Let’s be honest, in the grand scheme of things, camera bags are pretty mundane objects Yet if we think about it a little more, we would realize how important they are to our everyday photography. We spend as much time with our camera bags as we do with our cameras themselves so it is important that we choose one that serves our needs.
As many of you may be aware, I have recently made the transition from a DSLR based system to an entirely mirrorless system. The reasoning behind it was to dramatically reduce weight whilst maintaining image quality. The biggest issue I encountered with my conversion was that it rendered my old camera bags, a mid sized Lowepro and a large Kata, virtually pointless. So big were the bags and so small was the system that the cameras were virtually lost inside the cavernous interiors. So I set off to look for an ideal mirrorless camera bag.
Despite being a relatively new technology, there were a surprising amount of choices for mirrorless systems, from the beautifully crafted Billinghams through the trendy Crumpler and on to the mainstream Tamracs and Lowepros. The one that caught my attention was Lowepro's Event Messenger 250.
What Were My Needs?
I decided that I wanted to return to an over the shoulder style bag having used backpacks for many years. It needed to take mirrorless two cameras, a couple of lenses, be discrete in appearance and most importantly, as I would be traveling with it, have space for a 13” Macbook Pro. It also needed to be small, easy to access and comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
A Look at the Lowepro
At first glance, the Event Messenger could be easily mistaken as a simple laptop bag or even a standard man-bag. For a camera bag it is remarkably slim being just 16cm at the widest point. This for me was a huge advantage when travelling and walking around a city. Larger shoulder style bags tend to sit so far out from your hips that it is very easy to bash into objects or people. The Lowepro’s low profile design sits snugly against your side barely increasing your width.
It is remarkably discrete looking in appearance as well, a monochromatic design available in either black or Mica, a brown, grey color. Even the Lowepro logo is small and discrete.
The strap is a wide canvas affair and extends to a good length. Unusually it is adjustable only at one end but given the design this is no issue, in fact it makes adjustment simpler. Even for me as a 6 footer, there is plenty of length to the strap, at it’s greatest extent it sits on the lower part of my hips. There is a sliding comfort pad on the strap but I found this to be have not quite enough padding for my taste and also prone to sliding a little too easily.
The cover is a single flap design that is locked off at the front using a large plastic clip lock. There is also a secondary velcro pad system allowing photographers on the move to quickly rip open the bag to grab a camera or lens.
The main bag itself comes with several velcro dividers, allowing you to configure it to your system. The interior width was perfect for my Fuji X-Pro1 and I divided the bag into three sections. One for the X-Pro with one lens attached, one for my Fuji X100s and another for a spare Fuji lens. My kit felt very snug and secure inside the case without being excessively tight.
The Different Compartments
To the back of the main compartment is the laptop section. This is also well padded and suitable for 13 inch computers or tablets. There would not be room for a 15 inch model.
In front of the main compartment is a secondary section with three pouches and a main area. The pouches I found ideal for my square filter system and lens pens whilst in the larger main area I carried lens cloths and card readers. There is also a small pouch for memory cards to the right of this section.
There is also on the back of the bag, not covered by the flap, a secondary slim slot that covers the width and the depth of the bag. When travelling between destinations this was ideal to carry my iPad 3, the Macbook Pro in the main laptop pouch giving a solid backing to the iPad.
As you would expect, when carrying a both a laptop and iPad the Lowepro starts to feel heavy. With that said it still felt very sturdy and showed no signs of being overloaded. The only time that it would be heavily loaded in my case is travelling between locations. On location itself, with the iPad and laptop in the hotel, the bag is wonderfully comfortable. This is helped by the fact that my two camera, two lens mirrorless system weighs little more than the weight of one professional DSLR lens. The considerable benefit of this lighter loading is the ability to spend much more time shooting a location before fatigue sets in.
As mentioned at the top, there is a large choice of bags for the mirrorless photographer. Some are very expensive some cheap. The Lowepro Event Messenger comes in at the upper end of budget bags, I paid £45 ($90) for mine. At that price, and given the quality and discretion of the bag, it is very good value.