Do You Need a Camera Bag

Cole Haan Camera BagCole Haan Camera Bag

The subject of whether you really need a camera bag or not for your camera and lens has been popping up as a frequently asked question. Here's your situation. You're happy with your one camera/lens combination and you're wondering if it'll be okay to just stuff your camera into your purse.

Well, here are the 5 reasons on why you would want a dedicated camera bag for your gear.

what a camera bag will do for you

PROTECT. This is by far the most important reason. Prevent damage from bumps and bruises.
TRANSPORT. You don't want to have the camera hanging from your neck. Having a bag for your camera is much more comfortable.
ACCESS. If it's a chore to get your camera out of your bag, you're less likely to use it.
LOOKS. You like to present yourself with style. If your bag is ugly, you may not want to be seen with it.
CONCEAL. You want to be discreet that you have a nice camera. You don't want to advertise to thieves that you're carrying a camera or you doing some street photography of unsuspecting subjects. Non-traditional camera bags can function to hide your camera from view.

is your camera safe in a handbag

With just the lens that's attached to your camera and without a bunch of accessories, your camera can easily fit into your handbag. The question is will it have enough protection? You can position it in the middle of your bag and surround it with clothing or a towel. That will insulated it somewhat from banging into a hard surface.

You can also wrap it in a lens wrap

Whether or not you need a dedicated camera bag really comes down mostly to how you're going to use it, so it's really a subjective decision for you. This post will highlight the major considerations and then you'll be able to decide if you need a camera bag or not.

how to DECIDE if you need a camera bag

Rank the above 5 benefits in the table above in order of importance to YOU, For me the order is as follows.

  1. PROTECTION. I use expensive camera gear to make a living, and I have to protect it above all else.
  2. TRANSPORTATION. Second in importance, I am The Traveling Photographer, so my bag has to function to carry several pieces of camera gear to my shooting location. 
  3. ACCESS. Quick access is important when I'm doing event photography and when I'm shooting wildlife. For location portrait studio type of work I don't need quick access to my gear.
  4. CONCEAL. This is not important for my type of photography. I don't do street photography and I never leave my camera bag unattended, so theft protection is not a high priority.
  5. LOOKS. For me, this is of no importance at all. Of course, I don't want to portray myself as an amateur when I'm in front of clients, but in terms of style, how my camera is of very little importance to me.

That's my list, but what matters to you is yours. Take a minute (right now) to write down the order of importance for you if you're thinking about needing a camera bag.

what kind of camera bag do you need

Even if you don't NEED A CAMERA BAG, you still might just WANT a camera bag anyway. Let's find out which style of camera bag would work for you.

Here are 5 photos of me and the 5 camera bags that I still use. I choose each one that I need, based on the photography situation I'm in. Of course you don't need 5, you likely would prefer one, but looking at the camera bags I use may help you choose.

shoulder camera bagLARGE SHOULDER BAG

Fits multiple cameras, lenses, flashes, and more. Still what I use for in-home portraits, shooting events, sports teams. This size is overkill for you, but now there are many popular designer shoulder bags that are reviewed highly.

Large belly camera bagSHOULDER + BELLY BAB

Versatile. Small shoulder bag or large belly  bag. Also can slide around to the back.  I use this for beach portraits.

camera backpack bagCAMERA BACKPACK

Can protect your camera safely. Alos compartments for lens, flash, clothes, food or drink. My favorite for photo excursions while hiking.

waist level camera bagSMALL WAIST BAG

When I'm shooting as a minimalist. Holds one mid-size camera with lens attached, spare battery and extra memory card. Super light and perfect for hands free camera carrying.

travel camera bagTRAVEL CAMERA BAG

Only good for airline travel as a carry-on. Meets all flights carry-on requirements.

camera bag video

how to avoid buying a camera bag

I grabbed these product advertisements off Amazon to give you some ideas on how to protect your camera without buying a traditional camera bag. You could use these with your existing bag or unpadded backpack.

As an Amazon affiliate I may receive a small commission from qualifying purchases, at NO added cost to you.

designer shoulder bags with positive reviews

Particularly with the ladies, these more fashion conscious camera bags store your DSLR safely without looking like a traditional camera bag.

Keep shooting, keep learning, keep improving!

Article published by Bruce Lovelace


Bruce is the publisher of this website. He is the author of the book "Improve Your Photography Instantly."  Read more on Bruce on his Bio Page. He's been known as The Traveling Photographer ever since 1994. Or read more about this website.

View some of Bruce's photos on Instagram.   Visit the Facebook Page. Watch him on YouTube.  Bruce runs photo workshops for kids and adults, and provides one-on-one photography coaching.

Digital Photography Education Location on Google My Business

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