Equipment Review: Ona Leather Camera Bags

June 21, 2015  •  6 Comments

Some women love collecting shoes or purses;  for me, camera bags are irresistible.  I decided that I wanted to augment my arsenol of bags with something small and classy -- just large enough for my camera body with lens attached, one additional lens, and maybe a wallet/keys/glasses.  As my research grew past my favorite classic line of Domke bags, I discovered the Ona bags and knew that I had to have one.  I was intrigued by this young New York-based company (which will soon celebrate its 5th anniversary) that seemed to know just what I was looking for.  It's quality products and interesting website are definitely worth checking out.  Thanks to B&H, the Prince Street and Bowery models were at my door the next day.  Both come in several canvas colors (smoke, field tan and black) and two leather choices (cognac and dark truffle).  The beautiful quality of these bags is absolutely unparalleled to any that I have seen.  Shown below is the Prince Street on the left and the Bowery on the right, both in Dark Truffle leather. 

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Both bags have a shoulder strap with extra leather padding where the strap sits on your shoulder (the Bowery's strap is removable) and a rear pocket.  The Prince Street also has a useful removable hand strap.  The Bowery has one interior leather pocket and one clasp on the front, while the Prince street has two of each.  The Bowery also has two very small pockets on each side, which are virtually useless because they are hard to access even with small fingers.  Interior padding is the same, but the Prince Street comes with more removable dividers.  The inside flap of the Bowery is made of leather, and while the Prince Street has canvas inside the flap (the leather is much nicer, but probably was probably omitted on the Prince Street to make it lighter.)   MGN_4263MGN_4263

The Bowery comes with one divider, and the Prince Street with a removable divider that sits along the back wall to hold a tablet, and three smaller internal dividers (only two are shown below.)  Velcro allows the dividers to be easily moved and repositioned.  Ona lists the exterior dimensions of the Prince Street as 12 ½ x 10 x 4 ½ inches, and the internal dimensions as 12 x 9 x 4 inches.  The smaller Bowery model reportedly is 10 ½ x 7 x 4 inches on the outside, and 10 x 6 x 4 on the inside.  This is obviously inaccurate since the nice interior padding mades it impossible for the Bowery to be both 4 inches inside and outside.  I measured the Bowery interior depth at 3.25".   MGN_4269MGN_4269

For my purpose, these inaccurate measurements on the Bowery were a deal breaker.  Shown below is Canon's new 5DS-R with the 24-70 f/2.8 L lens attached.  Indeed, as other reviewers reported, the 5D professional line fits inside the Bowery, but I found it extremely difficult to close--too challenging to latch while walking with one hand, it required a two-handed wrestling move.  The result when closed (photo below) resembled a stuffed sausage more than a classy rectangular bag.

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That said, I would highly recommend this bag to anyone with a prosumer or amateur system because the fit would be perfect and the style and function unbeatable.  Shown below is my original 1980 Canon A-1 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens in the Bowery bag. MGN_4274MGN_4274

Good news though for pro-shooters, the Prince Street is a perfect fit when traveling light.  With the tablet sleeve removed (A nice option for travel, but Ive never seen a pro carry a tablet to a photo shoot anyway), the 4 ½ inch tall 5DS-R fit nicely inside the depth of the Prince Street.  Shown below is the 5DS-R with 24-70 f/2.8 L lens and hood, Canon 135 f/2 L with hood, and wallet, glasses and keys. I love the easy access to my phone in the rear pocket (which does conveniently have a magnetic closure, unlike the Bowery's rear pocket) and the smaller pockets in the front for extra memory cards, batteries, business cards, etc.  Because of the 9" interior height of the bag, there remains room for any extras on top of the gear (or under it).  As seen in the second photo, there is no "pull" or awkward shaping when the bag is closed.

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Here, the Prince Street Holds the 5DS-R with Canon 50 f/1.2 L attached, and the 135 f/2.0 L and 100 f/2.8 L Macro flanking the camera.  Plenty of padding keeps the gear secure (something I am a stickler for) and there is additional room across the top for a wallet, flash in padded case, etc.  I love that the camera fits perfectly on its side with the grip (and Joby wrist strap) in the up position for quick removal while walking.  The third divider and tablet divider are shown outside the bag in this image.
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The Prince Street works beautifully as strictly a lens bag.  Shown here stocked with the Canon 135 f/2.0 L, Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L IS, and Canon 100 f/2.8 L Macro (all with hoods), the bag can be left open and lies flat against your body.  This allows for quick lens switches.  Not shown, but another great option, the Prince Street will fit two pro camera bodies each with a lens attached and a divider between the two systems.   MGN_4284MGN_4284

A quick comparison between the Ona Prince Street and the Domke F-4 Pro, both which hold a similar amount of equipment inside the padded compartments.  I love each equally for different reasons.  The Domke seems to expand endlessly and allows me to stuff the side pockets full of extra paraphernalia.  And, it's soft, broken in canvas forms to me when worn cross body.  But, the Ona is classy, non-camera-bag-looking, and slim enough to lay close to my body without getting in the way.  I will be using both, sometimes for the same photoshoot instead of my large, heavy bags.

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The Prince Street is shown here with the 70-200 f/2.8 L IS attached to the 5DS-R camera body.  The bag will not close with this arrangement.

