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My Photo Bags

Contents

Lowepro Slingshot 200 AW 

Slingshot Update

Lowepro Slingshot 300 AW

Lowepro Utility Bag

Lowepro Rizo 170 AW

Crumpler Brian's Hot Tub

Lowepro Rover Plus AW

Lowpro Flipside 400 AW

The Lowepro Slingshot 200

Some Pictures to show what can be fitted in the Slingshot 200.

New Slingshot 200 and Old Beltbag, last in a series of about 4 bags from my Canon FD days.

A beltbag really requires a waist which, 25 years on, I no longer have! 

The Slingshot has 3 sliplock loops on top compartment (red arrows), accessory compartment and on far side against window. Last of these is a good place for a largish sliplock lens pouch. 

Everything transferred except for a groundsheet, although a bit of a tight squeeze.

 

Main Compartment and Left Over Ground Sheet.

 

Main Compartment from Above: From Left to Right, Top to Bottom
EF 200mm f2.8L, EF-S 10-22mm *, EF-S 18-55mm, 20D w 100mm f2.8 Macro USM mounted (Under Strap), 50mm f1.4*.

* Probably room to double stack another small lens in each slot.

 

Top Compartment with Hoods for big lenses, angle finder, Lasolite 1M reflector (folded) and other odds and ends. 

 

Main compartment in on shoulder access mode. Padded sections can be un-velcroed for access to lenses. Can be repeated to get to lenses in the lower compartments.

 

Accessory compartment with filter box, toolkit, spare battery, silver reflector and media safe for 4 CF cards.

IN USE

In use the bag is comfortable to carry for an extended period and is fairly stable with the second stabilizing strap. It provides easy access to the equipment via the slingshot method without removing the bag. Changing lenses is facilitated by the open main compartment which provides a place to leave lenses.

Use in the slingshot mode could be improved for the front pocket and top compartment by changing the orientation of the compartment opening to match the sling shot position. As can be seen these open in the up direction. Because of this the user has to take care that nothing falls out.

Like all Lowepro products I have seen the zips have no weather flaps and are probably only good for the lightest dusting of drizzle and mist. Instead a weather cover is used to cover the front of the bag. This is contained in a small Velcro covered compartment at the bottom rear of the bag and retained in the compartment so it can't be lost. It takes a moment to stretch this in place. The only downside is this complicates access slightly if you need to get to the kit in bad conditions.

Another small drawback is security. None of the compartment zips can be locked and like most backpacks face away from the user. Another issue is the main strap quick release which has no lock or safety loop.  Both of these points may be an issue in a crowded environment. One way to mitigate this would be to keep the bag in the sling shot mode or carry it by the hand strap. However this is not likely to be very comfortable for any length of time.

So to conclude the bag is excellent but has some drawbacks in terms of access that could have been resolved by more innovative design. For use in a city or other crowded situation security may be an issue. The bag carries a useful load of kit but it seems to me there is room to scale the concept up to a larger size. 

 

Slingshot Update

I have now added some more equipment and squeezed more stuff in the Slingshot:

Top Compartment (yes it does close)

 

Front pocket.

 

Main Compartment from above (Standard Load)

 

Main Compartment from above (Macro Load)

 

This shows the Lens Case 4 with the EF 300/f4L IS in attached to a sliplock loop, this is not too ideal.

 

Slingshot 300AW Upgrade

I have now upgraded from the Slingshot 200 to the much roomier Slingshot 300. The shot below shows the two bags side by side.

As can be seen the 300 is a much more substantial bag, particularly in terms of width. 

The design is essentially the same but larger, the following major differences are noted.

i) The main compartment has spaces for six lenses instead of four.

ii) The top compartment has a webbed pocket on the inside of the lid.

iii) Instead of the 200's stabilizing second cross strap attaching below  the left shoulder, the 300 has a load bearing waist belt.

iv) The 300 has the same two Sliplock attachment points over the two auxiliary compartments (visible above), but the side attachment point of the 200 is not included in the 300. This is not such an issue as the 300 would become very wide if a lens case was attached to the side.

It is possible to fit a 300 f4L IS mounted on a 20D into the 300 with ease (below). The parallax makes the fit look tight but in fact there is about 1/2 inch spare.

 

A bit more of a squeeze but the EF1.4X can also be attached (below), the lid closes with a bulge but without straining the zips (second below).

 

With the general load from the 200 it is now possible to fit the EF 1.4X and EF 2X in the main compartment and add the EF 50mm f1.4 and EF 28mm f1.8 (below).

 

The main cover pocket is much larger in the 300 and has plenty of spare room (below).

 

The top compartment is again much larger and has enough room to probably add a flash gun if needed (below).

 

The deeper 300AW also permits reorientation of the lens stack for easier access in sling mode as shown below. With this configuration all four additional lenses are available with no rummaging. The two teleconverters can be accessed under the 200mm and 24-105mm zooms much more directly also.

 

Utility Case

I use this to hold my MT24-EX Twin Macro Flash + spare batteries etc.

 

Lowepro Rizo 170 AW

This small bag is intended for a minimal lightweight system for travel and city holidays using the 10-22mm and 24-105mm zooms with room for the HD80 downloader and spare batteries and CF cards, these all fit comfortably in the main compartment. Both the bag and the camera have been fitted with Pacsafe anti-cut straps for added security.

The bag is useful for other compact combinations, for example a good country walk combination is the 100mm f2.8 Macro USM + Hood with the 17-40 f4L with the hood for the 24mm f1.4L for APS-C sensor FOV.

For flower shoots I like to combine the 100mm macro with the 10-22mm for standard macro shots and ultra wide environmental shots.

