Selecting a camera bag can be difficult. I've purchased and sold many camera bags over the years for one reason or another; too small, too big, too unwieldy, lacking a key feature that I need, etc. but the SS 200 is one bag I'll keep until it wears out. I've owned the SS 200 now for over a year and have taken it on several international trips where it performed beautifully. this bag is excellent for both casual and serious/professional photographers.
I currently own several bags, including photo backpacks, two sizes of the Lowepro sling bags (Slingshot 200 reviewed here and the new 300 - limited, if any, public availability at this point), a Crumpler shoulder bag, and other types of camera bags from different manufacturers, all in varying sizes. I'm also familiar with all the "high end" bag manufacturers such as ThinkTank, Kinesis, et. al. and all the alternative systems such as waist belts, vests, etc. It's important to remember that most photographers will need more than one bag depending on what they're shooting that day and the one thing I can say is that in an imperfect world of compromises, this is the closest I've come to being satisfied with a single bag.
I'm a long time Canon user so I'll use Canon equipment as a reference and you can check the size of your camera/lenses for fit against these comments. Those using Nikon and other manufactures can do the same. All sizes, weights, dimensions for your brand can easily be found on the web. OK, so here's what I like about this bag.....
1) It holds a compact to large SLR comfortably though my larger cameras (1 series film and digital cameras) with an extended battery grip are a tight fit. For traveling I use a smaller digital camera (5d) with or without a grip, but a 1....6x crop body such as a 20d/30d, 300d/XT/XTi will fit very easily and this is the camera size I recommend for this bag. Nikon D200/D70/80, Sony, Olympus, Pentax will have no trouble at all
2) It's very comfortable; the strap crosses your chest diagonally, is well padded, and there's an extra strap that can be/usually is stored in the bottom of the bag that you can pull out for extra support. I've carried this bag for 10-12 hours a day for 10 days without complaint. I did use the extra strap when I was walking more than shooting and it helped quite a bit. Note: There's a comment below from a woman that wasn't satisfied with the fit, but for men this simply isn't a problem. Sorry to all the women out there, but depending on your bust size it may or may not be an issue so I'd check the fit at your local store.
3) It's very easy to gain access to your gear. Actually this is the easiest bag I've used, bar none. It eliminates the "back pack" syndrome of having to remove the pack to remove your gear, it doesn't force all the weight on one shoulder like a shoulder bag (the weight is more evenly distributed across your chest and back, and it provides the room most serious photographers need for casual shooting and beyond. Since the bag opens "away" from you when it's in the chest position, it's easy to reach in and grab things, and there are two safety buckles that prevent the bag from opening too much and spilling the contents.
4) There's adequate storage space for extra batteries, filters (Circular Polarizers and/or macro filters like a 500d), lens hoods, an external flash, remote controls, small flash lights, bubble levels, neck/wrist straps, even the manuals will fit if you want to take them with you. In short, you can store what you need as long as you keep the lens size reasonable. If you have a small, light weight tripod and you're clever, you can even work it out so you can carry it on the front of the bag. Beginning photographers with fewer/smaller lenses will find this bag more than adequate. Careful though, you may want to overload it and make it heavy; it's not hard to do!
What body lens combinations can you store? I suggest no more than 1 body and 3-4 lenses with flash and other gear. I have built an extensive lens collection over the years, but if I'm on a personal trip, I like to carry a 3 lens solution using a 16-35L, 24-70L or a 24-105L, and the 70-300 DO, plus a small 220ex flash. Your collection will be different so what is a "reasonable" lens size for this bag? It may be easier to list what isn't reasonable, but I'll give both examples.
Unreasonable: Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS or non-IS (note: I think the f/4 versions are borderline, but I'd pass), 100-400L, 300 f/4, 400 f/5.6, etc. I think you get the point, but the lenses I listed and larger should be avoided. This goes for Nikon equivalents too. I've squished a 100-400L in there, but it has to go on an angle, the bag can't be easily set up so it's attached to the camera, and in my opinion is more trouble than it's worth. Don't do it, buy the larger SS 300 instead when it's available to the public (early 2007).
Reasonable lenses: Everything else. All EF-S lenses designed for Canon 1.6x crop bodies (e.g. 10-22, 60 macro, 17-55/17-85 IS) The 200mm f/2.8L may be OK, but all prime lenses from 135L down (85mm, 50mm, 35mm, 24mm, etc. in both L and non-L flavors will be fine. All the TS-E lenses (24L, 45mm, and 90mm), all versions of the 70-300 (DO, non-DO). All other wide angle to mild telephoto zoom lenses are reasonable, with the exceptions noted above. Popular full frame (non EF-S) zooms will fit, including the 16-35L, 17-40L, 24-105L, 24-70L, etc.).
