Think Tank Photo released the Retrospective series of camera bags a while back to great success. I have the Retrospective 10, as well as the 5. You can read my review of the 5 by clicking here. Overall I love the Retro series, but I could never seem to get comfortable with any of the bags for my use. The 10 was too deep. The 5 was too small! My usual kit consists of a Leica and a Fuji and possibly an extra lens. The 5 works great for that kit except the ipad which I carry just never fits right. And I also cannot carry anything else with me for the day. ThinkTank listened to their audience again however. Welcome the ThinkTank Retrospective 7. This is definitely Goldilocks of the bunch! Not too small, not too big…but just right!
As you can see, there is a new tablet pocket on the back of the bag! Perfect! You can fit all tablets, as well as some 11″ laptops! My Dell XPS13 fits in there just fine. I assume a smaller Macbook Air will have no trouble in there either. I recently traveled to Greece and spent 11 days with this bag hanging on my side. I can say that the exterior tablet pocket is fantastic. For a quick grab to look at my calendar, or to show images, I did not have to open the main bag at all. Very quick and functional. Also, when using the rain cover, you easily still access the tablet pocket. Excellent! Also note…tablets fit in the interior zipper pocket, and the exterior and interior front pockets as well! Good job ThinkTank!
Also take note of the iphone in the side exterior pocket in the photo. This pocket allows easy access with a pretty secure hold on a cellphone. If you phone vibrates when it receives a call, you can actually feel it through the bag and strap! The pocket on the Retro 5 was too small to really be functional. This one is great for small items.
The interior is standard Retrospective series. Two interior side pockets with velcro closures, a rear zip pocket, and a front flap that Velcros. That front pocket has the usual pen and card holders, small divisions, etc… It can hold batteries, cable release, flashlight, notepads, and anything else you can throw in there pretty much. The rear interior pocket can fit anything pretty much ipad sized. Maps, tickets, brochures, etc… In this photo you can also see the front exterior pocket and how an ipad even fits there. Again, putting an ipad so far forward makes the bag unbalanced when it hangs. Two water bottles and some snacks comfortable fit in that pocket with out making it look bulging. The bag flap has the velcro silencers. I used them about half way and had a very secure hold. Never worried about anything slipping out or the flap opening with me pulling on it.
The main compartment as velcro on the inside to use various dividers. Here you can see a Canon 5DmkII with a 24-105L lens and a Leica M with 35mm lens. Both cameras can slide in and out effortlessly. For purely travel, you can tighten things up a bit, and even put the camera “lens-down” to make space for yet another small division. I was shooting out of my bag, so I opted for a looser fit and easier access. The side pockets had a memory card holder and strap in them. Very comfortable fit. A pro sized body, or gripped body WILL fit. If the camera is sideways, you will lose use of the front interior pocket. If the camera is lens-down, you can still use the pocket, but the top of the bag will be quite square. This bag is not really the best option if you will be shooting with a Pro size body. (Unless you keep it separate from the lens while in transit.)
Here is the Retro 7 on the left and the Retro 5 on the right. Notice the difference in the side pocket. The 7 is overall just slightly wider on the inside. Enough to make a usable difference. Being just a little taller also made a difference. And then they slapped the tablet pocket on the rear. If gives the bag a larger feel from the 5. However, the 7 does not feel like a large bag at all. Very comfortable and “just right” in day use.
Here is the 7 on the left and 5 on the right again. Both are pinestone color, but the trim and cloth on the 7 I have seem to be a different shade. If you are using a small camera system, like M4/3, Fuji, or Leica can fit 2 cameras with lens in the Retro 5. You can fit 3 in the 7. (or 2 cameras and extra lenses or other items)
Retro 7 on the left, Retro 10 (in black) on the right. Notice how the 10 is more square shaped and the 7 is more rectangle. The 10 feels deeper because of this. I would rather have a slight longer bag that is shallower personally. The specs are so close on these two bags, but in use the 7 is shallower and allows far easier access in the interior.
Notice the side pocket on the 10 versus the 7. I can easily get my entire hand in the 10. That won’t happen on the 7! The 10 will much more easily accomodate a pro sized dSLR body.
All think tank bags come with a rain cover. I have never once used them, and I rarely bring them with me anywhere. Good thing I did on my last trip…I got soaked! For three days it stormed incredibly hard. I was on foot walking through the city all day in the rain. The rain cover works! It really works! The cover does not come up too far on the bottom rear, so your pants will not get wet (not really…maybe slight if its torrential downpour!) if you have the bag hanging on your side. Again, the rain cover still allows access to the tablet pocket. I found I never had an issue with water on that part of the bag. When hanging on my side it would be angled enough that the water would land on the cover and stream away from the back. Everything stayed 100% dry, including the bag fabric! You can also set the bag down since the rain cover does cover the bottom of the bag.
Overall I am extremely pleased with the Retro 7. This is my favorite bag in their series now. I love the pinestone fabric. The bag looks nothing like a conventional camera bag, and even when loaded up it looked small against my body. No bulging or large size to reveal that something is “in the bag.” A bit larger than the 5 with tablet space and more functional room, and slightly smaller than the 10 with a more functional shape, the Retrospective 7 is just right!