Feet under the table
Registered: January 2011
Location: Westmalle, Belgium
Review Date: Tue May 29, 2012
||Would you recommend the product? Yes |
Price you paid?: £79.00
| Rating: 8
Flexible, accessible in dry conditions
No specific filter storage, All Weather cover not easy to use
Photo show more kit than I bought the bag for, in order to show what can fit. In fact if I try hard the bag will accommodate my D300s with battery grip with mounted Nikon 105 f/2.8 macro (approximately the same size (length) as the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8), along with a 80-200 f/2.8 or 80-400 f/4.5 - f/5.6 VR but it is not possible to carry the camera mounted to either of the latter 2 lenses. Include a Nikon 85mm f/2, a Nikon speedlite (SB910), a Nikon 16-85mm AF-S zoom, my ever-present binoculars, the accessory pouch and the bag is FULL. If you want to punish your shoulders, an extra (4) lenses can be hung on the outside using the sliplock system.
I bought this bag because I needed something better than a rucksack for walking round a city, mainly from the safety angle of not wanting to have items accessible to others and to make them more accessible to me. I needed something I could hang on my shoulder that would not get in the way while travelling on and off trains, up flights of stairs etc... The D400AW, reviewed by Dabhand16, seemed interesting but I thought it a little too large when I compared it with the D300AW in the shop. I was looking for something that would limit me to one camera body and a couple of lenses, plus flash and no more as I would always be tempted to fill it. It had to be reasonably easy to use.
At the back of the bag there is an open-top pocket and a separate loop that allows the handle of a trolley case to pass through it.
The shoulder strap has an excellent slidable shoulder pad, but as Dabhand noted, I found it "failed to maintain its position on the shoulder". It is intended to be worn diagonally across the body - over your head rather than on the shoulder nearest the bag. The waist belt can be fed through the waist belt loops of garments such as jeans and attached to or detached from the bag with quick releases when required. This pairing of the straps allows a) a sharing of the weight, partly on your hips and partly on your shoulder, and b) makes walking around town a little safer because there are 2 straps to make loose should anyone attempt to steal the bag. The shoulder pad tends to stay in place better if both straps are used with equal tension. It is possible to tidy this waist belt away by wrapping through the loops at the back of the bag several times, where it is made to fit perfectly without loose ends.
There is an excellent carrying handle that is permanently attached to a large metal ring on each side of the bag. It can be easily moved out of the way to the back of the bag to allow the lid to be opened without having to undo any lid clips or zips. The shoulder strap attaches to the same rings with very strong metal clips. Clipping the shoulder strap to the rings on one or other side of where the carry handle fits the rings can make a significant difference to the comfort of carrying this bag. I attached the clips to the outer side of the carry handle.
The rings to which the carry handle and shoulder strap attach, are secured to a single strap that passes completely underneath the bag giving excellent support and strength to the bag and its contents. I had looked at the Nova range, and although the same size bag has more cells and more flexible partitioning its strap is only sewn into the sides and doesn't look as strong.
The lid has a single side-release buckle on the flap at the front and a zip around the circumference of the body of the bag. The zip access in the top can be used to access items if you are concerned about safety when hung on the hip, but the lid can also be easily opened fully to access all items. It is nigh impossible to pull the camera plus lens through the top opening and so I assume it is only intended for accessing extras once the camera is out. I would also not recommend trying to swap lenses through the top zip.
There are front pockets, under the flap at the front, but outside the protection of the main zip. These pockets are intended for things like pens, a mobile phone. One of the pockets has a flapped velcro fastening and is lined with soft-woven fabric that is intended for a pocket camera, or maybe filters. However, I felt that you can only afford to place items of low value in any of these pockets.
There are and extra 6 sliplock loops on the outside - 3 each end where any extra lenses, filter wallets, etc. can be carried.
Underneath the bag is a pocket that contains the "All Weather" cover, that is attached to the inside of the pocket and not separable. The cover is pulled over the front of the bag and then over the top, leaving the part of the bag nearest the body a little unprotected. This is unlikely to matter unless you are in a torrential downpour, where water will seep into the fabric of the bag nearest the body (experienced this with an AW top-loader). There is a cord that passes through the cover that allows it to be tightened into place to give a snug fit and more protection. There are also 2 reinforced button-holes that are designed to fit over the metal rings that support the shoulder strap. While this makes the bag more waterproof in general, water can seep in through these holes. I needed to use the cover for a short while and found it very fiddly to operate. The shoulder strap must be detached in order to fit the cover over the rings, and once over the rings access to the bag becomes nigh impossible. For everything else this is a quick bag to use, but DayMen (Lowepro) could do better to provide these button holes as slots attached by velcro which can pass over the rings without removing the shoulder strap. Pretty well an absolute waste of an idea and facility !
The whole inner compartment can be removed from the bag, but I have not yet discovered why, except that should the bag become badly soiled it can be separated from any foam-filled content, as used in the insert, and thus washed relatively easily.
There are six cells in the inner compartment using the usual Lowepro Velcro divider system that attach to the sides of the inner compartment with Velcro type fastenings. Two of the dividers are full height, are more substantial than the other dividers and have ‘hinged’ top sections to support the camera body on either side of the lens, the others are shorter.
There are no pockets in the lid. There is an accessory pouch to keep small items that might otherwise get lost that can be put into one of the cells or laid across the top of the cells depending on what is in it, and a memory card wallet that can be attached to the bag by a cord. There is a dedicated pocket for this wallet on the inner wall of the bag. At the back of the inner wall there is another zipped pocket that will take A5 documents, passport or the like.
With this bag size you can carry a limited, but useful amount of quickly accessible kit that can be expanded if necessary by using Lowepro sliplock extras.
I was interested in travelling light so only 2 lenses were taken for my intended trip: 16-85mm AF-S zoom and a 80-200 f/4.5 manual zoom. These 2 lenses are complementary (except for filter thread) and light-weight. This suited my purpose, as around town I would be using wide angle / short telephoto and only occasionally longer telephoto. For me it makes shooting with 2 separate lenses easier than with one heavier lens. I tend to prefer not to use a flash and light lenses make hand held longer exposures easier. I also packed an old flashgun, again for weight, and roof prism binoculars (always with me) - also light-weight. I removed the battery pack / grip. In this configuration I am carrying just less than 4Kg - 9lbs.
It is lacking some features that you might expect on a camera bag, there are no tripod loops for instance, and I would prefer to carry filters and memory cards in safe padded pockets in the bag, not in loose wallets that are mounted as sliplock external cases - but this seems a Lowepro thing.