I spent hours researching bags for my new mirrorless camera, a Fuji X-A1 with the kit lens and the Fuji 35mm f/1.4. I was tired of carrying my trusty 5D + 24-105mm + 50mm + ..., so I sold everything and went light. My old camera bag was also in need of a change.
I thought I would share the results of my quest for a light travelling camera bag.
What I was looking for
I travel with the following:
- mirrorless camera + extra lens (Fuji X-A1 + kit lens + 35mm f/1.4)
- lonely planet guidebook
- small bottle of water
- small accessories (mini tripod, 9 stop ND filter, extra battery, pen & paper, etc...)
When not using my camera, I like to store the battery charger in the camera bag.
I was looking for an ultra light bag to carry all this. Ideally, the water bottle goes outside, so does the guidebook to be quickly available (e.g. for checking the map)
What I found
The Tamrac Jazz Messenger 2 is really the only camera I could get my hands on that fit the bill.
I keep the lens hood on my lenses and it all fits very nicely, with room to spare for a small third lens or for the battery charger.
I visited Cusco and did the Inca Trail with it and it met all my expectations. I also happen to like the look.
The jazz messenger's dual closure works really well. I used only the quick velcro while walking around all day and snapping pictures. When storing the bag or hiking in hazardous terrain I would secure the flap with the clip too.
I really appreciated small details like the back handle and the small orange handles on the side pockets.
|My loaded Tamrac Jazz messenger 2, with the Inca sacred valley as background.|
I find it difficult to fault the bag with anything. It's well made, although I might have doubts about the longevity of the elastic material used on the side pockets. To make the bag perfect, I would probably lighten the color of the interior a bit and consider changing the velcro closure with a magnetic one like Think Thank uses in their mirrorless mover line.
Bags I eliminated:
I ditched my trusty Canon 5D to get a light system, so I wasn't about to sacrifice too much weight for the bag. The Jazz Messenger 2 with my camera stuff weighs 1.17 kg. The Hadley Pro would bring that to 1.9 kg (62% heavier). When adding the water bottle and a typical guide book, I'm still under 2kg; using the Hadley Pro instead would add 36% weight.
I'm used to standard strap bags and didn't like the feel of the sling bags I tried. I couldn't see how to have quick access to my stuff.
Bags with belt loops
Kata makes wonderful bags. They look good, they're light, there's plenty of form factors to choose from (DC-433, 435, ...). What a pity they chose to have belt loops on the back for most of them! Where do I put my lonely planet guide? I want a back pocket!
Same with Mirroless Mover 20. Too bad, I really liked the idea of the magnetic closure.
A few bags don't have anything in the bag (e.g. Crumpler's Light Delight 2500, available only in Europe anyways) I find this an even worse idea; it's a complete waste of the biggest available surface.
Tamrac Jazz 45
Very similar to the Jazz Messenger 2, with a different closure system (zipper). I prefer the velcro + clip, but would be a viable option for Europeans. Yeah, it's not available in America, only in Europe. Even more surprising that Tamrac is based in California...
Very good contender, has everything I was looking for, although heavier than the jazz messenger 2 and probably a bit too deep for nothing. Appears to be only available in Europe only though.
Similar to the jazz messenger 2, but quite a bit heavier and IMHO not nearly as nice looking.
Might have worked, but it is heavier and seems to me to be the wrong format (higher than wider).
Side pockets completely useless to me. Not sure what the idea was here. The image shows a lens cap. Why not put them in the front pocket? As for me, I leave those home anyways. If at least one of the side pockets had been with an extensible mesh (like Kata does). A water bottle would have probably fit inside though. Heavier than the jazz messenger 2.
A message to all camera bag makers
I couldn't find any camera maker site with online information that didn't suck!
Think Thank lists weights precise to a single decimal and they're not the only ones. For example their mirrorless mover 10 has the same official weight as the mirrorless mover 20 (which is about twice the size!). The listed weight is 0.3 kg, so we can assume it's anywhere between 250g and 350g (a 40% difference). Or is it, since they also list the weight as 0.7 lbs? It is sometimes precise but simply wrong: Tamrac says 320g for the Jazz Messenger 2, but I measure 275g, so did the people in this video.
