July 14, 2008

Lowepro Dry Zone Camera Bag

www.lowepro.com - $364.00

Review by Steve Douglas

There's not a videographer around who has not been caught in a downpour at one time or another when on a shoot or simply lugging their gear to the airport. It has happened to me a great many times in my travels around the world and usually when I am far from shelter. For the photographer or videographer wishing they had a waterproof camera bag, Lowepro has introduced 2 bags, the DryZone 100 and 200, which do the job and ease the mind.

The DryZone 200 is the model I have tested and, believe me, I gave it a real workout on a very recent and rainy shoot in Alaska. With interior dimensions of 12 x 5.9 x 16.9 it supplied ample room for my Nikon D200, and an assortment of batteries, chargers, cables and lens. Its empty weight is just under 7lbs. Several velcroed interior panels are supplied and can be re-positioned for your personal configurations. By providing fully adjustable shoulder straps, and great lumbar support, the DZ 200 fit very comfortably in back pack mode whether I was hiking through the drizzly outback of Alaska or working my way through the maze of several airports. When lifting, the wide rubber handles also fit comfortably in your hand rather than cutting into your skin as many straps can do.

What the DryZone 200 is, is really a cam bag within an outer shell, a bag within a bag. The fully waterproof plastic coated nylon shell is accompanied by a sealed zipper, which completely encloses the soft-sided inner shell. Like the dry suit I wore in the freezing waters of Alaska, the outer shell serves the same purpose, that of protecting any camcorders, cameras and any other valuables within from the wet and dusty extreme conditions you might find yourself in. Supplied is a small tube of zipper lubricant for the outer shell. You will need it, especially at first, when it took a mighty pull just to initially open it. Once this zipper is lubricated and the zipper pull is passed over the entirety of the zipper a few times, opening and closing the outer shell became a great deal easier. Not sure what kind of lubricant it is, but my guess is that when what you have is used up, any kind of silicone lube would do the job.

For those extended treks through the woodlands or over glaciers, the Dryzone 200's provided tuck-away, tripod holder straps held my tripod in place, and drainable, outside mesh pockets are there for anything that you might want instant access to. The folks at Lowepro say that this bag is fully immersable and will float on water if dropped overboard. I did not test these characteristics; there's no use pushing providence. However, if it keeps my gear warm and dry I am happy.

My bottom line is that the bags' construction is of top notch quality and is the most comfortable backpack cam case I have used. My gear remained perfectly dry at all times and thus the Dryzone 200 provided the water protection it promised.

Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 6 and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, the History channel's MegaDisaster show and other networks. Steve is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition and leads both underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to Indonesia and the Coco Islands, Costa Rica in 2008, Kenyan safari in Africa and the Red Sea for 2009, and Truk Lagoon in Micronesia for 2010. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips. www.worldfilmsandtravel.com


copyright © Steve Douglas 2008

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