Recently, we offered a secondary lens guide for readers looking to take their photography to the next level. And now, equipped with that second (or third, or fourth!) lens, in addition to your camera body and kit lens, you may see a need for the right camera bag to carry them all. Ditch that simple padded bag that might have come with your original bundle, because as your stash of gear grows, you'll need a bigger and more versatile camera bag.
There are many different styles and sizes of camera bags, including shoulder bags, backpacks, and messenger bags. Whenever possible, try them on for size and comfort but, most importantly, make sure that there's room for all your gear. Most camera bag manufacturers list how much (and what types) of equipment will fit in each model.
The pictured Domke F-3X Camera Super Compact Shoulder Bag in Gray ($69.99 with free shipping, a low by $42) is a waterproof canvas bag with nine compartments, upside-down zipper pouch, padded partition wall, and more. It can easily hold one or two film or digital SLR camera bodies with up to four lenses. The Kata DB-455 DPS Series Digital Camera / Notebook Bag in Black ($29.95 with free shipping, a low by $35) is also equipped to hold a single DSLR with lens attached (and additional lens) or a camcorder. This satchel is lightweight, and features two expandable outside pockets and two zippered compartments. What's more, removable padded dividers means you can stow your iPad and more.
If you're more into backpacks, which are particularly useful for landscape photographers who hike to their locations, check out the pictured AmazonBasics SLR Camera Backpack ($34.90 with free shipping, a low by $5). What's great about this model is that you can leave your telephoto lens (up to 5.7") on the camera while it's stored. There's also room for other lenses and accessories as this pack also features side buckles for additional storage. In addition to three zippered pocket compartments, there are outer tripod straps on either side of this camera bag.
The Zeikos Deluxe Sling SLR All Weather Camera Backpack ($16.95 with free shipping, a low by $12) is your basic waterproof backpack, equipped with adjustable Velcro dividers, built-in microfiber cloth, and more. But what sets this pack apart is its single padded shoulder strap that crosses the body, providing stability, comfort, and easy access to your camera.
For security reasons, some photographers prefer camera bags that don't look like camera bags. The Crumpler 8 Million Dollar Home Messenger Bag in Red ($99.95 with free shipping, a low by $19) has enough room for a DSLR, three lenses, a flash, and other accessories. It also boasts a removable laptop sleeve and interior and exterior pockets for cables, memory cards, and more.
Lowepro makes a line of Event Messenger Bags that are available in three sizes to accommodate all kinds of photographers. The pictured Lowepro 100 Event Messenger Bag ($49.99 with free shipping) fits a smaller DSLR (or compact system camera) with an 18-55mm kit lens, along with a second lens or flash, plus accessories.
Move up to the Lowepro 150 Event Messenger Bag ($59.99 with free shipping), and you'll fit more gear and your tablet; the Lowepro 250 Event Messenger Bag ($69.95 with free shipping) is larger still and designed for pro DSLRs and laptops. They all have a cool flap design for quick and easy access, so you can be up and shooting in no time. (While we were unable to currently find discounts on these models, you can set up an email alert to learn when we find a deal in the future.)Most of us start out with just a camera and a single lens, and are quite capable of creating interesting photographs. But once you start acquiring new lenses and other camera gear, you'll want to have them at the ready at all times. A camera bag offers portability and protection for all your photography-related goods. And speaking of photography accessories, stay tuned for our second part in the "Necessary Accessories" series: The tripod.
Front page photo credit: Inside the Viewfinder
Although deals can change quickly, all products in this feature were at the lowest total price available at the time of publication.