Manfrotto Solo VI DSLR Holster Bag
$45 / £35 www.manfrotto.us 

The Manfrotto Solo VI DSLR holster bag is a member of the company's Stile collection, a lineup that's composed of fashion-conscious camera totes. Holster bags are ideal for photographers who want to be able to unsheath their cameras quickly, while not sacrificing the added protection of a serious camera bag. The Solo VI represents Manfrotto's premiere holster model, and accommodates a full-frame DSLR (a short-body model like the 5D Mark III, as opposed to a professional model with integrated vertical grip) with a 100-400mm lens attached. More compact models like the Solo IV and Solo II can house DSLRs with 17-55mm and 18-35mm-type lenses, respectively. 

The internal compartment of the Manfrotto Solo VI measures in at 16cm (6.3") L x 12cm (4.72") W x 24cm (7") H, which is ample space to fit a 'short body' full-frame camera like my Canon EOS 5D Mark III, with a 24-105mm lens attached. I was able to extend the lens to the full 105mm focal length setting and there was still over an inch of volume left over at the top. However, there are some 400mm lenses that are absolute beasts and I'm not sure the Solo VI would be able to handle them. In that regard, it's best to err on the side of caution and plan on using the Solo VI for more conventional focal lengths (or try before you buy, if you get the opportunity). One thing to note is that unlike some bags, the Solo VI does not have a velcro-based lens strapping, but I found that was not needed since the camera fit snugly in place.

Style remains at the forefront with the Manfrotto Solo VI DSLR holster bag. The Manfrotto Solo VI is designed to accommodate a small-body (5DIII/D800 style) full-frame DSLR with up to a 100-400mm lens attached.

Externally, the Manfrotto Solo VI is a sexy number, flaunting the company's arrow-inspired bag logo via a raised stitching pattern along the main flap of the bag. This flap contains a rugged aluminum buckle that connects to a plastic male fitting at the bag's base. Nuances like a cylindrical rubber Manfrotto logo and embossed Manfrotto tripod logo on the buckle add to the general feel of a stylish, and deliberately styled product. For durability and security, all panels of the Solo VI bag are fortified with stiff foam material, which also adds cushioning to the camera and contents. There's a solid nylon handle at the top of the bag for an alternate carrying option, and the zipper system is top qualiy.

I only have a few gripes with the Solo VI, the first being that I wish Manfrotto had added some sort of padding to the bag's strap, as it tended to dig into my neck. Unfortunately, this can't be remedied by just swapping for another strap because the Solo VI's strap is sewn into the body of the bag. As a result, you'd need to get pretty creative to make this strap comfortable when you're carrying around the weight of a camera and lens. Also, there are no external pockets on the Solo VI; even the flap is devoid of a zip pouch. I think the Solo VI would benefit from at least a pair of mesh zip pouches on either side.

I used the gimmicky 'Pocket' pocket for storing memory cards rather than the company's branded mini tripod. Quick release is the name of the game with the Manfrotto Solo VI holster bag.

Internally, the Solo VI offers a sleeve that can accommodate things like batteries and memory cards, but not much more than that. Manfrotto also stitched a 'Pocket' pocket into the sleeve, designed to hold the company's 'Pocket' branded DSLR tripod. I saw no need for the Pocket... pocket, especially since it's a borderline useless accessory for someone shooting with a large DSLR. I stuffed memory cards in there instead.

I also think Manfrotto missed an opportuinity to increase the internal storage space by neglecting to sew a few sleeves or pockets onto the inside of the main flap. When the flap is raised to unsheath the camera, its underside is the most accessible portion of the bag. Having a few pockets in that location would make the bag more versatile.

Summing Up

The Manfrotto Solo VI holster bag is undeniably swanky and very well made. It can accommodate a short-body full-frame DSLR with a walkaround lens attached (Manfrotto claims up to 400mm) and performs just as advertised, enabling photographers to whip out a Mark III or D800 at the drop of a hat. However, the Manfrotto Solo VI trades style for function in a few key areas, namely the lack of external sleeves/pockets and omission of a neck strap cushion. The latter can be fixed with a little ingenuity, but photographers who are looking for the creme de la creme of storage-happy holster bags might want to look elsewhere. 

What we like: Superb build quality, scintillating style, accommodates full frame DSLRs with larger lenses, 5-year warranty after registering online.

What we don't like: Lack of pockets/sleeves, no cushion on strap, 'Pocket' pocket is gimmicky and unnecessary, unless you own a Manfrotto 'Pocket' Tripod. Price is a bit steep, compared to other models with more storage options.