If you've noticed that you're spending a lot more time cleaning your lenses, cameras and filters, and your photographs need more and more retouching due to dust on the sensor or lens, the problem just might be your camera bag. Even the best-designed and best-built camera bags don't last forever, and the canary in the coal mine that tells you it's time for a replacement is lint.
Tamrac Aero Speed Pack 85
You should regularly clean your camera bag by emptying everything out and giving it a good once-over with a vacuum cleaner. When you do that, look over your gear carefully. This also is a good time to wipe everything down with a microfiber cloth. Microfiber cloths make outstanding dust cloths, and they don't have to be wet or used with a cleaning solvent to get the job done. If your gear does need more than a gentle wipe down, take care as to what you use so that you don't damage any of the optics, multicoatings or anything else.
As you dust everything, look to see if there seems to be an inordinate amount of fine dust or fine lint. If there is, the materials in your bag might be starting to deteriorate. As durable as a good camera bag is, the fabrics are still subject to breakdown from UV light, and a number of atmospheric contaminants. You should never store your camera bag, or any photo gear for that matter, in your garage where car exhaust, fuel fumes and a thousand other household chemicals are in high concentrations in the air. These chemicals will eventually start to break down your bag's fabric. The resulting dust can be confounding to clean. Many nature photographers take care to change lenses by holding the DSLR and lens in the camera bag to keep it away from dirt swirling in the wind. If your camera bag is past its prime, taking this extra care will do much more harm than good.
So how do you know it's time for a change? When you do the annual cleaning, look carefully. Are there bare spots in some of the internal fabric? Is there a fine coating of dust on everything? Does the padding feel like it has lost its spring? Any of these is a red flag indicating it's time to upgrade.
Click Elite: www.clikelite.com
Gura Gear: www.guragear.com
We all become attached to our camera bags. We spend time configuring all of the dividers just so and making them fit our individual kits such that chargers, filters, cleaning cloths and accessories are exactly where we want them and accessible in an instant. The camera bag becomes an old friend. But if you haven't upgraded in a while, you've been missing out on the evolution of the humble camera bag. Bulky laptop compartments have given way to sleek tablet sleeves. Shoulder straps feature contours and new materials to make them more comfortable than ever, and sling bags, which let you shift from back mount to side mount in an instant, have become ubiquitous and quite ingenious. If your old bag is at the end of its useful life, look into the impressive advancements available from companies like Tamrac, Clik Elite, Lowepro, Think Tank, Gura Gear, Adorama and other manufacturers.