It’s been over three years now since I first laid my hands on my Nikon D5100 DSLR camera and in these three years I never bothered once to get rid of my Nikon camera bag that came as a freebie along with my camera. Now, it wasn’t the best camera bag to begin with and I’m no fan of shoulder bags either, but somehow the idea of going through a whole inventory of bags and picking a proper bag gave me the chills. So even after very obvious signs of wear, I only decided to hunt for a new camera bag when I got a third lens and it simply refused to share space along with the other accessories that were already feeling claustrophobic.
So that’s the story of how my hunt for a new camera bag began. Since I love going on hikes, I was looking for a backpack this time around. After going through umpteen bags from Lowepro and other brands online, I finally decided to call it quits and went to see a proper bag in the store. It was then that I came across the Sony MII-BP1 and it was this bag I decided to finally call home for all my camera accessories.
Design and the style quotient
The thing with camera bags is that while they look great on the internet, they aren’t necessarily so in real life. Don’t get me wrong, they’d fit all your equipment very well, but usually would be so small on the outside that you would look, well, let’s call it as not the most dashing person with a camera bag, wearing one around. Also, I found the small size to be uncomfortable, no matter how I adjusted the length of the shoulder strap. It was then that when I tried the MII-BP1, it felt like a proper bag pack. Just the right size, not too big, neither very small and very similar to a usual laptop bag. As you can see in the photos, it fits perfectly on my back (I’m 5’8″, by the way). So on the looks front, I’d easily give this bag a 4/5 or even a 4.5/5.
The next main challenge while choosing the bag is whether it can house all your equipment. My kit comprises of D5100 body, Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 prime, Nikkor 70-300mm telephoto lens, 11-16mm Tokina Ultra wide, charger, spare battery, a rather small tripod and the data cable. The 70-300mm is huge, while the ultra wide is also not that small in size. Fortunately, they all fit well inside the MII-BP1 with enough room for another lens (even a large one) and flash. The velcro partitions can be easily adjusted to make room for more apartments within the bag. The front zip gives access to the main compartment, while there’s also a small one at the top which can house your camera accessories or a small lens.
And while the bag is big enough, it hasn’t been designed in the best way. The rather odd shape of the zipper means you cannot simply unzip the front of the bag to access to all storage space at once. Instead, unzipping it provides me access to the lower compartments and in such a way that I cannot dare open it without resting the thing on a surface, lest something drops from one of the sections. The partitions are also rather oddly shaped and the lower section of the bag can offer 3 huge sections or 2 decent sized and two smaller ones. The section that is accessible from the top is also held in place by a velcro and that doesn’t inspire too much confidence. The odd shape also means that you can rule out packing a tablet or laptop along with the camera.
As far as the build quality is concerned, I have no qualms there. The material looks good quality and the stitches seem to be sturdy. However, it’s been just two weeks using this bag and that is something that remains to be seen. But so far, things look good.
I’m not saying this is the best bag out there money can buy. The oddly shaped compartments thanks to loose velcro and the way that they’re accessed leaves a lot to be desired. But the overall bag design, ample space and good quality makes it the best bag for me for my budget. I got it for INR 2,700 ($40) and I simply didn’t find a better bag than this at this price range. Of course, as your budget would rise, you’d find much better bags, but for this price, the MII-BP1 wins hands down. In case you have a huge inventory of lenses (we mean 4-5 max) and aren’t necessarily willing to shell a fortune on a camera bag, you can sit back and pick this one. Oh, and it comes with a rain cover too.