Category Archives: Photography Gear

The title pretty much says is all. I’ll post product reviews and posts related to photography gear that I have along with gear that I want.

My Review of the Canon S95

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I LOVE the Panasonic GF-1. It produces stunning images for a “decent” price and its size is much more manageable than carrying around my 5D. It wasn’t easy but I recently sold the GF-1 because it was simply not getting enough use for one major reason…size.

My original intention for the GF-1 was to use it when I did not want to lug around my 5D which I did, but it wasn’t as convenient as I had expected. It’s too big to fit inside your pocket which means you need to put it in some sort of case or it needs to be strung around your neck. If I wanted to lug around a case or wear a strap, I would just take my 5D. So the GF-1 went up on eBay and I luckily I got most of my money back on the deal. Do I miss the GF-1? Absolutely. Do I think I made the right choice? Honestly, it’s tough to say at the moment…only time will tell.

So what did I get for selling my beloved GF-1? I ended up purchasing the S95 and a Benro A-169 Travel Angel which I will review at a later date.

Here are my thoughts on the S95 so far…

Appearance/Size/Form Factor
Compared to other cameras in the “advanced compact” category, the S95 is tiny. The S95 can easily slip into your pants pocket without anyone asking you “is that a camera in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”. If a compact camera body is one of your major requirements, the S95 should be at the top of your list.

One plus the S95 has over its predecessor (the S90) is its textureized body. The S90 felt like a wet bar of soap which is not a characteristic I look for in a camera. This rubbery/grippy texture allows the user to gain a sold grip on the camera which is important when dealing with a camera this small. The S95 feels good in your hand although I do wish it had more of a physical grip similar to the Panasonic LX-5; I assume Canon decided against a grip to keep the body as slim and sleek as possible. I’m not too worried about the lack of grip as there are a few third party options to remedy this complaint e.g. Richard Franiec’s custom grip.

I’m not sure what people consider a good looking camera, but the S95 looks good to me. The all black body with silver lettering is a color scheme that should be familiar to most. The display takes up the majority of the real-estate on the back of the camera which is a good thing because it is a pleasure to use. Colors are bright and blacks look decent as well. My only complaint with the display, which is common among most point and shoot cameras, is it easily becomes washed out in bright sunlight. This is when I really wish Canon had offered an optional electronic viewfinder for the S95.

Controls
Easy access to controls is where the S95 really jumps ahead of the competition. I hate digging through levels of menus or having to cycle down a list of features just to change the ISO. Give me physical buttons! Luckily there are two dials on the S95, one in the front and one in the back of the camera. These dials allow the user to easily change the most frequently needed settings.

Like it’s older sibling, the S95 has a control ring around the lens which gives you quick access to settings like aperture, shutter speed, focal length, etc. The control ring has default settings based the mode you are using but the control ring’s function can easily be changed by a physical button on the top of the camera.

On the back of the back of the camera is another function ring. By default, this ring is setup to manage the functions which are available by pushing on the top, bottom, left and right or the ring. I would say 99% of the time I use this ring to manage exposure compensation. The other 1% of the time it is used to manage shutter speed while I’m in Manual mode…I prefer to shoot in Aperture Priority when using the S95.

Along with the dials is a programmable button on the back of the camera which can be assigned by the user; I have mine set to pull up the ISO. This can be set to a myriad of different functions like white balance or file type, but I find that setting this to ISO really gives me quick access to the essentials for getting a solid exposure.

Features
Like any new camera, there are a million features that the S95 brings to the game. I could list them all here, but you would probably have better luck looking at a product page. To keep it short, I’ll list a few of my favorite features of this camera:

ISO max for auto ISO: Most new advanced point and shoot cameras have an auto ISO setting. The problem with this is not all of them give you a limit as to how high the camera will go when choosing an ISO setting. Thankfully, the S95 does. I personally like to set my ISO manually, but this is a nice feature if you are a beginner or if you just want to shoot and not worry about settings.

