Alright ladies...are you a photographer that is tired of carrying your gear around in a black, boring bag? Or, have you tried the 'purse' camera bags only to be disappointed by the quality? Well, then allow me to introduce you to the Audrey-Lu camera bag by 3 Annies! It's quite possibly the BEST camera bag for women!
I'm a purse/bag junkie. There's nothing quite like the thrill of a new purse (and the smell of new leather....mmmmm)! On a related note, I've had a dSLR camera for about 3 years and I love it! How do these relate, you may ask?
Well, you have to have something to tote your camera around and in the past few years, camera bags designed to look like purses have exploded in the market. Needless to say, it's enough to make a bag girl's head spin with all of the options!!
Today, I'm sharing my latest find and my absolute FAVORITE of all the camera bags I've tried...meet the Audrey-Lu camera bag by 3 Annies.
Who is 3 Annies?
3 Annies is an Australian company and, from what I gather, it's still a pretty small shop (for now, at least!). These aren't stocked in stores (at least not in the US), so to get your hands on one of these, you have to order directly from them and then sit back and try to patiently wait for international shipping to bring this to your door.
The Audrey-Lu is one of 3 Annies's most popular styles and it's available in a range of colors. I fell instantly in love with the distressed brown.
I loved the ruggedness of it, I loved how it would go with anything, I loved the shade of the brown and the texture in the leather.
And, that's one of the best parts of this line...it's real leather! Most camera bags designed to look like purses are not real leather. There are a few companies out there, but most use fake leather. As a bag girl, I'm unfortunately drawn to real leather and I can't stand the fake stuff.
Before real leather ones started hitting the market, I tried several other brands (Epiphanie, Kelly Moore, Jo Totes, etc.). While they're all lovely bags, they just didn't work for me for various reasons (not just because they weren't real leather). For a camera bag to work for me, I have some specific requirements and up until now, I had yet to find one that met all my needs. But, Ms. Audrey-Lu has answered my camera bag prayers!
You want to know what I love about her? Well...let me give you some specifics!
Obviously, if you're carrying around your camera equipment, a small bag doesn't cut it. But, at the same time, you don't want something so big that it becomes uncomfortable to carry. The Audrey-Lu is the perfect size for me.
It is a pretty big bag, but it's very manageable, so it's definitely not too big. I can easily fit what I need for running around town and I still have PLENTY of room. When I travel, I foresee no problems being able to carry an extra lens or two. Yes, it'll start getting heavy with an extra lens or two, but any camera bag will have that problem...that's the gear that's weighty, not the bag!
I'm pretty picky about the straps. Having tried numerous bags before, I know what works for me and what doesn't. As a general rule, I don't like cross body or long shoulder straps. It's just not me. I may wear it cross body if I'm somewhere where I want to make frequent lens changes, but that's pretty rare. I like that this bag came with a detachable cross body strap for those times when I do need it, though.
I like a tote bag style, so this is what initially drew me to this bag (in addition to all the cute pockets and just overall style!). But, I don't like short straps. I have another camera bag that is adorable and I love it, but the shoulder straps are just too short. It was hard to get that bag up onto my shoulder and it's too heavy to carry on my forearm. Not the case with this bag!
The straps on this bag are long enough to easily throw this onto your shoulder and go. Even with a big, heavy winter coat, I have no problems putting this on my shoulder.
They're also long enough so I can easily reach into the bag without having to take it off my shoulder - a definite must! The straps are wide enough to not dig into my shoulder, so it's very comfortable. I was surprised at how comfortable they were! I carried this around the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx all day Saturday and it never hurt my shoulder or back!
Every girl knows you need pockets to stay organized. This is especially true for a camera bag. You have to bring various accessories for your camera and you need an easy way to access those and a nice way to keep them organized so they don't get damaged. You also have consider space for your phone, wallet, lip gloss (and any other makeup), gum or mints, etc. This bag has it all!
Front Pockets: There are two nicely sized, zippered pockets on the front. These are perfect for lip gloss, gum, small wallet, etc. It's also perfect for small camera accessories - extra memory cards, a lens pen, remote shutter release, etc. They're easy to get into and zip up nice and secure.
