Gear Update – I love my Boda Bag!

Here’s a quick gear update. I’m posting this because it was the topic of a lot of discussion during the workshop I taught last month and it’s always a topic whenever a bunch of photographers get together. Let me first say that I paid for the Boda bag I’m about to talk about. I got it at Photoshop World Orlando, so I got a show discount but I still paid for it just like everyone else. My review is based totally on the way I really feel about the bag.

The Back StoryI’ve been wanting a bag for a while now. I first saw the Boda bag being used by (the critically acclaimed) Jeff Revell from Photowalk Pro ;) My travel system is pretty good. I use a smaller Tamrac Expedition backpack and it holds what I need it to hold while I’m traveling. Plus it frees up my hands while getting things out of the car, going through airport security or just walking somewhere with other things in my hands. The problem I’ve had with it is that it’s not that great for shooting. Why? Because it’s on my back. If you ever want to changes lenses or grab something from the bag you’ve got take it off your back and lay it on the ground. Then if you decide to quickly walk somewhere you’ve got to grab it and move it. Oh, and don’t forget to zip it up (I learned the hard way when I lens fell out). Anyway, so I’ve wanted something for when I go on the actual photo shoot out in the field. Something that was easy to keep my lenses, filters, batteries, a flash, and anything else I may need. The Boda bag has successfully filled those shoes.

What is it?
The Boda Bag is a lens bag. It comes in two sizes: small and large. I have the large one. So what is a lens bag? Well, it’s not a camera bag. It’s meant to hold lenses. You hold your camera and keep this bag slung around your shoulder to change lenses, filters, etc… really fast. Now, keep in mind, even though it’s not a camera bag, you can fit a camera body in it. Depending on the lens, you may have to disconnect it but I was able to fit my Nikon D300 (with battery grip) with a 70-200 lens attached. That’s all it fit in the main compartment though. But it is great for a quick trip.

How did it hold up?
I first got to use this bag on my trip to the Great Smokies last month. I checked the bag (with no gear in it) inside my luggage (I actually stored socks, some t-shirts, and my illegal drugs to save space ;) ) and carried on my backpack with all the gear in it on the plane. The bag held up like a champ. Here’s what I put inside once I went out into the field to shoot:
– 70-200 VR lens
– 12-24 lens
– 50mm lens
– 1.4 extender
– 3 filters (polarizing, neutral density, and graduated neutral density)
– extra battery
– extra CF cards
– flashlight
– oh, and some snacks (you gotta have snacks!)

Everything fit perfectly and the best part is that everything had it’s own place. Nothing was stuffed and nothing bulged out of the bag. Every compartment zipped closed perfectly and from looking at it you’d never know if it was empty or full. It wasn’t too heavy and it stayed put. You can even zip open the top and it has a snap on the back side of it to keep the top open and out of your way if you’re digging in there often.

Is it a shoulder bag or a waist bag?
It’s actually both. I opted to keep it as an over the shoulder bag over the optional waist belt. It goes over your opposite shoulder and hangs diagonal across you so it doesn’t go anywhere. I just felt like too much of a dork with a big fanny pack on – Sorry :)

Pros
- Small
– Easy to get to your stuff
– Perfect for those few-hour photo walks or short outings
– Weatherproof (and we did get rained on)
– made very sturdy
– lots of compartments to store stuff

Cons
The main con is also one of the pros. It’s size. It really depends on how much gear you need when you’re out there. But anything bigger and it would be hard to lug around. It’s meant for a minimal amount of gear. I did wish I could fit my camera body, 70-200 lens, and maybe one more in there but I’m ok with keeping it the size that it is.

The large size that I have rings in at $195 and the smaller version at $165. NAPP members get a discount if you go to the discounts area on the NAPP member website. Here’s their website in case you want to find out more info or see photos of the bag.

Author: Matt K

Matt is a full time Education Director for the NAPP and Kelby Training. He's a best-selling author of various books on Photoshop and Photography co-hosts the live weekly photography talk show "The Grid" and is co-host of "Photoshop User TV". In his spare time he practices as a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo and enjoys spending time with his family in Tampa, FL.

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21 Comments

  1. Great, except the NAPP discount appears to have expired almost 2 months ago! :(

    I’ve been drooling over this bag, but have been hesitant to buy it. Your review may put me over the top.

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  2. Can you buy this in austria? It sounds interesting..

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  3. What does it have to do with Lightroom?

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  4. Matt I appreciate your coaching and teaching on this site, other sites, and through Photoshop TV. I continue to learn and you are among my favorite teachers.

