11 September 2013

Review: Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW

I bought this ahead of a week long photo holiday and it worked out perfectly.

It is very comfortable to wear. The hip straps are well positioned and make a big difference to the comfort when they are fastened. The sternum strap is also comfortable and adjustable. The fact that it's not a huge bag works well for me as it means it doesn't get too heavy. (I'm 5'4", in case that's relevant to anyone!)

The interior compression section works brilliantly with my D7000 & 16-85mm lens. I can carry a flash or second lens alongside the main camera, or often my smaller flash plus a loupe.

The compression section leaves a space behind it which can be accessed through the main bag. I've found that a Think Tank Cable Management 10 case fits this space perfectly. In it, I keep spare batteries, small torch, lens hood, cables, and I know that I can pull that one little bag out and all those bitty things are held together, saving much rummaging about at the bottom of the main bag. In the front open pocket I keep another Think Tank bag. This time the small and thin Think Tank Cable Management 20 case. This bag holds an Op/Tech rain cover and a couple of other thin things! In the various pockets on the Lowepro bag I keep filters, spare memory cards, cable releases and a spirit level. In this way, I can easily access any of the elements of my camera gear with no wasted time trying to find things.

Even with the above stuff loaded, there is plenty of space for a jumper or jacket, purse, lunch, snack etc. There's a drinks bottle holder on the side, but I usually use this to hold two legs of my tripod, which then straps securely to the main bag.

There's a pocket for a water reservoir.  I never carry water in this way, but the pocket holds my iPad perfectly when I occasionally need to carry it.  (As that pocket isn't padded, I make sure my iPad is in a sturdy case and the screen is facing away from the support struts built into the Photo Sport, but I've had no problems with the iPad after carrying it there, even on flights when the bag has been stuffed into tight spaces.  However, this isn't a designated iPad pocket, so if you're going to put your iPad there, be careful!)

In theory, because of the side loading, you can access the camera without putting down the bag. In practice I find this a bit of a fiddle. Because it's a backpack (2 straps) it feels insecure on my shoulder when I'm trying to use this 'sling' approach. So I often end up putting it down, but it's nice to have the option not too when the ground is a bog! I have the sling version too (Lowepro Photo Sport Sling 100AW), which is great for short-medium walks and local use, but the 200 is FAR more comfortable for long day use with more gear.

So, would I recommend this bag? Yes, absolutely. It is the first backpack I've ever bought which I use regularly.  I've had it for 18 months and it still has no rips, tears, holes, broken zips or any structural failures.  Apart from a little mud, it's a good as new, despite being my main bag and the one which gets the most use.  If it got damaged, I'd buy another one immediately.

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