What’s your Bag? [A Quest for the Perfect Woman's Camera Bag]

What’s your Bag? [A Quest for the Perfect Woman’s Camera Bag]

In this post Lisa Newton from Travelin’ Local shares a little of her quest for the perfect woman’s camera bag.

Many women want the option to have a camera bag that looks as great as it functions, so it can be part of our wardrobe. I’m certain that I’m not alone in this need.

whats your bag.jpgSo in my quest to find the “perfect” woman’s camera bag, I was eager to do my homework. So I read several reviews, posts, and forums on the subject. For example:

In my dogged pursuit of finding the “perfect camera bag,” I thought it would be a “cake-walk.” Although, I pursued my homework and more, that I didn’t expect to find was that I couldn’t find a bag that fit the criteria I needed.

I didn’t think my requirements would be too difficult to meet:

The bag had to be large enough to fit my “purse” accoutrements including my wallet, make-up, and hairbrush, etc. Plus, I needed a bag that would be able to fit my laptop, which I want to take with me on various location shoots.

Most importantly, I wanted to be able to fit in my camera, a Nikon D40, along with enough room for both the camera’s 50mm and 70-200mm lens’. I always use both because I never know which one is going to provide me the shot I want and envision.

For my new camera bag I needed one to meet my main requirements, which include:

  • Sturdy fabric
  • Pockets
  • Large internal space
  • Shoulder straps
  • Look likes a purse
  • Reasonable cost

whats your bag 2After shopping around a bit—actually quite a lot–I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I love the backpack camera bags, but I’d prefer to walk into a business meeting carrying something more resembling a “purse,” not a backpack or messenger bag.

As a result, I found that there are a few camera bags designed for women like the Shootsac, which is pretty cool, but not exactly what I was looking for. Or the Jill-e Designs, which are also great, but again, didn’t meet all of my criteria.

So, what did I do?

I crafted my own camera bag!

First, I purchased the bag part from eBags. It’s actually a large purse, which met all of my above requirement criteria.

The next problem I had to solve was the issue of protecting my laptop and camera. Laptop sleeves are widely available so that wasn’t a big problem. I already had a lens case for my 70-200mm, so in the search for my perfect camera bag, I had two of my requirements met. But I still had one more problem to solve, because I wasn’t really familiar with how to best protect my camera.

Looking around a little more, I bought a Domke Protective Wrap, the large 19 incher. I hadn’t seen it before, but it turned out to be the perfect “bag in a bag” for my camera.

whats your bag 3So now, I have my perfect camera bag—it fits all of my female items, my laptop, and all of my photography gear into one bag that met my requirements and needs both as a woman photographer, and as a publisher and photojournalist. When the bag is fully loaded, it’s a bit heavy, but the way I look at it, I’m getting a little more exercise when I walk, while carrying an overweight bag.

In the end, it’s what works best for you, and if it helps you with what you want to accomplish with your photography, from taking the best pictures you want, to having the best equipment at your disposal, or being secure in knowing that you own the perfect camera bag for traveling.

I’d love to hear your comments and feedback:

What camera bag do you carry? Is this just a woman thing? Have you ever had to create a do-it-yourself bag, as I did, or were you able to find one off the rack?

Lisa Newton is the publisher of the online lifestyle magazine Travelin’ Local. Along with her passion for writing and photography, she loves discovering new places to go and sights to see in Los Angeles.

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Some Older Comments

  • Mike April 14, 2012 09:48 am

    Good article. You didn't mention Silhouette Bags. They are another great option.

  • Debbie February 22, 2012 12:25 pm

    Camille & Meg: the Cheeky Lime Bag looks really nice!! thanks for adding that in. It'd be nice to see that in red! Speaking of red, I saw Elijah & Co they make camera bags in red. It looks like they're new so I haven't seen any reviews. But I'm really interested! http://elijahandco.com/

  • meg February 16, 2012 07:46 am

    Thanks for the list and suggestions. I'd been using a jill-e small red leather bag, but it was stolen last week. I don't love the jill-e bags for women because they're just not well-padded enough. I've suffered numerous smashed UV filters from falls of less than two and half feet. Protection really is the primary function, with good looks a second.

    After checking out the suggestions here, I'm not super impressed with a lot of the offerings. Super ugly and lack of cross-body strap are deal breakers for me.

    What I want is the Cheeky Lime Classic Bag in red, but they seem to be out of stock indefinitely. They're new line is frankly not that nice.

    Looks like I'll end up getting the Bossi bag from Theit (http://www.lovetheit.com/product_details.php?prodid=thebossi).

  • Camille February 4, 2012 06:01 am

    I know it's been awhile since this article was posted, but I typically used my diaper bag to carry my D40. Diaper make great padding! BUt in preparations for a 10 day trip to Hawaii with my hubby I was looking for just what is described in this article. Something Feminine, but that can hold what I need for the day AND my two lenses (although by the trip I might add a couple more!). Anyway I haven't purchased one yet, but I think the one I'll get is from jototes. They are absotlutely adorable purses...made to be camera bags. So excited about the possibility of getting one!


    Another one with cute bags is:


  • Laurie November 28, 2011 04:01 am

    I use a cooler bag also. The plastic lining offers protection if it starts to rain. A padded insert (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003WQNLBY/ref=oh_o04_s00_i00_details) provides extra protection for lenses.

  • Anna November 22, 2011 06:02 pm


    Here is a picture of the soft sided cooler I got.

  • Anna November 22, 2011 05:59 pm

    I use cooler bags! I got a nice one at Canadian Tire by Coleman that looks like a shoulder purse with funky patterns and thick padding which cost me next to nothing. The drawback is the lack of separators inside, so I place cloths in the bag to protect the lenses etc.

  • Sherri September 2, 2011 10:13 am

    I too have been searching for the perfect womans' camera bag.
    I crafted my own from a compartmented purse and padding from an old bag. the padding velcros together.
    The bottom makes me nervous because there is NO padding and all the equipment rests on it, so folded towel there.
    While this is a shoulder bag, it is most uncomfortable and not good for dedicated outdoor photo expeditions.
    Still looking for a bag with strap like conventional camera bag.
    If only Vera would take this product line on!

  • clarice August 27, 2011 08:26 am

    I have to say, it's definitely worth investing in a camera bag to protect your expensive equipment. One day I got so sick of my Lowepro bag I started chancing it by carrying my SLR in my normal day bags. I swear I was extra careful with it when I placed it on the floor but when I next took it out the screen had cracked (internal bleeding). Luckily I had one month of warranty left!

    Long story short now I have two bags, *emera and ketti, which I use interchangeably depending on the occasion. I feel so stylish using the *emera bag when I carry my laptop in it to work compared to those horrible looking laptop cases that everyone else at work is carrying haha!

    Both brands are from the US but I managed to find a UK supplier, I'm pretty sure they are the only company here in UK that sell them. Check them out as they stock a few other brands too - www.cosycameras.co.uk - hope that helps!

  • Annie Chao June 21, 2011 03:09 am

    Great post. With all the fashion out there, the ugly black camera bags sold at local stores do not fit in with the times.

    Of all the sites I've visited, there were the best for a CLASSY looking bag.






    Buy a luggage messenger, messenger, large tote, satchel, etc... and then go to WWW.ETSY.COM and look for "camera purse insert" and buy the padding to put into your bag if you want to switch out occasionally.

    Hope this helps the next newbie photographer with a passion for fashion.


  • M.B. May 10, 2011 06:32 am

    Has anyone had much experience with the LowePro Passport Sling? It's not as dressy as some options suggested here, but it seems like an easy, casual bag to use out and about on the town with a lens or two and personal space for accessories.

  • uncle-rhea April 27, 2011 06:35 am

    i carry a 12" Nikon bag that fits my camera and four lenses, when once is attached to my camera. it's light weight and has a compartment for my filters, lens hoods and such. simple, black, camera bag.

  • Damon Kocik April 4, 2011 10:31 pm

    That was a Interesting article. I enjoyed it very much. Best Damon Kocik

  • Alice February 17, 2011 04:50 am

    I know this is a fairly old thread, but today I found

    Havent had a look at all of them, but they look fairly feminine!!

  • Iwanicki January 29, 2011 10:50 am

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I'm looking forward for your next post, I?ll try to get the hang of it!

