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Mini Review of the Think Tank Retrospective 5 Camera Bag

The reason that this is a “mini” review is that I’ve already reviewed its big brother, the Retrospective 10, here.
After traveling with the 10 version, I decided to trade it in for the smaller 5. This trade-in worked well for me. I found the Retrospective 5 to have all of the good features of the 10 (sturdiness, ruggedness, not being a prime target for thieves), while being more compact and easy to travel with. After an 11 day trip to Barcelona (sometimes dubbed the pickpocket capital of the world) and staying right on Las Ramblas (pick pocketing central), I was able to safely transport this bag comfortably with no attention from thieves. The Pinestone color camera bag just looked like a messenger bag, which I carried across my shoulder. In the evenings, this also doubled as a large purse, carrying my iPhone and travel essentials. The shoulder strap was comfortable and I had no issues carrying this for long walks, hikes, and Metro rides. I even hiked up a steep trail in the Pyranees with it on.

This bag would only be useful for you, though, if you were traveling with minimum photographic equipment. I carried my Canon 5D Mkii with one lens on it, with a few small accessories (memory cards, USB cable, battery charger, and lens brush). If you need something to transport more than 2 lenses, I would go with big bro Retrospective 10.

A Traveller’s Review of Think Tank Retrospective 10 Camera Bag

I had the opportunity to travel to central Florida for a long weekend. This was my first time using my new Think Tank Retrospective 10 Camera Bag (Pinestone color). I thought I’d give my opinion of this bag in a review, from the perspective of a vacationing travel photographer. This is a wonderful bag that travels well and can satisfy the needs of the serious amateur, as well as the professional.

The Good:

  • I love the Pinestone color. Why should all camera bags be black and scream “I hold thousands of dollars worth of equipment! Steal me!”?? This gray pinestone color gives the bag the inconspicuous look of a more casual messenger bag. Will it prevent your camera from being stolen while out on the streets? That remains to be seen (I hope not!). But it doesn’t stand out as a camera bag in a crowd. It gets big bonus points from me for that.
  • The materials are very sturdy and high quality. I feel like this bag could fall off the roof of a building and get run over by a car, yet still remain in great condtion. The material is very thick, the strap is very sturdy and slip-proof, and the configurable dividers are also well made. I have not used the zipper long enough to know if it stands the test of time, but I will guess that it would.
  • I like that it comes with a rain cover. Yes, the cover does take up some valuable space in the bag. But if you don’t think you’ll need it (if the weather forecast looks clear or you’ll be inside), this cover can be taken out and left at home or your hotel. I did not have a reason to actually use the cover, but I’ll assume that it does aid in protecting your camera from the elements if used properly.
  • It holds quite a lot. For me, it safely holds my 5D Mark II with an attached 24-105 lens. It also held a zoom lens and a prime lens. In addition, it held the battery charger and numerous memory cards. Since I was flying, I also used the 2 outside pockets (one zippered) for a small book, my cellphone, flight intinerary/boarding passes, and earbuds. I even stuffed a small pair of shoes in it that didn’t fit in my overnight bag!
  • It was small enough to count as a personal item on my flights. Onboard I carried an overnight bag as my carry-on item and this camera bag as my personal item. It stowed underneath the airplane seat quite nicely.
  • There is ample padding in and around this bag. I was not worried about damage to my equipment, as long as the items were in the bag.
  • The bag was fairly comfortable to wear across my shoulder. I feel that if travelling to a foreign area known for pickpocketers, it is safer to carry the bag in front where I can see it and use my arm to protect it, rather than on my back (I don’t have eyes in the back of my head)

The Not-So-Good:

  • When the bag arrived in the mail, it was larger and bulkier than I had envisioned. Although it holds a lot, it is a little more cumbersome than I wanted. I like a bag that is as mobile and trouble-free as I am when traveling. I have a fairly small female frame and this was a bit too awkward for my size. My back started to hurt a little after carrying this for an afternoon. For others, this might be the perfect size, but for me it was just a bit too big.
  • Some may not like that there’s only Velcro holding the main compartment of the bag together. If the Velcro silencers are used, there’s really nothing but gravity keeping the bag closed. I myself didn’t have a problem with this, as I like easy quick access to the equipment, but I could see how others may not care for this aspect.

This is a wonderful high-quality bag, but is a little bigger than what I wanted. The solution? I’m going to trade in the Retrospective 10 for the smaller Retrospective 5! I’ll definitely stick with Think Tank, though! Upon my suggestion, my husband even purchased a Think Tank laptop bag for his travels and he loves it!

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