It’s in the Bag – the Camera Bag Part 1

Rucksack used as a camera bag

A rucksack used as a camera bag.

No this isn’t a stock photo. But perhaps it could be.

My point in this post is to look at my approach to camera bags.

Like a lot of photographers I’ve got more than one camera bag.

In some bags I keep cameras and accessories that I’m not likely to use but I treasure like the body and lenses for my Medium Format Great Wall reflex.

Other bags are too big to carry but have a whole lot of stuff in them.

Still, when it comes to going walkabout I like to travel light and straight away I have a problem with commercial bags.

What do I want with a camera bag?

First and foremost, I want my camera equipment to be well protected.

This seems fairly obvious but I’ve found too many bags where the straps are flimsy and the bag opens round the top when you lift it up.

Still, when it comes to commercial bags there seem to be two basic types.

There are bags which seem to scream, “Look I’ve got loads of photo equipment with me!”

I think this is asking for trouble.

Other bags are more discreet.

The famous Billingham range is a good example. Billingham bags don’t specially look like camera bags but with their beautifully crafted canvas, leather and brass construction they still look very expensive.

Of course it’s probably too much to ask manufacturers to produce tacky looking bags that no thief would want – but that’s what I want!

Many years ago I went on a tour of Peru.

It was election time and both main candidates, Fujimori and Vargas Llosa were promising not only sound economics but also to fight the Shining Path Guerilla movement.

The Shining Path threatened reprisals.

I was warned that even on a good day the cities were full of pick pockets and pilferers.

So, I borrowed an old canvas bag from a carpenter I knew and carried my trusty Bronica up the Andes to Machu Picchu.

I should say, by the way, that I had no trouble at all. Peruvians laughed at my precautions and everybody I met treated me with friendliness.

But I still think that it’s a good idea to be as inconspicuous as possible.

So, what else do we need in a bag?

Hatunrumiyoc stone in Machu Picchu

The Famous 12 angle Hatunrumiyoc stone in Machu Picchu in Peru


This stone show how the Inca stone masons were able to join stones without mortar.

This twelve angle stone is one of the most famous examples.

If you want to use this stock photo of Hatunrumiyoc stone go to Alamy

Photo Comments:

This is a straightforward “record” shot taken with a medium format Bronica film camera.

I prize this camera for travel photography for a number of reasons:

It’s completely mechanical so there’s no problem with batteries.

It produces an exceptionally high quality photo.

Interchangeable backs mean that you can take different film stocks with only one body.


With only twelve shots on a roll of film you need an awful lot of film to get a good variety of pictures.

As it happens I found it very difficult to get film at all in Peru at that time and this was the downside to my trip.

Now the opposite is true:

With a digital camera every day there is the worry of battery problems and storing memory cards and backing them up, but it’s possible to take hundreds, maybe thousands of pictures in a short time.

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April 2021
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Stock photography by John Rocha at Alamy

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