The Digital Journalist
Letters from Central America:

by James Colburn

April 2006

Are you a photographer? Do you have lots of bags lying around the house? Probably.

I did a recent home survey and found eight shoulder bags (all from Domke), four backpack camera bags (from various manufacturers) and five hard-plastic Pelican cases in various sizes and shapes. Then there were the pouches, wraps and lens bags. There are probably more strewn about but I didn't want to take TOO much time searching.

A look inside Think Tank's "Airport Addicted Carry-On Roller" camera bag reveals plenty of padding, moveable dividers and secret compartments.

Jim Colburn
So "why buy another," you may ask?

"Why buy another?" my wife asks.

"Because the latest one is better!" I reply.

Getting all your gear into a bag, on to a plane and safely to your assignment destination can be a pain. Which lenses do I bring? Can I leave that one home or will I need it when I get there? If I don't bring it, I know damn well I'll need it at some point and mutter curses that I don't have it.

No matter what you want to bring you have to figure that in order to keep track of it you really want to bring it on board with you. I had a bit of a scare a few weeks ago when the bag with the lighting equipment wound up taking a detour to Kansas City instead of following me home to Omaha ("The Garden City of the Great Plains"). That was at the end of the trip so a day's delay didn't matter that much but if it'd been delayed on the way TO the gig I'd have had a few problems. So I was determined to find a bag that would let me take a whole bunch of stuff on board with me. Enough stuff so that even if the lighting equipment bag got lost or delayed I'd be able to do the job.

Enter the folks at Think Tank and their Airport Addicted Carry-On Roller case ( These twisted people, a couple of photographers and a couple of designers, have managed to make a carry-on bag that will let you carry on just about whatever you could want. It has padding, moveable dividers, secret compartments and is designed to fit in an overhead compartment. It also has the benefit of looking pretty much like any other carry-on bag and so doesn't scream, "Cameras! Steal Me!"

Think Tank's "Airport Addicted Carry-On Roller" camera bag, loaded with gear.

Jim Colburn
When the bag arrived I opened it up and found more dividers than I've ever seen come standard with a case. (See Photo One) I've ALWAYS needed an extra divider or two and have always had to cannibalize them from an older bag, meaning different colors, different widths, different heights and semi-compatible Velcro. After about an hour's thought and play I managed to fill my new bag (See Photo Two) with:

Two Canon 5D bodies
One Canon 16-35mm lens
One Canon 24-70mm lens
One Canon 70-200mm lens
One Canon 24mm/1.4 lens
One Canon 35mm/1.4 lens
One Canon 50mm/1.4 lens
One Canon 85mm/1.8 lens
One Canon 135mm/2 lens
One Canon 1.4X Extender
One Canon 2X Extender
Two Canon 550EX flashes
Two Canon CP-E2 battery packs
Twelve Compact Flash cards
Extra rechargeable AAs w/charger
Extra camera batteries w/charger
Light Meter

And there are still pockets left to fill and many dividers left over that can be used to re-arrange things for different assignments. I've already figured out that if I were to cut back on a few lenses I could fit a couple of light stands and umbrellas inside.

It weighs a ton and I wouldn't want to use the "emergency" backpack straps during a mad dash from Terminal Two to Terminal Four at name-the-airport-you-hate-the-most but that's why it's got WHEELS.

© James Colburn
Contributing Writer