Bag Review: The Stylish ONA Union Street Camera Bag for Street Photography

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For those who are looking for a stylish, sleek, and functional messenger bag for street photography – check out the new ONA Union Street Bag. ONA sent me a bag to review, and after thorough testing (took it all over India) here is my review/overall impressions of this bag. Keep reading more if you are interested in making an investment into a fashionable and durable bag that will last you a long time!

Introduction:

Variety of colors for the ONA Union Street Bags

For starters, this bag isn’t cheap. Retailing at $279 ONA are targeting the more higher-end bag market (competing with Billingham whose bags go for over $350).

However my philosophy with buying things is buying things high-quality (that last a long time) is a better investment than buying multiple cheap bags (that wear out over time). When holding the bag, it oozes quality – from the solidly-stitched edges, to the antique-looking buckles, and durable leather attachments.

The unique part of the ONA bags are that they are made out of a fine cotton canvas that’s been infused with wax to enhance its strength and durability. Not only that, but the bag is also waterproof/weatherproof – I have had it through small downpours and it has kept my camera gear dry inside. However you probably don’t want to submerge it into water (fully).

The Exterior

The ONA Union Street Bag is a gorgeous bag. It is very fashionable, sleek, and as Engadget said, “Downright drool worthy”. For those of you who want a fashionable camera bag (that doesn’t look like a camera bag) to help you blend on the street- look no further.

For my review I got a “Ranger Tan” version (which looks very nice). They also come in a “Smoke” and “Black” variety.

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

The Interior

I was blown away by the quality of the padding inside the ONA bag. It is comprable to the Billingham bag, as the inserts are very thick, fluffy, and well-padded (to keep your precious camera gear protected). The bag also comes with 5 removeable and customizable dividers (to modify your bag in a configuration you like).

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

The front pocket

The front pocket is a bit on the small side, but has handy compartments to put in your memory cards, pens, film, passport, cell phone, batteries, or whatever. I try not to put too many things in the front pocket (as it bulges out and looks strange).

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

The Laptop Compartment

The great thing about this camera bag is that it has a very well-padded slot with enough space for a 15” laptop. It is difficult nowadays to find a camera bag on the market that has a slot for a laptop – and is essential to me (as I am always traveling, blogging, and need my computer on me most times). If you need more space, you can also entirely remove the laptop sleeve (a nice idea). If you don’t like lugging around a laptop with you, you can always put in an iPad or extra papers.

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

What fits?

I can shove in a lot of stuff into the ONA Union Street Bag. Pictured below is some things I typically carry with me when I am out traveling. It all fits inside (although a bit snug).

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

Side pockets

The bag also comes with side-pockets where you can put in little things (or a water bottle). However if the inside compartments are full, the side pockets are very tight. I didn’t find myself using these side pockets very much (as my bag is always stuffed) but they are nice to have just in-case.

ONA Camera Bag

Front Buckles

The buckles that come with the ONA Union Street Bag are well-crafted and functional. They click in and out very easily, and are adjustable with little holes drilled in. The great thing I am realizing about ONA’s bags are that they always pay attention to detail.

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

Side buckle

The buckles are secured very well to the bag, with a nice [ONA] logo embossed on the side of the leather. No worries of the bag falling off your shoulder.

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

The shoulder pad

I feel that one of the most important things in camera messenger bags is the shoulder pad. After all, the majority of the weight will be held on your shoulder – so you need a pad that doesn’t slip, is comfortable, and durable.

The quality of the shoulder strap is top-notch, and well-stitched as well. It wasn’t too thick nor too thin– enough to carry the weight on my shoulders.

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

The back pocket

One nice deatails is there is another back pocket to carry papers or an iPad. A bit too tight of a squeeze for a laptop (surprisingly my 13” MacBook Air fits). The back flap also stays closed with a small magnet (another nice touch).

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

The Handle

My only gripe about this bag is when you overload it with stuff, the center of gravity of the bag is tilted a bit to the side. The bag was obviously engineered this way to withstand excessive weight (if it were attached to the top cover it would be less stable).

