First Impressions of the Think Tank Photo Spectral 15 Camera Shoulder Bag

As a professional photographer, I’m obsessed with my bags. I am pretty satisfied with the stroller bags I am using, but when it came to the shoulder bags, something seemed to be missing. As someone who constantly travels to shoot, a good shoulder bag is an asset. So when Think Tank launched the new Spectral 15 bag, I decided to try it out. I’ve had the chance to carry it with me through my wedding shoots over the past month. This quick review takes a dig at the features and my first impressions.

First Impressions

The Spectral 15 Shoulder Bag from Think Tank Photo is a cool looking, lightweight, multipurpose camera shoulder bag. Unlike the Signature Series, there isn't the leather accent on the outside, but you’ll still get a soft material here with texture around the edges. It is made from tarpaulin, a durable heavy-duty and waterproof cloth that is very functional, 420D velocity nylon, and YKK RC Fuse zippers and antique plated metal hardware. The fully water-resistant outer surface comes in handy when rain hits you by surprise at the outdoor shoots. Also, it is available only in full black for now. I loved the space that it comes with for a good-looking professional camera bag.

Features

In addition to the main compartment that can house a full-frame DSLR body and at least two lenses, the Spectral 15 also has a pocket for a 15-inch laptop and another one for a 10-inch tablet. There are also tripod attachment points and straps at the bottom which come in handy. The most interesting design feature of this bag that caught my attention is its magnetic Fidlock clasp. It operates quietly and allows one-handed access to the interior of the bag. All you have to do is pull down to release the lock and when you close the clasp it locks automatically. This comes of great use, especially for photographers who juggle between cameras and lenses when shooting. There is a zippered cover protecting the inner pouch space and there is a seam-sealed rain cover that comes along too. The pass-through for the trolley handle is easy to use for the stroll. Check out the video above for a more detailed look.

What I Liked

  • The silent and automatic magnetic Fidlock clasp that give easy, one-handed access to load and unload gear.
  • The additional zippered closure that comes in handy when traveling and can be put away while you’re actively shooting.
  • Enhanced pocket space for a laptop and tablet.
  • Internal pockets to hold small yet significant things like card wallets, batteries, and other stuff.
  • The soft padded breathable shoulder strap and the handy tripod belt feature.
  • Reasonable price tag of $139.75.

What Could Be Improved

  • The back pocket space is deep enough, but when large-sized documents are inserted, it blocks the Velcro and it doesn't really close to the fullest. 
  • The magnetic Fidlock clasp is cool and works well, but I am a little skeptical about how it will turn out in the long run, especially for people carrying around heavy stuff most of the time. I faced occasional issues in the clasp staying intact when I was on the move with a fully packed bag.

With a price tag of $139.75, the Think Tank Spectral 15 Camera shoulder bag is almost half of that of the Signature Series and comes in as a good buy for the features it comes with. You can also check out the other bags in the series, the Spectral 8 and Spectral 10.

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2 Comments

Rex Larsen's picture

Oddly the video doesn't show much of a look inside the bag. This article doesn't include a picture of the inside design either.
I've always used a shoulder bag so I can access gear while moving and shooting.
No backpacks or roller bags for me.
For my needs the Domke AF4 is the bag to beat. I almost never put a camera in the bag. Just lenses, speedlights, flash cards and white balance disk. Cameras outside the bag are ready to shoot.

If you click the B&H link, that page has tons of photos. Based on those photos, I see a lot of design flaws. Dealbreakers for me are: 1) the zippers are not weather resistant. 2) the main flap cover leaves the non-weather-resistant zippers exposed on both top ends. 3) for a supposed water resistant surface, it still needs a "tarp" that you have to pull over your bag in case of rain.