A photography journey – Our secret collection of camera bags

One is never enough. That’s probably what we told ourselves. We need one for each different occasions, different situations, different shooting conditions… sounds like the reason given by my wife in justifying herself to buy yet another handbag.

For us, our handbag (a.k.a. camera bag) is equally expensive. Comes in all shapes and forms. We have backpack, sling bag, messenger bag, waist bag, luggage bag, pelikan case and so on. We have all sorts of materials to choose from, canvas, nylon and leather, just to name a few. Not to mentioned various different design language, how some are built towards street photographers while some for adventurers, and of course the marketing hype of what these bags can do to improve on your photography.

I owned a number of bags for the past 10 years, but I believe my collection list is not as long as some others. The Peak Design Messenger bag, ThinkTank Perspective, a Crumpler sling bag and Zkin RAW are a few bags that I used to owned, but now I’m just rocking my Billingham Hadley Pro and Shimoda Action X30. The Billingham has followed me the longest, while the Shimoda Action X30 was a new addition this year, thinking about using it for my travel but has since became a white elephant due to the current world situation.

I was a fan for sling / messenger bag all along, I really like the versatility and ease in accessing my gear. However, as my shoulder and back started to signal me strongly on their age, I need to fall back to a backpack just to keep them happy. So now, I ended with the Billingham (to keep my love on messenger bag) and the Shimoda backpack. Hopefully both will last me for the next few years.

So, what’s your hidden secret collection of camera bag? Till then.

Shimoda Action X30 Camera Bag: Initial Impression

Credits: Photo from Shimoda website

I’ve backed the kickstarter project from Shimoda for this Action X series backpack. When the project was successfully funded, founder of Shimoda, Ian Miller gave an update that due to overwhelming response, there could be delays in shipping the bags. Since then, there were quite a bit of hoo haa surrounding the delay and a whole lot of mess generated by some backers. I didn’t receive my pack in December 2019 as promised in the project timeline, but I was lucky enough to get one from the second batch which are delivered in January. Well, it is a kickstarter campaign anyway, therefore I have no issue or whatsoever.

There are already plenty of reviews and features rundown on this bag, so I’m not going to repeat those again. I’ll just be sharing what I like and dislike about this bag, and leave it to you to be the judge whether this is the right bag for you.

What I like:

  • Nice balance of size and volume for X30 (30-37 litres)
  • Nice durable materials are used, has a good balance of rigidity and softness
  • Camera access is on the right side (pun intended), I’m probably the few minorities who wants to access camera from the side panel on the right
  • Easily removable core unit and divider allowing bag to double as camera or travel bag
  • Just the right amount of pockets and compartments
  • Beefy and comfortable top and side handle
  • Tripod can be strapped on the side or rear
  • Core unit comes with cover, allowing me to use it separately as camera storage box
  • Not overly engineered with unnecessary features
  • Comfortable shoulder strap (need some times to break-in though)

What I don’t like:

  • Bag is a little heavy when empty
  • Don’t really like the look of the shoulder strap harness (but they are comfortable to wear)
  • There are a lot of zippers, and I wish some of the zipper pulls can be lock down in place for a tidier look on the bag
  • Not a big fan of the look of how the top loader is secured (but it is very functional, nevertheless)

I was contemplating between X30 and X50 during the campaign, worrying that X30 will be too small for my torso length. But X50 is much larger and would be risky to use as carry-on luggage during flight. Furthermore, I do not have that much of gears to pack anyway, so I decided to go with X30 in the end. With maximum torso fit, I’m glad that it fits okay.

This bag is designed for your adventure, for you to go out and explore, and to that extent it does seem to deliver. Of course this is just my initial impression of the bag after using it for my short trips, I still need to use it more often in order to give a full review. If you are interested, you can visit their website to find out more. Till then.

My Review on Peak Design The Everyday Messenger


I am currently having a Billingham Hadley Pro shoulder bag, ThinkTank Perception 15 backpack and a Crumpler Messenger bag to carry my camera with me for different occasions. I really don’t know why, but I had clicked the button to back the Peak Design’s kickstarter project for their Everyday Messenger Bag. Perhaps when it comes to camera bags, we are just as spoilt as ladies with their handbags… Or even worst.

Anyway, the bag was delivered to me in December and I have been using it often for office work and photography outings. I decided to use it a little longer before I give my verdict and review to the bag. After about 3 months with it, I think I am ready to share with you what I feel about using this bag in real life.

The good:

  1. Material used feels comfortable to touch, and it seems like going to last well.
  2. The “Maglatch” closure system is brilliantly designed to close the bag with ease, and to avoid gears from dropping out then the bag topples.
  3. Holds a hell lot of gears and stuff inside.
  4. Holds up to 15″ laptop and tablet, but do note that the laptop compartment is pretty slim, so bulky laptop may not fit well.
  5. Holds a tripod! I do feedbacked to the team on this request when they first started the campaign, and I’m glad that they included this features to the bag.
  6. The “Flex-fold” dividers are nice for stacking gears in the bag.
  7. Attachment for Peak Design’s Capture on the side is a nice feature, though I don’t use it often at the moment.
  8. Quick access top zippers is good for… quick access!
  9. Seems to hold up pretty well when used under drizzles.

