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Think Tank Photo Sling-O-Matic Review

There’s much buzz about the new “Sling-O-Matic” range of bags from the camera bag manufacturer www.thinktankphoto.com — are they too big, are they too small! Well, I only had one turn up on my desk today and here’s my initial impression of that very bag, The Think Tank Photo Sling-O-Matic 30

Think Tank Photo Sling-O-Matic Review

Here’s what Think Tank Photo say;

“Think Tank Photo introduces the Sling-O-Matic, the photo industry’s first sling bag that can be easily switched back and forth to either shoulder. The Sling-O-Matic’s adjustable, fully padded shoulder strap “automatically” slides along a set of rails to change which shoulder the bag can be worn on. This is the innovative solution to the problem inherent with other sling bags: only being designed to wear the sling bag over the same shoulder. With one smooth motion, the Sling-O-Matic can be quickly switched to the opposite shoulder without losing the characteristics that have made sling bags popular among photographers. The Sling-O-Matic series offers three unique bags to choose from, depending on the set of photo gear a photographer needs to carry.”

Think Tank Photo Sling-O-Matic ReviewI currently use the Urban Disguise 60 as my daily “go to” bag – I can take my laptop (A 17″ MacBook Pro) plus my camera (Canon 5DMKII / Battery Grip) plus a couple of lenses, now I do have the option of purchasing the optional backpack straps that go with the UD series if required, but I wanted to keep it simple… Then Think Tank Photo announce that they’re going to release a “Sling Bag” onto the market and I think – if this is a good bag, this could be a game changer…

I’ve travelled with a sling style bag, all around Cuba was the last time – four lenses, camera body, laptop, bits and pieces… That stuff gets heavy as I’m sure you’re all aware! With a traditional sling style bag, you can end up with a really very sore shoulder, which I did! (take care of your bodies folks…)

Think Tank Photo have come up with this “sling-o-matic” which very easily switches from one shoulder to the other, literally in seconds (once I got the hand of it – the first few goes made me look VERY silly! ha!) You take the bag off, slip the straps across, put it back on and you’re away. Whilst you’re wearing the bag, there’s a handle at the base to easily pull the bag around to your front so you can access your gear via the main compartment pocket…

Think Tank Photo Sling-O-Matic ReviewPulling the bag around to your front (unless you’re wearing your headphones and you tangle everything and end up hog-tied on the floor) is dead simple and once there, it’s like having your very own “stable table” you unzip the main compartment, access everything very easily, change a lens, write a note… it’s a really good, flat surface for working from if required. There’s enough room in my Sling-O-Matic 30 for my Canon 5DMKII with 24-70 f/2.8 attached (hood in place), my 100-400L f/4.5 – 5.7, The 70-200L F/2.8IS II, My nifty fifty, a flash, my 17″ MacBook Pro (be careful, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere) and many cables and “stuff” — Is it heavy, oh yes… Can I swap sides when shoulder number one is fed up? yes, easily. The amount of gear this bag holds astonishing, but, at the same time – very importantly! – you can shoot from it!.. Getting the camera out is a complete doddle, grab, pull, zip, grip, pull, shoot. – sorted.

The regular build quality is immediately apparent with the new bag, I have many Think Tank Photo camera bags and this one is no different – near to bomb proof with ballistic nylon construction, no PVC and sturdy YKK zippers… There’s something about putting my thousands of pounds worth of camera equipment into “any old bag” that slightly bothers me… If you drive a Ferrari, you’re not going to stick any old car cover on it, are you?

The shoulder strap is thickly padded and quite comfortable, with solid metal buckles and hook loops for attaching the cross strap that makes the bag stay in place very well. How this strap works is, there are two sets of “rails” on on the top of the bag (you can see it below) and one at the base to the side. Your shoulder is crying out for a break, you whip the bag off, grab the top handle and slip the strap to the other “front” of the bag, the lower, side rail strap slips across too… voila! you pop the bag back on, on your other shoulder and you’re away.

Think Tank Photo Sling-O-Matic Review

As I’ve mentioned, my 17″ MacBook Pro slides in, but it is a very tight fit. I’ve been using the Sling-O-Matic with my MacBook Pro for a few days now and it’s become slightly easier to put in and take out, but be warned that if you slide the laptop in with the side all the ports are on (power / firewire / usb etc) against the zipper, you could incur some scratches if you’re not careful – afterall, the Sling-O-Matic is billed as “takes a 15″ laptop”

Think Tank Photo Sling-O-Matic Review

One thing that was talked about quite a bit after the release of the Retrospective series of Think Tank Photo camera bags, was that there was no place to stick a water bottle, should that be your thing… Well, the Sling-O-Matic does have a spot for the water bottle, and it even has a little “escape hatch” in the bottom, should you spill some – I’d be quite happy to put a water bottle in the provided pocket (though I don’t have one with me on this train right now) in the comfort that there’s not a hope in hell of the water and my camera gear meeting for a chat unless I was being really silly! (camera gear and water are not always friends!) …today, however, I have my waterproof rain jacket in the water bottle section. perfect.

Think Tank Photo Sling-O-Matic Review

The Sling-O-Matic comes with the required attachment straps to sling a Tripod from the side of the bag, or if you get lazy like I did, you can pop it into the waterbottle pocket if you don’t have time to stop! (Though, in the picture, I’ve attached it correctly and it stays where you strap it)

Think Tank Photo Sling-O-Matic Review

So, in conclusion, the Sling-O-Matic bag from www.thinktankphoto.com is a great bag for me, it’s a good daily bag that takes my laptop and all my camera gear, in comfort, to wherever I need it to go.

For dPS members in the USA, you can purchase Think Tank Photo products via this link and receive a free gift on check out when you use the code AP-223

I thought I’d pop in some size comparison images between the Sling-O-Matic and the RetroSpective 20 and the Streetwalker HD and the Urban Disguise V1.0

Think Tank Photo Sling-O-Matic ReviewAn Urban Disguise 60 along side the Sling-O-Matic 30
Think Tank Photo Sling-O-Matic ReviewThe Think Tank Photo Sling-O-Matic along side the Retrospective 20
Think Tank Photo Sling-O-Matic Review…and the Streetwalker HD beside the Sling-O-Matic 30!

I hope this has helped, please feel free to ask any questions — Sime

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(aka #gtvone) is the customer support manager for dPS, and lead blogger in our Cameras and Gear Blog. He’s a Melbourne based photographer, www.gtvone.com and please feel free to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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