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Thread started 19 May 2010 (Wednesday) 05:34
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*REVIEW* Think Tank Retrospective 20

 
gotglade
Senior Member
306 posts
Likes: 4
Joined Apr 2010
Location: San Rafael, CA
     
May 19, 2010 05:34 |  #1

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:

Exterior:

“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):

IMAGE: http://img193.imageshack.us/img193/3170/img5444a.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://img193.imagesha​ck.us/i/img5444a.jpg/  (external link)

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: http://img62.imageshack.us/img62/9278/img5449k.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://img62.imageshac​k.us/i/img5449k.jpg/  (external link)

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: http://img232.imageshack.us/img232/2337/img5450n.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://img232.imagesha​ck.us/i/img5450n.jpg/  (external link)

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: http://img215.imageshack.us/img215/5232/img5500l.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://img215.imagesha​ck.us/i/img5500l.jpg/  (external link)

Interior:

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: http://img38.imageshack.us/img38/9823/img5462k.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://img38.imageshac​k.us/i/img5462k.jpg/  (external link)

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: http://img180.imageshack.us/img180/5944/img5498a.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://img180.imagesha​ck.us/i/img5498a.jpg/  (external link)

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: http://img375.imageshack.us/img375/495/img5468.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://img375.imagesha​ck.us/i/img5468.jpg/  (external link)

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.

Glade

  
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gotglade
THREAD ­ STARTER
Senior Member
306 posts
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Location: San Rafael, CA
     
May 19, 2010 05:35 |  #2

Gear:

Alright, now on to the stuff that really matters: Where to put all my gear?
Let me just say that this bag fits A LOT of stuff. I’m reminded of this Chevy Aveo commercial where some basketball players, who are a good two feet taller than the car, get in and then it shows a view from inside the car and they are the size of children on the seats. This is the same way I feel about this bag.
Roomier than it looks? Yeah. Quite a bit.

Here’s the bag with a one-camera setup. I didn’t think to put the battery grip on my 50D for this shot, but rest assured, it fits easily:

IMAGE: http://img230.imageshack.us/img230/1381/img5496f.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://img230.imagesha​ck.us/i/img5496f.jpg/  (external link)

As you can see, I currently have 4 lenses in addition to the camera + 70-200 2.8 combo. I should also mention that if I flip the 16-35mm on it’s side, I could easily fit my 24-70mm on top of it (if it weren’t being used to take the picture). So that’s 5 lenses and camera + lens combo.
All my accessories (lens pen/cloths, batteries, cable release, battery covers, spare memory, keys, wallet, etc.) are stored in the two inside pockets and as you can see hardly add any bulk to the bag.
Here’s the same setup with the front outer pocket closed:

IMAGE: http://img26.imageshack.us/img26/9291/img5493h.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://img26.imageshac​k.us/i/img5493h.jpg/  (external link)
I should also mention that in all of these pictures my ‘L’ lenses have their hoods on and reversed.

Okay. Let’s stop for a minute and I’ll let everyone pick thier lower jaw up from the floor. That’s pretty impressive stuff from such a “small” bag, right? Well, ladies and gents, with 849 cubic inches of space on the inside (a mere 48 in^3 less than the Retrospective 30), this baby has plenty of room to go around. …And it only gets better. Read on:

“Now, Glade. Didn’t you mention something earlier about wanting to be able to carry around two cameras? Ready to shoot?”
Oh, right…that…well…
Fine:

IMAGE: http://img413.imageshack.us/img413/2845/dscn0055x.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://img413.imagesha​ck.us/i/dscn0055x.jpg/  (external link)

“Mmmmmm….And what have we here?”
Glad you asked and remember, all ‘L’ lenses have their hoods on and reversed:

IMAGE: http://img121.imageshack.us/img121/4233/dscn0057o.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://img121.imagesha​ck.us/i/dscn0057o.jpg/  (external link)
Oh and sorry about the random WB and lighting shift. This series was taken with a P&S.

The 24-70mm and 16-35mm are on their sides. There is still a good 2.5-3 inches between the 24-70 and my 5DII. This means that I could add my 100mm Macro on its side or my 430EX II flash. Of course, I forgot to do this while shooting these photos, so you’ll just have to trust me. :)

Okay, anyone need to take another breather? This is getting ridiculous. I mean, that is almost my WHOLE kit people. That’s 2 Cameras w/ lenses attached + 4 other lenses + Flash + PWs + accessories…and do I need to remind anyone that one of those lenses it the 70-200 f/2.8L II ?!?!?!