Interval timer with shot # selection: This is something I wish my old 5D had. Not only can you select the shutter timer duration, you can also select how many shots in succession the S95 will take after the timer goes off. I could see this feature being helpful for family portraits or landscapes.

Bright Lens: With a bright f/2.0 lens and IS, the S95 works surprisingly well in low-light conditions. I would like to see the aperture values stay on the brighter end as you move through the zoom range, sadly…this is not the case. I’m drooling over the newly announced Olympus XZ-1’s lens.

In camera HDR: HDR seems to be all the rage at the moment and most manufactures are adding some sort of “built in” solution. Well, Canon has jumped on the bandwagon by adding in-camera HDR. Results are pretty good but they are nothing close to what you would get by using a program like Photomatrix. The biggest got’cha is you have to use a tripod to get best results. I don’t know about you, but I do not carry around a tripod when using a P&S. Sony has figured out how to do this without a tripod (NEX series) so I’d like to see Canon work this out for their next model.

Picture Quality
I’ve had quite the time trying to determine how good the IQ is of the S95. Without fancy tests charts and software, I can really only rely on my eye when it comes to IQ. You can’t compare it to a Micro Four Thirds (M4/3rd) system because they have a much larger sensor so it wouldn’t be fair. But you also can’t compare the S95 to a basic point and shoot camera because it has a much larger sensor and the S95 costs about double what you would pay for a mid-range P&S. Honestly, I would say the IQ falls right where it should, in between a basic P&S and M4/3rd setup. Head to dpreview.com if you want a true breakdown of image quality. I can’t say that I’m a “pixel peeper”, I just go off of what looks good to me. If you love to zoom into 100% and check the middle and edges of your photos, then dpreview.com should be able to help you.

I usually shoot RAW but JPEG images are so good from the S95 that I find myself shooting more and more in JPEG. Distortion is present at both ends of the zoom range but it’s nothing that can’t be cleaned up with a little post processing if needed. When shooting RAW, noise seems to creep up on you at about ISO 800 and as expected it gets much worse as you increase the ISO. The in-camera noise reduction cleans up JEPGs very well so stick with JPEGs when shooting with a high ISO unless you plan on spending time on post processing. For me, the S95 produces perfectly good images.

Likes

  • Small, easily pocketable size
  • Physical buttons and dials for controlling essential camera functions
  • Menus are intuitive and well thought out
  • RAW capability – not all compacts can match this…that was for you Nikon and your P300. What were you thinking!?!
  • Good picture quality
  • Focus speed. I’m actually pretty impressed with this little camera’s ability to focus. This quickly goes down hill as light becomes less available but this is the case with most cameras.

Dislikes

  • While IQ is good, I personally think it can’t quite match it’s Micro 4/3rd competitors. I really miss my GF-1 when it comes to overall IQ. M4/3rds has the S95 beat on all fronts (image noise, dynamic range, image detail, etc.)
  • Price. I understand this is an advanced point and shoot but dropping $400 on a P&S is tough.
  • The Lens. Don’t get me wrong, f/2.0 is great but it would be nice if the aperture values didn’t start to skyrocket as you zoomed to longer focal lengths. The LX-5 and the newly announced XZ-1 prove it is doable…get on it Canon.

Conclusion
Anyone looking for a truly pocketable camera with full manual controls and decent IQ need look no further…this is the camera for you. It’s direct competitors are not truly pocketable…unless you have abnormally large pockets. I tried the Panasonic LX-5…no dice on getting that into my jeans. And you can forget about fitting a M4/3rd system into your pocket. Yes, you will have to sacrifice on a few things but no camera is perfect. If camera size is paramount on your list of requirements, then the S95 is your camera. If other requirements top your list like a large constant aperture, then something else like the Panasonic LX-5 or the Olympus XZ-1 may be a better choice.

