The Streetwalker series of camera bags from Think Tank are specially designed for urban and crowded navigation. The slim and upright profile is very conducive to the mobile photographer. After several months of serious road testing, the Streetwalker held up to the test. During my test of the bag, I staggered the use of the Streetwalker and Think Tank’s Retrospective 20 camera bag, another small, low profile camera bag.
The Streetwalker is a well-padded bag. It is smartly-engineered with excellent and sturdy hardware. The zippers are robust, and haven’t failed me yet. Its main selling point is that it is a backpack. One gripe about the wonderful Retrospective 20 bag is that it is a shoulder/sling-type messenger bag. Though the Retrospective 20 holds an enormous amount of gear, after awhile my shoulder inevitably got sore. This was one of the driving factors in testing out the Streetwalker.
The Streetwalker is a comfortable, low-profile backpack with ergonomic shoulder straps that distribute the weight of the bag’s contents very well. Contents, you ask? I was able to easily fit a Canon 5D Mark II body with a 24-70 f/2.8 lens attached, a backup Canon T1i with a 50mm f/1.4 lens attached, a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 lens with hood reversed, a Canon Speedlite 580ex II, a Gary Fong Lightsphere, two Gary Fong gel domes, 8 CompactFlash memory cards, 8 rechargeable AA batteries, and an assortment of pens, business cards, and lens cloths. Unfortunately, the Streetwalker does not accommodate a full-frame DSLR with a battery grip attached. That’s a lot of stuff. Fairly comparable to what the Retrospective 20 holds.
The Streetwalker performed well on photo shoots due to the comfort of having two shoulder straps. On the job, I found going in and out of the bag was a bit of a chore. I was constantly putting the bag down on the ground or on a table or bench, and opening up the bag completely to access my gear. This proved fatal in one instance when I tried to grab an item in the bag while still draped over one shoulder to do a quick lens change. As I was opening up the bag, another one of my lenses fell out of the bag and shattered on the concrete floor. It was then that I realized that the bag was not fit for an on-the-go type job, or an on-location shoot. This bag is more suited for transport of your gear from place to place. This was not a problem I faced after having road-tested the Retrospective bag for over 6 months, as it stays upright when you are wearing it, forcing you to dip your hand into the bag when reaching for an item. Even when open, gear will not fall out of the Retrospective unless you dump out the contents.
Unpleasantries aside, the bag is rugged and padded very well around the majority of the bag, with the exception of the top of the bag. The soft padding curves and becomes thin at the top junction of the bag for whatever reason. The interior is compartmentalized with movable pads via ‘hook and loop’ fasteners to custom-fit all your camera gear, and the veritable smorgasbord of pockets and nooks were excellent for stowing ear plugs, pens, paper, press credentials, books, water bottles, cell phone, etc. The exterior is outfitted with a sturdy nylon with excellent zippers that were engineered to keep the zipper teeth from scratching your gear. Genius. Pure genius. On the top of the bag, there is a small window for your business cards, which is a nice touch. The shoulder straps are also generously padded, comfortable, and won’t break your back when you are toting all your gear.
Overall, it is a very well-equipped, rugged camera bag. It is comfortable and ergonomic having the weight distributed over both shoulders. However, it has the look of a tech or camera bag, which can be a safety concern. Additionally, the access into the bag is a bit difficult and at times dangerous to camera gear, as proven by the lens casualty while testing this bag on a photo job. As this is a concert photography column, I can assure you that this bag performed admirably. The slim/low profile was great when manuevering your way through a thick crowd. I was not knocking into concert goers, however, I was having difficulty accessing my gear due to having to take off the bag.
If you are interested in finding this bag, Chicago’s finest camera retailers, such as Helix Camera and Calumet carry thinkTank accessories.
For more information, go to www.thinktankphoto.com.