Camera bags are important yet often overlooked part of photography gear. Most users start to think about them as they venture more deeply into photography, when a camera becomes an object they carry almost everywhere with them. Today’s market is actually overcrowded with bags of various shapes, sizes, build quality and prices. In most cases, people opt for classic backpack or shoulder bag which are both proven designs, but are not ideal for quick access and ease of ware at the same time. So in this review I tried Vanguard BIIN 37 sling bag which combines ease of access with portability.
WHO’S IT FOR?
Vanguard BIIN 37 is a sling camera bag which means it is meant to worn over one shoulder and easily rotated to the front to gain quick access to camera. There is also a second strap which is used to secure it on your back so it won’t rotate by itself from the weight of camera gear.
Sling bag is perfect for shorter urban photo walks or when you carry less gear. I had hoped I would use this bag on my bike trips, but sling design proved to be less adequate for that. In theory it sounded great for quick camera access, but in reality the straps join across my chest and constrain my breathing. It’s not a problem on shorter rides, but I got to conclusion it would be a problem on any ride over approximately two hours and will keep using classic backpack for such occasions.
I’m happy to report build quality is up to my expectations. Materials used seem to be durable and all of the zippers work as they should (no problems when opening and closing them).
Vanguard BIIN 37 also has unobtrusive design so it doesn’t signal to potential thieves you carry expensive camera gear with you. This is the main reason I will never buy any Canon or Nikon branded bags but will always opt for third party manufacturers.
WHAT CAN FIT INSIDE?
I guess the most important question for most of you is what can fit inside Vanguard BIIN 37?
First of all, I’d like to say what can’t. If you use gripped DSLR or big lenses like 70-200 F/2.8, this bag is definitely not for you. Although I managed to fit gripped DSLR through front opening, this bag is not intended for that. Its main purpose is ease of access so you can quickly access you camera through the side opening, and a gripped DSLR will not be able to fit through side opening of this camera bag.
Upper compartment is intended to hold everyday object like wallet, mobile phone, keys and stuff like that, but you can use it for camera gear also. It can accept a lens the size of Nikon 55-300 or Canon 55-250 or up to three smaller primes or mirrorless lenses (images below). It can also hold a smaller DSLR without a lens (like Canon EOS 700D or Nikon D3200/D5200).
Main compartment can hold a DSLR with smaller telephoto lens at maximum (body + 55-200, 55-300 for example). Anything bigger will either not fit or will be a problem to squeeze into and require removing compartment separators and use the bag as single volume.
In general, this bag works best for DSLR camera + two or three lenses like any Canon, Nikon, Sony or Pentax body with kit lens + tele lens in main compartment and optionally third lens (wide angle or even two smaller primes like Nikon 35/1.8 and 50/1.8) in upper compartment.
If you use mirrorless camera system which often have small or pancake lenses, you will be able to fit a whole system inside vanguard BIIN 37. For example, Olympus OMD, Panasonic 7-14 wide-angle zoom, Olympus 17/1.8 and 45/1.8 primes, and Panasonic 35-100/2.8 lenses would fit in this bag nicely.
Interior compartments can be flattened in order to get one big volume and use it as a normal (non-camera) bag which is nice as it can serve other purposes aside photo bag.
NEED MORE SPACE?
If you think this model is to small for you needs, vanguard also makes a bigger one labeled BIIN 47 which can hold more gear and bigger lenses. Both of the bags are available in three colors: black, green and orange.
Altogether, Vanguard BIIN 37 is a keeper for me. I am using it now for three weeks and it proved to be excellent camera bag for urban photo walks or shorter bike trips. It is comfortable for use and can fit all of the gear I regularly use (I am using mostly NEX mirrorless cameras with three or four lenses for a year or two now). As long as you do not carry really big telephoto lenses or gripper DSLR, this camera bag will serve you excellent.
I got this bag from lovecases.co.uk, so please check out their web shop. Aside BIIN 37, they also have a bunch of other camera bags so you will most probably find something you like.