Personal Note…
Honestly, I’m torn with my decision about unloading the GF-1 and picking up the S95. The S95 is a great “take anywhere” camera that is technically impressive but it just doesn’t hit that sweet spot for me. It’s hard to describe, but it’s just not “fun” to shoot with this camera. On the other hand, the GF-1 with the 20mm lens was probably the most fun I’ve had shooting. I’m going to chalk it up as one of those untangle things. It’s like people that drive Alfa Romeos. They are horribly unreliable and very expensive to fix but people buy them and love them because they have a special, unmeasurable characteristic usually referred to as “soul”. I’ll probably hang on to the S95 for now to make sure I give it a chance but I’ve been keeping an eye out for a deals on M4/3rd setups.

Help Keep the Reviews Coming!
If you’re thinking about purchasing the Canon S95, check out Amazon.com …this is my go-to store for pretty much everything. If you click through to Amazon using the link below, I get small kickback which I use to invest in more equipment to review for you!

Amazon:
Canon PowerShot S95 10 MP Digital Camera with 3.8x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch inch LCD

My Review of Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Micro Four Thirds Camera with LUMIX G 20mm/F1.7 Aspherical Lens

Originally submitted at Adorama

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 13.1 MP Micro Four Thirds mount Digital Interchangeable Lens Camera with LUMIX G 20mm/F1.7 Aspherical Lens

Perfect Travel Camera for DSLR Users

By mpouliot from Boston, MA on 10/5/2010

 

4out of 5

Pros: ControlsMenu Setup, Small / Compact, Good in Low Light, Good Image Quality, Large Clear LCD, HD Video

Cons: Noise above ISO 400, Dymanic Range

Best Uses: When DSLR is too much, Travel, Family Photos, Indoors/Low Light

Describe Yourself: Photo Enthusiast

Was this a gift?: Yes

I think the best way to start this review is to explain why I bought the camera. I was looking for something that was close to a DSLR in IQ, controls, and features, but in a smaller and more travel friendly package. I wanted something I could toss into a jacket pocket or small backpack and not have to worry about weight, size or carrying a bunch of lenses.

I started off my search by looking at advanced point and shoots (e.g. G10, LX-4, S90, etc.) but the weak ISO performance and slow lenses forced me to drop them from my list. From there, the next step was to look at Micro Four Third (M4/3) and compact ASP-C setups. Along with the GF-1, I looked at the Olympus EP-1, EP-2, EPL-1 and the Sony NEX-3/5. I tested all of these and narrowed it down to the GF-1 for the following reasons:

• Controls: The GF-1 just felt like using my 5D. The dials, menus, and controls are very intuitive and the settings/functions you need to change frequently (ISO, metering mode, aperture, shutter, exposure comp., etc.) are just a button push or dial turn away. The Olympus required a little more digging and performance was a sluggish compared to the GF-1. The Sony wasn’t as bad as people make it out to be, but it does get old shuffling through menus to change simple things like the ISO. Supposedly, Sony is going to release a firmware update to remedy this issue in the near future.

• Speed: The focus speed of the GF-1 with the 20mm vs. any of the Olympus models is noticeably faster. This makes a huge difference for street photography which is important to me. The NEX was just as fast (if not faster) but the GF-1 was fast AND accurate…the Sony missed it’s mark quite a few times.

• Price: I’ve invested a significant amount of money into building a DSLR setup that works for me and to invest even more money into a camera that I will only really use when traveling was not an option. When I finally decided on getting a M4/3, the EPL-1 was the cheapest of the bunch and it looked like my only option at that time. I was going to settle for this as I had a limit that I didn’t want to exceed. Luckily, two weeks before my trip, the price of the GF-1 with the 20mm lens dropped to a price where it made the GF-1 a no-brainer.

• Lens Quality: The 20mm is a fantastic lens. Distortion is undetectable (with in camera correction) and color and contrast are excellent. Sharpness is also excellent between the f/2-f/6.3 range. Images produced wide open are still very good. Olympus has some good offerings at decent prices, but I think the 20mm is THE lens to have for M4/3 bodies. The Sony lenses just could not compare which is a real shame. I probably would have purchased the NEX if it had a prime lens in the 20mm area that could compare to the Panny’s 20mm.