The bad:

  1. The design is a little “futuristic” and may not be your cup of tea.
  2. The magnetic metal clip scratches badly after a few use, not a big issue for me, but some might get bothered by it.
  3. The shape of the bag looks odd to me when it is fully loaded with gears.
  4. I’m not a body builder and I’m pretty slim, the bag seems a little… oversized on me when it is fully loaded with gears. I would prefer the bag to be less wide in size (probably 13″ laptop size?) for more mobility, but this also means it will not hold a 15″ laptop.
  5. Somehow the bag feels a bit heavy to me even when it is empty, perhaps it is because the bag itself is pretty solid, or maybe the shoulder pad is not doing it’s job well enough.
  6. The shoulder pad is not the most comfortable one out there and certainly can be improved.
  7. The easy slider mechanism will slide off from the set position over time, which is annoying. I will need to readjust the slider from time to time.
  8. Front pocket is a little small, but it’s more than enough to hold filters, batteries and some smaller things like lenspen and charger.

I guess that pretty much summed up what I feel about the bag. This bag is not cheap, but I can certainly find values in it to justify for the price tag. Head to Peak Design‘s website to find out more. Till then.

Review: ThinkTank Perception 15 Backpack

I have been using this bag for quite awhile… I think since early this year until now to be precise. Initially I’m looking for a bag to replace my daily working bag, preferably a camera bag, since I would like to kick start my habit of bringing out camera with me (though I still need more consistency in this regards… still need to cultivate further on this habit…). I’m looking for a bag that’s comfortable for daily use, able to carry my company laptop, some other stuffs like memo, power bank and etc. After some search, I have shortlisted a few bags, and in the end settled with this ThinkTank Perception 15 Backpack.

As a camera bag, it’s a backpack that holds up to 15” laptop, top loading of mirrorless camera body with lens attached, top loading of additional lens, accessories to be placed at the bottom of the bag, and tripod can be secured on the outside of the backpack. the material used for the bag is like nylon-canvas hybrid, it feels good with touch, and though it is not 100% water resistant, it does holds well against drizzle. I have been using this bag in the rain and though it does get wet as time goes by, the inside of the bag remains dry. Having said that, I’m not advising you to use the bag in a downpour as I doubt it will be able to withstand that amount of moisture. Not to worry though, as the bag came with a rain coat just when you need it. I travelled to Japan with this bag, and I managed to stuff the following items into my bag:
  1. Fujifilm X-T1 Camera Body
  2. Fujifilm X-Pro1 Camera Body
  3. Fujinon XF10-24mm F4 R OIS lens
  4. Fujinon XF23mm F1.4 R lens
  5. Fujinon XF56mm F1.2 R lens
  6. Fujinon XC50-230mm F4.5-6.7 OIS lens
  7. Additional 2 batteries
  8. Cleaning kit consist of blower, lens wipe and cleaning cloth
  9. Manfrotto Pixi Mini Tripod
  10. Small umbrella
  11. Power bank
  12. 7” Tablet
  13. Full size tripod secured on the outside
  14. Filter pouch with 6 screw on filters inside

Sounds like a whole lot of stuff? Yes indeed! I could have stuff in a Macbook Pro, but I choose to bring along a tablet instead for casual trip. I just selectively bring along camera and lenses that I need for the day, put into the bag and ready to go out and shoot for my trip. The padding on the shoulder straps are extremely comfortable, it makes me focus on my shooting instead of worrying the pain of the weight over my shoulder.As a daily bag, it does what it does as a… bag. It carries laptop, charger, mouse, memo, umbrella, water bottle, power bank and so on. Due to the design of the bag as camera-loading-from-top, there’s only limited space at the bottom. Sometime I would like to stuff in thick documents and laptop at the same time, but I just couldn’t fit both into the laptop compartment. So if you carries a lot of documents, this may not be a good choice of bag for you.


As for the downside of this bag, first come to my mind will be the material used. Yes, I mentioned that I do like the material of this bag just now, but I do wish it is fully rain resistant without the need of a rain coat. And then is about the design of the bag. Since camera and lenses are loaded on the top, the bag tends to get top-heavy easily. Hence, the tendency for the bag to topple down is high. You can counter this by filling up the bottom of the bag to improve stability, but I have just get used to it and will place my bag with care to ensure it won’t topple over.All in all, I’m very satisfied with this bag from ThinkTank and would highly recommend you to take a look at it if you are considering a camera bag that can carries a laptop for you. Now, I just need to get myself to start carrying camera more often in my bag… lol… Head over to their website for more information on the available sizes and colours. Till then.