Gadling Gear Review: Two Camera Bags From Lowepro

Lowepro Transit Backpack camera bag
Lowepro

When you invest a considerable amount of money into a good camera and a set of lenses for travel, it is important to also spend a little extra cash to get a quality camera bag as well. A good bag is not only comfortable to wear but also provides plenty of protection from accidental damage while also managing to keep all of your gear well organized and easy to access. That can play a big difference in whether or not you get the chance to capture that perfect shot or miss it altogether.

Lowepro is a company that has been designing excellent camera bags for travel and outdoor activities for years. Their bags are popular amongst professional photographers and amateurs alike because they always offer great quality and incorporate certain elements that indicate the designers know their customers’ needs very well. Here are two new bags from Lowepro that are sure to be popular options with active travelers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Transit Backpack 350 AW ($119.99)
Photographers in the market for a versatile camera bag with plenty of room for all of their equipment need look no further than the new Transit Backpack. The bag features plenty of pockets, interior compartment space and mesh organizers to hold camera bodies, multiple lenses, memory cards and a variety of other gear. A small tripod can even be lashed to the side of the pack thanks to built-in straps designed for that very purpose. On top of that, the pack has a sleek, attractive design that not only looks good, but also puts everything you need right at your fingertips.As with most of Lowepro’s bags, the Transit features the company’s UltraFit system, which makes the interior highly customizable. Through the use of removable panels – not to mention plenty of Velcro – it is possible to configure the interior in numerous ways. This comes in handy when you’re carrying an extra longer lens for example and you need to change the configuration to accommodate that particular piece of gear. It also means that no matter which type of camera and lenses you carry, the bag can be adapted to fit your needs. This option gives the Transit a bit of future-proofing since you can modify it to fit your gear even as it evolves over time.

Despite the fact that the Transit is designed to carry a lot of heavy equipment it also extremely comfortable to wear, even when fully loaded. Lowepro has used thick, well-padded straps on this backpack and it certainly helps lessen the stress of lugging all of that gear around all day. They’ve even cleverly integrated a side access panel that allows you to easily get to the interior of the pack without having to take it off. That makes it a breeze to either quickly grab or stow your camera while on the go.

Other nice touches on this pack include a laptop sleeve large enough to hold a 15-inch computer and a built-in weather cover that can protect the bag, and its precious contents, from the elements. An interior pocket comes equipped with a handy key clip and is the perfect size for carrying a smartphone or a few accessories as well.

The Transit Backpack is a bit bulky (it tips the scales at 2.4 pounds) but that is mostly due to the thick, high quality padding used in its construction. Still, if you’re in the market for something a little more compact, you may want to check out Lowepro’s Transit Sling, which offers a similar design in a smaller package.

With a price tag of $119.99, the Transit Backpack is an excellent deal for travelers looking to carry all of their camera gear in a safe, organized and stylish manner. Whether you’re shooting photos around town or heading to the far side of the globe, this bag will make an excellent travel companion for many years to come.

Lowepro Dryzone Duffel camera bag
Lowepro

DryZone DF 20 L ($149.99)
While the Transit Backpack is designed to meet the needs of a wide variety of photographers, Lowepro’s other new bag is much more focused on a specific market. The new DryZone DF 20 duffel is aimed squarely at photographers who spend a lot of time in and around water. The bag is perfect for the outdoor action photographer for instance, or for those who find themselves in a kayak or on a scuba boat on a regular basis. While that may seem like a small segment of the overall market, it is a group of photographers who demand an extra level of protection for their gear and have their own specific needs that aren’t generally met in most standard camera bags.

Since this duffel has a special focus on keeping moisture out, it has been built with an exterior shell that incorporates the latest lightweight and technical waterproof fabrics. It also features a roll top enclosure that provides easy access to the interior of the bag but then seals up tight when it’s ready to take on the elements. As a result, the DryZone carries an IPX-6 waterproof rating, which means it should keep out most rain and heavy splashes, but is not capable of protecting its contents if it gets fully submerged.

