Lowepro Inverse 200 AW - short review

November 14th, 2011 - 07:29:23 AM:

When you buy your first SLR, you soon notice that it's not a good idea to let it bang at other objects when you carry it around. So you buy a bag for it, e. g. one of the abundant top-loading bags. Then, if you've been bitten by the SLR bug, you probably add one or two lenses to your set and an external flash, and so you've outgrown your bag. So you sell your top-loader and buy another bag. And then you buy a tripod, or a larger lens, etc. And at this point, you realize: that one ideal bag simply does not exist. A bag that can hold everything you own is just overkill when you only take a walk in the park.

Over the time, I've owned seven camera bags, used another two, and until shortly, I was left with just three. Now I've yet again bought a camera bag (it's impossible to have too many), the Lowepro Inverse 200 AW.

My smallest bag is a Lowepro Nova 3 shoulder bag (comparable with today's Nova 180). It's just big enough to hold a DSLR with vertical grip and standard zoom attached, and another lens and flash. If the second lens is a 80-200/2.8, and you want to carry a smaller third lens with you, it's not large enough. Furthermore, shoulder bags, especially the larger ones with heavy equipment in them, have the inherent problem of being, well, shoulder bags. They are basically suited to carry your stuff to some place, and then put them on the ground. If you carry them around for a whole day, they will kill your shoulder. They also tend to swing around to your front, especially when you bow down.

My next larger bag is a Lowepro Slingshot 300 AW. This is kind of a backpack, but with only one diagonal strap. You can rotate it around your body to your front, where you can access your equipment through a side door (which is at the top in this position). Rotated to your back, you can use the padded waist straps, and carrying this bag for a longer time is almost as comfortable as with a “real” backpack. The disadvantage is, again, its size when you don't want to take a lot of equipment with you. Furthermore, the side door is only suited to access the camera. To access additional lenses, the bag is actually in the wrong position.

So I bought something in between: the Lowepro Inverse 200 AW. This is a hip bag with comfortable padding and wide waist straps. The straps can be stowed away under the padding. A padded shoulder strap comes with the bag, and you can use it to carry the bag like a shoulder bag, or to support the bag when you use the waist strap.

The bag is longer and narrower than the Nova 3. The interior width is 15 cm according to the data sheet. It's actually closer to 13 cm for most of the height, and 15 cm only near the top. But this is just wide enough for a DSLR like the A700 or A77. When the vertical grip is mounted, the grip has to be oriented to the side, otherwise the camera will not fit in.

At the left and right side of the bag there is enough space for a larger lens like the 80-200/2.8, and a shorter lens like the 100/2.8 Macro, plus a few accessories.

The zippered top cover opens to the side, and on the inside it has two little pockets for memory cards.

On the left and right side (on the outside) there are mesh pockets for further items. One of the pockets is wider at the bottom and can hold a bottle or, in an emergency, another medium sized lens.

The front part is a slim zippered pocket, and a larger half-open pocket. The latter can be expanded a bit and can hold accessories or personal items. At the bottom of the front pocket you can pull out the rain cover to protect the entire bag in case of sudden bad weather.

On the bottom side there are two straps and buckles. A lightweight tripod can be attached there. Of course, you will then no longer be able to put the bag on the ground without it falling over. That's why I will probably never use these straps.

When loaded with the above-mentioned camera and lenses, the entire bag weighs about 4½ kg. This can be carried on the hip for a long time with the waist strap, possibly supported by the shoulder strap. To change lenses you can rotate the bag to the front. In this position, changing lenses is even easier than with the Slingshot bag.