Jeez, I think I need to take a break.
But before I do that, here’s the same setup except the 50D is now gripped:

IMAGE: http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/655/dscn0048fv.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://img4.imageshack​.us/i/dscn0048fv.jpg/  (external link)
I could probably fit my 430EXII in on top of the 24-70mm still.
If I ever get a grip for my 5DII, I could mirror the orientation of the 50D and it would be a snug fit, but workable.

Now, let’s be reasonable here. Carrying around my WHOLE kit is going to be heavy. Did some quick math and came to a total weight of 18.3lbs (8.3kg).
That’s one HEAVY shoulder bag. Now, I’m used to carrying heavy shoulder bags for school (huge textbooks, etc. etc…) and I have a pretty strong frame, but carrying around that much gear for a day shooting candids and street photography in San Francisco (the hilliest city in the US) isn’t going to do my back any favors and isn’t really practical.
For a day like the one described above, I’d probably leave the flashes behind, take my ‘L’ zoom trinity, 10-22, and both bodies. This brings it down to under 14lbs which I’ve found to be manageable. Adding the 50 1.4 wouldn’t be the end of the world either.

It is, however, very comforting to know that this bag has enough room to fit in just about whatever combination of gear I need for any given occasion.

Glade

  
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gotglade
THREAD ­ STARTER
Senior Member
306 posts
Likes: 4
Joined Apr 2010
Location: San Rafael, CA
     
May 19, 2010 05:35 |  #3

Wearing The Bag:
One of the best things about this bag is how it feels fully loaded and on your shoulders.
As I previously stated, the shoulder strap is the most comfortable strap I’ve worn to date.
Here are a few shots of me with the bag on. For a size reference, I’m 5’11” (1.8m for those of you on the metric system).

Gear in the bag in these photos:
50D (gripped) w/ 16-35 2.8L II attached (hood reversed)
70-200 2.8L II (hood reversed)
10-22 3.5-4.5
100 2.8 Macro
50 1.4
+ spare batteries, blower, cable release, lens + LCD cloths, spare memory, wallet, cell phone, keys, etc. etc…

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
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IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: NOT FOUND | MIME changed to 'image/png'


IMAGE: http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/201/img0049y.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://img204.imagesha​ck.us/i/img0049y.jpg/  (external link)

Final Thoughts:

I have only had this bag for a few days now but I’m already in love. (In fact, we’re engaged…and registered at REI. Hey, anybody have any good wedding photographers they can recommend? Hahaha…)
Seriously, though:

This bag has everything I want in a shoulder bag:
Huge load with slim profile.
Stylish looks coupled with essentially unending functionality.
Form fit and ultimate customization.
Ease of use and, yes, the loveliest strap to ever grace my shoulder.

Oh, and stealth capability. :)

I wanted a bag that would fit my specific and (honestly) a bit outlandish needs, but I got so much more:
A bag for virtually every occasion.

Glade

  
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Headshotzx
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May 19, 2010 06:23 |  #4

Great review! It does indeed look gorgeous! Doesn't look like a camera bag at all, and yet it can fit gripped bodies!


Zexun | Flickr (external link) | YouTube (external link) |

  
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jacobsen1
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May 19, 2010 06:41 |  #5

Awesome writeup! I'm deciding between this and the r10 today, I'm torn on the size issue so it's great to see some pics of this loaded and especially on your body.

Here's the video he mentioned for anyone else stalking this bag:
http://www.samhurdphot​ography.com/?p=576 (external link)


My Gear List

my sites:
benjacobsenphoto.com (external link) | newschoolofphotography​.com (external link)
GND buyers FAQ

FOR SALE: 5Dii RRS L-bracket, 430II, 12mm macro tube PM ME!

  
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RandyS
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May 19, 2010 06:57 |  #6

Thank you for posting this - great review.

I wish I knew someplace around here that carried these. I'd love to see one live and in person.




  
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mikechong
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Location: Sydney, Australia
     
May 19, 2010 07:17 |  #7

Thanks for the review! I want this bag! Still deciding between the 20 and 30, but leaning towards the 20 now :)


My flickr (external link)
My deviantart (external link)

  
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jacobsen1
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May 19, 2010 07:38 |  #8

has anyone seen any reviews or pictures of a 10 or 30 for comparison purposes? I know I'd love to see a 10 and Mike would probably love to see the 30 as well. :)


My Gear List

my sites:
benjacobsenphoto.com (external link) | newschoolofphotography​.com (external link)
GND buyers FAQ

FOR SALE: 5Dii RRS L-bracket, 430II, 12mm macro tube PM ME!

