Review – Think Tank Retrospective 5

ThinkTank Retro5
Until I purchased the Olympus OM-D, I’ve pretty much always used backpacks to carry my gear around in. The thought of carrying the weight of a large DSLR and heavy lenses on one shoulder didn’t seem comfortable and I always wanted to have the weight distributed with a backpack. Backpacks aren’t very convenient for changing out lenses and it’s pretty obvious you’re carrying camera gear when you’re wearing one.

When I got the OM-D I decided I needed a smaller bag so I started looking at shoulder bags. I’d always heard good things about Think Tank bags and thought they were a little too pricey for me but I decided to check out what they had for small bags and came across the Retrospective 5. These bags run $140 which is still fairly expensive for a small bag but it’s made of quality material that should last a long time. Everything I used to carry in my purse I now carry in this bag every day, including my OM-D, 45mm and 20mm pancake.

This bag has more pockets than you can imagine. I counted 12 pockets and pouches in addition to the main compartment.

  • Zippered pocket on the back side of the bag that I use for holding my keys and id badge.
  • 2 Small pockets on the left and right exterior of the bag hold my LED flashlight and pocket knife
  • Front pocket with velcro strap is where I keep my iphone and ear buds
  • Another zippered pocket on the back of the inside is where I keep my cash and checkbook.
  • 2 flexible nylon pouches on the left and right side of the interior.  I just use these for extra batteries and memory cards
  • 2 pockets on the front inside just behind the velcro strapped pocket . I keep a pen, lens cloth and pocket tool kit in those
  • 2 small pockets are inside one of the front pockets that fit credit cards perfectly so I keep credit cards in one and grocery/store club cards in the other
  • On the cover there is a small pocket with a translucent plastic window that is perfect for business cards

In addition to having lots of pockets, it has a few other great features that I love:

  • It has both a long shoulder strap and a small hand strap. You don’t have to have both on all the time because they are both removable.  I use the shoulder strap more but I still keep the hand strap on too.
  • I really dislike velcro.  I would prefer bags that close using magnets.  This bag has a unique velcro silencing feature that allows you to choose wether you want to use the velcro or not.  I always have it set to silent.  I did a demonstration on how to use this feature in my video below.
  • The shoulder strap is very comfortable.  It has a cushioned shoulder that has little rubber pads that help it stay on your shoulder.

I also use this bag on photostrolls and shoots as a lens bag while my camera is strapped to me with the Black Rapid RS-W.  I can fit 4 micro four thirds lenses in the bag but typically carry these lenses with one of them being on the camera and the other 3 in the bag (45mm, 75-300mm, 12-50mm, and 20mm pancake).

There are 3 different color options (Pinestone, Blue Slate or Black) and you can purchase the bag from any of the big camera retailers, including Amazon.

Editors note: When you purchase directly through Think Tank Photo using this link or the ad on the sidebar Think Tank gives you free goodies with every purchase and you help support the costs of Small Camera Big Picture.

ThinkTank Retro 5 - Lenses
ThinkTank Retro5 - Silencer

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About Paula Thomas

Paula is a food stock photographer and blogger based in Seattle, WA. You can find her on , Facebook and Twitter

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12 Responses to Review – Think Tank Retrospective 5

  1. qiv October 31, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Thanks, helpful review (I guess too many pockets for me ;-)), but a pity you did nod show how it is when you wear it and walk. Cheers.

    • John R November 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

      I also have one, walking with it is no problem, I agree with Giulio about the velcro and put mine also in “silencer” mode EXCEPT when I place the bag towards my back instead of at my side. When walking long distances I slide it behind, and when using the OMD I slide it back to my side. Very comfortable indeed, very practical, but not that big, so if you want to carry many lenses and your FL-600R I’d suggest the 7 instead of the 5, but for an outing requiring two lenses +on on the body it fits the bill perfectly and is light enough.

      • Giulio Sciorio November 2, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

        Hey John,

        What lenses do you carry with your OMD and do you use the HLD-6 on the body while in the bag?