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The next two photos of the 70-200 f/2.8 L IS mounted on a camera body inside the Domke A-4 Pro shows how adaptable this bag can be. MGN_4298MGN_4298 MGN_4296MGN_4296

Below, a few close-ups of the Bowery and Prince Street bags.  The quality of the leather and the workmanship is stunning.  I love the way the strap on the Bowery is easily removable if you want to use the bag inside a larger travel bag. MGN_4299MGN_4299

I find the smaller hand strap on the Prince Street invaluable.  I am constantly grabbing for the smaller strap on the Domke bags, and I love the way the handle lays out of the way when the shoulder strap is being used.  I dislike, however, that the shoulder strap on the Prince Street is permanently attached.  Why can't it be removable, like on the Bowery?  The shoulder strap can fit inside the bag while closed to allow for only hand strap carrying (see second photo below), but I'd rather use the valuable space inside the bag for photographic gear and not a thick leather strap.  Also, when using the smaller hand strap, the attached shoulder strap prevents it from sitting in the center of the brass bracket, which means the bag cannot be carried evenly without tilting.  The third photo below shows Domke's easy solution to this problem--simply align the hand strap under the shoulder strap.  I wish that I could cut off this shoulder strap and purchase the removable Bowery strap from Ona--that would solve these minor but irritating problems. MGN_4303MGN_4303 MGN_4305MGN_4305 MGN_4306MGN_4306

 

Bottom Line:  you can't have too many camera bags and I believe that everyone needs to have an Ona leather bag in their collection.  The quality is unparalleled and the look is simultaneously modern and classic.  While pricey, these bags will last a lifetime.  The Bowery bag is stunning but definitely best suited to amateur gear.  The Prince Street won't carry all of your pro gear, but is perfect for small shoots or traveling around town with a bag that doesn't scream "photographic gear."  I also will be using it as a lens bag when my camera is in my hand and I need three quickly accessible lenses attached snugly to my body (definitely a classier option with more protection and uses than the shoot sac lens bag, albeit heavier.)  


Comments

Bernard(non-registered)
Thanks for this awesome review!!!
I'm still undecided between the prince and Brixton. I currently have a FujiFilm xpro2 ,90mm, 23mm , flash
And an iPad Pro and was wondering if my shoot kit would fit comfortably in the prince street…

I plan to use the bag for daily commute and really didn't want the extra weight of the Brixton
Maureen G Nowak Photography
Yes! Both my 5Dmark3 and 5DSR with the 70-200/f2.8 and hood attached fit perfectly sideways in the Prince Street bag. And, I prefer the sideways load because it's so easy to open and securely grasp the camera on the go. Even with the RRS L-brackets and a Spyder handstrap attached, the combination fits fine.

Just as a follow-up a year-plus later ... the Prince Street remains my favorite bag and still looks fantastic after heavy use. I also purchased a Brixton model which is equally nice and fits more, but certainly feels more cumbersome to carry around.

Enjoy!
Chacha(non-registered)
Thank you for such a thorough and comparative review! I really enjoyed it and was so glad to come across this as I have a particular need with a 70-200 f/2.8 in mind. I was also eyeing this beautiful Princeton Street to fit a Sony A77 II with this lens attached to the body (will take off the hood). Could it possibly fit sideways? I have not come across any photos that's demonstrated that, so perhaps not ...but I'm hoping, as I adore the bag!
Maureen G Nowak Photography
Hi, thanks for the note on my blog. To answer your question, Absolutely! Im sorry if that didn’t come through in my review. I love the Bowery model for its compact size (portability) and stunning quality, it just was too tight for the gear that I wanted to put inside. I included a picture of my old Canon A-1 to show how perfect the bag works with a smaller system. I don’t have the gear you listed on hand, but here are the stats for comparison:

Canon 5DSR/5DS/5Dmarkiii shown in pictures = 6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 inches
Canon 6D = 5.7 x 4.4 x 2.8
Nikon DF = 5.6 x 4.3 x 2.6

Undoubtedly, the 6D and Nikon DF would have a bit more wiggle room. As for the lens, in the picture I show Canon’s 24-70 f/2.8L ii mounted on the 5DSR inside the Bowery.

Canon 24-70 2.8L = 3.48 x 4.45 inches
Sigma 35 1.4 Art = 3.03 x 3.7

Again, better odds that it will fit. Best bet, of course, would be to visit a store with your gear in hand to see what your comfort level is with it. I could have made the combination fit as other photographers have, but I wasn’t keen on it. Although I was looking for a compact bag for traveling light, I felt better sizing up to the Prince Street.

One note: I usually keep my Really Right Stuff mounts attached to the bottom of each of my camera bodies, which creates a fit even tighter than I demonstrated in the pictures. A battery grip would be out of the question with either bag unless I was willing to constantly detach any lens when putting the camera body in my bag. I wish the manufacturers gave us just a bit more depth.

After using the Ona bags for a few months, I really do love them. I just purchased the taller dividers for my Prince Street bag so that the gear doesn’t knock together quite as much.
Nath(non-registered)
Greetings,

Do you think your thoughts regarding Bowery would be different with a 6D or a Nikon DF with Sigma 35mm art lens and a small prime on the side instead of a 5D? How long a lens can fit inside the Bowery without looking awkward from the outside?
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