The Retrospective 7
When it comes to camera bags, I can’t help myself. Finding that perfect bag is a lifelong quest and each photographer will have their own requirements. I love using the Tamrac Evolution 8 as my main goto bag, but sometimes it’s nice to have the ease of a shoulder bag.
I’ve used Think tank’s modular components for a while now and love them, so when I saw the Retrospective 7 at Focus on Imaging this year I decided to pick one up. It was a good deal and I love the look of the bag. Admittedly, it was an impulse buy, and I didn’t really need it. But have I said how good it looks!
My baseline for a good shoulder bag has always been Lowepro’s Reporter series of bags. I have a first generation Reporter 300 which now serves as my lighting bag. A comfortable pocket rich bag with more nooks and crannies than you can shake a stick at. Think Tank have that same approach. There are pockets and pouches everywhere – just like a good bag should have.
The strap is a solid one that doesn’t detach and has a comfy pad that slides along the strap. Main compartment for the camera gear. Pocket for memory cards, pens, batteries etc.
A front external pouch for assorted stuff which Think Tank say can hold a camera body. Not sure I’d trust it with a camera body, but plenty of people do. There are small pockets on either side of the bag. A zip up pocket at the back to fit up to a 10 inch tablet. Rain cover, sound silencers (basically some clever velcro trickery) and side straps that will take modular components and expand the bag.
And it looks fantastic.
The pad on the strap is a spongy one and is really quite comfortable. The bag isn’t so big that you can overload it with gear anyway, so the bag was never too heavy when loaded up.
It is a messenger style bag, so not so chunky and being a softer type of bag it doesn’t hold rigidly to its shape.
The Retrospective 7 is not a massive bag, neither is it a small one.
You can fit quite a bit of gear in it – as you can see above – but it is a tight squeeze and I found stuffing this much gear into the bag made it difficult to get at the lenses. For me, it just needed an extra inch in the length to make it better.
Ease of Use
The front flap of the bag flips up to give access. There are no zips. The flap is held down by a couple of large velcro patches, which can be folded over so the flap lifts up and over without any sound. A very simple solution if you want quick and quiet access during a shoot.
This, for me, is a massive drawback, especially in the North of England where the weather does what it likes and tends to annoy us whenever it gets a chance. The gear is quite exposed to the elements.
Getting at each of the pockets is quick and that is the real benefit of this bag. Indeed of most Think Tank bags. It only becomes a problem when things get tight and then certain spaces inside the bag get awkward to use.
This is a strange bag for me. I absolutely love the look and design of the bag. I love the way it has been thought out. You can tell the bag has been designed by photographers. I like the open flap design of the bag – something Lowepro have now copied for their Pro Messenger AW bags, but I don’t like how it leaves my gear exposed to the ever present Northern rain and drizzle.
I also wish I could give some anecdotal tales of how great this bag was in use, but it has never left the house. Often I’ve loaded the bag up only to find it wasn’t quite big enough – in which case I’d load up the Tamrac – or was just a bit too big for what I wanted – in which case I’d load up my holster and add a lens pouch.
I’m sure for some, this bag is the ideal size. For me, it just needs to be either an inch bigger or an inch smaller.
There’s no denying this is a well made bag. The phrase ‘you pay for what you get’ certainly rings true with Think Tank. It’s just not quite right for me.
Think Tank’s page for the Retrospective 7 is here…http://www.thinktankphoto.com/products/retrospective-7-blueslate.aspx