We all know those cute camera bags for women that are roughly the size of a very small camera body with no lens. While these incredibly stylish camera bags are great for putting your phone and wallet in when you go out, they’re no match for your DSLR or mirrorless camera. Count in lenses and spare batteries too, and you’re way off what you could ever fit into one of those.
So what can you do if you’re looking for a mirrorless or DSLR camera bag that doesn’t look like a “camera bag”?
1. Consider what you need to bring for a shoot
a) How many camera bodies are you bringing with you?
Many people will be fine with just one camera body throughout the day, but if you’re shooting at different locations that require different technical capabilities of your camera, you might prefer to bring more than one.
An example of this is when photographers bring their Canon EOS R3 for poorer light conditions and Canon EOS R5 to take more detailed pictures in already perfect light.
b) Are you bringing multiple lenses, and what sizes are they?
While a compact 85mm lens can be great for a portrait or fashion shoot, you might also need space for something like a huge 400mm zoom lens if you’re photographing a sporting event or if you are taking pictures in a city and want some type of monument to appear larger than it actually is.
c) Are you bringing spare batteries and memory cards?
If you’re shooting an entire day, most cameras will need a change of battery (hello Canon R5!) and maybe even a change of CFexpress SD cards. If you’re bringing those and want them to be easily accessible, you want smaller pockets in your purse to put them in.
d) Are you bringing any lighting equipment?
If you’re bringing one or two speedlights, you can probably still fit these into a classic leather camera bag. But if you’re bringing multiple softboxes as well as tripods, you will eventually need to pack each piece of equipment into separate bags and tubs, and you’ll also need to load up a car to bring them with you.
When you start adding huge pieces of equipment like this, you need to prioritise which things you want on you and which you will carry separately. Only the equipment you want with you at all times should go in your bag, so size it accordingly.
2. How would you like to carry your bag?
If you’re doing a more casual shoot where you’re moving around and want to easily bring a camera body, a couple of lenses, spare batteries and SD cards, you probably want to get a crossbody camera bag.
This means that your purse has a strap you can put over your shoulder so you carry your equipment. It’s important that this is adjustable so you can use it with a good length for your body size. Often, it’s also good to get a bag with a detachable strap so you can change them.
3. How important is style and materials to you?
Plenty of crossbody camera purses are made with velcro and plastic. They can be perfectly functional but don’t exactly look like they have been designed for women.
Now, there are a lot of women who love this style of bag, and that is perfect for them – they have a lot to choose from. But if you’re looking for a more feminine designer camera bag that goes crossbody, you have far fewer alternatives.
4. Separation vs one large pocket
If you have some piece of equipment that is incredibly chunky, you might want to pick a bag that only consists of one compartment and arrange everything else you’re bringing around that. But if you’re carrying multiple lenses of relatively similar sizes, it might be more important to you that these can be kept upright and separate.
For separation of the lenses, you want to look for bags with separators inside of them, preferably so you can store each lens standing up without anything else lying on top of them, so they don’t break.
5. Keeping track of cables and small-sized equipment
There are so many tiny things that you need to remember to bring with you on a photoshoot that it can be hard to keep track of everything. We already mentioned things like spare SD cards and batteries.
But there are also often things like small cables or a laptop so you can see your photos on screen as you shoot. If this is the case, you need to have a bag that is large enough for a laptop but also one that has space to keep your cables tidy.
Small pockets for coloured sheets used to change the tone of lighting coming from your flash will also need to be kept somewhere separate so they don’t break or curl.
6. What type of designer are you looking for?
There are only a few brands carrying mirrorless or DSLR camera bags in the UK. Frost & Forest is a Scandinavian/British handbag brand that has as a goal to help professional women become as organised as possible.
Women should have as many alternatives to pick from as men, and the products should be designed with women in mind, meaning things like sizing for shoulder straps should fit a woman’s body.
If our bag is right for you, you probably fit the type of photographer who:
- Brings only one camera body with you for a shoot
- Need multiple lenses that you want to store upright
- Keep extra batteries, cables and memory cards in separate slots in your bag
- Want to have to option to bring a laptop in a secure computer pocket
- Carry your bag both crossbody and in the nook of your shoulder
- Want to invest in a bag with quality leather material that you can also use outside of photoshoots