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.
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.)
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)