Gear Reviews

Gear Review // Ari camera bag by Incase

A bit worn, but perfectly functioning the Ari by Incase is my current camera bag of choice. I’ve used it for all of 2012 and currently have somewhere in the area of 35 weddings on it. 12 more weddings to go this year and I’m not shooting a single one without this bag on my back.

The Quick

I’ve been through more camera bags than I care to admit. I thought I had found the holy grail with the Thinktank retrospective 20, but the strap on it and the way it sit on my shoulder was just too painful after a full day on my feet. Not with the Ari.

The Build

The bag is made of a heavy duty canvas with water repellant coating. I can vouch for the water repellant-ness too as I’ve been caught in one too many rainy downpours. It has a nice little rain fly that stores in the bottom pocket, but it’s so good at keeping rain outside the bag that I stopped carrying it.

The inside is padded very nicely and a few of the smaller pockets have very nice faux fur lining.

The strap is ultra-padded and totally awesome. It looks big and bulky but it wears beautifully all day long.

Zipper is good and strong and the padded handle is perfecto.

I predict this bag lasting many many years.

(Click images to view them larger)

The Use

As stated previously I’ve been using this bag for every wedding this year and couldn’t be happier. As I’ve scaled back the amount of gear I bring to weddings I’ve found the Ari to be the perfect solution for my somewhat minimalist setup. However, it still holds a TON of stuff considering how compact it is. Check out the video below to see exactly how things fit in my bag.

Now, the Ari was actually designed to work with smaller bodied cameras like the leica m9 and maybe a point and shoot to stash in the front zipper pocket. It does hold my Nikon D4 with a lens on it, but it won’t zip like that. So, if you’re someone that often puts their camera away with a lens on it… this bag is not for you. Honestly, I don’t know why you would. When I need two hands I just strap my camera on my shoulder or put it down somewhere… I never put it back in my bag. When I’m done shooting I just stow the D4 with the body cap and it zips up perfectly.

It does zip just fine with a lens on a camera without a gripped body… like the Nikon D800 or Canon 5D Mark III. It will hold a larger lens like the 70-200 2.8, but not while attached to the body, and not very comfortably with the lens hood. Thankfully, I never use zoom lenses at weddings and my prime lenses tend to be nice and compact. I don’t use lens hoods either.

The front zipper with magnetic cover is a really useful feature too. If you don’t store something enormous there (like I do) then it’s perfect for holding an iphone, point and shoot camera (I recommend the Fuji X-100), keys, wallet, and other various stuff. It happens to hold an m9 with 35mm 1.4 lens perfectly so I use it for that, or an LED lite panel I often use.

(Click images to view them larger)

The Conclusion

The Ari by Incase is the perfect gear bag for me. I can’t think of a single change to make to this bag… except MAYBE one exterior slot to slide a phone easier. It’s the perfect solution for comfort meets function. Sure, I’m tired after a 15 hour wedding day but no bag is going to change that and my back is worlds better off than when I use any other bag. It just feels like an extension of yourself strapped in and ready to rock a photo session. If you’re ready to stop your search for the ultimate camera bag and start concentrating on your photography instead… then buy it.

Summary

Rating

You’ve been looking for the holy grail of camera bags… and this is it.

  • Price
    $190
  • In my bag?
    It is my bag.
About Sam Hurd

Sam is a professional wedding and editorial photographer based in the Washington DC area. He photographs 40+ weddings a year, press events, commercial portraiture, and regularly hosts workshops in his Baltimore MD studio and around the world. His work has been published internationally including the Wall Street Journal, the NYTimes, and the Washington Post. He's available for commissions worldwide.

Blog Comments

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  1. Hi Sam,

    I am surprised you only use one body for weddings. Would be really interesting to hear what you think about 1 vs 2 bodies?

    Best,
    Stefan

  2. 2 bodies are annoying to carry around… that about sums it up

  3. Great review! I’ve been looking into these new incase bags

    I’d like to know more about your 50mm free lensing modification

  4. What LED light are you using??

  5. Sam, do you not carry any speedlites/strobes to weddings??

  6. Great review! I have one question, however. Where did you find the cover for your macbook? I’d love to get one similar.

Trackbacks

  1. […] These are the items I currently bring with me to every wedding shoot: Nikon D4 (reviewed here) Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens – read my review Sigma 85mm f/1.4 lens – read my review Nikon 45mm f/2.8 PC-E Tilt Shift – read my review Nikon 135mm f/2 Nikon 24mm f/1.4 – read my review Ari by Incase – read my review […]

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