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Accessories Reviews

Think Tank Photo Urban Disguise 50 Review

Ernesto Santos (esantos)

Keywords: bag, thinktank

If you follow conventional wisdom, and the tried and true, you probably know that camera bags are designed for specific photographic shooting activities and subjects. Landscape photographer? Well, you need a backpack-style bag.  Involved in street photography or you’re a photojournalist? Why, the shoulder bag of course, it has served us well for eons. Wildlife big-gunner? Uh, well, you don’t need a bag. It will cramp your style. Plus, it’s hard fitting a 600 mm lens in most bags.

Of course, as we conform dutifully to these conventions we usually become a little myopic, or we develop acute tunnel vision. Not that these standards are all wrong, they usually make sense for most of us, but it limits our thinking on how to solve a simple problem. And that problem is - how to carry our gear in a convenient, efficient, practical, and comfortable manner using a bag that meets the space requirements we need. I’m one that is certainly guilty of this kind of limited thinking. So much so, that my only previous experience using a shoulder bag was with my Dad’s old vinyl bag from the early 1960s. I used it back when I was in high school in the ‘70s. The thing was warped and shoddy. The shoulder strap was gone, and the zipper that opened the main compartment constantly stuck and jammed. So much for fond memories.

It sounds ridiculous, but that is all the experience I have ever had with shoulder bags. So, when Think Tank Photo sent me their updated Urban Disguise 50 Classic V3.0 to test and review, I was going into this with maybe a few preconceived ideas, but no real opinions set in concrete. I took it out on a short trip and I came back with a few surprises, realizations, and a whole new perspective on shoulder bags.


Think Tank Photo started back in January 2005 with a group of four individuals. Two are designers and two are photographers. Since the beginning, they have dedicated their efforts in producing a line of high quality products based on the “Think Tank” approach – which is creating new carrying solutions with an emphasis on invention targeted at achieving those solutions and translating them to excellent, functional designs. While the Urban Disguise collection of shoulder bags has been around since the start, the new V3.0 is a very nice Classic Edition commemorating their flagship shoulder bag.  It features full-grain leather accents and panels to enhance the DWR (durable water-repellent) coated exterior fabric.

The Urban Disguise 50 is designed as an innovative interpretation of the old shoulder bag concept. To begin with, it doesn’t look like your typical camera bag, hence the name Urban Disguise. On the outside it looks like a top quality business portfolio/brief case. The bulk of the outer shell of the bag is made of ballistic nylon made water-resistant with a DWR coating. There is a leather panel on the top of the front flap and the handles and snap keeper are also of high-grade, full-grain leather. Additionally, the front flap is treated with leather piping around the edge. This leather treatment adds a lot to the quality feel and look of the bag. Compared to the standard V2.0 the Classic V3.0 really stands apart. On the Think Tank website the two models have a price difference of $60.00. If you want a bag that really takes it up another notch, then I definitely recommend the Classic V3.0. Overall, the design shows classic lines and function, and the form makes it easy to carry and access your gear.

think tank photo logo

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Natraj Sitaram MD (focus16) on July 9, 2015

Thanks Scott: I did purchase the sub urban and am going to return it. However the urban 30 is out of stock. So I might have to go for the bag that is reviewed here (urban 50 v2.0 or v3.0). Will these bags fit under the seat in an airplane? I am looking to travel light as well as carry my D810 + 24-120mm + 16-35mm + 70-200mm lenses as well as the usual accessories and my IPad . Any other suggestions? Thanks for all input.

scott abbey (sabbey51) on July 9, 2015

Natraj- The sub-urban is a much smaller bag than the Urban.

Natraj Sitaram MD (focus16) on July 5, 2015

Hi Bill Kennedy: I also have the same gear that you have and think the Urban disguise 30 would suit me find. How much was the price? When i googled the product it showed "Think tank photo sub urban disguise 30 shoulder bag" in Amazon for $84.75. Is this the same product you bought? Thanks!

Hans Kuwert (nikonus) on May 27, 2015

Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014

I have had the Urban Disguise 30 for 8 years , great to organize small gear .The stitching , zippers , straps are unbreakable . When its Maxed out with heavy lenses it will roll on its side dew to being top heavy and a small base area of the 30 , but it gives so much protection it's not an issue . I have carried mine almost everyday , it's a great product line .

Digby Pritchard (Digbyhp) on May 17, 2015

Many thanks for this review. I have been looking for a camera bag with a similar design for ages and wasn't aware of the Think Tank products. The versatility of this design makes it also suitable as a small overnight bag + small camera. I see that it can also come with an optional backpack strap, which is another great innovation I haven't seen before.

Willard C Kennedy (Bill Kennedy) on May 16, 2015

I have the Urban Disguise 30 which is a little smaller. I carry a D810 with a 24-120 attached, a 16-35 f4, a 20mm f1.8, a Coolpix A, a 13" MacBook, an iPad plus lens pen, polarizing filter, passport, etc. It easily fits under the seat on an airplane and I recently traveled to Europe for several weeks with this kit. Absolutely love it. Thank Tank has the very best products in their class in my opinion. I have four of their products and my next purchase will be a roller bag for when I need to travel with large lenses.