Product Spotlight: Think Tank Retrospective Lens Changer 3

September 22, 2013  •  4 Comments

When Zenfolio asked me to review a Think Tank bag, I was pretty excited because I am already a big fan of its products. I use its Airport Security roller bag exclusively to cart my gear to local sessions, and as I travel for weddings, portrait sessions, and workshops. It’s one piece of equipment I really couldn’t work without. I also use Think Tank’s belt and pouch system when carrying a small amount of gear with me on shoots, which is rare.

I have to admit to you I have GAS -- Gear Acquisition Syndrome. And I like to carry a lot of that gear with me when I’m on a shoot. I can often be found with two camera bodies with lenses hanging from my shoulders, with as many as three additional lenses in a lens bag. If you’re keeping count, that’s two cameras and five lenses. It’s a good thing I work out!

So after some consideration and a quick visit to the massive and awesome B&H superstore in New York City to look at Think Tank’s offerings, I chose to review the Retrospective Lens Changer 3 bag. I had been using another lens bag for years and was ready to try something new.

Here are the basics. The Retrospective Lens Changer 3 is a cross-body shoulder bag that holds up to three lenses. It also features a large pocket in the back that holds everything else (memory cards, phone, notes, etc.). The Retrospective Lens Changer 3 also has a small pocket in front of the middle lens compartment that is just the right size for Think Tank’s Pixel Pocket Rocket memory card holder.

There’s a lot to love about this bag. The shoulder strap is soft and padded, which makes it a comfy bag to wear, even for eight plus hours on a wedding day. The lens compartments are roomy, so lenses go in and out easily. The bottom of the lens compartments is padded, so I can set it down without worrying about damaging my lenses.

The Retrospective Lens Changer 3 is made of a very sturdy fabric and is easy to clean. I recently led a ranch retreat/workshop near Yosemite National Park. It was at the height of summer, after months of dry weather. We were photographing horses and cattle on the move, so the dust was intense (which made for some great photos). The bag itself got pretty dusty, but my lenses inside did not. Cleaning the bag when I got home was just a matter to brushing it off and using a little canned air to make it good as new and ready for my next wedding.

The outer flap covers the lens compartments completely. I can even close the flap over my 70-200 2.8 lens with the lens hood on.  It has optional Velcro to keep it closed and to secure the lens compartments. The Retrospective Lens Changer 3 also gives you the option to enable “silencers” that cover up the Velcro, which is handy when I have to change lenses during a quiet church ceremony. A bonus is that the flap is a nice spot for business cards. I put a handful in there so I’m always ready to hand one out when asked.

The roomy back pocket zips closed to secure the contents. There are several pockets inside this back pocket area, including one designated for a pen, which I am finding is handy more often than I thought. The bag also features a small handle at the top, making it easy to grab and go.

The only drawbacks I have found with the Retrospective Lens Changer 3 is that it does take up more physical space in my suitcase than my old lens bag did, and it is a little bulkier to wear, but I’m willing to overlook these in exchange for having a bag that is more comfortable and easier to use.

I would recommend the Retrospective Lens Changer 3 to any photographer who wants a comfortable, easy way to carry lenses and accessories when they are working.

 

Shelley's appreciation of horses goes way back. As a horse lover herself, it is no surprise that she focuses her lens on these beautiful creatures and their owners. One look at her images reveals a deep understanding of the bond between human and horse. Shelley's mastery of natural light and her soft approach result in breathtaking images you want to look at over and over again. Check out her online portfolio here: http://www.shelleypaulson.com/equine.htm


Comments

6.Shelley Paulson(non-registered)
@Tim -
It works great! It's why I went with the LensChanger 3 instead of 2. I want the option to load it up. Most of the time when I photograph weddings, I put a water bottle in the center lens pocket.
5.Jeffrey Friedl(non-registered)
Oops, it looks like the link to my writeup on the bag and how I modified it for my own needs didn't show up. Here it is:

http://regex.info/blog/2012-05-13/1993
3.Tim Bugbee(non-registered)
so you say that you usually use two bodies and five lenses (which is about what I carry for most shoots)...how does this bag fit that need?
1.Jeffrey Friedl(non-registered)
I've been using this bag for about a year and a half, and indeed the build quality is first rate.

One warning, though, is that I found the design of the zippered pocket to be really bad... the strap connections block easy access to the zipper such that it takes a concerted effort to zip or unzip even when the bag is sitting on a table in front of you; it's effectively not possible when the bag is slung over your shoulder.

The Velcro method they chose for flap closure also seems to be poorly done... the Velcro is thick and clunky and the amount they used is wildly excessive for the bag's intended use. I've worked the "silencers" to leave just 1/4th of the Velcro exposed, drawing a better balance between hold strength and the ear-shattering Velcro noise one gets when undoing the flap.

These and other gripes aside, the build quality really is very nice, and after some modifications I find that this remains my primary bag. FWIW, I've put an article I wrote about it (the bag and my modifications) as my web-site link for this comment.
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