Review: ThinkTank Retrospective 20

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The Short Review: I really like it. It’s cool. It’s functional. It’s stylish. You should get one.

The Somewhat Longer Review:

The Think Tank Retrospective 20 is designed with the professional photographer in mind, who doesn’t want to lug around baggage that screams, “I have a fantastic Nikon and thousands of dollars of gear! Come steal me!” However, its very reasonable price range puts it within easy reach of beginners, amateurs, enthusiasts, hobbiests, and the like. The bag is very ruggedly built and has so many features that I was still discovering new ones weeks into getting my hands on one. And now I pass this information on to you, gentle readers. After reading this post, you will be armed with all you need to know to make an informed purchasing decision.

So. Here we go again with another one of my Pool Table Product Reviews. You know you love them! Also, since I seem to review a lot of camera bags and backpacks, may I just mention now that it’s darned hard to take photos of the interiors of camera bags? There’s nobody to play assistant for me and hold it in various positions so I can get good angles. Still, I believe my unique techniques and home-grown “studio” lend a certain authenticity to my reviews, don’t you? A bit of appeal? Right? Well, that’s what I tell myself anyway.


(As usual, click on any picture to view a larger image.)

I thought a little perspective was in order, so I stuck in a soda can. This bag is certainly bigger than a breadbox, but not to the point that it’s unwieldy. And as you can see, it’s very unprepossessing while still managing to be quite posh. The material is quite thick without being inflexible, and feels almost like a combination of canvas and corduroy.

This is the back view. As you can see there are two straps – one over-the-shoulder type (which is extremely well-padded and quite comfortable), and one handle-type. The zippered back pocket is the narrow sort that’s excellent for thin file folders or documents (or a stack of model releases!).

This is the front view with the top flap opened up. The pocket in the front expands forward quite a bit and you can stuff a LOT of things in there. Books, PDA’s, the included rain cover, 2x converters, an external flash, a water bottle, lunch, your toy poodle, etc. etc.

Here’s the underside of the top flap, which sports a slot for business cards, and these unique silencing patches. The hook and loop found under the front flap can be adhered to one another, so the hook side doesn’t engage with the loop side on the camera bag itself when the flap is closed. This, in effect, removes the “latch” when the front flap is closed, so you can flip it open and closed soundlessly. Which is great when you’re switching out lenses in the middle of a church wedding. It’s just one of those ingenious, SIMPLE little features that make Thinktank products so awesome.

Here’s a somewhat awkward interior shot. Two of the provided divider panels are installed, forming three separate compartments. There is a long built-in sleeve on the left-hand and right-hand side of the interior, for various accouterments (don’t squint, you can’t really see them that well in this shot, but they’re there!). Another zippered compartment at the back runs the length and width of the bag.

The bag comes with a rain cover and additional divider panels for added customization.

This is what it looks like with the rain cover attached. There are no instructions provided, and I spent quite a few minutes trying to figure out how to put the darn thing on before I gave up and turned to the Internet. Fortunately, ThinkTank has provided a video that demonstrates the technique. It’s not intuitive, that’s for sure, but it’s not hard once you learn the trick of it.

Finally, here’s a shot with my typical day trip gear packed inside. My Canon 7D with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM Telephoto attached and pointed downward into the bag (lens hood reversed), my EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens, and my Speedlite 580EX II. I’d removed one of the dividing panels, and as you can see there’s still plenty of room for a few more things in the main compartment (I didn’t have anything in the front pocket in this shot).

To conclude, I must say that the ThinkTank Retrospective 20 would be an excellent solution for carrying gear for daily use or short trips. I’ve used it for both; I’ve taken it on client shoots, and I’ve walked city streets for hours with it strapped over my shoulder. Buy one for yourself, and buy one as a gift for the photographer in your life. Because it’s a ThinkTank, you really can’t go wrong.

All Photos (and poor attempts at humor): Copyright Tiffany Joyce

*The Author received complimentary products in exchange for mentioning the Provider’s products and/or services on this website. Such compensation received did not and will never influence the content, topics or posts made on this website. We will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement.

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  • Mully410

    Nice review.  I like my Retrospective 20 a lot.  My hangup is with myself and not ThinkTank…I put too much in it and it gets too heavy.  ;-)

  • Heather

    See?!?!  I told you it was awesome!! Heehee!! :D