I love bags. I have lots of bags. I’m a bag girl rather than a shoe girl as I can never get shoes to fit my tiny feet properly so I make up for that by buying bags.
Camera bags are included in that. I have the small Canon shoulder bag that I bought when I first got my 550D. I have an even smaller Acme Bowler bag that I never use. Finally I have a rucksack from 7dayshop that carries everything including my 70-200mm Sigma but weighs a tonne when full.
After watching one of Karl Taylor’s videos on bags and cases I became interested in the Lowepro Slingshot bags. But which one to get?
The 302 AW was out of the question. It looked immense and would be too similar to the 7dayshop one I already owned.
For a short time it was between the 102 AW and the 202 AW. The latter might just take my 200mm lens but again it would be heavy to carry, especially on one shoulder.
After watching review videos on YouTube I took the plunge and bought the 102 AW from eBay. It was about £20 cheaper than elsewhere but it took a week and a half to arrive.
Despite arriving in a somewhat large box, it turned out to be very compact.
My initial concern was that the straps would be too big. I am small and petite and wondered if the straps would shorten enough to snugly fit around me. They do.
The main compartment is accessed by two zips. I have bought some bright purple-coloured paracord to attach to one of them so I can easily see and grab it to open. No doubt I will find other uses for the cord, I may even make a little monkey’s fist…Like I said: I’m small and petite! I don’t want to be caught out by an assailant when I’m carrying expensive camera gear!
The zips are prevented from opening too far and spilling all your gear on the floor by two quick release buckles. I have attached a keyring to the bottom one on which I have hung my water bottle carabiner (see bottom left corner of photo). The keyring was just the right size to fit over the strap of the buckle without being big enough to slip over and off the buckle. I may yet replace it with a piece of paracord to prevent the metal rubbing on the strap and causing it to fray.
The more I play with the bag, the more it turns into a small Tardis. I have found I can fit the following gear into the main compartment:
40mm lens attached to 550D
Extension tube - sits underneath the 50mm
Plus spare nooks and crannies for a battery, rainproof cover for the camera and a small box of Quality Street wrappers (for painting with light!). There are two dinky little pockets to carry SD cards on the flap.
In the top compartment I can fit my flash, sync cord and flash diffuser. The top outer pocket just about takes my business card holder. The lower outer pocket holds a couple of filters, a pen, microfibre cloth and a set of keyring tools like a small compass, torch, grey cards etc.
I have managed to fit my compact tripod into the tripod pocket and strap - by putting just the one leg into the pocket and slipping the strap through two of the legs. The tripod is a similar length to the bag but it does pull the weight to one side so the bag felt more likely to slip off my narrow shoulder.
Even with all that gear the weight is manageable but I cannot say how it will last on an all-day venture. The weight seems to rest more on my lower back than my shoulder but that will hardly be any more beneficial to my already sloppy posture!
The in-built all-weather cover is a nice addition but it remains to be seen how much weather it will handle. Both the weather cover and the tripod pockets are hidden away by velcro fastenings and I already have velcro-burn from trying them out.
My only issue is that I have not yet found a way to quickly and elegantly put on and remove the bag! It’s not quite Houdini escaping from a strait-jacket but I feel as though I either have to dislocate my elbow and shoulder or adjust the strap length considerably to remove it. That means it will again have to be adjusted when I put it back on.
Despite this I now have a compact camera bag that I can “grab and go” knowing it contains all my small lenses, my flash and a couple of filters without having to rummage around in my box for them.
Depending on what I am shooting I may have to add more filters in somewhere or do a bit of rearranging. I suppose the UV or polarising filters could live on the lenses themselves to save on space.
I am heading to the Isle of Lewis next week hoping to see the solar eclipse so I will need my 200mm lens and the solar filter that I made a couple of weeks ago.
Maybe then I will be able to test it - not so much “in the field” as “in the wild, rugged Scottish Highlands”! Either way I will post an update on whether it’s brilliant, breaks my back, breaks itself or otherwise.
Until then my initial impressions are good and I hope it lives up to its expectation and we can begin a beautiful friendship!