October 29, 2011
Overall, this bag is an excellent choice, even if you have a fair amount of equipment. I just spent 3 weeks on vacation, and it performed really well.
I was able to pack the following:
a) Pentax K10D (upside down) with a 12-24 lense attached;
b) 3 additional lenses (100-300 zoom, 28-80 zoom, 50mm)...the 100-300 zoom isn't a large lens however;
c) a JVC camcorder (HD3U);
d) wide angle lens for the JVC (think 50mm);
e) a microphone for the JVC;
f) a 7 inch tablet (Archos 250GB)
g) 3 camera batteries, plus a few small AAA (JVC camcorder battery is fairly large)
h) SD cards, lens clothes, and passport wallet
All of g) and h), save the passport wallet, fit nicely in the upper compartment.
The above was what I carried on the plane, and I left various bits at the hotel as necessary.
So, full marks for carrying capacity.
My primary requirement was a backpack - I have a single harness sling, and I find it tiring after an hour or 2. The big surprise about the 300 is that it works as a sling very well - this meant I could use both harnesses, or just one. I carried 4-5 hours at a time, and while I needed to transfer it back and forth, overall it carried very well. Also, the top grab handle is great in restaurants/coffee shops.
As for the "odd opening", I actually like this in many ways. I looked at other bags, and I really preferred the single opening, vs the multiple-zippers/openings/alleyways of other bags. With the 300, you unzip 1 zipper, and all your gear is readily available. Additional ergonomic comments: 1) the bag is fairly stiff, and I regularly held the bag on top of one arm, unzipped, removed/added gear, zipped, and went about my business; 2) Since it was fall, I was wearing a coat with pockets, so I simply took 2 lenses out and left them in the pockets. I might need to buy a belt for summer, but a small price to pay overall.
What to improve? My only real want would be wider straps - as many have mentioned, this bag can carry a fair amount of gear for such a small package, and wider straps would spread the load a little. As others have mentioned, the small side pocket isn't very useful for anything but memory cards, and considering today's card capacity, there isn't much access needed.
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