Think Tank Photo Retrospective 5

By LightingLeica - last updated July 7, 2012

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A quick review of the Think Tank Photo Retrospective 5 bag for your rangefinder or small camera system. High quality materials and workmanship along with a smart size makes this bag a great choice. Comes in black and pinestone fabrics.

The search for the perfect camera bag! I have spent my entire photography career looking for this Holy Grail of accessories. As most photographers have discovered, there is no "one" perfect bag.

When carrying my Canon 5D Mark II with two lenses and a Speedlight, I found my Naneu Pro Bravo Backpack to be the best solution for short outings. But it wouldn’t accommodate a laptop, so when I travelled I would use my Naneu Pro K3L, which was a much larger backpack.

After I ditched the Canon gear for the Olympus E-P2, the Bravo became too bulky, so I switched to the Kata Panorama U Ergo-Tech Bag, which fit a 13" laptop and the E-P2, a few lenses and a small flash. This bag was still too big to carry around while shooting, so I would end up leaving the bag in the car or hotel and just take the E-P2 with a lens attached and one lens in my pocket.

With the Leica M9, I needed another solution. I didn't want to carry the camera and lenses around without a bag, especially in sketchy areas of town where I like to put the camera away. None of my current bags were small enough to fit the Leica equipment efficiently, so I was once again in search of the perfect bag. After hours of research online, reading every review and forum post I could find, I narrowed it down to the brand new Think Tank Photo Retrospective 5 and the Billingham Hadley Small Shoulder Bag. I decided to try the Retrospective 5 in Pinestone, a nice dark beige color, a little different from the standard black bag.

The Bag

The Retrospective 5 arrived the day before my weekend trip to San Diego, a great city to break it in. At 2.3 pounds (1.0 kg) the bag is lightweight and offers a generous amount of storage space (Interior Dimensions: 9.5” W x 7.8” H x 4.5” D or 24 x 19.5 x 11.5 cm) for its compact size (Exterior Dimensions: 10” W x 8.5” H x 6” D (25.5 x 21.5 15 cm). It provides side and interior pockets, an expandable outside pocket, and a wide pocket on the back, as well as loops on the side to strap on accessories. I loaded the bag up with the M9 and five lenses, two batteries, two SD cards, business cards, a wad of cash for tips and business cards, yet it weighed less than six pounds fully packed - light enough to carry around town all day.

Other handy features include removable dividers, extra dividers for multi-level storage, a Velcro silencer system, a rain cover and a removable carrying handle. The Retrospective’s fully adjustable canvas strap holds very well and doesn’t slip off your shoulder easily. When I wore the M9 around my neck, the bag only had to hold four lenses and accessories. With the bag positioned around my back, I would barely notice I was carrying anything, but the bag provided easy access when I needed to change lenses. The Retrospective 5’s small size and accessibility made me think that I had found the perfect bag at last!

View of silencer system and Velcro strips:

Velcro silencer system, in non-silent position:

Shown as worn:


Additional Images

Shown loaded (left to right) with a Leica Elmarit-M 90mm f/2.8, Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH, M9 with Summicron-M 28mm f/2 ASPH mounted and Tele-Elmar-M 135mm f/4. Also in the bag are a pen and Moleskin notepad, lens brush and microfiber, spare battery and SD card and Heliopan 8x ND filter in a round case:

The quality of the bag fabric, straps, stitching, buckles, and zippers - are all top quality:

The Retrospective 5 bag is the perfect size for a versatile M system on the go: