Think Tank Retrospective 4 V2.0 Shoulder Bag Review
As photographers, we often yearn for the perfect camera bag. A bag that will hold all of our gear in a state of perfect suspension and protection. A bag that will hold all of our daily carry gear and our bells and whistles.
But other times, we yearn for simplicity and a minimalistic approach to our shooting plans for the day.
Having a smaller and more simplistic purpose-built bag results in having to carry a very minimal and simple kit.
For those days when you want to head out feeling light as a feather but ready to capture the perfect image, you need a Think Tank Retrospective 4 V2.0.
The Retrospective line of camera messenger bags from Think Tank has long held a wonderful classic canvas look and feel. But beyond that, there are familiar and necessary tech components to fully support your digital camera gear.
Simple little design decisions are all over this bag – both on the inside and the outside – that make this a great EDC, or Everyday Carry.
The Think Tank Retrospective 4 V2.0 will not carry a lot of gear, but what it does carry will be snug and safe, with interior pockets for your necessary items.
The bag would also suit travellers that just want to carry a smaller compact camera, wallet, passport and a tube of sunscreen.
What’s more, this bag does not scream camera bag, which is a really important element for remaining stealth or when on your travels.
Table of Contents
Think Tank Retrospective 4 V2.0 Specs
- Simplistic design
- Quality materials
- Sturdy manufacturing
- Perfect for mirrorless
- Perfect for EDC
- Included rain cover (it’s not a negative but let’s move on from rain covers)
- I almost wish it came in bright colours like a pair of Converse
- Durable water-repellant (DWR) coating
- YKK® RC Fuse (abrasion-resistant) zippers
- Interior Dimensions: 8.5” W x 6.7” H x 4.3” D (21.5 x 17 x 11 cm)
- Exterior Dimensions: 9” W x 7.5” H x 5.1” D (23 x 19 x 13 cm)
- Weight: 1.2 lbs (0.5 kg) including all accessories
Build & Appearance
The Retrospective 4 V2.0 reminds me not so much of a camera bag as of an old-school canvas bag.
And just like those bags, it’s rugged and constructed from hardy materials. The entire exterior is coated in the same simple material that has a waterproof coating to help with protecting your gear.
All stitching appears to be thick and well machined.
The main shoulder strap and the top carry handle are made from a thick cut of nylon with the carry handle wrapped in material to provide greater comfort.
The only visible hardware is the metal D-rings used to hold the handle and the shoulder strap to the bag, as well as buckles to adjust both. These are solid and tough and would take a lot of effort to bend or break.
Personally, I think the bag looks great, and beyond using this Retrospective 4 V2.0 as a day bag for travel, I would just as easily see its use as a street photography bag.
This bag will take a serious beating before it even begins to look worn or like it was no longer suitable for the purpose.
As mentioned, the Think Tank Retrospective 4 has a really minimal look to its exterior.
The bag holds its form quite well and, as a result, has a slightly boxy shape that will most likely soften with time and use.
The rear of the bag features a pocket that is as long and tall as the bag and this would be ideal for storing some documents, passport or your smartphone.
The only other feature on the back of the bag is a very subtle Think Tank badge.
The sides of the bag are featureless other than the anchor points for the metal D-rings to secure the shoulder strap and the carry handle.
The base of the bag seems to have an extra thick layer of padding with the same canvas-like material. This will both protect your gear when you put your bag down, as well as keep the bag lasting longer.
As mentioned, across the top of the Retro 4 V2.0 is a strap that forms the carry handle. This is actually slightly adjustable thanks to some metal buckles and is wrapped in a layer of the canvas material to provide great comfort and support.
The shoulder strap features a neat shoulder pad that is proportional to the size and anticipated weight of the bag.
The main opening and the front of the bag is covered by a single flap that does not provide a tight seal of the main opening of the bag.
However, at the bottom of this main flap there is a featured thicker panel of the canvas material as well as two metal eyelets. This reminds me of an old pair of well-worn sandshoes with the two breather eyelets on each side of the shoe.
In this case, they’re probably there to add weight so that the flap stays down – more on that later.
Starting underneath the main outer flap of the Retrospective 4 V2.0, the material is a nice soft weave with a slight pattern to it.
