By Cheryl Pearson
Professional photographer Jim Garner set out to create a different kind of camera bag, one not just for storage but designed instead for easy access and carrying while you’re actively shooting. I found that the Boda V3 lens bag worked best for its intended purpose as an on-shoot working bag. Hundreds of photographers testing this bag during development, and Boda reconstructed it to correct the biggest flaws uncovered by working professionals. The Boda V3 strives to be the best active-shooting option on the market, so I wanted to test just how well it stands up to that goal.
I tested the bag during a wedding, evaluating how comfortable the bag was to carry for long periods of time and how easy it was to access gear throughout the day. You can carry the Boda V3 in two different ways, as a waist belt or over your shoulder. Since I’m just over 5 feet tall with a petite frame, I find that wearing bags on my waist is rarely an option that provides enough security or comfort when I’m working. I prefer to be as mobile as possible, so I opted to carry the bag on my shoulder.
The bag was easiest for me to carry on one shoulder with the strap draped across my body and the bag resting on the opposite hip. While I was shooting, I could shift the bag slightly toward my back, keeping it comfortably out of the way, or swing it around to the side when I needed to grab a piece of equipment. The adjustable shoulder strap allowed me to choose where the bag fell at my hip. Shoulder straps have not always been comfortable with other bags I’ve tested, but even though this one was a bit stiff and did not bend around my shoulder the way I would have liked, the Boda V3 remained comfortable enough to get through a day of shooting.
The Boda V3 has a dual-compartment configuration with movable padded dividers, making it easy to configure for the gear you intend to carry. The bag easily held Canon 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses, and a Canon 580 Speedlite flash, with room for another smaller lens. There are three side storage areas: pockets for water bottle and cell phone on one side, and on the other a pocket for additional smaller items. There are also three small compartments on the front of the bag. The first is a pocket for smaller items and includes a hook for securing keys as well as a very handy retractable lens cloth. The second is a smaller section on the front that can be used to store business cards or other small items. The third is a zippered section in the middle for media card storage.
As I have commented in past reviews, a constant disappointment for me with camera bags is insufficient media card holders. Since the design of this bag is geared to be an “active shooting” solution, I wanted plenty of card holders and was pleased to find eight, the most I’ve seen in any bag I’ve tested. The media card compartment is designed with four card holders along the back part of the compartment with another four in the zipper flap. If you need to switch out media cards quickly, I found it easiest to store the unused cards in the back part of the compartment and the used cards in the fold-out flap. The card holders include tabs that fold over the slot to keep the card in place, so it was harder to grab the cards quickly from the fold-out flap, even with my small fingers. For me, the media card section’s design didn’t entirely fit the criteria for an “active shooting” solution as the tabs made it difficult to access the cards quickly and easily.
The Boda V3’s construction is extremely durable and of exceptional quality. The material feels strong but not too heavy when carrying the bag, giving me the impression that this bag would last for a long time. The bag also has cushioned framing for protecting and securing the lenses and accessories. The style is professional looking and well-suited for a formal event.
Overall I found the bag functional and I think it fulfills its “active shooting” purpose. I was fairly comfortable shooting while carrying the bag, even given my petite frame. The bag’s design made access to gear efficient, but I do feel it would be beneficial to have a top and/or side access point into the bag. As is, the padded dividers segment the bag, making it difficult to access all items quickly from the top.
The Boda V3 lens bag sells for $195. Boda is also set to unveil V3 Jr., which may prove to be a better option for a person with a smaller frame. In the months ahead GoBoda is also launching a new roller bag, The BODA Modular storage bag. For more information, visit goboda.com.