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Which Drone to buy for Photography

In January 2019 I assessed the market to find what is the best drone for photographers.  It was very clear that the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the leader for photographers looking for a drone for still photography with its exceptional image quality, affordable price and IQ.  

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  • Best Overall Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2, everything great about the Phantom 4 Pro without the bulk.
  • Runner up, Best Overall: DJI Phantom 4 Prowhile starting to show its age and a replacement being imminent, still a more than capable drone.
  • Best Value Option Drone: DJI Sparkthis super small drone is a great entry point for people getting into drones.
  • Best Budget Option Drone: Holy Stone HS110D, a super cheap way to play around with drones without breaking the bank.
  • If Money was no Object: DJI Matrice 100, better get saving…! 

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 Before we look at what makes the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and alternative options, it’s important to look at why drone photography is an awesome new area of photography to explore and also what things to look out for when you’re buying a drone. 

What’s my experience in drones?

I’ve been fortunate to own a few drones over the years from:

  • DJI Phantom 2 with GoPro attached – This was like driving a car without power steering in the dark with no headlights.  Super fun but the image quality was terrible and the drone felt like a toy. This was largely due to the drone not having the ability to hover in the one place or avoid obstacles like today’s drones. Basically this meant that in any wind conditions you’d be fighting to keep the drone in the one position without crashing into any trees.
  • DJI Phantom 4 Pro Plus – This was a huge step up compared to the P2 with the camera being a huge step up (think an entry level DSLR) and the drone now including being smart enough that anyone could fly one (scary!) with the obstacle avoidance, automatic take off and landing and camera to help with seeing where you’re flying. I loved the camera image quality of the P4P but the bulky nature of the drone made it unpractical at times when travelling interstate or on road trips. 
  • DJI Mavic 2 – Finally! A drone that comes with great image quality, IQ and doesn’t break the bank. 

All of this experience has given me a good understanding of what makes a good drone for photography.

Why you should buy a drone for photography

  • Mix up your photography with new angles not possible with your normal camera
  • Challenge yourself artistically in a relatively new genre of photography
  • Unleash your inner kid! Whilst the drones mentioned in this article definitely aren’t for kids, they still are a heck of a lot of fun to fly and made me feel like a kid again!

What you should consider when looking at drones

Budget

Unsplash

The sky is the limit (like what I did there?) when it comes to buying drones for still photography but assuming you’re like me and have a mortgage and family to support, unfortunately that $10,000 drone is out of reach.

Fortunately though, we’re incredibly lucky with the available range of drones under $2,000 with many options for people looking to get started all the way through to people looking to buy a drone for high-end commercial work.

Camera sensor and lens

Things to consider when it comes to the camera on your drone:

  • What is the low light performance like on the drone? As you will be photographing around sunrise/sunset, it’s key to have something that is able to capture nice noise free images in low light
  • How wide is the lens? Most drones come standard with a wide angle lens and like your wide angle lens at home, some can have greater distortion than others. 

DJI bought a majority stake in Hasselblad in 2017. Since then we have begun to see equipment with the Hasseblad logo stamped over it. Whether Hasselblad have had much/any involvement 

Image output

The higher the mega pixel the better when it comes to drone photography. From my personal experience, I crop my images a lot more on the drone as I’m working with a fixed length lens with no zoom and it can also be difficult 

When looking for a drone for the purpose of aerial photography, it’s important to take into account the ability to capture images in RAW rather than JPG or other compressed outputs. Like photographing in RAW on your still camera, this gives you the ability to greater recover highlights or shadows as opposed to photographing in JPG or other compressed outputs.

Stability

Any decent drone will include a gimbal which basically acts as a stabilisation device for the camera.  Without a gimbal, the camera can appear wobbly as you move the drone and try to record at the same time. The gimbal is more critical if you’re planning on shooting video on your drone as you will be more inclined to record while moving the drone. But it is also useful to have for flying the drone so you have a steady video stream coming through to help with navigating. 

Reliability 

Early edition DJI drones like the DJI Phantom 2 were renowned for having reliability issues where they would die mid flight or fly away. DJI have innovated heavily in this area and the drones  have incredible reliability with these issues only occurring for a very small minority of drones.

When researching other drones for this article, I did notice that reliability issues are still  common in lesser known and mature brands. Generally these issues only affect a small minority but it’s worth noting when considering the price difference between DJI and a cheaper brand.

Battery life

When considering battery life, it’s important to take into consideration:

  • Powering on and taking the drone off
  • Flying the drone to altitude height 
  • Manoeuvring the drone into position
  • Taking your photos or videos
  • Returning and landing the drone

All of the above use your precious battery life which leads me to say – the more battery life the better! 

Having gone from a 20 minute to 30 minute battery life, I now feel less rushed and don’t feel like I’m constantly clock watching to see how much air time my drone has. 

Physical size

Having owned both the DJI Mavic 2 and DJI Phantom 4 Pro, I can tell you that size definitely matters when it comes to owning a drone.

I’ve gone from owning the DJI Phantom 4 Pro which weighed in at 1334 grams to the Mavic 2 weighing  907 grams and folds down to a substantially smaller size.  The Phantom 4 Pro was cumbersome to carry around and also attracted a lot of attention. With the Mavic 2 Pro, I’m able to simply put this in my camera bag and barely notice it’s there. 

Consider asking yourself the following questions when considering what size drone would best suit your needs:

  • Will I be travelling interstate/overseas and be happy to carry the drone to the airport/check it in?
  • What advantage does the bigger drone provide over smaller drones available?
  • Will I also be carrying my regular camera setup with me?

Ease of flying

When using a drone for aerial photography, you need something which provides stability and allows you to easily fly in open areas where conditions might be windy (I.e. above open coastline) but also features obstacle avoidance to fly in small confined areas (i.e. between trees when photographing a waterfall).

There’s a few things I’d recommend you check when looking for a drone:

  • Ability to hover in one position without needing manual intervention
  • Obstacle avoidance
  • Stability in the wind
  • Return to home  functionality 

Range

 How far are you looking to fly the drone?  Realistically you shouldn’t fly your drone a big distance away from you due to most country aerial/drone laws requiring drone operators to always maintain line of sight with the drone at all times. 

Although sometimes having a drone with a good range even when you are maintains line of sight can be useful especially when flying in windy conditions where the drone may struggle to fly up wind back to you. This gives the option of being able to either a) Slowly return up wind to you and not stress that the drone may fall out of range or b) find a safe spot to land if your battery is low.

Drone Buying Guide

Best Overall Drone – DJI Mavic 2 Pro  

Announced in August 2018, the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is DJI’s current flagship drone. DJI have taken a lot of what was great about the DJI Phantom 4 Pro and put it in a more compact drone being the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. 

I personally own the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and love it. Some of the key features which make this a great drone include:

  • Flight time of 31 minutes (if flown at a constant 7 miles per hour (25 kph)
  • Weighs 907 grams and 354 mm (diagonal)
  • Omni-directional obstacle avoidance system to help with avoiding those pesky trees
  • Range of  8km
  • 20 megapixel 1″ sensor (vs the old 1/2.3″ sensor on the original Mavic)
  • 10-bit colour mode
  • Outputs files in RAW (DNG)
  • Captures video in 4k up to 30 fps
  • Impressive ISO performance of 100-12800
  • 28mm fixed lens
  • Hyperlapse mode to capture hyperlapse videos
  • Hyperlight mode to assist with taking photos in the dark
  • Active Track 2.0

All of the above makes the DJI Mavic 2 Pro an awesome drone for aerial photography and my recommended pick if you are looking for a drone for aerial photography.

Previous drones felt like you were capturing images with your iPhone but the Mavic 2 Pro feels like an entry level DSLR (at least).   DJI have really hit the mark with the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and you cannot go wrong.

[amazon box=”B07GDC5X74″ title=”DJI Mavic 2 Pro” template=”horizontal” description_items=”3″]

Difference between the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is a superior drone for still photography when compared to the other recently released DJI’s other new drone, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom. The Zoom is targeted towards the video market with features such as dolly zoom and the ability to optical zoom whilst the Pro is more geared towards photographers with a greater image sensor (1″ vs 1/2.3″ sensor) , better low light capabilities (100-12800 vs 100-3200) and far superior colour range (1 billion vs 16 million).

The key difference between the DJI Mavic Pro 2 and the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom are:

  • Lens: Pro model has a fixed 28mm lens whilst the Zoom has a 2x optical zoom lens
  • Image Resolution: The Pro has a 20 megapixel camera whilst the Zoom has a 12 megapixel sensor
  • Image Sensor: The Pro comes with a 1″ sensor (similar to the Phantom 4) while the Zoom only comes with a 1/2.3″ sensor.
  • ISO Range: The Pro has an ISO range of 100-12800 and the Zoom has a range of 100-3200
  • Colour range: The Pro wins this hands down with a colour range of 1 billion colours vs 16 million colours
  • Dolly zoom: As expected by the name, the Zoom includes a dolly zoom (great for video) whilst the Pro does not
  • Price:  The Pro model was launched at $1499 whilst the Zoom model was $1249. A $250 difference

My recommendation is to purchase the DJI Mavic 2 Pro if you are looking for a drone for aerial still photography. This recommendation is based off the better sensor in the DJI Mavic 2 Pro which in turn provides:

  • Greater dynamic range
  • Better low light performance
  • Greater ability to crop your images due to the higher mega pixel

Runner Up, Best Overall Drone – DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Having once owned the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, I can’t speak more highly enough of this drone. However with the recent release of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, it makes recommending the Phantom 4 Pro difficult. 

Some of the key features of the DJI Phantom 4 Pro include:

  • Weighs 1388 grams and is 350mm (diagonal) when taken out of the box
  • Flight time of 30 minutes
  • Range of 7km
  • 20 mega pixel 1″ sensor that outputs to RAW (DNG)
  • 8-bit colour mode
  • Fixed lens of 24mm
  • Mechanical shutter 
  • Films in 4k up to 30 fps
  • Active Track 1.0

[amazon box=”B01N639RIJ” title=”DJI Phantom 4 Pro” template=”horizontal” description_items=”3″]

Difference between the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and the DJI Phantom 4 Pro

The key differences between the DJI Phantom 4 Pro and the DJI Mavic 2 Pro include:

  • Flight time:  Mavic 2 Pro has 2 minutes of additional flight time (32 mins vs 30 mins)
  • Weight: Mavic 2 Pro is 481 grams lighter and far smaller in physical size
  • Camera: Phantom 4 Pro includes a mechanical shutter where the Mavic Pro 2 only includes an electronic shutter. This is more relevant for filming to avoid the rolling shutter effect
  • Colour mode: Mavic 2 Pro comes with 10-bit colour whilst the Phantom has 8-bit colours.
  • Focal Length: The  focal length of the Phantom 4 Pro is 24mm vs the Mavic 2 Pro’s 28mm
  • Cost: At time of writing, the Mavic 2 Pro costed $1,449 and the Phantom 4 Pro was $1,499 making the Mavic 2 Pro cheaper
  • Set up time – I’d argue the Mavic 2 Pro is easier to set up and travel with
  • Range: Mavic 2 Pro has a range of 8km vs the Phantom’s range of 7km
  • Wind resistance: Due to the size and weight of the Phantom 4 Pro, this makes it a bit more stable in the wind and lesser prone to get thrown around
  • Active Track: The Mavic 2 Pro comes with Active Track 20 vs. the Phantom’s Active Track 1.0. The difference you ask? Mostly reliability and the new spotlight tracking feature where the drone will keep the subject at the centre of frame and continue to fly around it
  • Hyperlapse and Hyperlight: Only the Mavic 2 Pro comes with these modes.

