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Thread started 16 Feb 2011 (Wednesday) 18:13
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Designing the perfect camera bag.

 
PRODDesign
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Feb 16, 2011 18:13 |  #1

Warning: Long introduction and post.

Hi everyone,

Introduction
I am a college student at a design school in California and for my project this term I have taken the initiative to design the perfect camera bag. Truthfully, I am not a dslr camera user, nor am I knowledgeable in the field of photography. However, what started this project was when a close friend of mine who recently got into the world of photography asked me to design a bag that would fit his needs and wants. One of his top requests was to design one that did not look like a camera bag, I began to realize that this was actually one of the most popular wants and practically a need for most camera bag buyers. So, I set off to do my research for the project and the class. Who am I designing for, what do they want, need, like and dislike. What kind of lifestyle do they have, what type of photography do they do, how old are they, how much can they spend and earn, and things of that sort. Being a complete beginner to photography and to create a successful product and design, I really wanted to be able to describe and understand the target consumer(s).


Early User Research Findings
And so, my research revealed to me 2 types of photographers:
1: The Casual
2: The Professional/Enthusias​t.

The Casual
1. Top priority: The bag needs took look good and "fashionable."
2. It should be comfortable and protect my equipment.
3. The bag should be affordable $30-80 average.
(Should not cost as much as my equipment)
4. It should limit me on the things I need to carry, for light use and portability.
5. It should match my fashion sense, doesn't look too big or awkward.

The Professional/Enthusias​t.
1. Top priority: Reliable functionality.
2. Holds all my equipment, accessories, and other non-related items.
3. Convenient tripod holder.
4. Easy, quick accessibility.
5. Willing to spend a little more for quality, we don't skimp out on quality.
6. Could care less about it being fashionable, but it still shouldn't be a thief magnet.
7. Amount and type of equipment carried really depends on the photography type:
(Photo journalist, landscape photographer, wild life, etc.)
8. Interesting quote:
"If you tell me it does everything and solves all my problems, I probably wouldn't
believe you much less buy your product. What gets me to buy a particular camera bag
is the reviews it gets from real photographers who are in the field like me.
"

*I've done about 8 in-person interviews with both casual and professional/enthusias​t photographers and would like to do more interviews if possible. If you would like to lend me a hand in better understanding you, please pm me or reply to this thread saying you are open to do an interview over the web. I would appreciate it very much.

I've also snooped around numerous forums and blogs and read tons of reviews of all brands and models of camera bags to see what people have wanted, needed, liked, and disliked about the camera bags they bought, used to own, or contemplated on purchasing.


Camera Bag Review Findings
The following is a collection of what I found, if you see anything missing or disagree with something, please feel free to add or subtract some from the list as it will help me to create the perfect camera bag.

General Dilemmas
1: How much gear do I want to store and carry?
2: How big or small is the bag?
3: What other stuff can I carry along?
4: Will this bag attract unwanted attention?

Wants
+ Zipped pockets for docs.
+ Pocket for laptop.
+ Able to freely use left over space for non-camera goods.
+ Doesn't look ugly or scream, "I have expensive photography equipment inside."
+ Fast access to equipment, even on sides.
+ Multiple pockets for accessories.
+ Organized layout or user organizable layout.
+ Removable, padded, dividers.
+ Climate proof, rain cover.
+ Padded bottom and sides.

Needs
+ Dust protection.
+ Comfortable, strong shoulder straps.
+ Shock and bang resistant.
+ Well made and lasts a long time, camera bags are not frequently replaced.
+ Designed for tripod.
+ Good value : money ration.
+ Fits "all" my equipment.
+ Portable, lightweight, bag should weight almost nothing.
+ SImple and intuitive design.

Likes
+ Lots of pockets.
+ Water bottle holder.
+ Ability to carry laptop.
+ Easy access.
+ Stands upright without tipping over.
+ Removable inner shell.
+ Modularity.
+ Plastic to minimize damage to gear inside.
+ Heavy duty canvas materials.
+ Affordable prices.
+ Carry on approved.

Dislikes
- Plastic strap rings.
- Poor quality.
- Noisy, loud velcro.
- Not enough space for random stuff.
- Doesn't perfect or snugly fit my equipments.
- Dividers that are too big and takes up space.
- Heavy weight with full load.
- Loud logos and placement.
- Loose lids.
- Non padded bag walls.
- Hard shell.


Research Wrap-Up
And so, that wraps up the research I have done so far. Again, if you would like to add, change or fix anything above, please let me know as it will make for a better project in the end. I will be going into concepts for the next 2 weeks, so if you have ever wanted to create or see your vision of the perfect camera bag, please feel free to voice your thoughts, as I will take any of your ideas into consideration. I will also be sharing with you my concept ideas and are open to discussions at any time.

This project is due in exactly 6 weeks, in which the final deliverable for this class will be a full-scale camera bag. In which, I will gladly share with you all. Till that day comes, I will continue to keep you all updated and will regularly check back here to hear what you all have to say.

Thank you!




  
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m.c.chavez
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Feb 16, 2011 19:41 |  #2

cool! send me a prototype? i want a small sling bag that holds 3 lenses and 1 gripped body. thats ALL i need for now...


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Jon
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Feb 16, 2011 20:12 |  #3

Take a look at the Domke F-1x and F-7 Double AF. An F-1x with the height of the F7 would be awesome. The back zipper pocket's good for a laptop. Metal fittings all around for durability.


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iAMB
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Feb 16, 2011 22:05 |  #4

PM'd you about interview. Best of luck with this project. I hope it turns out fantastic


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Feb 16, 2011 22:34 |  #5

Good luck with your project, I'm currently manufacturing the bag I need out of a Domke F-832 with the inserts specificaly made from a laptopsleeve combined with the domke FA-230 insert sewn together with the domke FA-220 to produce a 5 compartment insert with the same with as the 16" with of the bag.

Once I'm done I'm gonna make a review of how it all came out.


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cacawcacaw
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Feb 16, 2011 23:45 |  #6

Didn't take the time to read the whole list of criteria.

Here's what works for me:

Doesn't look like there is $10,000 worth of camera stuff inside. I currently use a cheap but durable daypack that I have no problem leaving in a hotel room or in the corner of a bar. It looks like it's full of sandwiches, comic books, and toilet paper.

Easy to take-out/put-in camera whether there's a long lens with hood (almost 14" just for the lens) or a short lens attached.

Facilitates changing lenses without worrying about wind, dust, sand, rain (?) getting to delicate areas.

Can be carried casually, by hand or over a shoulder, or securely over the shoulders for long hikes.

Incorporates a simple camera strap system. This is an important part of a pack system.

Has room for everything from memory cards to a laptop but not in designated slots.

For longer excursions, a way to ensure that the Red Bull and peanut butter stays away from the electronics.

I think the ideal camera pack is actually a system that enables grabbing the whole kit in a large pack, part of the kit in a small pack, or just the essentials in a car-friendly case.

Ok, I went back and read your specs. But it didn't change my focus. I think you need a system, not a specific pack. My current system consists of a padded divider that can be thrown in the car. This divider fits into a daypack along with a few lenses. If I want to take everything, I can grab this divider plus individual lens cases and a tripod case and throw it all into a compressible backpack.

If I were setting out to design this system, I'd look at six or eight different shooting situations (restaurant with friends, a seminar, a portrait, a wedding, a picnic, a hike, a climb, etc.) and decide what equipment you'd need and how you'd want to organize and carry it. Then look for the commonalities and the differences.

Fun puzzle. Looking forward to seeing how you do.

Edit: BTW, school was torture for me until I learned to give professors what they want instead of striving for unattainable idealistic perfectionism.


Replacing my Canon 7D, Tokina 12-24mm, Canon 17-55mm, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4, and 150-500mm with a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. I still have the 17-55 and the 30 available for sale.

  
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krb
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Feb 16, 2011 23:58 as a reply to  @ Jon's post |  #7

For me the perfect bag would be a Domke F2 that was about 1/2 inch longer and wider and using a lid that is the style used on the F4 that allows for the lid to close when there are items taller than the bag.

Or another way of saying the same thing is that I'd like a Domke F4 that was 3" wider so that it could handle a second 2-pocket insert.

And I want it in the brown ruggedwear, of course.


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Phrasikleia
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Feb 17, 2011 00:16 |  #8

I already have the perfect bag in the LowePro Flipside 400AW, which I upgraded to from the 200 model about a year ago. It really leaves me wanting nothing. I love that I can change lenses without having to take the bag all the way off of me; it just hangs in front of me like a little table, strapped around my waist (once swiveled around to the front). I can stand in the craziest places and not have to worry about where to put my bag while changing a lens or getting a filter or whatever.

I also really like that it has a built-in rain cover, which doubles as camouflage (making the bag look very uninteresting to thieves) and as a pick-pocket deterrent, since the rain cover is one more thing a thief would have to get past, an no casual thief could get through it.

It has the ability to carry a tripod, though I use this feature only on occasion because I mostly carry my tripod in a separate padded shoulder bag, even on long hikes.

It has plenty of room but isn't too bulky. I have no desire to carry a laptop in my camera bag, so I appreciate that the 400AW doesn't waste space on a laptop compartment.

It has two water bottle carriers, but I often use them to carry Speedlites. There is plenty of room for random stuff, like sunglasses, wallet, and phone, in the outer pocket (which, as I said, can be sealed away nicely behind the rain cover).

So overall, it's really pretty much perfect for me. I even like its simple appearance and basic dark green color. If it looked any more snazzy, it would draw too much attention, so I'm glad it has a very plain appearance. I have removed all logos from it, which helps too.

Good luck with your project!


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PRODDesign
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Feb 17, 2011 11:00 |  #9

Great stuff everyone, for those who have described me their perfect bag ideas, i will throw up a sketch visualizing your concepts. Also, Ive received pm's from a couple people, thank you, I will be replying back to you later today with some questions.

