FUNCTIONALITY DOESN'T HAVE TO BE UGLY
I've talked about my hatred for photographer fashion before. There's a fine line between storing your gear in something functional & looking like uncle knob head the fly fisherman who's just got back from a brief tour in the military. Of course with such an investment in kit, it's important to protect it. But why oh why must I be reduced to huddling in a corner in my undercrackers pawing over shiny tech that I'm scared to take outside repeating "My precious..."
... What do you mean that's just me? ...
My wife Hannah would testify I seem to have a slight obsession with cases. She would also reiterate that this fact in itself is a good thing due to me being one of the clumsiest individuals this side of 'special.' (Ryan ~ Notice to wedding clients: Shutter Go Click Photography is covered whole heartedly for up to one million in public liability insurance, use of this coverage is subject to business requirement but in Ryan's case this is in fact & I quote "Because he's a f***king liability") When looking around for an awesome bag there is one company that shines like a waxed canvas & leather star... ONA.
THE CAMPS BAY
Enter the ONA Camps Bay Backpack. Easily the best camera bag I have ever owned. For those of you who've never heard of ONA, this New York founded company was brought to life in 2010 to offer "style conscious photographers bags & accessories that complement their life." I picked up the ONA Camps Bay just under 2 years ago after I realised my Billingham Hadley Pro couldn't really cover the amount of stuff I was shifting to weddings every weekend. I also wanted a camera bag that would double up as carry on luggage when me & Hannah went away for a weekend. Something big enough for a couple of cameras, lenses, the odd t shirt & spare pair of Shutter Go.. Y Fronts. (Coming to a store near you)
THE GOOD & THE NOT SO
I bought the ONA Camps Bay in smoke grey but it's also available in field tan & nylon black. All of the colours look awesome but I definitely like this one the best. The Camps Bay is made out of a truly hard wearing waxed canvas that just like Hans Solo, only gets better with age. You can see this in the images even after 2 years of 'hard' use. After being thrown over fences, left in fields, having drinks spilt over it & been cramped into the back of dusty car boots. This bad boy still looks as good as new, if not better!
Now this bag is roomy, not as vast as some full photo backpacks but I manage to squeeze inside everything I own bar the kitchen sink. ONA state the Camps Bay can fit a DSLR with 70-200 attached, up to 7 lenses, a 17 inch laptop & small personal items. I use mine to carry a Nikon D750, D7000, 24-70mm, 35mm, Polaroid SX-70, Nikon FM2, An LED light, SB-700 flash, A bunch of prisms, Macbook Air, Chargers, Wallet, Keys, Lunch, Clothes, Crystal Meth & a Partridge in a Pear Tree. (Please Note ~ No partridges or other wildlife were harmed in the making of this review)
The interior dividers are completely removable & adjustable for whatever you carry in your photography arsenal. Plus ONA are kind enough to included plenty of them & after I'd configured the Camps Bay to my liking I even had a couple spare to stick to the cat when he wasn't looking. Bonus!
At the front of the bag is a little pocket you can chuck your small items in. I use this for my wallet, keys & business cards. (Yes I have a case for these) There is also a couple of tiny compartments in here that are used to store memory cards. But if I'm honest they're a bit too awkward to get in & out of & I prefer to have my cards on me at all times just in case. I also find this front pocket a little tricky to open when the bag is fully closed which to ONA's credit could be great for criminals trying to steal your valuables as it would be no easy task.
The zips are heavy duty & every last inch of the Camps Bay oozes quality & style. Of course this bag isn't just made to look damn sexy, its comfortable too. With air mesh padding on the rear & thick padded straps, this bag is made for day long use. I've had this backpack on travelling around Barcelona, Amsterdam & all kinds of other awesome places for hours & it hasn't felt a chore to carry yet. Even when fully weighted out with equipment the comfort levels are high & the heaviness is barely noticeable on your back.
The interior laptop pocket is great for storing anything up to a 17 incher & will easily hold my macbook air &/or travel documents with room to spare. The open side pockets are great for throwing a bottle of water / beer in & I tend to use these to carry a funky pair of sunglasses for when I'm feeling particularly badass.
It would have been pretty awesome if the Camps Bay had included somewhere to mount a tripod / light stand to & I can't really see anyway of doing this other than throwing it under the top flap & then fastening the bag. I've tried this but it tend to just fall out, not to mention the danger of twatting passers by in the chops. Of course this isn't really a big issue as I very rarely take a tripod on shoots, & if I do I have a separate holdall for all my lighting gubbins which that goes in.
The other thing I would have LOVED with the Camps Bay is if it included a little memory wallet with the bag for storing all those cards & batteries we photographers have flying about. I'm currently using a Tamrac case for these but I'd love the option of an ONA or equivalent one to hitch onto the belt & not be weary that I'm almost... just almost wearing a bum bag. I know ONA does a couple of accessory holders, but there's nothing in their line that I can see currently offers this functionality.
THE CAT DOESN'T FIT
ONE BAG TO RULE THEM ALL
The ONA Camps Bay is without a shadow of a doubt the finest bag I have ever owned. Not only is it functional, but it also meets that often ignored photographer fashion faux pas in exuding style. Now to replace my ageing Billingham Hadley with something new... ONA Brixton... You will be mine! If you would like to buy any of the awesome ONA range of camera bags including the Camps Bay, I recommend buying from the awesome West Yorkshire Cameras in Leeds. An official stockist of ONA gear.