I’m always after a good solution for those vacation days where you carry a camera around for the whole day. I also want somewhere to stow my wallet and sunglasses, my phone, face mask, hand sanitiser etc.
I’m a keen but cheapskate photographer, and I have a compact system camera with one spare lens. I’m also a lazy photographer, and if it’s hot (or even if it’s not), I don’t want a camera strap around my neck. The list of fussiness goes on.
I spotted, after I’d ordered this, the Bellroy sling bag, which might have been ideal, and costs about the same. The Bellroy is similar in design (but better quality, I trust) to a sling bag I bought in Nature and Discovery, a bag I call my Banana Bag for reasons we won’t go into here.
The Manfrotto is more padded and therefore chunkier, meaning it looks more like a small backpack, and because of the padding doesn’t actually have the capacity of a sling like the above. Not necessarily a bad thing, if it stops you carrying too much crap around. More importantly, the Manfrotto is designed by camera people for camera people, and it has some nifty features.
There’s a padded compartment for iPad or similar (I don’t have one), but you might also slide a Kindle or book in there if you’re an intellectual like me. There’s a little pocket on one end which is ideal for your wallet, and there’s a flat compartment on one side for flat things – you might squeeze a phone in there, or some face masks.
On the other side is a compartment meant for spare lenses, but if you just have the one compact zoom, like me, this is where you can stow your sunglasses and other bits and pieces. There’s a bit of velcro padding supplied for you to customise the interior. I tend to take the padding out because I want more space.
Many of the zip enclosures have an anti-theft loop, which is clever, although it mostly confounds my attempts to open the zips without undoing the loop first.
Last but not least is the generous compartment for your camera, which is at the non-wallet end of the bag. It’s big enough for a system camera with a decent sized lens on it. My own fetish is for the small end of this market (I’ve got an Olympus OM-D, prior to that a Panasonic GM1 which is even smaller), so I wish I could adjust the size of this compartment to make more room elsewhere. You can see in the picture below how tiny my camera is.
Anyway, this is the clever bit. You attach the camera to two clips, which in turn attach to a separate sling strap. You can then have the camera hanging loose at the bottom of the bag, next to your hip, and then whip it up to eye level to take a photo. It’s really brilliant in use and works perfectly. When you want to put the camera away for a while, it goes in the compartment without needing to be removed from the sling strap. The zip enclosures lock together, keeping it secure. Best of all, your camera isn’t around your neck, but it’s still easy to reach for those urgent photo opportunities.