Been looking for a good camera bag that will fit a 35mm SLR and a long lense. Lowepro seems to have many good choices here including according to:
* “Photo.net”:http://www.photo.net/equipment/bags/. As usual, the best reviews are here. Phil really likes the Tamrac bags though. Loves the huge Lowepro Trekker AW.
* “Photography Review”:http://www.photographyreview.com/pscCamera,Cases/Backpacks/PLS_3139_912crx.aspx. Main issue is that this doesn’t have that many reviews, but does have lots for the main bags.
* “Camera Hobby”:http://www.camerahobby.com/Access-CameraBags.htm. A personal review site that explores all the bags you can get.
* “Kelleytown”:http://www.kelleytown.com/CameraBags.html. Another person site. He basically likes the Lowepro Nature Trekker AW for transporting and the Kinesis system for shooting. A pretty good recommendation set
Given the above, here are the recommendations for a moderately serious amateur (e.g., me :-):
In terms of fanny packs and shoulder bags, there seems more enthusiasm here mainly because it is easier to get them out and actually use the camera. So backpacks are great for hiking and then getting the junk out. These bags are better for the “you don’t know when the great shot comes” kind of photography. There seem to be two good recommendations for simple bags:
* “Off Trail 2”:http://www.lowepro.com/pages/series/trekking/oftrail2.htm. This is a fanny pack so it is way easier to get your big lensed camera out. I have two fanny packs now and they are really convenient for this plus, you can have a dedicated backpack if you need it. (“$80”:http://hometheaterspot.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php?masterid=756859&blsrt=1). Well liked by “Photography Review”:http://www.photographyreview.com/pscCamera,Cases/Soft,Case/Lowepro,Off,Trail,2,Belt,Pack/PRD_84116_3124crx.aspx. Also “photo.net”:http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=004jPc had a great review as well. He’s very right about the belt buckle breaking. They just did on my Lowepro Lumina, so he recommends replacing with the Kelty Cam-Lock Buckle.
* “Domke F-2”:http://www.saundersphoto.com/html/bags.htm. This is a shoulder bag, but top rated and apparently used by professionals the world over. ($149) and loved by “Photography Review”:http://www.photographyreview.com/pscCamera,Cases/Soft,Case/Domke,F-2/PRD_84454_3124crx.aspx
There are also modular systems. These might be good for those of us who carry a camcorder and a camera (what geeks we are) and the professional ones are more durable. Going up in price are these systems. Probably the Kinesis is the Pro’s choice and is about the same price as the Lowepro high end version.
* “LowePro Topload Pro AW”:http://www.lowepro.com/pages/series/street/top75aw.htm is $50 plus a standard vs. deluxe waist belt $8, but is less durable. Its not compatible with the profressional Streets & Fields modular system though.
* “Tamrac 5519”:http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=NavBar&A=getItemDetail&Q=&sku=275795&is=REG&si=feat#goto_itemInfo. This is the equivalent of the top loader. Also at $43, but it accepts SAS accessories and MAS belt, so it is more versatile than the Lowepro. You can add the $23 MAS belt, $12 medium lense case, $14 water bottle holder, $10 film holder, $37 camcorder holder. So, much cheaper than the Lowe full system (see below). Haven’t seen any reviews yet.
* “Lowepro Street & Field”:http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=NavBar&A=search&Q=&ci=4341. Lowepro has a similar system priced like this $30 belt, “Toploader 75 AW”:http://www.lowepro.com/pages/series/street/top75aw.htm plus a Streets & Fields belt make a belt pack ($80), utility case for camcorder ($30), 1n lenses case ($15) and accessory pouch ($31) and lots of cinch straps ($10) Photo.net liked the Toploader case more than the Off Trail 2 because it has an extra pouch for film etc. but its a pro version so quite expensive. Its not as high end as the Kinesis, but still pretty nice.
* “Kinesis”:http://kinesisgear.com. This is a high-end modular belt system. I can really see the value of doing this since everyone has different equipment. They are super expensive, but I suspect more durable in the long term. Reminds me of the “load bearing equipment” that the US Army has (called an ALICE). It’s expensive but I think probably works super well for hiking around. Its similar to the Lowepro Streets & Fields line of modular professional gear. Its mainly direct and a system for a large SLR plus accessories is about. You need a B107 ($36) belt, C580 ($80) for camera with long 70-200mm lense attached, Y304 strap to hold it to the belt ($4), A170 water bottle pouch ($23), A200 for film ($43) or A257 ($43) to throw a camcorder in or E330 ($69) for holding two lenses and a camera. Totally about $250 for everything that I own today. Not bad.
If you need a big backpack for carry things around rather than immediate use, consider these:
* “Stealth AW”:http://www.lowepro.com/pages/series/stealth/stealth.htm. You can pack a camera, a laptop and overnight clothes. Perfect for those quick trips to the Bay Area and also doubles for carrying a camera. It’s a full backpack, so its 22″ high and pretty big. ($400). Expensive, but the folks at “Photography review”:http://www.photographyreview.com/pscCamera,Cases/Backpacks/Lowepro,Stealth,AW/PRD_85145_3139crx.aspx like it OK but some really poor reviews too.
* “CompuTrekker AW”:http://www.lowepro.com/pages/series/trekking/computrekkeraw.htm. Brand new, this is waterproof and has room for a laptop too (so good for just going on the road). ($133). It’s about 15″ high, so unobtrusive.
* “Orion Trekker”:http://www.lowepro.com/pages/series/trekking/oriontrk.htm. It has two compartments and can take a long lense in the upper compartment it looks like, but its not padded. (“$122”:http://hometheaterspot.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=747336). Liked by “Photography Review”:http://www.photographyreview.com/pscCamera,Cases/Backpacks/Lowepro,Orion,Trekker,Backpack/PRD_84125_3139crx.aspx. Main problem is that its hard to get your camera out.
* “Mini Trekker”:http://www.lowepro.com/pages/series/trekking/minitrkaw.htm. A small backpack, but in this case a long lense 35mm can be pulled right out. Doesn’t have two compartments though. “$110″:http://hometheaterspot.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php?masterid=782063&blsrt=1. It’s smaller at 16” high. “Photography Review”:http://www.photographyreview.com/pscCamera,Cases/Backpacks/Lowepro,Mini,Trekker,Backpack/PRD_84106_3139crx.aspx folks find it popular and well rated.