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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Zuiko and the Search for THE Perfect Bag

Camera bags... Aaaahhhh, the necessity of all necessities.

28mm, f/5.6, 1/5s, ISO800, -0.7ev (OM lens 28mm f3.5)
The Bagman Messenger aka Crumpler 6Million Dollar clone is very spacious.

Ever since I went digital in 2004, I became self-aware about the existence of branded camera bags. In the days of my OMs, I just used any bag that I can find. School bag, shopping bag, any bag! The reason: those 70's tech design was so robust that I did not find a real necessity for such protection from bumps and drops. Digital, on the other hand, was very fragile.

My first "real" bag was the Lowepro Nova AW 1. Blue in color, I can fit my C-750UZ system with the FL-20 and WCON-07 lens & adapter, and even a Panasonic 3CCD camcorder, too. Nimble and small, this was perfect. I started to love these Lowepro bags, that I became a "worshipper" for a couple of years!!!

Among other Lowepros that I acquired throughout my time until late 2008 were the Nova AW 2 "Black", Slingshot 200 AW "Black", Fastpack 350 "Red", and a TLZ Mini "Black". I have to confess, these bags were purchased for a so-called different photoshoot situations. All had its strengths and weaknesses. Of all the bags, I loved the Nova AW 2. To me, it was a bag of all bags!!! Imagine that I could fit the E-510, ZD 11-22mm f2.8-3.5, ZD 14-54mm f2.8-3.5, ZD 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 and the FL-36 without the bag bulging in awkward points. That was really an ultra cool bag!!

I tried to like the Slingshot, but the single strap proved to be a burden for long walks due to its imbalance that disrupted my walking gait and posture. It just felt annoying after a while. The Fastpack was a total disappointment. It was not a serious photographers bag; more of a jack-of-all-trades type of bag. The TLZ? That was for my brief impromptu romance with the E-420.

Now here's the problem!

I changed my lens line in the later half last year. Somehow, SHG lenses required more real estate, and none of my bags could provide!! The Slingshot and Novas were sold off easily as these were popular bags. I still have the Fastpack and TLZ, though. (If you are interested in them, please let me know).

In January, I accidentally got hold of the E-30; which did not help my problem a bit...

What's next?

Enter my lust for Think Tank bags, particularly the Urban Disguise line. You see, I tend to carry my gear to work. And, the Lowepros screamed camera bag in an office environment, and I would only bring to office when there was an anticipated need such as office functions! I had to be more inconspicuous if I want to carry my gear anytime I like!! During the brief bag-less period, after I sold my Lowepros, I simply used my laptop bag!! Not a perfect solution, though as the lack of paddings and compartments meant the gear knocked each other out!

14mm, f/2.8, 1/2000s, ISO100, +0.7ev (wireless)
The TT UD35 fits the SHG Zuikos 7-100mm, E-3 with HLD4, E-30 and 2 FL units.

The Urban Disguise 35 to me is a masterpiece bag perfect for my need!!! Believe it or not, all my gear can fit in the bag, with some room to spare for a netbook!!! This bag looks like a typical executive bag, a bit thick on the side, though. Not a big deal, since I did not pack in the laptop (up to 15", not bad!); thus, a thinner profile.

After a couple of months using, I realized that the UD35 is not perfect for everything! It's just too big for a short photo stint, or for carrying my gear for leisure walks. In a casual environment, it screams laptop bag!!! Hmmmmm.... another conundrum!

If I were to only carry a body with a couple of lenses and a small flash, I was bagless!

So, yesterday in utter desperation, I went to my favorite shop in Ampang Park and simply told my predicament. I wanted a bag that did not scream camera or laptop bag. It should not be very brightly colored, too. It should look like a simple shoulder bag, but must not be bulky with padding. It must be very spacious! Spacious enough to handle an E-3 body with HLD-4 grip, at least 2 short lenses and a small flash! After close to 20 minutes, I settled for a Bagman Messenger. Though an old design, that did not bother me at all. When factor was primary, form was thrown into the drain.

Perfect!! Another perfect bag!! Now I have two perfect bags for each of its purpose!

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