Do you use multiple long lenses? Here's your bag!

Started Oct 25, 2010 | Discussions thread
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zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 28,310
Do you use multiple long lenses? Here's your bag!

Just wanted to share this to anyone in the same situation I was, where you're wanting to shoot for wildlife, birds, etc where you want to have multiple long lenses with you, but don't want to have to carry a heavy pack with all of your gear. Finding bags that accomodate 2 or 3 long lenses comfortably, is still small, light, and compact, and that can allow changes of lenses on-the-fly without having to put anything on the ground is extremely hard. But after a long search and some good recommendations from other long-lens shooters, I finally came upon the right bag. I gave it its first field test this weekend, and it passes with flying colors.

The bag is the Think Tank Retrospective Lens Changer 2. This bag is specifically designed for 2 long lenses. There is also a Lens Changer 3 model if you need accomodations for one more. The bag description says it can accomodate up to a 70-200 F2.8, but I'm happy to say it can accomodate beyond that as well. I had actually called Think Tank to inquire specifically on the measurements of my 300mm F4, which I wanted to be able to accomodate with the lens hood reversed, and the Tamron 200-500, which I wanted to do the same. Both are longer and thicker than a typical 70-200 F2.8. They had told me the bag can accomodate lenses up to 10 inches long and still fold closed, and thickness would be fine up to 4.5". Both lenses fit within those specs, so I took the chance and bought the bag.

The bag specifically is what I'd refer to as a field bag - not meant to carry gear for travel, or storage, and not designed to carry the camera body either. It is strictly a lens bag for walking around with and being able to change between two or 3 long lenses. It is very light, soft but of very thick material - no bump padding per se, but plenty of scratch and gauge protection. It has a hand carry and a shoulder strap, and the shoulder strap is long enough to use standard shoulder or cross shoulder sling-style. The lid flips closed over the lenses, with velcro tabs to hold it closed, or the velcro tabs can be covered in a 'quiet mode' so the flap only hangs over the lenses for quiet access. It comes with a rain cover as well. Aside from the two lens pouches, there is a small pocket on the front for smaller items such as lens caps and filters, and a zippered pouch at the back for longer, flatter items.

Here's the bag from the front...the flap is closed, and both afformentioned lenses are loaded inside, with reversed hoods:

From the side, you can see it's really no bigger than the lenses inside it - the flap is closed over the two afformentioned lenses, which were both longer than the spec the bag listed, yet as you can see still accomodated fine within the lidded area. Because the lid is soft, you could even go with lenses beyond 10 inches, and the lid can just bulge over the lens:

Here's with the lid open - you can see how the lenses can be carried lens-mount up...this was the big selling point for me, to be able to slip the mounted lens into one of the available chambers while still on the camera, release the lens, move the end cap from one to the other, switch the camera body over to the other lens and lock it on, then pull the second lens out of the bag mounted. It allows me to change between lenses on the fly and nothing has to be put down on the ground:

Here on the lid, you can see the accomodations for business cards, and the two velcro flaps - which in this shot are in their 'quiet' mode, flipped up and reversed so the lid will not attach when flipped closed. Note the small pocket on the outside of one of the lens pouches, good for storing lens caps when not in use, or when switching lenses:

Here are both lenses with hoods reversed pulled out of the pockets, just to show that they're really in there:

Another angle on the inside of the lid, and that front pocket:

This weekend I used it while out shooting on two fairly ugly grey days - I haven't been out shooting too often with both my 300 and 200-500 together - because it always meant bringing my full Kata the winter, that's fine, but in the summer in the Florida swamps, that's death. Plus, even with the backpack, you have to take it off, lay it down, unzip it, make the lens change, close it up, and put it back on. Not exactly smooth and convenient. So often, I just pick one of the two, and hope I don't wish I had taken the other. This time, I was able to swap multiple times between the lenses as needed - the 300 most of the time for overall sharpness, and the 200-500 when I needed the reach. Changes took about 30 seconds, and nothing hit the ground - I could stand in muck up to my ankles and still feel secure switching lenses, with th ebag hanging right at my hip, and the security of attaching the camera body before pulling out the lens. A quick removal of the reversed hood, or putting it on as needed, and I was ready to shoot the other lens.

So if you're looking for this type of solution, I thought I'd throw out the word on my new bag and how it worked for me! Because it can accomodate the longer lenses, it would also be useful for folks using one long lens and one fast prime with a hood - if the lens is only 5 or 6 inches, you could holster it in the bag with the hood attached, and have similar access and change speed. The holster style is great for in-the-field changing of lenses. Feel free to ask any questions, which I'd be glad to answer if I can.

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