ONA Capri 
www.onabags.com $349 /£313

We've heard the refrain 'the best camera is the one you have with you.' It's implied here that you don't have a proper camera with you, and are using your smartphone to take pictures. Quality suffers, but hey, at least you got a picture rather than none at all. 

The underlying assumption is that you're not carrying a proper camera because it's a pain. And in lots of situations, it is. Cameras require care, and bags with nice little padded compartments, and if you want to bring an extra lens with you, then that's another sensitive piece of equipment to worry about. You either carry it all around your neck or in a camera bag, or you go without the thing and settle for smartphone snapshots.

Can the right bag change the equation? What if your camera bag wasn't a bulky thing with a ton of zippers and Velcro and compartments, and was instead something you wouldn't mind bringing to happy hour? 

Allow me to introduce the ONA Capri. It's a tote-style bag that would easily pass for a high-end leather purse, but it provides padded compartments for photo equipment. It's made of genuine leather (also available in waxed canvas for considerably less money) and you'd know it by the price – $349. Its potential is great – it can solve the problem of needing to carry a camera and lens and also not wanting to carry something with that distinct camera bag look. But it's a heck of an investment. Does the bag stand up to abuse, and is it worth it in the end? 

Specifications

  • 2.2 lbs / 1 kg
  • Exterior Dimensions: 15.5"L x 11.5"H x 4"D / 39.4L x 29.2H x 10.1D cm
  • Interior Dimensions: 15"L x 11"H x 4"D / 38.1L x 27.9H x 10.1D cm
  • Italian-tanned leather or waxed canvas
  • Detachable leather crossbody strap

Construction

ONA calls the Capri a 'leather camera and tablet tote bag', but mentions an 11" laptop will also fit in the non-camera portion of the bag. The bag's interior offers a padded compartment with three adjustable dividers. On the other side, it offers a couple of smartphone-sized pockets and a large compartment for said laptop (or more realistically, a tablet and your wallet). The main compartment of the bag can be zipped up and closed.

On the exterior the bag offers a slim outer zippered pocket, big enough for keys and small items. Two long leather straps give it its tote-ability, and a leather cross-body strap is also included.

In Use

I used the leather variation of the Capri, and carried this bag everywhere you can think of - on planes, to music festivals, to work, to dinner, to drinks and back home again. It stood up very well to everyday abuses and Seattle drizzle. The leather is treated so it stands up to a little moisture, but I wouldn't feel great about exposing it to a downpour.

With a flat bottom panel the bag stands up straight on its own. A couple of long straps give it its tote classification. The bag's hardware is sturdy, and the stitching on the leather straps holds up well to daily use.

I carried a lot of different camera systems in the bag and found that its real sweet spot was with a mirrorless system. It can certainly handle a DSLR and a lens or two, but the bag is stretched to its capacity and anything else in its compartments will start to feel a bit squeezed for space. The Fujifilm X-T1 and 18-135mm were a good fit, and the GM5 with three of its lenses was nearly swallowed up. An entry-level DSLR and a kit zoom slip in without much protest, but a 5D Mark III makes the bag feel overstuffed.

With a heavier kit, the leather straps can dig a little. There's a reason the bulky, padded backpack is often the go-to choice for toting a lot of camera gear – it's pretty easy on the shoulders and the flat straps distribute weight better. Not so with a tote bag. The Capri itself weighs a little over two pounds so it doesn't add much in the way of weight itself, but with anything like a heavier mirrorless body or a DSLR and a zoom lens, it started to feel like it was weighing me down a little. 

ONA claims an 11" laptop will fit and it sure does, so Macbook Air owners will be able to pack their impossibly small computers in the bag too. For the rest of us, here's where the Capri will fall short – if your daily kit includes a standard-sized laptop and power cord, camera gear and all the stuff required for survival (wallet, phone, a water bottle etc) then the Capri is probably not your bag. If you can leave the laptop at home and get by with a tablet or razor-thin laptop, the Capri will work better.

With the dividers positioned as they shipped with the bag, the two padded compartments nearest the edges of the bag are a little slim and won't fit much outside of a pair of sunglasses or a small prime lens, but they can be reconfigured to your heart's desire.

Summing Up

For me, a bag of this price can only justify its cost if I'm going to get a lot of use out of it and it solves a problem for me. The ONA Capri did both in the time I spent testing it. In fact, on a few occasions I carried it around without a camera inside it at all. It's lovely as a purse and works marvelously as a bag for a smaller camera system. With a really small system, like the E-M10 or GM5, it goes above and beyond the call of duty. I can even fit my water bottle in and not worry about it mingling with the camera gear. 

It felt a bit too heavy with a larger camera and lens inside, and it can only be a carry-all laptop-camera-everything-else solution for those with very small computers.

Is this bag truly necessary in anyone's life? No. Could I live happily with a regular camera bag that isn't a purse in disguise? Yes. But I like a streamlined solution to a problem, and the ONA Capri streamlines my purse and camera bag into a solution I like a lot.

ONA is certainly not the only option for stylish doubles-as-a-purse camera bags these days, but the quality of the Capri hits a high mark and the styling is classic. 

What we like:

  • Very stylish, durable tote
  • Discreet padded compartments for camera gear
  • Exterior compartment with zipper for miscellaneous items

What we don't like:

  • Expensive
  • Can dig into shoulder with heavier gear