It was time for me, time to finally get a new one – a new camera bag. Not that I was really unhappy with what I had, but I have had my bags between three and six years. Not enough time for them to break or even look shabby, no, no – they look just fine, but I wanted a new one. The reason? While my old ones are 1) well made and sturdy and 2) convenient, they are 3) not very feminine. I wanted a camera bag for women.
My oldest one is a Lowepro Slingshot, which has a real handy concept, that makes it very easy to get the bag from your back to the front to grab your camera in a hurry. Downside(s) – it only fit my DSLR with a 17-50 mm, plus it looks a little bleak and too functional in black. Not saying that this is a bad thing.
My travel bag is my Tamrac backpack in black and, to give it some pop, red. It accompanied me on many travels since early 2006. At the bottom it has the compartment for my camera gear and it holds my DSLR with attached 17-50 mm, a 70-200 mm 2.8 lens, a tele converter, a flash and lots of little things e.g. batteries. On top there is another compartment to stow away other items you might need during travel. For me that was usually a book, my mp3 player other bits and pieces any woman needs. It holds a lot and keeps these things separate from the camera gear, which is nice. And at the back of it you also have a nicely padded laptop bag. Since I never travel without one, this is a must.
Since I would not take my backpack for a quick trip into town, I got myself a Crumpler Muffin Top messenger bag about three years ago. This one fits my DSLR with 17-50 mm attached plus the 70-200 mm 2.8, if I let it stick out the top a little, which always kind of bothered me. When I have my camera out of the bag it is just fine. I also like that it has a small pocket for e.g. filters and batteries and that the strap is nicely padded, so a little more weight does not matter. But again, the muffin top is black and just a little too ‘utilitarian’, functional for me right now.
Since the beginning of this year I have been part of a team of female photographers on Etsy (open in new tab) and they started a discussion about camera bags that did not look like camera bags. I had never really much thought about this, just kind of assumed that there are none. But I guess I am just not too big on shopping, because there are quite a few manufacturers that cater specifically to the needs or wants of female photographers. I checked out a lot of shops and read comments and reviews about different bags, and finally I settled on Epiphanie (open in new tab). After having lived through two years of the usual trial and error you have with a new product (you can find her blog post here (open in new tab)), Epiphanie was founded in 2009 by Maile Wilson a successful photographer based in San Antonio, TX. Having decided on Epiphanie, all I needed was to make up my mind about which bag I wanted.
Right now seven different designs, in several sizes and color choices are available. This was not going to be easy, because I could not get two or three bags, but just one that fit it all. Big enough, but not too bulky. Feminine, yet not girly. Comfortable enough for all necessary gear. To do all this ruled out most of the bags, since they were not tall enough to have my 70-200 mm 2.8 standing and still be able to zip it up. While most or all of them are iPad compatible, only two are made with a laptop pouch. The latter was not too important, because I still intended to travel with my backpack. However, accommodating my 70-200 was crucial, which is why I finally settled on the Clover (click to open in new tab). With dimensions of 18×6.25×13″ it should be big enough to hold actually all my gear, including my laptop. My color choice? Red, of course! Although I do like the turquoise, too. With my nieces’ visit just around the corner I thought it would be perfect to get the bag in time to test it while going sightseeing with them. But would I get it in time?
I ordered it directly on the Epiphanie website on Tuesday April 24th. Everything went easily and smoothly and with the bag being in stock I was to allow 1 – 5 business days for processing. My nieces were to arrive Friday night, so my hopes to get it in time were dwindling fast. Can you imagine my surprise when Friday I had a big box lying on our doorstep labelled ‘Epiphanie’?! Woohoo! Open the box, tear away filling material and there it was… the red looking a little off. Hm, digging some more plastic away, finding the reason: It was packed in another protective red bag. Tension rising again, opening the final zipper between my new bag and me. There it was in shiny, (not too) bright red – beautiful! Very soft, yet sturdy and nice to the touch. I opened it and inspected the velcro padded interior – big inside plus sturdy padding that you can move around to accommodate your needs. It really seemed to be big enough for everything. But how about the straps? They are plaited and while it looks nice, were they going to be comfortable?
Easy enough to find out. I packed my camera, purse and little things a woman usually has in her handbag into the Clover and took it on its first trip. To the Newark airport to pick up my nieces. O.k. it was not a real test, because there was not much walking involved, but it felt good enough and in the coming days Clover was to see quite a bit more of the surrounding area. While on a day trip I obviously do not bring a laptop, but I did pack my camera + big lens + bits and pieces and still had lots of space, which I filled with a water bottle and a small snack. It really surprised me how comfortable it was to carry the bag on the shoulder with all this weight in it over an extended period of time. When it got too heavy on one side I simply used the other shoulder or the provided cross-body strap, which can also be de-attached. In the course of one week I carried the bag with me all the time and if you follow my blog (open in new tab), you know that it has been in a few places by now. And I am still loving it.
So much that right now I think I might even replace my trusty backpack with the Clover for extended traveling, for when I will also bring my laptop, flash etc. Most likely I will test this in August when we will be going to a family reunion a couple of hours north of Seattle, WA for a long weekend. But, to be honest, I am certain, my Clover will be up to the task and live up to my expectations. Now, if I had one more wish? For those days when you know that you will need your camera only without much extra gear? I would get a turquoise Lola or a yellow Lyric.
Disclaimer I: Epiphanie did not provide me with the bag, I bought it. This review represents solely my opinion.
Disclaimer II: Please excuse the quality of some of the pictures. I was too excited to get my new bag.