It’s pretty clear based on the above that the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the superior drone when compared to other high end drones in the market. Although the DJI Phantom 4 Pro is beginning to show its age now and a refresh isn’t far away.

I’d only recommend the DJI Phantom 4 Pro if one came up second hand for cheap. Even then I’d be nervous about buying in case it has been crashed in the past.  For this reason, go with the DJI Mavic 2 Pro.

Best Value Option Drone – DJI Spark

Released in May 2017, the DJI Spark makes a great drone for people entering the drone market and not ready to make the leap to spending a large amount of money on a drone just yet.  

The DJI Spark is known for its small size so some of the short comings below (i.e. distance or camera capability) are due to limitations in the size of the drone.  Some features of the DJI Spark include: 

  • Weighs a tiny 300  grams and 170mm diagonal
  • 16 minute flight time
  • 2km distance
  • 12 mega pixel camera with a 1/2.3″ sensor
  • ISO range of 100-1600
  • Only exports in JPG and not RAW (DNG)
  • Films 1080p HD video
  • Small size makes it vulnerable in windy conditions compared to other drones

The sensor on the DJI Spark is on the lower side at 1/2.3″ when you consider an iPhone 7 sensor is 1/1.3″.  Combine this with the low ISO range and ability to only photo in JPG, this limits the image quality which you will get from the DJI Spark. 

The DJI Spark makes a great drone for people who are unsure about buying a drone and not convinced it’s for them.  Personally, I’d save the money and buy the DJI Mavic 2 Pro.

[amazon box=”B075TDRS2M” title=”DJI Spark” template=”horizontal” description_items=”3″]

Best Budget Drone – Holy Stone HS110D

The Holy Stone HS1110D is one of the lesser known brands trying to make a name for itself in the DJI dominated drone market.  I’d place the Holy Stone HS110D and other drones like this in toy/hobbyist category. Largely due to their size (145 grams), flight time (10 minutes) and distance (60 m) making it not overly practical if you’re keen on getting high end shots.

A quick look at the specs of the Holy Stone HS110D:

  • Weighs 145 grams and 320 mm diagonal
  • 10 minute flight time
  • 60m distance
  • 5 mega pixel camera
  • Films 720p video
  • Doesn’t require FAA registration due to weight

One thing that DJI does well with its drones is reliability. A quick skim of the reviews of the Holy Stone HS110D and it was quite clear that this drone was susceptible to reliability issues when in the sky.

Like most things in life, you get what you pay for and I’d recommend skipping this one unless you want to pick up a cheap drone for your kids.

 

[amazon box=”B078WKT1HL” title=”Holy Stone HS110D” template=”horizontal” description_items=”3″]

Comparison

I’ve created a quick comparison of the drones reviewed in this article to help show the difference between them. 

[amazon table=”12476″]

Upcoming Releases

With it being almost 2 and a half years since the DJI Phantom 4 Pro was released, we can only speculate that a replacement isn’t too far away. 

Rumours suggest that the new DJI Phantom 5 could come with the following:

  • Flight time: Longer 45 minute flight time which would considerably raise the bar compared to current drones
  • Gimbal: Improved gimbal to include 360 degree view
  • Lens: Interchangeable lenses so you can change from an ultra wide lens to a zoom lens depending on what you are photographing
  • Improved distance – Ability to reach a flight range of 8-10 km
  • Enhanced obstacle avoidance – Introducing artificial intelligence systems to provide an even better obstacle avoidance system

Obviously the above is all rumour at this point but it will be interesting to see what DJI do with the Phantom considering how great the Mavic 2 Pro now is. Exciting times ahead!

End

Thanks for reading this comparison article on current drones in the market place for still photography.

If you have any suggestions or questions be sure to use the contact section to reach out and I’ll do my best to help.

– Alex  

 

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Unsplash – 10 months and 12.4 million views later

How many times were my images viewed/used?

 My Unsplash gallery (link) has some pretty impressive stats:

unsplash stats
My top 6 images on Unsplash
  • 12,424,736 views
  • 43,227 downloads
  • 1,150 likes 

Digging a bit deeper, I ran some reverse image Google searches to get an idea on how the images are being used. It was quite interesting:

  • Image sharing websites (free desktop/iPhone wallpaper sharing) – used 32 times
  • Social media (Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, etc) – used 39 times
  • Business (commercially) – used 37 times
  • Resale (re-sale of my images as canvas or framed prints) – 3 times
  • Credit back to me – 0 times

Some interesting usage and themes in how the images were being used commercially:

  • Church/religious websites love my images with around 10 unique churches using my images
  • Major government department in New South Wales Australia is using one of the images
  • When images are credited back, it is often back to Unsplash without even a link
  • Plumbing or water companies love a top down beach aerial photo. Who would have thought!

What was I hoping to achieve by giving my images away for free?

I went in with an open mind and didn’t have high hopes when signing up for a website giving images away for free but I saw a few opportunities:

  1. Building natural links to my website from people using and crediting my images – This hasn’t happened at all.
  2. People sharing my photos on Instagram and crediting me back – This has happened 2-3 times by accounts with less than 50 followers so wasn’t what I’d hoped. 
  3. People wanting to license my work for money – Again… This hasn’t happened at all.

Was it worth it?

Well… No. Unfortunately things didn’t pan out like I’d hoped and I’ve got nothing to show for my 12.5 million (and rapidly growing) views but a decent amount of interaction and views on my images. 

Am I disappointed?

I’m slightly disappointed but you have to be in it to win it right?   I’ve enjoyed being involved in something new and different but wouldn’t change anything. You don’t know if you don’t try.

With that said though, I’ve read of some great things coming from people posting on Unsplash where it has led to commercial work.  

Would I recommend you submit your work to Unsplash?

Yes and no.

It really depends on how emotionally attached you are to your work and whether you believe your work has financial value in the future. Personally speaking, I submitted my ‘b-grade’ work to Unsplash which I was less emotionally attached to but at the same time, it was pretty depressing seeing a major Australian newspaper and government agency both using my images.

If you are thinking of submitting your work to Unsplash, I’d suggest you consider:

  • What am I looking to gain from submitting my work? Exposure? Potential future financial opportunities? The sense of giving back to the community?
  • How emotionally attached am I to the work?
  • Would this work be better served being kept for other licensing opportunities (i.e. paid stock websites or your portfolio)
  • Is this work unique/exclusive and has genuine value? I’ve got some unique work which is doing great on paid stock websites and would have been a waste to be made available for free

Licensing your work (whether it be free or paid) can quickly erode future value of the work. I’ve licensed my work in the past on exclusive agreements where the party were also interested to understand how the image had been used by others.  If the work was used in the past, it quickly cuts down how much they are willing to pay based on the image not being exclusive and potentially being recognised by consumers as used in other campaigns by another company.

Where to from here?

I’ve decided to stop submitting my work to Unsplash for the time being but will look to keep my existing work on there to see what comes about. I figure there’s no point taking the images off at this point in time as they are now widely accessible on image sharing websites, etc.  

If you’re looking to find me on Unsplash, I submit my work under @alexwise.

Thanks for reading,

Alex

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How to Plan and Photograph the Milky Way

After recently moving away from the Canon 5D Mark II to a Sony A7RII, I was itching to get out and make the most of my new purchase by giving the low light performance a play with some astro photography.

Milky way over The Pinnacles, Western Australia
Milky way over The Pinnacles, Western Australia

Milky way photography is something that has evaded me over the years due to the Canon struggling in low light conditions (to put it politely). With the purchase of the A7RII, it was now finally time that I could get out there and shoot in low light conditions without having an image of nasty noise!
 
But there was one slight problem… I knew nothing about the milky way and spent too much time admiring other people’s photos to take a step back and learn about how to photograph it myself!

Things to consider when planning a milky way shoot

For the purpose of this post, I’m not going to go into great depths on how to use PhotoPills to plan a Milky Way shoot as I think other people have covered this in much better detail than I can. This tutorial by the PhotoPills team is a great starter.
 
There’s also some other great tools out there for planning a milky way shoot such as Stellarium and Sun Surveyor. Like anything, it comes down to personal preference and finding something that works best for you. For me, photo pills is easy to use which is good for a simpleton like me 😉
 
Sky tracking mounts are becoming a popular way to reduce the noise in milky way shots. A popular mount is the SkyWatcher mount which rotates to offset the movement of the night sky which in turn allows you to capture longer exposures at a smaller aperture. By doing so this allows you to photograph at a lower ISO which in turn means less noise.
 
This post will look to cover some of the questions I had as I was learning more about Astro photography. Sometimes it was simple things like
  • What is the milky way season?
  • How do I find a dark sky?
  • When is the best time to photograph the milky way?
  • Can you photograph the milky way while the moon is up?
  • How do I check the cloud forecast to ensure clear skies?
  • What’s the best camera settings for photographing the milky way?

Let’s get started.

When is the best time to photograph the milky way?

Northern or Southern Hemisphere?

Depending on where you are in the world, the milky way is only visible at certain parts of the year. Sure, you might be able to see some parts of the milky way but galactic centre and other parts may be out of view. 

The reason that the milky way is only visible at certain parts of the year is largely due to the curvature and movement of the earth.  This means for those in the northern hemisphere, your best viewing times of the milky way is between the months of November to February. For those in the southern hemisphere, is between February to October. 

This is what people are referring to when they refer to the milky way season starting or finishing.

 Is the milky way visible straight after sunset?

Can I just take photos once blue hour ends? Well sort of but not quite.

Watching the milky way rise in Lancelin, Western Australia

Like the moon and sun, the milky way begins rising in the late evening and then starts setting in the early morning. The best time to photograph the milky way and all its galactic core glory is once it has fully risen.  Depending on the time of the year, this can sometimes be at crazy hours of 3 am in the morning or more comfortable times at 10:30 pm in the evening. 
 