Back Pocket: There's a huge pocket on the back that is big enough for an iPad. That was on my 'must have' list since I need that when I fly. When I'm not traveling, I don't tend to carry my iPad with me, so that makes this pocket the perfect one to hold brochures, wallet, etc.
Side Pockets: On each side of the bag is a slip pocket that is perfect for my iPhone. My phone easily slips in and out, yet it's held in there nice and secure. It won't slip out on it's own! You could also put business cards in here as well, or, what's apparently my fave...lip gloss.
Inside Pockets: Inside the bag, along the back wall is a zippered pocket. This pocket is really nicely sized and again, is a great place for camera accessories, a compact, or anything else that you want to carry with you, but may not need quick access to while it's on your shoulder.
Ease of Getting Camera out of Bag: This is a huge 'must have'. I do not want to have to set my bag down in order to get my camera out or to change a lens. Because the opening of the bag is nice and wide and the straps are long enough, I found I could easily get my camera in or out of the bag with it still on my shoulder. My big test came when I wanted to change my lens while at the Botanical Gardens. I was easily able to change the lens while keeping the bag on my shoulder. Score!! That really sealed the deal for me!
Sufficient Protection for my Gear: Given how much cameras, lenses, and various gear costs, I want my bag to have sufficient padding so I know it's protected. Of all the camera bags I've tried, this one, hands down, has the best protection. This is because of the removable basket which holds the camera & lenses. Because of this, the bottom is also padded, which most camera bags that look like purse are missing. I feel very secure that my gear is protected in this bag.
Removeable Basket for Camera/Lenses: Speaking of the removable basket...this is definitely a perk I had underestimated! The basket that holds the camera & lens, in addition to being nice and cushioned for protection, is completely customizable (like most camera bags).
It comes with three velcro divider panels that you can configure however you want to best hold your stuff. I chose to only use two of them, but it's nice to have that third option! Since you can remove this from the bag, this makes the bag so much more versatile! I will definitely use this bag as a non-camera bag as well as camera bag.
The problem with other bags that don't have the removable basket is that to use it as a non-camera bag, you'd have to remove the dividers. If you've tried that you know how annoying it is to try to get it back to the way you had it (think of it like someone moving your car seat and then having to get it back just the way you had it).
With this bag, I don't have to worry about that! I just remove the basket, my dividers stay in place, and boom...I have a non-camera bag! Perfect! (and having that versatility helped to justify the cost for me)
Just a bit more gushing...the leather is like butter. It's SO smooth and soft. The zippers are smooth and it doesn't tend to snag or catch. Everything with this bag is just top notch quality.
Now, I'm not going to lie...this bag wasn't cheap, but you're paying for the leather and the high quality. It was a little splurge for myself and I don't regret it for a second. This bag is well worth the money if you are looking for one to invest in for the long haul.
A couple of things to note if you're interested in getting one of these (and you live outside of Australia). The price shown on the website is in Australian Dollar (I didn't realize that at first, I thought it showed the conversion to US Dollar). Right now, the exchange rate between AUD and USD is more in favor for the US Dollar, so the price for us is actually less than what is displayed online (i.e. if it said $10 in AUD, it would be less than $10 USD, make sense?). Also, the prices shown include an Australian tax, which is subtracted once you add this to your bag/cart (provided you're not in Australia).
These two factors made the bag much more reasonably priced. Shipping is expensive, there's no way around that and it's not 3 Annies's fault. That's just international shipping for you. For me it was $68AUD, so a little less in USD. But, again, I love this bag so much, for me, it was totally worth it!
One final note...customer service is fantastic! If you 'like' their Facebook page, you'll see the owner, Margo, regulary updates it and comments on people's posts or questions (as well as providing discount codes...I bought mine when they had a $30 off sale). I also emailed her directly to ask her a question before I ordered mine and she was prompt with her reply and super friendly. I can't say enough good things about this bag and this company!
If you want to treat yourself...I highly recommend this bag! Even if you're not a photographer, you can use this for a baby bag, or by removing that inside basket, as just a regular bag! So, really, this bag is for everyone!
What do you think, folks? If you're in the market for a really nice and multi purpose bag, then I definitely encourage you to check this one out!