Towards the end of last year Australian Owned camera bag designers 3 Annies released a limited edition of 20 Silver “Audrey Lu” Leather Camera Bags and thanks to some timely Christmas money I contacted them in January and asked if they had any left. They had just two left but they wanted to give one to me… I was blown away!
Turns out Margo (and her daughter and business partner Rowe) had found me via my Kelly Moore Libby Bag review from a few years ago and was hooked on my blog. I said I planned to do a review after I’d used it for several weeks and got a feel for it. So I was gifted the bag, there was no request for me to blog about it and I wasn’t paid a cent. Ok, now onto the review.
The bag arrived in an Australian Post satchel and shipping was really fast. When I pulled it out it was in a handmade calico dust bag that is so super sweet, I think I even let out an “aww”. I was told they’d run out of stock of their normal dust covers but didn’t want me to miss out, so special. The bag itself was well protected with the handles, zips and metal details covered in thin foam wrap.
The Silver Audrey Lu just takes your breath away. Never in a million years did I ever think I’d own a silver real leather camera bag. Only grown ups have fancy leather bags. I grew up using Lowepro’s and canvas backpacks. This thing was fancy, fierce and so ME!
See the thing with 3 Annies is the details, not just on their bags designs but also in the sales process. Some might have thought the dust bag wasn’t professional or modern enough but personally I loved the quirky personalised charm. The same goes for the swing tags. Sweet, natural little details that tie in perfectly with their overall branding. I took off the little metal charm and twine and hung it near my kitchen sink.
All these photographs are of the bag as soon as I received it. Isn’t the shiny name plate fancy, it’s got it’s own bling! See that squooshy bit of leather just above the zipper? It’s nice and soft, just how the whole bag will be after a few months of use. It will become more pliable and adapt to the curve of my hip and the shape of my shoulder. That is something a PU Camera Bag can’t do, instead they crack, trust me I know. I do wish it had a Lens Cap swing pocket like my ShutterBag Safari has as I’m always hunting for my cap.
It’s not just about the leather, I love the hardware too. They are just as shiny as the bag, generously sized and definitely not flimsy. The straps arre sewn on but they are also screwed in place with matching hardware. In the last two months of using the bag quite rigorously and with varying weights I haven’t come across any issues. A screw came loose but it was simple to fix with a mini screwdriver.
The base of the bag has five big round metal studs to protect the leather. I’m not holding out much hope for these, I’ve put my bags in some disgusting, uneven, jagged, damp, dark and rough places. Whilst the bag might get a beating, my gear wont and that’s the whole point so if I get a few scratches on the bottom it doesn’t bother me.
Ahh the zips! Now I have a huge issue with cheap zips and I can spot them a mile off but it’s easy to miss them when buying online. This is why I want to show you all the details. The zips on Audrey Lu are also silver, made of hard metal and substantial in size, there is nothing flimsy about them. The same zippers are used on the front two pockets and on the larger back pocket.
The camera strap is adjustable, the buckle doesn’t slip and is a good width. The shoulder pad is slowly losing it’s stiffness and stopped slipping on my shoulder after the first couple of wears. My bags can become quite heavy and if I’m travelling into the city for a full day or using it as a carry-on I hate too much strain on my shoulders, the pad definitely helps.
Even with my big arms I can carry the bag using the smaller handles on my shoulder. Generally I use the standard handles hooked with my elbow when walking around at events or in shops but when I’m in transit or when I’m late and trekking across Surry Hills I use the shoulder strap. It’s easily detachable, I can quickly take it off, fold it and place it in one of the pockets. Generally I’m pretty lazy and just leave the shoulder strap swinging underneath but if it’s a fancy event I try to keep her looking her best.
How cool is the black and white stripe lining, I’m a big fan. Ok, enough about looks, lets talk about storage! The zipper opens up nice and wide so you can get your hands and your gear in easily. The foam is nice and thick and all the panels can be easily moved and adjusted with velcro panels. There are four main sections within the pull-out protector but you can still store small/flat things down the sides. There are also slip pockets on each side of the bag which is where I keep my Ventolin.
“Pull-Out Protector” what in the world is that? Well I’m not sure if that’s what it’s called exactly but it’s descriptive. The inner storage and protection for your gear is built like a cradle which you can remove from your bag should you want to just use it like a handbag, something I have done on many occasion. It makes cleaning easier too and I think it’s just clever.
With the Pull-Out Protector removed you can see the full matching lining, just like a regular handbag. There is heaps of room for all your stuff and also a “ladies pocket” as I call them. Suitable for all matter of lady orientated things like tampons, spare hair ties and bobby pins, spare change, a nail file etc. It’s the perfect place to stash things.
What I liked most about the inside lady pocket was that the zipper was reinforced with a leather panel. I’ve found myself janking on others in haste only to break the zip or worse still, ripp the lining. Can you tell I really do have a thing for good zippers?
The back pocket is especially handy. It fits my iPad perfectly and it’s where I keep my phone, airline tickets and other papers. It’s also lined and has the same strong zip. I’m a sucker for big pockets.
I included this picture simply to show you what not to put in your Audrey Lu. My Macbook Pro Retina just fits in the bag… but it doesn’t belong there and I urge you never to try and here’s why. See how the panelled walls are bent and squished, how could you possibly fit any gear in there?
If you did add gear it would push against your laptop and could possibly cause damage to the screen and elements. Audrey Lu was never designed to carry laptops so please, do not put yours in it. If you took the protector out and only carried your wallet, phone and a few other little things it would fit but there would be no protection.
Here’s what I can fit comfortably in my bag when attending a standard event. When I’m shooting close to home I don’t bother packing my charger. If I’m shooting runway I’ll leave the flash at home and pack my 200mm lens instead. This is just an average example of what I’d consider my maximum load.
- Nikon D700
- Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8
- Tamron 70-200mm 2.8
- SB600 Flash
- Gary Fong Collapsible Lightsphere
- Gary Fong Puffer
- 2x Spare Camera Batteries + Charger
- 1x Spare Compact Flash Card
- iPhone5 Charger
- Camera USB Cable
- Foundation/Lip Gloss/Mascara/Telfast/Hair Tie/Mints
- 4x AA Batteries
- iPad2 with Keyboard Cover
- iPhone5 + Accessories (Mic/Light/Macro)
3 Annies “Audrey Lu” in limited edition Silver / Kelly Moore Bags “Libby” in Grey
Here is the size comparison photo you’ve been waiting for. The Libby is an absolute workhorse, it’s huge and I can cram so much into the bag that I’m barely able to lift it. I’ve had it for years and it definitely has it’s place in my heart but for quick jaunts into the city it’s a pain in the ass to lug around.
The Libby is deeper and wider and fits all my gear (laptop included) but it’s just not practical for me in an everyday sense. IF you are in the market for a larger bag like Libby, 3 Annies have just released their Pro Bag in black leather. Audrey Lu is the perfect size and lets face it, she’s also beautiful. She instantly jazzes up my outfits and I’ve never had so many enquiries or random compliments from strangers before. My only major issue is that it’s not available in gold… yet. Don’t worry I’ve got Margo and Rowe on the case!
Check Out Pobke’s Review of Aqua Audrey Lu here and fall in love with her photography as I did. Here is another, MummaDucka’s review of the Black Audrey Lu that I loved and Fat Mum Slim even gave a few bags away last year! Do you find camera bag reviews as helpful as I do? Which camera bags are you lusting for right now? I’m always on the lookout for funky bags to go with my outfits and properly protect my gear.