  • zuzana January 27, 2011 01:40 am

    I was also on a quest for the perfect backpack and bag. The backpack was more-less solved by Dakine's photobag. I love their backpacks and now they designed one for photogear. It opens from the back, and I had it theft proof tested in the Middle East, poor thief had no idea how to get in there :) The camera gear is in a removable padded Camera Block which fits in other backpack too. They could make a smaller gilr's version but it is still the best choice http://www.dakine.com/skate/photo-packs/mission-photo/

    For the handbag I went my own way. The photo bags out there are nice but lack in quality materials. I use a Michael Kors Frankie which has a zip partition inside in the middle. One half of the bag is for the camera gear the other for regular stuff. Again no Lowepro "Steal me" orange signs. I got it on sale and it was less than any of the specialized polyurethane handbags out there. http://bags.bonanza.com/booths/mschicjagger/items/NEW_Michael_Kors_Purse_Frankie_Black_Leather_Tote_Bag_Handba

    As for new acquisitions I always test them for space and fast camera access. Two shoulder straps are necessary for a stable and safe hold on the shoulders of course. This one is a winner, soooooft leather, lightweight, perfect size and access http://www.zappos.com/calvin-klein-x-treme-satchel-sand?zlfid=111. 89.99 in your local TJ. I am thinking of getting a Domke insert or making my own and thus transforming any handbag to a camera bag.

  • apple January 24, 2011 12:47 pm

    awesome thanks for the tips!!!

  • Daniella January 5, 2011 07:37 pm

    I have been on the hunt since first getting my camera. I have looked everywhere for the perfect purse/camera bag. In the spring I WILL be getting a Kelly Moore bag.

  • Photocraziness December 23, 2010 12:44 am

    I've tried many different bags, but I can't get all my stuff in a purse like that. So after researching a lot, I have found an awesome camera backpack that is not a guy bag. It is perfect for women and comes in two different colors including a beautiful blue and gray which is the one I got. Best of all: I only paid $100,00 and it fits my laptop, my camera gear, diapers and wipes (for moms), wallet, keys and more into it. It’s great! . Check the website out: http://www.portarebags.com

  • lmakrx August 27, 2010 10:12 am

    Ok girls, I have been searching high and low as you all have and THINK I may have found the perfect item! I found this new company, Shutterbugbags, that has a removable insert for your camera and gear! I just ordered one. I hope it is everything I think it is because that would mean my search is over!

  • Nansal July 2, 2010 01:48 am

    Thanks for the tips!
    I almost gonna go sew up my own camera pocket to put in my purse and came across your article while doing research.
    I have a Crumbler 5 Million Dollar Bag. It looks good and protects the gears well. However, I find it very difficult to access things such as wallet and keys with the bag's double closure design while traveling abroad. Just ordered the Domke Wrap. Will see how it works :)

  • Angela Connell May 23, 2010 08:53 pm

    Thank you ladies for all your tips and ideas! I really wanted a jill.e bag but could not afford it at AUD450 a piece. I needed a roller bag that looked like a tote (it was all about the style!) so I settled on buying a Kate Hill rolling duffle www.katehill.com.au and inserted a laptop sleeve and Dome digital slr inserts. Worked perfectly at one third the price.

  • gjakovare April 19, 2010 06:51 am

    I use this bag that i got at Target. I love it, except once I get more gear I will need to upgrade.


  • Jill Adams April 16, 2010 12:11 am

    What an excellent post! I thought I was alone in this obsession. Will do a post on it soon for my blog:

    and link to this. Thank you! Your bag is exactly my taste btw.

  • Elizabeth March 12, 2010 08:25 pm

    Awesome web site and article...I just found it a few weeks ago when looking for a feminine camera bag. I ended up looking at all the bags suggested on this thread and decided on a Jo Tote. Wanted to let the women still searching out there that I am very impressed. It has padding sewn throughout the entire bag plenty of readjustable pads, is large enough for my body, lenses, and personal items, is light and comfortable, and is pretty! It's really well-made...I honestly thought it was made out of genuine leather until a friend of mine who also has one said it wasn't real leather. Also, the price is actually reasonable. I am surprised at how much the other bags are right now. A friend of mine has another women's-type camera bag that is twice the price, but it is not better in quality. I would like my children to attend college, so I'm glad there is an affordable option out there. Anway, I'm really happy with my bag. Thank you for all the great information.

  • Bill March 6, 2010 04:36 am

    For the Ladies looking for a backpack, take a look at the Thinktank Streetwalker. They advertise that their shoulder straps are designed for Women. I have a 46 inch chest, and use the backpack with the straps out all the way and no chest strap and it works very well, so Ladies may find this one comfortable when adjusted properly. If you have less than 3 lenses, there is some spare room in the bag, and it's a very low profile backpack.

  • Joan Ebbel February 24, 2010 06:55 am

    Thank you so much for a thorough and professional evaluation of a common problem facing photographers. I, too, have faced this problem on many occasions especially when traveling in less than safe areas where I prefer and want to assume a low profile. But even more important, I have found that carrying a bag like yours enables me to enter any situation (even family parties) in a friendly, non-threatening way and catch many good photographs because no one is aware that a “photographer” has entered the room! I love the idea and I would encourage anyone to try it! My best to you!

  • Joan Ebbel February 24, 2010 06:04 am

    Thank you so much for a thorough and professional evaluation of a common problem facing photographers. I, too, have faced this problem on many occasions especially when traveling in less than safe areas where I prefer and want to assume a low profile. But even more important, I have found that carrying a bag like yours enables me to enter any situation (even family parties) in a friendly, non-threatening way and catch many good photographs because no one is aware that a "photographer" has entered the room! I love the idea and I would encourage anyone to try it! My best to you!

  • PamB2k3 February 24, 2010 01:03 am

    This is my exact problem! I have been through bag after bag not finding the right combination of features. Thanks so much for sharing your solution!

  • Renée February 19, 2010 08:42 pm

    I can't understand how so many people manage to carry that heavy load on one shoulder! No matter how stylish or cool my bag was, I wouldn't stand having aching shoulders or neck (and probably a headache too) after walking around carrying all that weight on one shoulder!

    My bag is very uncool and not very feminine, but it's so convenient and practical that I don't care. It resembles this bag: http://fstopgear.com/en/mountain/mala and can be carried around the waist (but has a shoulderstrap too). Whenever I want to quickly get my camera out I just swing the bag from back to front and hail it out.

  • Jen Xi February 19, 2010 07:57 pm

    I realised that there is no perfect bag. There is only the bag that suit your needs. And your needs will change as you change your gear or lifestyle. http://iamjenxi.com/2009/10/quest-for-the-perfect-camera-bag/

    It is not a woman thing. I'm a guy and I, too, want a bag that looks good and yet be able to carry all the gear I want to bring around. I have yet to find such a back.

    My girlfriend complains that my bag is too big. I knock into people with my bag when I'm in crowded areas. And the back pack looks dorky. But it is comfortable and suits my need. Compromising aesthetics for the sake of practicality.

  • Toni February 19, 2010 06:07 am

    http://www.epiphaniebags.com/ - mine will arrive on Monday and I'm so excited for it to get here! Epiphanie Bags are the creation of Maile Wilson, a female professional photographer, who was tired of wrapping up her camera in a towel and carrying it in her purse. She knows what's needed in both a camera bag and a purse. You probably wouldn't get a laptop in there, unless it is one of the newer small things, but the fun styles and colors are to die for. Once it arrives, my son's getting my backpack camera bag.

  • starrpoint February 18, 2010 04:11 pm

    Finally, someone is getting the word out that there are serious female photographers who have real, important needs! I am still searching for a serviceable bag, not perfect. But something that fits a female body, not a male body.

    I find that most bags slip from my softer shoulders, and don't allow what I need for business, And they are simply shaped wrong for my hips and hit me in the wrong place.

    I need something that I can carry in the field. Most of what I have found are recycled from film cameras.

  • Clementine February 18, 2010 12:11 pm

    i found these in a Staples store

    Made of leather, about 100$ each...

    http://www.solocases.com/item.aspx?id=1346 (took this one)

    Without the laptop, it fits perfectly and it has 2 large seperate pockets that could hold lenses
    it can carry more lenses, but smaller ones, like primes...
    and It could mayybe work with a thin laptop
    I would throw a towel first to make the bottom a bit more protected since i'm freak And clumsy...

    Not as fashionable as *emera's, more practicle then my shootsac - (I need a place to fit the body ) but in more"reasonable" range of price...

  • Ann Mc February 18, 2010 02:32 am

    As I have aged (74 now) and knees are artificial, I shout "hurray" for digital (no film to have to pack). My camera bag (s) have evolved over 40 years to a "reader's" tote bag that has several deep outside pockets where I can put an extra lens, "girlie things" like lipstick, kleenex, etc. The inside is roomy with a little zipper pocket that can house credit card case, loose currency, necessary ID. I can creat small compartments for the camera and one more lens with some velcro additions. I use a Nikon D300 with an 18 - 200 f/4 lens and take the 12 - 24 wrapped in soft foam. The two straps are long enough that I can use it as a shoulder bag that I hug. When out and about, the camera strap is usually around my neck at the ready.
    Good article.

  • Rachel February 18, 2010 02:15 am

    hey ladies. check out kelly moore bags. they look like really nice purses but are totally versatile.

