A good camera bag is essential for travel photography. I highly recommend the Lowepro Nova 180AW, which I recently purchased from Amazon.com. I got this bag for my new Nikon D5100 DSLR and a Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S ED VR II Nikkor Telephoto Zoom Lens. I wanted a camera bag to carry this gear in plus another lens or two, memory cards, and cables. My wife and I are planning our next trip to China this summer and we’re really looking forward to capturing some great images with the new camera equipment. On our last trip there in 2011 we took some nice pictures in Chongqing and on our Three Gorges, Yangtze River cruise with our point and shoot camera. But we want to take some better images this time so we upgraded to the new DSLR equipment.
Comfort was a major criteria that I used to select my camera bag since I will be traveling a lot with it. Specifically, I was searching for a bag with a comfortable strap and one that was as lightweight as possible, while still being durable. Another important criteria, was for the design of the bag to make it easy for me to put my camera into it and get it back out quickly. I also wanted a bag that I could put the camera, with attached 18-200 lens, into with the lens facing down. And I wanted the bag to be black.
I started my search for a new bag by checking out some of my favorite photography websites to get familiar with the different brands of camera bags out there. There are many brands, but I narrowed my search down to two that I like, Lowepro and Tamrac. I was already very familiar with Lowepro, because I have four Lowepro bags and cases for my point and shoot cameras and video camera. I have generally been quite happy with Lowepro.
Looking at bags on Amazon.com, it was a bit difficult to get a feel for which ones were the right size for my needs. So, I went to BestBuy to get a better feel for their size. They had several Lowepro bags but no Tamrac bags. I looked at the Lowepro Adventura 170, Nova 170AW, and Rezo 170AW. I have a Rezo 140AW for my point and shoot camera and although it cleverly unzips outward from your body to help conceal the contents of your open bag from others, I find it a bit difficult to unzip quickly. So, I knew I didn’t want another Rezo. And I didn’t really like the look and feel of the Adventura 170 bag, so I eliminated this one as well. Lowepro offers several sizes of most of their models of bags and I noticed that all of these 170 bags were basically the same size and they all seemed too small for my needs. So, I headed home for more online research.
I checked the Lowepro website for the next larger size of the Nova 170AW and for any other bags of a similar size. I found the Nova 180AW and the Stealth Reporter D200AW. Also, using the dimensions from these bags I searched Tamrac’s website for bags that met my needs and found some models I liked.
After an hour of shopping on Amazon.com, I narrowed my choices down to the following bags:
After looking closely at all of these bags, the two that stood out to me were the Nova 180AW and the Stealth Reporter D200AW. The Stealth Reporter D200AW really impressed me because it has a great zipper in the top of it for easy access to your camera without opening the top flap. The Nova 180AW doesn’t have that. Each of them come with a comfortable strap, and judging from pictures, the strap on the Stealth Reporter D200AW may be slightly more padded. A couple of nice features that each model has are a rain cover, that is concealed in a zippered pocket when not in use, and straps on the back that make it easy to slide over your luggage handle. Each model allows you to put your camera with attached zoom lens into it, lens facing down. However, the top zipper on the Stealth Reporter D200AW allows you to retrieve your camera faster. I was ready to buy the Stealth Reporter D200AW but then two attributes of the Nova 180AW caught my attention and sealed my decision to buy this bag. The Nova 180AW is lighter, weighing only 1.6 pounds, versus 3.6 pounds for the Stealth Reporter D200AW. Also, the Nova 180AW has a nice padded handle on top that allows you to easily pick it up at times when you don’t want to pick it up by the strap. The Stealth Reporter D200AW comes with a removable top handle but it seems awkward to me.