The reason why we wait for the milky raise to fully rise is due to the milky way being huge (100,000 light years in fact! Thanks Google…). If you try photograph the Milky Way while it is still rising, you may find some of the milky way will be cut off and sitting below the horizon.  With this in mind, you can still get out there and photograph the Milky Way as its rising but you may find some of it is hidden behind the horizon until it finishes rising.

Why should I care about what phase the moon is in?

Have you ever looked up at the night sky and thought how bright the stars looked compared to other times? This often comes down to two factors… Light pollution and the moon phase. 

The first factor that can influence the visibility of the night sky is based on how far you are away from light pollution when looking at the sky. Generally you will find the best skies are found in locations far away from nearby cities. This is due to the amount of light pollution which a city generates which in turn reduces your  where you are far away from the light pollution generated.

The second factor which influences how dark the sky will be also comes down to which particular phase the moon is in.

Generally the most optimal time to photograph the milky way is when the moon is in the ‘new moon’ phase. During this time, the moon emits little to no light and increases your chances of seeing the milky way in all its glory. But to go one step further, I’d also recommend planning your shoot when the moon has either risen or set to increase your visibility of the milkyway.  Using an app like PhotoPills will give you all this information. Alternatively, websites such as Moon Giant provide a calendar view of the calendar for a particular day of the month.

Finding a location with dark skies

Light pollution over Melbourne, Australia

Depending on where you live, one of the challenges you will have when it comes to photographing the Milky Way is finding a location that isn’t filled with light pollution from a nearby city or town. 

Luckily there are tools out there to help with understanding what the level of light pollution is at a specific location. One of my favourites is Dark Site Finder which  provides an overlay over Google Maps rating the light pollution in the area from Dark to Bright.
 
Please note that the data used for Dark Site Finder is 10~ years old so the accuracy for some locations will vary. 
 
But what about photographing a Milky Way under a light polluted sky? One of my favourites is this stunning photo captured of the Sydney Opera House during White Night in 2017 shows that it is more than possible to get a photograph of the Milky Way under a light polluted sky. 

 How do I check the cloud forecast for the night?

What it looks like when there’s a little bit of cloud. You can only imagine what it’s like when there’s more…

Living in inner-city Melbourne where the urban sprawl of the the city feels like it never ends, I need to venture far if I want to find nice dark skies mentioned in the previous section. As I’m sometimes driving 1-2 hours to get to a location with dark skies, I want to ensure that the location is clear and I’m not wasting my time.
 
Luckily there’s some great tools out there to assist with knowing what the cloud coverage is like at a specific location. Here in Australia, one of my favourite tools is Cloud Free Night. Using the below screenshot as an example, Cloud Free Night gives me a 3 day cloud forecast for the low, mid and high cloud coverage with also the forecast fog cover.  When you only have a limited amount of time to photograph the milky way, cloud forecast tools are a great way to validate that your potentially long road trip and stumbling around in the dark isn’t going to be a waste of time.

Tools like Cloud Free Night are super handy for looking at what the low, mid and high level clouds are doing over 24-48 hours

 
For those not in Australia there’s also Clear Dark Sky which provides similar cloud forecasts.

Why do I have to wait until the time PhotoPills recommends?

Screenshot from Photo Pills showing me the best time to photograph the milky way at Dog Rocks, Victoria as seen below

PhotoPills (and other tools) recommend a window of time to photographing the galactic core of the Milky Way. As the moon is a light source (and quite a strong one depending on where it’s at in its cycle), this brightens the sky to the point where it makes capturing the galactic core of the milky way difficult. The window of time recommended by PhotoPills is essentially when the moon has finished setting and the sky will be at its darkest. This window of time becomes the optimal time to photographing the galactic core.

Using the screenshot to the right as an example, I’m able to drop a pin to place where I will be taking a photo from which then allows me to see where the milky way will be rising from (the grey line) and where it will setting (the black line). Photo Pills is also recommending the best time of this month to photograph the milky way which is indicated by the full bars at the top of the screenshot.
 
Being able to see where the milky way will rise and set is super handy especially when you have a composition in mind (like a tree in this case) but are unsure where the milky way will be sitting in the sky. By using an app like Photo Pills, I’m able to cycle through the various times of the year until I find a time when the milky way is sitting in a position that works well for my composition.
 

I used Photo Pills to plan a recent trip to Dog Rocks, Victoria. The tool allowed me to plan exactly when the milky way would be sitting above the tree (as shown in the previous thumbnail).

Can you photograph the milky way when the moon is still setting?

Definitely!

The milky way rising above moonlit dunes in Western Australia
The milky way rising above moonlit dunes in Western Australia

In fact, I actually prefer photographing while the moon is still up as you have the moon acting as a light source helping illuminate your foreground.
 
If you are planning to shoot while the moon is still setting, I’d recommend getting out while the moon is around 0-50% of its cycle. Any more and it becomes too bright. The milky way purists will call out that you’re not getting the milky way in all its glory but the trade off is worth it if you ask me.
 

What are the best camera settings for photographing the milky way?

  • Use a camera with good low light performance – Photographing in dark conditions means you will need to take your photos with a high ISO (generally 3200-4000 but this can vary). With older cameras especially, the noise at this ISO range can be on the higher side compared to new cameras which have much lower noise when photographing at a high ISO.
  • Use a sturdy tripod – Shooting in low light conditions where your exposure will be around the 20 second mark, it helps to have a sturdy tripod to support your camera.
  • Use a fast lens – Ideally shoot with a lens around f1.4 to f4 depending on your budget. Anything higher (f4+) may make it difficult to capture the dynamic range of the milky way.
  • Use a mid-range ISO (3200) – Anything lower and you may have trouble capturing the milky way and anything higher may introduce too much noise depending on your camera body.
  • Compose with the live view – One of the challenges of photographing the milky way is trying to focus your camera. My favourite trick is to put the camera into live view and focus on to the brightest star. If that fails another option is to focus your lens to infinity.
  • Find a shutter speed that captures enough light without introducing blur – One trick that’s handy for shooting the milky way is knowing the 500 rule which helps with calculating the longest exposure (in seconds) before the stars begin to turn into star trails. Using this technique, you divide 500 by the focal length of your lens. As an example if you’re shooting with a 20mm lens (500/20), this would result in a shutter speed of 25 seconds. 

Questions?

If you have any questions or require any clarification about the points made in this blog post, please don’t hesitate to reach out via the contact page.

Thanks for reading!

Alex

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Free Lightroom Presets for Drone Photography

Picked up a drone and still learning your way around Adobe Lightroom? Here are 6 of my Lightroom presets for drone photography to help get you started. These presets are best for drone seascape photography but can also be used for other types of drone photography. This quick guide includes tips on how to work the presets to suit your image, before and after images of the presets in action, download link for the Lightroom drone photography presets and finally, instructions on how to install these on your Windows or Mac.

Generally I find Lightroom presets best used as a base and then fine tuned to suit your image. For some images, my presets may make your image look over-done with the highlights or colours pushed too much. Don’t be alarmed! For this reason, I’d recommend setting a preset that you like and then adjusting:

  • Tonal Curve – I generally use an ‘S Curve’ when editing my images which gives a strong shadow to your image while giving the highlights a pop. This may or may not work with your image so look to use the Tonal Curve section to adjust the Highlights, Lights, Darks and Shadows of your image.
  • Hue Saturation and Luminance (HSL) – If the colours are too overpowering for your image, look to open the HSL section in Lightroom to decrease the strength of the Hue, Saturation and Luminance of the preset.
  • Split Toning – This is where the real magic happens. Use the Split Toning section to either decrease or increase the strength of the split toning to the Highlights or Shadows of your image. It’s also worth playing around with the balance of the split toning where you may want the shadow split toning to be more overpowering than the highlight split toning.

Now I’m more of a visual person so now for some before and after shots of these Lightroom drone presets:

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Download

Please use this link to download these free Lightroom presets for drone photography.

Installation Instructions 

How to install on Lightroom Windows

  1. Open Lightroom
  2. Select Edit > Preferences > Presets
  3. Select the box ‘Show Lightroom Presets Folder
  4. Double click on Lightroom
  5. Open Developer Presets
  6. Copy the folder (Alex Wise – Drone Presets) into the Develop Presets folder
  7. Restart Lightroom

How to install on Lightroom Mac

  1. Open Lightroom
  2. Select Lightroom > Preferences > Presets
  3. Select the box ‘Show Lightroom Presets Folder
  4. Double click on Lightroom
  5. Open Develop Presets
  6. Copy the folder (Alex Wise – Drone Presets) into the Develop Presets folder
  7. Restart Lightroom

Thanks

If you have any questions on using the presets or feedback, please don’t hesitate to use the contact section to get in touch.

Don’t forget about me when you’re at the top! 😉 

– Alex

 

 

Posted on 2 Comments

Best Camera Bags for your Next Adventure

While planning for a road trip from Melbourne to Perth last November, one big part of the planning was making sure I had the right equipment with me for the trip. One thing that I wanted to get right was the style of bag I took on the trip. As I was flying back to Melbourne once we reached Perth, I needed something that would be able to carry all my gear but at the same time, I wanted something lightweight for days where I knew we would walking a decent distance to get to a location and didn’t want to lug all my gear (including laptop) to the spot.

So what did I end up doing for my roadtrip from Melbourne to Perth? Like any photographer, I procrastinated madly over camera bags for a month leading up to the trip and wanted to share based on my research, what the best backpack, sling, shoulder and roller bags are available on the market.

Let’s be honest, as photographers we’re a nit picky bunch and we all have our own requirements when it comes to look and feel to the sizing, style and material. This means there isn’t one bag on the market which is the best camera bag for everyone as not one bag will suit everyones requirements but there sure are a lot of different options on the market.

What to Consider When Buying a Photography Bag

When I was researching what camera bag I wanted for my trip, there were a few things that I took into account when looking at bags. Some of these are obvious but hopefully help you with your own research:

Style of bag: Camera bags like a lot of other gadget bags come in varying styles from full hard-on cases, sling bags, waist bags to backpacks. The style of the bag ultimately comes down to how you are going to use the bag and where you are going to with the bag, for example, lugging a roller bag through outback Australia would be impractical but does a sling bag provide enough room for all your gear?

Size of bag: The size of the bag also like the style is dependent on choice, size of gear and where you plan on heading to with the bag. There are smaller camera bags like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00J8V1INU’ text=’Lowepro Passport Sling III Bag’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ 830c9934-185f-11e7-8800-2fa24aa2a298′] which work perfect for those trips down to the beach where you know you only need your camera, one lens and some filters but what about bigger trips where you need a longer zoom and another lens or two where bags like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00173FOQY’ text=’Think Tank Airport Security V2.0′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ 94deabd6-185f-11e7-8de4-1fff5154f21f’] comes to mind.

