Warning: always treat articles using superlatives in their title (such as ‘ultimate’) with a grain of salt.

After getting interested in M43, I realized that my gear for carrying my DSLR was definitely overkill. I  started a Forum thread in DPreview titled “Best Minimalist Bag for E-M1” to seek input from other M43 users, and got a lot of excellent ideas.  I’ll post those in a separate article.  Here’s what I came up with, and why – not only for M43 but also for DSLR.

First, the disclaimer:  bags are extremely subjective. I know, I was in the handbag business for many years. The company that I worked for had over 500 styles of handbags, and the owner designed at least 50 new ones each year. And we sold lots of every style.

Still, from the prospective buyer’s viewpoint, it helps to objectify your needs. These were mine:

  • Holds my E-M1 with walk-around zoom, plus at least one prime lens, plus maybe the Flash.
  • Should be hidden away when I don’t need it; immediate access when I do need it.
  • Won’t get hit or grabbed when in close crowds.
  • Won’t catch on anything.
  • Can be worn on my back or waist, depending on outside temperature (in the tropics, the last thing you want is anything near your upper body).
  • Something that allows me to change lenses easily on the fly, without fear of dropping the lens or getting dust in.
  • Preferably, it can hold an iPad – because I use that for viewing photos I’ve taken, right there on the scene.

What I came up with is the Think Tank TurnStyle 10.  It not only meets each of my ‘objective’ criteria, it’s also cool looking (subjective), comfortable (subjective), and well-designed (definitely subjective).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Swings around to the front for easy access. Grab and shoot, or change lenses without fear of dropping.

Added bonus:  It not only holds my E-M1 with 12-40 zoom, plus 75mm 1.8; it also holds my backup camera, the E-PL5 with 20mm f/1.7 attached, plus the detachable flash unit AND the nifty remote flash that I got for free when I purchased the E-M1. Wow. That’s a lot of gear.

Added bonus #2: It even holds my D800 and either two small lenses, or (gasp) the 70-200 f/2.8 VRII. So yeah. Pretty convenient carry-all for daytime use, especially when paired with a larger bag for long trips.

Note: The TurnStyle 5 is slightly shallower, but the E-M1 with 12-40 zoom only fits if the lens shade is retracted. For me, the main purpose of the bag is to be able to lift the camera out and make a shot, all within a few seconds. So having that lens shade extended was a requirement. Hence the TurnStyle 10. And it feels no different on my back than the 5.

Immediate access to two cameras.

Immediate access to two cameras.

Content spill: E-M1 with 12-40 Pro zoom, E-PL5 with Lumix 20mm f/1.7, Olympus 75mm f/1.8, kit flash, remote flash, Moleskin diary, iPad Mini, iPhone.

Content spill: E-M1 with 12-40 Pro zoom, E-PL5 with Lumix 20mm f/1.7, Olympus 75mm f/1.8, kit flash, remote flash, Moleskin diary, iPad Mini, iPhone.

 

Even holds my D800 with 24-85 zoom, holster style, plus my 16-35 f/4 zoom.

Even holds my D800 with 24-85 zoom, holster style, plus my 16-35 f/4 zoom.

Content Spill: D800 with 16-35mm f/4 and 24-85 zoom, iPad Mini, iPhone, Moleskin. Could probably squeeze the E-PL5 in as well.

Content Spill: D800 with 16-35mm f/4 and 24-85 zoom, iPad Mini, iPhone, Moleskin. Could probably squeeze the E-PL5 in as well.

Yup. Even holds the D800 with 70-200 f/2.8 VRII.  Sweet.

Yup. Even holds the D800 with 70-200 f/2.8 VRII. Sweet.

 

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