Product Type: Lowepro Camera Case
Newest Review: ... that divide your bag into sections on the inside. To fit my large camera in I had to remove all of these. Even when I did I realised tha... more
LowePro Altus Fails To Scale the Heights
Lowepro Altus 140 Shoulder Bag for DSLR
Member Name: Hishyeness
Lowepro Altus 140 Shoulder Bag for DSLR
Advantages: Good storage and build quality.
Disadvantages: The top handle has a notable design flaw.
BAGGING A BAG
I recently celebrated my 40th birthday by treating myself to a new Nikon DSLR camera. Having made this significant investment, I needed a way to store and carry the body, lenses, extra battery, memory cards and various other bits and pieces that make up an amateur snapper's camera kit.
Although I buy most things on-line, internet shopping does have its limitations. There is no substitute for actually getting your hands on certain products before you buy them. My DSLR was no exception, and I spent a fair bit of time in Jessops getting a good feel for it before actually ordering it from Amazon for a substantial saving.
Seeing no reason to change this successful formula, I visited a number of local camera shops and looked at a bewildering array of bags before settling on what looked like a fair compromise between quality, size and price. Sure enough, when I finally settled on purchasing the Lowepro Altus 140 shoulder bag, I managed to find it for a whopping £20 less on-line than in the shops.
EXTERNAL LOOK & FEEL
The Lowepro Altus 140 is a roughly square shaped camera bag measuring approximately 8in (H) x 8in (W) x 5in (D) with a top-opening hinged flap secured by an adjustable clip. The exterior material is a rough, robust matt black polyester that I have often seen described as Cordura. There is a padded handle on top of the lid, plus a lengthy, fully adjustable shoulder strap with a shoulder pad that has a slightly rubberised underside for better grip. The shoulder strap is attached to the bag via two hefty and well anchored clips, and can easily be detached if you decide not to use it.
A pair of generously sized belt loops completes the trio of carrying options, although to be fair, once fully loaded, I can't see how wearing this bag on a belt around the waist could be remotely practical. The bag is well constructed and well padded with tidy stitching and excellent finishing, giving it a high quality feel. My only minor criticism would be the absence of rubber or hard plastic pads on the bottom, which would stop the bag from picking up dirt or moisture when placed on the ground.
INTERIOR & STORAGE
The interior is made of a soft, padded grey material advertised as a "tricot lining". Inside the main compartment, you will find two fully adjustable Velcro partitions, which help separate the main camera body and lens from any other accessories you plan to keep in it. One of the partitions completely encloses a compartment which is accessible from the outside of the bag by zipper, and is intended to house a second lens. The other, which is not externally accessible, is suitable for extra batteries, lens caps, or perhaps an externally mounted flash (which I don't have).
There are two further storage areas. The first is under the main flap, in the form of an expandable pocket which runs the height and width of the bag, and the second is a zippered pocket with two smaller Velcro secured storage pockets inside, one of which is helpfully illustrated with a picture of a memory card. The various storage options provide plenty of space for the amateur photographer, but I came to realise quite quickly after buying it that it will also be very easy to outgrow.
OUT & ABOUT
This bag has been my constant companion since I bought my camera in early April, and served me well during my recent trip to Armenia. Safely slung across my body and over my shoulder, it was equally at home on the broad boulevards of the capital city of Yerevan, as it was bouncing around as I scrambled into and out of ruins, caves and mountain paths in the wild Armenian countryside. The padding for the shoulder - which is threaded through the strap - is generous, very comfortable and secure. In short, the bag proved itself a hardy and versatile performer, and, after ten days of intense use, I quickly learned its strengths and, unfortunately, some of its limitations.
The first issue is storage space. I have two lenses for my DSLR. The 18mm to 55m kit lens, which, when reduced to its smallest size, is about 4 inches long. The second is a 55mm to 200mm zoom lens, with detachable hood, which is about 5 inches long at its smallest. As most photographers will realise, for general use and landscapes, the smaller lens is probably the more versatile.
The problem is, the bigger lens does not fit in the specialised side pocket reserved for it, which means that it has to be attached to the camera for the lens and the camera body to be stowed neatly in the bag. Since I use the smaller lens more frequently - which does fit - neatly and safely, into the side pocket - I have to change the lens more often, and every time you do that outdoors, you risk dust and dirt getting into the guts of your camera. I have managed to put up with this inconvenience so far, but it's a point to keep in mind before buying any camera bag. In my case, I hadn't purchased my zoom lens before looking for a bag.
The second issue is the top opening hinged lid. On a minor note, you need to make sure that the outside flaps of the lid actually tuck over the sides of the bag to prevent anything falling out or dirt getting in. However, the bigger problem is that it is incredibly easy to forget that the flap is not secured by the locking clip and pick up the bag from the carry handle which is anchored to the centre of the lid. I have, on two occasions, almost deposited the entire £800 contents of the bag onto the pavement by accident. This issue could have easily been avoided by anchoring the handle to a more stable point.
The bag is robustly constructed with well thought-through storage (the lens issue is mostly my fault) however, given that it's main purpose to protect its expensive contents from harm, the issue with the lid is, in my view, a major design flaw. However, depending on how conscientious you are about closing the lid, the reduced price of £14.99 from Amazon.co.uk may still represent good value. As for me, it'll do for now, but as soon as I add another bit of kit (flash, another lens etc.) I will be looking for a replacement.
© Hishyeness 2010
Summary: Could be designed better, but still good value at £15.