For those who know me best, they will attest to the fact that I am always searching for the perfect bag. I know deep down that such a beast does not exist, however, I must admit that I have a lot of fun trying.
I have been using my mirrorless cameras a lot lately – namely the Fujifilm X-Pro1 – and recently, the new X-E1. I really appreciate that despite their compact size and light weight, I can get great image quality out of them. There are also other mirrorless systems on the market that produce really great results. Photographers now have a great selection of mirrorless equipment at decent prices.
I have found that over time, my mirrorless system has expanded quite a bit – I now have two camera bodies, several lenses and a couple of flash units. Plus, don’t forget the other accessories (such as spare batteries, filters, etc) I often have to carry with me.
Until I expanded my mirrorless system, I had been using a shoulder bag (the Retrospective 7) for my kit – but it has grown to be too large for this bag. I really don’t want to use a bigger shoulder bag as carrying it for long periods of time would cause my shoulder to complain – plus I don’t like having bulky camera bags at my side.
I had thought about using my main backpack (the Airport Essentials) for my mirrorless system – it is comfortable to wear and it can hold a lot of equipment. The main problem though is that it is too big – I didn’t buy a mirrorless system so I could haul around very large bags.
So my dilemma is as follows:
I thought that a bag that met all of those requirements did not exist, but during a recent photography trade show in Toronto, I saw the Think Tank Sling-O-Matic 10 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) and it might be what I was looking for. This article will document my experience with it over the past month.
Its dimensions are 23 cm x 42 cm x 15 cm (9” W x 16.5” H x 6” D ) and weighs about 1 kg (2.2lbs). If you compare the size (and volume) to my other bags, the Sling-O-Matic 10 (centre) is larger than the Retrospective 7 shoulder bag (left) but smaller than the Airport Essentials backpack (right). One thing to note though is that the Sling-O-Matic 10 cannot accommodate a laptop computer (like the other two bags) though it can easily store a 7 inch tablet. There are other models in the Sling-O-Matic series, but they are much larger and not suitable (IMHO) for a mirrorless system.
The main selling point for me was the fact that I can wear the padded strap over either shoulder as a backpack which allows me to carry it comfortably. This is due to the unique design of the bag and its strap.
With the bag resting on your back, you can easily slide the bag in front of you (without having to remove the bag from your body) when needed to access your gear. No matter what shoulder the strap is resting on, the bag will always open from the top allowing easy access. When you are done, just slide the bag behind you. It is really a simple (and ingenious way) to do this.
This may sound a little confusing at first, but once you have done this a couple of times, it is really easy to do. Thus, you can carry your camera bag as a backpack, but access the gear like you would with a shoulder bag – giving you the best of both worlds.
You can of course fit all kinds of camera equipment in this bag. A non-pro sized (without a vertical grip) DSLR with a couple of lenses will easily fit into this bag. There is also a zippered, transparent pouch inside of the bag for storing accessories in addition to two large outside pockets.
As I stated earlier, my mirrorless camera kit has grown substantially since I purchased it earlier this year and I plan to expand it with a couple more lenses in the future.
At present, this is the mirrorless system that I am storing in this bag:
This easily fits into the Sling-O-Matic 10. There is even room to comfortably store 1 or 2 more lenses (about the size of the Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 Macro) which is great as I have a production copy of the Fujinon 14mm f/2.8 on order and expect to receive it soon.
Think Tank includes an optional “chest strap” for additional stability while walking around.
You can also use the adjustable side of the chest strap as a waist strap, if preferred.
There is a long side pocket which I typically use for carrying a water bottle (or similarly sized accessories).
Some small tripods can also be carried in the long pocket. You can use the included the tripod straps if you need to transport a medium sized tripod.
There is a small pocket on the bottom of the Sling-O-Matic 10 for storing any of the removable straps.
And as usual, Think Tank also includes a rain cover with your backpack.
I have been using the Sling-O-Matic 10 for just over a month now and overall, I am extremely pleased with it.
If you own a multi-body, multi-lens mirrorless camera system that you plan to expand, I urge you to check out the Think Tank Sling-O-Matic 10 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama). Not only will it comfortably (and safely) house all of your gear, you will also get the benefits of both a backpack and shoulder bag. For the times I need my entire mirrorless camera kit with me or for long hikes, this is the bag I will now use.
Many thanks to Think Tank for the opportunity to review this bag.
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