I love photography. I’m not all that great at it, but I love it. What I don’t dig on is carrying around a camera. For years, I lugged around a Nikon DSLR plus lenses for work and grew to loathe the logistics of taking pictures. And then, compact cameras started to get really capable. Before I knew it, I had gotten rid of all my DSLR cameras and moved into mirrorless cameras like the Leica M8 and then the new Fuji X-Pro 1. Both are compact and both take incredible images. In fact, I doubt I’ll ever own an SLR again. I’ve, quite literally, seen the light.
One of the great things about these compact setups is that to carry them around you don’t really need a dedicated camera bag. However, I still like to keep a compact bag around just for when I go out specifically to shoot. Recently, Think Tank Photo asked me if I would be interested in reviewing a bag from their Retrospective series. I agreed and a few days later, I had a Retrospective 20 in my hands.
First impressions… This bag is HUGE. No, really. The Retrospective 20 could easily swallow three or four rangefinder cameras, a number of lenses, chargers, etc… I’m pretty sure an entire Leica Boutique would fit into this thing. It’s that big. Even so, it’s amazingly light for its size and features pockets in just about every conceivable place you can imagine. Think Tank really did some thinking and it shows.
More than that though, I’m really impressed with the build quality of the bag. It’s made of a cotton canvas that feels a lot like well worn and super soft denim. And it’s hung by heavy duty nylon straps that are reinforced in all the right places and use a sort of antiqued nickel plaited hardware. From every aspect, this is just a really well done bag. I think maybe a video presentation would do more justice that words:
So there ya have it. The Retrospective 20 really is a nice bag. The only thing is, it’s a little too big for my needs. I typically carry two rangefinders with lenses attached and maybe an extra lens or two. With this bag, everything gets lost in space never to be seen again. It’s just so deep and so wide and… so BIG!
It would be perfect for a DSLR shooter and is completely capable of holding a couple of bodies and some big long zooms, but it’s not for the rangefinder man. Thankfully, Think Tank’s Retrospective series includes bags with smaller dimensions. In fact, I’ve been so impressed by the quality of this bag that I’ve decided to buy a Retrospective 5 or maybe a 7. Both feature the same build quality as the 20, but are smaller in stature.
I’ll let ya know how I make out.