Retro 7

  Retro 30


One Little Issue


News Story

Retro 7 v2.0:
  TTP | B&H

Retro 30 v2.0:
  TTP | B&H

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Test Drive: Retrospective 2.0 Series Bags Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

6 February 2019

If there was one thing we didn't like about Think Tank Photo's gorgeous Signature 13 Bag it was the $300 price tag. We don't have that problem with its Retrospective 2.0 Series bags. They're nearly the same design at almost half the price.

Slide Show. Take a closer look at the details.

The only questions we had was which size would be best suited for 1) the daily commute and 2) travel.

Think Tank Photo sent us a Retro 7 and Retro 30 to answer the question.


The main difference between the two is that the 7 will carry a 13-inch laptop and the bigger 30 will carry a 15-inch laptop. The other obvious difference is that the smaller bag features a single outer pocket while the larger bag breaks that into two pockets.

Leather Label. A nice touch on both bags.

Otherwise, they're built the same with a modest yet rugged exterior of sand-washed 100 percent cotton canvas with a durable and water-repellent coating, YKK abrasion-resistant zippers, nickel-plated hardware, a padded bottom and nylon webbing.

The laptop sleeve in both models is attached to the back only at the sides, not at the bottom, unlike the Signature 13.

They remind us of the original Domke bags with their unpretentious canvas look, if a bit nicer.


The two bags share a common design but there are some differences worth noting that we feel make the Retro 7 more suitable for commuting and working out of while the Retro 30 is more adapted to travel.

Retro 7

The $164.75 Retro 7 has one big well with a laptop section, a front pocket and dividers to split the main area into three other spaces. It's covered with a zippered top that can be left unzippered and attached by Velcro to the main cover so it opens with the cover.

Interior. Plenty of room for a laptop, dSLR, strobe, lenses.

The cover attaches to the shell with Velco but it can flap unattached as well if you use the "silencer" patches you'll find in pockets behind the Velco.

The outside of the bag has one large expandable pocket with a zippered compartment on the inside wall and a smaller pocket sewn into that with a pen slot, card slots and filter slots.

One side of the bag has a bottle carrier.

On the back, there's a zippered documents compartment and a pass-through slot for a telescoping luggage handle.

There's both a heavy-duty shoulder strap with non-skip treads and a smaller hand strap.

Non-Slip Grip. Comfortable, wide strap won't lip.

Retro 30

The $199.75 Retro 30 differs in size, of course, and in providing a roomier interior compartment and two expandable pockets, each smaller than the Retro 7's one wide pocket.

Hardware. Strong stuff that will stay put.

You'll find the smaller pockets for pens, cards and filters tucked into the zippered pocket where the two expandable pockets attach.

Bottle Carrier. One side can carry your water.

It's easy to overstuff the Retro 30 making the wide zippered compartments difficult to navigate. While the back stays straight, the bag's soft canvas front takes the shape of what you put into the pockets, distorting the zippered pockets.

Which is why we think it's best suited for travel rather than working out of.


We list both the commute and travel items we use in our bag reviews. Here's our list:

Commute Items

  • 13-inch MacBook Pro
  • MacBook Pro power adapter
  • Nikon D300
  • 18-200mm Nikkor
  • Polarizer in case
  • SB-800 external flash
  • 35mm Nikkor prime lens
  • USB cable
  • Microfiber cleaning cloth
  • Spare memory cards
  • Notepad
  • Pen

Additional Travel Items

  • Kingston MobileLite WiFi router
  • Kingston power adapter
  • Ethernet cable
  • Nikon battery charger
  • Nikon charger power cord
  • Lens pen
  • Three thumbdrives

The commute list was easily packed in the Retro 7 and the Retro 30 handled the additional travel items as well. The Retro 30, fully packed, weighed in at 10 lbs.

While the end pocket is handy for a water bottle, it has a bottom so you can't slip a tripod in it.

Loaded. The Retro 30 fully loaded on the luggage handle pass-through.

And the document sleeve on the back is useful as well for stashing anything you may want to keep handy, like a passport or a reporter's notebook.

There isn't a lot of places to slip smaller items into the bag but there are a few. We like to keep a pen handy but the pen pocket in both models is tucked inside a zippered compartment. So we just clip a pen to the side of an outer pocket.

There isn't a pocket designed to hold your phone, however.


We've had the bags since August last year, which is a long time for a test drive. Even for us.

But we had a little problem the very first time we used the Retro 7 that took us a few weeks to resolve. We're still not entirely sure we have resolved it but it isn't the deal breaker we initially feared.

The problem is that not all 13-inch laptops are the same size. It seems as if every generation of MacBook Pro 13-inch laptops get smaller and thinner. Our early 2011 13-inch MacBook Pro was thick enough to include a DVD drive and it barely fit in the bag's slot.

Once we got it in, we packed the bag with gear and took it with us in the car to another location where we thought we were going to have a few hours to get some work done. It didn't turn out that way but the bag made the round trip anyway.

When we unpacked, the laptop was the last thing we took out and we were horrified to see light colored streaks down the top of the case from front to back. Worse, in the middle, the streaks formed a square pattern, presumably from jostling the camera body into position.

Had we scratched the case?

We brushed off the streaks with our fingers and they seemed to disappear. But a couple of days later we noticed them again when strong sunlight strafed the top of the case.

There was nothing sharp at all on the inside of the laptop compartment, which is made exactly the same way as the one in the Signature 13 that we had no trouble with. And the bottom of the case was fine. We ran our hands over the entire surface, trying to find some nylon thread that might have damaged the top. Nothing.

And in fact, when we wiped a wet microfiber cloth over the top of the case we were finally able to completely remove the streaks. They seem to have been some sort of manufacturing residue.

We didn't have that problem with the larger bag because we enclosed the 13-inch laptop in a sleeve. That combination fit perfectly and gave us the added protection we'd want going through airports.


The range of bags we find useful is frighteningly wide. From a holster with room for nothing more than camera and zoom to a carry-around street bag with our camera, phone and glasses to a carry-on packing our office equipment along with our camera gear, it also varies quite a bit in size. And often we'll just wander around with nothing but a shoulder strap.

What we like about the Retrospective 2.0 bags was everything we liked about the Signature bag plus some enthusiasm for the price. Yes, they are still well over $100, but they'll outlast less expensive bags.

We do wish the Retrospective 7 had a little more laptop room for older models. It's just too tight a fit if your 13-inch has a DVD drive.

But that's our only complaint about these canvas bags that can accommodate both a laptop and camera.

Their intelligent design and sturdy build earn them both four photo corners from us.

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