  
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ccp900
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May 19, 2010 07:41 |  #9

whoa, i didnt realize it was that BIG!


[Sony A7R Mark 3 | Sony A7S | Sony Zeiss 16-35m f/4.0 | Sony FE 85m f1.8 | Sony FE 20m f1.8 G | Samyang 18m f2.8 | Samyang 45m f1.8 | Zeiss Batis 40m f2 | Sony FE 28m f2 | Sony Zeiss 55m f1.8 | Sony FE 28-70m f/3.5-5.6 | Helios 44-2 | Helios 44-3 | Nikon 105m f/2.5 AIS | Contax Zeiss Planar 50m f1.7 | Contax Zeiss Planar 100m f2 | Voigtlander Nokton 40m f/1.4 | Canon 24-105m f/4.0L | Canon 85m f/1.8 | Sigma 30m f/1.4 | Canon 10-22m f/3.5-4.5 | Canon 100m f/2.8 Macro USM | Canon 580 EX Ver 1.0]

  
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Blackvault
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Location: Lisburn, Northern Ireland, UK
     
May 19, 2010 07:44 |  #10

Thanks gotglade for such a good and funny review. Those bags in my mind seem to be a modern day Domke bag which is all good. Like Mickechong I too am still undecided between the 20 and 30. Would anyone have a 30 for comparison?

Thanks

Blackvault


1D MKII | 30D | 24 - 70 F/2.8 L | 70 - 200 F/4 L | 430 EX
Gear List

  
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philodelphi
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May 19, 2010 07:46 |  #11

Thanks for this - great review! I'm sorely tempted and wasn't even looking for a bag!!


Sony DSC-RX100M2 α7R III / ILCE-7RM3 Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV | Voigtlander 65mm F2 Macro APO-Lanthar | Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f/4 Macro | Sony FE 24-240mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA FE 24mm f/1.4 GM | Samyang 35mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC | Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM | Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Tokina Firin 20mm f/2 FE MF | Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD

  
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timnosenzo
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May 19, 2010 07:51 |  #12

Thanks for the review! I'd be all over this bag if it wasn't so damn big. :(


connecticut wedding photographer (external link)

  
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paimao
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May 19, 2010 08:01 as a reply to  @ timnosenzo's post |  #13

I just ordered the 20 too but its black coz I'm overseas I can't really see good is the pinestone color. Wanted to get this version intially. How u find the color btw? If it's nice I prob can still ask for a change ^^


20D, 5DII
16-35 I, 17-40, 20-35
28-80,
28-70, 28-135 IS, 50 f1.8
70-200 f2.8, 28-300 IS, 100 IS Macro,[COLOR=Red] 300 f4 IS

  
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Double ­ Negative
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May 19, 2010 08:12 |  #14

gotglade wrote in post #10208203 (external link)
“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.

LOL... Honestly, I said something similar when I saw the images coming up. That "pinestone" finish fabric looks really sweet! On the TTP site it looks more gray, while in yours more beige. Which is it? I'm thinking your WB might be a bit off?

These bags are quite similar in many ways to the Urban Disguise line, but more messenger bag styled. I use an UD20 for my rangefinder gear and LOVE it. But I might have to give one of these a try, as I like the messenger bag style for shooting out of (and why I like my Crumpler ____ Million Dollar Home bags).

I think a Retrospective 10 is in my future, possibly the 20/30 as well. Pinestone for sure.

I also really like the "waxwear" finish on the Domke bags (external link). Just not a fan of them in general.


La Vida Leica! (external link) LitPixel Galleries (external link) -- 1V-HS, 1D Mark IIn & 5D Mark IV w/BG-E20
15mm f/2.8, 14mm f/2.8L, 24mm f/1.4L II, 35mm f/1.4L, 50mm f/1.2L, 85mm f/1.2L II, 135mm f/2.0L
16-35mm f/2.8L, 24-70mm f/2.8L, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS, Extender EF 1.4x II & 2x II

  
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fidens
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May 19, 2010 08:39 |  #15

timnosenzo wrote in post #10208627 (external link)
Thanks for the review! I'd be all over this bag if it wasn't so damn big. :(

I like big bags and I cannot lie...




  
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*REVIEW* Think Tank Retrospective 20
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