If you travel a lot, or want to carry your camera gear in a smart looking bag for commercial shoots and weddings then a rolling bag is often the best way to go. The PhotoStream RL 150 is a new rolling camera bag that begins a new line for Lowepro. The existing Pro Roller lineup remains available, and the PhotoStream roller sits at a much lower price point, and also features a more modern design. The bag carries standard sized DSLRs with lenses attached, or pro bodies without lenses attached, and the overall dimensions should comfortably fit almost all international carry-on regulations. In fact, this bag is so skinny that you’ll also be able to slot it into most regional jets without much trouble.
- 1-2 Pro DSLRs, one with up to 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
- Up to 8 lenses/speedlights
- 15″ laptop
- Internal Dimensions: 31.5 x 15.5 x 48 cm (12.40 x 6.10 x 18.90 in)
- External Dimensions: 37.5 x 18.5 x 55.5 cm (14.76 x 7.28 x 21.85 in)
- Weight: 3.63 kg (7.99 lbs)
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PhotoStream RL 150 Features
To keep the price and weight down, the PhotoStream roller has relatively few features, but there’s still a few nifty tricks that are worth talking about. The main lid of the bag has horizontal grooves in it that allow you to fold back the top portion of it to retrieve a laptop quickly at security checkpoints, and the laptop sleeve will comfortably hold at 15″ machine. The front shell of the bag is relatively rigid, so that laptop sleeve itself doesn’t need to have a lot of padding, and this means it doesn’t take up a lot of internal volume whether you are using it or not. It works very well, and I’m glad to see a hook-and-loop flap on the top to prevent the laptop sliding out when the lid is fully opened. Overall, in terms of laptop carrying, this bag does an excellent job.
On the side of the bag there’s a paid of straps for attaching a tripod, but sadly there is no elastic or mesh pocket at the base to insert a tripod foot or two. This means that a tripod can easily work it’s way loose because it’s hard for the nylon webbing straps to grip cylindrical tripod legs. Usually on a roller bag or backpack, these two straps are there for stability and positioning of the tripod, whilst the lower leg pocket is actually doing the work of holding the tripod off the ground. I found the lack of this feature to be quite annoying, and I would not want to be using a tripod with this bag very often. That said, there’s other things that the straps can be used for, such as securing a jacket while you are travelling.
Packing the interior of the bag takes a little getting used to because you have to pack around the raised areas in the base that are accommodating the telescopic handle. For this reason, as you can see in the photos, the camera body actually has to go at the bottom of the bag because there’s simply not enough height at the top. Pro bodies, or standard bodies with grips will fit in the bag, but they have to be places sideways so that they fit into the gaps between these raised sections. It means you can’t leave a lens attached to a pro-sized body when it’s in the bag, but you could conceivably fit up to three large bodies in there if you had to.
I’m underlining the fact that you have to remove lenses from pro bodies, because the Lowepro website actually has this information incorrect. You CANNOT leave lenses attached to pro-sized bodies in the PhotoStream RL 150 roller bag. Period.
Overall, the bag feels very nicely finished, and it uses the same rolling wheels and hardware as the more expensive Pro Roller series so you should be able to drag this thing for hundreds of miles with no issues. There’s a definite lightweight feel to the whole thing, with the slim nature of the grab handles, and the feel of the telescoping handle, but it doesn’t feel overly cheap.
When it comes to rolling camera bags, it’s hard to look past Think Tank Photo. In this case, the Airport Advantage roller is the most direct comparison. Sizing is similar between the Advantage and the PhotoStream, but the interior design of the Think Tank option will permit a pro-sized body to have a lens attached to it during transport, and that might be enough motivation for some people to go with that option. Whilst the MSRP of the PhotoStream is the same as the Airport Advantage, I do think you’ll be able to find discounts on the Lowepro option to get it into the $200 range.
If you’re paying particular attention to price, you’ll no doubt be very happy with the Lowepro roller. If the extra $50 doesn’t phase you, I would personally choose the Airport Advantage because of the deeper bottom end of the bag compared to the Lowepro bag. In the Think Tank bag, the telescoping handle only goes half way down the bag’s interior, and this is what allows you to leave a lens attached to a pro body, and also to fit super telephoto lenses that has a large lens hood, such as a 300mm f/2.8 or a 200-400 f/4. You simply cannot fit those into the PhotoStream RL 150, so that might make up a lot of people’s minds for them.
Note: When you spend over $50 on the Think Tank website after clicking one of the links on this page, such as this one, you’ll automatically get to choose a free gift at checkout, such as a Think Tank memory card holder or other small accessory. More details here.
Lowepro seems to have been slowly pivoting their bag designs to a fresher look in recent years, and this PhotoStream RL 150 is no exception. I like the classy but cool styling, and for the low price point, the whole thing is rather impressive. Roller bags have typically occupied a higher price point than a good backpack, due to the complex nature of the rolling hardware and telescoping handles, but this bag breaks the mold. It’s a good price at $250, but it’s a truly great price if you can get it for the $200 price that I’ve seen in many places. If you step up to a higher price point with a Think Tank roller, there’s definitely a more quality feel to the hardware, such as the handles and zippers, but I’m really not faulting the PhotoStream on that because obviously it all comes down to hitting that price point, and also the relatively low weight of the bag. The only thing I will fault on this is the lack of a side pocket for the tripod feet, and the fact that the telescoping handle runs the entire length of the bag’s interior, unlike the similarly sized Think Tank bag. For the price conscious traveling photographer though, this is an excellent rolling bag.
Where to Buy
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