ThinkTANK Photo Retrospective 7
I have and use many, many ThinkTANK Photo products. They make, in my opinion, some of the best bags and accessories in the industry…and this view is shared by tons of photographers around the world. This is actually the 6th Retrospective bag I have owned – I’ve swapped them in and out in the past for whatever reason, but I think this current 7 will be kept and used for a long time.
The Retrospective series has garnered a lot of fans and for good reason – they’re built very well, they are great to work out of, and they don’t scream CAMERA BAG! They come in Black, Pinestone, and Blue Slate. The way the Retro bags (at least the Pinestone and Blue Slate colors) have kind of a worn, broken in look to them, I would LOVE to see TTP come out with Retro bags in more colors…I think a Brick Red color would be killer! Maybe even patterns or customizable colors like the way that Timbuk2 has for their messenger bags would be awesome. My current 7 in the Pinestone color is my “carry everyday, everywhere” bag for my Fujifilm X100T. I started with a Retrospective 5 in the Blue Slate color for this purpose, but a couple things made me return it and get this 7. One was the Blue Slate bag always kind of reminded me of those denim purses girls carried back when I was in high school…and that ain’t cool for a guy! Another reason was the size. The Retro 5 is plenty big enough to carry a Fuji X100T with some accessories, but it’s rear pocket wouldn’t fit my iPad mini and while I could fit all the photo gear I wanted into it, I decided I wanted something bigger to hold other stuff that I might want to carry from time to time. For my daily use, it’s overkill for sure. The items that are ALWAYS in the bag are:
– Fuji X100T Camera,
– Fuji battery charger,
– USB cable,
– Fuji Flash (the one that comes with the Fuji X-T1 camera – I don’t recall the model!),
– a couple microfiber cloths,
– a ThinkTANK 2x Battery Holder with 4 extra X100T batteries,
– a ThinkTANK Business Card Holder (a 2x Battery Holder – just remove the center stitching!),
– a ThinkTANK PeeWee Pixel Pocket Rocket SD Card Case with several SD cards,
– a Gerber folding knife,
– a Lance Classic camera strap (I usually use a wrist strap but carry this in case I want/need a neck strap)
UPDATE 5-18-15: I’ve recently started carrying my Sony A6000 with a 50mm legacy lens attached in the Retro 7 in addition to all the above…still plenty of room, just a little bit of added weight, but now that I’m doing my Faces In Black And White project (using mainly the Sony), I wanted to always have it with me.
All of this would fit in a Retro 5, but like I said I wanted a bigger bag. The Retro 7 allows me to carry my iPad mini or iPad Air easily…I would venture that it would carry an 11″ Macbook Air also or a similiar sized laptop. My 13″ Macbook Pro won’t fit though, nor would I want to carry that around anyway. I still have room to toss in a Goby flexible tripod or my Manfrotto Pixi tripod when I think I may need it, a water bottle, snacks, keys, or anything I may pickup while out and about. I can also get one one of Fuji X-T1’s with battery grip and a lens inside if I ever needed to take one somewhere and wanted to use this particular bag for some reason.
The shoulder strap is high quality, comfortable, and can extend long enough for me to wear it across my body like a messenger bag which is my preferred way to carry it. It has a nice, thick pad on it as well that can slide back and forth on the strap. One thing I like most about the 7 is the way it wraps around the hip like a good messenger bag will do. The 5 is a bit too small to do this hip wrap so it doesn’t really nestle up against your body the way the larger Retro bags do. There is a good hand strap on the top as well which is handy for moving the back around without using the long shoulder strap. By the way, the shoulder strap is permanently connected to the bag, and doesn’t have any kind of swivels, though this has never been a problem – the strap is super strong, but supple enough that I’ve never had any issues.
The top flap is great. It features the “velcro silencers” that a lot of other TTP bags have so you can use the velcro, or use the silencers and just let the flap hang over the bag, and the flap is large enough that it will still close and cover the whole bag. I partially use the silencers, meaning I fold them over so just about a half inch or so of the velcro is showing. This allows the velcro to grab just a enough that the flap will stay shut, but will open easier and there’s not a big “ripping velcro” sound when I do open the flap.
Inside the main compartment is an internal organizer pocket where I keep business cards, a pen, and a mini flashlight. Under the top flap on the front of the bag is a big accordion-style pocket that can hold a lot more than it would appear, though honestly I don’t seem to carry much in it that often, but it’s nice to have the space if I need it, and since it is an accordion-style pocket, when it’s not being used it doesn’t take up much room. There are two slip pockets on each end of the bag – I usually have a couple USB flash drives in one. Each end also has a thick loop made from the same material as the shoulder strap that you can attach other TTP products to if you want. I have a mid-sized NiteIze S-Binder on one of them that I leave there just in case I ever need it for anything…it’s a quick place to hang my Jeep keys on at the very least!
About the only negative I can think of, and it’s hard to call it a negative because I realize in many things you get what you pay for, but it would be the price. I think the Retro series bags are a little high priced. For an example, I have a ThinkTANK Photo Sub-Urban Disguise 20 bag, which I would say falls in size between a Retro 5 and a Retro 7, but it’s less than half the price of the Retro 7. Granted, the shoulder strap isn’t as nice, and there are a few less pockets here and there, but I think the Retro series bags could be priced about 10% – 15% less than what they are. That being said, ThinkTANK stuff is all extremely well made and thought out and I’ve never regretted buying my Retrospective 7 (or any of my other TTP products for that matter).