Think Tank Retrospective 20

Camera bags, I have a bunch of them. And I've owned MANY more over the years trying to find the "perfect bag". Finally, I gave up. I realized that "the perfect bag" just doesn't exist. But there is such a thing as the perfect camera bag; for me, and for a specific use.

The Think Tank Retrospective 20 is one of those bags. I've been using this bag for three years now, and that's saying a lot! I've used Tenba, Tamrac, Lowe Pro, Kata, Boda, and others. I've used the lens bags, backpacks, sling bags, harnesses, vests, and other shoulder bags. And I still use some of those for what they do better.

What does the retrospective do better than the others?

Think Tank Retrospective

The Retrospective is my "general purpose casual bag." It's adequately padded, but not bomb proof. Drop the bag from shoulder height or similar and something is probably going to get broken. But this lighter padding makes the bag more versatile, less bulky, weigh less,  and more comfortable to carry. All great things.

The bag is designed to be "inconspicuous" in that it's not loudly branded and it doesn't really look much like a traditional camera bag. Also a good thing.

The bag is sized to carry a gripped or pro body with a 70-200mm f/2.8 attached, and it will...... *IF* the lens hood is reversed.

Actually, it will hold the body and 70-200mm f/2.8 with the lens hood in shooting position but the body is sticking up above the bag top. The flap will still cover the body and secure to the front with velcro if enabled. But it's not as secure or stable. For me, that's ok. 

They advertise the bag as able to hold a pro body, 2-4 additional lenses, an extra body, a flash, papers, tablet, cards, filters, blah, blah, blah. And I suppose it can. But IMO that would defeat the usefulness of this bag. If you load up this bag that heavy it's not as comfortable, nor discrete, and things get much harder to access and use.

Additional "Features" and my opinion of them:

Removable top handle- Great! I removed it. It gets in the way when actually using the bag.

Exterior webbing loops for attaching more stuff- Pointless. If I wanted to carry more stuff I'd use a bigger bag. The loops also block access to the side pockets. But I guess that's "ok" since those pockets are pretty useless. They're too small and too deep, maybe clip a pen there or something.

Large expandable Front Pocket- Great! I use it as my "drop pocket". Used Batteries, lens caps, whatever. Carrying a second body in there? I don't think so, there's absolutely no padding.

Large Rear Pocket: Great! I use it to carry paperwork, fliers, etc. Putting anything fragile in there? Again, absolutely no exterior padding and this side will be banging against you.

Collapsible Nylon Pockets in the main compartment- "Eh." They don't do much and kind of get int the way. The only use I've found for them is to keep one flash "separated" from a second flash when carrying two flashes in one divided space. Unfortunately, it won't fit my SB800 with the 5th battery pack thing. It fits an SB600 nicely; just fits an SB800 without the 5th battery, and I'm not to sure it would hold a SB900 at all. 

Rain Cover- Ok, I suppose it could come in handy. I have no idea where mine is.

Padded Strap- Nice! Large, well padded, comfortable, and it doesn't slip. What else can you ask for?

Velcro "Silencers"- Great! I always use them. They cover the velcro flaps so that the velcro doesn't stick. This makes the bag "silent" to use. I love that. But it also prevents the flaps from actually "securing" anything.

Additional pockets- There's plenty for a couple filters, cards, lens pen, etc.

Adjustable dividers- Have to have them. Once I got the bag configured I don't think I've ever moved them.

What the Retrospective 20 is good for, or "how I use my Retrospective 20."

As I said, it's my "general purpose casual bag." I use it to carry a few things "inconspicuously" and conveniently.  It's not for carrying everything (no camera carry bag is).

I select the pieces of gear I want for that outing and load it appropriately.

Often, I will have the  Nikon 28-300mm attached to the camera with tho hood installed in shooting position and lens cap removed in the center spot. The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 in an end location, and the SB800 in the other end spot. Like they show in this picture.


Sometimes the lenses will be different; maybe the 70-200mm f/2.8 and the 24-70mm f/2.8. Regardless of what lens is attached it's always carried the same way. Hood installed in shooting position with lens cap removed. A "little" more care is required if the lens attached is the 70-200mm.

Sometimes I'll carry the camera on it's own strap which allows me to carry an additional lens or extra flashes. This is how I use it when things are "a little more serious". I'll generally have the camera, 70-200mm, f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, 14-24mm f/2.8, and SB800 with me. That's all large and heavy pro gear. It all fits well and is easily accessed. I use it more as a "lens" bag in this situation and I find I prefer it to something like the Boda Bag or even Think Tank's own "lens changer" version of this bag.

And there's other configurations. Maybe I'll take the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 Macro instead of one of the other lenses, or maybe I'll carry one lens and three flashes in there. Whatever. 

The point is that what I want and need fits well, it's easy to access, and it is comfortable to carry. You can't ask for anything more from a bag.

It's not my only bag. But for some it may be the only bag you need.

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