Like many photographers, I have a love-hate relationship with camera bags.
I like backpacks that come with a waist strap and spread the weight over two shoulders, but I don’t like having to remove the bag from my shoulders and put it on the ground to get a camera out or change lenses.
I like the idea of slings, but having too much weight on one shoulder is not for me. I’m 5ft tall and petite so if I overload a sling or a messenger it’s too much for me to want to carry.
Basically what I am looking for is a compact bag that gives me easy access to my camera and lenses, an easy way to shove the camera back inside should it start raining (practically a given in the north east of England!), that can carry enough for a day’s hard shooting or a minimalist amount of gear for travel without weighing me down.
Then along comes the Peak Design Everyday Sling Bag. I was quite excited to finally own one of their bags with its famous top quality build, patented sliding straps and Flex-Fold origami dividers! It has attachment points at each end to attach PD's Capture Clips, but I don't own one so I can't comment on that, unfortunately.
It has a 10 litre capacity and looked compact compared to other offerings. I knew their 20 litre backpack was not for me and while I was tempted by the 13” Messenger…I wasn’t sure.
At first I struggled. My Canon 5D MKIII with four lenses and my Macbook Air felt too heavy across one slender shoulder despite my back and chest also taking some of the weight.
The strap grazed the skin on my neck and most bizarrely I somehow managed to pinch a sensitive area of skin on my chest through my t-shirt in the tiny slot where the seatbelt strap slides - ouch! Do I have the strap too tight or not tight enough?
I found a solution to the final problem - pull the sliding buckle up and away from the body to avoid that happening again.
As for the first issue: when am I going to need four lenses plus a laptop?! Never! I’m all about travelling light which is 2-3 lenses tops (the 50mm f1.8 hardly weighs anything anyway), including the one already on the camera body. Plus, by the time I get to where I want to take photographs, the camera will be out of the bag and in my hand.
Another concern I have is the additional 1cm that Peak Design’s RC2 plate adds to the bottom of the 5D when I have my Macbook in its compartment. Without the plate (or laptop), it’s fine, but with the plate and laptop there is that added pressure sticking out of the 5D’s personal space and infringing on the Macbook’s.
Because I am clumsy I do like having the Slide Lite strap on my 5D and I recently purchased the RC2 plate just for the ease of setting it straight onto my tripods. I don’t want to be fiddling about with allen keys while I’m out on a shoot taking the plate off and on.
However, as the afternoon wore on and I kept playing and practising, I began to get the hang of it and work the strap and buckle one-handed. It’s not a large bag but because of the way it sits on my slim shoulders it does stick out a bit at the sides from behind me, but not enough to hinder my movement.
I love how the bag sits right in front of you and the lid opens away from you so you can see what is inside. It is easy to swap lenses without worrying about dropping anything on the floor. The bag also makes for an impromptu camera support when it sits at your front.
I can sling the bag around, open it, slip my Slide Lite strap over my shoulder and lift out my 5D without fear of dropping it; and vice versa for putting it away.
I recently exchanged my Sigma f2.8 70-200 for the Canon f4 70-200 with the sole hope that I would be happier carrying the Canon, which is half the weight of the Sigma.
The Sigma was boxed up and ready to be collected by courier by the time the Sling arrived, so I didn’t have a chance to try it in the bag. I think it was just as well. If I had attempted to hoist 1.4kg of Sigma plus 5D over my head and onto my shoulder I may well have done damage to my back and decided I would have no use for the Sling after all.
I had a niggling feeling that I was not making the most of the space inside the Sling, until I realised there was space under the shelf where my 5D handgrip rested which would hold another lens. Bingo! All my lenses now fit inside!
So, now I can fit the following into the Sling:
- Canon 5D MKIII with the 24-70mm f4 lens attached
- 85mm f1.8 lens
- 50mm f1.8 lens
- 35mm f2 lens
- 70-200mm f4 lens
- Spare battery
- Spare memory card
- Lens wipe
- Rain sleeve
There is still plenty space for other small accessories and my flash unit slots into the front pocket.
Or, if I forgo the 5D and swap it for the 100D, I can fit my MacBook Air in the laptop sleeve. How far I can carry these setups remains to be seen.
It does not always stand upright. If there is a tripod attached to the bottom or something substantial in the front expanding pocket then it stands, but if not it can get a bit top heavy and tilt forward.
I took it out on its first serious field test, a child and doggy shoot on the local beach. Inside I had my 5D, 70-200mm, 85mm, 50mm, plus a T-Rex and a TARDIS (I can explain**).
In all honesty, I forgot I was wearing it. I managed to swap lenses without fuss or dropping my brand new telephoto lens onto the wet sand thanks to the Sling. The next morning my left shoulder was fine. I took it out the following day, again no morning after aches.
The arrival of the Sling at the same time as the Canon f4 has basically made me want to get out with my heavier photo gear for fun. It is not fun to be carrying heavy and expensive equipment so anything that makes it a bit less awkward is fine by me.
I’ve even gone so far already as to sell my other camera bags. One of them was too big with no waist support, the other did not quite hold my 5D as comfortably as I would like.
Now it is a relief to not worry about which bag to use for which occasion because the Peak Design Everyday Sling covers all of them.
Available from www.peakdesign.com and all good online photographic retailers.
*A super-light travel version from 7dayshop! My Manfrotto BeFree fits onto the straps but it is a lot heavier.
**I wanted to take a photograph to put on my Facebook page and ask the question: “if you had the TARDIS for a day, where would you go?” My answer is the Cretaceous period to meet a T-Rex, so I took my model police box and fortuitously scaled dinosaur model with me to get said photo!