The DSLR has without a doubt changed the landscape of the videography world in terms of depth of field and image quality, but the most significant impact to me beyond the much cheaper price tag is the size of the camera. Even the largest DSLR is smaller than a video camera with somewhat comparable video quality like the Sony PMW-EX1. This small size has enabled me to carry less, because if you keep it minimal, the gear required for a DSLR camera is all smaller and lighter than that for a larger video camera. As a frequently travelling videographer I am always looking to reduce the amount of stuff that I'm travelling with. While I think I've been fairly successful at this I still feel that I look a bit ridiculous when I'm going through the airport. I'm always that guy. You know, the one with enough baggage to house a small army. It's all relevant gear, and my personal kit is actually quite small, but the lights and tripod and computer and hard disks and well...you get the picture.
Further to this for me is to be able to film a documentary using only things that will fit into a carry-on kit which would include one 20" suitcase, and a laptop bag. To make this happen my camera and computer will have to make it into the same bag. In my preliminary research here are a few bags that make the cut.
I love this bag. I own one of these, and also the DSLR Sling Pack, often taking both on the same trip. The DSLR ProPack is great for those shooting with a Canon 5D MKIII type camera. It can accommodate the larger 1D style camera, but doesn't really have the depth to do it well. However, for the 5D shooter, this is a brilliant pack that doesn't look like a camera bag, and has room for most everything you would possibly need on a light shoot. The laptop slot fits a 15" MacBook Pro with ease, and the whole thing just works well together. I carry around far more than I should in this bag, travel the world with it, and push it to the limits, and have had no issues with zippers or seams. Definitely a high quality urban pack perfect for the travelling shooter. Find it at Adorama, or Amazon.
This is by far my favourite of the bunch for one reason — it's not sinfully ugly! This bag mixes street style with basic functionality. While it may not be the best photo bag you also don't have to look combat tactical while wearing it. It has room for a 15" laptop plus basic SLR kit. If you're doing run and gun street style videography or photography this bag should do the trick. I'd argue if it doesn't fit in here than you probably don't need it anyway. A more elaborate type of shoot would require a different kind of bag, but this one is a good day-to-day and travel bag. Check out pricing at BH Photo Video and Amazon.
Kelly Moore is making a cool line of dSLR camera + laptop bags similar to the ones above, but featuring a couple of extra pockets for compact flash cards and other small accessories. The Thirst Relief bag is one of a handful of different men's bags that are available. Kelly also makes a line of women's SLR camera purses for the female street shooter.
This one doesn't hold a laptop, but it does hold an iPad and DSLR, and really it's just plain cool. It doesn't quite make the grade for my one bag fits all approach, but it would make a functional day pack. If you're wondering where to get the InCase Ari Marcopolous bag in Canada, the best place to order it from is either from Amazon, or Adorama in the USA.
This one falls into the sinfully ugly category, but it carries a 15" laptop and DLSR with extras. The luggage harness on the back is a bonus, and LowePro makes great bags, but I personally would like to get away from the black canvas tech geek look. It also looks like it would be a bit cumbersome to get things in and out of the bag.
Kata again makes great professional bags, but they also fall into the ugly category. While they would likely be my first choice for a professional gear bag they haven't really stepped up on the casual/street style front. Incognito is such an advantage in certain circumstance, but it's not going to happen with one of their bags.
This one fits into the "tech" category, but Petrol's style is improving from their previously super hideous orange and blue camera bags. This one fits a minimal amount of stuff, but the backpack form is easier to move around with, so at the risk of looking like a tourist, this one could fit the bill. Actually, on second thought, I quite like it!
Well there you have it. What do you think? I'll keep you posted and let you know which one I end up with.
Chris Stenberg is a professional photographer, videographer and traveller with more years of experience than he would like to admit.