Comfort: Buying a camera bag that’s comfortable should be a priority especially if you’ll be having it with you for long hours either on a bush walk (or hiking for my American friends) or if you’re shooting with it attached to your body.

Budget: Not everyone has hundreds of dollars to spend on camera bags especially when they’re starting out and have just shelled out a fair bit of coin on getting a camera and lens setup. There are very decent camera bags which won’t cost you an arm and/or a leg but serve you well. Amazon owned camera bags – [amazon_textlink asin=’B002VPE1WK’ text=’Amazon Basics’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ 3672a754-1860-11e7-91bf-49520dc3cf9e’] come to mind. But then for those that do have the budget, there are some great bags in the mid to higher end like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B008OQUX22′ text=’Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ 516a7e9d-1860-11e7-93af-b70b20a42e4c’] which come with additional features and quality over the cheaper bags.

Protection/Material of bag: Another important thing to look out for when buying camera bags is what type of material is used to make the bag? This is important because of weather elements and locations where you’ll be having the bag(s) accompany you to. Obviously a hard shell case like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00NV6JTBG’ text=’Lowepro Hardside 300′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ 7349262e-1860-11e7-aa03-ad11cfe0c128′] is great when you’re travelling on a plane to fully protect your gear if it’s thrown around but this is quite large and cumbersome to lug around when you’re not travelling on a plane. This is where larger bags such as the [amazon_textlink asin=’B002DW99H8′ text=’Case Logic SLRC-206′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ 9dc66014-1860-11e7-8de0-c98569614713′] which generally have some form of waterproof material is ideal for those shorter trips where the key concern is protecting your gear from water.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s go down to what camera bags are worth mentioning across the four main categories of camera bags on the market: backpack, sling bags, shoulder bags and rolling cases. Obviously there’s other styles of bags that are missing here like a waist bag or camera holster but these weren’t a style I was interested in for my trip which isn’t to say they aren’t good, they simply just didn’t fit into my criteria of what I was after for my trip. You’ll also notice that there’s quite the emphasis on backpacks and slingbags as these were more what I was looking for.

What did I buy?

I ended up settling on the [amazon_textlink asin=’B008OQUX22′ text=’Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ 516a7e9d-1860-11e7-93af-b70b20a42e4c’] as it was able to fit all the gear I was taking (Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40, Canon 24-70, filters and a Macbook). All in all, it’s a great bag and met my requirements of something able to carry all my gear comfortably as I was stumbling around remote parts of Australia. If I was to nitpick with the bag, my only criticism would be the big ‘Lowepro’ branding on the bag which is a bit of a dead giveaway you’re carrying a camera bag.  But other than that minor criticism, it’s a fantastic bag and will serve the majority of readers well for their next adventure. 

Backpacks

 NameSize (L x W x H)WeightStorageLaptopTripod SupportWaterproofRatingPrice

AmazonBasics Backpack11.5 x 7.2 x 15.6860 grams (1.9 pound)Body, 2-3 lenses and accessoriesYNN[amazon_link asins='B002VPE1WK' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' 60740bd2-175b-11e7-bbc3-d5a89c9f62c5']
AmazonBasics DSLR and Laptop Backpack13.4 x 8.8 x 17.71.4 kg (3.2 pounds)1-2 bodies, 3-4 lenses and accessoriesYYN[amazon_link asins='B00CF5OGP8' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' 79505567-175b-11e7-8800-2fa24aa2a298']

Neewer Pro Camera Case16.6 x 13.2 x 5.7700 grams (1.6 pounds)Body, 2-3 mid sized lenses and accessoriesNYY*
Material only (no cover)
[amazon_link asins='B01M5FQXFU' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' 84ddae6a-175c-11e7-a0a7-4d2ec1ecaef9']
Case Logic SLRC-2069.7 x 13.6 x 18.11.29 kg (2.8 pounds)Body, 2 lenses and accessoriesYYY*
Material only (no cover)
[amazon_link asins='B002DW99H8' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' 98492542-175c-11e7-b34d-518bbe897ce8']

Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L19.88 x 9.25 x 11.41 kg (2.2 pounds)Body, 2-3 lenses and accessoriesYNY
Comes with cover
[amazon_link asins='B008OQUX22' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' a5fd2431-175c-11e7-9c91-2f0e3c6054c8']

Manfrotto MB NX-BP-VGY12.2 x 6.7 x 18.1950 grams (2.1 pounds)Body, 1-2 lenses and accessoriesYYY*
Material only (no cover)
[amazon_link asins='B015RA4L52' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' c9cb3fd1-175c-11e7-8aa0b-a9b63e356873']

Abonnyc Large DSLR Bag18.4 x 11.8 x 5.71.6 kg (3.6 pounds)Body, 3-4 lenses and accessoriesYYN[amazon_link asins='B015RA4L52' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' c9cb3fd1-175c-11e7-8aa0b-a9b63e356873']

Evecase Camera Backpack18 x 13 x 6.31.5 kg (3.4 pounds)Body, 3-4 lenses and accessoriesYYN[amazon_link asins='B00NAQANTO' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' d493de5a-175c-11e7-adb8-17c1993a9caf']

Vivitar Camera Backpack16 x 11 x 6450 grams (1 pound)Body, 2-3 lenses and accessoriesNYN[amazon_link asins='B01G62CSP0' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' e00e1a3a-175c-11e7-b617-a132691d2126']

Burton F-Stop Backpack25.5 x 12 x 7.52.3 kg (5.1 pounds)Body, 3-4 lenses and accessoriesNYN[amazon_link asins='B00AZHAKSK' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' b9593ccb-175d-11e7-bf0e-c94a0e5582bd']

Chrome Niko Pack8 x 11 x 17.51.3 kg (3 pounds)1-2 bodies, 3-4 lenses and accessoriesYYY*
Material only (no cover)
[amazon_link asins='B00AZHCCHC' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' c3aa3b2e-175d-11e7-946f-67135e8404c8']

Incase Pro Pack20 x 12 x 91.2 kg (2.7 pounds)Body, 3-4 lenses and accessoriesYNN[amazon_link asins='B008HFIWGO' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' cd69f4a2-175d-11e7-8fc1-a56966f77072']

Langly Alpha Pro18 x 14.5 x 82.1 kg (4.8 pounds)Body, 3-4 lenses and accessoriesYYY*
Material only (no cover)
$249

AmazonBasics Backpack

Quick Look

  • Very budget friendly coming in at [amazon_link asins=’B002VPE1WK’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ 645947c5-1ccf-11e7-b6a0-b5fc56a40f8b’]
  • Roomy setup capable of holding a DSLR with 2-3 lenses
  • Made by Amazon
  • Measurements include 11.5 x 7.2 x 15.6 inches.
  • Weighs just about 1.3kg or 2.9 pounds

One of the best backpacks I came across in my research was this very budget friendly SLR/DSLR camera backpack produced by Amazon. I know what you’re thinking… A bag by Amazon?! Branding aside for a moment, it comes with some serious bang for buck and at the price point of [amazon_link asins=’B002VPE1WK’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ 8f8a8f9c-1ccf-11e7-9d18-df6ea7f4ef0b’] makes it worth considering. 

The backpack is compact and has a very impressive looking main compartment which has adjustable sub-chambers allowing you to adjust the compartments to store 1-2 bodies (impressive) and 2-3 lenses. How much you can fit will ultimately come down to the size of your setup (i.e. a larger zoom like the 70-200mm takes twice the space as a 17-40mm ultra wide angle lens).

Dimensions of the backpack measures 11.5 x 7.2 x 15.6 inches with a weight of 1.3kg (2.9 pounds), and the entire backpack is made of durable black polyester (nylon).

If you have a good number of photography accessories you’d like to have with you on a trip, there are several pouches to accommodate them. Zippered pockets and compartments are strategically placed both on the inside and outside of the backpack. I find these little pouches really handy for longer trips where you need to stash away some food to nibble on or carrying 

The bag comes with normal features that you’d expect with a backpack including secure straps around the shoulder region, waist, chest area and several handles for an easy and convenient carry.

The backpack is very adjustable with straps able to hang loosely or made to cling tightly. This is particularly useful if you are carrying a lightweight travel tripod as it allows you to strap the tripod to the bag (provided it’s small enough). The AmazonBasics backpack is also heavily padded for a comfortable wear and also serves a strong shield incase of accidental drop, so your equipment is safe from a fall.

Design wise, I won’t lie, the AmazonBasics backpack isn’t going to win any awards for its design. The design is simple and quite dull. Its simple look however doesn’t affect its functionality as a lot of positive feedback from satisfied users of this budget backpack speaks volumes of its strength and usability, making it great bang for buck.

[amazon box=”B002VPE1WK” description_items=”0″]

AmazonBasics Large Backpack

Quick look

  • Roomy backpack with several compartments capable of holding a DSLR camera’s, 2-3 lenses and a few small accessories
  • Budget friendly and cost efficient
  • Weighs 860 grams or 1.9 pounds
  • Has a tablet compartment
  • Measurements include; 5 x7.9 x11.8 inches

Another camera bag worth mentioning and checking out is the large AmazonBasics DSLR photography bag. Just like the previously mentioned backpack, this is also a made by Amazon. 

The bag is roomy and can hold just about everything you need from your DSLR camera to lenses, tablets and laptops. Once again, the design of this bag comes with a modular interior with removable areas which allows you to adjust the bag to suit your equipment which ensures a secure and snug fit.

Compartments are a thing to consider in photography/camera bags. Where this bag excels over the previous bag is with the additional compartments it comes with including a tablet compartment that’s padded for added safety. I personally like this comes with padding for the tablet as it reduces the need to store the tablet in its own carry case (which only adds more bulk).

The bag is lightweight and comes in around the 860 grams (1.9 pounds) range which makes it easy to carry. Talking about the carriage, there is a shoulder strap which is very heavily padded and also adjustable so you don’t feel discomfort while wearing the bag even with all your photography equipment loaded in the bag.

So far, there are several thousands of satisfied users on retailing giant Amazon, with a good many praising the bag. I would like to think that as an Amazon branded bag, Amazon listens to the reviews and have adjusted it over time to be the bag it is today. For the price, I don’t think you can go wrong. Some serious bang for buck.

[amazon box=”B00CF5OGP8″ description_items=”0″]

Neewer Pro Camera Case

Quick Look

  • Good, cheap price coming in at [amazon_link asins=’B01M5FQXFU’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ 1788c02b-1cd1-11e7-9b8e-6ffe7463af50′]
  • Waterproof and shockproof
  • Comes with a tripod holder
  • Capable of holding a DSLR camera with 2-3 lenses
  • Measures 12.2 x 5.5 x 14.6 inches
  • Weighs 700 grams or 1.6 pounds

Okay let’s move away from Amazon’s offerings, the Neewer Pro camera case is made of a durable waterproof polyester/nylon material. Has a comfortably wide interior storage space and has dimensions measuring 12.2 x 5.5 x 14.6 inches and weighs 700grams. It’s also very well padded to ensure a comfortable carry and also serve as protection in terms of accidental dropping of the case.

Like the other reviewed camera bags, this Neewer Pro camera case can hold quite a bit of gear including a DSLR camera, 2-3 mid sized lenses and accessories. The inside of the Neewer Pro camera case has a bright red color making it easy to quickly find what you’re looking for.

There are dividers added to the camera case which are padded and removable allowing you to adjust the bag to suit your needs. Total portions you can separate using the divider(s) is 6 which can come in handy when you want to customise the bag to suit your requirements. 

Outside the backpack, there is a tripod/monopod foot holder with straps and buckles to hold your camera stands and tripods/monopods without taking up internal space. Whilst also coming with waterproof material gives this another tick for me.

Weighing less than 750 grams (1.6 pounds) and can priced very reasonably under 50 bucks, you’re not only purchase a convenient carry-on bag but also one that’s resistant against the elements and gives the more expensive variants a run for their money.

[amazon box=”B01M5FQXFU” description_items=”0″]

Case Logic SLRC-206 Camera and 15.4-Inch Laptop Backpack

Quick Look

  • Has 25 years warranty
  • Made of sturdy nylon material
  • Weighs 1.2kg or 2.7 pounds
  • Measuring in at 9.7 x 13.6 x 18.1 inches
  • Has a waterproof EVA base that withstands weather elements and lets it stand upright
  • Capable of carrying a DSLR, 2-3 lenses and accessories and a laptop up to 17″.
  • Strap to carry tripod

The Case logic SLRC-206 camera backpack is one which is more than capable for those off the beaten track adventures. One of the selling attributes of this bag is its dimensions (18.1 x 13.6 x 9.7 inches) which make it one heck of a large bag to accommodate most photography setups and even large screen laptops of up to 17 inches. I’m not sure who is rocking laptops this big in 2017 with retina displays and the like but each to their own!

You can’t talk about a heavy duty backpack without mentioning the material it’s made of. This case logic SLRC-206 camera bag exterior is made of sturdy heavy-gauge nylon while the base is made of a molded EVA material that’s water-resistant. It’s worth noting that it does lack a waterproof rain cover which means it’s not 100% waterproof but the material itself does provide some safe guard against water.

Another selling point for this bag was the side straps to carry your tripod. I find this really useful for those longer walks where you may need to scale down a hill and need both hands (rather than one holding the tripod). 

Straps securely placed in the shoulder region employ an innovative strap management system which sees that excess and hanging straps are kept out of the way. The straps are also very adjustable to any fit or comfort level.

As regards to the compartment/housing areas, there’s a lot of space in this backpack which you would come to expect with a bag of this size but one thing in particular that I liked about the bag were the storage areas which securely holds your camera. The camera compartment has a neoprene hammock suspension system which lifts the camera just above the case’s bottom thus keeping it safe in case of impact.

As like most bag that can hold a camera and laptop setup, the backpack has a camera compartment as well as a laptop compartment. Both are well protected with foam to prevent damage to your expensive equipment.

Like many other camera bags, this Case logic SLRC-206 camera backpack has a main compartment that’s fully customizable with padded, dividers which are felt covered. The dividers are attached to the backpack walls using hook and loop strips so you can make a custom housing area for any and every of your photography equipment from lenses to filters. All in all, this leaves you with enough space to carry a DSLR, 2-3 lenses, accessories and a laptop. Once again it really comes down to the size of your lenses to how many you’ll be able to store. If you’re carrying a 70-200mm zoom lens then this is obviously going to take a fair chunk of space. 

All in all, this is a great bag for the price and would suit someone looking for a bag which will them to cover everything from their camera equipment to laptop for those weekends or longer away.

[amazon box=”B002DW99H8″ description_items=”0″]

Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW Bag

Quick Look

  • Lowepro is an industry leader when it comes to photography bags
  • Holds a DSLR with 2-3 lenses and accessories
  • Comes with a top loading compartment
  • Ready for the rain with an all weather cover
  • Measures in at 19.88 x 9.25 x 11.4 inches
  • Weighs 1 kg (2.2 pounds)

Lowepro is a highly respected and trusted manufacturer in the industry, having been an innovative leader for years. In fact, my first camera bag was a Lowepro! This is a cheaper option but is still made from top quality material.

One thing I really liked about the Lowepro was the direction they took with the design. The bag is much more of a casual, informal design and is lightweight and comfortable to wear.  With the design direction Lowepro have taken with this bag, you’re bound to be comfortable in harsh conditions.  Speaking of harsh conditions, the Lowepro Photo Hatchback comes with an all weather cover which you can pull out and cover over your bag if the weather decides to turn nasty. I’ve used these for previous Lowepro bags in the wet and they’ve been a godsend!

The raincoat left this bag being my favourite!

With multi-functional compartments, you can store plenty of camera equipment, as well as your tablet and any other essentials.  With a body-side opening, you can access your gear quickly and easily.  This is perfect for those moments when you spot a great photo opportunity and want to quickly access your camera.

The great thing about this backpack, is that you can remove the camera box to turn it into a fully functional daypack.  This is quick and simple to do, with the convenient grab handles attached.  Your camera will remain protected inside the padded camera box and you are free to place other items in the backpack.

For me, this is a great bag for people who carry lightweight setups but need something that is both comfortable and capable of holding its own in harsh conditions. I don’t think you can go wrong with the Lowepro Photo Hatchback. My only criticism with this bag is the Lowepro branding on the bag which gives away the fact you’re carrying a camera bag but it’s not a deal breaker. 

[amazon box=”B008OQUX22″ description_items=”0″]

Manfrotto MB NX-BP-VGY Backpack

Quick Look

  • Holds a DSLR with 2-3 lenses and accessories
  • Interior sleeve is able to hold a laptop of up to 15”
  • Casual design without looking too much like a camera bag
  • Side tripod attachment makes those long walks more comfortable
  • Measures in at 12.2 x 6.7 x 18.1 inches
  • Weighs 950 grams (2.1 pounds)

This is a very simple, classic design from Manfrotto, a brand renowned for its tripods who also knows how to make a good camera bag it seems.  Like all bags, it features a removable padded compartment for your camera equipment, which is located in the lower part of the backpack.  Equipped with the Manfrotto’s ‘Monforte Protection System’ (sounds a bit exotic no?), you can ensure your DSLR camera will remain safe at all times, along with your additional lenses and other small camera accessories.  The idea behind the Monforte Protection System is to ensure your equipment remains in place even if your bag is tossed around or suddenly dropped

The 15.6” laptop compartment is a great addition and the zippered pockets allow you to keep smaller personal items, such as your wallet and keys, organised and safe.  One of the best features of this bag, is the dedicated net pocket for a tripod or alternatively, you can use the external hanging solution. I prefer the net pocket for more compact size tripods but the hanging solution works well for your regularly sized tripods which are a bit too big for the net.

This lightweight storage bag is also waterproof which means it is perfect for landscape photographers who aren’t afraid to get out and take a chance with stormy clouds in the hope of a cracking sunset.  All in all while this bag isn’t about to win any awards for its design, its use of good quality materials and smart features about it which left me rating it quite highly.

[amazon box=”B015RA4L52″ description_items=”0″]

Abonnyc Large DSLR Camera Backpack

Quick Look

  • Durable construction which comes with anti shock technology to protect your gear
  • Water resistant
  • Capable of carrying a DSLR, 3-4 lenses, accessories and a laptop)
  • Comes with side tripod strap
  • Separate compartment to carry your laptop
  • Measures in at 18.4 x 11.8 x 5.7 inches
  • Weighs 1.6 kg (3.6 pounds)

The Abonnyc Large DSLR Camera bag was a bit of a surprise pack for me being a relative unknown name in the camera bag industry. The bag comes more than capable of holding a lot of camera gear (you’re easily looking at a camera body, 3-4 lenses, accessories, tripod and a laptop).  Based on its ability to carry a lot of gear, the Abonnyc Large DSLR Camera bag is best for the people who love photography and like to carry their entire kit with them all the time.

Like most camera bags, the bag comes with interchangeable velcro compartments which makes adjusting the bag to suit your camera setup easy. Additionally, Abonnyc employs anti-shock technology to protect the contents of your bag against any falls or drops. This is great especially when you’re lugging around a heavy bag full of all your photography kit.

For me at the price ([amazon_link asins=’B00YS1OP2G’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ a31fb53e-1cd7-11e7-8e85-4fe645f9d77f’]) and the ability to hold a lot of gear makes this a bag worth considering. It is worth noting though that for a bag that comes this cheap, you do have to make some compromises in material (reviews note that the material feels a bit less sturdier than your more expensive bags) and the bag does not come with a waterproof cover like the Lowepro bags. If you are carrying a lot of camera equipment ($$) then what’s a few extra hundred?  Spend the bit extra and get something that has a waterproof cover and better quality materials.

[amazon box=”B00YS1OP2G” description_items=”0″]

Evecase Camera Backpack

Quick Look

  • Different design isn’t going to appeal to everyone but I love it
  • Capable of holding DSLR, 3-4 lenses and accessories
  • Zipper Laptop compartment in the bag
  • Interior is easily adjustable to suit your photography setup
  • The bag is waterproof*
  • Measures in at 18 x 13 x 6.3 inches
  • Weighs 1.5 kg (3.4 pounds)

The Evecase Camera backpack is one of those camera bags that upon first look you’re wondering whether it’s actually a camera bag as it its such a step away from your traditional camera bag design.

For a bag with a great design you would expect it to come with a high price. No not with the Evecase. Priced at a competitive [amazon_link asins=’B00NAQANTO’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ b890c14c-1cd7-11e7-9074-df54abe0a5d5′], the Evecase combines good design with the ability to hold a reasonable amount of equipment (camera body, 2-3 lenses, flash and accessories) plus a laptop and tablet.

One thing that really jumped out at me with the Evecase and makes it slightly different to your regular photography backpack was the way your equipment and accessories is compartmentalised compared to other bags. Rather than needing to open up the whole bag to access your equipment, the Evecase splits the compartments up with a large pocket at the front with four at the bottom which allows you to store your camera to be stored in the main area and your filters and other bits being stored in another. I find this really useful as a seascape photographer where sometimes I just want to quickly put my filters away so having a seperate sections for filters is a huge plus! Additionally, the laptop sits in its own compartment away from the camera and filter compartments ensuring that its safe and secure.

