Recently I ordered some new Tuff Luv DSLR Shoulder Bags from my friends at LoveCases. I’m always on the lookout for new ways to carry my gear and this time I was looking for some over-the-shoulder camera bags. I’ve talked at length about my gear bags in the past and I own plenty. I own a ton of photography gear and each job I go on will have different requirements. For big jobs I have big gear bags. For day trips walking around Washington, DC I want to travel light. In the past I’ve used sling style bags but I quickly discovered that they only worked over one shoulder (and after a long day it becomes a little fatiguing when you can’t switch shoulders). I felt it was time to try a shoulder style bag again and the Tuff Luv DSLR Shoulder Bags looked like they were perfect for my needs. In this blog post I’ll be sharing my full review of them.
I think it’s important to let my readers know that equipment reviewers like me often work with companies to try out new gear to write the reviews we share. Sometimes I’ll be given a nice discount and occasionally I get to keep the gear I’m reviewing. For companies that sell gear it’s a way to compensate reviewers for their time and effort. While this will sometimes influence some reviewers to write positive reviews I will always share my opinion and personal experiences both positive and negative. Receiving free or discounted gear will never influence my reviews.
Most of the time I write reviews about products I’ve purchased with my own money and use on a daily basis. By buying something myself (without discounts or compensation) I can find out exactly what a real customer experience will be and that’s what happened when I purchased two Tuff-Luf DSLR Shoulder Bags from my friends at Love Cases.
Buying Photography Gear From Overseas
Generally speaking I buy gear from stores in the country I live in (the United States). From time to time I’ll find something unique that’s only available from an overseas company. I remember many years ago I bought a battery grip for my old Sony A100 DSLR from a Korean company (because there wasn’t anything like it available in the US). While I waited for it to arrive I had all sorts of thoughts of doom and gloom. Luckily the grip arrived and worked great for many years. I’ve heard my fair share of horror stories about counterfeit gear and companies taking money and running and I’m always careful. If you’re going to do business with a company that’s not located in your own country you really need to do your homework.
Love Cases is a UK based company that sells camera accessories and they’ve been a totally professional company to deal with. Their prices are super competitive and they have a number of items that aren’t available in the US.
International shipping can really extend the amount of time it takes for your order to arrive and paying in a foreign currency can also add a day or two to your shipping date. But if you’re looking for something unique, fairly priced and better than you’re expecting then I totally recommend giving Love Cases a try.
Ordering From Love Cases
A little over a month ago I was in the market for some new over-the-shoulder bags to replace my sling style bags. I wanted something that was medium sized to carry plenty of gear but not encourage me to overpack (and add unnecessary weight to my shoulder). When I saw the Tuff Luv DSLR Shoulder Bags on the Love Cases website they looked perfect for me. In addition to having the size and features I was looking for I was also impressed that they came in two colors (a normal looking Black/Grey and a very cool looking Brown/Beige). It was also nice that they were so reasonably priced (about $26.50 each). I decided to order both colors to give me the most flexibility (I’ll talk more about how I use my bags later).
Ordering online was a simple process. I went to the page with the bag I wanted and clicked the red “ADD TO MY BAG” button. Because I was buying two different colored bags I had to click the “CONTINUE SHOPPING” button and navigate to the page for the second bag. Once it was added to my bag it was time to check out.
My total for the two bags, VAT and shipping was 37.48£ ($58.38 US). I opted for the less expensive shipping option which was a third of the cost of the DHL option. This attempt to save a few dollars turned out to be something I’ll never do again (but I’m glad I did it this one time so I would know how long it really takes).
To pay I used PayPal (to handle the exchange from US dollars to British pound sterling) and that was pretty painless. It took a few days for my payment to clear and then I received an email letting me know my order had shipped.
Unfortunately the delivery took considerably longer than the 4-8 days I expected. It was actually much closer to three weeks. Saving money is great but I found it frustrating to not know when my order would be arriving. It turns out the lower cost shipping doesn’t include any way to track an order. If you’re not in a hurry and your budget is tight then the low cost shipping option is great. Personally I’ll be using the DHL option from now on.
The DSLR Shoulder Bag
My bags arrived and they turned out to be a little bigger than I was expecting. I don’t know if the small pictures on their website had me thinking they’d be smaller but I was pleasantly surprised by what arrived. I found the Brown/Beige color more to my liking (I like earthy colors) but I expect the black/grey color to be more popular. The build quality was great for a bag that was so reasonably priced.
