With the growth of powerful and reliable small cameras, it’s only natural that photographers look for bag options that fit the new compact lifestyle. That said, if you’re like me, even if you plan on “downsizing,” you don’t want to give up too much, you just want a more compact version of what you already have. I took the Think Tank TurnStyle with me overseas and used it as my primary bag to see if it could act as my go-to travel satchel.
The TurnStyle uses the single strap over-the-shoulder design that’s popular in smaller bags. It slips over your head and shoulder easily, but if you don’t want to lift it that high over your head, it also unbuckles at the center and easily clasps back together. In theory, that buckle seemed like it would be the method I would have used the most to take the bag on and off, but in reality I found myself using the slip-on method far more often. Whatever you choose though, this bag can accommodate.
For you wedding/event photographers, the TurnStyle actually can convert into a fanny pack, which is actually quite useful if you need a bag that can act as a lens pouch while on the move. I personally don't use this feature, but I know many of you will.
The interior of the bag comes out of the box with a no-frills straightforward three-section divider system that easily fits a more compact camera all the way through a full sized DSLR, with the exception of the Canon 1D series or any DSLR with a battery pack which I would classify as too large for this bag. The sections are removable and modular, so if you rather just have two divided section or if you wanted to add more, that luxury is available to you. The dividers and interior are the standard high-quality offering from Think Tank and I found nothing to dislike about it.
The front of the bag has two zippered pouches that you can use to stash snacks, filters, extra memory cards or other thin accouterments. That’s about all they are good for, however. Sure, you can stuff more into them, but the bag struggles to zip closed with anything past two to three inches in girth. Luckily, those of you considering this bag are likely traveling light, and therefore the bag encourages this.
Another reason I say the bag encourages traveling light is because the design doesn’t allow for the switching of shoulders. The TurnStyle will only loop over one shoulder, as the design has the bottom strap sewn to the base of the bag. It isn’t possible to comfortably strap the satchel over anything but your left shoulder down to the right side of your waist. It is here that I found one of my only dislikes about the bag. After walking Manila for the better part of five hours, even the lightly-packed bag (one camera, and two prime lenses) was feeling like a burden. By the end of the day, my shoulder was pretty sore.
The bag is also quite narrow, which is fine for smaller cameras like any Sony or Olympus mirrorless body with a lens affixed, but any DSLR will have more depth than this bag likes to handle. I was able to keep a pancake lens on my DSLR and pack it well, but my 50mm or my 85mm would not fit and I was forced to pack them separately in one of the other two divided sections. What this meant is that if I didn’t plan to shoot at 40mm (the focal length of my pancake), I wasn’t going to be shooting quickly. This is a symptom of my personal preference in camera, and I think that any of you shooting on a Fuji system or similar will have no problem with this, and the bag would fit quite well for you.
The bag is compact, but the larger sizes available (I had the TurnStyle 10 for this review) rides a fine line of big, but maybe not big enough. It looks like I could fit more into the bag than I actually could, which led me to a tendency to overstuff. This I seriously don’t recommend, as the bag can get very heavy and, as previously mentioned, this can tire your shoulder quickly.
The build of the bag is solid, and despite taking quite a beating on the road through different climates and terrain only suffered a single fraying thread on the padding that presses up against my back. Not too shabby considering the 90 plus hours of action it saw while I was traveling.
What I liked:
Tough-as-nails build quality
A good number of compartments
Modular interior that we are all used to in camera bags
Comfortable strap and tough, useful clasp
What could use improvement:
Single strap made long hours tough on my shoulder
Medium and large sizes are easy to over-fill
I like this bag, but the single strap makes long-term use with a full load a tough burden to bear. The build quality is exceptional, and those of you looking for a quick travel bag to house a single small camera and lens will find a lot to like in the TurnStyle. It’s not for everyone, but for those who do use the bag as it is intended will be quite satisfied with the result.