Quick Question:
How come there aren't a lot of hard case/shell camera bags? Would you be interested in a hard shell bag? Why or why not?

Second, alot of domke bags that many photographers seem to like has a very retro/classic feel to them, would you say that a majority of photographers are into retro/class design or is their any interest for a more modern look for camera bags?




  
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Feb 17, 2011 11:03 |  #10

PRODDesign wrote in post #11861385 (external link)
Great stuff everyone, for those who have described me their perfect bag ideas, i will throw up a sketch visualizing your concepts.

I have a just quick question though, how come there aren't a lot of hard case/shell camera bags? Would you be interested in a hard shell bag? Why or why not?

Second, alot of domke bags that many photographers seem to like has a very retro/classic feel to them, would you say that a majority of photographers are into retro/class design or is their any interest for a more modern look for camera bags?

Personally, I don't like the look or fuctionality of the Domkes. I prefer a more modern ballistic nylon fabric and a waterproof cover built in, such as the Lowepro Stealth Reporter series. That comes close to being an ideal bag in my mind. It also closes completely, so that in a light rain or dust, nothing gets into the bag, not the case with the open Domkes.

The Stealth Reporter also has a lot of functional covered pockets for accessories.


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Feb 17, 2011 11:09 as a reply to  @ tvphotog's post |  #11

Hard or soft? Depends on that day's situation.

The style of a Domke would be great for a wedding or a party, definitely a soft shoulder bag for around town, a soft pack for hiking, but a hard shell for boating.


Replacing my Canon 7D, Tokina 12-24mm, Canon 17-55mm, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4, and 150-500mm with a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. I still have the 17-55 and the 30 available for sale.

  
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Feb 17, 2011 11:13 |  #12

PRODDesign wrote in post #11861385 (external link)
Quick Question:
How come there aren't a lot of hard case/shell camera bags? Would you be interested in a hard shell bag? Why or why not?

The main problem is that they are generally not very comfortable. They also tend to be heavier and are often more bulky. Having said that, many people who use a soft, low-bulk bag like a Domke for walking around will also have a Pelican case for when they need the protection it offers.

Second, alot of domke bags that many photographers seem to like has a very retro/classic feel to them, would you say that a majority of photographers are into retro/class design or is their any interest for a more modern look for camera bags?

Now you are talking about fashion. Sometimes you need to wear jeans and sometimes you need to wear dress slacks.


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Feb 17, 2011 11:26 |  #13

the closest to perfection i've come across for my needs is the think tank shapeshifter. it's divine.


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Feb 17, 2011 11:52 |  #14

You can interview me if you want.

as for your ideas, it seems like you're going to make a massive bag since you're aiming for laptop space as well. Why not come up with a smart idea of making that collapsible? IE take TT's shapeshifter and swap which part gets collapsed... ;)


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Feb 17, 2011 13:54 |  #15

midget wrote in post #11861504 (external link)
the closest to perfection i've come across for my needs is the think tank shapeshifter. it's divine.

Looks like a great bag butthe video explains it's designed for a specific use (external link)- the photojournalist who has his camera/lens in hand and needs the bag to carry extra lenses, bodies, a laptop, etc. There is no space for a body with a lens attached.

Hey PRODDesign, Sorry to have this comment so late in the game, but I'm not sure you've defined an achievable goal. You may have made the inaccurate assumption that some single design will meet the needs of all photographers.

Are you trying to design the best possible bag for a specific use, like the Think Tank Shapeshifter or Lowe Flipside?

IMAGE: http://blog2.travelplus.com.tw/patrick/archives/Lowepro_Flipside-400AW_00.jpg

Or, are you trying to create a lowest-common-denominator bag like the typical Canon bag?

IMAGE: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/images/images345x345/351537.jpg


The specific-use design sounds like it would be more interesting to work on, and the more specific the use, the more interesting the project becomes. Instead of trying to figure out what everybody kind-of-likes (lowest common denominator) you could design a bag that is exactly what your good friend wants for one particular situation. (e.g. pick one: walking around town taking candid photos of strangers, photographing animals at the zoo, going to a concert, etc.)

That's a more interesting (and solvable) puzzle and would create a platform for expanding the project to incorporate other situations and other people.

Form follows function and a bag's function is specific to its use in a particular situation.

Does your friend like to put his camera back in his bag in between shots? Does he change lenses often? Does he take his bag off and put it on a table to change lenses? Does he need a light in the bag for when it's dark? Does he need a security system like a cable lock or GPS tracking? Is he worried about security while he's wearing the bag? Does he want his wallet, phone, sunglasses and toothbrush in his camera bag? Does he want people to know who he is, or does he want to be incognito?

Hmmm, wouldn't it be fun to have a business building custom camera bags for individuals with specific needs? Is anyone doing that yet?

Replacing my Canon 7D, Tokina 12-24mm, Canon 17-55mm, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4, and 150-500mm with a Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. I still have the 17-55 and the 30 available for sale.

  
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