ONA Camera Bag

ONA Camera Bag

Overall impressions

Overall I have found the ONA Union Street Camera bag a fantastic bag for street photography. It succeeds in the looks department- which makes it look far more casual and stylish when on the streets. Not only that, but the padding inside is very thick – which will hug your camera equipment and prevent it from getting damaged. Another huge plus is the wax-infused leather – which makes it incredibly durable and rain/weather-proof.

If you are looking to make an investment and looks, protection, and versatility are important to you I would definitely recommend this bag. I wouldn’t recommend this bag if you are on a tight budget, have an excessive amount of gear to lug around, or already have a billion camera bags in your closet.

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Durable and water/weather-proof
  • Customizable inserts
  • Soft and well-padded inside
  • Room for a 15” laptop
  • Well-rounded and enough room for all your stuff

Cons

  • Price
  • Not enough room if you have a ton of stuff
  • Handle is awkward when carrying lots of gear

Follow ONA Bags

If you woud like to purchase an ONA Union Street Camera Bag, or check out their other products check out their website. Also make sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Another huge thanks to ONA for providing the bag for me to review!


 Have any more questions about the bag? Feel free to leave a comment below and I will answer as many questions as I can! 

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  • http://www.friendlyimitationofwork.com/ Tobias W.

    OK, I’m sold. That’s going to be my future camera bag. Nice review Eric.

  • Rob-L

    Why are camera bags all so expensive? I’d never buy a bag that’s almost $300 no matter how nice it is. I guess PT Barnum was right.

  • Intaerica

    Very stylish….I like it!

  • http://blog.woodsb.net/ Woods

    It doesn’t look secure enough to me. From the images, it seems someone could easily get stuff from inside the bag when it’s closed or just open the front buckles without effort.

    • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

      It goes both ways- having buckles that open easily are good for the photographer but may be easier for a thief to open the bag. However it is important to always be careful with your gear!

  • http://livedcaptured.com/ Ricky

    Any chance you’ll review ONA’s Brooklyn bag?

    • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

      Let’s see ;) Stay tuned!

  • http://twitter.com/cee4star cee4star

    Looks a nice bag. I have a Billingham Hadley Large which is great for travel but I am on the look out for something smaller, this or the Brooklyn may fit the bill. Can you completely remove the interior camera pockets so it becomes a straight messenger bag?

    • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

      Yes you can remove the interior camera pockets for a straight messenger bag. I would recommend having two of the inserts removed so you can still carry a camera (but toss in other things!)

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2537436 Cindy Nguyen

        i can vouch that i’ve definitely been doing that! (from Eric’s girlfriend who inherits his camera bags when he’s not using them…and uses them for graduate school and looking awesome.)

  • Erik

    Eric, would you seriously carry all this stuff when doing street photography? To me this looks like a small traveling bag, or for commuting, but to drag a bag this big onto the streets? I guess it’s alright as a compromise when you need to carry other stuff as well, but I don’t see this as a dedicated street shooter bag.

    • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

      Hey Erik – I travel a lot so I just use one bag- for either shooting on the streets or traveling. In my case it is both! I see this bag as a good option if you are just out on the streets, and want to carry around a laptop or iPad. But definitely true- having too much stuff when shooting sucks!

  • http://twitter.com/TheRealBidong I am Bidong

    Wow, this bag is beautiful!

  • Bittershite

    Wow, your bag still looks new! I’ve been using mine for about a year and it’s definitely a bit more distressed and doesn’t hold it’s shape as well.

  • http://hideyourarms.com/ Andy (Hide Your Arms)

    That is one nice looking bag, little pricey for my tastes but you can see where the money goes atleast. I just picked up one of these and I’m pretty happy with it. http://rigu.co.uk/blue-canvas-dslr-camera-bag

  • http://twitter.com/amandafiona amanda large

    Love Ona bags. wish they’d send me one for testing ;)

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  • Sheris

    what does this bag weigh?

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  • Marshall B

    I’ve been wanting one for so long but couldn’t find them anywhere in Australia, your post kept coming up when I searched for ONA bags in Sydney, Australia. Finally found a place that’s selling them http://paxtons.com.au/blog/ona-camera-bags-new-products/ hopefully get to check them out soon.