Lowepro DSLR Video Fastpack 150 AW Review
by Siobhan Fitt-Stirling, December 2011
Lowepro have recently extended their hugely popular range of bags by introducing a new line of backpacks designed specifically for DSLR videographers. Based on Lowepro’s award winning Fastpack series, the DSLR Video Fastpack series backpacks are available in three sizes: 150 AW, 250 AW and 350 AW.
As a videographer who shoots in busy spaces such as nightclubs, I opted to test drive the Video Fastpack 150 AW as its compact size is an obvious advantage for me. Earlier on this year I had a job filming a music festival in Wales where I found myself having to put lenses and accessories in my coat pockets because my camera bag was too big for me to weave in and out of the crowds – the 150 AW would have been perfect for this kind of situation. But don’t let its appearance fool you; there is plenty of space inside to house all of your essential equipment.
The compartment in the lower half of the bag looks fairly similar to the compartments found in a regular camera bag. According to Lowepro, it will hold up to a pro-DSLR (minus the battery grip) with an attached lens (up to 17-55mm in size) as well as one additional lens and a flashgun or LED light panel. While I was testing the bag I carried my Canon 7D with attached 35mm f/2 lens along with an additional Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens, battery charger, spare battery and a Manfrotto LED light in this compartment and found that it all fitted in comfortably.
Dedicated Audio Compartment
The Dedicated Audio Compartment in the top of the bag is what really sets this apart from its ordinary camera backpack peers. It’s specifically designed to hold sound equipment typically carried by DSLR videographers, such as audio recorders, microphones and headphones. I managed to fit in all the essentials in this compartment for the video shoot that I took it to, including my RodeMic, headphones, audio recorder, Hama clip-on mic and a hard drive – as well as plenty of snacks!
Inside the Audio Compartment you’ll also find a Removable Custom Audio Utility Pouch, which is perfect for organising and keeping audio cables together. There is nothing worse than spending half a shoot untangling cables and this nifty accessory prevents that to save you precious time.
The DSLR Fastpack 150 AW backpack has a laptop pocket at the rear of the bag with enough room to accommodate a 13″ laptop. My Macbook fit rather snugly into that space and if I had one criticism I would say it could do with a little more padding in this particular compartment. You’ll also find a small pocket on the rear of the bag designed for holding any passes, which I found was also the perfect size for keeping a few business cards handy.
Storage on the side
As with many camera bags, this DSLR backpack also has a hideaway tripod or monopod mount on the side of the bag. Also placed on the side of the bag are two convenient adjustable straps from which you can hang a shoulder rig or Glidetrack. These straps are my favourite feature of this backpack and their inclusion in the bag design is what really makes this bag a practical choice for DSLR videographers.
The biggest issue I have with my current camera bag is the lack of storage on the outside of it. I’m always carrying my monopod and Glidetrack which means I can’t quickly grab my camera. The simple straps on the DSLR Video Fastpacks allow you the freedom to use both hands, which is essential when pull focussing or using a rig.
All Weather Protective Cover
Thankfully, protective covers are an increasingly common feature on many camera bags and the DSLR Video Fastpack range also boasts this useful add-on and I can’t sing its praises enough. There is nothing more worrying than the risk that your kit may get wet and the All Weather Cover gives you peace of mind.
If you’re just taking the essentials to a video shoot, the size of the 150 AW is perfect. If you need to carry a bit more kit (or larger gear), I’d recommend moving up to either the 250 AW or the 350 AW. Here’s a summary of the capacity for each bag in the DSLR Fastpack range:
|150 AW||250 AW
|Pro DSLR body||1 (without grip)||1 (without grip)||1|
|Max attached lens size||17-55mm f/2.8||24-70mm f/2.8||70-200mm f/2.8|
|Pro flash or LED light||1||1||1|
|Max laptop size||13″||15″||17″|
All bags in the DSLR Video Fastpack range also have capacity to carry a range of additional accessories, including headphones, microphone, audio transmitter/receiver set, voice recorder, sound mixer, cables & cords, tripod or DSLR video rig and extra accessories.
Comfort & size
It goes without saying that conventional camera backpacks are great for transporting and protecting your DSLR. But if you primarily use your DSLR for its video functionality and have all the gear that goes with it, you may be better off going for a bag that will cater for that.
As you’d expect from the smallest in the DSLR Video Fastpack family, the 150 AW wasn’t bulky at all and I found it really comfortable when it was loaded up and on my back. When shooting video in nightclubs or other busy spaces I often worry whether my equipment will be safe but the dividers and padding inside the 150 AW made it feel reassuringly robust and secure. The shoulder straps are well padded and comfortable too, while the waist belt stows away neatly when not in use. The design is discreet and does not scream “I’m a camera bag!” which is great when you’re sneaking around trying to capture those candid shots.
The 150 AW should easily be small enough to be taken onboard a plane as hand luggage although most likely without anything mounted on any of the side straps. As I found out on a trip to Sweden last year, tripods, monopods or Glidetracks are not permitted on board unless they are stored safely inside a bag, something you should bear in mind if you are planning to travel by plane.
My one concern with this bag is that when using it on location I had to keep taking it off. I am right-handed and the fast-access pocket seemed like it would work more easily for those who are left-handed, so it wasn’t as useful for me.
The Lowepro DSLR Video Fastpack 150 AW Backpack is a great bag to take out on day trips or video shoots when you only need to take the essentials. Its compact size means it’s great when shooting in restricted spaces and the side straps allow you a great deal of freedom when shooting as a lot of bulkier video equipment can hang from the bag. Its simple, modest design appeals to the practical videographer, yet remains sleek enough for the style conscious shooter. Most importantly, the protection provided by the padding and dividers make the bag feel secure and allows you to focus on the task at hand without worrying about your equipment.
|Build Quality||9/10||It’s hard to fault the build quality of a Lowepro bag|
|Design||8/10||Some unique design features that set it apart from conventional camera bags|
|Capacity||9/10||If you’re just taking the essentials, it is brilliant|
|Style||9/10||Tidy exterior with a professional finish, everything you’d expect from Lowepro|
Siobhan Fitt-Stirling is a member of the Wex Photographic team and is also our resident DSLR Video expert. She recently completed a degree in Visual Studies and works part-time as a Freelance Videographer. You can see more of her work on her website.