The Evecase backpack is a great backpack for someone looking for something different to your regular camera bag design. I’ve got nothing against camera bags but let’s be honest, you stick out like a sore thumb when you’re carrying a camera bag. Sometimes I’ll shoot cityscapes with more discrete bags to avoid unwanted attention which makes the Evecase all the more appealing. For me, coming in at [amazon_link asins=’B00NAQANTO’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ d22db5ad-15c9-11e7-9fe1-4fc5817adcb5′], being waterproof and holding lots of equipment makes the Evecase Camera Backpack a great bag and well worth the purchase.

 [amazon box=”B00NAQANTO” description_items=”0″]

Vivitar Camera Backpack

Quick Look

  • Enough space for a camera body, 2-3 lenses and accessories
  • Very cheap – [amazon_link asins=’B01G62CSP0′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ e06192cc-15c9-11e7-97db-ef76e45e61e2′]
  • Able to carry a tripod
  • Space for smaller accessories
  • Not waterproof
  • Measures in at 16 x 11 x 6 inches
  • Weighs 450 grams (1 pound)

It’s really great to see some camera bag brands entering the market with designs that challenge the traditional designs without breaking the bank like this one from Vivitar. Coming with a simple design and priced at[amazon_link asins=’B01G62CSP0′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ e06192cc-15c9-11e7-97db-ef76e45e61e2′], the Vivitar camera backpack is capable of holding your DSLR with 2-3 lenses and accessories.

The Vivitar camera backpack is a great bag at a reasonable cost but with that said, you do get what you pay for. With the nylon fabric material, this isn’t quite waterproof and lacks a waterproof bag to pull over the bag similar to the Lowepro bags. For some people, this won’t be a deal breaker but for me it’s reassuring knowing your bag is protected from the elements especially when out shooting a waterfall in wet conditions. Another criticism that I noted across reviews for the bag was the compartments lack quality and don’t support equipment as well as they should. I think this would be more of an issue if you’re lugging heavier lenses like the Canon 70-200 2.8 at 1.4kg but would be less of an issue with lighter lenses like the Canon 17-40 at 475g.

Like all things in life, you get what you pay for and some of the issues I’ve noted here may not be deal breakers for everyone. This would suit people looking for a bag that is good for short trips and you’re not expecting any rain.

 [amazon box=”B01G62CSP0″ description_items=”0″]

Burton F-Stop Backpack

Quick Look

  • Made for comfort in mind on those longer trips with a load balance waist harness
  • Holds a DSLR camera, 2-3 lenses, accessories and a tripod
  • No waterproofing
  • Measures in at 25.5 x 12 x 7.5
  • Weighs at 2.3 kg (5.1 pounds)

The Burton F-Stop backpack is a bag that has been designed for those longer trips in mind with Burton placing an emphasis on comfort. With the bag coming with waist and upper chest support straps, this ensures you’re comfortable for those longer adventures.

The bag is capable of holding a DSLR camera, 2-3 lenses, accessories and a tripod. Like most camera bags, the bag comes with adjustable internal compartments which can be adjusted to suit your camera setup.

One thing that Burton missed with the F-Stop backpack is the lack of waterproofing. For a bag which is obviously geared towards longer journeys, why would you compromise on waterproofing? For when you’re walking a few hours to a photo location, having something to waterproof your equipment is crucial and I’m really surprised Burton didn’t opt to include waterproofing. People have said you can use Scotchgaurd or Nikwax to waterproof the bag but it’ not quite the same as waterproofing provided by the manufacturer.

Would I recommend this bag? Look probably not… At the price point of Pricehere, the bag is up there with the bigger players like the Lowepro where you can get something similar with more features. That’s not to say it’s a bad bag as the design looks great and you may be happy to compromise on the lack of waterproofing but others may not.

[amazon box=”B00AZHAKSK” description_items=”0″] 

Chrome Niko Pack

Quick Look

  • Different to your regular camera bag with a great looking design
  • The bag is able to withstand all conditions with its water resistance
  • Fits a 15” Macbook Pro
  • Configurable velcro dividers which easily adjust to suit your camera setup
  • Straps to carry your tripod
  • Capable of holding a camera body, 3-4 lenses and accessories
  • Measures in at 8 x 11 x 17.5 inches
  • Weighs 1.3 kg (3 pounds)

The Chrome Niko backpack is one of those bags that suits everyone whether it be trekking a few hours into a waterfall or taking cityscape shots around crowded areas. This comes thanks to the sleek design of the bag. With the Chrome Niko, you won’t look out of place and will have a bag that is both comfortable and able to carry a large bulk of your camera equipment.

The Chrome Niko backback like all backbacks comes with interchangeable velcro separators which can be configured to suit your camera setup. The bag is capable of holding a large camera body (like the Canon 5D Mark III) and 3-4 lenses. Based on reviews, there’s quite a lot of people out there lugging a Canon 70-200, Canon 24-105, Canon 16-35 and a 50mm all while also carrying a tripod and laptop. That’s a lot of gear and makes this bag a strong contender for anyone doing some serious travelling.

With the ability to hold such a large load, the backpack provides comfortable support to ensure you don’t feel like you’re carrying a large rock around with the weight being evenly distributed across the bag and your camera being properly supported in case you were to fall.

Overall, the Chrome Niko backpack is an impressive choice for photographers because of its design and quality features. While it may be on the higher end of the price range, the bag does come with its perks including waterproofing, ability to hold a large amount of gear (including your laptop) and tripod mounts. . So all in all, it’s a great bag for people looking to have all their gear at hand for their next big trip.

[amazon box=”B00AZHCCHC” description_items=”0″] 

Incase Pro Pack

Quick Look

  • Comes with a secondary quick access zipper which makes getting equipment quickly a breeze
  • Holds a large amount of camera equipment (DSLR body, 3-4 lenses and accessories)
  • Able to hold a 15” Macbook Pro and tablet
  • Side mount to carry your tripod
  • Not waterproof
  • Measures in at 20 x 12 x 9 inches
  • Weighs 1.2 kg (2.7 pounds)

If you are an active photographer with a decent amount of kit, the Incase DSLR Pro Pack is the bag  for you. Incase have created a bag which not only looks good from the outside but also comes packed with a smart interior design with enough space for keeping a large camera setup including a DSLR camera, 3-4 lenses, tablet, laptop and your tripod.

The bag comes with interchangeable velcro dividers which make it a breeze to adjust to suit your camera setup. The velcro dividers have been developed to also ensure a snug fit which gives you that additional peace of mind that your camera equipment is well supported. The bag also comes with a secondary compartment for filters and other items which is a great feature to have when you’re out shooting and don’t necessarily want to open your whole camera.

Like some other bags in this lower price point, you do unfortunately get what you pay for. While the bag comes with a great exterior design, it is not waterproof which is a shame for the landscape photographers who are likely to come across rain on their journeys. For others though, this may be less of a concern.

Overall at the price point of [amazon_link asins=’B008HFIWGO’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ 85eca4c2-1ceb-11e7-bfee-11e807321979′] this is a great bag. For this price, you’re getting a bag that is capable of holding a large amount of kit and is also comfortable for those longer journeys. For some people the lack of waterproofing won’t be an issue but for others it may. It’s just my opinion but if you’re storing a decent amount of kit including a laptop in a bag, spend the bit extra and get something that’s waterproof so you never have to worry.

[amazon box=”B008HFIWGO” description_items=”0″] 

Langly Alpha Pro

Quick Look

  • Holds a decent amount of kit (DSLR camera, 3-4 lenses and accessories)
  • Great looking design
  • Bag isn’t completely waterproof
  • Measures in at 18 x 14.5 x 8 inches
  • Weighs 2.1 kg (4.8 pounds)

While stock levels for this bag were low when I last checked thanks to this bag being a Kickstarter inception, the Langly Alpha Pro is still a bag worth mentioning thanks to its well thought out interior and exterior design.

Some people might find the design of the bag a bit unique (or even hipster?) but don’t let that put you off, with the design of the bag, you’re getting something that is perfect for the weekend away that is able to withstand all the elements with its tough leather, stylish design and rust-proof brass hardware.

The bag has been designed with three compartments, one upper, one mid and a bottom tripod compartment. Both the top and mid compartments have been designed with padded compartments which can be readily adjusted to suit the requirements of your camera setup.

The compartment design is actually really neat with with the mid compartment having enough room to fit your DSLR camera and around 3-4 lenses. The top compartment is also large and accommodates a laptop and your additional photography accessories whether that be filters or a camera flash.  While this all sounds great, most reviews generally suggest not to fill the camera to full capacity as it can become difficult to get things from the mid compartment if the top compartment becomes full and top heavy. This can be easily avoided when packing your kit by ensuring you don’t overload the top part of the bag.

Langly have designed this bag using water resistant waxeed canas which whilst not completely waterproof, provides you with adequate coverage if you were to get stuck in the rain.

All in all, this is a great backpack and I’d highly recommend it based on how much equipment that can be stored in the bag. For me the lack of complete waterproofing isn’t a deal breaker as the bag is still more than capable of withstanding some rain or a wave drenching it if you’re caught off guard. Based on the design and the functionality, I think this is a good purchase and would recommend!

Sling Bags

 NameSize (L x W x H)WeightStorageLaptopTripod SupportWaterproofRatingPrice
Lowepro Passport Sling III Bag5.7 x 17.3 x 16.1"500 grams (1.1 pounds)DSLR and 1-2 lensesY*
Tablet compartment
NN*
Fabric has some level of waterproofing
[amazon_link asins='B00J8V1INU' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' 29b9eeb0-27be-11e7-bf81-eb804fc8497a']
Altura Photo Camera Sling Backpack7.7 x 17.3 x 12.1"500 grams (1.1 pounds)DSLR, 2-3 lenses, flash and accessoriesNYN[amazon_link asins='B00PV0IEDY' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' 581c79c4-27be-11e7-a248-5dc3bb19f4a2']
24/7 Traffic17 x 6.3 x 10.8"1kg (2.2 pounds)DSLR, 2-3 lenses and accessoriesY - Tablet or 12" Macbook maximumNN*
Fabric has some level of waterproofing
[amazon_link asins='B018JORFYM' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' 95e19d5c-27be-11e7-9ec9-ebc1f4965b7e']
Case Logic DSS-1019.1 x 7.9 x 15"700 grams (1.5 pounds)DSLR, 2-3 lenses and accessoriesN* - Tablet onlyYY[amazon_link asins='B00IDYS066' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' a6fe42b1-27be-11e7-9f40-b70f553105f1']

Lowepro Passport Sling III Bag

Quick Look

  • Designed for more compact setups (think a mirrorless setup with a few lenses and accessories) but is capable of holding a DSLR camera with a lens or two
  • Comfortable fit makes this ideal for those trips where you just want to quickly grab your bag with a simple setup and get out shooting
  • Bag fit is adjustable to suit different body types

This much smaller and cheaper design is great for anyone who doesn’t want the standard backpack look and is after something more lightweight and compact while still being able to cart around a decent amount of camera and accessories.  It fits a compact DSLR, an extra lens or flash, a tablet, your smartphone and any small personal items you wish to carry with you.  The removable camera insert is impact-resistant, making it ideal if you are travelling or needing to hop across rocks which may introduce sudden movement to your camera equipment.

