ONA Bowery Camera Bag Review

ONA Bowery Camera Bag Review:

For a long time now, I’ve been looking for a small camera bag that fit’s truly the essentials.  What I mean by that is a bag that fits about two lenses, and a camera but also feels comfortable carrying just a camera and a lens.  At least for me, it’s always been kind of hard because I also want a quality bag, and one that is at least relatively decently priced.  ONA must’ve read my mind because their Bowery bag seems to fit exactly what I want.  It’s tiny, comes in several different color and material combinations, and doesn’t look half bad.  In fact, it’s quite attractive, and at $149 (at least for the waxed canvas version), it isn’t exactly cheap but it won’t break the bank either.

ONA Bowery Camera Bag Build Quality:

ONA has developed a reputation of making high quality bags, and it’s clearly evident even with one of their lower priced bags, the Bowery.  The stitching is neat, all the metal on the bag like the buckle for instance, is made from brass, and the leather trim around the bag looks great.  As I said earlier, it comes in several different colors, and you can choose between a waxed canvas version (which is water resistant) or a leather version.  The canvas goes for $149, which isn’t so bad when you consider the quality of this bag but if you want a Bowery made out of leather, it’ll set you back $249.  For this review, I asked for the waxed canvas Smoke color because I prefer canvas over leather for my camera bags.  I also found the canvas to be nice and thick.  It’s definitely durable, and it should have no problems lasting for many years.

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↑ The ONA Bowery in Smoke color.

In terms of the outside, there are tiny pockets on the side of the Bowery that can fit smaller items like memory cards or even business cards, and a larger pocket in the back for papers or possibly a tablet depending on the size.  Most likely though, part of your tablet will be sticking out.  Remember, this is a compact bag, so it’s not necessarily designed to carry a ton of gear.  If you purchase a leather Bowery, you’ll get a leather shoulder strap.  Otherwise, you’ll get a strap that kind of resembles a seat belt from an airplane, which I’m not exactly a fan of.  Either way, the shoulder strap is detachable; if you remove the strap, the Bowery can function as a protective camera insert or as an organizer inside a larger bag adding to the Bowery’s versatility.

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↑ On each side of the bag, there is a small pocket right under the ONA label.

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↑ You could slid a small tablet into the back pocket.

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↑ This is the seatbelt-like shoulder strap that comes with the waxed canvas version of the Bowery.

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↑ The shoulder strap is detachable increasing the versatility of the Bowery.

The main flap of the ONA Bowery is held by a single buckle, which is all that is really needed considering the size of the bag.  The thing is, I have mixed feelings about the buckle, which is also found on other ONA bags.  It serves it’s purpose, it’s definitely high quality, and it is relatively easy to lock and unlock but it’s unnecessarily heavy if you ask me.  I try to be a little more careful with this buckle because I wouldn’t want to knock it against any of my lenses.  Plus, it will make clanking noises, if you don’t attach the buckle to the latch.  I usually do but there are occasions when I find it easier to just leave the flap of my bag unlocked.

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↑ Here is a close up of the buckle and latch.

Once you open the main flap, you can see the side flaps that help protect the contents of your bag from the elements.  You also gain full access to the main compartment, which is very well-padded.  There is one padded divider that is included, and it feels like there is a thin piece of fiberglass or plastic inside the divider to help it keep its shape, which is a really nice touch.  Opening the main flap also gives you access to the two front pockets.

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↑ In addition to the weather resistant canvas, the ONA Bowery also employs flaps on the sides for further protection against the elements.

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↑ The stitch work is excellent.

In terms of what the ONA Bowery can fit, I was actually surprised because it definitely has enough room for even a DSLR and two lenses (reasonably sized lenses not large ones).  If you’re using a rangefinder or mirrorless system, the lenses are compact enough that you could fit an extra lens in, especially if you purchase another divider.  As for the front pockets, they can fit miscellaneous items like filters or an extra battery.  What would made the front pockets better is if there was a closure system for them.  I don’t normally put my bag down when I grab stuff out of it.  I don’t even stop walking, so I would hate for something to fall out of one of those pockets by accident.

