As you may have seen on another post, my Crumpler 6 million dollar home has felt a bit small and cramped since I bought a 70-200 f/4 lens. And with the expectation that this year I will buy at least another one or two small lenses and a flash, I felt it was time to buy a bigger camera bag (keeping the Crumpler for light/walk-around duties). Given that even the crumpler was starting to feel a bit heavy on just a single shoulder strap, I decided it had to be a backpack.
I was after a 'modern-looking' backpack, rather than one of the more traditional styled ones that have been made specifically for photography, but without sacrificing protection (ie decent padding, inserts/dividers and shower-proof).
I looked at the medium-sized (10 litre?) Crumpler Keystone ($300) and large-sized (16 litre) Whickey-Cox ($330), and also a cheaper alternative, the Bagman Snapshot (medium/large size @ $80) which basically looks like a fake Crumpler. In terms of sizing, its sort of halfway between the Keystone and Whickey Cox.
I decided to give the cheaper Bagman a go as there really wasn't much difference that I could tell in terms of quality or design; they really look like they've been made in the same factory except one of them costs three times as much. It comes with a 12 month warranty for defective workmanship (I think the Crumpler is lifetime?).
Amusingly enough, the price seems a bit varied between shops... one camera store in Brisbane had it at $80 whilst Ted's Camera Store next door had it at $108 (but came down to $85 pretty quickly upon mention of 'price-matching', which they claimed was their 'cost' price). The bagman website says $80, but they don't list the colour combination that I bought. Both stores in Brisbane said the bag had just come out.
As with the Crumplers, the Bagman Snapshot is made from heavy duty material, is shower-proof (though I might spray it with some 3M to be sure), has a detachable inner housing for the equipment (ie so the backpack could easily be converted for non-camera uses) and the main compartment opens at the back so that your camera/lenses can't be pick-pocketed whilst you're walking along with the backpack on.
Some pictures below, taken with my wife's P&S camera:
Rear of the backpack, showing zipper which can only be accessed from rear with the pack off.
Bagman Snapshot and Crumpler 6 million dollar home side by side. I noticed the bagman looks a little 'lob-sided' in this picture, but its really just an illusion re how it is sitting... its evenly proportioned in reality
Interior netting to stop any lenses etc falling out of the bag or moving around.
More dividers than I knew what to do with, so ended up using some of them for extra padding
With the kit in place. As you can see, the camera equipment sits in a padded detachable tray within the bag, allowing the backpack to be used for other purposes if required.
This configuration allows me to keep any of the lenses (incl the 70-200) on the body when I put it away. Previously, with the Crumpler, everything would only fit into place if the body had the 24-105 lens on it.
Once I buy some further lenses, a flash and maybe a second body, I plan on turning the camera's orientation in the bag by 90 degrees, as there is currently a lot of unused space either side of the camera and at the top of the bag. With two cameras/lenses facing each other in a 'Pd' shape, you'd fit a bit more in.
Downsides so far?
- The handle for carrying the bag when its not on your back is a bit thin and not sufficiently padded. Not sure I'll end up carrying it much this way anyway, but could add some padding if required, I guess.
- The zip doesn't go down quite far enough to the bottom, so accessing equipment at the bottom of the bag requires a bit of technique to jiggle it free.
Other than that, all good so far... we'll see how it stands up to the test of time...