  • gothalo February 17, 2010 09:35 pm

    What about men? why can we have some kind of bag that doesn't cries "hey, i have lot of phot gear inside'. Last holidays I use my shoulder bag and put inside a holster to protect my camera and one lens bag with a replacement lens. I have space enough to add some useful items when you travel, like a small bottle of water, sunglasses, one book, ...

  • Carolyn February 15, 2010 04:57 pm

    I have a lowepro that's hardly used simply because it's so blah and screams "camera inside". I prefer my BuiltNY lunch tote, it's light, the neoprene cushions the D90 and gives me quick access to it. I've carried many bags before including a crumplers but none fits me as much as this http://www.builtny.com/lunch-bags-totes/relish-lunch-tote.html The colours are funky but it screams style instead or camera gear inside.

  • sylvan February 14, 2010 11:03 am

    well, funny you should ask...I was at Goodwill the other day trying to improvise a travelin' bag for the camera and stuff.....got a cute "lunch bag"... that's lined to be water proof keep things cool etc. and a little padded...it has cute there are pockets, too. I also figured no one would ever know what was really in it...cost: $1.50...it was half price that day.
    Then I got a flat padded thing for the laptop and it is also light weight....don't always have to carry both and it has other "compartments for cords and batteries and manuals and whatnot...cost $3.45..I was tickled.

  • Tracy Lynn Deis February 13, 2010 09:30 am

    I also own (and love) the Kata KT DR-467 Digital Rucksack (Black). I think it is awesome as well. I also use wraps in my handbag.


  • Kathy Winter February 13, 2010 07:06 am

    What a timely post!

    I, too, am creating my own bag. Last week, I bought a BCBG messenger bag on sale for $40 (reg. $128) and I've ordered the Tenba messenger bag insert ($19.95) from B&H. The insert should come in on Tuesday. From the measurements online of the bag and insert, it should be a great fit.

    There are extra zippered compartments inside and outside the bag, for small accessories and personal items, and I plan on reinforcing the magnetic closures by adding one in the middle of the flap, for a bit more safety.

    bag: http://tinyurl.com/yfqwcpa

    I love the ephiphanie bags and jill-e, but I just don't have the funds for that kind of splurge right now.

  • soumya February 13, 2010 05:13 am

    I have one of these for protecting my camera - http://products.lowepro.com/product/Adventura-120,2159,20.htm and then i just stuff this big bag into my coach bag when i m going someplace nice :)
    If not, i have a bag from old navy that fits this camera bag. This is only until I upgrade to a better lens though because then, i ll have to get a bigger camera bag and this wont work.

  • SUSAN February 13, 2010 05:11 am

    A word of caution from my own experience. I used to carry a large canvas Land's End briefcase for work which I regularly stuffed with work and personal "stuff". Because all the weight was on one shoulder, I developed tendonitis of my right hip - very painful. After physical therapy, I switched to a wheeled backpack. Not chic, but definitely not so hurtful. I now know to keep the weight evenly distributed, (ie backpack or wheelie) or a light weight purse or camera bag that can be carried across my chest.

  • Carol H. February 13, 2010 01:45 am

    I was also wondering how to carry my new DSLR in one of my own bags. My current bags are not equipped to carry any cameras at all! By checking some of the websites the commenters offered, I found out I like the Kelly Moore bag the most!
    By the way, @kellymooreclark is giving away a bag! Go enter to win! http://kellymoorebagblog.com

    Thanks for the article, I guess I wasn't the only worrying about how to carry my camera in a stylish way!!!

  • Lee February 13, 2010 01:16 am

    hmmm I have a lowepro sling200W and so far has suited my travel needs...room for camera body and both lenses and misc accessories, but very little for much else so I sill need to carry something for my personal items....besides, I want to start toting my camera more day-to-day and it is not practical...plus no room for the netbook I want...looking at the kelly bags as suggestged above...not cheap but looks like the perfect solution...@kellymooreclark is giving away a bag! Go enter to win! http://kellymoorebagblog.com/
    I may have to go the DIY route and save up for something later

  • pam February 13, 2010 12:09 am

    I have to have two bags...one for just carrying my camera with me every day including girly things. It also had to have a shoulder strap. Kinda rare when you're looking for one with a shoulder strap. I finally found one I liked at Walmart on Clearance for $5. Then, like you did here in this article. I have a bag in similar fashion to suit my needs to carry a laptop along with one extra lens and girly things. I've seen all those beautiful but overpriced bags but until I make the mega bucks those photographers who are pushing those bags, I'll just continue making my own.
    Let's be honest girls....we change our minds too frequently to purchase a big expensive bag. Better to build your own bag.

  • Robin February 13, 2010 12:06 am

    Oh this took me forever and in the end I am not sure I found exactly what I wanted but I hope I came close, the bag should arrive any day. I just hope this bag has enough room for my daily essentials along with my camera equipment.


  • haroldK February 12, 2010 10:48 pm

    Wow so many responses for woman's camera bag.
    As a male, I have different needs and have settled on a "fanny bag" design. I wanted quick access to my DSL Digital and its 17-200mm zoom lens while traveling or on a photo shoot. There are many bags and sizes available (see luggage stores, travel shops, even AAA and discount stores). I was afraid to order online because I had to be sure my rig would fit as well as small extras. I am very happy with Swiss Gear, the folks who make the Genuine Swiss Army Knife.

    Bag can be seen here: http://www.swissknivesexpress.com/luwapavi35.html

  • Christine February 12, 2010 10:39 pm

    I LOVE my Lowepro Flipside 200! http://products.lowepro.com/product/Flipside-200,2082,14.htm It's slimmer than a regular backpack, has a zipped compartment for my "stuff", a pocket for my water bottle and an outside slot for my tripod or monopod. I use it for day hikes and such and keep it with me. I also have a larger purse that I can take my camera, 50 mm lens, lens pen and extra battery in...also wrapped in a scarf :)

  • Erica February 12, 2010 09:25 pm

    What a great bag!

    I carry my gear in a Crumpler backpack. It's the best way for me so I won't get any backpain. My backpack's red, watertight en got enough room for my stuff. I really love it!

  • Hege Karoliussen February 12, 2010 08:09 pm

    Thanks Lisa for writing this!

    I was looking for a nice looking, functional camerabag for ages, with no luck, and it was driving me to drink! There are camerabags a-plenty out there, but a nice looking one and functional one (for a woman) was impossible to find. I also considered crafting my own bag, but as you I was unsure of the padding, and how to best protect my camera.

    Then I got an email from photojojo.com that they have had the exact same problem, and had made a bag that would cover all the needs I had. I ordered one, and I am so happy with it. It is pretty, it is spacious, it is sturdy and I can have all my ‘woman-stuff’ in it. There is definitely room for improvement; I would have liked a little key chain to hang my keys on, so they could be found more easily, and I would have liked a ‘sleeve’ pocket next to the small pockets on the inside, for papers or a book. And, depending on your profession, it might not be a bag to bring to a business meeting (I would, because it fits perfectly to my personality and profession).

    So all in all, I am very happy with my new camerabag, and it is definitely a good option to consider in the quest for a ‘woman’ camerabag.

  • Sonia February 12, 2010 05:23 pm

    I tend to throw my camera in whatever bag I happen to grab that day! Not the best thing to do I know. I have however been coveting one of the Joy bags for a few years now....http://thejoybag.com/

  • Nicole February 12, 2010 04:12 pm

    You know it was interesting reading this because just a month or so I was in search of a bag - but with almost the exact opposite criteria.

    I wanted a camera bag that would fit next to nothing - just my SLR, my wallet, possibly an extra lens and a water bootle. The idea here being that when I go out to shoot photos I often end up walking all day and when I take a larger bag - it ends up being filled with things I don't need and I come home with a huge pain in my shoulders.

    So for me - the perfect bag was a kipling backpack that I found at the Korean airport during a layover of 6 hours. It took me 6 hours to convince myself that paying 70 bucks for a tiny backpack that fit all my criteria would be worth it in the end - and I am happy to say that it was worth it! i used the bag all through travels around New Zealand and Australia - and it was a life saver. It didn't look like a camera bag, which made me feel safer - but it was easy to access my camera whenever I needed it!

    I guess each woman has their own definition of a perfect woman's camera bag huh? ;D

  • Hobbo February 12, 2010 01:45 pm

    Perhaps the title of this atricle should be "A Quest for the Woman's Perfect Camera bag"

  • sunnimoreno February 12, 2010 12:23 pm

    does anyone know of a small camera bag that carries like an under arm gun holster? I want my hands free without something swinging at my hip while I ride a crowded bus/train. Thanks

  • Dany February 12, 2010 12:00 pm

    Fr me it's not the style that is the problem, it's that the straps aren't designed for women! I have a Crumpler Whicky and Cox which hurts my back if I wear it for too long, but is awesome when I travel as I can take everything with me. I have a Crumpler Four Million Dollar Home, but I've stopped using it as it barely closes over the 40D with the battery grip on it, and as others have mentioned there's not room for your wallet/keys/cellphone.
    My other bag is a Lowepro Slingshot - here I thought I'd found the right bag finally! The Slingshot is handy, but the strap doesn't sit in the right place beacuse of my boobs.
    Someone needs to design bags that sit well over women's curves!

