The Lowepro Exchange Messenger bag is, as the name suggests, a messenger style shoulder bag for camera gear. It is relatively low-key and does not attract a lot of attention as it does not advertise itself as a bag containing expensive camera gear; something I generally like. Available in black and grey, it is a simple yet effective bag when moving around with a limited amount of gear, such as for street photography or when enjoying being a nimble photographer à la Derrick Story.
The bag consists of a main pocket which holds the majority of the gear. The green interior makes it easy to find small items lurking around inside. The main pocket is customisable with two dividers, which you can use to subdivide the pocket. I often do not use them or only use one to separate my camera from an additional lens. When not used I put the dividers in the bottom of the bag which creates extra padding. Being relatively thin, the Exchange Messenger is prone to taking shock, in particular when putting the bag down and the extra padding provided by the unused dividers helps giving a little extra protection.
Besides the main pocket, there are two thin pockets on the front and an additional one at the front with a zip for items needing more secure storage, such as keys or a wallet. The bag is soft and can be rolled up when empty and easily put into a suitcase when travelling. The allows to take a larger bag while getting to your destination and using the Exchange Messenger when at the final location using just the gear you need.
For me the main disadvantage is the fact that it does not have a separate pocket to place an iPad. S I often have to compromise on what I want to take along and I admit it now has often become more of an accessories bag than a camera bag. Still given the low price I can recommend this bag as a useful addition to your arsenal of camera bags.
The Lowepro Fastpack 200
The Lowepro Fastpack 200 an excellent photo bag for daylong excursions. It is a classic bag pack with two main compartments. An upper one useful for personal items and has compartments for small accessories such as glasses, mobile phone, lens pen, batteries and similar. The upper compartment is large enough to add personal items or a snack. The upper compartment just about fits my Samsung NC10 netbook, so it probably will fit an iPad too. In addition two external meshed side pockets will allow you to carry bottled water or similar.
The lower part of the bag is where you will store your gear. Is it large enough to fit
- a camera body
- a standard 24-105 mm zoom
- a 50 mm fix focus
- a 70-200 mm telephoto
- a 1.4x teleconverter
That’s a lot of gear and it is sufficient for most needs, switching if necessary to adapt for the day, such as exchanging a lens for a flash or similar.It should be largely sufficient for most purposes. Once packed you access your gear from the side in a slingbag type of fashion by removing one strap from your shoulder and swinging the bag to the front, turning it into a horizontal position. From there you have fast and easy access to your camera body.
I rather enjoy this bag, the only gripes I have with this bag is that it has no way to attach a tripod, there is no rain cover, although I am confident, that the bag is sufficiently water repelling to withstand a typical rain shower. I probably would not rely on it on a several hour-long hike during bad weather. (Not that I would be doing things like that). It also lacks a waist strap, which might be useful for longer distance walking, considering that you can easily put some 10 kg of gear into this bag.
All in all this makes the Fastpack 200 one of my favourite camera bags. I can highly recommend it.
Great video from Trey Ratcliff from Stuck in Customs documenting his trip around the world in 80 days with 8000 photos in 6 minutes and 14 seconds.