by Mike McNamee Published 01/08/2010
The appointment of Colour Confidence as a distributor of booq bags, in June, was an interesting news item, made more so when a couple of samples arrived for review.
There is no such thing as a perfect bag, if you don't believe me try Googling the topic! This is why the arrival of a new range is a cause for interest. Booq make laptop bags with camera capability, rather than the other way round and there is no doubt that the need exists within the professional photography market, as many people now haul their laptop about, along with a modest amount of camera gear. Holidays, also, are a classic example; you may like to take your laptop, a small amount of camera gear, along with say, a bottle of water, and your travel documents and then get on a plane. You are now in booq territory and if you also want to look stylish, you are right in the middle of booq territory! And talking of stylish, another potential use is when you go to visit a prospect, need your laptop, but also a camera for some recce images - you should arrive looking cool and smart.
We looked at three products, the Vyper Xl (see previous page) along with the Python Blur and the Boa Flow XL.
The first thing to take on board is that these are not specifically camera backpacks. Neither will comfortably hold a pro DSLR with a 70-210mm f2.8 lens attached and, for the wedding shooter they will not hold a duplicate set of this combination at all. The Python is better if you require a greater camera emphasis, as it can take four lenses, two in each side pocket. We managed to stuff in both the Nikkor 12-24mm f4.0 and the 105mm f2.8 OS Micro Nikkor but both were about the limit on size. There was no space anywhere for the lens hood of the 12-24mm, it would not fit in the pockets within the flap because its diameter is too large. The reversed lens hood of the 105mm Nikkor fitted, but the assembly occupied the space for both lens pouches.
We loaded the Boa Flow XL with a 17-inch Dell Laptop, two Nikon bodies (D100 and D200), three lenses (12-24mm, 24-85mm and 105mm Macro) and an SB800 Flash gun. We then took it for a walk - a real walk, in real countryside, in real heat (thin shirt only), with a real dog in tow. It carried well, the straps are quite wide and distributed the load well; the waist belt was easy to fasten and adjust, and comfortable in use. The bag allowed easy use of the Sniper Strap, ie, it did not impede its use or dig into the shoulders. The back ventilation flow system worked quite well, better than nothing but not quite as good as a true walking rucksack with tensioning fibreglass rods. We did not test it, but the water proofing is not as serious as that on a walking sack (but neither would we expect it to be - this is a town and country rather than wild places bag).
The Python Blur is slightly more of a town bag with less camera capability and more laptop and gizmo space (there is even a flap for your iPod device).
The entire range is very stylish and superbly well made but, as with all bags, the prospective purchaser will need to think carefully about what they have to carry and the likely environment - nothing beats getting into your pro dealer and trying things with your own gear. However, if you are off on holiday with just a utility kit of a DSLR and short zoom (and perhaps a flashgun), but you like to take your laptop and its accessories, then the booq range might just suit you up in the air and down to the ground.
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