Thursday, September 22, 2011

Small Camera Bag Hack

I have an SLR camera with a very large bag that holds most of my equipment.  It's a backpack style, which is nice to carry because I can bend over and lean while wearing it without worrying that the bag is going to swing around and whack somebody.  As long as I wear both straps I don't whack people, I mean.  Don't ask me what happens when wearing just one strap.  It's not pretty.

The problem is that it's a very big bag that is very heavy.  This summer was very busy with lots of trips.  The full size bag would be way more equipment than I needed and I knew I couldn't hike 26 miles in it.  I needed a camera bag that would carry just the camera and one lens.  Ideally, I would have had a Crumpler sling bag, but since I didn't want to spend $50, I was out of luck.  

So I made my own.
I started with a $3.99 mini backpack purse from Salvation Army.  It had the right size main compartment and a little zipper pocket on the front for an extra battery, flash cards, and ID.  The heavy duty nylon canvas would put up with the abuse of a hand cart trek, a trip to the beach, and all around travel.  It's not the prettiest, but hey, you can find a prettier one for yours.

The grey block in the picture is the secret to this project:  high density foam.  Regular foam probably isn't going to do it.  You need the the super good stuff.  This is the product they use to protect lots of delicate equipment and my husband just happened to have a little bit in storage.
I sat the bag on the foam and traced around the base with a pen.  This was a little bigger than the foam needed to be, so I cut it just a bit smaller and rounded off the corners.  I made two of these.   Then I traced around the lens that I wanted to use in the bag.  This time I cut the foam out a little larger than what I traced.   In one block, I cut the circle all the way through.  In the second block I cut it only halfway down.  That was a pain, and it's not pretty, but it works.

I made sure the two foam blocks lined up at the lens hole.  Then I shoved them into the bag.  The camera fits in the bag lens down.  Like this:
On the sides, I cut spare blocks to fit around the body of the camera.  It would be best if one were to glue the foam together into the proper shape.  I'm lazy and have no clue what kind of glue to use, so my foam is still in pieces.  Nevertheless, this bag has been perfect.  I took this with me on my 26 mile hand cart trek.  My camera came through with nary a scratch or bump even after a torrential downpour and ridiculous amounts of dust.   It went to the beach with no problems as well.  Not that I went around dropping the bag in the surf, but it did well in the salty, humid air.  

If I were to upgrade this, I would probably try to find a leather bag.  Then I'd actually glue the foam and hopefully cover the whole foam block section in a nice printed fabric for contrast and fun.  Otherwise it's been great.  Today, my camera goes with me to a cross country meet.  I love taking the lighter bag.  My back thanks me too.

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