The new range comes in a variety of sizes depending on the equipment and lenses you use. If you are going to be shooting for ENG, or know you will need fast access to your camera and lens kit then the Holster range may be for you, or if you're looking for a perma-home for a vast range of bodies, lenses and accessories then a Roller Bag or Backpack will be for you.
I got a great surprise through the post a couple of weeks ago, it was the Backpack50, which I have been using out on photo and video shoots, testing it to the extreme in a wide range of shooting situations such as weddings, on location video and corporate events.
First things first, as you can see the bag is BIG! Not too big that it is laborious to carry around, as the support straps provide great comfort for a fully packed bag. Having a bigger bag eliminates the need to bring extra sling bags if you take laptops and tablets on shoots, as there two separate zip pockets for both, and also allows me (predominantly shooting video) to keep all of my essentials in one place. For example, the bag is currently full with my kit needed for a shoot for Tesco on Friday, so a 7" HD field monitor, clamps, Rode VideoMic, 2x DSLR bodies and 6 lenses sit snugly in the protective separators. I have all I need in one convenient place, a perfect solution especially as I am a SINGLE shooter.
Overview of the Backpack50's features:
Unlike other camera bags which open from the side or the back, the Backpack50 opens from the top, which allowed me to quickly grab my camera (with lens attached) almost immediately with ease. If you've got the waist support done up then this is even quicker as you can swing the bag from your back to front and grab the camera that way. The other handy feature of this is that you can have a telephoto lens attached to the camera and still take it out with ease, as the support pads can be customized to fit your individual kit needs.
Here you can see the bag open, the top flap unzips all the way down revealing many side pockets, 3 zip pockets on the flap (which I use for little bits that I can grab quickly such as batteries, SD cards, hot shoe adapters etc). There is even a protected zip pocket for a tablet if you have one too!
The capacity of the Backpack50 is fantastic! As I mentioned before I filled it up with various accessories for shooting video, but it will comfortably hold a large DSLR body and telephoto lens attached in the middle section, up to 8 standard lenses in the side sections, as well as two ideally large and deep side pockets. These would be great for clamps and arms, but I use mine for my microphone and a little tool box for emergencies!
A small but memorable Manfrotto logo on the main flap of the bag, the branding is not in your face which keeps the bag discrete.
With a fully packed bag (including a laptop, EVF) it is heavy as you would expect, however the inclusion of a very comfortable, padded waist strap distributes the weight evenly through the body, rather than putting the pressure on your shoulders, reducing fatigue, and it was a welcome relief for me to see too! All the straps are padded, and are very heavy duty for a camera bag which is fantastic when shooting in rugged and fast paced environments, or for a very long time.
The Backpack50 also includes a waterproof cover, essential for protecting your beloved kit in times of heavy downpour, however it would have been better to see this built into the bag rather than a separate part, as this reduces the risk of forgetting it!! It also has a side strap for tripods which is a welcoming sight. Previously I used a Lowepro bag and simply strapped my Manfrotto 055B tripod and 701 head to the main straps, which is heavy and also puts lots of strain on the bags fastenings (i don't recommend this). The external strap loops through a heavy duty fabricated patch on the side of the bag, and the strap can be secured around the head of the tripod. It is quick release too, so you can get the tripod off the bag and set up quickly. A great improvement.
Overall, I am delighted with Manfrotto's new Backpack50 as it caters for the pro photographer AND videographer, protecting our livelihood (equipment) with fantastically engineered bag sections, as well as providing flexibility when out shooting which many backpacks restrict due to their bulky and un-ergonomic design. Manfrotto have overcome this by designing a bag with the pro in mind, and have produced a very successful and ergonomic addition to the growing kit list of photographers and videographers alike.
Check out the new range on Manfrotto's website here - http://www.manfrotto.co.uk/collection/8615.1065.17520.0.0/Professional