My Favorite Photo Bag

When you find a good bag, it goes with you everywhere.

Any pro or photo enthusiast knows that there is no such thing as the perfect camera bag. Photographers are to camera bags as Imelda Marcos was to shoes; we have a closet full of ’em. And not unlike designer shoes, camera bags are not exactly budget items. Many good bags retail for upwards of $200.

When it comes to camera bags, you have to consider the compromises, because every bag will be a compromise at some level. I started off wanting a bag that would hold everything I owned– sort of a combination storage and transport system. The problem with the really large bags that can hold everything is that you invariably fill them with everything. Travel through airports and in the field becomes an exercise in back and shoulder fatigue. When fatigue sets in, you stop taking pictures. Any camera bag that makes you want to stop photographing is a bad bag!

What this means is that you not only need bags for different purposes, but also bags that you aren’t going to fill up with unnecessary items. You also have to get yourself out of the “bring everything” mindset whenever possible. For me, most of my travel involves landscape and wildlife photography. That’s a difficult mix, because you can easily pack way too much stuff– super-wide, standard zoom, tele-zoom, macro lens, speedlight(s)… The other challenge is, of course, carrying all this expensive stuff on an aircraft, where overhead bin space is a premium.

I’ve been using Think Tank Photo bags since 2005, when I bought their monster “Airport Addicted” bag (guess which one I use the least). I’ve always been happy with the build and features of the Think Tank bags. They are very strong, have lots of dividers (more on that later), and the zippers are top-notch. They also design many of their bags to fit in aircraft; either in an overhead compartment or below your seat. Because I’ve owned many bags (Think Tank and others) over the years, I get a feel for what works best for me. Since 2006, the bag I reach for most often has been the Think Tank Airport Antidote.

I liked the Airport Antidote ever since it was released (it’s been updated to version 2.0 since I got my original model), and that still holds true several years later. I’ve used this bag for landscape trips and wildlife trips, because it satisfies almost all my needs:

  • 3-lens landscape kit with backup body: 14-24, 24-70, 70-200, D3 and D700 plus goodies
  • Basic wildlife kit: two bodies plus Nikon 200-400 f/4.0 AFS VR G, TC’s and flash
  • Fits in overhead bin of a regional jet
  • Comfortable as a backpack for most short hikes
  • Outer compartment holds a 15″ MacBook Pro laptop computer

With this one bag, I can carry 90% of my gear on a plane, I’m not overloaded, and I don’t feel like I’m leaving anything important behind. Check out all the Think Tank Photo products and find your perfect bag, too.

Airport Antidote, loaded for a wildlife shoot: 200-400mm VR Nikkor, 105mm VR micro Nikkor, D300, D300s, MB-D10 grip, SB-900, TC-14E, Better Beamer
Airport Antidote, with a typical 3-lens kit and two bodies: Nikon D3s, D700, 16-35, 24-70, 70-200mm lenses, filters, accessories.

Follow Jason Odell Photography

5 thoughts on “My Favorite Photo Bag”

  1. Completely agree! The Antidote is the perfect size bag. Its straps are also surprisingly comfortable for a photo bag and I’ve done 5 hour walks with one, loaded like your lower photo but instead of a laptop I put a Camelback pouch in the outer pocket. Turns out you can lead the mouthpiece tube along one of the shoulder straps and keep hydrated too.

  2. Jason, will you be coming out with guide for the new Silver Efex Pro 2? And if so, what is the expected date? Thank you.

  3. I love TT bags.

    For me though, backpacks are the least useful form of carrying system because you cannot work out of them. Fine for getting the gear somewhere but not so good if you need to access your stuff on the hoof.

    Having to pull the bag off, dump it in the mud/dust/sand/cow dung/water etc, open it, let the aforementioned contaminants in – or a thief’s hand – get what you want, close it all again, pick it up and transfer the crud to your clothes, realise you forgot the other thing you wanted and do it again etc etc really negates the benefits for me when I am working on assignment.

    I travel with their wheeled bags (or wheeled Pelican cases) and take either their modular belt system or one of several shoulder bags as well which I use once I am on location.

    Build quality and materials are excellent in TT gear – totally agree.

  4. When possible, I travel similarly. It can be tough with planes, though. I really like using the modular stuff in the field when I can. Much more comfortable!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.