I think that Lowepro probably make the finest camera bags in the world. They have a huge range, innovative features, and cover everyone from the holiday snapper to the pro-photographer who has to carry a ton of gear around. I own several of their bags in various sizes and they are all in regular use.
I've never had one of their sling bags, though. A friend of mine owns two in different sizes and I often envy the ease with which his camera can be accessed in a hurry, yet carried safely protected in a lightweight bag. The idea of the sling bags is that when you want access to the camera, you slide the bag around from your back to your front, at which point the side-entry panel is facing upwards with your camera sitting comfortably inside with ready access available and no danger of the camera falling out.
So I was quite excited when the opportunity to test this newer model came along.
As usual with Lowepro bags there are pockets all over the place - so there's never a shortage of space to carry batteries and spare flash cards and the other odds and ends that end up in a camera bag. There's even a pocket for your tablet; fastenings to carry a tripod on one side of the bag; and Lowepro's usual built in rain cover.
The first thing that caught my attention on this bag was the unusual curved zip on the back of the bag that gives access to a shallow pocket. Unusually for Lowepro the curved zip seems only to be there to look attractive and add a feature to the otherwise featureless back of the bag while, at the same time, drawing the eye to their logo.
Anyway, I got my Canon 6D
out and popped it into the side pocket. Along with its 24-105mm L lens, with lens hood attached and facing the right way, it fitted beautifully - apart from the strap which needed to be jammed in. Great, that was exactly what I wanted, a small bag to carry that camera and lens, plus space in the bag for another medium sized lens (my Canon 100mm macro fits in snugly).
Bag on, camera safely inside, and swung round to my chest, I opened the now top flap and what a struggle to get the camera out. The design of this pocket means the left side of the camera catches under the opening and the lack of space on the right hand side means it's difficult to get a firm grip on the camera. I just couldn't squeeze my hand into the space. This was a total fail. Tried it with a Canon 40D - same problem. Fished out my older, and much smaller, 400D and that was fine. So this bag works as intended with smaller dSLRs, but not with full frame or other larger models. All it needed was an opening just an inch or two wider and it would have been brilliant. This was a serious let down for me.
Mind you Lowepro have not completely ignored the serious photographer with this bag. There is an alternative divider arrangement that will accommodate full frame cameras, fitted with a big telephoto like the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM Lens
, but this needs a serious re-arrangement of the internal dividers and access to the camera is then through the `top' of the bag (when worn on the back that is). When the bag is slid around to the front this pocket is now on the side and, to me at least, gives an opportunity for the camera to drop out of the bag. This means it's back to taking the bag off and putting it down to get at my camera - something that seems to me to be what the sling design of this bag is meant to avoid.
Yes, it will carry my camera and some lenses and bits comfortably. No, it won't allow the easy access that it is designed for, so sorry it's a fail for anyone with a large camera, but a wonderful success for anyone with a smaller dSLR. Consequently for me this is only worthy of three stars. However, if you have a small dSLR then you can consider this a 5 star product.