Hello fellow POTNers!
I recently took shipment of the Think Tank Retrospective 20 shoulder bag and I thought that I’d give you all my first impressions and a review of the bag.
I ordered this bag directly from Think Tank Photo for $159.00 + Shipping/Tax
Why I purchased this bag:
Ever since purchasing a 5DII and having my 50D converted to infrared, I’ve been looking for a shoulder/sling bag that could carry both bodies ready to shoot (lenses attached) + 2-3 other lenses. It needed to have easy access to the bodies and lenses. This way I could be out street shooting and not really worry too much about missing a shot while fumbling around trying to get a lens or the other camera out.
I wanted a bag that was going to be inconspicuous, functional, comfortable, and not so big and boxy that I felt like I was carrying a microwave oven over my shoulder.
Needless to say, this is a lot to ask from a bag. I thought I was out of luck and was fully prepared to curl up in a fetal position and give up my search (there may or may not have been crying involved)…That is until…
Enter the TT Retrospective series…
I ordered a 20 in pinestone right away:
“HOLY F***, this is a gorgeous bag!” I exclaimed upon opening the box.
No joke…that’s what I said. I have witnesses and everything.
This is a BEAUTIFUL bag. It’s made from a high quality cotton canvas treated with 3M to be highly water resistant. It’s very well built. The seams look well sewn and fabric well worn. The metal hardware completes the look of an old style shoulder bag.
Think Tank’s bags have always been very practical and user friendly but I’ve always thought they were second to Domke and Crumpler in terms of design and style. It’s very nice to see that this is no longer the case with the Retrospective series.
Here’s a shot of the bag with everything it comes with (two additional large dividers already in the bag):
In the next shot, you'll notice the side pocket (one on either side of the bag). This is great for a water bottle or other things of similar size. I was also able to fit my 580EX II in it.
Also notice the horizontal strap right above the side pocket. This would a great place to attach a carabineer or other accessories such as pouches for expandability:
IMAGE LINK: http://img62.imageshack.us/i/img5449k.jpg/
The bag sports a removable hand strap for easy carrying when the bag is not over your shoulder.
A note about the shoulder strap: As a longtime user of shoulder/messenger bags (since middle school), I’ve gone through A LOT of bags with just as many different kinds of shoulder straps. This is by far the most comfortable, stable, and well made shoulder strap I’ve EVER used. It has comfortable padding in addition to non-slip sections to prevent the bag from slipping off your shoulder. I love it:
IMAGE LINK: http://img232.imageshack.us/i/img5450n.jpg/
You’ll also notice a nice zipper pocket on the back where you could put any number of things; Magazine, newspaper, paperwork, the rain cover, etc… I saw a video where a guy put his iPad and it fit in perfectly:
IMAGE LINK: http://img215.imageshack.us/i/img5500l.jpg/
The inside of the bag is completely customizable. With the dividers provided (3 large and 2 small), it would be possible to set this bag up in a multitude of different ways. The tops of the large dividers are able to fold to any angle to provide for camera support or to completely partition off a section of the bag.
IMAGE LINK: http://img38.imageshack.us/i/img5462k.jpg/
You’ll notice two inner side pockets in addition to the ones on the outside of the bag, which are used for storing flashes. I had no problems fitting my 580EX II in these either.
The bag has two more pockets on the inside (front and rear) to store things like pens, batteries, lens caps, filters, lens cloths, cable releases, wallet, cell phone, keys, etc… The one on the front has smaller compartments inside:
IMAGE LINK: http://img180.imageshack.us/i/img5498a.jpg/
As you can see, it has yet another bigger velcro pocket on the front for larger things. Later In the review I’ll show you what I keep in there.
One really nice feature about almost all the Velcro on this bag is that it’s essentially optional. The pockets all have an outer Velcro strip so you can close the pocket and in inner strip so you can keep it open and access your gear without hearing a huge ripping sound.
The main flap has this feature too (dubbed “sound silencer”). You just undo the Velcro and flip it over on itself (pictured below). This way the bag is completely silent. You can also just fold up one strip so the bag becomes a little easier to open. You’ll also notice a business car holder on the inside of the main flap:
IMAGE LINK: http://img375.imageshack.us/i/img5468.jpg/
I was photographing a concert a couple of days ago (first night with the new bag) and this feature made my bag completely silent throughout the whole night. In the past, my bag was always the noisiest part of my kit (either from zippers or Velcro), but now, it’s my shutter clicks. I shoot a lot of concerts where the sound of Velcro ripping open or a zipper opening could ruin the feel of a song…and get a lot of people mad at me…so this feature is perfect.
Needless to say, the main flap also makes accessing all of your gear EXTREMELY easy. No fumbling around to get your camera past an awkward zipper or small opening. Just flip up the flap and pull out your camera or lens.