Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Two Very Hip Sidekick Lens Bags Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

18 March 2014

You will never find the perfect bag. Ask anyone. They never have. Neither will you. Sure, you can get a little camera case for a digicam but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about something that will hold everything you need. But not be too large.

The problem is that if you're going out for a walk, you don't need to pack your strobe and three lenses. But if you're flying across the country, you might want those things plus your tripod. It's the accessories that change the game.

That's why, we're sure, the old Domke design included a sidecar. Just a removable canvas bag attached to the side of the main bag into which you could slip a long lens or a strobe or anything else. Often, we just drop our glasses case in there. On top of the white shower cap we use to diffuse the on-camera flash.


Welcome to the world of bag accessories, where you can configure your main bag with a few amenities to make it more useful if not perfect.

Fortunately the two lens bags we've been testing for a few months are, themselves, perfect. And just to prove the point, you don't even have to choose between them. You can attach one to each side of your main bag.

Two Accessory Bags. The MindShift (left) and SpiderPro both attach to anything. Like our LowePro at last year's America's Cup.

That, in fact, is how we used them once we observed a heavily-laden photographer at last fall's America's Cup wearing one on each side of his backpack to even the load.

Let's take a look at each of them.


SpiderPro Pouch. Click for slideshow.

The $75 SpiderPro Large Lens Pouch is designed to hold a 70-200 lens with a lens hood attached. Here's the feature list:

  • Designed specifically to hold a 70-200mm lens with the hood attached (other sizes are in development)
  • Expandable pouch opening for quick and safe access to lenses
  • Built-in solution for tethering the rear lens cap while changing lenses
  • A removable pouch lid that can fold back and out of the way (and even detach completely) when quick access is necessary to protect contents from the elements
  • Includes one Spider Monkey clip to carry accessories
  • Folds flat for traveling
  • Accommodates the SpiderPro Holster belt, Black Widow Holster belt and third-party belts

Those virtues are immediately apparent. You can mount the black pouch to your bag, your belt or a Spider holster belt. The Velcro tether can be attached to a rear lens cap to hang onto it while you change lenses (with one hand, according to SpiderPro). And it folds flat for packing along when you travel.

We didn't try the one-handed lens change. You'll notice the video is cooked a bit (where's the other lens?) but it does attest to the open nature of the pouch. That water-resistant zipper runs down not around, making it easy to grab what's inside.

It also comes with a Spider Monkey clip so you can mount other accessories to it. There may be no end to that, but it's a nice touch.

Another nice touch is the rain cover. It's the only cover, actually, but it slips nicely over the top of your longer lenses to protect them. And you can remove it or just fold it back out of the way.

The Velcro tether is a real winner. Handling the rear lens cap is the thing that requires a third hand and this takes care of that nicely.

The one issue we should point out is not, as it turns out, an imperfection. It's simply the fact that a large pouch will accommodate a lot of weight and you may find yourself or your bag sagging to one side.

The solution to that is another pouch on the other side. And we just happen to have one....


MindShift Case. Click for slideshow.

MindShift Gear, the Think Tank Photo spin-off, offers a completely different approach with its $42.50 Lens Switch Case. Here's the feature list:

  • Pop-down feature expands size for longer lenses
  • Fits on modular belt rail and most standard belts
  • Zippered closures open and close with one hand
  • Removable padded divider can protect two items side by side
  • Outer zippered pocket for filters and other accessories
  • Fitted rain cover stows in bottom pouch

In a word, it's more versatile. The removable padded divider lets you hold one or two items and the pop-down feature unzips to expand the depth of the bag for longer lenses.

It also has an external pocket for filters, cards and more with a sewn in pocket, too. And the bag itself is large enough to hold a lens and a strobe both. It's deep enough with the expander to hold a 70-200mm zoom, too.

Four zippers (main, external pocket, pop-up extension and rain cover) in a green bag that weights six ounces.

CONCLUSION | Back to Contents

Either of these lens bags does the job well and both of them make a nice balancing act. If you find yourself swapping lenses a lot, the SpiderPro is probably your best best. If you like to pack a lot of little things along with you, the MindShift product will be more accommodating.

Or you could just buy both for a more balanced approached.

BackBack to Photo Corners