Before I get into my review of the ONA Astoria, here’s a short history of my experience and feelings towards camera bags. Up until a month ago, a camera bag has always been just a tool to me. I have airport bags, backpacks, and a few heavy duty messenger style bags that I rotate in and out depending on the job.
My bags served a purpose, to carry my gear, and like a construction worker, durability had always been my main concern. While most of them are great bags, they certainly aren’t much to look at.
While I never really cared about what my camera bag looked like, I also didn’t want to look like I was all business. I wanted my clients to be comfortable with me, to feel relaxed.
My clients are dressing to the nines, and I am giving them advice on how to look their best, so I at least wanted to look like I knew a little about fashion. While a lot of you reading this are either agreeing with me, or think I’m losing it, it’s a simple fact that you as the photographer represent your business from the moment your client sets their eyes on you.
Big bulky bags serve a purpose, but it was time for me to buy a bag that not only did that, but looked good.
I wanted a bag that I could wear during shoots instead of my spider belt system. I wanted a bag that was comfortable, but was also big enough to carry at least two camera/lens combos. I wanted a bag that I could take out shooting with me on the weekends when shooting personal work that didn’t make me look like a businessman carrying a briefcase to the office.
The ONA Astoria Camera Bag
ONA delivered on that package with its new ONA Astoria. Their largest messenger bag to date is designed to hold two full-frame cameras, a 13” laptop, as well as a number of other pockets. Its handcrafted water-resistant waxed canvas and full-grain leather accents come together nicely to give the ONA Astoria that traditional ONA look that adds that subtle taste of style.
It’s a leather camera bag that looks a little worn right out of the box, a little broken in. It’s a bag that does exactly what I want it to do, safely and securely carry my gear while also giving off the impression that I actually have a slight sense of style.
The ONA Astoria isn’t the first messenger style bag that I’ve owned, it’s just the first one that actually looks good. This is my first time reviewing a bag, but just like every review that I write, I wanted to spend some time with it and beat it up a little before giving my thoughts.
I’ve been shooting with the ONA Astoria at my side for a month now, and while I personally loved the look of it, I wasn’t really sure how well it would stack up against the durability and robustness of my other bags for me to keep it. Now a month later…I love it.
The new ONA Astoria messenger bag is made of waxed canvas that has a nicely broken in weathered look to it. I beat it up pretty good the first few shoots I brought it on, and while it held up perfectly, it also had enough padding and toughness to keep my gear safe.
It fits my 15″ Dell XPS laptop nicely without having it look like it’s holding a large laptop. It also fits two full-frame DSLR bodies each with a normal size lens on them. I also used it to carry my Mamiya RZ67 and packed all the extra pockets with film boxes and film backs.
It also has extra padded dividers that can be used to have it tightly hold individual lenses. Just like any other camera bags out there, you can set it up to hold the gear you need it to.
There’s only so much you can put in a bag review, but bottom line, I love the new ONA Astoria bag. For a photographer that has never shot with a bag at his side, I found it comfortable to shoot with, and it’s big enough to hold what I need to get through a full shoot, but extremely light weight to not weight me down.
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