Lacking information & pictures
I want to see pictures of all sides of the bags. I need the sides to know if a water bottle will fit or not, and the back side is mandatory to see if there is a pocket or not.
There's typically no way to know in which country a bag is available. Sometimes a bag will show in the US site's catalog (Kata Nimble-3) but won't be available. Sometimes a bag won't show in the US catalog (Tamrac Jazz messenger 2) but will be available, albeit only through Walmart and only in the US, not in Canada. Note that Walmart won't ship that item, you have to pick it up in stores. As I Canadian, I had to jump through hoops to get a hold of one!
Personally, I really wish there was no country / continent restrictions. Last I checked, humans had the same number of fingers across the world, and cameras lenses bent the light the same way. Crumpler is definitely the worst offender here, with the same name & logo applying for two entirely different product lines, one for Europe and a different one for the Americas (I forget which ones Asia and Australia get).
Although camera makers don't make it very easy to shop online for a light travelling camera bag, I was able to figure out that the Tamrac Jazz Messenger 2 was the only bag on the market that really fit my needs. At $40, it happened to be the cheapest of all the options I looked at.
I'm super happy with it, I'm just puzzled as to what are the other camera bag makers doing not offering a good alternative for a market which I'd presume is of a decent size.
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more
Garmin has entered the 360-camera market with the VIRB, which captures 5.7K video at 30p as well as 15MP stills. Read more
Join DPReview editors Rishi Sanyal and Carey Rose on Facebook Live as they share their experience and answer your questions about the new Sony a9, Wednesday at 9:30 AM Pacific time. Click here for additional details and time zones
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.
Photokina, the biennial photo industry trade show in Cologne, Germany, has announced that it will become an annual event beginning in 2018, and expand its focus to additional areas of imaging technology. Read more
No mic socket? No problem. In this video, Daniel Peters at Photo Gear News shows you how to make a lapel microphone using just a smartphone and a pair of earbuds.
How does the iPhone 7 Plus stack up against the Arri Alexa cinema camera? Watch this short video to find out.
Canon Australia's video series "The Lab" is designed to make photographers experiment and think outside the box. In the latest video a group of photographers create images based on their sense of taste.
The GH5 is expected to get a firmware update this summer to support 400Mbps internal recording. NewsShooter explores what memory cards you'll need to make it work.
Microsoft's new Surface Pro offers Intel's latest processor generation and improved battery life.
Riding a mountain bike downhill is dangerous enough in daylight, but potentially lethal at night. Which is where drones come in.
Rumors abound that Canon (and maybe Nikon) may produce a mirrorless camera based using their existing DSLR mount. Does this guarantee immediate great lens choice or a perpetually second-rate experience? Read more
According to rumors, the next camera from Nest will be able to capture 4K video, though that resolution will be only used for 'virtual' pan and tilt functions.
Boundary's Prima 'fully modular' backpack is expandable to 30L and has a removable camera case and tablet sleeve. Early Kickstarter backers can get one for $189.
Stanley Greene captured 'brutally honest' photographs in the war zones of the Middle East, Chechnya and Georgia. He was also one of the few African-American photographers working internationally.
Owners of Leica M cameras that suffer from peeling CCDs will be able to claim a free repair in the future so long as the camera was purchased within five years of the fault becoming apparent, the company has announced. Read more
The Carl Zeiss Jena BIOTAR 75mm F1.5 Red T lens is very rare and priced accordingly. It can be yours today for the low, low price of $15,000.
The MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a drone that does not require any human control for recording tracking shots. Read more
In this terrifying video, Iraqi journalist Ammar Alwaely narrowly misses a sniper's bullet, which takes out his chest-mounted GoPro. Warning: strong language. Watch the video
A new report expects action camera growth to increase about 15% by 2021, with Ultra HD cameras driving demand. Read more
Profiles for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom have been released for Irix's ultra-wide 11mm and 15mm primes. Like all profiles, these correct for distortion and vignetting.
An upcoming firmware update from DJI will cripple its drones unless they are 'activated' on the company's website. Live streaming will be turned off and flight radius/altitude will be limited.