Friday, June 3, 2011

A Review of Some Lowe Pro Camera Packs

Good camera packs are some of the most important pieces of gear for an outdoor photographer. Most pro landscape photographers become experts on the various camera packs available since we constantly have to deal with the challenges of backcountry camera transport in the wilderness & weather, carry on luggage restrictions on airplanes, and the need to store lots of pricey lenses and cameras safely. Lowe Pro recently sent me some of their packs to evaluate so I thought I would share my impressions of these three products with my blog readers. All these Lowe packs come with an all weather cover to protect from rain and snow.

LowePro makes what I consider to be the ideal rolling camera pack with their ProRunner x450 AW. What is great about this pack is that it has very heavy duty wheels that allow you to roll the pack through airports, and it also has a very sturdy and comfortable backpack harness that allow you to wear it as a backpack when you are on location in rough terrain. It is a good size for transporting my Hasselblad H4D medium format camera and a selection of lenses. The backpack harness tucks away nicely behind a panel, making this case very stealthy. I like that is does not scream "I have lots of expensive equipment in here". I refuse to check my Hasselblad camera bodies or lenses in checked luggage for obvious reasons, so I always need to have my act together with the carry on baggage requirements for the airlines. With this rolling pack I can also carry another smaller backpack with me as a smaller carry on and I have all the valuable stuff with me in the overhead bin when I fly. In tiny airplanes I find that the smaller backpack can go in the overhead bin and the rolling pack will fit under the seat - this avoids having to leave the rolling pack on those carts where people leave their larger carry ons on smaller planes. LowePro does not skimp with the included accessories - this pack comes with a very nice padded laptop case that will fit a 15" laptop. There is also a nice extra front zippered compartment with lots of organizational pockets.

 Every photographer also needs what I call the "mother ship" case  where you can store all the lenses and other odds & ends photography requires in an organized way. Lowe Pro makes what has to be the ultimate mother ship with their Magnum 650 shoulder case. This bag is huge - you can even fit a laptop in here. It also includes an extra padded laptop case and a very nice CF card holder case. The top opening makes everything readily accessible. There are also numerous organizational pockets. I use the Magnum case to hold everything that is not in my camera backpack, so I can add and subtract from my pack whatever a specific shoot requires.

The other case I use a lot is a fanny pack design to hold my panasonic GH2 and all its lenses. I usually put this on when I take my dog for her morning walk so I have a great lightweight camera system with me. The LowePro Inverse 200 seems to be the perfect size for holding the GH2 and 2 lenses. It also has 2 waterbottle holders on the sides and convenient cf card pockets  in the top lid. The extra zippered pouch in the front holds odds & ends. What I like best about this is you can really snug it tight with the compression straps so it will not bounce around. This is a very well thought out and functional pack for active photographers.

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