X200 — Luggage roll-back for the seriously serious
How many camera bags do you own? One, two, three, even? Although you may have your eyes firmly fixed on more bodies, lenses and gizmos, another bag may actually be just what you're looking for. The secret to photography is preparedness. If you're going for a day-long hike through the wilderness, you need to be ready with a highly select amount of kit in a very ergonomic bag. If you're putting your precious bodies and lenses through the cargo hold of a plane, you probably need something fairly indestructible. If you're shooting street photography in the 'hood, then chances are you need something that looks fairly beaten up and not worth stealing. If you're covering the ambassador's reception, then you need something smart.
For when you need to move the maximum amount of kit around without calling attention to yourself, destroying half the things around you, or looking like you are working for the military, the Lowepro X 200 Pro Roller may well be the ultimate bag.
Essentially, this is a luggage-style roll-bag that, unless you give the game away by attaching a tripod to the outside, does not call any attention to itself as something photographic. It's equally happy on the 08:00 to London Paddington, or in the back of your car, and has a convenient (but very sturdy) built in locking system which means you can fix it to a suitable anchor point in your car, or simply lock all the the zippers shut to keep away prying hands while you have a bit of a snooze. It's smart enough (sans tripod) to fit in basically anywhere, and the copious inside space is big enough for a 17" PowerBook, two pro bodies with vertical grip, and a collection of serious sized lenses. Additional features include a neat system for knowing which memory cards are full and which are empty, somewhere to put your train tickets, wallets, and so on, a slightly odd flash or camera tripod style attachment, and an extra foot so that you can stand it at an angle. The X 200 actually breaks down into two parts — the rollbag itself, which you can fill with t-shirts, sandwiches, fish etc, and a rucksack. Normally the rucksack is inside the roll bag, but you can detach it and carry it around as a (slightly unergonomic) photographer's rucksack, or somehow fix it to the pulling bars while on your travels, giving you the whole of the big roller bag to fill with luggage.
If you're a pro-photographer who needs to travel with gear, has reasonable access to transport and doesn't intend to go over rough terrain, this is an ideal combination, especially if you need to look smart and professional when you get to where you're going. However, the wheels and pulling bars do take up some space and add to the weight (though not when just using the rucksack), and you definitely don't want to be dragging this over cobbles, grass or dirt tracks.
The X200 in detail
On the inside, this bag appears to be much like any other — the usual collection of velcro-detachable compartments which you can move around to suit your need. What is unusual is the size. You can have a 24-70 f2.8 standing upright in the middle, put two pro-bodies with big zoom lenses on facing each other, and still have room for a 70-200 or other such monster running down the side compartment.
|The padding||Room for a 70-200|
The padding bits come in two thicknesses — you can see one lying on the top in the photo. You can use these any way you like, of course, but it does mean that you can pad under a lens when attached to the camera to avoid vertical movement. Overall the dividers are much sturdier than in many other bags I've used — so sturdy, in fact, that you could happily leave the top unzipped while you quickly ran along to get to wherever your next picture was going to be.
On the inside lid, you've got a good selection of pockets of varying kinds.
|The big flap||The inside lid|
The big flap folds down to reveal a space for pens (or perhaps a lenspen, if you believe in them), your rail ticket, or perhaps some business cards, and some other small paper work. If you fold it back up again, you have pockets for wallets, passports, other documents, as well as various photographic bits and pieces such as flash extension cables that you don't want to get mixed up with everything else.
Of special note are the three card holders.
The little picture which looks a bit like a flash-card isn't just for illustration. There is a flap, and if you pull it across, you get a slightly different picture, coloured in. If you're organised and like this kind of thing, you can use that to remind yourself which cards are full and which are empty. Or not. It's your choice.
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