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↑ Here is a photo of the main compartment without anything in it.

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↑ Here’s a photo with my Leica M 240, 50mm Summilux ASPH, and 75mm Summilux.

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↑ Here’s a photo with my M 240, 50mm Summilux ASPH, and D-Lux Typ 109.

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↑ Here’s a photo with two M cameras: my M 240 with 50mm Summilux ASPH, and my M6 TTL Millennium with 50mm Summicron.

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↑ Here’s a photo with my Fuji X-T1 with XF 18-55mm, and my XF 56mm f1.2 APD.

ONA Bowery Camera Bag in Use:

I have to say, the ONA Bowery is absolutely one of the most comfortable bags that I’ve used in a long time.  Yes, it is small, which definitely helps in the comfort department but it’s not just that; the Bowery seems to have this amazing ability to hug my body very well yet also maintain its shape.  It also feel equally comfortable whether your carrying a fully loaded bag or just a camera with one lens.  Besides the minor issue I have with there being no closure system for the two front pockets, I was amazed at how easy it was for me to retrieve and put gear back into the Bowery even while walking.  Furthermore, it’s slim shape makes this bag perfect for the often crowded streets of New York City.

It’s also a great looking bag overall, and it will only get better looking as it ages with use.  The Bowery is something that you can use as your daily day bag but at the same time, it will feel equally at home if you decide to go to a fancy restaurant, business meeting or an event.  Since it doesn’t have that traditional camera bag appearance, it’s not going to attracted unwanted attention either.  Unless you encounter a person that actually knows what an ONA bag is, most will probably think it’s just a small messenger bag.

ONA Bowery Camera Bag Specs:

  • Exterior Dimensions: 10.5″L X 7″H X 4″D
  • Interior Dimensions: 10″L X 6″H X 4″D
  • Weight: 2 lbs

ONA Bowery Camera Bag Verdict:

The ONA Bowery is really one of the nicest bags to come out in a long time.  I have really grown fond of this bag, and while this is a review sample, I may actually purchase one myself.  To me, ONA really got all the key features that I want in a compact camera bag.  The padding is excellent, so there’s no need to worry about your gear once it’s in the bag.  It’s weather resistant.  The Bowery is great looking but at the same time, it doesn’t shout camera bag.  Furthermore, it’s versatile, and quite comfortable to wear for long periods.  To top it all off, it’s manufactured extremely well, so it should last many years.  Overall, if you’re looking for a compact bag with all these qualities, the Bowery may just be the bag for you.

Thanks for taking the time to read my review!  If you’re considering purchasing the Bowery, and my review helped you decide, please help support this site by purchasing from any of the links in this review.  It will not cost you anything extra.  Thank you for your support!

ONA Bowery at B&H Photo

ONA Bowery for Leica at B&H Photo

13 comments… add one
  • Dane

    Hi Patrick,

    I might check out this bag for the X1D. 90mm and typ 113 with 2 batteries (1 for each camera). What do you think? I have the Thinktank Retrospective 5 and I think it might be a tad small for my setup.

    Dane

    • Patrick

      Hi Dane,

      All that stuff may actually fit…The X1D really isn’t big at all. It’s not much bigger than my M, and as you can see, I can put two Ms in this bag. But I would wait until it comes just in case. What might cause an issue is the EVF from the X Typ 113. With it on, I sometimes had problems putting it in my bag. Do you have the EVF?

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Nice product photos by the way. Are you using natural window light or a light setup, maybe a combo?
    Thanks for all the reviews that you do, they make a difference in my purchasing decisions. I’m just gonna share my Riviera Maya vacation here since it started raining in Texas and non of my MF cameras are weather sealed hehe. Need more light then I’ll finish all my film rolls.
    https://flic.kr/s/aHsjvTtQKG

    Dane

    • Patrick

      Thanks Dane!

