f-stop Shinn Review: An 80-litre Camera Bag for Adventurers
I like to take my wildlife photography to the extremes, meaning that I find myself in jungles, mountains, and other remote areas. For a long time I’ve been looking for a true outdoor camera bag; one that can live up to my expectations and replace my trusted Osprey hiking backpack. Up until now, I’ve used a hiking backpack with my cameras thrown inside, hoping that they don’t get damaged and that wrapping a fleece around them is enough. However, when I was invited to try out the f-stop Shinn, I was quietly hopeful that I had found my perfect extreme outdoor camera bag.
What is the f-stop Shinn?
The f-stop Shinn is the largest bag that this premium camera bag manufacturer offers. It is a massive 80-litres in size, and is covered in straps and extra pockets. This is exactly what you want to see from a hiking bag, so it is a good start that it has translated into this f-stop creation.
The f-stop bags work in a unique way to other bags. Once you’ve bought the bag, you also need to buy an insert. So the bag will act as a traditional hiking backpack before you install the camera insert. For this review, we used the largest: the Master Cine ICU.
Space and functionality
I’ve been trying out the bag for a few months now, and I have been using it with video equipment, as well as stills cameras. The bag happily took a Canon C200 cine camera, alongside a DSLR, a 100-400mm Canon lens, 2 wide-angle lenses, an external EVF, as well as rails and other tripod mounts. There was still plenty of space left in this case.
I’ve also used the bag to carry a broadcast level camera system, including a Sony F55 and Canon 50-1000mm lens. This included packing a large rail system and mounting equipment, as well as an external EVF and 4 huge batteries.
It’s safe to say that this bag has a huge (running out of adjectives!) amount of space. There’s also a top compartment so you can access particular bits of equipment quickly, or separate them from the main kit.
One of the best features of f-stop bags is that you put them on the ground with the back-pad facing upwards, and then unzip the pad to access your cameras. This means you don’t get the part of your bag dirty that goes against your body when you carry it.
There are also plenty of dividers that you can use to split up your insert as you see fit. The dividers are also thick and not at all flimsy, meaning that they will hold large pieces of equipment in place without giving way to them in transit.
External carrying capabilities
One thing I’ve struggled with when using camera bags is having enough straps available to properly secure a heavy tripod. Thankfully, the f-stop Shinn camera bag is covered in straps! This means you can attach tripods, sliders, and other bits of gear that you might want to take with you into the wild.
There are 2 large side pockets, as well as one big pocket on the front, and another top pocket where you can store things such as sandwiches or a first aid kit.
One of the really important things to look for in an extreme camera bag is durability. There’s no point buying something that is going to break and not withstand being bashed around. The f-stop Shinn is, I’m pleased to report, very durable. The entire bag is made up of rip-proof material, so it’s not going to split if you do manage to puncture it.
All of the zips also have waterproof linings, keeping your cameras safe and dry. It’s also very comfortable to wear, even with heavy equipment (I’ve loaded it up to 30kg so far). The shoulder straps are nicely padded, and there is a padded hip strap to properly distribute the weight. The back-pad is strong and thick with cushioning material, too. In fact, it’s only marginally behind my Osprey hiking bag with regards to comfort in use.
Not only that, but the bag also comes with a 20-year warranty (this applies to all of f-stop’s Mountain Series). That means that if you have a tear, a break, or a broken zipper, f-stop will fix or replace it.
Let’s talk about the cost
Ok, there’s no point ignoring that the f-stop bags are expensive. The Shinn, including a Master Cine ICU, costs €719. It’s not cheap, but you are paying for quality. The f-stop bags are, honestly, the best bags I have used to date with regards to durability and functionality. This is a bag that will stand the test of time.
However, if the Shinn is out of budget, then don’t forget about f-stop’s other bags. The Sukha, for example, is a 70-litre bag that costs €489 with an insert. Beyond that, there are other smaller bags available at decreasing costs.
How to buy the f-stop Shinn
I cannot recommend the f-stop Shinn camera bag enough, and I think that any photographer who likes to go off the beaten track should be seriously considering this (or a smaller) bag from F-stop. You can buy the f-stop Shinn from the f-stop website.