One thing I like about the Lowepro Passport Sling III is that the tablet is held in a tablet specific pocket, featuring floating-foam construction which makes it able to withstand any sudden shakes or movements. This reduces the need to have your tablet in a separate carry case which is a plus.  You’re probably reading this and wondering why am I even bothering referring to the tablet holder if this is a bag for photographers? Good question. I don’t normally carry one with me but will often bring one for star trails where I’m not sleeping and sitting near my camera.

The bag is comfortable to wear, with an adjustable shoulder strap featuring a cam lock buckle and a removable shoulder pad.  It is a more discreet option than the Hatchback bag as reviewed earlier in the post and holds much more than you would think which makes it good for all occasions whether that be lightweight trips or stocking it up completely.  

The interior zip mesh pocket ensures that smaller items are kept safe and secure within the bag, without getting lost or slipping out when you are on the move.  The exterior pockets can store a water bottle or anything else that you may need to reach for in a flash.

I really like this bag as I find it perfect for those trips where you don’t necessarily need all your equipment but need something that’s comfortable and able to protect it as you hop around rocks by the sea where carrying a bulky square camera backpack may otherwise slow you down.

[amazon box=”B00J8V1INU” description_items=”0″] 

Altura Photo Camera Sling Backpack

Quick Look

  • Easy to rotate which works well for when you’re on the go and want to quickly pull out your camera
  • Secure fit for your camera with padded adjustable dividers ensuring your camera doesn’t move around when travelling
  • Not the biggest bag but not the smallest either with it being able to carry a DSLR camera, 2-3 lenses, flash and accessories

For people looking for a bag which is lightweight, cheap and allows them to get quick access to their equipment then the Altura Sling backpack is the bag for you. Priced at [amazon_link asins=’B00PV0IEDY’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ 013aff1e-15ca-11e7-875e-6fe7c889ee7e’], this bag is great value for money.

The bag is designed for photographers who want their equipment in a rush. Thanks for the quick rotation system, the bag allows you to quickly rotate your bag and get your gear out in a flash.

As this is a sling bag, it’s not going to win any awards for camera storage however with that said, it does pretty well being able to hold a DSLR camera, 2-3 lenses (depending on size), some accessories and a mount for a tripod (not bad for a sling bag!). The bag comes with adjustable velcro compartments which allows you to adjust the bag to suit your setup. It’s worth noting that some reviews have highlighted that the dividers are a bit flimsy and could be firmer to more securely hold your camera.

Coming in at [amazon_link asins=’B00PV0IEDY’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ 013aff1e-15ca-11e7-875e-6fe7c889ee7e’], the bag provides some serious bang for buck. Having a sling bag that is able to hold a DSLR, 2-3 lenses while including a mount for a tripod makes this great for all types of adventures. It’s worth noting that various reviews questioned the durability of the material used. If you’re looking for a bag for casual light trips then this is a good purchase for the money. If you’re looking for something that is able to withstand longer trips and securely hold your bag then perhaps this bag isn’t for you.

[amazon box=”B00PV0IEDY” description_items=”0″] 

24/7 Traffic

Quick Look

  • Camera compartment is fully padded even if it does appear a bit lightweight
  • Able to carry a small camera (think mirrorless with 2-3 lenses and an iPad)
  • All weather coverage
  • Weighs 1kg (2.2 pounds)
  • Has a top load compartment for personal items

With a name like the ’24/7 Traffic’ you know you’re in for a surprise or two. The 24/7 Traffic… Okay. How about I just call it the Traffic from here on in as it’s a bit tacky sounding… The Traffic is a funky looking bag which comes with some interesting features that makes it worth considering.

The interior to the bag has been designed with flexible partitions that is interchangeable to suit the layout of your camera setup. Reviews on the partitions are positive with most people confirming that the partitions provide a secure fit for your camera equipment.

The Traffic is meant to sling across the shoulder. It has a shoulder strap that is thickly padded just at the correct spot where it should rest naturally on your shoulder. You can carry it on either your right or left shoulder so both shoulders can share the weight.

The exterior of the bag while making a bold statement with the orange colour also is quite functional and comes with a rain cover which for me, was a huge plus and one of the big reasons why I opted to review it in this roundup. 

If the out there design for this bag doesn’t phase you and you’re looking for something that’s both comfortable and convenient for your next photography trip then definitely consider the 24/7 Traffic bag. For me, the ability to hold a DSLR, 2-3 lenses and an iPad/12″ Macbook while coming with a rain cover to protect your gear if the weather turns sour makes this a nice little bag.

[amazon box=”B018JORKKG” description_items=”0″] 

Case Logic DSS-101

Quick Look

  • Has a compact monopod or tripod side attachment with adjustable strap
  • Able to fit a camera body and 2-3 lenses
  • Dedicated compartment for your iPad or tablet
  • Weighs 700 grams (1.54 pounds)
  • Has top zipper and internal pocket zipper

The Case Logic DSS-101 is a great lightweight bag for your next adventure. With enough room to carry a DSLR, 1-2 lenses, tablet and some accessories, this is perfect for those trips where you’re rushing out the door and want something lightweight to pick your camera up in a rush.

The rain coat for the Case Logic left me giving it a big thumbs up!

As this is a sling bag, unfortunately you do have to make some compromise on how much camera equipment you plan to carry in the bag. Generally most people are able to carry a DSLR and 2-3 lenses but it really comes down to what lenses you are looking to carry. If we’re talking more smaller zooms like the 18-55 and a prime like the 50mm, you’re fine. It’s bigger lenses like a 70-200mm where you may come into some grief trying to fit it into the bag.  This may or may not be an issue for some but is worth noting. Personally speaking, if you are looking at carrying a diverse range of lenses then perhaps a sling bag isn’t quite the right choice for you.

Whether in use or neatly stored, you can rest assured that the Case Logic DSS-101 Luminosity CSC/DSLR Sling will protect your camera and all accessories from any elements thanks to its rain coat which fits properly over the bag. This is a big plus for me as not all bags reviewed in this article came with a rain coat (sorry I can’t resist and should refer to this as rain coer).

Additionally another thing that makes this bag a winner is its tripod side attachment that comes with adjustable hypalon strap preventing it from sliding. You have not seen magnificence until you settle your eyes on this one.

For me, this bag is the real winner out of all the sling bags mentioned, it’s both comfortable and comes packed with some great features including the raincoat, holds a tripod to the side and fits a reasonable amount of gear.  

[amazon box=”B018JORKKG” description_items=”0″] 

Shoulder Bags

 NameSize (L x W x H)WeightStorageLaptopTripod SupportWaterproofRatingPrice
Havana 4818.9 x 9.5 x 12"1.2 kg (2.7 pounds)DSLR, 2-3 lenses and flashY - 15" MaxNY[amazon_link asins='B01K7JITGA' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' 0d172b38-27b7-11e7-b33f-310c2aa4f017']
Incase Ari Marcopoulos18.75 x 6 x 11"700 grams (1.5 pounds)Mirrorless, 2-3 lenses and accessoriesY - 13" MaxYY[amazon_link asins='B004DQB13C' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' 943ca4e9-27b7-11e7-8061-cd30df1d912e']
Tenba Cooper 1310.5 x 14.5 x 1"1.1 kg (2.6 pounds)Mirrorless with 3-5 lenses or a DSLR with 2-3 lensesYNY[amazon_link asins='B016PU2100' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' e23b39aa-27b7-11e7-8d80-2f547fa02144']
Canon SLR Gadget Bag14 x 8 x 8"1 kg (2.3 pounds)DSLR, 3-5 lenses, flash and accessoriesNNY[amazon_link asins='B0002Y5WZM' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' 13855479-27b8-11e7-af51-571684b337c6']

Vanguard Havana 48 DSLR Camera Messenger Bag Case

Quick Look

  • It weighs 2.7 pounds
  • Measures 18.9 x 9.5 x 12 inches
  • Has a total coverage rain cover
  • Can carry a DSLR with lens attached as well as 2 or 3 lenses, Flash
  • Has a compartment for laptop of up to 15 inches
  • Padded back and harness
  • Versatile bag, can be used as a daypack

The Vanguard Havana Camera bag comes in quite a unique design and one of the things I like about it, also comes in various sizes which makes it available for everyone from those with large collections of gear to those with smaller collections. There’s several reasons to love this backpack from the simple, clean look to added features like a total coverage rain cover. It’s not your standard Lowepro bag and that’s what I love about it.

Of course comfort is something to consider when opting for a shoulder bag and the Vanguard Havana has got that figured out. It has a harness and back that’s well padded to ensure even and utmost distribution of weight and of course comfort. I find occasionally with shoulder bags if you load them with too much equipment they can feel really bottom heavy (almost as if you’re carting a rock around). With the compartments of the Vanguard Havana, this helps with the weight distribution of the bag without it feeling like a rock on your shoulder.  

There’s also a quick-grip top handle for ease of carriage if you’d like to drag it along in your hands instead of have it hanging over your shoulder.

The bag has well padded dividers and camera insert which fits and secures your equipment well. I find this is critical for a shoulder bag which as opposed to a backpack, sometimes your gear is more prone to moving around due to the way your equipment sits when in transit. The Vanguard Havana is rated well for its ability to hold and secure your equipment when there may be sudden movement.

The Vanguard Havana is a traveler’s bag at heart and allows you to not only store your gear but also makes room for you to also pack your laptop. This is a plus and makes it ideal for those weekends away when you’re likely to go out shooting and want to edit your shots when you get back to where you’re staying.

Dimensions of the Vanguard Havana DSLR camera bag are measured as 18.9 x 9.5 x 12 inches, while the weight is 2.7 pounds which makes it decent enough to take on long hikes and shooting expeditions. Obviously this can vary slightly depending on what option you decide to take.

The Vanguard Havana DSLR camera bag won’t appeal to everyone due to its design but with that said, it makes up for it with it’s functionality of waterproofing and internal housing which ensures your equipment is well secured and ready for any conditions.

