ThinkTank Retrospective 7 Camera Bag Review


A few weeks back I wrote an initial post about upping my photographic game. After much thought and discussion I purchased a Canon G3i DSLR with an extra lens, and I have been accumulating additional accessories to go with it. (As a result there are a good many reviews on the way!!) Of course, I need a convenient and protective way to carry the camera. I shared an initial look at three different bags from ThinkTank Photo (check it out here). This post is the first of three in-depth looks at them.

The Retrospective 7 is the smallest of the ThinkTank bags I’m reviewing. It is also the lightest, carries just enough gear, and has a spot for an iPad or an 11″ MacBook air. Unfortunately, when I requested the review sample I was using an 11″ MacBook air, but I’ve since moved to a 15″ MacBook Pro retina. As a result there is no way my laptop can come along in this particular bag. Obviously this is the result of my gadget obsession not the fault of the bag, but I am still bummed.

Let’s take a closer look at the bag through the company’s description and our video review; be sure to check out the end of this post for a special opportunity if you are in the market for camera accessories.

ThinkTank Retrospective7 Camera bag

From ThinkTank:

The shooter’s bag. The new Retrospective® 7 is designed for standard DSLR systems. We’ve included a rear pocket which will hold your iPad or an 11” Mac-Book Air. Our designers paired this classic design along with modern improvements to create the perfect shooter’s bag. These lightweight shoulder bags come in two fabrics that both offer a unique look and feel. Ergonomically designed to conform to your body, the Retrospective 7 is comfortable to walk with and provides quick access to your gear. Classic styling ensures that your gear goes unnoticed.

With its subtle styling, generous capacity and comfort, the Retrospective series has quickly become one of the leading bag collections in the industry. Working pros to vacationers all will find the Retrospective 7 to be the most useful and functional bag for a day’s outing. Combining the broad appeal of the Retrospective design with a versatile new size, the Retrospective 7 is a bag for your everyday demands.

ThinkTank Retrospective7 Camera bag 001


Perfectly suited for standard DSLRs with a pocket for an iPad/11” MacBook Air

Sound Silencers™ to turn off the front flap hook and loop for silent operation

Cushioned and padded nonslip shoulder strap for all day comfort

Organizational and zippered pockets for accessories

Removable divider set for custom layouts

Convenient carrying handle for grab and go

Seam sealed rain cover

Expandable front pocket for DSLR body or accessories

Business card slot under the front flap for identification

High quality YKK zippers

Soft, flexible, lightweight

Black (1100D ‘polyspun’ polyester exterior fabric), Pinestone (sand washed cotton canvas) and Blue State (sand washed cotton canvas)

I love this bag; I’ve been using it quite a bit and see myself using it frequently in the future.

ThinkTank Retrospective7 Camera bag 007

The Retrospective 7 holds 1 standard-size DSLR with 2-3 lenses and accessories along with an iPad or an 11” MacBook Air. I’ve been using it to carry my T3i, the telephoto lens, the charger, my iPad and a few additional accessories — all of which I will be writing about shortly.

ThinkTank Retrospective7 Camera bag 010

The rear padded pocket is a great addition since keeping an iPad with you on the go is remarkably convenient if you want to save and edit images on the fly. This is especially true if you are using an Eye-Fi wireless SD card. The Eye-Fi sets up an ad hoc wireless network and sends images from the camera directly to the tablet!! How cool is that!?!

I like the fact that the bag is rather small, is exceptionally light. And perhaps best of all, this doesn’t immediately look like a camera bag. That’s a good thing when you realize that my full bag has well over $3000 worth is gear in it.

ThinkTank Retrospective7 Camera bag 003

The quality of the bag is impressive. The material looks and feels like quality construction. The seams are straight and tight and even the straps and hardware, a place where many companies cut corners and save money, speak to just how good this bag is.

ThinkTank Retrospective7 Camera bag 006

And there are just enough straps to make adjusting the bag to your comfort and needs possible without overwhelming you.

ThinkTank Retrospective7 Camera bag 014

No, the interior of the bag isn’t huge, but that is the idea. It is intended for traveling relatively light while still letting you bring along, and protect, the essentials. The large interior space can be customized to hold your gear and meet your needs by moving the Velcro attached dividers. I’m still trying to figure out what works best for me, but I like that there are enough additional storage spaces that you don’t have to throw everything into a black hole.

ThinkTank Retrospective7 Camera bag 013

As a newby to camera bags I was struck by the ability to “silence” the bag’s Velcro. As you know, there is no way to open something that is held closed by Velcro without it making a sound. Normally this is not an issue but if you are in a place where you need quiet- such as out in the woods shooting nature- it can be a problem. A bit of extra material at each of the two Velcro areas can be placed OVER the Velcro. This does mean you lose the ability to “seal” the bag shut but it also removes the possibility of making noise and scaring the animals whose picture you are seeking to get.

I also like the included rain cover that sits in the front pocket and is ready if the sky opens on you!

ThinkTank Retrospective7 Camera bag 019

In all the ThinkTank Retrospective 7 has won me over. I may find myself using the next bag we will review from them a bit more, but that is only because it holds more. If you want to travel lightly, have a bag that doesn’t add to the bulk and the weight, and you like this particular look, then this bag is for you!

You can check out more details and order yours here on the company site.

We’ve been so impressed with Think Tank’s bags that we signed up for the company’s Photographer Support Program. With this program, any time you visit the company website using this special link to go to Think Tank and, when you order $50 or more you will get free gear added to your order. You will also help support Gear Diary in the process, and we thank you in advance. Yes, it is a win-win-win prospect and, best of all, their camera bags are awesome!!!

MSRP: $154.75

What I Like: GREAT build-quality; Holds an iPad or 11″ MBA; Flexible storage; Light; Doesn’t scream “camera bag”

What Needs Improvement: Honestly nothing so far. If you want a bag this size and like the looks (I do, Elana doesn’t) it is a great option

Categories: Reviews

Tags: , , ,

2 replies

  1. I just took delivery of a Retrospective 7, partly based on this review. Thanks for the discount link; I also received a Pixel Pocket Rocket which I’d been hankering after for ages :-) On opening the box, the bag is everything you have described. Built like the proverbial brick outhouse, and looks great. I am putting a 4-lens micro-4/3 system in mine which will fit very nicely. An iPad Mini will fit in the back pocket vertically, alongside a Kindle, too. This is going to be great for long plane rides.

    • Hi Jo-

      That’s awesome!!! Have to admit I started reading the comment and
      got to

      “partly based on this review”

      And got worried it was “partly based on this review and I am really disappointed!” So glad it was exactly the opposite. Honestly I have been cycling through using the various ThinkTank bags we have reviewed and am more and more impressed with the build quality and utility of each.

      Dan Cohen
      Co-Owner/Senior Editor
      Gear Diary