My Bard arrived from F-stop yesterday, and it is a very spiffy bag. It came with a free F-stop Sporty camera strap (a $20 value). Thanks for the strap! I already have a very comfortable camera strap made out of some kind of soft, squishy stuff that I wouldn’t part with. I’ll make sure the Sporty gets a good home.
Now, on to the bag. In short: it’s a great bag, and at $99, it’s a great deal.
The inner dividers are all attached to the inside of the bag with velcro, and are freely removable and adjustable. That kind of versatility makes the Bard really useful as a multimedia news-gathering bag.
I adjusted one of the dividers for a snug fit for my giant Canon 80-200 mm f 2.8/L (with lens hood) in one slot on one side, and shrank one of the slots on the other side to fit the stock 18-55 mm f.3.5-5.6 IS lens that came with my Rebel XSi. My 50mm f 1.8 pops in on top of the 18-55 with plenty of room.
I’ll remove the stock lens when I go shooting in the real world, and replace it with my digital audio recorder. It’s just to give you an idea of how much you can fit in the bag.
The Rebel XSi fit easily in the middle, with a 17-55 f 2.8 IS lens and hood attached, so the camera is ready to pull out of the bag and shoot. There’s still room for a 550EX speedlite flash next to the two smaller lenses.
My 13″ laptop fits easily in the laptop slot in the back, with room to spare. I could probably fit a 15″ laptop in there instead. But if I put a 15″ laptop in, I’m not sure if I could fit the power brick in without losing space somewhere else.
There’s still plenty of room to pack things on top of the camera gear, but then that defeats the purpose of having a bag you can quickly yank your camera out of.
The inner pocket that covers the main compartment would be even better if it could be zippered out of the bag, making access to the camera a little faster.
As it is now, you have to open the main flap of the bag, push the little flap out of the way, and then grab your camera.
There are lots of little extra zippered compartments to put things like lens filters, cleaning equipment, spare batteries, chargers, and whatnot. (Digital cameras spawn whatnot like nobody’s business.)
The sides of the bag are good and rigid. I’m not a fan of mushy-sided bags, which is why I decided to skip going down the “Build your own camera bag” route.
I’ll be interested to see if the Bard will actually fit underneath an airline seat. The top will “squish” down about three to four inches, so as long as you don’t overpack, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t fit… unless my spatial perception is completely broken.
Nice bag. Worth the wait.