Choices: Photo Vest vs Camera Bag

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

I’ve worn photo vests for many years and have watched them evolve from a convenient way to add a few extra pockets for film/memory cards, lens caps and filters into wearable camera bags, which may be why some but not all camera bag manufacturers also make photo vests. Photo vests are a great choice when shooting motorsports and beats carrying a heavy camera bag or wearing a heavy back pack at trackside.

To help you make a fashionable choice for your next vest, here’s a checklist of of questions you should ask yoruself when shopping for a photo vest:

Functionality: What kind of photographs do you make? How much gear do you carry? You may need more than one based on different types of shoots.

Fit: Is it tailored to size or are there adjustment belts or tabs? Some vests are an adjustable one-size-fits-all while others use small, medium, large sizes that seem aimed at clothing sizes.

Construction: Is it well made? Are there buttons, zippers, Velcro? Which are the easiest for you to use in a given photographic situation. Look at other elements such as the strength and durability of zippers or pulls and then examine details such as stitching. One of the biggest changes in vest design over the years is increased use of mesh to keep you cool.

Style: You don’t have to be Ralph Lauren to know that an event photographer needs a vest that looks different from one a nature photographer might use. Maybe you need something that blends in at either situation, which is why vests are available in different colors.

Price: This last factor should matter least in the decision process, since a well-made vest will last you a long time and the price is quickly amortized over a number of wearing or assignments. An inexpensive Banana Republic vest that Mary bought  me thirty years ago is still serviceable and I still wear it from time to time because it comfortably fits under a shell parka.


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