I deliberately chose a mirrorless ( compact system) camera for the size and weight, knowing that most of my photography would be when I was travelling in some way. My Olympus OMD EM10 has proved a delight in that regard. But finding a suitable, bag for it was not easy. Traditional camera bags are way too big and my first solution, using a normal handbag with microfibre pouches for the lenses and a quilted wrap for the camera proved to involve too much wrapping and unwrapping of things when out in the field. (It’s a good solution for hand baggage on flights though).
Much measuring and web surfing ensued and eventually, after a flirtation with the Kelly Moore Riva Bag, which was rejected eventually on price and weight, I plumped for the National Geographic African Collection Medium Holster. (Not the nattiest title in the word!). although its advertised as for a DSLR it also comes up on searches of their site for compact system suitable bags. There are many reviews of this bag but I struggled to find any that answered my burning question: can I fit all my stuff in there? So, here, for other potential owners is my list of what is in my bag. ( Please excuse the crappy pictures, I am resorting to using the ipad so I can photograph the other two cameras in the bag. Plus, I’m drafting this on a train!)
As I write it is set up for a two day trip to London when I shall be roaming alone all day, learning to shoot the city. I also have whiplash at the moment so it was important to me that this and my tripod bag be all I carry. I love that this bag can be carried three ways including cross body in which case it sits very comfortably on my hip giving great accessablity and distributing the weight off my shoulder.
The main, padded compartment’s secret its that it has two movable padded dividers creating three internal compartments coming about half way up the bag. Today I have them as follows
1. Tissues and pocket filofax which I use for money and credit cards, train tickets etc and notebook combined. I have a plastic envelope on the rings which I use as a holder for spare memory cards.
2. Olympus 40-150mm ( 80-300 in 35mm format) telephoto lens, 45 mm (90mm equivalent) fast prime and one lens hood.
3. Lee Seven5 filter holder, Big Stopper and Little Stopper and circularising Polariser filters. Four plastic sandwich bags with one corner cut off and two elastic hair bobbles to make hasty rain covers given the evening weather forecast! Four Volterol heat patches for the whiplash!
The genuis design of the bag means that the tops of the padded divders fold over giving a sort of shelf on which I then have the camera body and a 14-42) (28-84mm equivalent) lens. When you have the body out the bag gives excellent access to the lenses for quick changes. At the moment I also have an apple in there but that will be eaten soon! meanwhile its a good item to use for scale to show you how small this camera is! The bag is wide enough to have the body and the longest 150-300 mm ( 300-600) lens on it.
The front compartment has some internal pouches. I use one for the body cap and always put the cap for the lens in use in here as a habit to prevent loss. There are then two pen loops and in the last pouch I have a spare battery and a card with some duct tape on in case the bobbles are not doing the trick with the rain bag.
In the body of the front compartment itself I have two moleskine Volante Notebooks ( one has quick reference notes I took from my camera manual, the other has reference notes from blogs or books and my list of aims for the trip and will act as a journal) a Tube Map, my London Underground Oyster card, two lens cleaning cloths and a cleaning pen, a packet of Ibubrufen and my iphone, which has on it my camera manual and also an Olympus app that allows me to use the phone as a remote trigger. Oh, and an app called ND TImer to help me figure out what settings I should use with the filters. The Kindle and Feedly apps also acts as my reading material should I stop for a cafe break and of course a second camera.
The bag is very versatile. On otherdays I have had card and cash in my jeans pocket or just tucked in with the lenses and have replaced the purse with a battery charger and a macro lens. I have just checked and I can carry a bottle of water instead of the purse. I’ll probably do that tomorrow when I have a hotel safe for the spare credit cards. The filters will also fit in the front pocket. begin a holster is sits beautifully on my hip when I wear it cross body. if you zip the top compartment and fasten the two buckles its very secure. I tended leave the buckles loose for easy access when I was actually photographing as I was never anywhere I thought security was a big issue and that gave easy access.
So if you are looking for a small, affordable bag that will carry multiple Micro Four Thirds lenses ( you could get six plus one on the body and filters in the front), this National Geographic Medium Holster is your bag. That said, I have cheated a little and added some other items to my tripod bag.
The tripod is a Me Foto Road Trip model ( in a lovely metallic green. I confess that was a major motivator in choosing it!) and comes in a carry bag. The bag slings very easily over a shoulder or, if worn cross body allows you to nestle the tripod in the small of your back and take the weight more ergonomically. That said, it is a light weight tripod anyway, weighing just 3.6 lb. Knowing I am going to be doing night shoots with a rain forecast, I was delighted to find I could tuck gloves in the inside pocket and an umbrella and my reading glasses in the bag itself and still have easy access to the tripod. So I am all set!
PS. After the trip…the rain materialised and the plastic bags were needed but eventually the rain was monsoon like and I was freezing. So I retired to the South Bank branch of Foyles and can now report that the next day I took out my purse and carried just a loose card in the bag and cash in my pocket and that allowed my to carry my impulse purchase of The Rosie Effect paperback along with all the other items listed above. This bag is a Tardis! And the novel was so good I couldn’t bear not to have it with me to read all day!