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This the Retrospective series camera bags by Think tank. They are just a small part of the Think Tank family but in some ways the most important to select well.

The Retrospective series camera bags are just a small part of the Think Tank family of bags, belts and cases designed by photographers for photographers but in some ways the shoulder bag is the most important choice to get right. The quest to find the right camera bag has always been a challenge so I thought I’d do a comparison of the Retrospective range to help you choose the right one for you.

Four years ago back in November 2010 I sold all my zoom lenses for my Canon kit and replaced them with primes. The space and weight saving was significant enough for me to ditch my old Billingham bag that had served me well for 10 years or so and invest in a funky new Retrospective 30 Think Tank bag. My friend and fellow photographer Martin Plant put me onto Think Tank and I was instantly hooked.  Up until then, my vision of quality comprised solid brass clasps and calf hide straps hand stitched onto rubberised canvas in a traditional colonial style. How last century was that. Tech had arrived in both fabrics and machining processes and it was time to embrace the modern age.

The 5 is the baby and is perfect for an X100T with the wide and tele adapters. You can fit a wallet and keys in there too and have the camera ready to hand in a jiffy.

The 5 on the left in black is the baby of the range and is perfect for an X100T with the wide and tele adapters. You can fit a wallet and keys in there too and have the camera ready to hand in a jiffy. The 7 in blue slate is in the centre, note the big pocket for the iPad. The 10 in Pinestone is beyond the 7 and is just a bit deeper and is perfect for a Fuji X-T1 with zooms and suits photographers choosing the iPhone 6+ over the iPad.

Back then the choice was 10, 20 or 30. The 30 is perfect for a medium size SLR with 21mm, 50mm and 100mm prime lenses. There is also space for a Speedlight and accessories.

The 7

The Retrospective 7 showing the cavernous expanding front pocket that can house a Speedlight, a trigger and a stack of filters. A note of experience; load the front pocket with heavy gear and the bag can have the tendency to roll forward.

Soon the Retrospective family started to grow. The 5 was added at the small end to cater for the growing number of travel photographers using the newly released Fuji X-Pro1 with it’s three prime lenses. Then came the 7 just a bit smaller than the 10 and although they are fairly similar in size the back pocket on the 7 is bigger to accommodate the Apple iPad perfectly.

By folding over the inner struts a 'soft' bridge is formed that carries a camera with lens safely without any strain or load being placed on the lens or mount.

By folding over the inner struts a ‘soft’ bridge is formed that carries a camera with lens safely without any strain or load being placed on the lens or mount. You can see my 14mm and 56mm lenses. My 23mm lens is on the camera and the 35mm lens is just out of sight in the section on the right.

Here is my X-T1 sitting snugly on the dividers ready for action at a moments notice.

Here is my X-T1 sitting snugly on the dividers ready for action at a moments notice.

The 7 is my top choice for the Fuji X system now that the primes have got bigger and I carry four of them. The 7 can hold an X-Pro1, X-E2 or X-T1 with a 14mm, 23mm, 35mm and 56mm lenses. It can take a Cactus RF60 Speedlight and V6 trigger in the front pocket and the iPad and client notes in the back.

The 7 and the 30 aren't too far apart as their number might suggest.

The 7 and the 30 aren’t as far apart as their numbers might suggest. The 30 on the right still delivers after 4 years of service and there have been times in monsoon rains where the water has puddled on the top while the camera kit remained snug and dry inside. The 30 is wider and taller than the 7 and the front pocket is divided making it more useful for carrying a pair of Speedlights or a long tele zoom.

This shot shows the relative size of the 7 and 30 alongside a camera kit.

This shot shows the relative size of the 30 on the left and the 7 on the right.  alongside a camera kit.

In all of the Think Tank bags there are nifty little pockets designed for memory cards, batteries and filters. There are cleverly designed features too like the ‘Silent’ mode on the bag cover flap. The Velcro locks on the flap can be switched on or off to suit various situations. When photographing a wedding in a church silent mode is definitely the order of the day but shooting on the street the added security that the Velcro flaps give is very reassuring.

So whatever Retrospective you choose you are sure to get a first class bit of kit to transport your precious camera kit in. Oh and Pinestone (the greenish one) is the best colour choice (in my opinion)

So whatever Retrospective you choose you are sure to get a first class bag to transport your precious camera kit in. Oh, and Pinestone (the greenish one) is the best colour choice (in my opinion :)

Once SLR users got wind of this bag range they requested bigger versions to carry their bulky f/2.8 primes and the Retrospective 40 and 50 bags were born. The 20 is the tall boy of the bunch designed to carry an SLR with 70-200 zoom attached vertically.