 

Crumpler Brian's Hot Tub

This is capable of holding almost everything. Used for longer trekking.

 

Lowepro Rover Plus AW

This is a backpack style bag with a lower compartment with a removable padded insert for camera gear and an upper section for standard walking equipment, layers, waterproofs, lunch etc.

So looking at the photo section and what you can get in it.

The above is a long lens load that I might use for flighty insects, birds or other wildlife. There was still plenty of space and if need be the 200 f2.8 and another lens, say 17-40 could also be loaded.

 

The loading above is for macro specific, it would be possible to add something else by double stacking the MP-E or EF 2X.

 

Above is a landscape or general photography load. The EF 1.4X and 2X have been included under the two wide angles. Alternatively one or both of these could be swapped for a compact fast prime like the 28 f1.8 or 50 f1.4. 

 

Inside the day sack part or the bag. There is a large pocket at the rear that might accommodate a small laptop or be good for maps and papers. The compartment has room to take a fleece, foldable waterproof etc.

 

The two small pockets are small only about 2 inches deep and would not take much more than a good sized bar of chocolate, compass etc. In the centre the foldout tripod holder is secured under the flap with the Lowepro label via a Velcro pad. In front of this is some elasticized string that could be used for holding a wet waterproof. Under the flap is a longish pocket. On the outsides of the photo section there are two elasticized net pockets, one to each side. These could be used for water bottles.

 

The above shows the tripod holder folded down and the top and bottom elasticized string retainers in place using the quick release buckles. One negative issue of having the tripod at the back of the pack like this is it puts weight far away from the body and increases the depth of the assembly. However the weight is central and not causing twisting although with a light weight tripod such as illustrated the weight in the camera section is dominant. 

I have found that having a light tripod strapped on puts the centre of gravity too far back causing the pack to drag backwards. I now tend to prefer to carry the tripod on its own shoulder strap. This is not inconvenient when walking and makes access to the tripod and the photo compartment faster. Clearly if scrambling over very rough terrain this approach might not be viable.

On the plus side this bag is very well made with thought out adjustments, is comfortable to ware etc. Also it has a useful amount of storage space for both photo gear and basic walking kit. Access to the photo equipment is fast and easy without disturbing the day sack area.

As is often mentioned in other reviews, the tripod holder goes below the level of the bag. This not only makes the bag difficult to stand up on its base but difficult to carry via the top handle (I am 5' 11" and just have enough clearance to carry the bag by the handle without a tripod fitted). This could be improved by having a mechanism to shorten the tripod holder. 

Additionally the tripod mount may have been better to one side to permit access to the photo compartment and wet coat string area without removing the tripod. However tripod removal is only two QR buckles.

Another important point to note is the day sack and photo compartment are only separated by a Velcro removable padded base that did not seal tightly between the two. So it is imperative that wet gear is not stored in the day sack area.

In general I would recommend this bag to anyone who needed to carry a significant photo system and personal items for lowland and hill walking.

 

Lowpro Flipside 400 AW

The Flipside 400 AW was purchased as a more photo-centric alternative to the Rover Plus AW.  The Flipside allows easier access to the photo equipment and is lighter empty although the support system is not nearly as sophisticated as the Rover Plus.

Access to the Flipside photo compartment is from the rear of the pack. This has the advantage of keeping the back of the pack clean and dry when accessing it. The opening is slightly restricted at the bottom because of the load belt.

Storage capacity is reasonable although probably less than the Slingshot 300. It does have the advantage of fitting a reasonable length telephoto mounted on the body. Depth wise a medium length lens like the 100mm USM macro or 24-105mm can be fitted it vertically but this is about the limit. Pictured below clockwise from top left is:

(i)                  Hood for crop use of the 17-40mm (uses the 24-105 hood),

(ii)                100mm f/2.8 Macro USM inc hood and Hood for 60mm macro

(iii)               17-40mm f/4L

(iv)               300mm f/4 IS + TMA + 1.4XII mounted on 7D

(v)                180mm f/3.5 Macro USM + TMA

 

One limitation is the width of the pack, this means that it gets a bit tight with lenses that have the hood reverse mounted. The 100mm macro with hood, 300mm and almost any other lens with a hood across the width is already straining the zip closure  slightly. There is scope for a Flipside 500 AW perhaps.

Lowpro suggest one should be able to access the bag by turning it around whilst the belt is still attached. I canít see this being too secure even with a very light load.

The accessory compartment is accessed from above (shown below) and is much larger than might be expected. Plenty of room for things like cards, angle finders, batteries, warm hats and gloves.

Either side there are two water bottle pockets and above these a buckled strap. The strap is very useful for holding outer layers of clothing such as waterproofs, medium weight down layers or fleeces.

The AW cover is stored in the standard Lowpro position under the front of the pack. The provided tripod holder system is also Lowpro standard rather like the Rover Plus AW. This folds out and down.

I have problems with this tripod carry method. Firstly it means the pack can not stand on its case with the tripod in place; this is a lot less of an issue that it was with the Rover Plus AW as the user can still access the photo compartment with the tripod attached with the Flipside. The second issue is I find the weight of the tripod, even a small light one, is cantilevered behind my body centre of gravity. I find this pulls on my back.

I have tried this alternative tripod carry method, where two of the tripod legs are sitting in one of the water bottle compartments. An old webbing belt (donated by my better half) straps the two legs firmly in place higher up. The wide and generous carry handle is used as an anchor point. I find this a very comfortable way to carry the tripod and hardly noticed its presence.  This usage is shown below side on.  The back of the pack is to the right.

The last two views show the pack from the front and rear.

 

 

Last Updated 23/04/2012

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