well, and when it got all shabby, I bought another one exactly the same. It’s the one in the photo above. Yes, I still have it, and still use it, because it comes in handy when I travel with just one lens, or just take a casual walk with my camera. The downside is that I can’t fit anything else in it, but it’s so small that I can put it in the backpack with my other stuff. Sure, I also have two larger bags for when I carry more gear, but honestly, in my case, that happens once in a blue moon. So, for me, this small camera bag was a perfect choice. It still is.
Still, objectively speaking, I also think you might not actually need one if you’re just starting out. At least not a large one. You can easily go with a small camera bag like the one I have, or even just a divider or a pouch you’ll put in your regular bag. I recently got one, too, and I plan to use it.
So, what are your thoughts on the topic? Was a camera bag one of the first things you bought when you started doing photography? Or you bought it later? If you’re a newbie, what’s your plan when it comes to buying a bag? Let me know in the comments, I’m curious to hear your thoughts.