Hello ONA Astoria - my new camera bag.
Some people may have seen my search for a camera bag on "photography-on-the.net" - if not, I was basically looking for a discrete large messenger camera bag.
The ONA Astoria perfectly fits that bill - nothing gives it away as a camera bag, except maybe the slightly boxy look - it is a bit thicker than regular messenger bags.
The ONA Astoria fits the bill well - on paper, a large messenger bag, that looks discrete and as a plus has a laptop slot too. How does it do in real life? Well, I just got it - see the quick snap below and the first thing I can say is that it is big. Space will not be an issue for most shooter with the ONA Astoria - I can put a gripped 5D MK II in there and have plenty of space left. - Those who need more space than the Astoria can offer possibly don't want to travel discretely in an urban (or non-urban) environment anyway, all other should give this bag a good look.
ONA themselves don't display their origin anywhere, but upon asking (on Twitter) I was told they are New York based.
The leather is sourced from Italy, the canvas from New Jersey and the bag is handmade in the Dominican Republic.
As far as I can tell, the quality is perfect I cannot see any flaws - pretty much as one would expect from an expensive bag. The leather is a very fine and good leather - why good? Well, I accidentally ran my nail across the shoulder pad leaving a mark - rubbing it in with my finger, just a couple of hours later one would be hard pressed to see it. Good leather does have a habit of "healing" from minor scratches - you can still see it, but it becomes less pronounced. (Same holds true for my wallet and before I ruined the soles my Meindl shoes.)
Otherwise the leather is a very fine leather - soft with a very fine texture, smooth to the touch. The same leather is used on the ONA Presido strap which I bought first as a "tester" to on the one hand replace my Canon strap which started to severely cut into my neck and to gain an idea of the quality of ONA equipment. If the strap is well made I could expect similar of the bag.
(Side note on the strap: The leather is really good - the mount points on the camera still look very well dispite the weight. It is a lot tougher than it looks and holds the noted weight (up to 3kg) without any issues. The only complaint I have is that it is a tad long.)
Coming back to the ONA Astoria, I appreciate the fine detail to attention given to the design of the bag. The handle is not attached to the lid but to the mount points of the shoulder strap - this makes the handle stronger and allows use of it even when the bag is full.
The side pockets may look like they don't close bt actually have a central magnet to keep them closed - simple, discrete, clever.
As can be seen int he first photo, the shoulder pad is very large and should distribute weight well - the quality is great too - a rubberised inner layer to avoid slip, followed by two pieces of solid leather wit the strap in between.
Real life use will tell me how comfortable it is, having said that, my initial impression is very positive and I expect it to be very comfortable.
For the laptop users out there: The laptop sleeve is actually a large scale divider, so can be removed if so desired. The laptop slot will easily take a 14" Ultrabook, in my case the U904 with an additional sleeve. So unless one's "on the go" laptop is unreasonably large, most laptops should fit well. (Definitely up to 14".)
Some minor comments:
1) It would have been nice if the interior could be removed (the velcro layer) in the form of a liner as the ONA Astoria is also a perfect bag for non camera use, e.g. files if working as a university. This would also make it more discrete.
2) My only recommendation for improvement: The bottom of the bag is just canvas. I sort of worry that this may wear out over time. Giving it some simple feet would help when setting the bag down - just the same way that office bags tend to have small feet.
The real test will be to see how the ONA Astoria holds up during use - so if I remember, there is yet more to come.
For those interested in ONA bags, please look at www.onabags.com (correct at the time of writing).