I’m going to preface this by saying that none of the established manufacturers are making bad camera bags. We’d know; we’ve reviewed the most of any photography publication. Just take a look at our camera bag reviews! All the bags are varying degrees of mediocre to good, but none of them are truly awful. Even if they can’t be used as camera bags, they can be used for something else. But, the modern camera bag industry has a big problem.
I’m going to partially credit the idea for this post to my friend, Michael. One day, Michael said that there were too many camera bag manufacturers. Michael specified there are so many camera bags, but camera brands are making fewer cameras. While the camera industry shrunk, the camera bag industry grew.
How does that make sense? Honestly, I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure it has something to do with Kickstarter. Brands have been using Kickstarter for years to fund their products. This helps brands that otherwise might not have made it to market have a fighting chance. That’s great for them. The newer camera brands have done some innovative things which have changed the photo industry. Without them, the camera bag industry would be more plain than vanilla and Greek yogurt.
So why is this a problem? Well, it’s becoming tougher for things to be unique. This problem was already plaguing the camera world. But in the camera bag industry, manufacturers copy one another all the time. Some stand out from others through materials, while others have pretty different and innovative designs.
I think you get the point.
What do we do about it? This is a tough question. There are only a few types of bags that make sense in the camera bag industry: backpacks, slings, messenger bags, duffels, and roller bags. I haven’t seen a lot of totes do a fantastic job at being camera bags. But I did some research into what types of bags could work.
- The Bucket. A bucket bag is sort of like a giant lens cloth. Just imagine it with dividers in there. It wouldn’t need to hold a laptop, but it could work as a messenger bag or sling style bag.
- Randoseru. A special type of backpack with quick access. Plus, there’s a hard front shell. Who wouldn’t want this?
- Battle Bag: From the same website as above, these could be modified with the right know-how. I tried to years ago, but failed.
- Guitar bag: I used to carry guitars and basses with me. The bags were awesome, but creating a larger one that could hold lenses, cameras, lights, etc, could be pretty awesome if it would have a definitive shape.
Further, lots of brands don’t use materials like canvas and leather because they feel those materials are too heavy. But with the right design and support, they can work much better. Most camera bags are made from nylon. In recent years, other materials have come up. What about hemp? Or why not silk? Or how about recycled scarf materials like wool and cashmere?
I think brands need to try new things.