Review: Lowepro Urban Reporter 250

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Lowepro’s latest line of shoulder bags are geared towards street photography but that doesn’t mean it’s only made for that purpose; what they (they of course being the designers at Lowepro) wanted to create a series of bags that were low-profile, comfortable, and able to carry all the gear one would need for journalism photography. Available in three distinct sizes (150/250/350), the Urban Reporter should appeal to multiple types of photographers; is it a bag for you? Read on to hear our thoughts about this bag.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Solid construction and quality materials
  • Pretty impressive carrying capacity
  • Removable insert increases flexibility of the bag

Cons

  • Snap closures aren’t going appeal to everyone
  • Despite the size of the bag, it isn’t suited to carry pro-sized bodies (ie: Canon 1Dx / Nikon D4) w/ lenses attached
  • No “all-weather” covering like some other companies provide

 Gear Used

Features

Copied from B&H Photo’s Product Page

  • Discreet styling and classic looks create an understated bag for every-day use.
  • Designed for maximum comfort with angled strap design and leather grab handle
  • Removable Camera Insert
  • Touch-Fastened Side Pockets
  • Zippered Pouch with Organizer
  • Water-Repellent Coating on Fabric
  • Detachable Grip Handle
  • Back Pocket Becomes Trolley Strap
Material Twilled polyester with durable water-repellent coating and leather accents
Type of Closure Messenger: leather snap-buckles
Camera insert: touch-fasteners
Interior Dimensions Camera insert: 13.4 x 3.9 x 9.6″ / 34.0 x 10.0 x 24.5 cm
Tripod Holder No
Carrying/Transport Options Shoulder strap with comfort pad, detachable padded grip handle
Weight 2.6 lb / 1.2 kg

Fits:

  • DSLR & attached 24-70mm f2.8 lens
  • 2-3 extra lenses (up to 70-200mm f2.8)
  • 13″ laptop, Accessories & Small personal items

Ergonomics

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The Urban Reporter line is pretty “non-descript” on the outside, which in my book is a good thing. You don’t necessarily want to advertise that you’re hauling around thousands of dollars in expensive camera equipment, but thankfully they’ve also at least made it contemporary and stylish enough to appeal to all of you fashion-concious photographers out there.

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A nice touch in the design was these angled strap loops which keep the bag comfortably at your side. They’re all metal as well so they will be really durable and not bend under heavy use.

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Matching side pockets with snap closures can actually carry a lot of small things. I keep my battery pouch in there (5 DSLR batteries) which means I can access them quickly when my battery dies on me.

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The shoulder pad on the strap is attached by velcro and is removable, I find that it’s comfortable enough with a light load, but when you really pack this bag full of gear it definitely feels heavy on your shoulder.

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The rear pocket is open and has no permanent closure, it’s perfect for documents, magazines or folders with paperwork for your shoot. The bottom of this pocket will also zip open creating a pass through so you can carry this bag easily on wheeled luggage.

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The main compartment closes with two small snaps on leather tabs. They are pretty secure and haven’t ever popped open on me, but I don’t find it as quick to manipulate as simply opening a flap with velcro. Though it can definitely be said that this option is most definitely quieter.

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Inside the main compartment you will find the gear pouch where you’re going to put all your things (which is removable completely, thus transforming the bag into a normal messenger shoulder bag). The dividers are plentiful allowing for numerous configurations depending on what you want to carry, and the bag is actually pretty deep so you can carry those big zooms around with you.

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You can see that with the gear removed there is a lot of space, and you can also see that I have dividers along the lower third of the bag which allow me to carry even more stuff underneath the lenses!

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Behind the main pouch there is a lightly padded sleeve which is meant for a tablet or small notebook computer. It works easily with an iPad (or similar sized tablet) and you can see that the 13″ Macbook Air fits quite comfortably as well.

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Lastly the front zippered pocket is where you can keep all your smaller items (memory cards, notebooks, pens, wallet, keys, etc. etc.) I always appreciate organizer pockets like this because I can keep stuff out of my pants pockets and easily accessible in the bag. It’s just a well thought out design.

Build Quality

Lowepro has been around for over 40 years now making camera bags, and in that time they have learned a thing or two about how to make bags that last. That’s not to say that all of their designs are perfect, but in all the variations of designs I have seen them produce over the years, I’d have to say this bag is probably one of my favorites. It’s built quite nicely and the fabric used is soft to the touch. The construction itself leaves no loose threads and in the month+ I have been dragging this bag around, I have yet to see any rips, tears or visual blemishes form anywhere on the bag. Only time will tell how durable it is, but I’m not particularly ginger with my camera bags and if they hold up from my usage, they’ll likely hold up for yours.

In Use

When you open up the Lowepro Urban Reporter you will find a velcro covered removable insert which is where you will be storing the equipment you choose to carry. The dividers can be positioned pretty much any way you like to accommodate a variety of equipment. In addition to the kit mentioned above it could alternatively carry a very extensive mirrorless camera kit. I’ve become quite used to camera bags that close via velcro and this one does things a little differently with two leather snaps that close over metal rings. It does however allow for nearly silent opening / closing of the bag which is good for quiet environments. I am able to carry my “typical” kit in the bag quite easily, including an iPad or 13″ Macbook Air, but when it’s fully loaded, it’s quite a bit of weight on your shoulder; that is to say, it does not go unnoticed. When I am out shooting with the bag over my shoulder I began to really appreciate its overall design; I could leave one of the snap closures undone and it was easy to quickly grab a lens to swap from the bag without having to leave it open the entire time. I find that it’s little things like this that make or break the usability and functionality of a camera bag.

Conclusions

Overall, in use, the Urban Reporter bag is comfortable bag to work out of when you’re shooting on the street or documenting events, I find that given its size I want to carry more than I need to and that ultimately means a heavier bag to carry. Though with a little bit of self-restraint, that shouldn’t be a problem. I was really pleased with the bag in general, because its design allows for quick access to your equipment and an efficient use of space granting you the ability to carry a lot of kit if you really need to. If you’re looking for a low-profile but stylish messenger bag that can carry your kit + a tablet or small laptop then this is a really viable option, and at $139 it’s not the most expensive bag that I’ve seen around. You can pick one up for yourself from Amazon.

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