  • Debbie February 12, 2010 10:44 am

    I have two bags that I use for my camera. My everyday bag is Melania by J'Tote https://www.jtotebags.com/melania-p/br101.htm (this is actually a laptop bag with padding for same). My second bag is the Jill-e Medium red bag. Designers should definitely bring us additional options! We want to carry our laptops, cameras and look stylish doing so!

  • K. February 12, 2010 10:40 am

    Thanks for this article. I've found some possibilities thanks to this comments section.

    I was excited about the epiphanie bags but the kelly moore ones look good too.

    Plus, @kellymooreclark is giving away a bag! Go enter to win! http://kellymoorebagblog.com/

    So... that's enticing.

  • baudman February 12, 2010 09:42 am

    I'm a BIG fan of the 'Million Dollar' series from Crumpler. For a similar reason - they don't look like a camera bag.

    My partner (female) likes it too.

  • Debbie February 12, 2010 09:21 am

    I'm only 5'2" and use a Tamrac Expedition 3 for my camera, 2 zooms and a 50mm plus extra battery, cords, cards and such. It even has a tripod loop on the outside. It's a small backpack that is weather resistant, wellpadded and not that heavy. My flash doesn't really fit if I take all 3 lens with me and no room for a small laptop, but the Expedition 5 is just a tad bit bigger and will hold everything, including a small laptop. However, neither are very "girlie". After reading all these great suggestions, I think I may play doctor and fix up one of my Coach tote bags. Thanks for all the suggestions!

  • Keefe February 12, 2010 09:15 am

    I settled for a Crumpler in the end. A camera bag that doesn't look like one. Then again, everyone knows it's a camera bag. The fact that it is a Crumpler is attention-seeking enough. Nonetheless, it has compartments and all that a camera bag should have. So I no longer carry the cases that came with my lenses and flash. Saved some weight here, I can carry a extra lens. Something that is a good-to-have but not sure if I would need it.

  • April February 12, 2010 09:09 am

    I wonder what is wrong with camera equipment manufacturers that no one seems to realize there is a large segment of today's professional photographers who are women. I use a standard Nikon bag for my D60 and two lenses. It has an outside zippered pocket that is big enough to hold a pen, small notebook, and my billfold or checkbook...not both...with end pockets where I store my tripod shoes. There is a net type zippered section on the inside of the lid that holds spare batteries and memory cards. It is sufficient for the bare necessities, but not for everything I'd must have with me. Cell phone has to go into my jacket or pants pocket. My hairbrush and make up is in a small cosmetics travel bag that I stow in the glove box of my car.

    A larger camera bag would be too bulky for most purposes. I have several laptop bags, but they are not deep enough for the camera. In actuality, my big complaint isn't the storage space though, it's the fact that most camera bags are clunky and masculine looking. The only alternative that the manufacturers seem to come up with are bright colors and patterns. More like something a tween would carry to school than something I want to take into a business meeting.

    I need something sophisticated and professional looking with feminine style. It doesn't seem like to much to ask after I spent nearly $1,000 for the camera. You'd think someone would like to invest in what seems to me to be a potentially lucrative market.

  • Amanda February 12, 2010 08:55 am

    This is clearly a timely topic. I got a new camera for Christmas and did much searching for a feminine camera bag for a hobbiest - this is what I ended up with, and I really like it:


    Janine King also makes matchins laptop totes, bags and sleeves. I found her bags on ebay and etsy, priced better on etsy.

  • Lynn Tait February 12, 2010 08:43 am

    Sorry, still doesn't cut it for me. I'm always on the look out for a bag that I can use whilst taking pics on the back of a motorcycle - I have one now I bought at a 2nd hand store but it is getting mighty ragged. I only use a couple of lens while on the move - needs to be soft and collapsable long enough shoulder strap so it fits over the helmet and just large enough so I can change lens inside it while the bike is in motion. The bags mentioned above are great for travel but too bulky for in the field or street/urban photography.

  • Karem February 12, 2010 08:28 am

    Im so glad this is a TOPIC - i thought i was a bit nuts by wanting a "Woman" camera bag. As mentioned above - http://kellymoorebagblog.com/ has a GREAT bag!


  • 9ine February 12, 2010 08:17 am

    I have just been using a simple tote purse. I was able to find one rather easily that was big enough to carry my daily items as well as my camera and accessories. However I will have to be searching for another bag to use since the camera that I will be upgrading to soon will more then likely not fit as easily as my smaller Canon.

  • Julie February 12, 2010 08:03 am

    I was reading your remarks and contemplating what I will do for my bag. I am the proud new owner of a Canon Rebel XTI 400D and I plan to start doing amature photography asap. I have been in love with photography since I was very young and i have always seen things as if looking through a view finder so now I will actuall have beautiful images I can keep and share with the world. I am not just into photography though, I am also a painter, I draw and do interior design of sorts, I love anything that gives me creative license....an outlet. As I was saying I was pondering my bag situation and after reading the previous responses I am rethinking the hard case that came with my bag. I like that it is very protective but it is very bulky, restrictive and does send up a red flag for a good steal. I looked at most of the bags mentioned and I came up with some I like but none that scream "me". So my thoughs were turned to what makes a perfect bag and then I realized that as we women (and maybe men) do I don't always like the same kind of bag. In fact I am not especially fond of purses . Any how I thought why not create a drop in liner that can be put into any bag/purse. Fun right.?! The liner in my hard case consists of one long divider that has two short dividers that can attach to it anywhere you wish. If I buy some foamand some flannel and velcrow were in business. You can have as many compartments as you want and where ever you want...and.....you can remove it and pu it into any bag you like.

  • Pam February 12, 2010 07:26 am

    For daily carry; I started with and am still using a tapestry tote 6" widex12" longx12" high.. Made an insert with closed cell,quilt fabric and velcro. Which allows me to carry my Nikon D80 and up to my 70-300mm and my wallet on the inside. I can wrap a second lens and carry it on top of the camera.Two zipper pockets accross the long side, a cellphone pocket and a little meshpocket on one end handles everything else.
    I preordered an Epiphanie bag back in December and it is supposed to be here in the next week.
    For hikes I transfer things to a daypack from the luggage dept. at Wal-mart.It doesn't even have a brand name on it. Nice size not so big as a backpack but still lots of room for equipment and a couple bottles of watr and lunch.

  • Cindy February 12, 2010 06:52 am

    The 7 million dollar crumpler bag is perfect for me. I carry a minimum amount of personal stuff (credit card, a little cash, keys, etc.) and just a few pieces of camera equipment. The rest I leave in the car in another photo bag (lowepro) or other secure location that I can reach should I decide I want to switch out some of the gear. Expecting to carry all that was listed in the article above is rather unrealistic.

  • Deborah February 12, 2010 06:29 am

    For running errands around town I carry my D90 with the 17-35mm or 85mm loaded in the Crumpler 6 million Dollar Home. I also put in the bag a spare batter, memory cards, sometimes the 70-300mm, my cell phone, lipstick, wallet, keys, wireless remote, reading glasses, small notepad, and pen. I have in black. It's not cute, but does not scream Camera bag!

    For day trips out shooting I use the Lowepro Flipside 300, and long haul hikes I use the Lowepro Computrekker which is heavy and bulky, but does the job of getting all my gear on shoots.
    I do prefer the tripod strap on the Lowepro Flipside 300 though. All that stretchy string is a bit of a pain on the Computrekker.

    I have often thought about using a luggage tote as my camera bag for about town errands. I'll have to give it a try with some of these inserts.
    Thanks for the information on the Domke wraps.

  • Romina February 12, 2010 05:55 am

    i agree, the kelly moore bag is the one to get. although if i would just go out to shoot without having to bring all my woman stuff i would go with the shootsac.

  • Juline February 12, 2010 05:44 am

    I use a custom bag from Wicked Stitch Designs -- http://www.wickedstitchdesigns.com/ . Great bag, and you can choose from hundreds (maybe thousands) of fabrics.

  • Nora February 12, 2010 05:40 am

    I too, struggle with finding a stylish bag for my everyday camera carrying. I ended up taking a laptop computer tote (this one from Your Laptop Stop - http://bit.ly/aO5NNs) and just use it as my everyday tote. To protect my camera from getting scratched by other things in the tote, I bought a neoprene lunch bag from Target (like this one -- http://bit.ly/blAGUJ -- but in black), which was less than $10. My camera fits nicely in it and I just drop it into my large tote. It keeps it from getting scratched by keys and such, while it is in the bag. The middle section of the bag is padded (since it is where the computer would normally go) so it offers some additional protection to my camera, as well.

