Camera Bags for Under $100

August 12, 2013

By Peter Kotsinadelis

To remain current, photographers often update their image-making arsenal with new cameras and lenses but buying a new bag to house that gear sometimes becomes an afterthought. Competition among camera bag manufacturers has fostered new designs and lower prices, thus giving photographers options for high-quality bags at prices that are easy on the wallet. If you’re considering a new bag, you may be surprised that many great ones exist for under $100 (on various online retailers’ sites). Here we look at not only the specifications of seven great bags (with a section on iPad carriers less than $50), but we’ve also tested the products in order to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed purchase.

Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home

This stylish bag can double as a good day-trip sack for small- to medium-sized DSLRs and comes in a variety of color choices to further stand out. High-quality waterproof denier nylon provides a water-resistant design, and a “velcro silencer” placed behind the bag’s flap fastener, allows for silent opening (handy at locations where you want to be discreet). This shoulder bag’s main compartment has two configurable nylon dividers and fold-down flaps for holding down a camera and a lens, plus a gusseted front pocket with two inside mesh pockets and a separate zippered rear pocket that keeps battery packs and accessories secure.
Street Price: $89.79
External Dimensions:
9.6W x 6.1D x 8.7H

Tiffen DOMKE F-6

Though its name may indicate otherwise, the Domke F-6 Little Bit Smaller Shoulder Bag is quite roomy, and fit for a DLSR and plenty of extra gear. Constructed from water-resistant cotton canvas and an added water-repellent treatment for extra protection, the F-6 provides easy access to its contents. There are nine compartments, two full-length zippered pockets and a four-compartment padded insert. A non-slip Gripper Strap also runs completely around the bag to reinforce it. The cover flap has a zippered pocket on the inside and adjustable closures to securely close the bag even if it’s overstuffed. O-rings on the back of the bag allow for the use of an optional backpack strap.
Street Price: $94.99
Internal Dimensions: 11.25W x 5.5D x 7H
External Dimensions: 11.5W x 7D x 7.5H

KATA NIMBLE-5 DL Compact Satchel

A fantastic shoulder bag with a yellow interior that makes for easy viewing of contents in dim lighting, the KATA Nimble-5 Compact Satchel Bag is messenger-style and designed to hold a medium DSLR with a 70-200mm lens attached. The best feature of the KATA is its customizable dividers that can be cut and positioned to fully personalize the interior of the bag to a shooter’s needs. Plus, a dedicated padded iPad sleeve is inside the main compartment for on-the-go digital proofing. Front pockets organize pens, a cell phone and other personal items (but won’t fit a lens). Zippered pockets on the front and rear of the bag are meant for documents, passports, maps, etc., while a stretch pocket on the side can hold a water bottle. Made from ripstop and standard nylon, this bag has a unique padded shoulder strap that converts from a one-shoulder to a two-shoulder strap for better weight distribution.
Street Price: $69.99
Internal Dimensions:
11W x 11.8H x 5.1D (main compartment)
9.5W x 11H x 0.4D (iPad compartment)
External Dimensions: 12.6W x 12.2H x 6.3D

Tamrac 5426 Aria 6

Looking more like a cross between a briefcase and a messenger bag than a camera case (and this reviewer’s wife’s favorite), the Tamrac Aria 6 is stylish and designed for a medium-sized DSLR with lens attached. In addition, it can hold extra lenses, a flash and has a separate padded compartment for an iPad. The Aria Series is made from a smooth, water-resistant nylon fabric that the company claims feels more like silk—something we can attest to first-hand. A front flap with metal buckle covers a zippered main compartment, creating a more inconspicuous look, and a pleated front pocket with zippered closure accommodates camera accessories and other items; two side pockets will fit a phone or iPod, while a back pocket can hold a magazine or manual for quick access. At only 18 ounces, the Aria 6 is a lightweight alternative for the photographer on the go.
Street Price: $99
Internal Dimensions: 12W x 5D x 8.75H
External Dimensions: 12.25W x 5.5D x 9.25H

Tenba Mini Messenger

A versatile bag that can serve the photographer and business person, the Tenba Mini Messenger is the smallest of the company’s messenger bags but will still accommodate a DSLR, two to three lenses, a flash and accessories. Plus, it has room for an iPad or 13-inch laptop. A fully-lined main compartment and adjustable interior dividers can be arranged to accommodate a variety of gear, or the dividers can be removed altogether for an all-purpose carrying bag. Made from durable lightweight nylon with padded compartments, the Mini Messenger has pockets for a cell phone, MP3 player, pens and business cards. An adjustable, removable shoulder strap and a padded handle allows for multiple carrying options, while a quick access zipper gives access to contents without the need to open the exterior flap.
Street Price: $93.95
Internal Dimensions:
13.5W x 9.5H x 3.5-5.5D (main compartment)
13W x 9.2H x 1-2D (laptop compartment)
External Dimensions: 14W x 10.5H x 4-6D

Think Tank SubUrban Disguise 30

With large stretch side pockets and a rain cover should you need it, the Think Tank SubUrban Disguise 30 Shoulder Bag holds more gear than belies its appearance. Similar to its larger Urban Disguise counterparts, the smaller Disguise 30 is made with the same high-quality materials, but it’s designed for photographers who need to travel light. With a classic yet discreet appearance, this shoulder bag is designed specifically to hold a standard-sized DSLR system with a lens such as a 24-70mm attached, along with a 70-200mm lens and flash. The Disguise 30 also has a separate zippered slot for tablets and a zippered lid with handle that opens away from the body for easy access to contents. An organizer pocket on the front flap provides space for accessories and personal items.
Street Price: $84.75
Internal Dimensions: 11W x 9.5D x 5H
External Dimensions: 12W x 10D x 7.3H

UNDFIND’s Waist Shooter

A bag best suited for event shooting (and photographers looking for a unique printed fabric), as the name implies, the Waist Shooter bag fastens to the belt, but can also be used messenger-style with an optional shoulder strap. Manufactured from wetsuit-grade neoprene, the Waist Shooter is durable and waterproof, and made to hold a DSLR and 70-200mm lens (or simply two lenses for event shooting). A great all-purpose bag, the Waist Shooter has optional touch-fastened designer covers that photographers can personalize as they wish.
Street Price:
Internal Dimensions:
Not specified by the manufacturer
External Dimensions:
13W x 11H x 2D (expands)