Friday, March 8, 2013

Think Tank Photo Suburban Disguise 30 Review

One of my favorite bags is the Think Tank Photo Retrospective7 (my review of this bag here). It's a small bag that really disguises its true purpose: it enables me to carry a DSLR-Zoom lens combo, an extra lens and a Speedlite. It can also carry an iPad or an 11-inch Macbook Air.

Now, what better way to start a new season, spring, than to out a camera bag review: The Think Tank Photo Suburban Disguise 30. (From here on, let me refer to the Suburban Disguise 30 as SD30 and the Retrospective7 as R7...)

The SD30 and R7 are almost of the same size. They have almost the same thickness which means both can house a pro- or a gripped-DSLR. Both have a compartment for an iPad which is a feature that I believe all bags should have. The R7, however, has one big advantage: this iPad compartment can actually house an 11-inch MacBook Air! If only the SD30 is half an inch wider, it would have been able to carry the smaller MacBook Air.

The SD30 is also taller than the R7. I was able to fit a Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 70-200 f/4L IS lens and I only had to "force" the cover a little to close it. A non-L telephoto lens, like a Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS would fit in nicely. And of course, you can always put an L lens on its own inside the bag and you won't have any problem.

There is a front cover on the SD30, much like in the R7. However, in the SD30 you can stow smaller items inside, like pens, filter, a pixel pocket...

This front cover will not give you access to your gear. What it opens to is a big pocket where you can stow an extra body or a couple of speedlites. The all-weather cover is initially stored here and, I found out, that this front, large pocket is wide enough to house an iPad. Nice!

To access your camera gear, all you have to do is unzip the top cover. This cover actually opens away from your body so your gear would be partially "covered" when you bring your camera out. Well, at least, if your subject's in front of you, they won't see right away that you're getting your camera from your bag. This will add an element of surprise when you're doing your street photography...

Inside this top cover, you can stow away some more smaller, flat accessories.

The padding on the shoulder strap of the SD30 is thick, though I liked the strap of the R7 more on two counts: one, it is slightly thicker which means it is more comfortable to use for extended periods, and, two, you can actually adjust the position of the padding on the R7's strap. I actually had a slightly awkward time while using the SD30: at one point, it's actually the strap that's on my shoulder and not the padding - this made for one uncomfortable situation...

There are pockets on either side of the bag and you can put a small water bottle there and, again, smaller accessories. Yes, this bag has a lot of pockets!

The construction is superb and the material used is very high end. Really, you cannot go wrong with Think Tank Photo.

And what better way to test out and use this bag? Well, use it in an urban setting! I took this bag one time when I went with some friends and it was a very unobtrusive bag. I was able to photograph the ice sculpture contest at the Navy Pier, the Snow Days Chicago 2013, and the bag did not get in the way of my photography. I was able to get my camera out of the bag when I need to get a shot and I was able to stash the camera easily when my fingers went numb because of the cold. The bag is small enough that I was able to maneuver my way around despite the event having a lot of attendees.

With the ease of use, this bag has instantly become a favorite!

The bag is low-key and it only has a small "Think Tank" logo in front - it does not shout camera bag at all.

This bag is perfect for the urban scenario and will hold its own even when the pave roads disappear! And I'm sure street photographers will have a blast using this bag.

Get yours here!

Special thanks to the wife for taking my pictures while I was doing the review.

Special thanks to Brian Erwin of Think Tank Photo for providing the bag.
Gear used to make this post:

-- Canon Powershot G15 (Reviews Part 1 and Part 2)

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