It goes without saying as photographers we prefer gear to be highly attractive in both form and function. Usually taking a hit in one department or the other due in part by price or depth in features, it's never a flawless combination. These two things for many companies is difficult as they balance high-end product design with outstanding thought in function all while fitting it inside an appropriate price point. Enter the perfect blend of both with the Union Street Camera Bag by ONA. It's not just another accessory in the world of camera gear, but rather a perfect pairing of design and functionality that I can truly stand behind and wear with distinction.
Having used this bag every day for the last few months it truly has become my favorite, even replacing my previous go-to choice of an old Incase Sling Pack I had for years. Though that bag was great for on the go, it wasn't quite fitting for my particular style and didn't speak to my true creative background. As I push further in my career and begin to bring in clients of a higher standard, I decided I wanted an everyday bag that could speak more to that naturally without being too over the top or too low-end. Yes, this bag has a steep price tag but with it comes incredible hand craftsmanship you don't find often with any other bag, let alone a camera bag.
The bag is made of a handcrafted, naturally-milled Italian leather with a pristine nod to the modern day photographer. When I first received the bag, I had doubts about its overall feel as it was stiff to the touch. Though with just a couple weeks, the leather began to form and stretch to my daily tasks. It's a messenger bag with a large over-the-top flap with leather straps and antique brass tuck-clasps which took some getting used to, but are super easy to open and then lock closed. With time, the leather begins to feel smoother and more pliable to get in and out of both the bag's primary and secondary compartments.
On the outside you have a few pouches for storage, two on either side horizontally which are tighter but can hold batteries, cables, or pens (these get slightly easier to get in and out of with use). On the back is a larger pocket with a magnetized closure built into the leather that can hold a sketchbook or paperwork. Just above the back pocket is a folded leather handle that acts as another option for carrying, almost like a briefcase, but with it situated in the back it can make the bag front-heavy when filled with lots of gear.
The interior offers plenty of space for photographers' essentials and then some. While the leather exterior will develop a rich character with time and age, I do warn you it takes time to see this weathered look. The Leather Union Street is designed to carry a 15-inch laptop, a camera, up to four lenses, and small personal items. A zippered front organizer pocket provides additional space for small accessories like cords, headphones, and more.
I personally keep a small outfit with me while shooting, usually carrying a camera body and two lenses. In this case I was able to fit a Canon 5D Mark III with an attached 50mm L, a 24-70mm L, and a 40mm pancake lens. On top of that I always carry a film option with my 1950s Ikon Zeiss rangefinder. The additional pockets on the side, back, and inside front zipper hold batteries, cables, SD cards, pens, and basic accessories.
One fantastic feature of this bag is its versatility. The inside is lined with a thick protective microfiber padding with removable compartment pieces. That means each piece you see inside the bag can be removed and placed in any order to fit your specific gear. Even the laptop sleeve can be removed to make more room for those not wanting to bring along a larger computer for shorter, more intimate shoots. These small details make or break a great camera bag for me and it's a nice touch to see its true potential to mold to any photographer's gear preference so easily.
One of the best details found in the bag is in the front zipper pouch. To the right you can see four slots perfect for storing SD or CF cards which can easily be accessible while out on a photo shoot. At first these slots were incredibly difficult to get in and out of to grab the cards, possibly because the size of the SD card's overall height. Though with time this became much easier as the bag began to wear in.
Visualized above you can see the majority of the gear I carry on a daily basis and am able to store in the bag comfortably.
What I liked:
- Absolutely gorgeous leather look and feel
- Wears well with time and use
- Beautiful look and style for more than just a camera bag
- Perfect combination of form and function
- Wide array of pockets and storage options
- Customizable inserts help with many gear options
What could use improvement:
- Price (Currently at $489 it could be slightly less to attract a larger audience)
- Shoulder strap lacked padding for longer days of use
- Side pockets are somewhat difficult to get to in comparison to the rest of the bag
Overall the Union Street Camera Bag by ONA is by far one of the best camera bags, or any bag, I have ever used. Its simplicity and pure focus on the everyday photographer is on point with the high-end gear market. Beautifully unique, but not obvious it's holding thousands of dollars worth of camera gear, it's sure to catch some creative eyes. I would highly recommend this bag or any of ONA's styled bags for someone looking to add a bit more style to their daily routine.
Special thanks to the one and only Roberts Camera here in town for allowing me to borrow and use various Canon gear to test in and out of the bag over the last few months! It gave me the freedom to play with my minimal gear set paired with using top-of-the-line equipment that most shooters will relate to using.