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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Review - Hands on Lowepro Midtown

By Mel Beus
The Lowepro Midtown, a recent addition to the Lowepro bag line-up, is a stylish messenger-style shoulder bag that comes in black with royal blue stitching detail for an added flair. The top zips in place around the opening, with a flap that extends over the front pocket and attaches to the bag via magnetic fasteners hidden in the construction. On the front of the bag is an open-top pocket that extends the width of the bag, constructed with a gusset for expansion. There are also two mesh, elastic-topped water bottle-type pockets, one on each end. The interior of the bag is dividable with two dividers that are included.

This is a camera bag that doesn't scream "Look at me I'm a camera bag!" For all intents and purposes it looks like your basic classy messenger bag, which is perfect for when you want to either play it low-key with your gear or need to dress it up a little more than usual. The shoulder strap has a locking flip buckle type of mechanism for easy adjustment even while wearing, and the movable pad on the strap is generous and cushy. The bag is comfortable to carry and easy to access while on the move. There is an additional handle attached to the back-side top for the quick grab-and-go, NOT the center of the lid for those accidental bag spillage incidents that we have all experienced. Okay, that I have experienced. The grabby magnetic closure is genius as it nearly closes itself when it's flipped over (again for those of us who are victims of the inadvertent bag-spillage).

So it looks like I may have found the mid-sized bag of my dreams. Well, close. The bag retails for a reasonable $49.95 which is good. However, as frugal as I am I would almost prefer to pay a little more and have a bag of more rugged construction and includes Lowepro's usual tuck-into-a-hiding-place waterproof cover. Additionally, I wish the shoulder strap was attached down the full length of the ends, rather than the just couple of inches that it is. If the top zipper is not zipped up at least along the sides, it pulls on the bag's sides in a manner that appears to place an undesirable strain on the construction. And the bag seems too narrow to easily fit a large dslr with grip. A smaller one (the Pentax K-7 with grip was used for testing), is a fairly tight fit. However, there shouldn't be any problems with most DSLRs without a grip attached.

The front accessory pocket has limited usage. While it is gusseted for expansion to hold a number of accessories, if the pocket bulges out too far the magnetic fasteners in the flap cannot reach their counterparts in the body of the bag. It's great for filters and such, but not for anything bulkier than that, and not for memory card or other smallish, easily lost items as there no organizers in the pocket. The last item on my wish list for this bag is the walls of this bag could stand to be stiffer. If the bag is fully loaded and is lifted by the top handle, the sides are not sufficiently strong to keep the bag from bowing and still possibly spilling.

Overall I do really like this bag. It has a nice size and shape and sports a very classy appearance. While using it during a day's shooting I found it easy to access and comfortable to carry for a few hours. I'm not sure how it will hold up to heavy usage by someone who is hard on bags and tends to fill them to the brim with heavy old manual lenses but time will tell. But in spite of the seeming shortcomings, this bag gets a recommendation based on appearance, simplicity, and ease of use.

By Mel Beus for P3N&R

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