[amazon box=”B01K7JITGA” description_items=”0″] 

Canon SLR Gadget Bag

Quick Look

  • Measures 14 x 8 x 8 inches
  • Weighs 1kg  (2.3 pounds)
  • Has detachable padded shoulder strap
  • Comes with tripod straps for easy attachment and carry
  • Large pockets and dividers
  • Budget friendly

Did you know Canon makes camera bags? Neither until I started researching. Skeptically I decided to read further and was actually pleasantly surprised. While the bag isn’t going to give Lowepro a run for its money, it definitely has some good features plus who wouldn’t want a Canon bag to match their Canon kit? 😉

This bag isn’t going to win any awards when it comes to design and reeks of designs that were coming out 20 years ago for SLR cameras (pre the digital era) but at the same time, the bag does serve a purpose (which isn’t to look daggy) but be a convenient shoulder bag for carrying around a small amount of gear.  

The bag is made of a sturdy, nylon material which is water repellant and rugged enough to withstand a bit of rain.  Without a rain cover like some of the other bags reviewed here,  I wouldn’t suggest this as a bag for all conditions as the water repellant is just enough to withstand some light rain.

With dimensions listed as 14 x 8 x 8 inches, this provides a nice amount of space for your camera body, lens and some accessories. One downside noted for this bag is that the compartments aren’t as customisable as other bags mentioned here. This isn’t great as it means that you are restricted to the compartments that the bag comes with and can’t secure them to better hold your gear. For me, this is a big negative for the bag as you want something which you can securely hold your lens and not have to worry about it rocking around.

The bag can either be carried on the side via the shoulder strap which is detachable or held on the hand via its carriage handle, your preference. If you plan to carry your tripod on your trip, then the straps included would come in very handy to attach to your tripod.

[amazon box=”B0002Y5WZM” description_items=”0″] 

Incase Ari Marcopoulos Camera Bag

Quick Look

  • Great looking design
  • Not 100% waterproof but does come with water repellent coating
  • Designed to store more smaller setups (think mirrorless setups)
  • Compartments in the bag can’t be adjusted like other bags

This delightful little bag is great quality and stands somewhere in the middle price-wise.  The bag is low profile, ensuring it won’t stand out to potential thieves, and is made from heavy-duty canvas.  It also has a water repellent coating, to keep your equipment safe from water damage.  With an ergonomic, padded across-the-body shoulder strap, it is comfortable to wear and the one-handed adjustment slack pull and large side release buckle give you quick access to the contents.

This stylish offering has a faux-fur lining, so your equipment won’t get scratched due to hard materials.  The protective flap with a magnetic closure adds a real convenience to the product and the variety of storage pockets give you flexible and broad storage solutions.  It is a reasonably small bag and is ideal for compact cameras such as the Fuji X Pro 1 or Sony Alpha range.  The real benefit of this bag lies in the tightening strap, which allows you to use both hands when shooting your photographs.

The downside for this bag is that the compartments within the bag can’t be adjusted nor can it hold larger setups like a proper DSLR camera. This is disappointing as it’s a great looking bag. As the bag can’t hold my equipment, it ruled it out of selection pretty quickly unfortunately. A shame as it’s a great looking bag!

[amazon box=”B004DQB13C” description_items=”0″] 

Tenba Cooper 13 Slim Camera Bag

Quick Look

  • Has a removable and reversible weather wrap rain cover
  • Capable of holding a mirrorless camera with 3-5 lenses or a DSLR with 2-3 lenses
  • Able to carry a laptop or tablet up to 13″
  • On the pricier end of the scale when compared to other sling bags – [amazon_link asins=’B016PU2100′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’alexwisephot-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ 7a9264d4-15ce-11e7-8090-2fc83baa7a62′]
  • Exterior is made of peach wax cotton canvas which works well in wet conditions and you forget to pull the rain coat on
  • No tripod strap (but would have looked a bit awkward/clunky with one)
  • Interior is silicone coated
  • Weighs 1.1 kg (2.6 pounds)

The Tenba Cooper Slim camera bag is the perfect camera bag for someone liking style with great construction and attention to detail. To begin with, its stylish exterior is made of peach wax cotton canvas (which has 20% polyester reinforcement) with two times water repellent PU coating which makes it near waterproof. 

Internally the great construction and attention to details continues with the interior coming silicone coated and water repellent which provides maximum protection to your camera and accessories. This is quite a step up from other bags which generally use a form of material as a divider. 

The Tenba Cooper bag is well sized for your next adventure. For those with a mirrorless setup, you’re able to hold 3-5 lenses but for those with a DSLR setup you’re more looking at 2-3 lenses depending on the size. Additionally the bag comes with a seperate compartment to securely house your laptop or tablet up to 13″. 

Though not adjustable, the removable hand strap is a good size length and the shoulder strap allows you to carry the case across the chest and thus giving you two different options when carrying it (as a hand carry or over the shoulder). Even when carrying a heavy load, the bottom of the bag will never give up as both the shoulder and hand strap run down the side the bag providing equal support to the bag. 

If you are looking for style and service, this is the option to go for. My only gripes with this bag is that the rain coat isn’t permanently attached to the bag like other bags. This means you can accidentally leave it at home if you’re not careful. For the price is this bag worth it? Yes as you’re getting a good looking bag that’s made from some great materials that are bound to last the test of all conditions.

[amazon box=”B016PU2100″ description_items=”0″] 

Hard Case and Rolling Cases

 NameSize (L x W x H)WeightStorageLaptopTripod SupportWaterproofRatingPrice
Pelican Storm IM2950 31.3 x20.4 x12.2"12kg (28 pounds)DSLR, 4-6 lenses, flashes, accessoriesYNY[amazon_link asins='B0018LJSLM' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' d998b5e7-27bf-11e7-803e-0144d903488f']
Lowepro Hardside 300 Hard Shell Case31.3 x 20.4 x 12.2"3.4kg (7.7 pounds)DSLR, 4-6 lenses, flashes, accessoriesYNY[amazon_link asins='B00NV6JTBG' template='PriceLink' store='alexwisephot-20' marketplace='US' link_id=' 24539202-27c0-11e7-a4e4-99da08a7e5ca']

Pelican Storm IM2950 Black Hardigg Case

Quick Look

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Rugged in-line wheels
  • Versatile travel case for delicate equipments
  • Weighs 12kg (28 pounds)
  • Uses Press and Pull latches
  • Molded lockable hasps

This is a Pelican Hardigg product, so what do you expect? Rugged military case is what you should expect. If you are comfortable dragging a ton, then you will love this ‘bomb proof’ case.

The case is made of HPX Polymer which is a very sturdy resin that is able to resist impacts from just about any activity, whether it be being submerged or dropped from above, the Pelican will hold its own even in the harshest conditions. With the foam inserts of the bag, this allows you to customise the bag to suit your camera setup. Being able to configure the bag to your setup is great as it will ensure in the event of dropping the bag, you know your equipment will be protected and safe thanks to the snug fit which the foam inserts provide.

The case is also watertight, so you are protected from the elements. There are also five press and pull latches alongside three double layered chambers which gives your valuables a safer housing area.

The bag comes with in-line wheels (a plus over the Lowepro reviewed in the next) which is useful when you’re lugging a heavy bag like this around. Additionally the bag also allows you to secure it in transit with two padlock ready hasps ready.

Let’s be honest – due to the weight alone, the Pelican Storm IM2950 isn’t a case that everyone will be rushing out to buy. For those looking for something that is durable and will withstand all elements (think kayaking down rivers for a week) then this is the bag for you. I know a few people that use the bag kayaking trips and from all accounts, it’s amazing especially when a bit of weather gets in the boat. For someone like myself though, I don’t mean the ruggedness which the bag provides so looked for something more slim.

[amazon box=”B0018LJSLM” description_items=”0″] 

Lowepro Hardside 300 Hard Shell Case

Quick Look

  • Fits everything from a DSLR, 4-6 lenses, flashes, accessories and your laptop and tablet
  • Has waterproof and dustproof rating of IP67
  • Exterior is made of ABS polymer
  • Weighs 3.4kg (7.7 pounds)
  • Has tuck-away backpack straps
  • Standardized size to meet airline carry on requirements
  • The interior of video/photo insert are adjustable and padded
  • No wheels is disappointing considering the weight

If you are looking for a good hard camera bag that will hold your camera and all your accessories in one case while being able to double up as a backpack (this is huge!), then Lowepro Hardside 300 Hard Shell Case has brought your search to an end. You can be sure that your equipment is going to be well protected as its exterior shell is made of ABS polymer specially designed for extreme impact resistance..

Being such a large bag, the bag can be easily adjustable and suited to your camera setup whether that be multiple lenses, camera bodies or accessories – this bag has you covered. 

Whatever the weather Lowepro Hardside 300 Hard Shell Case is the case to go for as it will protect your camera and accessories from water and dust. This is owed to the fact that it is waterproof and dustproof. Perfect for those big adventures where you want to ensure your equipment is going to be safe. The bag has been designed with travel in mind with the dimensions conforming to meet airline carry-on requirements (obviously depending on your airline a bit).

One thing I really liked about the bag was the fact you don’t always have to carry it on your hand. Thanks to its tuck-away backpack straps you can easily put it on your back and be on the go. Sure, it’s going to likely weigh a ton when you’re bag is fully packed but it’s a nice feature which is new in the hard case industry. 

This is a great option for anyone looking to pick up a hard shell camera bag that is both durable and able to carry a lot of kit. I really love the fact that it comes with straps but I feel the bag falls slightly short by not having wheels. Anyone using this bag is going to be carrying around some similar weight. With the bag weighing 3.4kg on its own, you will easily hit the 10kg+ mark once you load in a camera body (850g), lenses (1-3kg depending on the lens) and a laptop. For some, wheels may be a hindrance and get in the way but I would have preferred them as it would have made it almost the perfect case for those extreme conditions trips. 

[amazon box=”B00NV6JTBG” description_items=”0″] 

Conclusion

Before we finish though, let’s look to close out with my favourite bags from the various categories reviewed:

Backpack: 

Shoulder Bag:

Sling Bag:

Hard Case:

If you’ve made it this far – thanks for reading and hopefully this article has been useful for you. If you found this article useful, you might enjoy my other posts which are mostly geared towards landscape photography:

  • As far as photography purchases go, long exposure filters are one of my best purchases that I use often to get the results in my photos. My buying guide to long exposure filters provides an overview to what long exposure (neutral density) filters are, how they are best applied and what’s on the market
  • Looking to get into long exposure but stuck for ideas? My long exposure photography ideas post is a great way to get the creative juices flowing
  • Have you ever wanted to photograph waterfalls but wasn’t sure where to start? My guide to waterfall photography is a good kick start

Thanks for reading!

Alex