        BTW I think you mean Paula, she’s the author on this one. :-)

        • John R November 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

          Sorry Giulio, didn’t see that, apologies to Paula… ;-)

          I don’t have the grip as of now, still pondering the dilemma of “grip lust” vs putting my money on good glass… I’m waiting for the Oly 40-150 (wanted the Oly 75-300 but don’t have the greenbacks to afford it as of now) and the Pana Leica 25 1.4 (both ordered last night)
          So, I’m actually carrying the OMD with the 45 on it, + the kit lens + the FL 600R +1 extra BLN-1 battery + the rain cover of the retro5 (though thinking of leaving it out, never had the use for it so far even in reasonable raining situations) + some emergency cash +3 memory cards +1 set of body and back lens caps + a lensPen +a Kindle Touch in the front pocket (you can import .doc or pdf files in it with info for your shoot in it besides good novels…) + two 32gb usb keys +4 spare AA batteries for the 600R and while traveling I try to cram the battery charger somewhere in there… not easy ;-)

          But I prefer to cope with that than to have a big bag which was the basic idea when switching to the OMD (I painfully remember lugging my RB 67 Pro-S), and by the way I must thank you, because you were the main reason for me switching to micro 4/3.

          So with all of this in it surprisingly enough, there’s still the place for one more lens (although it’ll be tight, I think I’ll find another solution for the flash) and I’m loving my Retro 5 :-)

          • Danny November 9, 2012 at 1:35 am #

            Great review :) am also looking at the retro 5 but not sure if it can fit my omd 14mm, 12-50mm and 45mm in future plus my iPad?

          • Giulio Sciorio November 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

            Looks like that will fit Danny.

          • Paula Thomas November 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

            Yup you should be able to fit those all in the bag no problem. Camera + 14mm in one pocket, 12-50 in another pocket and 45mm in the 3rd pocket then the ipad in the back pocket. You might have some trouble fitting the camera in with the battery grip on though. It’ll fit fine with just the first part of the grip and you could put the battery part of the grip in the front pocket and just put it on the camera when you’re ready to shoot.

  2. James Bailey November 1, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    Good review, I was looking at the Retrospective 5/7/10 for my CSC kit (formerly a Lumix G3, now an OM-D) but they are not so readily available here in the UK. I lucked out and got a second hand Billingham Hadley Pro shoulder bag which can fit my camera, four lenses (Panasonic 14mm, 20mm, 14-42mm and 100-300mm) and my Metz 50 AF-1 flash, together with batteries, cables, lens pen, cloth, iPad.

    One other thing if you see this – since getting the OM-D I’ve heard lots of negatives about how well it works with the Panasonic 20mm pancake. I see you have one mentioned in your bag – any issues for you? Thanks, James

    • Paula Thomas November 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

      Hi James. I have heard some complaints about some Panasonic lenses on the OM-D. I haven’t noticed any issues with the 20mm though. It was my very first micro four thirds lens that I bought back in 2009 to use with my E-P1 and later my E-PM1. I don’t use it as often on the OM-D now that I’ve got lots of other lenses to choose from though.

      I’ve heard great things about the Billingham Hadley Pro’s too. Sounds like it is a bit bigger than the Retro 5. Might be closer in size to the 7 or the 10.

  3. Guest November 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Hi James. I have heard some complaints about some Panasonic lenses on the OM-D. I haven’t noticed any issues with the 20mm though. It was my very first micro four thirds lens that I bought back in 2009 to use with my E-P1 and later my E-PM1. I don’t use it as often on the OM-D now that I’ve got lots of other lenses to choose from though.

    I’ve heard great things about the Billingham Hadley Pro’s too. Sounds like it is a bit bigger than the Retro 5. Might be closer in size to the 7 or the 10.

  4. James Bailey November 1, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    Thanks for that reply – yes the Pro is a bit larger I think – and more sturdy than the Retros which in turn means less easy to jam more things into side pockets, but I love it – it carries all my gear and looks real special. You can pull the photo inserts out and use it as a regular messenger bag as well.

  5. mirekti January 29, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    Great review!!
    I am still thinking whether to get this one or Domke F5xB for my three lenses and a rangefinder kit.
    Think tank looks much better, but I’m afraid to use velcro silencing as there’s no zipper so in the case bag went upside down …uh, I don’t even want to think about it.
    Magnets or those old school metal knobs with a “key” hole and twisting/locking bar would be perfect.

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