Inside the waterproof shell is a second bag that is built to carry camera gear. It has a fully customizable interior that can be adjusted to fit the needs of what ever equipment you happen to be carrying at any given time. This extra pack is actually convenient for moving all of your gear from one carrying case to another in a quick and easy fashion, making it possible to go from your luggage directly into the waterproof bag for instance. This secondary bag works in conjunction with the outer shell and provides yet another level of protection for our expensive gear.

I like the “grab and go” feel of this duffel, although since it is so squarely aimed at a specific market it obviously isn’t built for the average traveler. This isn’t the kind of bag you just throw over your shoulder and hit the road as it was never built with that purpose in mind. But if you do happen to fall into the niche that Lowepro is aiming at with the DryZone, you’re likely to be very happy. This duffel provides plenty of protection from water while also allowing you to easily carry your equipment with you on your next aquatic outing. My only complaint about the bag is that it has a single exterior pocket that could be very useful, except it is so small that you can’t put much of anything in it at all. I’d like to see that pocket expanded for more capacity in future iterations of the DryZone in order to give it a bit more usefulness.

The Dryzone carries a price tag of $149.99, which may seem a bit high at first glance. After all, this is a bag that has a very specific focus and it won’t be all that useful when you’re carrying your camera gear around in an urban environment or on a trail. But if you do need a camera bag for use around the water, you won’t be disappointed here. Lowepro has designed a product that will keep your camera and lenses dry and give you a level of versatility that isn’t found in similar products from the competition. Besides, if you’re going to be using your expensive photography equipment around the water, $150 is a small price to pay to ensure that it stays safe.

Gadling Gear Review: Acme Made Camera Bags

Camera bags from Acme Made are stylish and functionalOne of my biggest concerns when traveling is making sure that my expensive camera gear is well protected from harm. In the hustle and bustle of packing, rushing to the airport and flying to our eventual destination, a lot can happen to our photography equipment, even when it remains in our possession. There is nothing worse than embarking on that trip of a lifetime only to find your camera isn’t working when you arrive.

A good camera bag not only helps prevent accidental damage to our gear but also keeps us well organized too. Carrying extra lenses, memory cards, external flashes and other photography equipment can be a bulky and cumbersome affair, but a good bag can lighten the load and make it easy to find all of those important items when you need them. A well-organized photographer is less likely to miss the important shots and do a better job of capturing the moment.

New camera bags from Acme Made offer travelers the protection and organization they need in stylish and distinctive packages. Their Montgomery Street line of packs have a retro look with modern sensibilities that allow them to stand out in the crowd without sacrificing function for form. Here’s a look at three of these bags that were designed with the traveling photographer in mind.

Montgomery Street Backpack ($99.99)
The largest entry into the Montgomery Street line-up is the Backpack, a versatile bag with plenty of room for just about everything you’ll want to take with you when traveling. Designed for carrying a DSLR or the increasingly popular compact system cameras (CSC), this pack offers well-padded compartments and pockets for camera bodies, lenses and more. A dedicated laptop sleeve is perfect for carrying a 13-inch MacBook, ultrabook or tablet, while organizational pockets hold travel essentials such as a smartphone, passport and other important items.

Putting this bag to the test in the field left me very impressed with its overall quality. It is built with fabrics designed to resist the wear and tear that comes along with travel, while still managing to provide ample protection for all of the important gear inside. Magnetic snaps and high-quality zippers seal up pockets and compartments nicely, while Acme’s FlexFold System allows users to adjust and expand the interior to their needs. When not in use, the Backpack also folds down to a compact size, making it easy to store and transport. The Backpack is capable of carrying a CSC camera and two extra lenses or one DSLR and a single additional lens. That makes it a perfect choice for most travelers but could be a bit too confining for those with more photography gear. This won’t be a problem for most, however, and when you add in the ability to carry a laptop or tablet – as well as all the cables, batteries and chargers you’ll need for the road – you end up with a pack that performs above and beyond expectations.

