Not so long ago, I reviewed a beautiful new DSLR bag from ThinkTank Photo called the Retrospective 5. I loved it, and it has been my favorite DSLR day-bag ever since.
But the Retrospective 5 is only able to carry a DSLR and a lens or two, so often times, I need to slug along my iPad in yet another pack. I hate that.
No longer! ThinTank’s new Retrospective 7 camera bag ($157) allows me to carry my photo gear along with either my iPad or an 11-inch Macbook Air, all living together in perfect harmony.
Like its smaller sibling (the Retrospective 5), the new Retrospective 7 (R7, if you will) is an understated beauty. Covered in a weathered cotton canvas, you would never know this was a camera bag if one didn’t tell you. And that’s a good thing, because, as any trip to a camera store will reveal, most DSLR bags are ghastly.
This understated design didn’t happen by accident, though. ThinkTank intentionally added features to the R7 disguise its photo-storage capabilities, like the “sound silencers” that basically allow you to “turn off” the front flap’s velcro strips. This allows you to open and close the bag silently and discreetly, minimizing noise pollution when needed (like in a chapel).
The build-quality of the R7 is also admirable. Soft, thick fabrics abound; ample padding; strong velcro; ThinkTank also prides itself on using special industrial-strength zippers for easy opening and closing of pockets and compartments. The inside and outside of the pack are also designed to be very water resistant, and for those days during monsoon season, you can toss on the R7’s included seam-sealed rain cover.
And the R7’s über-cushy shoulder pad (used on all the bags in the Retrospective line) is a particular favorite of mine. It’s the nicest shoulder pad of any bag I’ve used, and its super-grippy strips keep the pad exactly where you place it on your shoulder, so it stays comfortable even for long durations.
But let’s talk about space for a moment. My main issue with the Retrospective 5 was that it barely fit my full-size DSLR and lens. Not so with the R7. I found ample space in this bag. It can comfortably fit a DSLR with lens attached, and then 2 additional photos accessories, like a lens and a speedlite. And that’s just the main compartment. It also fits a whole iPad or 11-inch Macbook Pro in a separate padded pocket, and a plethora of smaller items in its numerous other inner and outer compartments.
I could go on. The R7 is loaded with storage space.
There’s not a lot about the R7 I don’t like, but if I had to pick something, I’d be that it possesses almost too many pockets! I feel like the internal compartment would feel less cluttered with fewer storage areas, and several of them are obscured by the camera or lens anyway, so why not just leave them out?
The Retrospective 7, like the Retrospective 5, is worthy of its pedigree. If you are looking for a medium-sized camera bag to hold your Macbook Air and DSLR, look no further—you won’t find anything better.