• Picture Quality: I thought my initial test images were good but after using this as my only camera for two weeks in Europe, I have to say that I am truly impressed with the GF-1. While I did miss my 5D on occasion, I never really felt like I was in a position where I was limited because I had the GF-1 instead of my 5D. Color reproduction and AWB accuracy is VERY good. I usually shoot RAW and I’ve only had to make minor adjustments which is always nice.

• Battery Life: I’ve been getting close to 400 shots on a full charge which seems pretty good to me. I’ve had point and shoot cameras in the past that have had awful battery life. There’s nothing worse than having a nice small camera to put in your pocket but then you have to put two extra batteries in your other pocket to make it through the day. Defeats the purpose of the small camera.

I’ve also discovered a few cons with this camera. No deal breakers or anything significant enough to make me want to get rid of the GF-1…just a few gripes.

• Noise: Starting at about ISO 400, noise becomes very noticeable. Sadly, ISO 800 is about the max I will use with this body. I have gone higher and had “OK” results, but the images will be chocked full of grain. Luckily, Lightroom’s noise reduction is very good.
• Size: Don’t get me wrong, this is drastically smaller than my 5D with a 50mm but it’s still not really a “pocketable” camera. I have some fall/winter jackets with larger pockets that may be able to hold the GF-1, but that’s about it. It does however fit into my wife’s purse quite nicely 🙂

Overall, I’m very pleased with this camera. It’s by no means the holy grail of cameras but it is a very capable setup that is compact and fun to use. The GF-1 will definitely be coming on more day trips and vacations where the 5D would be too much camera.

A few recommendations for potential buyers…

I ended up buying the EVF (electronic view finder) which has come in handy when working in bright sunlight as the back LCD gets washed out quite easily. It also has less draw on the battery than the big LCD. It’s a little pricey and small, but I think it’s worth the $.

If you can live without image stabilization, I HIGHLY recommend picking up the GF-1 with the 20mm instead of the zoom as it makes the kit more compact and it really is an excellent piece of glass.

I picked up a B + W UV filter for the 20mm but I ended up taking it off. I was getting some nasty flare in bright daylight. After taking the filter off, the flare is gone. This seems to be a common problem with this lens (pancake style) so I would say hold off on the filter…but that’s just me.

(legalese)

Below is a straight out of the camera shot from the GF-1. I know that I complained about the ISO noise, but this is one of the cleanest shots I got at ISO 800. Again, this is straight from the camera…no post processing at all. I probably should have cropped it to get the wooden frame out of the shot but I wanted a “pure” image to show what this camera/lens is capable of producing.

100903_P1010543.jpg

New Weapon in the Arsenal

If you read my last post, you know that I recently go married. Luckily, we have the funds to take a nice honeymoon which means new places to photograph! In order to pack light and not have to worry about my big/expensive camera equipment, I’ve decided not to take my gear. This was a really tough decision for me. I love photography and taking pictures in new places is always so much fun but in the end I decided it probably wasn’t the best idea, here’s my reasons why:

1. I’m a worrier. If I took all of my gear with me, I would constantly worry about it. I would always be checking my bag to make sure it was closed and I would have the DEATH grip on my camera at all times. I would feel uneasy about leaving things in my room too. Also, walking around with the big white Canon L lens is just like shouting “Someone please, MUG ME RIGHT NOW!”. I don’t want to call any unnecessary attention to me or my wife while on our trip.

2. This stuff is HEAVY. I’ve walked around all day with my gear before and it’s not SUPER heavy, but it’s not exactly light either. Walking around every day for two weeks straight with all of my gear doesn’t sound like a pleasant experience to me…maybe I’m just a wimp.

3. Time. I feel like people that have caught the photography bug like I have will relate to this one. When I find something interesting, I want to take as many photographs as possible. I want to take shots from different angles, try different apertures, distances, etc. This all takes time. While we are going a way for two weeks, we only have a short time in each place so we do not have that much time to burn.

