Think Tank Retrospective 20 Camera Bag
20/06/11There's no such thing as the perfect camera bag so I've ended up with several bags that each have a specific role. I was looking for a bag to use for weddings and needed something that would be comfortable for a long day of shooting and that could carry a camera body, three or four lenses and a flash. After checking out several other reviews I went for the Think Tank Retrospective 20.
My other bags are all Lowepro so I was interested to see how the Think Tank worked out. It looks very well made with high quality materials and smart design features. With one camera, standard zoom and flash in use, the bag can hold a second body, wide and telephoto zooms, a fast prime, spare flash, memory cards and basic sensor cleaning gear. There's still room for the gear that's in use to be popped into the bag if need be. Importantly for me one of the lenses can be a 70-200 f2.8 with the hood in place or attached to a camera with the hood reversed. This speeds up lens changes considerably.
Depending on who you talk to the bag either looks like a messenger bag or a nappy changing bag. It has a main section with moveable dividers to split it up. On either side of this but still inside the main section are pockets that will hold a Canon 580EX flash with a Sto-fen diffuser cap on. Still inside the main section there's a full width zipped pocket to the rear. In front of the main section is a large pocket with smaller sections inside for accessories and in front of that is another pocket held closed by a velcro tab. When empty, this one collapses down to make the bag slimmer. Behind the main section of the bag is another full width zipped pocket. On either side of the bag there are two small exterior pockets and webbing straps to attach other Think Tank items. The sections of the bag are coverd by a large flap with velcro to secure it. One of the key features of the retrospective bags is that the velcro tabs can be folded out of the way so the bag can be opened silently and without the all too familiar sound of velcro ripping apart. This is perfect for wedding ceremonies. The shoulder strap is very sturdy and has a nice grippy pad that doesn't slip off the shoulder too easily. There's also a smaller grab handle that easily folds out of the way. More importantly, when used with the bag open it keeps everything upright with no risk of equipment tumbling out.
So, initial thoughts are very positive. When carrying a reasonable amount of gear this bag is both practical and comfortable. It sits easy on the body and is much less bulky than the Lowepro Magnum that it's replacing. It's also quick and easy to work out of. I'm sure that others carry much more in it than I do but all that weight still has to be carried. On the downside the padding is very minimal so your kit doesn't feel so well protected. In particular I'd like to see more padding to the base. This would increase confidence when working quickly. However, for me the whole point of this bag is that it is a shoot sack rather than a transport and storage bag. Use it at a wedding or around town and it's in it's element. For safely protecting gear from heavier duty bumps and bashes it's more appropriate to use something else.