  • JoLyn February 12, 2010 05:36 am

    This is the one I'm looking at -- coming out soon. http://www.epiphaniebags.com/

    I totally agree with you -- it's got to be one bag for everything. And sometimes everything means a lot!

  • Domy February 12, 2010 05:27 am

    In the city I use a SwissGear Diane bag that I got at Best Buy. It looks like a regular black purse, kind of cute. Inside it is padded and has 4 adjustable comparts. On the back it has a small zipped pocket. I can fit in my Nikon D90 mounted with the 10-200mm lens -facing down, see link. I just wish it had a long strap to keep over the shoulder when you open the bag. The 2 handles are long and you can wear them over the shoulder, but they are not practical when you have to take the camera out. A long strap would make this camera bag perfect. For outdoor trips I use a Lowepro Fastpack 250 backpack

    You can see the Diane bag at:

    And here is how it looks inside:

  • Denise Jones February 12, 2010 05:21 am

    I went through the same ordeal with bags. I tried a Shootsac but it didn't work for me. I tried a couple other bags designed for women but they didn't hold my laptop. I finally bought a Lowepro backpack to carry all the digital gear and my laptop. Great travel bag and easy to open in airport security areas. It has space to carry a lunch/snacks/ personal items/wallet/water plus 1-2 bodies, lenses, flash, etc. and all those crazy wires we need (Mine fit into a small Dell travel cord pack). Nice bag and comfortable to carry. Great padding and flexible camera space - holds my Nikon D300 with a mounted 300mm lense no problem! BUT, like you I wanted something that loks professional when I went to locations that required a nicer look. So I found 2 women's purses that did the trick. One is a quilted, padded fabric purse with lots of internal compartments. I use my lense pouches to hold extra lenses and my camera can fit with a 18-55mm mounted. I can change lenses and filters quickly by pulling them from their pouches. I can't throw it around like my backpack and no laptop room. My other bag is a big leather thing ... holds the world and weighs a few tons. I rarely keep my laptop in it for long. In fact when I need a laptop on location I now just load my backpack and throw a smaller bag in there for the actual shoot. I like the open reach in method of the larger bag with the compartments much better than the pricey Shootsac with overly tight neoprene sleeves. I have decided the photographer that designed Shootsac has tiny hands so she has no problem with her lenses. Very smart and very talented lady but I like to know my lenses aren't going to fall out of the unflapped top of the neoprene bag (which looks ugly without the pretty interchangable flaps.) I wish someone would design a realy functional bag that looks awesome, is priced reasonably, and has a detachable laptop pocket.

  • Mary Anne February 12, 2010 05:05 am

    My husband bought me a Tamrac Adventure 7 backback for my birthday back in the fall. I like it, it has all the space I need, it doesn't scream "camera bag!" I don't "LOVE" it though. I think I need multiple bags for multiple purposes, but, of course, find it hard to justify the cost of a lot that I like, especially as "extra" bags.
    I may try the Jill-e "carry all," which seems like it might be a good everyday camera bag and isn't too expensive.....

  • Laine February 12, 2010 04:57 am

    I bought the Jill-e Small Camera Bag in red leather, for $169. I have loaded it with two camera bodies, three lenses, and one flash, plus personal stuff. It has a padded leather strap long enough to sling across the body, making it easy and comfortable to carry. I can't imagine a more accessible bag; right where it sits on my side, I can unzip it and there for the plucking is all my equipment. I have my eye on the Large Rolling Bag, which will have room for my laptop as well, for $300. These bags look like fine luggage, come in great colors, and most importantly, function easily, comfortably, and safely. I couldn't ask for more.

  • Mary February 12, 2010 04:56 am

    I love the Crumpler bags. There's a lot of variety in size and definitely can do double duty as a camera bag and purse.

  • karina February 12, 2010 04:52 am

    great idea. :) i actually bought a giant purse a couple years ago (I call it my mary poppins bag) & discovered that it's the perfect camera bag. I just lined the bottom of it with a hand towel, to protect my camera & toss it in there with my keys and wallet. :)

    my only issue is when i want to bring all of my lenses and flash with me. then my purse isn't big enough, so i bring a real camera bag along too.

  • Linda Allen February 12, 2010 04:41 am

    Yes! A girl after my own heart. I too struggled with the perfect way to carry my camera and everything else required of a woman. I found myself just carrying a big designer bag and putting it all in there. It worked well. However, protecting the camera was a challenge, so I would wrap a handtowel around it. The Domke Protective Wrap is much more professional and will stay in place! Thanks for the tip and I shall get one ASAP!

  • Steff February 12, 2010 04:40 am

    Ohh looks like this is what we all want (as women)...

    @kellymooreclark is giving away a bag! Go enter to win! http://kellymoorebagblog.com/

  • Jenna February 12, 2010 04:29 am

    I bought my first (and only) camera bag from http://www.wickedstitchdesigns.com. They are cute and practical. I even got to pick out the fabric I wanted on the bag. But it is just too small for me now and I want something that looks more like a purse than a camera bag. You all have given such awesome recommendations. I am excited to go shopping! :)

  • Clementine February 12, 2010 04:09 am

    Mmmm... Post-shopping an item is never a good idea...

    I just bought a ShootSac.. and now that i read this.. i'm sad a bit..
    I realise Shootsac is good as long as you have your camera body in your hand,
    It is not handy if you travel, if you have two camera bodies, if you take a break..
    I will have to bring another bad looking bag to complete it.. i was ok with this but now that i see those nice purple *Emera bags for almost the same price.. argh!

    Meanwhile, i'll make my own "Domke" and use my purses and bags for heavier shooting/ to complete the shootsac

    ....And by the way it just me or theese Domke seems thin on the amazon pictures ?

  • malinda February 12, 2010 03:52 am

    the bag i love is the shootsac....it has interchangable flaps to mix and match your outfits. i'm still waiting to get one i currently use a large purse but i cant sling it over my shoulder. check it out...i love it because it's not a backpac...that is what we also have now and i find it uncomfortable.

  • Lori February 12, 2010 03:48 am

    My daughter & I both shoot and it has definitely been a challenge. Saw an article in the past about inventive and economical ways to carry your gear by thinking outside the box.( Or bag in this case!) One idea was to look at insulated bags such as lunch bags, insulated coolers and diaper bags. I know it sounds corny but I found an Eddie Bauer gray and blue diaper bag for $11 on clearance at Target that has worked great for over a year now! I can pack the camera body, 3 lenses, 2 flashes, battery charger, extra batteries, comb, lipstick, gum, etc. and no one wants to steal a diaper bag! I also bought a small, rolling carry-on piece of luggage for when I travel. Just drop the diaper bag in and off I go. I too dream of one of the stylish bags to carry my growing list of equipment in but just don't want to spend "several hundred dollars" on it. Maybe when the right one comes along...

  • Kelly February 12, 2010 03:40 am

    WOW! I'm not alone! I laughed out loud and read your title to my husband, who responded, "geez, I don't know anyone like that!" Sarcastically, of course. I couldn't BELIEVE how difficult a task this would be. Add on top of it, I have fibromyalgia, so to carry something too heavy is not a task I am able to do easily, for long. After many trips to Best Buy, Micro Center, Target, TJMaxx, and other discount stores - I realized this wasn't going to happen. Most importantly, to start, I needed a sleeve to protect my new 17" laptop. Sheesh, you'd think I was asking to see the president. Onto ebags. I wanted something stylish with a strap long enough to put over my shoulder (criss cross across my body, if wanted). I ended up with a messenger bag, not so stylish, but it would do. It will hold my laptop, female stuff, and important parts of my camera. I'm not ecstatic about it - but it will get the job done while I continue my search.

    Thank you for writing this article. If I had the brains I would come up with an idea for such a concept (hint, hint, wink, wink ebags;)!

  • Betsy February 12, 2010 03:31 am

    I liked the looks of these bags. I just haven't had the time to order one.


  • Lisa February 12, 2010 03:31 am

    I use a Lowepro Computrekker AW backpack which has served me pretty well since September.
    - it holds the majority of my stuff
    - it has LOTS of room for extras in the front pocket (I keep cords, chargers, manuals, wallet, keys, etc in it)
    - it has a laptop pocket (one of the main reasons i picked this model) and can squeeze in my tablet if need be
    - it has a very good and secure tripod holder
    - it lays out everything very organized, and the top compartment allows for really easy access to your camera
    - comes with a rain cover
    - very padded and comfy to walk around with
    - It's bigger than my body, which makes for some awkward maneuvering situations
    - it's too big to carry around day to day, however it was the only one that holds all of my digital cameras and accessories, so i use it more as a place to keep everything, and an easy way to transport it all since i do travel a lot.

