Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7

The Perfect Camera Bag?

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Shown with two Leica M cameras; L-R: Leica M9 with 50mm Noctilux ASPH and M9-P with 35mm Summilux ASPH. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

As photographers we spent our years searching for that perfect image. Any photographer who has been in the industry for any length of time has most probably spent a sizeable amount of time also searching for the perfect camera bag!

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Front view, showing a lightmeter in the side pocket. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Firstly, I would say that no such thing exists as “the perfect camera bag”. It’s taken me a couple of decades to come up with this conclusion. I would say though that the perfect camera bag system does exist. One type of bag simply will not work for all situations, types of equipment or types of assignment, therefore having a system of bags is the answer. I’ve been a user of Think Tank Photo bags for many years now and was so impressed with them that I even joined the design board a couple of years ago, for a year. (I hasten to add that I’ve had no input into this bag, so it is a straight forward review). I now use a system of roller bags and backpacks which allow for transportation of gear to an assignment, and then a selection of belt pouches, chest bag (the Change Up) and shoulder bags, to work from (I choose what suits the assignment best).  I choose what will suit a particular assignment as carefully as I choose my camera or video gear. This way I can work both comfortably and quickly, with the equipment not getting in the way of the job at hand.

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Rear view, showing a lightmeter in the side pocket. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

I’ve been actively using the Retrospective 7 on assignment for several weeks now and must say I am very, very impressed. It now houses my Leica M outfit, comprising of an M9, M9-P, 21mm Elmarit, 28mm Summicron ASPH, 35mm Summilux ASPH, 50mm Noctilux ASPH, 90mm Summarit, SF 58 flash and various accessories. The main thing with this bag though was that it was designed to take an Apple 11″ MacBook Air or iPad too, so depending on what I’m doing, I will slip the appropriate computer in the rear zipped and padded compartment.

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Rear view, showing an Apple 11″ MacBook Air in the rear pocket. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Like the other Retrospective Bags, it’s lightweight, unconstructed and soft, with a moving base (made up of several padded sections that move with the movement of the bag). This makes the range, and this bag too, an extremely comfortable shoulder bag to work with and work from. It also has the genius silent velcro system which comes in very handy in quite press conferences (and will suit every wedding photographer when it comes to working in a church environment).

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Rear view, showing an Apple iPad 3. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Although I house my rangefinder outfit in the Retrospective 7, it will also be perfect for any Micro 4/3 system by Panasonic or Olympus and the Fuji X-Pro 1 kit. It will also take smaller DSLRs (without grips), including the 5D MkIII or D800, with lenses up to the 24-70 f2.8s and smaller prime lenses. It’s an extremely versatile size and can be configured to house a wide variety of gear, including a means to edit and send pictures.

Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7 shoulder bag. Interior shot, with dividers set up specifically for a Leica M outfit. May 31, 2012. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Is it the perfect bag? Well, I’d say it’s the perfect shoulder bag and it’s now my favourite shoulder bag of all time. Highly recommended.

The Retrospective 7, along with most of that range is available in Black, Pinestone and the new Blue Slate colours. If you’re in the UK, check out SnapperStuff where you can order directly or find your local dealer. Otherwise, check out the Think Tank Photo.

Addendum: Macjim has kindly sent me this picture showing his Retrospective 7 with the Apple 13″ MacBook Air in the front pocket. I wouldn’t say it’s ideal, but appears a workable solution if needs must.


25 responses to “Think Tank Photo Retrospective 7

  1. Like you Edmund I already have the 5, but have been waiting for Think Tank to bring out a slightly larger one that would also house my iPad. Looks like this is it!!

  2. I had seen this bag on the Thinktankphoto web site long before it was due out and thought it would be ideal for my Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Leica M9. I have the Retrospective 20 bag: I got it for the cameras above. The smaller bags in the range were too small for my needs as I wanted something that would allow me to take my MacBook Air 13″ along with both cameras and assorted bits and pieces, but I felt I’d gone for the wrong size as the amount of times the Air went with me was few and far between.
    I bought the Black version of the 7 and at first I was disappointed that it was only designed to take the iPad and 11″ Air, but after fitting the interior out to suit my cameras, it ride the 13″ Air in the front pouch and was delighted to see it fit just fine. So now I can take my two. Amerasian, bits and bobs, my iPad and when needed, the Air too without the bulk of the Retrospective 20. Now I can’t decide where to hang onto the 20 or to sell it on eBay! Decisions decisions

    • Glad you’re happy with it. I hadn’t tried the front pocket. If they had made the back pocket bigger to take the 13″, the entire bag would just get too big. If you use DSLRs as well, I’d keep the Retro 20, otherwise, I think eBay may well be the way to go!

      • Thanks T, no, I dont use dslr’s anymore. Got fed up lugging around my nikon D90 as I was just too heavy. Loving my M9 with 35mm f2.5 and the X-Pro1 with 35 & 18mm lenses.

  3. is this much better than retrospective 30?

