Redesigning the photo bag. For today’s fashion conscious amateur and professional photographers, the tell-tale cooler box photo bag design is too uncomfortable and just plain ugly — and I’ve been avoiding using a photo bag for the longest time. In fact, I’ve been carrying my camera and lenses in a student backpack (with some judicious padding), both for carrying ease and to hide the fact from would-be thieves that I have expensive camera gear inside. Now, that’s all about to change as I look at the handsome messenger bag lying on my desk and that just arrived this very morning.
It has the most funny of names: the One Bag, as though it were trying to redefine all photo bags and be the one photographers turn to instinctively. The “One” tag becomes apparent as I explore its features. The One Bag is designed to safely carry your 15-inch laptop, a 10.1-inch tablet, smart phone and other portable gaming devices — everything you need to take to the office (what, you don’t take your gaming device to the office?). But then, with the simple addition of a Photo Insert, it transforms into a photo bag. The Photo Insert comprises three compartments to carry a DSLR and two lenses; or three lenses; or a DSLR, a lens and a flash; or whatever combination of camera and accessories suits your needs. Some serious thinking seems to have gone into the design of the One Bag. To start with, it features wetsuit-grade neoprene to safely hold your cameras, DSLRs, lenses, flashes, iPad, iPhone and other electronic gadgets.
We received the One Bag version 2 for review and it improves on the original one with: an extra inch width, more accessory pockets, a padded insert for your lenses, and a fully removeable and swappable cover. We also received a Fishbomb, and in case you’re wondering, we’ll explain later what the Fishbomb is all about and used for.
How does the One Bag differ from traditional bags? Gone is the tell-tale cooler box photo bag design. Instead, the One Bag is sleek and slim and looks professional in its black leather cover. You should feel completely at ease carrying it into that business meeting with your laptop and other business items stored inside the main compartment (called the “laptop pocket”) as well as a couple of other “pockets.” A 15-inch laptop easily slips into the laptop pocket which is lined with protective micro suede to protect the laptop from scratches. Good thinking.
Now comes the interesting part. Come the week-end and you’re ready to go do some picture shooting? Take out the laptop, slip in the Photo Insert and your One Bag is now ready as a photo bag. The Photo Insert has 3 individual compartments to store a DSLR, camera lenses or other electronic gadgets. As expected, the insert is padded to protect your lenses and equipment and is generously-sized to hold a 70-200mm zoom lens.
The One Bag features swappable designer covers. I guess you might want to not only customize it to your personal liking but also so you can tell at a glance whether it is currenty functioning as your business bag or photo bag. The thing about the cover is that it is not only made from durable, high quality materials but it is also lined with soft micro-suede that, according to UNDFIND, is safe enough to use to clean your lenses with! The cover has a clasp to fasten it to the bag.
Just how many pockets does the One Bag has? Besides the main compartment (that houses either your laptop or camera and lenses), I counted four other major pockets and 3 small mesh pockets: a large front pocket, 2 smaller pockets inside the front pocket, a large document pocket, an elastic netted pocket with zipper sown to the e-reader pocket and two elastic netted pockets with zippers on the inside of the cover. The e-reader pocket is ideal for your iPad or other 10-in. tablet, the Accessory pocket to hold an iPhone, other smart phone, portable gaming device or a charger. The Document pocket is to hold your notes and other paper documents, but could also hold a 13-inch laptop or netbook (a 15-inch laptop doesn’t fit). The Front pocket is stretchable and is a throw-all that will take everything else. It has two zippers to hide or keep your laptop or camera gear safely tucked inside. The elastic netted pockets can hold batteries, memory cards, and such. All the pockets are lined with ultra-soft felt lining.
It takes less than a minute to convert the One Bag from a business laptop bag to a week-end shooter photo bag, and all that swapping is easy and fast thanks to some pretty smart use of velcro throughout. Double velcro fastening (UNDFIND calls it “two-fold Velcro flap system”) ensures the cover and insert won’t budge and stay securely in place. The velcros are definietely tough grade as it takes quite a bit of pulling force to separate them. The following video from UNDFIND gives a pretty good idea of how easy it all is:
As you also saw in the video, there is a companion Waist Shooter Photo Bag, which is a smaller version of the One Bag and is built to the same exacting standards. [We did not receive one for review and are simply including some info here.] It has only two compartments for carrying two lenses. [I guess you could slip one of the compact mirrorless into one of the compartment, but like I mentioned, we haven’t tried this, so you might want to do a hands-on check in the store first.] The Waist Shooter, as its name implies, allows you to carry it attached to your belt, again using the secure two-fold Velcro flap system. You can also opt to carry it as a messenger bag with a clip-on shoulder strap. The cover is also swappable and there are a number of designer covers available for it.
Wearing both the One Bag and the Waist Shooter give you five compartments to carry your DSLR, three lenses and a flash.
What about that Fishbomb I mentioned earlier? It’s a flexible case that elegantly loops and knots around your belt or bag strap. It measures about 6.5 x 4 in. and weighs in at just over an ounce. The Fishbomb is also made of protective, wetsuit-grade neoprene and features two velcro buttoned pockets to keep everything safely tucked in. Furthermore, inside each pocket are two hidden pockets to tuck in a memory card (CF Card fits), for a total of 4 cards. What else could you carry in a Fishbomb case? Smart phone, lens filters, batteries, flashcards, ultra compact P&S camera, keys…. It’s very convenient and you might want to consider buying one even if you don’t need a One Bag.
I have painted a scenario of the week-end photographer above. But what if you travel and carry more gear than will conveniently fit inside a One Bag? The One Bag can serve as your laptop bag during your travel. But once on site, you’d want to stow the laptop away in your hotel room safe (you always check that your hotel features a big room safe, don’t you?) and swap the One Bag into a photo bag to take in the field.
No review is complete without a couple of improvement suggestions:
- Add a bottom to the Photo Insert. This way I simply lift the insert (with camera and lenses still inside) off to make a fast switch back to laptop bag.
- Instead of having two fixed dividers in the Photo Insert, allow one to be removable so a compact mirrorless with tele lens attached can fit into the now larger compartment.
- Widen the Document Pocket just a tad so a 15-inch laptop fits. It’s for those who absolutely must carry their camera, lenses and laptop in one bag.
If you have been unsatisfied with photo bags so far, check out the UNDFIND One Bag [Buy from Amazon.com]. The One Bag is well-built, versatile and fashionable — without screaming for attention as a photo bag. Highly recommended.
Disclaimer: The One Bag is the brainchild of Justin Lin who Kickstarter funded it back in 2011 to great acclaim from photography enthusiasts. UNDFIND (“Undefined”) is the company behind it and kindly sent us a One Bag to review and keep. It’s perfect timing as I am expecting my new mirrorless Fujifilm X-Pro1 anytime now. Add a zoom lens [when it becomes available], a flash, plus iPad and a small portable hard drive. Perfecto! I can finally retire the student backpack.
UNDFIND One Bag Product Videos: