Equipment Review: Ona's New Beacon Bag is Totally Tubular

February 23, 2017  •  4 Comments

Ona nailed it with the new Beacon lens bag addition to their camera bag line.  The modern tubular version of this vintage bag features a ballistic nylon exterior with leather trim and brass hardware.  The inside is sufficiently padded to protect lenses and it feels like there is a hard plastic liner between the padding and nylon to provide stability and protection.  The Beacon measures 18" long and has 16" of storage space inside.  The adjustable strap is removable and feels silky smooth.  I didn't miss having padding on the strap, as I worried that I might.  A center carry handle is a useful addition, as are the three circular padded dividers and the small black pouch that are included.  Two sets of zippers provide access to the long channel inside.  The final inch of my bag's zippers are extremely tough to open, which is mildly frustrating.  I'm hopeful that it will improve as it "breaks in" since it's key to open the zippers fully to easily access lenses inside.

MGN_6994MGN_6994 I received my Beacon this week, days after they began shipping from Ona, and tested it on location in fields on a shoot for an upcoming album cover.  It paired perfectly with the awesome Spider Dual Holster because it stayed comfortably behind me and didn't knock equipment attached to my hips (as more traditional camera bags do).  I was easily able to switch lenses simply by rotating the bag in front of me.  The Beacon was remarkably comfortable for several hours of wear.  Not that bags need to match, but I found the black Beacon looked great with my classy black Billingham bag and also with my dark truffle leather Prince Street and Brixton bags from Ona.  I did find it more comfortable to carry the Beacon with several lenses along with another bag holding two camera bodies, as compared to carrying two shoulder or messenger bags.

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It's key to plan what you want to carry in the bag before heading to the fields because not all lenses will fit inside the bag.  I always use lens hoods on my Canon L-series lenses when shooting, both to cut potential glare on the glass and to protect the front elements of the lens since I do not use filters.  Because none of my eight lens hoods are interchangeable, I need to carry each attached to its lens.  This makes for an extremely snug fit for some lenses, so it's key to position the lens within the Beacon strategically in order to close the bag.  The center portion of the bag is slightly narrower, while the zippered covers allow a bit more space to fit the portion of a lens with hood.  This will not be a factor for everyone--in fact, non-L-series lenses may rattle around a bit loosely in the bag if dividers are not used to secure them.  The L-series lenses fit perfectly without lens hoods.  Most Canon "white lenses" either will not fit or will not fit with their lens hoods and foot attached. This has little impact for use storing lenses in the studio, but could be significant in the field.  For example, if a 70-200 2.8Lii is attached to your camera and several black lenses are in your Beacon, there is no space to fit the white lens if you switch since it will not fit in the bag with the hood/foot, nor will it fit with two other lenses.  

I found that three lenses, two lenses and a battery/cord pouch, or two longer lenses could fit comfortably inside the Beacon.  I have included photos below of various configurations to illustrate my points.      

 

The shoulder strap is removable and the latches swivel, allowing the bag to move freely with you. MGN_6975MGN_6975 Heavy-duty nylon fabric with leather trim and brass hardware. MGN_6976MGN_6976 Holding the Canon 35 1.4Lii, a ThinkTank battery pouch with four sets of spare batteries, and the 50 1.2L.  The smaller black pouch is included and may be attached to the walls with a velcro strip that is on the back of the pouch: MGN_6979MGN_6979 MGN_6990MGN_6990 Holding the Canon 35 1.4Lii, Canon 14L, and Canon 50 1.2L;  black pouch included:

MGN_6980MGN_6980 Holding the Canon 70-200 2.8Lii and Canon 135 2L.  Note that the 70-200 will fit perfectly, but neither the lens hood nor foot can fit into the Beacon: MGN_6983MGN_6983 Holding the included pouch, Canon 100 2.8L Macro and Canon 135 2L.  Three dividers are included with the bag: MGN_6984MGN_6984 Holding the included pouch, Canon 1.4X Extender, Canon 35 1.4Lii, and Canon 50 1.2L:  MGN_6992MGN_6992 Conclusion:  I love the new Beacon lens bag and am excited by how it will fit into my on-location photoshoots!  It's well made (as I have come to expect from Ona), stylish, and extremely practical both for protecting my lenses and carrying them.  Hats off to Ona for another great product! 


Comments

Maureen G Nowak Photography
Hi Don, I don't have a Leica M camera to test in the Beacon bag, but I really doubt that it would fit. You can check the dimensions of the bag and the camera on the manufacturer websites or on B&H. The Beacon is designed just for lenses or small accessories. It's too narrow to fit many of my lens hoods or some of my larger lenses (i.e. 70-200/2.8L or definitely not the 200/2.0L). Even if it did fit, it would be inconvenient to always have to remove the lens to fit the camera in the bag. I'd definitely recommend checking out a couple of the leather bags that Ona makes specifically for the Leica mirrorless cameras. The Bowery and Bond Street are really great, and the Prince Street is still my favorite. You can check out my review of the Bowery and Prince Street here: http://www.mgnphotography.com/blog/2015/6/equipment-review-ona-leather-camera-bags
Don(non-registered)
Great review! Will this bag fit a Leica M series camera with a short lens like a 35mm?
Maureen G Nowak Photography
Thanks for checking out my blog and posting the nice comment.

I just got back from a 5-hour commercial design photoshoot that had me moving continuously. I used the Beacon tube-shaped bag and was thinking again what a useful carrier it is. I find myself pairing it with my black/black Billingham 335 and think that the two look really classy together. The Billingham will easily carry two pro bodies, two lenses, a pro-flash and lots of accessories. I usually need to bring more than two lenses to any photoshoot, and I find the Ona Beacon is much more comfortable and convenient than carrying a more traditional second bag or one giant bag for everything. I place three back-up lenses in the Beacon and love that they are easily accessible. It’s also great for outdoor portraiture when I am moving around continuously. As the photo above shows, the Beacon is a great way to carry lenses with a camera in hand and sometimes a second attached to my Spider holster. I know that many pros like the Shootsac lens bag, but I think the Beacon is far more secure because it has a harder protective shell and lenses cannot fall out.
Jazz1(non-registered)
I'm glad I found your great review! I've got a Fujifilm XPro2 and XT2 with various lenses. I can wait to try this bag out. In the long term how has it worked out for you. Any further comments would be much appreciated. Mine arrives this day!
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