Retro styling combines with modern features in the excellent Think Tank Retrospective shoulder bag
posted Monday, April 25, 2016 at 2:29 PM EDT
If you're looking for a camera bag that is relatively small and light, but can still hold plenty of essential gear, Think Tank's Retrospective series might be for you. Not only do these bags comfortably hold lots of gear, but they're very well-designed and comfortable to wear.
Think Tank sent me the Retrospective 20 to try out, which has internal dimensions of 12" width x 11.75" height x 6" depth (30.5 x 29.8 x 15.2 cm) and weighs 3.2 pounds when empty, including all provided accessories, such as the padded dividers and rain cover. This bag size is perfect for a gripped DSLR with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached, plus an additional smaller lens or two. Not only is there plenty of room for a variety of gear, but you can move the padded dividers inside the bag to customize the interior to your preference.
There are numerous pockets inside and along the outside of the bag for smaller accessories and whatever else you want to bring. One really cool feature that I like about this bag is that if you are going to be constantly reaching in to grab gear, you can actually tuck the Velcro strips away so that you can easily (and quietly) open the bag. This only works well provided that you're not going to be jostling the bag around a lot though, as gear could slip out if you're not careful, but it's a very good feature for the active photographer.
The adjustable shoulder strap has rubberized grips and a bit of padding, so it's really comfortable and it won't slip off of your shoulder. In addition to the shoulder strap, there is also a removable carrying handle. Suppose you're travelling light and just want to treat the Retrospective 20 as a hand bag: You can do just that. Additional features of the bag include webbing loops for modular pouches and carabiners, and a wide back storage pocket.
I tested out the Retrospective 20 in the "pinestone" color, but it is also available in black, blue slate, and Think Tank recently added a sandstone color option as well as a new Retrospective 6 size. I really like the pinestone color and I think it offers a subtle, classic look. Of course that's really just a personal preference, but I think it's safe to say that the Retrospective series does an excellent job combining old-school aesthetics with the modern features you've come to expect from Think Tank's excellent camera bags.
I don't always want to carry a backpack, especially a dedicated photo backpack because it can draw some unwanted attention. The Retrospective series strikes a great balance between having a bag that is designed for carrying your gear without the typical look of a camera bag. The Retrospective series is a good value as well. The canvas versions are priced from around $145 to $195, while the Leather series run around $200 to $260.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Retrospective 20 shoulder bag. It's comfortable, lightweight, and very well-designed. It looks great too, which never hurts! If you're looking for a photography shoulder bag, this one should be at the top of your list.