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Review: F-Stop Bandon Millar Camera Bag

by Peter West Carey on 07/30/2012

With a nod to leather canvas photo bags of old, the F-stop Bandon Millar has one main intent: carry your camera gear in style. The bag is made from a slightly different style of nylon than the typical ripstop version seen on an average camera bag (with its average camera bag look) and includes genuine leather accents to add class. Weighing in at under two pounds with customizable inserts, this shoulder bag is targeted at customers who appreciate quality and style while keeping their camera safe.

Tech Specifications

  • Dimensions (inches): 4.3 Depth x 14.5 Width x 9.5 Tall
  • Weight: 1.71lbs
  • Poly Spun (20 x20) 20, Nylon 210D, Abrasion Resistant Nylon Webbing, Foam, YKK Components, Genuine leather
  • 2 side release YKK buckles secure main flap
  • Nylon webbing
  • Leather details
  • Padded shoulder strap
  • Colors: Silver Sage, Midnight Navy, Olive Green

Build

The Bandon seems simply at first glance but has a number of useful pockets. Lifting the dust/rain cover, held fast with two YKK buckles, reveals the interior compartment to hold camera gear. The bag is sized for smaller DSLR cameras and a lens and flash, more or less. It is deep enough to fit most cameras on side, making for easy removal without a lot of fumbling around. I was able to fit a Sigma SD-1 Merrill with Sigma 24-70mm lens, Canon 10-22mm lens (as a place holder) and Digital Foci Picture Porter 35 in the main compartment with no trouble. The compartment is closed with a zipper and has buttons on either end to help keep it closed. It is by no means water or dust proof, but it keeps out unwanted elements. Internally, it measures 12” wide by 7” tall by 4” wide.

The whole interior padded space is actually an insert which may be removed to allow other use of the space. This versatility comes in handy when wanting to leave camera gear behind in a hotel safe and do some souvenir shopping or to be used as a quick gym bag. I value versatility in my equipment and this bag delivers in that regard.

The front pockets of the bag can easily hold a filter or two, but not much more. You may notice from the image they are gusseted only in the middle, which makes for a tight fit for two filters, but also helps the bag hold stylish form when closed. Between them is a pen holder, a simple addition but a thoughtful one. Between the front pockets and the main storage section is a pouch with interior dimensions of 12” wide by 7” high, perfect for a tablet.

On the backside of the bag is another sleeve, this one 12” wide by 7.5” deep. It also worked for a tablet but with a little less protection. Otherwise, a pad of paper can be placed here but will stick out. The over-flap also has a zipper, complete with leather pull, to allow for snacks or pliable items as it will curve around the top of the bag when closed. Lastly, there is a padded shoulder strap that is fairly typical of any shoulder bag.

In Real Life

I used this bag on a number of local trips as well as one flight from Seattle to LA for a week long trip. What annoyed me most about the bag is what makes it most stylish; the internal zipper. That zipper can get in the way at times until I figured out I can tuck it away behind the padded insert if so desired. This way I didn’t have to give up the stylishness just for quicker access to my gear.

What I liked about this bag was what it was not. It does not scream, “CAMERA BAG!” although the width might hint to that. It comes in three colors and they are all muted, which means they handle dirt well. It is simple, versatile and comfortable, whether worn along side or slung around to my back.

With the zipper out of the way, the bag makes for easy access and the amount of accessory pouches works well for a day trip or even slightly longer. There are no dedicated flash card pouches (maybe they can sew them into the underside of the flap?), but that is my only gripe with organization. I fit pads, filters and snacks in this bag to make it an easy “grab bag” for smaller cameras. And while the back sleeve only measures 7.5” to the Velcro closure, a full sized sheet of letter sized paper can fit inside without use of the Velcro.

Is This Bag For You?

This bag has a specific market. While f-stop makes some high-end bags for serious photographers, this bag is intended for a more relaxed crowd who doesn’t have a large budget. It is meant to be stylish and not your average camera bag. If you have just about any size DSLR (without battery grip) or smaller, this bag will fit your gear nicely. If you want a bag that can also convert to carry anything you my need (that is less than 12”x7”x4”), this is also the bag for you.

Conclusion

The f-stop Bandon Millar is a bag built to be different. It won’t suit just anyone and certainly won’t hold a full-sized DSLR and gear needed for a day of professional shooting. But it will look good hiking a trail or cruising the Pacific Coast Highway or even dodging traffic in the city. It is rugged and well stitched, arriving with a 45 day satisfaction guaranteed and a 20 year warranty.

And 20 years from now, I think this bag will still look good transporting the latest camera gear.

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