I mentioned earlier that the outside edge of the flap had a thicker layer of material and the two eyelets to weigh it down. That’s because you can actually cover up the velcro that would otherwise secure the bag closed.
This way you have a very stealthy street bag that does not draw everyone’s attention when you open it. Rrrripppp!
The front of the bag, under the main flap, has a broad and expanding pocket that’s also held shut by a velcro flap. Inside this pocket is a wide zippered pocket and two outer pockets perfect for holding spare batteries or memory cards.
The zippered pocket is the perfect size for a passport and wallet.
The main compartment is a single cavity that has the ability to be divided up thanks to the included two large panels and two small panels. These attach to the inner walls with velcro and are really easy to move around and get the right position for your gear.
One of the larger dividing walls includes two little pockets sized for SD memory cards and also has an internal pocket for delicate items like a filter.
Inside the base of the Retrospective 4 V2.0, there are actually two padded inserts that form the base. I guess the idea is that if you don’t intend to carry expensive camera gear you can remove all the padding and dividers and just use it as a carry bag.
This is a nice little detail that provides lots of flexibility to the user.
The only other element included is a small rain cover designed specifically for this bag.
I have said it before and I will say it again: there are enough high tech materials on the market for manufacturers to make their bags waterproof without having to carry a separate raincoat.
I know it’s an extra layer of protection, but having to fit this into what is already a small bag is somewhat annoying.
The Think Tank website has some great images and examples of the gear the Retrospective 4 V2.0 will carry. These range from a Fujifilm X-T3 with an XF 56mm f/1.2 to a Nikon D750 with a 50mm f/1.8 attached.
In both cases, they also suggest a second small lens could be carried in the bag. While I agree with this, it leaves very little room for any other daily carry gear.
In my case, I use Fujifilm gear and only use the smaller new primes that take up very little space in any bag.
Here is the kit I put together for the Think Tank Retrospective 4 V2.0:
- Fujifilm X-E3
- XF 16mm f/2.8
- XF 50mm f/2
- 2 spare batteries
- 2 spare memory cards
- Glasses case – cannot shoot without them!
Ease of Use/Comfort
I love the Retro 4 V2.0 for its simplicity and ease of use.
I can carry enough camera gear for an afternoon out and about shooting street photography. I can also include some essential daily carry items and not feel like the bag is stuffed full.
Thanks to the smart design choices for the pockets, I have places for everything so that nothing is interfering with my camera gear.
Nothing worse than to discover that your keys have been rolling around in the bag with your lenses.
Even with the above-mentioned camera kit on board, the bag is comfortable to carry by the handle or to have slung across a single shoulder or across the back.
My gear is easily accessible via the main flap and I love the way in which they have hidden the velcro if you don’t want to make a scene whenever you open your bag. At the same time, having the velcro there when you need more security is an excellent choice by Think Tank.
Overall, the Retrospective 4 V2.0 makes a fantastic light camera bag and would be perfect for a day of touring a foreign city while on holiday.
Value for Money
The Think Tank Retrospective 4 V2.0 retails for under US$100 and comes in two colours – Black or Pinestone (like olive green but fainter).
This is fantastic value when you consider not only the design qualities of the bag but the way in which it has been manufactured.
It’s designed to be tough and to blend in with the crowd but at the same time has modern tech and consideration in how you store your gear.
For this price, you can rest assured that your gear is secured and well protected.
On top of that, you’ll look great. It’s a minimal yet stylish bag that once again would be perfect for a small camera, daily carry or even as a neat little travel bag.
What’s more, the bag is built to last with highly durable and long-lasting materials and hardware.
Think Tank Retrospective 4 V2.0 Review | Conclusion
At the end of the day, Think Tank has done what a lot of camera bag manufacturers seem incapable of doing well. It’s quite clear that when designing the Retrospective 4 V2.0 (and all the other bags in the Retrospective line), they kept in mind the customer and their potential experience.
With this particular bag, they realised that not everyone wants to pack every camera body and every lens they own into the one bag.
That sometimes, we as photographers like the artistic and creative challenge of carrying a single camera with a single lens and a few essential items only.
What’s more, this makes for a perfect little travel bag for day trips with or without a small camera.
Regardless of the intended application, the combination of quality materials, simplistic design and exceptional value for money makes the Think Tank Retrospective 4 V2.0 a winner.
Your gear will thank you.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.