With all great stories there is always a catch and in the case of Think Tank it’s stock levels in the UK. The UK distributors can go weeks without stock of certain colour/ size combinations so there might be a wait to get the option you are after. You can see the stock availability here. Just click through on the model number you require. If it states pre order then your bag is in transit from the USA. You can always ring us for an estimated delivery date. our number is 01275 853204

With every Retrospective order in November/ December 2014 we are giving away a £40 voucher to use against any video download from the Lovegrove training collection. Just one of the reasons to buy from Lovegrove Shop.

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24 Responses

    • Damien

      Hi David,

      For your D610, primes and flash the best bag will be the Retrospective 7. However if you are ever to carry an additional lens or a zoom or you decide to add a grip to your camera you will need the Retrospective 30. So the choice is yours. All your kit mentioned above will fit snugly in the 7.

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  1. J. Mijares

    Great overview of the bags, Damien! Which of these bags did you use in your two Illumination Videos?

    I’m looking at the Retrospective 30 at the moment. The X-T1 with 16-55mm 2.8 is my main camera, but when I do some sports photography (half marathons and such), I also bring along my Canon 70D with Sigma 70-200mm 2.8. Would the Retrospective 30 be able to carry both bodies with those attached lenses?

    Cheers,
    Jay

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Jay, I used the Retrospective 20 for my kit while filming. I didn’t own the 16mm or the 50-140mm lens then so I find myself using the Retro 30 more now. I hope this helps. Damien.

      Reply
  2. J. Mijares

    Hi Damien, I went ahead and purchased the Retro 30. Wow! Not only can it hold my Canon 70D with 70-200 (sideways with hood reversed), but it also has enough room for my X-T1 with 16-55 as well! This is definitely a great bag! This bag will go with me now whenever I have a shoot and need to bring both cameras, or just the X-T1 with some speed lights and a few other odds and ends.

    Best,
    Jay

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Jay,

      Thanks for letting me know. I’m sure other Canon shooters will find this info useful too.

      Kind regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  3. mgrimmfotografie

    Dear Damien,

    I’m currently using the Fuji X System, too. I’ve always had the problem that you can’t put the dividers in sideways to subdivide the sections further (putting the divider in parallel to the back/front). Smaller Fuji primes would probably fit in easily, so you could carry more lenses in the same space, so to speak.

    Currently thinking about either the 7 or the 30. Since you mentioned you’re using the 30 more for the 50-140, I’m kinda leaning towards the 30. Current kit consists of 16/23/35/56/16-55/50-140. 90 will be added as soon as it’s available. I don’t necessarily have to carry everything at the same time, though. Any preference for a bigger-than-usual Fuji kit?

    Thanks in advance for your advice. Really learned to appreciate your website and your work during the long reading hours here.

    Cheers,

    Marc

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Marc,

      The sub dividers you mention would be useful on the larger bags like the 30 etc. Take a look at the Billingham bags with the dual pocket inserts. That might just suit your requirements more.

      Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
  4. Jay Mijares

    Hi Damien, just a follow-up to my original comment about what would fit in the Retro 30. A few weeks ago, I took pictures at a 12hr/6hr endurance run, and then at a conference. The X-T1 and 16-55 and the Canon 70D with Sigma 70-200 fit with no problems. I also had room for two speed lights and remote triggers, spare batteries for both cameras and the speed lights, plus snacks for those two long days. There wasn’t any room on the side of the bag for a water bottle, so placed a divider over the Sigma lens and laid the water bottle on top. This could have been dangerous had the bottle leaked, but thankfully it didn’t. Such a great bag, and it takes a lot of abuse too!

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Jay, Thanks for this. I place water bottles in the outside end pockets of the Retro 30 – just below where the straps are attached. The dedicated pouches will take the 50mm size plastic bottles or a 330mm can. It’s best to keep the water on the outside as you say. Cheers, Damien :)

      Reply
  5. Krish

    Hi Damien I own a D750 with a Tamron 150-600 , two primes 35 & 50, and occasionally carry my 24-120. I also want to fit in my flash & radio trigger, if I could. Which of the TTs would best suit me?

    Reply
  6. mbphoto

    I’m curious as to what you based your statements rdgarding the capacity on?
    I currently have the RS30 and can fit:
    1Ds body with fast zoom attached and a 70-200/2.8 on one side. On the other side I can fit a 17-40/2.8 and a fast 50mm prime. Plus, there’s literally space for 4! YN560 flashes in the front pockets..
    I could also transport TWO 1Ds bodies in the front and up to six medium lenses in the bag.. And you talk about “midsized DSLR”?