    I love hearing about what you use and how you work even if it is beyond the scope of Lightroom. The Boda bag looks to be a great choice. However, in my limited experience so far I am enjoying using a speed belt and bags from thinktank photo (http://www.thinktankphoto.com/index.html) for on the move shooting. You said in your post that the trouble of a bag is that it often is not in the right place (i.e. on your back) for you to get at your stuff quickly. I really love the access to my lens through thinktanks approach. I love not thinking about my stuff down at my feet while I am shooting wondering if it is okay as well as the freedom of moving around to get the shot I want without concern about my equipment. It moves right with me. I am wondering if you have used a system like this?

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  5. It’s a well thought out bag for sure, but I think I’m going to buy a similar size bag from thinktank. I want to be able to carry the camera attatched to my lens. I have the tripod case from thinktank and I’m very happy with it.

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  6. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the Boda Review. You mentioned- ” Weatherproof (and we did get rained on)”

    I am always struggling to find the right bag. You don’t want to know how many bags I have tried. I keep going back to my LowePro Slingshot.

    I was wondering if you or anyone else had any recommendations of a cover for a camera and lense while shooting in the rain ?

    Thanks,

    Peter

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  7. Makes sense, since often your camera is in hand anyhow. I recently got a SlingShot 100 from Lowepro, which I’m pretty happy with. It will hold my Nikon D40 with a 55-200mm lens attached, and it’s easy to swing from back to front to get at your camera. There is room for 2-3 other lenses in the main compartment, though they are harder to get at, due to the way the bag is oriented when swung around to your waist. Another pocket has all my other camera stuff, cables, charger, etc. Smaller pockets contain an additional SD card, an SD reader, GPS data logger and a USB stick. It’s nice to have everything together. And though I haven’t tried, I think it is just small enough to pass as a second carry-on.

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  8. Great post, Matt. I tried this out at WPPI and it does rock. I wouldn’t want to wear the entire time a wedding, but man it really could be useful in many situations where I need to quickly change lenses.

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  9. Too bad it didn’t have room for your laptop… ;-p

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  10. Similar to Nathan’s experience as posted above, I have a Loweprowe Slingshot 300 and love it. It is easy to carry as a backpack and easily holds a camera with a fairly long lens, attached, plus two other lenses and two flashes, with space for various miscellaneous gear. When accessing contents, it slings around and let’s one easily change lenses.

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  11. I have to put in a plug for Shoot Sac http://www.shootsac.com because it’s been a fantastic lens bag in situations as varied as family portraits to weddings and rock concerts. Love it!

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  12. I use a `backpack’ while walking but clip a small camera bag to the waist belt. I can access the waist belt while walking for quick shots, but the rest of my gear is available for more serious shots – eg change lenses or pano head or filters.

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  13. Interesting looking bag. I’m going to look at all the options mentioned on your blog. I’m looking for something to help me keep my lenses together but give me simple ease of access. I have the Shoot Sac mentioned by Lori and although it does keep your stuff together and easily accessible, you have to balance everything in there very carefully and if you have a 70-200 lens and a flash and another lens, the strap eventually cuts into you. I’ve been trying to work out something to relieve that but the architecture of the hardware on the strap doesn’t lend itself to slipping anything over it. It is very maneuverable though.

    BTW: A while back Matt (or someone) mentioned a good piece of software to use to build slideshows since Lightroom doesn’t seem to have that down to a science yet. Recommendations?

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  14. I have the Boda Mini couldn’t live without it, perfect for weddings

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  15. Just wanted to post a note saying that I just received my Boda Dry and it is a pretty amazing bag. Surprisingly I can actually put my 18-200, 12-24 and my D200 with the 70-200 attached to it all zipped inside. It is not a very secure travel system but it is useful to note that you can store your body in there if you need to stash it for a while.

    Thanks for the post Matt, found the bag through your site and couldn’t be happier.

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  16. Under printing options for printer, it seems that you can add an Epson only. I am talking about where you scroll down, under the Print menu, and at the bottom you will find, “Color Managed by Printer.” If you arrow down under that, for more options, where it reads: “other,” you will find types of Epson printers, but only if you have downloaded an Epson printer onto you system. I would like the option of a HP printer, but it’s not on the list. Do you know how I can add this?
    Thanks

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  17. Nice bag, but it’s covered in logos! Every zipper, all over the thing. If I’m gonna pay nearly $200 usd for a bag, I don’t think I should also be a walking advertisement for Boda!

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  18. Hello Matt! I was just wondering because a friend of mine got the D300 which CF cards do you use or which one would you recommend for the D300. Thank you!

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