As an over the shoulder bag it’s a great size and well padded. The pad on the shoulder strap is pretty basic but if you don’t overload the bag with heavy items it should be comfortable for a full days use. The design of the bag includes an over the top flap that keeps everything inside the bag in place when snapped closed. This design lets you keep the inner flap unzipped for quick access as well as stowing the shoulder strap under the flap when you want to only use the top handle (check out the photo at the top of this article).
Inside there are three padded dividers that can be rearranged depending on what you’ll be carrying. Here’s a look inside the bag:
For most camera owners it’s got plenty of room inside for a camera (with a lens attached) and a few lenses. I found the protective padding to be great for such an inexpensive bag. It’s not going to protect your gear from some serious drops but it’s more than adequate for normal usage.
If you’re using one of the slim mirrorless cameras then this bag should be able to hold your camera along with most, if not all, of your lenses. It held my full frame camera with a grip attached and the lens removed but I prefer to keep my camera on my shoulder (it’s easier for me to take quick shots that way). With my camera over my shoulder I get extra space for more gear inside the bag.
Shoulder bag manufacturers like to add lots of pockets and places to store additional gear and this bag was no different. Traditionally there’s no difference from one bag manufacturer to another. But the Tuff-Luv Shoulder Bag had a pair of clever side pockets unlike anything I’ve seen before. Here’s a look at how Tuff-Luv located their side pockets:
Unlike most bags that have flaps over the outside pockets the Tuff-Luv integrates the outside pockets into the shoulder strap. This system lets me keep items like flashes or a water bottle easy to access without opening up the main compartment of the bag. Here’s a look at a water bottle in one of the outside pockets:
And here’s what it looks like with a flash in the outside compartment:
For things that I need to grab quickly these outside pockets have been working great.
In addition to the main compartment and the two end of the bag outside pockets there are three more compartments. On the main flap there’s a zippered pocket that’s perfect for holding small but important things like your cell phone, a set of keys or your wallet. During the last wedding I shot I used this pocket to put rechargeable batteries after I used them up (by separating used batteries from fully charged batteries I could make battery changes faster and with confidence I was installing good batteries). It’s a small but really useful pocket.
Under the main flap is a compartment that has inside pockets and loops like you’d find in a briefcase. I’m not a news reporter or a full-time photo journalist but there have been times when I covered an event and having a pen and a small pad of paper to take notes in my bag was super useful. If you do make a living taking notes (in addition to taking pictures) then this additional organization will be totally welcome. Here’s a look at the “office” organization pocket on the front of the bag:
One last compartment is a pocket on the rear of the bag that’s kept closed by an inch or so of velcro. Here’s a look at the rear compartment:
This pocket (like the front pocket) is designed to sit flat against the bag so it doesn’t hold bulky items. So far it’s been a great place to put flash gels and other miscellaneous items that I need quick access to.
How I Use my Shoulder Bags
I know that I’m not like everyone else out there when it comes to camera bags. I own several bags and each of them are designed to hold different things in different ways. I have tripod bags, lightstand bags, hard sided bags, rolling bags, backpacks, sling bags, hip packs, small bags, large bags and bags that are difficult to describe. Most of my gear is stored in my office in totes or on shelves and before I depart for a job I pack my gear in the appropriate bags to make transporting my gear as easy as possible.
It’s not unusual for me to use bags in ways they were never intended and that turned out to be the case with these shoulder bags. On a recent wedding shoot, for example, I had both the black/grey and the brown/beige bags with me all day and I never placed a camera in either of them. Instead I used the black one for lenses, empty memory cards and spare DSLR batteries and the brown bag was used to carry flashes, AA sized batteries and remote triggers. Having two different colored bags helped me find exactly what I was looking for quickly and easily.
Here’s a look at both of my over-the-shoulder bags together:
Are these the perfect shoulder bags? The easy answer is no. I’d love to see an integrated rain cover and a way to attach a travel sized tripod but I don’t know of many over-the-shoulder style bags have those options. A little thicker padding might be nice but I don’t want the bag to be any larger.
I prefer the comfort of a backpack with the weight distributed across both shoulders and supported by a waist belt. Unfortunately, more and more places are not allowing backpacks (due to the recent Boston Marathon bombing). When I can’t use a backpack a good shoulder bag is a great alternative and these bags from Tuff-Luv have been working great for me. They easily hold everything I need for a day long photowalk and even leave me some space for a bottle of water or two. For me these two bags have done everything I’ve asked and for under $60 (delivered) for both of them I think they’re a real bargain.
To order the Tuff-Luv DSLR Shoulder Bag (black/grey) from LoveCases.co.uk click here.
To order the Tuff-Luv DSLR Shoulder Bag (brown/beige) from LoveCases.co.uk click here.
To check out all of the DSLR size bags that LoveCases.co.uk sells click here.