    Because I always ended up bringing too much stuff, I’m going to buy a RS10 where I can still fit the 1Ds with 85/1.2 attached and a 70-200/2.8 (or the Milvus 50/1.4) next to it and some more stuff in the front pocket.
    I can fit 2 Fuji bodies with 4+ lenses in there (no telezooms in my possession) and still have room in the pockets.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi MB Photo,

      What you can fit in a bag packed in closely and what I feel is a useable capacity is very different. I work with the camera over my shoulder and change lenses on the fly without having to put the bag down. I don’t stack lenses on top of each other or require the lens hoods to be folded away when not in use. So what I think is a working capacity will always be less than the absolute capacity. I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  7. Sean

    What would you recommend to fit all the following:
    1. 6D with L-Bracket, 24-105 mounted
    2. 7D Mark II with 85 1.8 mounted

    Couple extra lenses (35 F2 IS and 14 2.8).

    I am hoping a Retro 7 might do it. I already have a Retro 20 for when I need to bring out the big zooms. Trying to find something a bit smaller as a walk around. Would very much like to not buy Retro 30. That is as big as the 20.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Sean,

      I’ve no idea how you use your camera bag. Do you keep lens hoods on? etc. I suggest you visit a camera store or trade show to see the size for yourself. I use the Retrospective 7 or the Retrospective 30 depending upon how many lenses I need to take but I only ever have one camera body with me. For 2 SLRs with lenses attached I think you will need a far bigger bag than the 7. The way I shoot I don’t need to put the bag down to change lenses etc so my kit is not tightly packed. I’m sorry I can’t be of any more use.

      Cheers,

      Damien.

      Reply
  8. Nick vallotton

    Hi,
    I want a RS bag for a bronica ETRSi with 75 mm lens and a prism finder attached, and a 35 mm slr with prime 50 mm, 35-80 zoom and 135 tele. Would that fit into a 7 and be accessible? Or the 20/30 more suitable? I much prefer the shorter bags.
    Thanks,
    Nick

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Nick,

      For those cameras I’d suggest the Retro 30. Two cameras with lenses attached and two additional lenses need space. The problem you have is they need to be laid out side by side to be accessible and not on top of each other. At least with the 30 you wouldn’t need to put the bag down to access a camera or change a lens. I hope this helps,

      Damien.

      Reply
  9. Beklan Buyukarman

    Hi Damien,
    I am a Fuji shooter, like you and currently using 5 for my x-pro and 3 prime set up. But I am planning to add an x-t2 with grip(2 bodies). My previous x-t1 with grip was fitting barely in 5 , vertically. Do you think , 7 might make a difference? I ll like to walk around as small as my kit allows me to. Thank You

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Beklan,

      7 is a big step up from the 5 and it’s the way to go. 30 is the next up from that and is too big for your needs.

      Cheers,

      Damien.

      Reply
      • Beklan Buyukarman

        Thank you Damien. I just bought a 7.It turns out it is just what I need. Xpro fits well vertically with 50-140. Still Room for an X-t body and for 2 more primes.

  10. Karth

    I have a good deal on a retrospective 50 bag. I use D750 with with 3 Zeiss primes 25mm, 50mm and 135mm f2, filters rocket blower etc accesories… (+ maybe a pro flash)

    I might feel like adding 1 or 2 medium size lenses on top of this but it would be a very rare case and not a requirement

    Do you feel the 50 is huge overkill? The weight is not much different between the models.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Karth, Only you can decide if the 50 is overkill. Buying camera bags is such a personal decision. If you were buying from me (I sell Think Tank bags) I’d make more suggestions but I suggest you ask the dealer who is giving you the ‘good deal’ what they suggest to the same question. Make them work a bit for their money. Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
  11. Nigel Burn

    Hi Damien,
    What Think Tank (or other make) bag would you recommend for the following gear:
    XT2 with and 18-55mm lens attached;
    XT10 with a 55 – 200mm lens attached;
    2 speedlights;
    3 Cactus triggers;
    Spare batteries, cell phone, stacked ND filters.
    I am looking for something that will hold all the above gear comfortably, without the gear being cramped inside the bag.

    Thanks and Best Regards,
    Nigel.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Nigel,

      Only you can decide. I could pack all that gear in a small bag but not have easy access to it. I only use one camera body to save all the hassle of having a big bag.

      Kind regards,

      Damien.

      Reply