Those who like to travel light and are looking for a stylish, compact bag will absolutely love the Montgomery Street Backpack. It provides ample storage space for plenty of gear and its versatile nature ensures that it can accompany us on many different travel adventures.

Montgomery Street Courier ($79.99)
Camera bags from Acme MadeAcme Made’s Montgomery Street Courier shares much in common with the larger Backpack. There is a distinct look about it that quickly identifies both bags as being part of the same line and their feature sets are very similar. The Courier is capable of carrying mostly the same load as its larger counterpart, offering room for a compact camera system body and two extra lenses or a DSLR and one additional lens. It also offers organizational pockets for travel documents, a smartphone and other items that you’ll want to keep close at hand. This bag even includes the FlexFold System, which makes it a breeze to expand the interior to hold more items when necessary.

But the Courier is designed to be a smaller camera bag than the Backpack and as such, some compromises had to be made. The biggest difference is that the Courier doesn’t have enough space for a laptop. It does include a quilted sleeve with enough room for a tablet such as an iPad, but travelers using this bag will need to leave their laptops at home.

The other main difference between the two bags is that the Courier is a sling pack designed to be worn over the shoulder. This adds a level of accessibility that isn’t found in a backpack, as it is easy to grab a camera, lens or new memory card without ever taking the bag off. This makes it a very convenient option for travelers, who often need to access their photography equipment and other gear on a moment’s notice.

The Courier is made from the same high-quality materials as the Backpack and features the same zippers and magnetic snaps as well. For all intents and purposes, it resembles the larger bag in every way, just in a scaled-down fashion and with a shoulder sling. This makes it a great, yet uncompromising, alternative.

Montgomery Street Kit Bag ($59.99)
Montgomery Street Kit bag from Acme MadeFor the ultimate in compact camera packs, the Montgomery Street Kit Bag is the way to go. While it doesn’t look exactly like the Backpack or Courier, the family resemblance is still undeniable. Like those other bags, the Kit Bag is made of tough, durable fabrics that are designed to weather the challenges of travel and stay attractive and stylish for years to come. The interior is lined with quilted fabrics to protect its contents and the twin zippers that run along the stop are smooth and easy to operate.

This small camera bag is especially useful for CSC cameras, providing space for a body and two lenses. It’ll also hold a DSLR body and a single lens as well, although larger zoom lenses may be a bit cramped. Exterior pockets can accommodate a smartphone and passport, although unsurprisingly there isn’t much room for anything else.

Although the Kit Bag does come with a shoulder strap, I found this pack worked best inside another bag. It is perfect for storing camera equipment when checking luggage or for safe storage inside a larger backpack. It is the perfect option for those who don’t carry a lot of camera gear with them when they travel, but still want a bag to keep things safe and organized.

All three of these camera bags are excellent choices for travelers looking to take their precious camera gear with them on the road. They are all affordable, extremely well made and provide plenty of versatility. Serious photographers will want one of each as part of their gear options but all three are individually outstanding as well. Each fits its own niche and you can’t go wrong with any of the bags in the Montgomery Street lineup.

[Photo Credit: Acme Made]
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4 camera bags that won’t make you shudder

There’s nothing wrong with basic black, but sometimes injecting a little color can’t hurt. Gear manufacturers are moving beyond professional-looking camera bags and are instead adding stylish designs and vibrant color palettes. Here are four favorites.

