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Gear & Apps

ThinkTank Signature 10 and Signature 13 Camera Bags | Hands-On Review

By Josh Chun on December 7th 2018

As a photographer, I value aesthetics. This holds true across the board, from the images I create to the way I present myself to my clients. Thanks to the Signature ThinkTank shoulder bag series, I can look good while I make other people look good. Let’s get real here, we have all tried camera bags that either look terrible or function terribly, or both. Luckily, ThinkTank has created a bag that functions as well as it looks. I have used both the Signature 10 and the Signature 13, and here are my overall thoughts.

Comfort

First off, we are talking about a sling shoulder bag here, so like it or not, one shoulder is going to have to take one for the team and endure the brunt of all your fancy, heavy camera gear.

After hours of use, these bags are going to bring some discomfort—it’s the nature of shoulder bags. The Signature 10 and 13, however, have been the most comfortable shoulder-sling styled bags I’ve used thus far, including my Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L, not to mention the cheap bags I’ve used.

Design & Build

It’s made with a wool-like blend of nylon and polyester, which feels amazing, and the zippers and metal hooks have, of course, that familiar durable and robust ThinkTank quality. On top of all that, the leather detailing and neutral color design of the bag (slate grey or dusty olive) compliment my attire no matter what the occasion (casual, semi-formal, formal).

Overall, the material feels and functions as great as it looks, and the leather trim is the perfect cherry on top.

Functionality

I like to travel, but I also like to make sure there’s food on the table, so most of the time you will find me behind the camera down the aisle of a wedding ceremony. I normally keep my lenses in my messenger bag so that I can swap focal distances and not have to return to home base (home base: my SKB hard case that is jampacked with flashes, modifiers, lenses—the whole shebang).

During weddings, I find the Signature 10 to be ALMOST exactly what I need. It fits three short to normal length lenses comfortably, as well as triggers for my off-camera flashes, and an on-camera flash. I wish the pockets were a little bit deeper for my telephoto lens; nonetheless, it still fits (barely).

There’s a zip pocket that is located on the back of the bag near my hip where I tuck away my wallet and phone for safe and easy access. There is also a wide handle pass-through for attaching the bag to a rolling luggage case for the times I need to pack up and move from one site to another.

The Signature bags come with additional pockets on the inside that are perfect for batteries, memory cards, gum, and a portable charger. These bags also have a variety of thin and thick, Velcro dividers if you would like to customize the main interior. In the case of rain, the bags come with a raincoat, but since I live in sunny southern California, I’ve only had to use it once.

I like to use the Signature 13 when I need the extra space, such as when I have a photoshoot that requires traveling to events in which I will have downtime. In my bag you’ll find the following: a book or two, two extra lenses, my camera body attached to a 24-70mm lens, battery chargers, camera batteries, memory card pouch, portable battery, pens, wallet, keys, gum, a small notebook, and my laptop (the bag fits a 13-inch laptop nice and snug – hence the name). I could also fit a speedlite in the side pocket, but I don’t because the bag gets bulky.

Areas For Improvement

As much as I like this bag, there are some areas in which I think the bags can be improved. For example, the shoulder strap length is adjustable, but its shortest length still leaves the bag riding against my hip. A shorter strap would allow the bag to fall closer towards me for a more comfortable fit. If you are on the shorter side, this might be an issue for you.

In addition, the outside pocket is only secured by a button. I suppose this pocket was tailored for quick and easy access, but I’d prefer if the pocket were fully sealed for more protection.

Finally, the shape of the bag is a bit too boxy; because of this, it takes longer than expected to get used to it.

Conclusion & Recommendation

I am quite pleased with these bags. The Signature 10 is amazing for holding normal camera essentials, and the Signature 13 is perfect for when I need extra space and want to read a book/work from my laptop. As with all bags, I would suggest not overloading the Signature bags. When they get too heavy, they become difficult to manage.

I recommend this bag for those looking for a stylish shoulder-sling bag that can safely and fashionably carry your camera gear essentials.

What is your favorite bag or case for carrying your photography gear?

 

About

Grew up in the San Gabriel Valley area, and graduated from the University of California, Irvine. I double majored in Education Science, and Sociology and wanted to pursue further education to become a Sociology Professor. On the way, I fell in love with photography and cinematography, and decided to pursue that instead. Currently I am a full-time photographer and a second shooter at Lin & Jirsa.

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