    If I'm going to be using just one camera and one or two accessories (lenses or flash) I stick it in a purse with extra padding.

  • Dees February 12, 2010 03:26 am

    Well, I purchased a Flipside 200 from Löwepro last year. Not very fashionable, but very practical for my camera and tools and my regularly backproblems. I searched a long time for a bag that fits my back. To many bags are too big (width and length) and made for male use, I guess.
    I like that the bag is neutral and not very obvious a camarabag, but I would like to have some more choice in color and finishing.
    Designers could also pay more attention to a female fit (smaller sholder, broader hips and the belts not crushing our boobs!). Maybe they can consult our own Marlies Dekkers for a better female fit and fancy straps! (yes, I'm from Holland).

  • rita February 12, 2010 03:02 am

    I was also looking for a bag that didn't scream "camera inside". I found jototes.com. I bought a red bag that has 6 removable velcro pads that you can arrange to your needs. It also has a zipper in the inside of the bag. The bag comes with shoulder straps and a removable body strap. I love my jo tote and it fits my D80 with lens, an extra lens, flash, plus my wallet and other personal stuff. Very reasonably priced!

  • photokunstler February 12, 2010 03:00 am

    It is frustrating.
    The Crumpler 6 Mil is big and bulky and the strap is not comfortable, but great for storage at home.
    The Shootsac is okay, as long as you don't want to take a lot with you, and it can swing and bang into things.
    I love Think Tank, but still a camera bag, great strap and padding, but most of all I adore their Airport roller - phenomenally light and you'd never know you had every piece of camera equipment in it that you own, plus a MacBook Pro.

    And that's what I want in a woman's camera bag/purse. I don't want to feel it. It doesn't have to carry the MBP, but the 5DMkII and a few lenses and doo dads and all. I'd use it for less important travel where I didn't need the entire collection.

    It has been fun looking at the bags that really do look like purses - epiphanie and jill-e and all.

    A great thread! Thanks Lisa, and everyone who made suggestions!

  • Caroline Sullivan February 12, 2010 02:56 am

    To solve this myself without spending an arm and a leg for the 'ladies' bags that are currently out there (I love them but simply can't afford them), I went to TJ Maxx and purchased a large, aqua colored handbag. I figured it would be less attractive to steal if it was brightly colored! I went online and bought the Domke insert (replacement insert) for around $40, it fits the camera, extra lens and my flash with accessories perfect, and had room for my netbook and wallet and keys. It was the perfect weight for carrying around Nashville when I went for Imaging USA this year, no shoulder issues at all carrying it all day!

  • Lana February 12, 2010 02:55 am

    I've been looking for a "pretty" camera bag for quite some time. Thought I'd like the Jill-e bags, but recently found a more economical line at Jo Totes http://www.jototes.com

  • Carrie February 12, 2010 02:39 am

    I LOVE my jill-e bag that I got for Christmas last year. I have the medium-sized bag (http://www.jill-e.com/) which is currently carrying my 40D, a wide angle lens, a medium range 24-70 lens, a fisheye, room for another lens, and two flashes. There are a few pouches to hold filters. In the older, "last year" model bag, it has a mesh area to hold CF cards, batteries, chargers, etc. You can move the dividers around and fit a large 70-200 in, instead of 2 other smaller lenses.

    I would recommend this bag to anyone!

  • Laura ryan February 12, 2010 02:39 am

    I am still waiting on my epiphaniebag ..
    I also use a shootsac religiously when I shoot weddings

  • katharine February 12, 2010 02:38 am

    You MUST check out the Kelly Moore bag, (they are shipping now) and after 6 months of intensive searching for just what you describe, I've found my bag! It fits my D700, 70-200, 1/2/or 3 other lenses depending on whether you're taking a flash and if one of those lenses is your 50mm. QUALITY construction, FASHIONABLE!!, slim profile, does NOT look like a camera bag, has snap closure over the equipment, 5 exterior pockets so I don't need to put personal items in with the equipment, and my phone fits perfectly in the slim side pocket. As a woman - carrying $5-7k worth of stuff on your arm can make you feel pretty vulnerable, you do not need to be advertising what's in the bag with a known camera bag logo. The only downside is that the snap closure would allow rain in..... but then, realistically how often am I running around in the rain without an umbrella (you've got your hair to worry about right? the joys of being a fashionable woman ;)

  • Claire February 12, 2010 02:35 am

    As a female landscape photographer, I just use a backpack that looks like a bag you would use for college work. I protect my lenses with hiking/ski socks and pad out my cameras with a waterproof jacket. I also take a hardbacked book as a support for my back and slip it in the back of my bag - it stops the cameras digging in and is also useful whilst waiting for the sun to shine!

  • Jennifer B February 12, 2010 02:35 am

    This bag fits mostly everything in it, except for my laptop. I put my absolute necessities in it and then carry a separate bag for my laptop. I am getting a rolling laptop case, so I will be able to carry my books and laptop at school, and have my camera in the shoulder bag (and it's so darn cute!) :)

  • Rachel February 12, 2010 02:35 am

    i do the exact same thing. i've transformed a large purse into my "all in one" bag. i've been looking for a protective wrap or cover, and i think the domke protective wrap will be great! thanks for the idea.

  • Debbie L February 12, 2010 02:34 am

    I went with the Jill-e bag.

    [eimg url='http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B002KQ5JLW/sr=8-3/qid=1265905920/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=172282&s=electronics&qid=1265905920&sr=8-3' title='ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=172282&s=electronics&qid=1265905920&sr=8-3']

    Quasi professional for business meetings, large enough for my 'purse stuff', and doesn't look like a camera bag.

  • Steff February 12, 2010 02:32 am

    I purchased a custom made camera bag from Etsy. before I found the http://www.epiphaniebags.com.
    The etsy bag is nice and was ordered to specifications but its canvas and has softened up quite a bit since I started carrying it. So I am carrying two bags, a purse and the etsy bag. Its getting old, I upgraded my camera and its much heavier than the previous body and I don't feel like its safe in my bag anymore. I love the idea of the shootsac, Obviously it isn't intended for use as a camera bag but its priced like one....would love to find something that fits all the needs. Stores, carries, can still be worn while shooting...

  • Polly February 12, 2010 02:30 am

    I'm enamored with these stylish SLR Sloop bags from Photojojo, the colors are so fun!


  • Trudy February 12, 2010 01:50 am

    I'm female and I love purses but I dunno, I've never really needed my camera bag to be fashionable. I need it to be functional so I have a Lowepro 200 sling. I love it. It's quite masculine yes, but I need to be able to travel with it, especially internationally, and I cannot imagine having a fashionable shoulder bag with me while trekking The Great Wall of China. I can see how having a trendy bag might work well when meeting with some clients, depending on who the clients are. For me I'd hope that how my camera is carried would be an issue as long as I was well groomed and professional. Hmm.

    Also, having a past back and shoulder injuries make a shoulder back not an option at all for me. Even when carrying a regular purse I keep it fairly light.

  • Hayden February 12, 2010 12:32 am

    I bought the "Canon Deluxe Photo Backpack" from Amazon. Not very chic, but it had to be practical for my needs.
    I am a wedding cake designer and needed a sturdy bag to haul my assembly kit for the cakes (12in spatula, container of frosting, decorating bags, tips, floral cutters, etc.), the camera, a flash, paperwork, etc. This bag can pack it all in and leave my hands free to carry cakes. I had a smaller bag that carried only the camera, which required me to carry an additional bag to hold all the cake equipment and I had to make additional trips to carry cake. This bag holds it all and has substantial padding. I don't have to worry much about things being crushed inside it.

  • sil February 12, 2010 12:31 am

    Interesting article! I own a Lowepro Slingshot 100AW and a 3N1-20 Sling Backpack with tripod holder. I Iove them both!
    I must say I'm now drooling over the epiphanie and kellymoore bags! Did not know about them. It's a pity I can't find them here in Italy... :(

  • Mei Teng February 11, 2010 05:57 pm

    For me, it has to be either a backpack or sling type camera bag. Functionality and practicality first.

  • Sachi February 11, 2010 04:03 pm

    OMG u won't believe how glad I am u wrote this post !!!!! :D ( look how many screamers I used to stress my point :D ) . My perfect bag had the same criteria and as it happens, I never found anything I liked no matter where I looked. I'd given up my search for the perfect bag and was contemplating making it on my own ( ok who am i kidding, i was going to get my sister to sew me one ) when my friend found this article ! ah, I'm so happy !!! :D thank u. I'm inspired !!!

  • Erin February 11, 2010 03:43 pm

    I have had never ending frustration with finding a chic and stylish bag for my camera that I can carry and still look put together. Seriously, I don't want to be wearing a sun dress and carrying a lowepro backpack.

