I have been engaged in a long battle to find the perfect camera bag / purse — and over the winter, I finally resigned myself to the fact that I really needed a camera bag, and I needed a purse, and those were separate things. A purse I could still shove my camera into if necessary, but primarily, I needed a dedicated camera bag, and all the ones I had tried (made for the purpose, altered by me for the purpose) weren’t exactly what I needed. The space was too small, the bags themselves were too bulky, they didn’t have pockets, they hurt my back to carry, whatever. Long story short: camera bags, troublesome.
So I found a purse — a Baggallini hobo bag I have treated abysmally and which has stood up to it — and I bought myself an Epiphanie Bags Sydney style bag as a late Christmas present.
I’m in love.
After a lot of flipping between the various bags Epiphanie makes, I settled on the Sydney for a few reasons: I liked the shape of the main space, I liked the pockets, I really liked the iPad pocket on the back. And I really, really liked the straps – you can carry the Sydney cross-body, on your shoulder, or as a backpack. And for festivals, especially ones like Hopscotch, where you’re slogging 20-30 pounds of gear back and forth across Raleigh, because eff you Five Star, on days that can run 14 hours? The idea that I could have all that weight distributed on both shoulders was a dream. I can’t wait to not hurt like crazy on the Sunday after Hopscotch. Or, well, hurt slightly less than crazy. My feet might hurt but my back won’t.
For me, the five front pockets are used for, separately, business cards and lens-cleaner type things, memory cards, various personal stuff (lip gloss, reusable shopping bag, tampons), and the top horizontal pocket holds my ear plugs, my pass holder, and when I get to a show most often my phone — the three things I need most working a job and they’re incredibly easy to access. All the pockets are deceptively large, too. I could squeeze a lot more into them if I wanted to. I’m trying to pack lighter, though, so.
The main compartment I have divided in three — one for a long lens & my 50mm, one of my camera with the Tamron 24-75mm attached, and one for anything else: another lens, my wallet, a notebook. My only complaint here was that, due to the Sydney’s narrow width (which I love; it sits really closely on my hip, which was another reason I picked it out) and its corresponding depth to make up for the width, the dividers were hellacious to place properly. It took me forever because they kept fastening to places I didn’t want them to, and it’s still not a perfect set up, but it works.
I got the bag and it was great for two shows locally. But the real test was when I went to Atlanta for Panic! — I needed the Sydney to double as a purse for travel, because I didn’t want to check my suitcase. Which meant it had to hold all my camera gear, but also a travel makeup bag, two Moleskines, my wallet, and my iPod. That’s what’s in the photo above — a lot of what I easily carried in my Sydney flying from Raleigh to the ATL, not including the Tamron 24-75mm I took the shot with. It was a little heavy, but I can deal with heavy if I don’t feel like the bag is going to collapse immediately. The Sydney doesn’t feel that way. It’s deeply sturdy, and that’s awesome.
And I just need it to hold that much when I’m hauling things and actually in the airport / on the plane — once I get where I’m going, I can pull Moleskines out, I don’t always need the makeup bag (though it’s nice to have), and it becomes again a thoroughly functional camera bag that isn’t a pain to haul to a show or through a festival.
So that’s my conclusion: Epiphanie’s bags are expensive — and for the quality, not that expensive at all, really — but so far I’ve found the Sydney to be exactly what I needed, and well above it for the cost.