Laptop/camera bag with flexibility
I'm looking for the perfect laptop/camera bag. Before I say what I think would make it perfect, I'll mention some bags I've used before.
Before I went digital and wanted to carry a laptop as well, I used first a LowePro MiniTrekker, and then a LowePro NatureTrekker AW. Once I went digital, I switched to a LowePro CompuTrekker AW. These bags all did overseas trips of 3 to 6 weeks, and served me fairly well.
The most annoying thing about these bags is that they're more suited to the "stop for 5 minutes for a photo" person than the "stop for 10 seconds for a photo" person. It's possible to remove a camera while still walking along, but it's not convenient. (I'll leave aside the question of whether I should be stopping for more than 10 seconds for a photo.) It's almost impossible to remove the camera and change lenses without stopping and putting the bag down on something.
As a result of this annoyance, I'm looking at moving to a belt-based system, with individual holsters and cases for cameras and lenses. (I'm thinking in particular of the Kinesis system.)
Where does that leave the bag? Well, since I'll have individual padded cases for the camera gear, the bag no longer needs to be padded, except for the laptop. But it will need to be big enough to carry all the gear when I'm not wearing it on the belt. But when I am wearing the camera gear, the bag should be able to compress down, so it's more convenient and not so bulky. (I'll still want to carry the bag for lunch, raingear, etc., and possibly a tripod.)
So, finally, what's this perfect bag going to look like? Strangely enough, almost exactly like a Brain Bag! The main difference is that instead of having two equal-size main compartments, the back compartment should be only just thick enough to fit a Brain Cell, and the front compartment should get the extra thickness to allow room for all the camera gear in padded cases. So instead of two compartments of about 4" each (I think that's right -- I don't have Brain Bag yet to measure!), one would be about 2", and the other 6".
The bigger compartment would then fit cases such as the Kinesis V090 (http://kgear.com/p/V090.html), a top-loading case, as well as holster a case (http://kgear.com/c/C380C382.html) and some lens cases (http://kgear.com/e/). Of course, if Tom Bihn wanted to make his own line of cases and pouches, that would be fine as well, but the Kinesis gear is already fairly well known and liked.
Until Tom decides to make this bag, I'm going to try the standard Brain Bag. With a size 6 Brain Cell at the bottom of the rear compartment, I think I'll just be able to fit the holster case on top, although it will be tight. And since I don't have any huge lenses needing the larger lens pouches, I should be able to fit a few small lens pouches into the front compartment. A lightweight tripod can be strapped on vertically outside.
Anyone else like this idea? Are there requirements or drawbacks I haven't thought of?
What do you think, Tom?
(BTW, thanks for providing a place to make and discuss product suggestions -- I'm not even a customer yet, and I'm already feeling that my needs are being taken care of.)
Need For a Hybrid Camera + Laptop Bag
I know this topic came up before in another thread and since I carry my Camera + Laptop everywhere I can comfortably suggest the Super Ego as a great Hybrid contents solution.
It can manage the laptop plus a compact Digicam plus an accesory lens and a flash unit. The Camera rides loose for a quick grab and the extra lens( Usually a Wide-Angle) and flash are pouched. For more camera gear I really prefer a dedicated case ( I use Tamracs ) . For 10 Second Grab shots I deploy from my Maxpedition Fatboy-S Jumbo- as it can swing from rear to front quickly.I've timed myself at around 12 seconds from grab camera to compose image! For a daypack Photo solution- the Brain Bag beats all hands down IMHO.I like the two side outer pockets for lenses and as you can see, My Velbon tripod rides very happily in the center channel
I've also been looking into some of the higher end Photo/Video Vests. They are pricey but may be a good alternative to waist carry rigs. It would help to know what your shooting context is- since that makes a difference.
Link to Fatboy-S Review ( scroll to bottom for 'Jumbo' picture)