4. My wife. Honestly, I’m afraid that if I brought all of my gear, I would end up spending too much time dealing with photography instead of spending time with her. Not cool…it is our honeymoon after all 🙂 Luckily, I have an awesome wife that knows how much photography means to me so she (and my family) decided to get me quite the birthday present…see the section below.

Enter, the GF-1. I’m not sure if you’ve read up on the GF-1 or the Micro 4/3rd movement, but this little camera is pretty impressive. For those you that don’t know, the type of camera falls somewhere between a DSLR and a point and shoot…although I would say that the GF-1 is more like a DSLR with it’s controls and feature set. I’ve only had a chance to play with it for a an hour or so but I have to say, I’m pretty impressed. I opted to get the kit with the 20mm f/1.7 (which ends up being 40mm with crop factor) as I use my 50mm 90% of the time on my 5D. This is a pretty sweet combo. The camera is small enough to fit inside a jacket pocket but packs quite a punch. I think this little guys is going to be the perfect fit for our trip. The performance of a small DSLR with the size of a point and shoot. I should have pictures to share soon!

Book/Author Recommendation: Within The Frame, The Journey of Photographic Vision

This is slightly embarrassing to admit, but I’m not much of a reader. I enjoy reading blogs, magazines, websites, etc. but I’m not a big book reader. It’s pretty amazing if an author can get me to sit down and actually read a book. Only two people have been able to get me to do this since college, Dan Brown and David DuChimen. Both authors write about drastically different subjects, but I think they are both extremely gifted writers.

I think I can safely assume you all know who Dan Brown is, but David DuChimen may not be on your radar unless you are up on your photography books. David has written several books on photography each with their own special purpose. To date, I’ve read Within The Frame, The Journey of Photographic Vision which is easily the best photography book I’ve read. You can find a million photography books that break down the “How” of photography, this type of book is nothing new. Within The Frame focuses on developing and honing your vision. Vision goes beyond just seeing something and saying “Wow, that’s cool. I should take a picture of that.” This book breaks down the elements that go into making an engaging photo that captures the eye and invokes some kind of reaction from the viewer. I can’t recommend this book enough to photographers.

Mr. DuChimen, along with other photographers/authors, have created an online resource for photographers call “Craft and Vision”. At Craft and Vision, users can download several eBooks from world class photographers and authors, like David DuChimen. The best part is each and every eBook is only $5!! Most of the eBooks are under 100 pages but the content and imagery is well worth the money. Also, when new eBooks are released, you can usually pick them up for as little as $4 a pop! I’ve gone through five of these eBooks and I’ve loved every one.

Check out David’s Website at www.pixelatedImage.com for more information about his books and photography. Also, be sure to check out the Craft and Vision website for some excellent eBooks.

Feel free to leave a comment about your favorite photographer/author!

Help Keep the Reviews Coming!
If you’re thinking about purchasing Within the Frame, check out Amazon.com…this is my go-to store for pretty much everything. If you click through to Amazon using the link below, I get small kickback which I use to invest in more books and equipment to review for you!

Amazon:
Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision

Camdapter.com – New Toy on the Way

Photo from http://www.camdapter.com

I haven’t mentioned this before, but I HATE traditional camera straps. They are great for security and quick access to your camera, but I rarely just walk around with my camera hanging from my neck…too touristy for me. I usually end up wrapping the neck strap around my hand a few times which is not ideal but it gets it out of the way and provides some security. I’ve had a neck strap on my camera for a while now but I decided to take it off a few months ago. I was sick of constantly fighting with the thing. It would either bother my neck or it would get in the way when taking portrait shots. Off with the neck strap!

So how as life been without the neck strap? Well, it’s been better but now I’m constantly worrying that I’m going to drop my precious 5D. This is just another one of those situations where a solution to a problem just creates another problem…bummer. What I was really looking for was a HAND strap. I just wanted something that would provide some support (to prevent fatigue) and more safety/security than simply hand holding the camera. Luckily, I think I may have found the solution.

