After using the Think Tank SubUrban 20 (above) alongside my Retrospective 7 for a few months I have made a few comparisons and have a few ideas for what could be added to later versions.
The appearance of the SubUrban is high quality. It looks too small to be a camera bag, nor is it a camera shape, so it is a good disguise.
I am a freelance writer and l like to take photographs to accompany my stories. Typically I travel with a Canon 60D and a range of lenses. This might be a Tamron 28-75 f2.8, Sigma 50 f1.4 and a Canon 10-22 wide angle lens. I usually also need a flash in the bag. In the pictures below the 10-22 lens is fitted to the camera, and the 28-75 plus flash are in the centre of the bag. A lens hood is at the end, and you can also see a moisture absorbing pack sitting there.
Spare camera and flash batteries or other small items will fit in the bag easily, but fitting the 50mm lens in there is a tight squeeze with the flash in there.
The SubUrban has a stiffer outer shell than the Retrospective, as a result of the material used. The ‘open away’ flap is good, but it misses out on the Retro’s feature of a choice between Velcro fastening or silent opening. The flap must be unzipped each time. Perhaps it could have a Velcro tab for quick closure.
The SubUrban misses out on the soft flash pocket the Retro has in the main compartment. It could use additional Velcro tapes in the main compartment and on the dividers.
The top mesh pouch seen at left could use some elastic material bordering the pockets, or some inner dividers. The outer zip pocket, which forms part of the outer flap, is well divided and has useful little pockets.
The Retro has a lot of features to like. The Velcro closure (or silent opening option) on the Retro is a feature I am consistently impressed by.
The only disadvantage of the Retro’s top flap is that there is no additional secure closure option available (such as a buckle). That said, the Velcro is secure and I’ve never had the bag flap open by accident.
As an overall comparison, each of the bags is ‘better’ in one or other unique ways.
The SubUrban has slightly less capacity than the Retro, partly due to the more rigid construction used. The ‘Subbie’ has a more contemporary look due to the black nylon fabric, and perhaps it might offer slightly better protection than the soft Retro.
There is a surprising amount of room in the Subbie and it’s a neat, efficient bag if one is shooting a 60D or similar size. I have had my EOS 3 in the bag as well but it is a less comfortable fit. The older generation film camera is just a bit larger.
The Retro is a slightly bigger bag, with lots of great little pockets and dividers. It is an easy bag to get things out of. It offers a pretty good ‘disguise’ of your camera equipment, probably just as good as the ‘Subbie’ does. It also has a iPad size pocket which offers useful extra storage, or indeed a place to put your iPad…
I recommend both bags for a 60D size camera with a small load of equipment. The Retro has the edge for space, as it is a slightly bigger and softer bag. The Subbie has the edge in contemporary looks, and the secure top flap (if you feel that’s a necessity). It also has some nice storage in the outer pockets and may be a little more protective overall.