I think this is one of the most popular bags Lowepro has produced and there's a good reason; namely, it's a very useful bag. I hope this review has a little something for everyone here and it helps make your decision easier. Good luck.Read more ›
This is the best photo bag I've ever used for general purpose. It's full of features for a digital photographer. I shoot with a Canon 20D (with the grip attached), and have no problem fitting the camera into the bag even with my EF 24-70 f/2.8L attached (hood reversed). I can also squeeze in my 70-200 f/4L with a little creativity. In addition, I can carry two primes in the second lens pocket. The two external pockets are very generous. One has a mesh pocket, the other a small organizer for pens and a pad. In the top, I tend to squeeze the shooting essentials (430EX flash, cable release, polarizers, ND filters, lens cleaning stuff, and batteries or just a raincoat for iffy days) and tend to use the front pocket for random stuff I pick up while out shooting. Flashcards fit nicely into a built in card carrier (fits four in plastic cases). The "sling" system is very easy to use (and confortable) and the all-weather cover is terrific (stores away inside a small compartment at the base of the bag). The all-weather cover can stand up to the worst conditions; I've used it in a torrential downpour while walking across Nicaragua. Everything stayed dry. All in all, this bag is fabulous. If you use a vertical grip or a pro-SLR, you've gotta go with the 200, though. The 100 is just too small for my camera body and lenses. I also encourage you to pick up some lowepro sliplock attachments that can fit to the outside of the bag. With one or two, you can pretty much carry anything you could ever need for a day of shooting.
I got this bag as a gift, and after getting used to it, I absolutely love it. It is a little smaller than my Micro Trekker 200, so it didn't hold all my equipment--I had to take out my second SLR body, but after some creative fitting, it holds my EOS 10D with 28-105mm lens attached, my 100-300mm L series lens, a 17-35mm wide angle lens, 420EX flash, as well as an assortment of extension tubes, tele-extender, filters, etc. The nicest feature of the bag is that you can swing it from your back to your front and open the side of it to pull your camera out. Everything in your bag is accessible without removing your backpack. It is equipped with the digital photographer in mind, with a pocket for memory cards and a protective cloth for the LCD panel on the back of your SLR.
The one drawback is that it's narrow. I wanted to set it up so that I could put my Canon 10D attached to my Canon EF 100-300mm L lens, and it was an extremely tight fit. Nevertheless, I find it a great backpack.
I've had this bag for several months now. I used it to hike Yosemite and found myself adjusting the straps several different times along the way. At one point it would be too tight, then too loose. Not sure it would be my favorite bag for a long hike again.
I would absolutely recommend the 200 vs 100 if you have a digital SLR with more than two lenses. If you have a compact camera or only one or two lenses, then the 100 would be fine.
I agree with another reviewer who mentioned that it is a "difficult" fit for females. The chest strap falls right between the breasts, and could be very unflattering (and uncomfortable) for anyone with more than an average bustline.
Which size to buy? I purchased both the Slingshot 200 and 300. I was concerned that there would not be sufficient room in the Slingshot 200 for my Nikon D200 with a 18-200 lens and lens hood mounted, so I purchased the Slingshot 300 first. When I dropped my camera setup into the Slingshoot 300 it was apparent that this bag was designed for bigger gear than I was carrying. I purchased the Slingshot 200 and my D200 with lens and hood fit nicely with plenty of rooms for extras like a normal and wide angle lenses and a flash.
There is also a difference in how the Slingshoot 200 and 300 are secured to your back. Both have the diagonal shoulder strap. The Slingshot 200 has a second strap that is attached to the bag near my right hip and clips into the shoulder strap around mid chest. This provides enough addtional stability to keep the bag in place while actively moving about. The Slingshot 300 has a more traditional hip belt as the additional stability method. As someone else stated, if you have put a fairly heavy load in your bag, the hip belt is effective at carrying the weight.
Overall both the Slingshots are great bags. The size difference and the stabilty straps are the only appreciable difference between them. I used my Slingshot 200 all weekend long while skiing. It was very comfortable, easily accessible, and not cumbersome at all. I think the Slingshot 300 would have been a little bit of a challenge to carry given its size, for example getting on the chairlift I would have had to swing it around to the front.
Great camera bags that I am sure I will enjoy for many years.