    I am a sucker for a beautiful bag on sale and I had found the Large Maggie Coach bag for 65% off at Dillards. The bag is 15x13x4 and has 1 big zip pocket in the middle and two smaller pockets to the side. I threw a bottom board from another purse and was able to carry my 13" macbook in a sleeve in the big center pocket. But I really wanted to be able to carry this beautiful bag on vacation and around town and have my dslr and other lenses with me.

    Then I found Camera Inserts - I love my domke inserts. They have one that can fit your dslr and 2 lenses and others that can fit 1, 2, 3, or 4. Lots of choices. No padding on the bottom - so you have to get one of their padded bottom boards. Check them out at BHphotovideo.com. I am able to fit all my girlie stuff in the side pockets and if I empty out one of the side pockets I can even fit my laptop.

  • Sally W February 11, 2010 02:26 pm

    Taking pictures for a local animal rescue group I can find myself in one day taking pictures at a rummage sale in the morning followed by taking pictures at a adoption event at noon followed by a black tie charity event in the evening. And believe me, my army green tenba http://alturl.com/49r6 just doesn't work with black silk and heels. So on those occasions I carry a vera bradley messenger. http://alturl.com/c75r I have a couple of different colors depending on what I'm wearing. I wrap the extra lenses, flash and camera I carry in some tenba wraps http://alturl.com/5aif Sure wish Vera Bradley would come out with a line of camera bags.

  • Patty Reiser February 11, 2010 11:11 am

    I have been eye balling both the camera bags from Kelly Moore and the Jill-e.

  • Judy Lange February 11, 2010 10:09 am

    I added foam from my Pelican case to the inside of a LLBean Messenger bag. Fits my Canon 1DMark II with 70-200mm lens and extras. Outside pockets fit memory cards, batteries, etc.

  • kelly February 11, 2010 07:39 am

    I bought the jill-e bag for several hundred dollars (despite having two bags at home) because it best met my functional needs. Even the backpack bags and the tamron nylon bags don't give easy access to the camera. When you see a shot, you've got to drag the bag off your shoulder or back, find a spot to set it, find the zipper, (make sure you're not holding it by the strap or the contents will spill out when you open it! stupid design!), carefully open the zipper so that the protective flaps don't get caught in the zip, and THEN you can reach in, get your camera, and take your picture.

    The jill-e bag I bought has a one-handed zip that allows me two strokes to the camera, which is fabulous. Zip. Reach. Click.

    It has room in the inner bag for my 5D mkII, my 70-200mm lens, 550EX flash unit, a small umbrella, card reader and cords. Outside pockets can store battery charger & batteries, two mini hard drives, and a pocket left over for keys, tickets, passes, business cards & what-not. Plus it has a detachable pouch that I'm not using.

    What it DOESN'T have is a laptop compartment or a tripod strap. I think I can fashion something for my macbook AIR, if I can just find a piece of material that the velcro strips will stick to. As far as a tripod holder, well ... I'm outta luck.

    It does get REALLY heavy but that's only because of my equipment. It's cute as heck.


  • Sara February 11, 2010 05:21 am

    I'm a diversity girl...Or I have a personality disorder...
    But I have three bags for different scenarios.
    a. Touristy Travel...I have a TINY little bag from KMart - Route 66 Cross Body, that holds camera Canon Powershot A620, credit cards and id, phone, money, small pill box for inevitable headache, sunglasses. 9.99.
    b. I have 'most of the time bag' - (Target - Merona Exotic Work Bag) A purse type thing that will hold my lap top and it bulky accessories, with lots of handy pockets for camera, phone, wallet, keys, sketchbook and various pens, pencils, and markers, and more daily emergency possibilities. 29.99
    c. I have the roller bag...big enough to HAUL stuff. I bought this when my Mom was in the hospital for a month and I had to trek there daily. the walk from the car to her room had to be a quarter mile and I was carrying enough to entertain both of for 12 to 15 hours. $75.00 http://www.ebags.com/ebags/perspective_mobile_laptop_office_vertical/product_detail/index.cfm?modelid=88844

  • mmike February 11, 2010 04:57 am


    Saw this on flickr, and thought it would be a good bag for any woman. Thought I'd share.
    (I see some posts above about Emera as well. I second the reco. :) )
    I'm still in my never-ending quest for the perfect bag (for a dude).

  • Marie February 11, 2010 04:38 am

    I didn't want a bag that had a logo that was a recognized camera brand. Considering I'm just a hobbyist, I don't carry around too much gear.

    I figured a diaper bag would suit me. Its padded, has pockets for bottles/ lenses. Extra pockets for other things. But unless I wanted a bag with characters or polka dots emblazoned on the size, I'd have to spend a GRIP on one that looked "professional" rather than "motherly". (Not a bad idea though)

    I found the Vega from Chrome. Chrome is known for their "nearly indestructible" biking messenger bags. It is well constructed using very durable material, weather resistant, and no magnetic clasps (I didn't want the magnets wreaking havoc with the camera or CF cards.). I have the strap (made from seat belt material) adjusted so the bag sits on my hip. There are pockets for extra cards, filters, lens paper, and a pocket for my cell phone.

    The DIY part - I used a $2 yoga mat to make padding for the bottom and sides of the bag. I also used it to make padded lens holders. I have a notecard ring to hang my keys on the bag.

  • Marc j February 11, 2010 04:34 am

    Has anyone had experience with the domke wraps. Do you have to wrap them up every time. do you think i could just add some velcro onto a regular bag so that it would stay. that way i could just drop the camera in (similar to a dedicated camera bags). I really like domke bags but they are too expensive and i could get a bag that is just as stylish for way cheaper. (there is one from urban outfitters that i think will work).
    i carry around a dorky tamrac bag now and i hate it but it does protect my camera.

    The one thing i have realized is that there is no such thing as the perfect bag.

  • Marc j February 11, 2010 04:32 am

    Has anyone had experience with the domke wraps. Do you have to wrap them up every time. do you think i could just add some velcro onto a regular bag so that it would stay. that way i could just drop the camera in (similar to a dedicated camera bags). I really like domke bags but they are too expensive and i could get a bag that is just as stylish for way cheaper. (there is one from urban outfitters that i think will work).
    i carry around a dorky tamrac bag now and i hate it but it does protect my camera

  • Teresa February 11, 2010 04:10 am

    I've been on a similar quest. Still looking but happened upon this website http://www.epiphaniebags.com. The bags seem to be exactly what I've been looking for but aren't available until the end of the month. Might be worth checking out.

  • Tiffany February 11, 2010 04:04 am

    This is the camera bag you want! http://kellymoorebag.com/index.php
    It is the best camera bag I have seen for the looks and functions.

  • Sabrina Ko February 11, 2010 03:47 am

    I love my Emera bag. It's the best looking camera bag I've seen. It holds my Canon 40D with my walk around lens 24-70mm f/2.8 on it, a 70-200mm f/4 IS, 50mm f/1.4 and my 580 exII flash. I also drop in an extra camera battery with its wall charger, a gorillapod, extra AA batteries for the flash, cell phone, wallet, USB cable and wipes. The only downside is that it's pretty heavy on just one shoulder and the 2nd strap is always falling off.

    Oh, and when I travel, I've even put in my Macbook so I can take it on the plane (but then I have to put a lens in my suitcase). I think Emera bags is coming out with (or has come out with) a larger version that actually supports a laptop.

    I switched from the Crumpler 6 or 7 million dollar bag to this one. And although the Crumpler was more comfortable, I'm more likely to take the Emera bag out because it doesn't look like a camera bag.

  • Christina Newby February 11, 2010 03:33 am

    Thank you so much for posting this! I too have been looking for a "day" camera bag that dont look like a camera bag without much luck and came to the conclusion that I would need to craft my own! I had not come across these Domke liners and will be buying some to use in a cute,messenger style bay that I found on Etsy. I have a Jill-e and love it, but its still too big, and too nice, to use for travel or for when I go to NILMDTS sessions at a hospital. I think many woman want a bag that is multi-functional, but yet still looks fashionable!

  • Denise February 11, 2010 03:27 am

    I've got my eye on the camera bags by *Emera. Everyone I know who has one loves 'em.

  • Amandalynn Jones February 11, 2010 03:11 am

    I've got a LowePro Slingshot 200, which fits my 3 camera bodies, 4 lenses, external flash & collapsible soft box.. with plenty of room for my filters, flash cards, sync cords & hoods. Oh, and the front pocket holds make-up, wallet, tissues, keys, and mints. Tripod hooks onto the side, and I'm good to go.

    I've got my eye on a Crumpler for those shoots when I can do with less gear.

  • Sara February 11, 2010 03:05 am

    I bought a red Emera bag and absolutely LOVE it. No room for my laptop, but really, that would just make it too heavy anyway.

    I love that it doesnt look like a clunky camera bag!


  • fotodayz February 11, 2010 02:56 am

    Hairbrush? who needs a hairbrush - every camera bag has a lippy pocket and that's all you need! Needless to say I use the showercap to protect the camera!

