Think Tank Photo Story Teller 10 Review
Late 2018, Think Tank Photo introduced another take of the classic should bag with their new StoryTeller series. Three sizes were introduced, all of the same design to deliver the most efficient access of any Think Tank Photo shoulder bag. The family is made of the StoryTeller 5, StoryTeller 8 and the largest StoryTeller 10, subject of this review. Given simarities, the observations will apply almost equally to all of sizes.
Although constructed with premium materials customarily used by Think Tank Photo, these are lightweight bags designed to carry a small amount of gear. The smallest can hold an entry-level DSLR with lens attached plus an extra telephoto lens or two smaller primes. The middle-size bag would have room for an additional accessory, plus a small tablet. The StoryTeller 10 accomodates a larger DSLR, although not one with a grip and 2 lenses in addition to one mounted on the camera. It also has an inner slot to fit a 10" tablet. These bags have an adjustable but not removable shoulder strap, unlike that on other Think Tank Photo shoulder bags.
The new element for Think Tank is the use of a short flag that opens away from the photographer. This design makes it much easier to work with than the vast majority of shoulder bags. It allows the flap to stay open without interference to the photographer while accessing gear. The StoryTeller 10 measures 12" x 10.2" x 6.3" (30.5cm x 26 x 16) externally with an internal main compartment measuring 11" x 9.8" x 4.9" (28 x 25 x 12.5cm). The whole bag weighs only 1.5lbs (0.7kg) which makes it much lighter even than the previously reviewed Spectral 10.
The Think Tank StoryTeller 10 is available from Amazon.
Shoulder bags are the workhorse of photography bags. With tons of models to choose from being made by countless manufacturers, Think Tank Photo has been refining the design with distinguishing features for years. Last year, the magnific clasp of the Spectral series did wonders for quick access yet the flag still got in the way of gear. To improve the sitation, the new StoryTeller series flips the flap around and makes it much shorter.
This shoulder bag is incredibly light-weight, certainly one of the lightest on the market. It is not very rigid with moderate padding all around. It can certainly take a few knocks but probably less than one of the heavier bags out there. Most outer frabric of the bag is make of ballistic nylon with a water-resistant coating. There is a little amount of decorative tarpaulin on the front and a stretch nylon pocket to one side.
The StoryTeller is a shoulder bag that creates an open space where photographers can choose gear, change lenses, install filters and quickly place items back into the bag. A water-resistant dual-head zipper opens the flap in seconds. Then, with a quick push, the flap opens away from the photographers and stays there, exposing the interior compartment. The flag itself reveals to dedicated memory card compartments, each fitting either 2 SD-form-factor cards or one XQD, plus a larger comparment for batteries, remote triggers and other small mostly-flat items. These pockets are sealed via strong yet quite noisy velcro.
A nylon shoulder-strap is permanently attached to the bag. There is plastic buckle to adjust its length which sufficiently tight to keep the strap length while the bag is fully loaded. The sleeve used for shoulder padding though does tend to slip and offers very little grip to keep it in place. There is a decent nylon handle to grab the bag from the top.
The rear of the bag sports a slot to put in small documents. It is not big enough for letter-size pages but can easily hold some folded maps, tickets and the credentials. There is way to close the flap, so it is not to be used in adverse weather. One side has a stretchable pocket to drop in a lens cap or cleaning cloth. Generally sides pockets are used for water-bottles but this one is too small and short for that purpose.
For some reason, Think Tank Photo decided to make their StoryTeller series look like a traditional shoulder bag. This is perhaps an educated marketing move as other manufacturers do this too. The result is a additional front-flap which could have been replaced by a more suitable zypper. This short flap covers but does not seal a front-pocket. This makes it prone to intrusion of rain and risky for small items and is perhaps the only consistent criticisism of ThinkTank shoulder bags. Within that pocket this time, there is a very flat zyppered comparment. It covers almost the whole width and height of the bag front but is too tight for anymore more than 1cm think. Right in front of it though, there is a mesh to keep mid-sized accessories in place.
When needing to truly protect against the elements, a seam-sealed rain cover is provided with the StoryTeller 10. It is located in the front pocket, attached by a small strip of nylon closed by a velcro. This cover provides good protection against rain and snow as it covers all bag openings.
Even though the StoryTeller 10 is currently the largest in the series, this is a relatively small camera bag. It is even smaller than the Spectal 10 which is numbered the same. For photographers that manage with one DSLR and just 2-3 lenses total, it will be tightly packed but it will do. Where it becomes more interesting is for mirrorless cameras with APS-C or Four-Thirds sensor. Those digital cameras use smaller lenses due to their corresponding imaging circle. With a Micro Four-Thirds system, the StoryTeller 10 can hold two cameras with lens attached plus an extra lens or two. Again, this will be a tight fit but at least there is room for a backup camera.
The fashion of tablets has really taken hold for some and so this camera bag has a built-in divider to slot a 10" tablet within the main compartment. The use case is not really convincing, given what else is necesary to work with a tablet: cables, charger and card readers which just gets too much for such a small bag to hold. In practice, the tablet slot turned to be useful for a travel guide and to protect maps from rain.
Overall, the Think Tank Photo Story Teller 10 is an interesting shoulder bag with truly efficient access and a flag that makes it easy to work within the bag. It delivers a rare flag opening away from the photographer while being exceptionally light wait. Padding is adaquate an it offers a reasonable number of pockets for its size. The only two areas that could stand improvement are its size and the front-pocket that does not fully close. If the bag was a little wider, even if it needed to be less tall, it would fit more gear. Still, for a small mirrirless system, this bag stands out from the competion by its design and durable materials.
Buy the Think Tank StoryTeller 10 from Amazon.
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