      It was a mix of window light and a Westcott Ice Light 2. I bought a pair of those Ice Lights, and I’ve been slowing experimenting with them whenever I get a chance. They are pretty cool!

      As for my reviews, thanks for always taking the time to read them, and stopping by for all this time! We’ve been conversing here for a few years now, and it sincerely means a lot! I value your opinion, your comments, and I love seeing your photos, which btw, you should always feel free to share! The ones in this link make me want to go back on vacation lol. I’ve trying to pick up the pace a bit with my blog, and quite frankly, it’s very motivating to hear that you enjoy my reviews. You made my day!

      Btw, it’s good to see you’re still using the X-Pro1 with the XF 35mm F1.4. That’s a classic combo I don’t see as much nowadays. I know a lot of people jumped ship to the XF 35mm f2. Personally, I’m still a fan of the XF 35mm f1.4, and I still stand behind every word I said about it :). As for the X-Pro1, to me, there’s still something about the color of the first gen sensor that I like over the current ones. I miss mine :).

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Dane

    Hi Patrick,

    No EVF on the typ 113. It’s too bulky I think and I don’t like detaching it every time I use it. I like the form factor of the typ 113, it’s the closest pocket camera with IQ for me. I always use lens hoods but not on the Leica lens to keep it slim. The X-Pro 1 with 35mm f1.4 I love the lens hood on that, it’s like a Leica haha.

    Dane

    • Patrick

      Hi Dane,

      I love the hood on the XF 35mm! I wish Fuji would continue to make hoods like the first gen lenses. Maybe cost is too much. As for the X, I feel more comfortable with a viewfinder but I totally get what you’re saying. The form factor really is nice without that EVF attachment.

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Steve

    Hi Partick,
    After writing to you about the Hadley Small Shoulder Bag, in that thread, I came across this, the ONA Bowery. From what I gathered from several sources, you included, this might better serve my needs. And will probably be much more comfortable.

    So, all I have to do know is decided between canvas and leather. I did like what you said about liking canvas for camera bags. And someone at B&H told me that leather looks nicer but canvas lasts longer. And costs less. Sounds like a no brainer.

    Cheers,

    Steve

    • Patrick

      Hi Steve,

      I prefer the canvas because it’s lighter, and it’s cooler in the summer. I also prefer the look of it as well :). It sounds like you already bought it. What do you think of it?

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Steve

    Hi Patrick,

    I’ve pretty much decided on the bag you have pictured above. I will order the extra inserts at the same time. Maybe.

    Cheers,

    Steve

    • Patrick

      That’s good to hear, Steve!

      Let me know what you think of it, when it arrives!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Steve

    Hi Patrick,
    I got the bag Friday. It seems to defy the laws of physics. I can fit two camera, Fuji Pro 1 and 2 each with one of the Fujicron lenses. Or on of the cameras with the other lens in the bag along with a Nissin i40 flash with the included soft box attachment. In the front pockets, spare batteries for both the flash and the camera. I haven’t found a use for the back pocket yet. And, there is still some room left for whatever.

  • Steve

    Hi Patrick,
    What follows is a correction of the above.
    I got the bag Friday. It seems to defy the laws of physics. I can fit two camera, Fuji Pro 1 and 2 each with one of the Fujicron lenses. Or one of the cameras with a small lens mounted in the bag and a second lens in the bag along with a Nissin i40 flash with the included soft box attachment. In the front pockets, spare batteries for both the flash and the camera. I haven’t found a use for the back pocket yet. And, there is still some room left for whatever.

    • Patrick

      Hi Steve,

      Good to hear! It’s definitely a great bag. The quality is there, and it’s just about perfect, size wise, for walking around the city. What I particularly like about it is if I don’t want to pack it full, the bag is still light, and small enough that it doesn’t feel like a burden to drag along all day. I hope you continue to enjoy it!

      Best,

      Patrick

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