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A Guest post by Kevin Jones.
The Urban Disguise series is a set of shoulder camera bags from Think Tank Photo which are designed to look professional while not look like a camera bag. This series has many bag sizes ranging from holding one SLR with lens attached to holding two pro sized SLRs with lenses attached plus additional gear. In this article we will review the Urban Disguise 40 V2.0 which is in the middle of the series.
Think Tank Photo’s attention to detail is evident when you first unbox this bag. These are little things that add up such as the tags being secured to the zipper loops rather than being secured by punching a small hole in the bag. Another minor detail is the adjustment loops on the shoulder strap have indentations to hold onto while adjusting it. Unlike other bags I’ve owned, this bag (and I believe all Think Tank bags) comes with many extra pads allowing you to completely customize the main compartment to fit your needs. You’ll see that Think Tank Photo really has thought of everything a photographer would need in a camera bag.
This bag is composed of a main compartment in the middle where the body and lenses are stored, two flat slots on the back for papers, an organizational area on the front flap for pens, notepad, batteries, etc, two pockets under the front flap for extra bodies, and an open slot inside the main compartment. You can see good photos illustrating these compartments on Think Tank’s website under the features tab. In addition there are stretchable pockets on each side of the bag which can hold water bottles or smaller strobes. On the back of the bag is an easily accessible slot to store business cards. Lastly, there are loops on the sides and bottom of the bag where you can use straps (sold separately) to attach extra storage such as Think Tank’s modular or skin component system.
In the main compartment I can fit a D90 with grip and lens attached, 18-105 tucked under the camera’s handle, SB-600 just to the right of that, and a 70-300 on the other side of the camera. In the elastic pouches on the side you can fit an SB-600, but not a LumoPro LP160 strobe which is much wider. You could also put a bottle of water, your keys, cell phone or other relatively small object in these. The D rings that the shoulder strap attaches to can get in the way of accessing these pockets when the strap is limp. The elastic pocket on the right side of the bag (if you are looking at the front) has a red loop inside it for you to clip items onto such as keys or the Pixel Pocket Rocket. It is also nice to know that you can attach modular or skin components on the sides of the bag for added storage space.
Access into the main compartment is somewhat bottlenecked. This is basically unavoidable considering the way this bag opens. In order to remove the bottleneck the main compartment would have to be accessed in the same style that the Retrospective bag is done. Basically there would need to be a hinged cover that opens rather than a zipper which allows you to pull the bag apart. This would make the bag more open, but would probably make it look more like a camera bag and may not be any easier to access. Overall the bag is fairly easy to access for active shooting; it’s just not easy to see everything in the main compartment at once.
Like many bags, if you put an item in one compartment it takes available space away from another compartment. There are lots of slots located in front of the main compartment, but some of them share space with the main compartment. If you are using a pro sized body then you will have the expansion zipper opened giving you more space. Even if you don’t have a pro sized body you can get more storage space by opening this expansion zipper.
The shoulder strap that comes with the bag isn’t easily adjustable. The pad is fixed in place, and there are separate adjustments on either side. This means when you change shoulders the strap may not be sitting on your shoulder anymore. Apparently Think Tank sells a strap with a movable pad. This is good, but doesn’t change the strap that the bag comes with. The shoulder strap that the bag comes with is very nice despite the difficulty in. It is non-slip, has soft fabric lining the sides where it might be touching your neck, and is well cushioned.
Although the UD40 does not have a laptop compartment you could fit a netbook in the front pocket of the bag (the one that Think Tank advertises as being used for Pro sized bodies). You can probably fit an iPad somewhere in the bag, but I don’t have one to test. The back of the bag is very firm so that it doesn’t flex or wrap around your body. This is important because it will keep the papers you are storing neat and wrinkle free. This also means that you can’t store a small computer in the back slot.
Overall this is a great bag to work out of. It offers a good balance between storage space, size, and ease of use. If you need very fast access then the modular component system is the way to go, but the two shouldn’t be compared. The modular and skin systems scream, “I’m a photographer, and I have all this expensive gear.” The Urban Disguise series does quite the opposite. If you need a relatively low profile bag that is easy to work out of and holds a lot of gear then the Urban Disguise is good for you.
See more from Kevin Jones at his site.