Before I bought a Tamrac Evolution, I looked at shoulder bags. I have always considered Lowepro’s Reporter series of bags to be the benchmark for shoulder bags, but I wanted something slimmer. I also wanted something that zipped shut, so most messenger style bags like those by Vanguard, Tenba and Tamrac were out. Lowepro had released the Classified series and the only other real contenders were made by Naneu Pro and Think Tank Photo. by the time I was ready to make a choice, I opted for the Evolution, and have ditched shoulder bags for good. (I’m sure I will eat those words some day!) Then I saw a naneu Pro bag on ebay going dirt cheap, so I bought it just to see what it was like.
Naneu Pro’s Lima briefcase style bag is part of their Military Ops range of bags, which have a unique take on what a the camera bag. This bag is an early version of the bag, and looking at Naneu’s site, it looks like they’ve made a few improvements.
The bag is nice to look at. It’s a not quite olive drab colour, which I quite like, but also comes in black. It has 8 pockets. It has webbing straps all over it, double strap carry handle in a velcro wrap, 8 pockets, side attachment loops for pouches (these take Lowepro Street and Field pouches) 8 pockets and removable inserts. Oh, and did I mention it has 8 pockets.
Pockets are the order of the day, it was one of the things I loved about the reporter bag. Not only did it have loads of pockets, it had loads of the right pockets – pockets that were actually useful. The Lima is the same. Two large zip up pockets, one on the inside and one on the outside are great for notebooks, papers, and things like that. There are two mesh pockets inside the bag as well that are great for stashing body caps, lens caps, remote release chords, gum, memory cards, etc.
The real genius pocket is a large stash pocket on the front of the bag which has a magnetic fold-over opening. This is such a genius idea I can’t believe more manufacturers don’t use it. Finally there are two small stash pockets for caps and hoods fixed by press studs and velcro (not the easiest to use) and a packet for papers on the back that can be unzipped at the bottom and allows the bag to be slid over luggage carry handles.
It also has a compass. And it works. Sometimes!
Here I had to smile. The bag comes with a nice, well padded shoulder strap that looks almost identical to lowepro’s comfort strap. It’s a copy, but not as good as the original. Still, it’s a better strap than you’ll get on most shoulder bags these days, so kudos to Naneu for not skimping on that part.
The bag is a soft bag and molds nicely to you, which I really like. I found it comfy, but then I didn’t have a lot of gear in it when testing it out and I didn’t have it on for the whole day.
It’s a smallish bag, 9″ high, 14″ across and 5″ deep on the outside and the camera compartment measures in at 7.5″ high, 11.75″ across and 3.75″ deep. It won’t take any pro DSLR’s or DSLR’s with a battery pack and to be honest, it is a tight squeeze. I managed to get a camera body with standard lens, 35mm f1.8 and another lens. That’s about all I managed to fit in it. I could have replaced the second lens with a flashgun and batteries, but for the size of the bag, I would have liked to have squeezed a bit more in it.
The problem I found was the way the inserts were arranged. There are two inserts, one large enough for the camera and one for extras. The second insert is big enough for a single lens though. You won’t get much more in it. (It looks like Naneu have changed the inserts to a single one, so there’ll be a little bit more room for gear.)
ease of use
The main problem I found with the bag was that once my gear was in, it felt like a tight squeeze all around. It was difficult getting into the extra pockets and getting at my gear wasn’t easy, and this was a trend I found in using the bag. The main compartment has a single zip – easy enough, but to get at the zip, you need to undo a buckle, undo the velcro wrap to split the handle and then unzip, then undo the pull-strings on the inserts and then pull the camera out. Shoulder bags are supposed to be easy and quick to work out of. This one isn’t. Even with the handles split and buckles undone and everything open, it was still a struggle to get at the camera.
The thing I really began to hate about the bag though were the inserts. Made from a bright orange fuzzy felt material, the dividers don’t stick and put a camera body on them and they crumble. They were horrible and next to useless. Hopefully this is something Naneu have changes.
The Lima is a nice looking bag. It’s different. It doesn’t look like a camera bag. It’s tough and has lots of useful pockets. Those are the positives of the bag. in use, the bag sucks, and sadly, it doesn’t matter how good it looks, or how many pockets there are, if it is awkward to use, then it’s just no good as a camera bag. (With the inserts removed though, it does make a pretty good man-bag!)
To be honest, if you have a choice, spend the extra and buy the Lowepro Classified 160AW. I’ve played with the Classified 160 and really liked it. You get so much more bag for a little bit more money.