    • It depends – if you use 2 or 3 DSLRs and several big f2.8 zooms, then no, the Retro 30 is the bag. If you use small Leica M or Micro 4/3 cameras with small lenses, then yes, the Retro 7 is much more suitable.

  4. The Retro 7 (in blue) was exactly the bag I wanted for events where I might need to do people shots. I can fit my D700 with the grip and 24-70 in it along with an SB-900 and another lens. The front pocket hold various other accessories and the ipad still fits comfortably in the padded pocket. And the thinner strap feels better. I have a 30 in black for larger shoots and I’m going to get a 10 in pinestone for knocking around within the field. I am OD’ing on think tank bags.

  5. So to confirm, the retro 7 can house a MBA 13″? anyone able to post a photo please as im ordering the bag and MBA tomorrow. thanks

    • The back pocket is designed for the 11″ MacBook Air or iPad; a 13″ will definitely not fit in the back. However MacJim says his 13″ Air fits in the front pocket. I haven’t tried this myself so can’t comment.

  6. A 13″ MacBook Air will fit in the front pocket but not the back pocket which is designed for the 11″ and an iPad only.

    • Would there be suficient padding or should I get a sleeve to protect the MBA? Thanks 🙂

      • Yes, I would suggest you buy a sleeve for the Air, I have an Acme one and it does the job. The rain cover will protect it from this lovely summer weather while in the front pocket. I more often than not take my iPad, rather than my 13″Air so I would suggest you try the Air in the bag first before purchasing. It won’t fit the rear pocket as it is designed for the 11″, I tried to fit the 13″ in it and definitely doesn’t fit. PS. The Air will stick up above the front pocket by about three to four inches but the bag will close over it fully, it does mean if the weather is threatening rain, you will need to use the rain cover. I’ll try and post a photo for you.

      • Rob, have posted a picture from Macjim showing his setup.

  7. thank you all – that has made my decision for me. I think the 11″ macbook will be more suitable for me. I just need to get all my photos and music to less than 128GB!!

    • The 11″ is a superb machine. I have the model before the recent upgrade & it’s sweet. I have a review on here so search it out. You can configure it with 256Gb or even 512Gb. My suggestion is always not to carry one’s entire archive with them but to download onto two separate (at least) hard drives to ensure backups exist.

  8. Well, if you buy the 11″, you could use an external hard drive (portable) to save yourhotographs too. A 1Tb drive would be ample for that, I have an external drive partitioned – 500Gb for TimeMachine backups and 500Gb for Lightroom 4. That way you don’t use the internal memory for photographs saving the space for editing tools etc. the only caveat is backing up those photographs saved to the external drive. I haven’t yet figured out that one yet. 🙂

  9. Do you think a 5DMII with grip and a 24-105mm lens attached, plus a 580EX II and a Tamron 70-300 VC USD will fit comfortably?

    • I don’t have any grips on my 5D MkIIs to check for you, but it might be a little tight (you may be able to get away with it if you don’t have anything bulky in the front pockets). Without the grip, no problem. Also, if you took the lens off, no problem. Carrying a camera with a mounted lens always means having to go for a bigger bag. With the Leicas it’s not a problem, but when I’m carrying DSLRs, I always have the lenses off, as this means I can use a smaller bag. Also, often one doesn’t have the correct lens fitted anyway so wastes time changing!
      Best advice would be to take your kit along to a retailer who has stock and try it out. The SnapperStuff website have a list of retailers. Alternatively drop a line to Think Thank Photo and ask them?

      PS – sorry for the delay in responding; was away on assignment and only now catching up with correspondence.

  10. Excellent review.

    I’m definitely getting one of these when they come out in the UK in August.

    I have the Retrospective 30 (in Pinestone) and its just perfect for when I’m packing 2 DSLRs, 4 lenses, 2 Speedlights and all the accessories (SD cards, aa batteries etc) plus personal effects on event shoots.

    I love the 30 and I’ve been losing for a smaller version to take iPad, d7000, 2 lens, accessories and the like when just strolling around London or as my travel bag.

    I’m only unsure about what colour to get – I love Pinestone but already have the 30 in Pinestone so I’ll go for that cool slate blue.

    • They are a great range of bags. The Retrospectives are by far my favourite shoulder bags!
      The blue does look cool, but I decided to stick with Pinestone, so now have almost a full range! A couple of Retrospective 5s, a 7, a 10, a 30 and an LC2! I take the bag that suits the assignment and the kit. I sometime even use the 30 purely for carrying portable lighting and will pack a small Quantum Q-Flash outfit in there; very handy!

      • Ive just preordered it feom Harrison Camera and hope to receive it next month.

        Given how much effort and time I’ve put into finding the perfect walkaround camera bag, I’ll never be able to criticise my fair lady’s ongoing search for the ‘perdect’ handbag again….as she’s just pointed out with glee.

  11. Is this Pinestone in the pictures? It looks like a green, but for the life of me, I can’t find the green one anywhere mentioned anywhere, much less for sale.

    Pictures of the Pinestone elsewhere look different than in your photos above.

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