    I do have a separate bag for my laptop as its a bit cumbersome on the hills, so are the stilettos..........

  • Anita February 11, 2010 02:53 am

    I use a Lowepro Slingshot 200AW when I go on a shoot or when my only purpose for the day/walk is photography.
    On a day-to-day basis I just carry minimal equipment (Canon Xti with a 50mm lens attached, spare memory card, battery and lens pen). I use a big purse, wrap my camera in a scarf, and put all accessories in a little make-up bag.

    This has been working reasonably well for me so far, but now I'm starting to get tired of it so I think I'll invest in a bigger backpack, complete with tripod strap, to replace the Slingshot (leaning towards Kata right now), and a bag from Epiphanie (www.epiphaniebags.com) as my everyday bag.

  • go15 February 11, 2010 02:51 am

    I really don't want that black camera bag....so I searched the internet, then I found someone selling a cute camera bag..it was the typical rectangular shaped bag **that my father describes...it looks like a lunch box bag...**....the cover of the bag, it's like blue jeans and it really doesn't look like a camera bag. It was just enough for my canon1000d....and the cables....if I go out, it has enough space to put on my purse, mp3, dsi, pressed power and lipstick....now, I have 2 more lenses, it won't fit in the bag anymore...**it can, if I put the 55-250mm on the side, 18-55mm on the camera, and sneak in the 50mm in between...** but I can't put the usual things that I need....so I'm on another hunt for another camera bag...XD

  • K. Praslowicz February 11, 2010 02:37 am

    I got a sweet leather briefcase with a shoulder strap that I purchased at a thrift for for $1.50. Can see it here.

    By stuffing camera equipment into it, I can can call it a camera bag instead of a man purse.

  • Lovelyn February 11, 2010 01:58 am

    My camera bag looks like a typical camera bag and I was just thinking that I need to get something more purse-like to carry around. I like to have my camera with me most of the time but carrying around that bag isn't always good. I like this idea. I'm going to have to get started putting together my own camera bag this weekend.

  • Caroline February 11, 2010 01:52 am

    I have a couple "career totes"-- giant, sturdy purses that are designed to hold a laptop as well as other things. I've found these to be a fashionable and comfortable way to carry around my camera. There's plenty of room for purse stuff (my wallet, blackberry, and keys are all I really need), and lots of space for the camera and lenses and so forth. As it is, there's not much shock absorption, so I have to be careful about slamming the bag into things, but that's usually not a problem. I could always pad it with towels or something it that's a concern. I do keep the components in separate pouches to avoid scratches.

    I bought my DSLR used from my friend's brother. He was so proud of the camera bag, which I think is the ugliest thing I have ever seen! But I do use it at home to store the camera and its accessories.

  • Bob February 11, 2010 01:51 am

    Carrying a ladies handbag makes me feel sexy.

  • Devra February 11, 2010 01:51 am

    Yeah, try doing a 365 of your baby as she grows into toddler-hood and trying to not only carry around a dslr and my every day gear but also the small assortment of things the child needs. Diaper bags fit one need but not the other, traditional camera bags have almost ZERO room for anything not camera-related, and totes leave everything jostling around together. I'd not seen the Domke Wrap so, as I begin my next project of making a tote-bag-for-everything from scratch, I'll get one of those for the camera. Thanks for the article!

  • Kory February 11, 2010 01:48 am

    Kelly Moore, a local photographer where I live, has just released her own line of women's camera bags that aim to meet the needs stated in the article. She is supposed to be designing a mens bag soon, and I'll be very interested in seeing that one.

    You can see the bag at

  • Vitaliy February 11, 2010 01:47 am

    @ christine
    agree! i didn't want a typical square, black, look-i-am-a-camera-guy bag. i found Crumpler bags pretty good in this department. they look more like messenger bags. i use a bag called "5 million dollar home". so far it served me very well.

  • jen February 11, 2010 01:44 am

    Same problems here. I switched to a medium jill.e bag last spring, but it's too big and bulky for everyday use. I just got a small jill.e and plan to carry camera and two lenses plus purse items. The medium jill.e I'll be using as my "gear bag" to hold everything else.

    I like your "build-your-own" solution, and I really like the fact that you can essentially pick your own bag to match your own personal style. However, I need to be able to have the camera ready at a second's notice, and having to wrap and unwrap it each time would be a nuisance.

  • Peter February 11, 2010 01:43 am

    Unlike men, there is no such thing as the perfect woman.

  • NelsonW February 11, 2010 01:40 am

    It seems to me that if you have a Lowe's bag that looks like a camera bag, it says "Pawnshop favorite inside!"

    I don't have a great answer to this, but I do know that It is very unlikely that I will ever buy a bag that looks like a bona fide camera bag for that reason.

  • OsmosisStudios February 11, 2010 01:40 am

    Zack: That's why you should have SEVERAL.
    I use Lowepro Exclusively.
    I use the CompuDayPack as my regular day-to-day bag for classes as it carries a camera+50mm, laptop and accoutrements and has room for other stuff like books.
    I use a Rezo180AW as a main camera bag. It's a shoulder bag that I wear messenger style that carries a D80+grip, 10-24, 18-70, 70-300, 50, SB-800 and all the hoods, caps, cards, etc. It can get a bit on the heavy side, but for general use its great
    I also have an EX160 that I use either as a film bag (for a FE+50mm and about a dozen rolls) on it's own or as a flash bag (if I need to carry more than 1 flash).

    I'm dead set on a CompuTrekker Plus AW, but they've been discontinued, are hard to find and are expensive as all hell. That's really the only downside, other wise it'd be my "carry everything" bag.
    I've also set my sights on a Field-And-Street setup, that consists of a belt with several pouches for each lens. It too can get expensive, but it's a bit more attainable and is totally customizable.

  • christine February 11, 2010 01:38 am

    I always use a DIY camera bag, much like you describe. I hate the look of most camera bags out there, and I want to carry my gear in something that doesn't scream, "there's a camera in here!" Since I have no shortage of bags/totes/purses in my closet, I can pick whatever size and color works best on any given day. I have a lens case for my 70-210mm, and a few bubble-wrap bags to slip my camera or other items into.

  • Eric February 11, 2010 01:36 am

    I have purchased a few bags. (2) holster style, (1) 6 pack style and (2) backpacks. Here is my take:

    Pentax holster (**) <--skip it
    -Nice and small, cheap
    -uncomfortable and stiff

    M-Rock holster (****) <--buy it
    -Also nice and small, holds larger lenses, includes rain bag/microfiber lens cleaner, dual straps for backback style
    -not a lot of room for accessories

    Tamrac 3350 (**) <--skip it
    -good for storage, holds camera with lens second lens and flash
    -smaller than it appears, need more storage for pro amount of gear

    Kata DR-467 (*****) <--all kinds of awesome
    -was a gift for my girlfriend who loves it, looks great, plenty of room for gear, top storage area for additional gear/anything for shoot, yellow interior helps find small accessories like memory cards, comfortable, durable, holds 15in laptop, includes rain bag
    -cup holder is too small to actually hold anything, have to set down to get gear out.

    Wolverine BP202 (*****) <--also all kinds of awesome
    -used all the time and tough as nails, great looks, plenty of gear storage, huge top compartment for additional gear/supplies, 2 cup holders can hold gear, comfortable, additional support with chest and belt straps, tripod holder, holds 15in laptop, includes rain bag
    -must set down to get gear out

  • Zack Jones February 11, 2010 01:35 am

    Sure wish we could edit our posts. That should be THANK not THINK....

  • Zack Jones February 11, 2010 01:34 am

    Yet another reason I think God I was born male instead of female :). A backpack works fine for me. The only mistake I made was buying one without a tripod strap. I'll have to get my wife to read this and see what kind of feedback she has to offer.

  • Maria February 11, 2010 01:27 am

    Very nice article :)

    I bought an *emera camera bag (http://tumblr.com/x8q4uttr6)
    last year and absolutely love it :)

  • andrea. February 11, 2010 01:11 am

    Oh man, I'm so glad someone is finally talking about this! I have been struggling for months to find the perfect bag -- something big enough to take with me every day, which meant it needed to hold my wallet, make-up, lunchbag, a book, and my camera. I didn't want a backpack, but I didn't want a super wide camera bag sitting on my hip either (I have enough hips already, thank you, don't need to add an extra 12" to them!) I ended up having to do basically what you did. I bought a much slimmer messenger-style bag (from Crumpler -- I was ok with a more casual look) and one of those Domke 4-sided inserts that I could set in the bottom and quickly pull my camera in and out of.

    Entrepreneurs, take note! I think there's a market for women's bags like this. Most camera bags, even the nicer leather women's bags, are too structured, wide, and compartmentalized for every day use. I basically wanted a regular bag with a special camera compartment, and that's it!