After doing some digging, I found camdapter.com. You can read his story on the site, but Jim Garavuso has created a product that seems to be exactly what I’m looking for. His solution consists of two things. The first is a plate that is secured to the camera by the tripod mount on the bottom of your camera body. The second piece is a hand strap that secures to one of your camera’s traditional strap loops and the other end attaches to the plate. Brilliant! Jim has pretty much thought of everything with this solution. Below is just a small list of things I like about this setup:

  • You can connect the hand strap AND a neck strap if you so desire. No need to remove the plate if you really miss your neck strap.
  • He makes special plates that work with Manfrotto and Arca type tripod heads
  • Provided you buy the correct plate for your camera, the plate does not need to be removed to access the battery door

I’m sure there will be more to list once I’ve had some time to use the Camdapter in the field. I literally just ordered this from his site so I’ll write a followup post once I receive my new Camdapter.

A Shout-Out to Lowepro

I remember my grandfather telling me stories about how things used to be back in “the good old days”. One of the reoccurring themes was how businesses treated customers. (Stay with me here…I’m actually getting to something photography related.) They would go out of their way to make you happy. This makes sense to me. A happy customer is likely to tell their friends of their experiences and they will most likely return in the future. Well, I don’t know about you, but I feel like in our current day in age most companies could care less about about how you are treated or what your experience was buying their products; they are happy as long as the $ is coming in from the masses. This has been my mindset, until a few weeks ago…

Like most people hooked on photography, I have a small obsession with bags. I have more bags than I do lenses. I feel like I’m on a never ending quest to find the “perfect” bag. I’m 99% sure it doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t stop me from trying…and spending tons of $ in the process. I’m getting sidetracking again…I know. Anyway, if you have been reading my blog you know that I recently reviewed the Lowepro Primus AW backpack. I got an AMAZING deal on this bag and I really wanted it to work for me, but the camera section of the bag was less than ideal for my needs. So what did I do? I ended up taking all of the extra inserts from my other camera bags and I tried to make a “custom” setup for my gear. I figured out a design that would work for me, but the inserts that I had did not fit exactly as I had hoped (I get picky about certain things). I was pretty bummed at this point. I REALLY did not want to return the bag, but I didn’t want to keep a bag I would never use even if it was a steal. As a last resort, I decided to shoot a note to Lowepro seeing if they would be able to help me out. To my surprise, they responded the next day!

I spoke to a very friendly person at Lowepro that was eager to help me with my current situation. He asked me about the bag I was using then he asked for the dimensions and fabrics for the inserts that I needed to make my custom setup. I went back and forth with him for a couple of days while he looked for exactly what I needed. About 3-4 days later, I received an email saying that he had found what I was looking for and he wanted to ship them out to me. I asked about cost and he said why don’t you see if they work out for you. If they do, then we just ask that you cover the cost of shipping. I was blown away. Now THAT is customer service baby! I received the inserts about 3 days later and I couldn’t have been happier. My custom setup worked great!

In the end, I ended up selling the bag on craigslist.org because was just too heavy when loaded up (the bag is over 6lbs. empty) but Lowepro now has a loyal customer for life. Great products + amazing customer service is definitely a winning combination.

About a week after selling this bag I picked up the Lowepro Versapack 200 AW at my local camera store’s annual sale. This is a great camera bag that I was able to setup to fit my current needs. I couldn’t be happier! While at the store, I made a point to speak to the Lowepro reps about my experience with their customer service…they weren’t surprised by my story. I have a feeling they hear stories like mine quite frequently.

So if you’re in the market for a quality camera bag and a company that will stand behind their products and strive to make their customers happy, I’d start with Lowepro.

My Review of Lowepro Versapack 200 AW Dual Compartment DSLR Backpack – Black/Gray

Lowepro Versapack 200 AW

My New Go-To Camera Bag
 

 

4out of 5

Pros: Strong Construction, Versatile, Roomy, Easily Accessible Equipment, Adjustable Harness, Comfortable

Cons: Included Dividers, No Exterior Pocket

Best Uses: Travel, Transporting Gear

Describe Yourself: Photo Enthusiast

Let me just start off by saying I would give this bag 4.5 stars if I could because I think it is THAT good. This is now my go to camera bag.