Canon & LeSportSac
Canon partnered with LeSportSac to create this fun camera case (pictured). Though designed for Canon’s PowerShot series, the bag comfortably cradles other point-and-shoots. There’s an adjustable skinny strap that’s long enough to sling over a shoulder or across your body. A detachable wrist strap can also convert the bag into a wristlet. Extra pockets can store spare memory cards, or your cash, credit cards, and keys.
Price: $38
Where to Buy: shop.usa.canon.com/lesportsac

Built
Using its signature neoprene material and an Alexander Girard graphic, Built’s digital case stretches to fit slim cameras, iPods, iPhones, or other small gadgets. This camera bag also has a detachable wrist strap. New for spring, the Alexander Girard Collection features three prints, including the Retrospective (pictured in the slideshow below).
Price: $35
Where to Buy: www.builtny.com

Crumpler
In February, the company freshened up one of its bestselling over-the-shoulder camera bags, the 5 Million Dollar Home, with new colors (pictured in the slideshow below). This case looks like a messenger bag more than a traditional SLR case. The most clever touch? “Silencer flaps,” or little wings that can cover up the Velcro closures so you can still snap that stealthy shot.
Price: $82
Where to Buy: www.crumplerbags.com

KATA
The Bumblebee UL-222 is a serious bag for photographers with a ton of gear. Factor in the weight of all your equipment, and you’ll be grateful for the backpack design (and foam-padded straps). The removable cover helps protect your gear from inclement weather, and the dedicated laptop slot means you can always back up your photos — no excuses.
Price: $275
Where to Buy: www.amazon.com

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Through the Gadling Lens: picking a good travel camera bag

This week, I’m going to be traveling again — and I decided that I finally had it with my cheap little roller bag that I’ve been using as a carry-on and carry-all for my camera equipment. To date, every time I’ve gotten on a plane, I have shamefully packed my laptop into a protective sleeve, and tossed into the bottom of this rickety little roller bag. And my camera and lenses? Merely packed carefully at the bottom of the bag, in amongst a ton of pairs of rolled socks.

Yes, you heard me, rolled socks. You know, for padding.

I know. I know.

Anyway, this week, I decided to finally act like a grown-up photographer, splurge and by myself a real travel camera bag. So I thought I’d tell you how I went about it.
Lest you think I’m completely beyond hope, this isn’t my first camera bag. Last year, I bought myself a Crumpler bag, which, actually I love:

For clarification, this bag is the Crumpler Sinking Barge. The reason I’ve been a fan of this bag for so long is because it generally doesn’t look like a camera bag. It also appealed to me because it has a compartment to pack my laptop, in addition to a camera body and a couple of lenses. Plus, I’ll admit that I liked the little dreadlocked dude as a logo.

The thing is, though, that I haven’t used this bag nearly as much as I thought I would. The first reason is because once I’ve loaded it up with my camera, my lenses, my laptop, chargers, and then crammed in my phone, its charger, some a paperback (or my journal), a small makeup bag, my wallet, passport and other documents and say, a tin of roasted almonds into the small space that remains, this thing is heavy. Plus, rarely did all of those other things fit in the small remaining space anyway, requiring me to get a second carry-on bag — and frankly, I resented having to have a second bag when this first bag was so heavy. And so, this bag eventually got left behind in favour of the small rickety roller bag. I use the Crumpler solely for day photo trips in and around town.

So this week, I headed to my favourite local camera store to look for a new bag. An aside: every person should have a favourite local camera store — not a photo lab that happens to sell some stuff, but an actual, honest-to-God camera store, staffed with knowledgeable employees who have actually picked up a camera or two before. In Houston, for the past 15 years, mine has been Houston Camera Exchange. I often visit this store when I have no idea what I want; however, on this particular day, I walked in with a list of requirements:

1. The bag had to be large enough to carry at least one camera body and at least 2 or 3 lenses, as well as my laptop with its power cord.

2. The bag had to be large enough that it could carry my journal and my roasted almonds, in addition to my laptop and other photo-related gear.

