I’d previously tested the leather version of the original series and found it eminently suited to my trip to New York. (Read about it here.) But that was a small bag that I chose because it would fit inside my luggage. And even before that I’d worked with the original Retrospective. Yet another small bag.
This time I thought I’d go for something bigger, but not quite as spacious as MindShift Gear’s Exposure 15. And I certainly wasn’t about to tote around an even bigger shoulder bag, although, if you are of that mind, there are two larger versions of this bag available.
I was especially curious to see what improvements were made to this series. I would not be disappointed, though I did find room for improvement.
What’s Old Is New Again
As the saying goes. And that easily applies here. The basic design of the Retrospective revolves around a soft, fabric outer shell with a stylish distressed look– specifically, cotton canvas that is water-repellant. The bag is lightweight, yet ruggedly constructed. And for those heavy downpours, it comes with a seam-sealed rain cover. The wide strap webbing encircles the bag, for a more assuring support (without having to deal with connectors), with the addition of a non-slip, shoulder pad.
After reading my review of that earlier Retrospective, it makes me wonder why I gave it away, but one only has room for so many bags. When a new one comes through the door, an older one goes out, which makes my friends happy campers, knowing they get a camera bag worthy of their expensive gear.
BTW – just heard from the recipient of that bag, who wrote, and I quote: “I liked your review and the bag as well.”
Since I no longer own the earlier versions, I have to go on memory and my review when comparing them. Aside from the obvious difference – size (and, to a certain extent, weight), the V2 version offers the same practical advantages, with a fully customizable interior (additional padded dividers included). And there are roomy pockets front and back, including an organizer pocket. The new version makes room for a full-size tablet as well (or a tiny MacBook).
Who Should Use the Retrospective 10 V2.0 ?
Travel photographers, street photographers, photojournalists and documentary/news photographers.
It’s stylish and practical, and designed to last. And reasonably priced. The new luggage handle pass-through is great when traveling with a wheeled suitcase.
How much is it?
Retrospective 10 V2.0 (tested): $169.75
Retrospective 5 V2.0: $149.75
Retrospective 7 V2.0: $ 164.75
Retrospective 20 V2.0: $179.75
Retrospective 30 V2.0: $199.75
Where can I get more info/order this product? (Click link.)
Retrospective 10 V2.0
Think Tank Photo
A water bottle pocket has been added. I would have preferred a stretch mesh pocket, but I can see Think Tank’s thinking behind the design they used. A nylon pocket would not be in keeping with the retro-canvas styling of the bag. Either way, it now means you don’t need to add an accessory pouch just for a water bottle. You can, however, add a lens case by way of the loop on the flip side of the bag (more on Think Tank’s new lens cases in a later review).
You could hold a lens in this side pocket, but I would hesitate to do so for any length of time. There’s no real way to secure the pocket, and a lens could slip out when you’re not paying attention. You know what would have been cool? A sealable lid, via Velcro, a zip, or even a snap or clasp. But, again, it could come in handy when changing lenses, if not already occupied by a water bottle. (Here’s a thought. Attach a carabiner to the opposite side and your water bottle to that, if the water bottle provides some means by which you could do that.)
The one thing that bugs me, and I found it to be somewhat of a nuisance on Think Tank's Signature 13 as well, is the tuck-away interior flap that has been added to the new Retrospective bag. As I’d commented previously, I would have preferred a double-zip system. But I’m not sure that would have helped. And here’s why… The pliable shell of the Retrospective, while imbuing the bag with that retro-chic feel, makes it difficult to close the flap.
I recommend either not zipping the inner lid all the way once you arrive at your destination, or not using it entirely. If you take the latter route, it means using the noisy and somewhat resistant Velcro system to keep the bag closed. There are noise-silencers built in, but using them (and not closing the inner flap) means you leave the bag entirely open – not a smart move in a crowded bus or subway, or while dashing around town, or putting your bag down on an uneven surface where it may topple over. So you’ll have to use one or the other once you start shooting. But let me make myself clear: Until you arrive at your destination, unless you expect to stop along the way to shoot, use both means to keep the contents secured. You’ll keep dust and dirt out, as well as prying hands.
It may be picayune to quibble over this, and I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it, one way or the other. But, hey, I like to quibble over the small stuff. If the world smelled entirely of roses, we wouldn’t have carnations. Okay, not sure what that means, but maybe you do. Anyway, none of that matters in the long run. The bag does the job it’s designed to do.
Oddly enough, I find myself lately taking a shoulder/sling bag out, even on my nature walks, preferring it over my backpacks for immediate accessibility to my gear, provided I’m not toting a heavy load or very long lenses, and don’t need to carry a trail kit or light jacket.
Would I use this new Retrospective V2.0? In a heartbeat. Regrettably, I miscalculated. I thought I’d be able to fit my D500 with attached Tamron 100-400, but it didn’t prove to be a comfy fit. A deeper bag would have done the trick. So I’ll stick with my Exposure 15 for that rig. It wouldn’t be a problem if I carried body and lens separately, but I prefer having my gear at the ready – hence my rationale for using a shoulder bag in the first place.
All in all, as with its progenitors in the Retrospective lineup, the Retrospective V2.0 looks classy, feels classy, and, in short, is a class act. You’ll look good with this bag hanging off your shoulder or sling-style and you’ll feel good knowing your gear is well protected and within your grasp when the moment counts.