What is the best camera bag for time-lapse photographers?
Welcome to my quest.
I’ve been shooting time-lapse photography for several years and in that time some great gear innovations have come about. Back when I started exploring time-lapse photography a tripod, camera and intervalometer were all you needed so a standard camera bag was enough. Now that motion control dollies, robotic tripod heads, large batteries and computers are involved a simple camera bag often isn’t enough. Until recently I’ve been using my old camera bag and slowly adding smaller camera bags to the mix. It hasn’t been the most efficient way to travel and eventually I settled on traveling light with only my time-lapse gear in a smaller ThinkTank Sling-o-matic 10 bag that easily fits my eMotimo TB3, a battery, remote, a level and 1-2 lenses or a body & lens. Still I’ve been yearning for more… a bag that I can put everything in, work easily out of it and still travel with (car or plane).
The folks over at Gura Gear were kind enough to let me try out their latest camera bag the Bataflae 32L. In case you’re unfamiliar with the meaning of Bataflae it is Bislama (Vanuatu) for ‘butterfly’, which makes perfect sense when you begin to work with the bag. Rather than have one large flap that opens and closes to access the main storage area of the bag, you can access half the main storage area like a toolbox or open the bag like your standard bag. Personally I’ve fallen in love with the ability to access my gear with greater flexibility. The butterfly design alone makes the bag awesome. Every time I’ve gone back to using a standard camera bag I’ve tried accessing half the main storage area only to be bummed that I can’t. It’s such a simple innovation that after you use it you can’t believe someone hadn’t thought of this before.
Other features that I found to be rather slick include the ability to store the backpack straps for snag free travel, an extra handle on the side of the bag enabling you to lift the bag more easily and extra large side pockets to carry a tripod or in my case components of my time-lapse dolly. The bag comes in two models the Bataflae 32L and Bataflae 26L. The Bataflae 32L has external dimensions of 14 x 21 x 9 inches (36 x 53 x 23 cm) and internal dimensions of 13 x 20 x 7 inches (33 x 51 x 18 cm). The smaller Bataflae 26L has external dimensions of 14 x 18 x 9 inches (36 x 46 x 23 cm) and internal dimensions of 13 x 17 x 7 inches (33 x 43 x 18 cm). The cost for the 32L is $449 and 26L is $399. Yes a bit pricey, but the material, construction and flexibility make this a great choice. One of the things that attracted me to the 32L was the prospect that I might fit Dynamic Perception Stage One modular dolly rail sections in the bag. These modular rails measure 21″ long and they’re just a bit too long to fit inside without altering the bag. Where there is a will, there is a way I suppose. I’m sure they could be squeezed inside, but I found it workable to store these modular sections in the external side pockets designed for tripods and keep the interior of the bag looking like new.
One question I’ve received after releasing my eMotimo TB3 review was, “How do I carry everything?” Clearly having an assistant would be ideal to help cart around cameras, lenses, dollies, tripods, etc. In the past I’ve saddled up like a mule carrying my ThinkTank Sling-o-matic 10 bag and two tripods (in two bags clipped together with one shoulder strap) over my back with my free hands then carrying my Dynamic Perception Stage One dolly. Clearly having an assistant would be easier on the back. The Bataflae 32L looks to be a more comfortable and flexible solution if you’re aiming to be a bit more mobile in the field.
See more photos after the jump