The Lens Drop Bag.
It may seem like a somewhat new category of camera bags to many folks, but working pros, especially the event shooters, have been forever on the hunt for this holy grail of camera bags.
The situation is this:
Youâ€™re walking around with your cameras out and ready and may just need to changes lenses, get a battery, add/subtract a speedlight, get more media cards.
You know, the basics.
But the idea is that you may not need that bag you transport everything in to the gig, and have to be a bit more nimble, without carrying every piece of kit with you on your shoulder or back.
At a wedding, you may be moving around, shifting your position all over the venue, and have to be stealth and not be loaded down with everything you own.
Hence: the Lens Drop bag
Truly a working bag.
Not necessarily the street shooters bag, but more of a controlled event bag.
The first one we were aware of was the Shootsac , basically a neoprene messenger bag with compartments for the lenses, and a soft protective material that kinda molded to your body, when worn over the shoulder. Marketed to woman wedding photographers, they also offered a variety of decorative covers, to add a bit of style and panache to your outfit while you worked. About $210. USD
3 lens sized compartments in front, a wide full length slot in the back for whatever you could fit. This is a shoulder strap system, and very comfortable after extended wear.
Wedding photography is probably the hottest general category of the photo business today, so itâ€™s no wonder more bags entered the market. This bag has a more finished feel, to it and doesn’t scream camera bag.
Up to you if that is what you are looking for.
At a wedding, you must be dressed appropriately, but it’s pretty obvious who the pro shooter is. Shootsac has a variety of bag flaps for you to choose from.
Then we encountered the Boda Dry Jr
. A more compact utilitarian bag, with enough compartments to separate your gear from used or fresh batteries, to a card case on the side for the inevitable contact point. You can use this bag as a cross shoulder/ belt bag, or sling it over one shoulder, although not as balanced for that.
With either a drawstring pocket or a Velcro pouch, your gear is very accessible. Add in some slot pockets and your notes and or iPad fit neatly inside.
The 1st iteration we saw, was a soft black ballistic nylon bag. It quickly became our fave. Soft, enough (or too many?) compartments, comfy strap, lightweight. About $165. USD
Then the new version came out, Boda V3 Lens Bag
Not quite sure what happened here.
The bag stiffened up, and the slotted pouch at the back got mired in a cross flap type of operation that appeared more for design than utility.
Perhaps photographers felt that with a stiffer back, it would be easier to get the lenses in and out of the bag.
We kinda go for the softer bag.
The zippers were a bit more weather proofed, but we donâ€™t shoot so much in inclement weather soâ€¦â€¦
The strap was widened, and the belt had some hidden compartments, where you could maybe pop some notes into. Or perhaps their pocket guides to Wedding and Portrait photography. Very well done simplified, lessons but not overly basic guides to shooting.
Of course you wouldn’t really want to refer to those on a paid assignment. Could be grounds for, at the very least eye rolling, and likely diminished respect.
One thing that the Boda bag folks insist on, as do many bag folks, is putting a CF card system in the bag. They add some sort of proprietary, branded method of knowing when a card has been shot or not.
No pros I know use these systems. Ever. Maybe lose that function or use the space for something else. Less weight, maybe.
Best thing weâ€™ve found is the card wallet system from ThinkTank, Pixel Envy.
Speaking of ThinkTank, they too have entered this market category, with the Retrospective Lens Changer 2 . About $99.USD
Also a soft material bag, well made with a comfortable shoulder strap. Only real option for carrying , other than a handle on the top. With their Velcro silencing system, you can be a bit more stealth in those moments in the place of worship when the â€œI Doâ€™sâ€ are uttered.
There is only one pouch in the front of the 2 lens drop areas, and perhaps you can get a speedlight in, but the Nikon SB900 was a bit much for it. It was best in the back.
They moved the pocketing area to the rear of the bag, for batts, maybe a Rogue Flash Bender (sorry, we just like these), you card wallet, pens and maybe you notes.
You are a bit more low key with this bag as things are hidden and covered.
Here is what we fit in there:
Of course, you will be able to get all of this, and a little more, in each one of the other bags we discussed.
Strangely enough, the ThinkTank bag has no option to change the
openings, via velco dividers. Putting a DSLR with a 24-70 mm was a little tougher in this unit, that the Boda. Lenses, no problem.
In other words, once the shoot was over, we could put the DSLR with lens attachedinto the Boda bag, zip it up and be on our way.
So where does that leave us?
As always, we recommend getting your hands on a bag to see what may work best for you. Get the gear you would use, and bring it to your local retailer, or order up based on info on the complaint site. Make sure you can easily return the bag, if need be.
Load it up, put it on and see how it feels, and load your gear in and out. We can never tell which one is right until we do that test.
Right now, we find ourselves reaching for the ThinkTank bag most of the time, for simplicity with the 1st gen Boda Bag, a close second.
You may prefer a bag with more structure and the the Boda V3 is your call.
Try on a Shootsac loaded with gear and see if that fit against your body is what you need.
And now some videos of the bags:
!st Gen Boda Bag-
Think Tank line-
And one of our early vids with a few different products and the Shootsac is first: