Review: Booq Python courier DSLR and iPad case
Booq has a pretty stellar reputation when it comes to making laptop bags, but I never really took notice of their camera bags until I saw their Python Courier bag ($179.99). So what caught my eye? Why, that shiny iPad-looking thing popping out of it of course!
Yes the Python courier bag seeks to set itself apart from the run-of-the-mill camera bags by adding a compartment for carrying your iPad around with you on shoots, something that is apparently more and more common in the world of photography. So, is it just a gimmick? Let’s find out.
First, let’s judge the Python on its merits as a DSLR bag. The large center compartment is quite roomy – large enough to hold a DSLR with an attached lens, and up to 4 additional lenses, if you happen to be one of those people with 5 lenses that I am jealous of. There is a removable cushioned divider inside the center section which keeps all your various lenses safe and cushioned from bumping into your camera. It’s really a very well thought-out system, and the fact that it is removable means you could conceivably use it to hold a netbook or other gadget when not serving as a camera bag. I say “Netbook” because Booq lists the maximum laptop size as “10×7.5x.5″ which is I think even smaller than the 11″ MacBook Air. But maybe you can throw a Kindle in there.
There is a front compartment with a couple pockets for flash cards and chargers and such in, and there is also the baffling inclusion of a built-in key ring. I see this ring in a lot of bags and for the life of me I can’t imagine anyone has ever used it. But it’s there.
The bag is a bit heavier than the camera bag I had been
cramming carrying my Canon 50D around in, but then again, that bag was designed to hold a much smaller camera, and had hardly any padding to speak of. I’m lucky my camera survived long enough to make it into the Booq, quite frankly. The Python is definitely overkill if you are just a pro-sumer who bought an expensive DSLR but haven’t invested the time or money in mastering additional lenses – if that’s you you may want to look at Booq’s other Pyton bags like their Toploader. To help ease the burden of the extra weight, the Python has a very nice shoulder strap with ample cushioning, and a recent trip around Washington DC wasn’t overly taxing (although as I mentioned, if I owned 3 more lenses, carrying the bag for 8 hours may have been a different story).
So as far as succeeding on the “camera bag” front, the Python knocks it out of the park. But what about that whole iPad thing? Well, I must say I’m a bit mixed on that. Honestly the iPad compartment feels like a magazine holder that someone realized an iPad could fit in. There is a zippered rear section of the bag which does indeed comfortably fit an iPad. However, there is really not a whole lot of padding on the outside side of the iPad compartment. So if you DO plan to use the Python to carry your iPad, I would suggest placing it in with the screen side facing inwards, where there is some cushioning. Now, to be fair, for your iPad to get hurt you would probably need to throw the Python a fair distance and have it land iPad-side down on a rock or something, or have some other one-in-a-million accident – like a bicyclist smashing into you while you’re trying to snap a picture of a hot girl in the park without her knowing you are taking her picture by having your friend stand sort of near her so it doesn’t look too obvious. Or something like that. I guess what I am saying is the thickness of the bag’s multi-layer exterior should be enough to stop any type of normal scratch or bump, but there is not a nice gushy cushioning, as there is in the center compartment for your camera. Of course, if you already have a decent case for your iPad, you can feel slightly more secure.
The Python Courier bag by Booq is a top notch, but not cheap, camera bag, ideal for protecting your DSLR and up to 5 lenses. The style, size and weight of the bag belie the superior level of protection the bag provides. As for the iPad-specific compartment, while I’m sure it will protect your iPad from 99% of the daily bumps and bruises, from a psychological perspective I felt I wanted to feel a little extra “gush” in that compartment. While it might be a tad larger than necessary for the “prosumer” who doesn’t have multiple lenses to lug around, for the professional photographer who needs to also carry around an iPad to show clients on-site proofs in addition to his gear, the Python is a great choice. Just try not think about that saying of having all your eggs in one basket.
Pros: Nice design, great protection for DSLR and lenses, iPad compartment is handy
Cons: Outside of iPad compartment could use a little more padding (if only for peace of mind), a little bigger than most pro-sumers will need, a bit on the pricey side.