Think Tank Photo Spectral 15 Shoulder Bag Review: Functional and affordable shoulder bag works well


posted Friday, October 13, 2017 at 5:00 AM EST


In late August, Think Tank Photo released a new line of shoulder bags, the Spectral series. This new shoulder bag comes in three sizes, the smallest of which, the Spectral 8 costs less than $100 while including an innovative one-handed access design and magnetic Fidlock clasp. Think Tank Photo sent me a Spectral 15 shoulder bag for review. The Spectral 15 is the largest bag in the series and it costs around $140.

Before discussing using the Spectral 15, I'd like to cover the trio of bags in general. While they vary in their carrying capacities, the three bags share similar aesthetics, which include a black and dark gray design with a small amount of red trim. The bag is made from a variety of composite materials, including a waterproof tarpaulin base. Each of the bags includes a water bottle pocket, internal pockets and a dedicated phone pocket plus an included seam-sealed rain cover.

The Think Tank Spectral shoulder bag has a nice style. It blends in well and doesn't scream "photo gear," which is nice.

Now let's look at the Spectral 15 in particular. Keep in mind that some of the features discussed throughout the rest of this article are included with the smaller Spectral 8 and 10 as well. Click those links for more information on the small and medium-sized shoulder bags. The Spectral 15 distinguishes itself by being able to hold a 15-inch laptop in a dedicated compartment and by simultaneously being able to hold a 10-inch tablet.

In terms of camera gear storage capacity, the internal dimensions of the Spectral 15 are 15.3 inches of width, 9.8 inches of height and 5.1 inches of depth (39 x 25 x 13 centimeters). You can fit a standard-sized camera body with a 24-70mm style lens attached plus two to four extra lenses, a flash and a detached 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens. It is not going to offer the same capacity as a backpack, of course, but it holds a lot of gear considering its rather small footprint. I was able to comfortably carry a Canon SL2 with a 55-250mm lens attached plus three more lenses, including a Canon 100-400mm lens, with a bit of room to spare.

The Think Tank Spectral 15 is the largest of the new trio of shoulder bags.

Speaking of comfort, I like the shoulder strap of the Think Tank Spectral 15 a lot. The strap itself is made from seat belt material and there is a padded non-slip section you can slide along the strap. There is also a top handle, which I wish was a bit thicker when carrying a heavy load, and a pass through compartment for keeping your Spectral shoulder bag secure on top of luggage, making it a nice travel companion.

Regarding the internal design, the padded dividers can be repositioned around the interior of the bag and there are a variety of useful pockets. The tablet compartment is contained within a second zippered pocket on the front of the bag while the laptop compartment is in the bag's main internal storage area. I was able to easily fit my 15-inch MacBook Pro in the notebook compartment and it seems well-protected.

The interior has movable padded inserts, allowing for a lot of user customizability.

Overall, the Think Tank Photo Spectral 15 is a very nice shoulder bag, especially for the money. I think it's well-suited for people who want a photo bag that can also act as a general messenger bag when need be. It isn't quite as rugged as Think Tank's Retrospective bag nor is it as stylish as their Signature Series shoulder bags, although it much more affordable than both and does its job well.

You can purchase a Think Tank Photo Spectral series shoulder bag thorough the links below:

Think Tank Photo Spectral 8Spectral 10Spectral 15

Think Tank Photo provided me a Spectral 15 shoulder bag for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received.