Foreword and Disclaimer:
Today's review is the new Think Tank Photo Retrospective 5 shoulder bag. It is designed to mimic camera bags of old, before all the crazy colors and logos that you see these days.
Here's what Think Tank has to say about the new line: "The Retrospectives combine classic design with room for modern camera gear to create the perfect shooter's bag. These lightweight shoulder bags come in two fabrics that offer a sense a style that matches your shooting needs." & "The Retrospective series is comprised of four shoulder bags and two lens changer bags. Created for the professional photographer that wants to blend in with the crowd and remain inconspicuous in any situation. Our product designers have blended the look and feel of "old-school" camera bags and infused it with "new-school" features and technology for the digital imaging age."
What they have created with these bags is quite special actually, they are designed around the focus of being inconspicuous, yet provide easy access to one's gear. This second bit is what's most important in my book. Let's continue on to learn more!
Disclaimer: I am part of the Think Tank Affiliate program, If you follow my Affiliate link (http://www.thinktankphoto.com/affiliates.aspx?code=AP-593) and purchase something from Think Tank of $50 or more you will receive a free gift of your choice, pretty sweet deal huh? That being said, I purchased this bag with my own money and I have not been directly compensated to review any Think Tank products. I am a fan of their bags, but I keep my reviews unbiased and fair.
When I first purchased the Retrospective 5 ("R5" from here on out) I obviously knew it would be smaller than the Retrospective 10 than I had been using for a couple years previously (Note: I still have and use that bag regularly) but at the time I wanted something smaller to carry around my Rangefinder and Fuji X100 (Ironically, neither of which are still present in my equipment) because they were much smaller systems and did not need the volume of the R10. When it arrived it was about the size I expected it to be (which is nice, because we've all ordered camera bags online and had them either be too large or too small for our needs).
If you would like to read up on the bag straight from Think Tank, just follow this link directly to their site: http://www.thinktankphoto.com/products/retrospective-5-pinestone.aspx?code=AP-593
As is typical with all Think Tank products, the R5 is very well designed and made, they have included all of the things I enjoyed about the R10, such as; the very comfortable shoulder pad, sufficient pocket space for extra accessories, and the key clip which is SO useful for me as I always manage to misplace my keys. Though the clip also doubles as an attachment point for a memory card wallet, or really anything you would want to clip to your bag.
As I would take the bag out with me on day trips or just having it in my car ready to go, I really came to appreciate the size of the bag, even when I didn't take my smaller cameras and I dropped a 5DmkII + a couple lenses in there, and it was still perfect. I also found it to make an excellent lens changer bag when one has two cameras strapped to them and you just need something to hold the extra lens + flash (or whatever else you're carrying) during the shooting event. To me, this was my favorite thing about the size of the bag. I love the R10 but if I was shooting and only had 1 or 2 lenses in the bag with nothing else it felt a bit like a diaper bag on my hip ;).
Now, Think Tank has said that this bag is really designed for M4/3 (or any other mirrorless camera system), Rangefinders, or small DSLRs. In my experience with the bag, and as I mentioned, I've found that the largest camera I could fit in the bag with a lens attached was a 5DmkII + 35mm f/1.4L (with another lens off to the side, I managed to fit lots of different sizes of lenses in the extra space, the largest being a 135mm f/2L). With this gear in the bag it was still comfortable, not "overstuffed" and still able to close easily. That being said, I think that if you are a full-size DSLR shooter with a moderate-to-large equipment list, this may not be the ideal solution for you.
As with all of the Think Tank products the R5 is a very well made product, and while it is ideally suited for mirrorless or rangefinder camera systems, it works great for a minimal DSLR kit, or even acting as a lens changing bag. If you are ok with a very small sized bag then you'd be hard pressed to find a better one in my opinion.