What to Consider When Purchasing a Camera Bag 

First, ask yourself these four questions:

1. What purpose do you need the bag or case to serve?
2. What will you need to fit in it?
3. Where will you be taking it?
4. What's your budget?

Second, consider your answers as related to the following criteria: size, comfort, design or style, accessibility, material, and brand.

Size will be determined by how much gear you will need to be taking with you. If you need just one SLR body, one lens and a few small accessories, like extra batteries and cards, then a small case will be fine.

If you want to take more than one lens, and more attachments, like a flash, then a medium-sized bag is the minimum you can consider.

Carrying multiple camera bodies, a variety of lenses and accessories? Choose a large bag.

As far as comfort goes, different bags will be comfortable to some and not to others. This is more based on personal preference, but if you will be carrying a bag on your shoulder or back, it's probably a good idea to pay attention to the straps—specifically the length and padding. A bag's shape may also be a factor in comfort.

The thing to consider for accessibility is—will you be bringing a case and then sitting it down while you're shooting, or will the bag be on you the whole time? If the bag will be attached to you most of the time, then it needs to be a bag that you can easily get in and out of. For example, a press photographer covering a breaking story or event will most likely need their bag on them and be able to quickly get in and out of it to switch out lenses. A backpack is not the best case for this situation—a better options may be a shoulder bag or a large hip pack.

cases at KEH
Case Styles:
Single SLR case (small size)
Hip pack (small to medium)
Standard shoulder bag (medium)
Messenger style shoulder bag (medium)
Designer purse bags (medium)
Sling-style backpack (medium)
Backpack (options may include wheels and/or being waterproof) (small, medium, and large)
Multi-media cases (often a backpack, will also hold a laptop computer) (medium-large)
Hard cases (suitcase or briefcase styles, waterproof options, with or without wheels) (small, medium, and large size options)
Single SLR case (Tamrac)
Single SLR, hard sided leather (Pentax)
Single SLR case (Billingham. Fabric with leather trim)


Large hip pack (Lowepro)


Standard, medium size shoulder bag (Nikon)


Inside of a standard, medium size shoulder bag


Large size shoulder bag (Tamrac)
Material Types: Canvas or other fabric, plastic or vinyl, leather, and metal.
Brands: Tamrac, Lowepro, Pelican, Domke, Billingham, camera brands (ex. Canon, Nikon), Kata, Crumpler, and designer or purse-type brands (ex. Kelly Moore, Epiphanie). (There are many more brands that make cases, but these are some of the more common ones).
Medium size "purse style" bag (Epiphanie)
(Red and black bag) Large messenger style camera bag (Crumpler)


Multi-media backpack (Kata)


Medium size backpack (Lowepro)


Large backpack (Lowepro)


Large convertible roller backpack (with wheels) (Lowepro)


Interior of a large backpack (Lowepro)


Medium size hard case (Ikelite)


Large hard sided case, interior
Case Pros and Cons: (The following are pros and cons that I have personally experienced with the collection of cases that I own and use. If you have something different, or a different viewpoint, please share it in the comments.)
Canon shoulder bag—This bag was great for awhile but is now either too small or too large for most things. It does have nice padding and compartments. Has the brand on the outside which obviously says “camera bag”.
Hip pack—Small, convenient, great for shooting events. Usually it's a secondary bag on a shoot when I need to have an extra lens, cards, batteries, etc. close by for quick exchanges.
Epiphanie—Looks like a large purse. Too small for any involved shoot, but great for day trips where I need minimal equipment, can combine my purse and camera bag, and doesn't look like a camera bag.
Medium size rolling backpack—Great for air travel. It's small enough to carry on, has wheels which saves my back and shoulders during transport.
Large waterproof backpack—Tons of space, don't have to worry about the weather. Great for outdoor photo adventures when you need to bring a lot of stuff. Cons- When it's full, it's heavy!
Other Tips:
I recommend having a few different bags if you shoot a variety of things in a variety of places. For example, a large backpack or hard sided case with wheels for traveling, a small case for day trips where you can pack light, and a good "all around" medium sized bag. If you tend to only shoot one thing and always carry the same equipment with you however, then multiple cases may not be as helpful or necessary.
Don't forget to consider what else besides your camera(s) and camera accessories (lenses, flash units, etc.) you may need to be taking with you. If you use a tripod often, your best bet may be a backpack with a tripod holding feature. If you take your laptop with you, then a multi-media camera case may suit you better.

Find Bags and Cases:
* On keh.com
* In the KEH eBay shop
* If you come by our location to pick up or drop off equipment, we also have a few racks of discounted bags and cases in the lobby that are available for on the spot cash sales.

- JF