3. The bag had to be small enough to fit in the overhead compartment of a plane.

4. The bag had to not look like a camera bag, screaming to passers-by that it was full of expensive camera equipment.

5. The bag had to have roller wheels, so I didn’t get back strain carrying it.

Luckily for me, one of the first people I ran into was Mallory, who apparently has been described at the store as the “Bag Lady.” If there was one thing Mallory knew, it was camera bags. So I asked her to share with me her favourites.

The first bag Mallory showed me was the LowePro Slingshot 200:

A good-looking bag, no doubt, and the coolest part is (as Mallory demonstrates, above), you don’t have to actually take the bag off to take the camera out. This, my friends, is huge, when you’re out in the field — sometimes there’s nothing more annoying than having to get out from under your camera bag to take one fleeting shot. The bag even has a compartment to carry those roasted almonds. And, quite obviously, there’s lots of room for camera bodies and lenses. It even has an all-weather cover in the bottom of the pack, so you can cover it in inclement weather. At around US$ 89.00, this bag has a lot of bang for the buck.

The downside? It looks like a camera bag, to me. Also, it doesn’t have any room for my laptop, or much of anything else, for that matter. So while this is Mallory’s favourite bag (and admittedly, looks like a pretty good daypack), I decided to pass.

The next bag Mallory showed me was the National Geographic NG W5050:

“Dude, National Geographic makes camera bags?” I asked, incredulously. “That’s sort of… brilliant.” Mallory agreed, and I have to admit, I almost fell for this bag. It’s got great room for camera body and lenses, and it doesn’t scream “camera bag.” There’s some room in the top compartment that would definitely hold my journal and my almonds, and there’s a hidden compartment in the back (against your back, if you were wearing it) where a laptop could easily fit. Not only that, it’s kitted to hold a full size tripod, if necessary, as well. And at $150, while not cheap, it also isn’t in the realm of really expensive bags, either.

Thing is, though, I rarely travel with a full size tripod (I have a Gorillapod that does the trick, when necessary). And the problem of the bag being too heavy isn’t really solved by this bag. So we went on.

Next up, the LowePro ComputrekkerAW:

Holy moly, does this thing carry a lot of stuff. Like, a LOT of stuff. And when it’s closed, it doesn’t look any different than any other backpack, which is very, very cool. It has a secret compartment for your laptop, so more bonus points. The bag retails for about US$ 150 — but since this is quite a heavy bag, you might want to upgrade to the rolling version of this bag. But it’ll cost you: the wheels take the price up to US$ 275.

So. This bag, you would think, would pretty much be right up my
alley — except, to be honest, while it appears to hold every type of camera gear I could possibly imagine, I couldn’t imagine it holding much else — like my journal, or makeup bag, or my beloved almonds. So I put this bag on the short list, and kept wandering around the store, until I finally came across …

… the Jill-e rolling camera bag:

People, I had found my bag. It has enough compartments for a camera body and several lenses, as well as for my MacBook laptop, and all associated chargers. There’s enough room above the compartments for me to stash my journal, a few toiletries, and yes, my beloved almonds (not to mention that the room exterior pockets). The bag doesn’t even begin to look like a camera bag — in fact, it just looks like a regular weekender. But the best part? Even though the bag is heavy, it comes with wheels — without compromising the design of the bag. It wasn’t cheap — this bag retails for US$ 289 — but frankly, I was willing to pay the extra money. And while I wouldn’t use this on a day trip, I have smaller bags that I can fold up and pack in my suitcase for quick daytrips. This is a hell of a bag.

So, that’s my Great Camera Bag Adventure. I’d love to hear what bags you use, and if you’d recommend any other makes and models. And of course, as always, if you have any questions, you can always contact me directly at karenDOTwalrondATweblogsincDOTcom – and I’m happy to address them in upcoming Through the Gadling Lens posts.

Karen is a writer and photographer in Houston, Texas. You can see more of her work at her site, Chookooloonks.
Through the Gadling Lens can be found every Thursday right here, at 11 a.m. To read more Through the Gadling Lens, click here.