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Think Tank Retrospective 7 review: Think Tank Retrospective 7

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The Good The lightweight, well-built Think Tank Retrospective 7 is a good-looking midsize camera bag with flexible storage space and a separate padded pocket for an 11-inch laptop or tablet.

The Bad The bottom of the Retrospective 7 isn't very protected from water and wear and the bag has no small, zippered external pockets.

The Bottom Line For iPad-toting photographers looking for a simple compact shoulder bag, definitely put the Think Tank Retrospective 7 on your short list.

8.0 Overall

For many photographers, carrying the essentials for a day's shoot no longer means just toting camera equipment, but a laptop or tablet as well.

While there are plenty of bag options for stowing both, the Think Tank Retrospective 7's tough but lightweight materials, unassuming design, and uncomplicated layout make it an excellent choice for a day bag.

The bag, which weighs about 3 pounds and externally measures 13.5 inches wide by 9.5 inches high by 7 inches deep, strikes a great balance between size, weight, and capacity: small enough that you can travel with just an SLR and a flash without it feeling too bulky, but big enough that you can load it up with an extra lens or body and still have room for other stuff.

The exterior is made from sand-washed cotton canvas giving it somewhat of a weathered look, and while it's initially stiff, it quickly breaks in and conforms to your body after a few days of use. If canvas isn't your thing, the bag also comes in black polyspun nylon. The entire outside is treated with a durable water-repellent coating, and the bottom is coated with polyurethane for better water protection.

The bag comes with a rain cover with sealed seams. Sarah Tew/CNET

The canvas is otherwise unprotected on the bottom and there are no feet, so rough surfaces will scuff it up. If you need more protection from water, Think Tank includes a seam-sealed rain cover.

Along with being a good size and weight, its design doesn't scream, "Look at me, I'm loaded with camera gear!" It's just a very clean-looking shoulder bag with little adorning the outside and a simple, but strong, strap with a nicely padded movable nonslip shoulder pad and attractive antiqued nickel-plated metal hardware. There's also a small strap that runs across the top of the bag to quickly pick the bag up with, but it can easily be removed if you don't want it.

On each end of the bag are deep narrow pockets with large loops above them for attaching Think Tank's modular bag accessories or a carabiner clip. These include things like water bottle holders as well as pouches for extra bodies, flashes, or lenses. That's good because these pockets really aren't good for much because of their size and they're completely open.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The only zippered pocket on the outside is the big one on back. That's the one made for storing an iPad or other tablet, or an 11-inch laptop such as an HP Pavilion dm1z or MacBook Air. Of course, you can use it for anything you can fit in it, but with its extra padding on the pocket inside and out, it's made for mobile devices.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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