I have a few trips planned to go overseas this year so I was looking for a backpack with the following:
–> Security/inconspicuous looks t deter pickpockets and thieves
–> Comfort – I’ll be wearing this bag all day, every day so it needs to be comfortable. I really wanted a backpack with a waist strap and a sternum strap.
–> Flexibility – I wanted a bag that could have the camera storage section removed so the bag could act as a small day pack if I decided to leave the DSLR at home.
–> Storage – I needed to be able to carry a jacket, bottle of water, map, personal electronics, and other travel items. It also needed to carry the following camera equipment: 5D, 17-40, 50mm, 70-200.
–> Quick access – I wanted a backpack with quick access to my camera similar to many of the sling bags that are on the market. I’m not a big fan of walking around with a camera hanging off of my neck, so quick access is the way to go for me.

To keep things short and sweet, I’m just going to list out the pros and cons I’ve discovered in the shot time of owning this bag.

Cons
–> Provided Dividers – The dividers that are provided with the bag are OK, but they really only allow you to “top load” your gear into this bag. If you try to load your gear horizontally through the side access pocket, you have to remove ALL of the padding and dividers and simply “drop” your camera in with one lens attached and that’s ALL you can carry in the lower camera section. This is kind of ridiculous if you ask me. If they are marketing this bag as being able to have quick access, they should include dividers to support this horizontal setup. Luckily, I was able to use dividers from my other camera bags to come up with a pretty good setup. Lowepro should include these dividers so they can sell this bag as a true dual setup. I showed my custom horizontal/quick access setup in the video attached to this review.
–> No Exterior Mesh Pocket – OK, this may seem nitpicky but it drives me nuts that there is not exterior mesh pocket for a water bottle on this bag. I’d rather there only be side access on only one side so they could have included a mesh pocket on the other side. Oh well, looks like I’ll be buying the SlipLock water bottle holder.

Pros
–> Comfort – This bag is BY FAR the most comfortable bag that I own. It may just be me, but I feel like the majority of camera backpacks feel like a shoebox with straps; they are just ridged and awkward to carry. This bag is different. The lower camera section has some structure to protect your gear, but the upper part is more flexible to fit to the contours of your back. Because it contours to your back, the bag has a very low profile which is great for travel. Also, this bag is longer than most camera backpacks which complements my lanky frame. The shoulder straps are perfect and the sternum strap and detachable waist strap are great for long treks.
–> Versatility – Like the name suggests, the bag is pretty versatile. The middle divider can be removed along with the camera dividers to create a decent sized backpack. Also, like I said above, the camera section can be setup for top loading or side access…if you have some spare dividers. It also has a built in rain fly and hidden tripod attachments.
–> Size/Weight – This bag weighs practically nothing…right around 2 lbs. when empty. I can load it up with all of my gear and it is still very light compared to my other camera bags. Also, this is just about the perfect size for travel. It can be broken down for easy storage and it can fit under an airplane seat with no problem. It can also store just enough stuff for a full day’s trek.

Conclusion:
If you are looking for a comfortable, lightweight, and versatile camera backpack that can carry a body, 2-3 lenses, and your basic travel gear, this bag should be on your short list.

Lowepro Versapack 200 AW

Tags: Bag, Lowepro, Camera, DSLR, How to

(legalese)

UPDATE

I’ve received a few questions since posting this review/video so I decided to make a second video to answer these questions. Hope this helps!





Help Keep the Reviews Coming!
If you’re thinking about purchasing the Lowepro Versapack 200 AW, check out Amazon.com…this is my go-to store for pretty much everything. If you click through to Amazon using the link below, I get small kickback which I use to invest in more equipment to review for you!

Amazon:
Lowepro Versapack 200 AW Camera Backpack (Black/Gray)