Ari Marcopoulos Camera Bag

A couple of months ago the thought crept into my mind that it was time to get a more suitable camera bag for my needs. Oddly enough I have only ever had two or three camera bags, one of which was a small, single camera crumpler and the other a small Lowepro backpack. The problem I was coming up against was that I found myself carrying two or sometimes three different bags around with me from day to day. One for my essential camera gear, one for my simple small day to day things like an iPad, notebooks, etc. and one for my work needs like my laptop, tools, cables and other such things. Problem was that more often than not it was the cameras that were getting left behind and while I always at least had my small rangefinder on hand I often wished I had my 5D or other cameras for different things that would come up to shoot.

When I first started to look into getting a new bag I thought I wanted something that could carry everything all at once. I researched all of the big camera backpacks on the market and was close to jumping in but was quickly grounded when it was suggested to me that maybe I don’t really need to have everything with me all the time. Perhaps its best to split work and casual needs into a couple of bags because more often than not I don’t need both sets of gear at once. Once I let the idea settle in I realized I could do all I needed with a nice simple photo bag that was also capable of carrying a few other everyday needs like my iPad, notebooks and pens.

This made the search a bit more simple and I narrowed it down and decided to get one that I had my eye on for quite some time. The Ari Marcopoulos Camera Bag made by Incase which was co-designed with the bags namesake. Clumsy name aside, after measuring it out and deciding it appeared to be big enough for my needs I jumped in.

The first thing I noticed when loading my gear in for the first time was that it felt smaller than I thought it would be. I was used to using a slightly larger lowepro backpack for my camera gear. After considering the size of the bag versus what I felt I  really needed to carry from day to day I found that its humble size helped me fully realize that I don’t need to go full tilt with camera gear every day. What I narrowed it down to still may seem like a lot to some but it’s just enough for me to feel prepared to pull out a camera of choice at a moments notice. As of this writing the photo below shows what I am carrying inside at the moment. It varies a little depending on the day but this is a pretty typical set up.


After spending some time with the bag I can see why it may have cost so much for such a simple, mid sized bag, it’s the details. A lot of thought seemed to have gone into the details of how it was assembled such as reinforced stitching all over the place, plenty of cushy padding, and different types of fabric to best accommodate each part of the bag. For instance, there is a nice soft furry fabric liner for both the iPad area as well as the spot designed to accommodate a small point and shoot camera. I usually stray away from products that have been over engineered to the point where they feel contrived but I feel this bag manages to hold steady to that important balance between cleverness, usability, and style.

The attention to detail where the internal organization is concerned is very specific and planned to the point where the only logical places to store your different gear is exactly where it was designed to be stored (such as your main camera body with lens fitting only in the middle slot). This is because that while the interior section dividers are secured with velcro, and are able to be removed if you choose to do so, they can not be placed wherever you please inside the bag because most of the interior is a simple padded nylon fabric. This limits your options if you are the type that feels the need to be overly specific with such things but for me the design intentions worked out perfectly.

The ambidextrous nature of the strap design was a huge plus in my eyes as I greatly prefer having the strap rest on my left shoulder where many sling type camera bags force it onto your right. Once it is pulled tight across your chest it fits really comfortably. The strap also features a clever design that makes it quick and easy to tighten and loosen the bag on your back as needed with a simple pull and while did take a little getting used to I found this to be a really handy feature on a camera bag. Speaking of the feel of the bag while worn, I have a fairly wide frame and this bag suits me well. My brother, who has a tall, slim build couldn’t get as comfortable in the bag as it fit a little too big for him. This is something to take in consideration if you are someone with a smaller build but may not be true for everyone, just wanted to mention it.

When I pull the strap to fit lower the bag can be pulled around in front of me and sit open which makes for a great work surface. This is because of the way the zipper opening pulls back some of the fabric of the front of the bag leaving its overall profile slightly curved when closed. The fabric then does not simply bunch up at the opening, it sits open in more of a ‘V’ shaped opening which makes it easy to get to what I need. With many messenger style bags the weight of the bag will pull the main opening closed leaving it a bit more difficult to easily get things in and out of the bag. This already came in handy recently during a trip to a lake nearby. I had waded out 20 feet or so into the water and was able to confidently have the bag open by my side where I was able to change out cameras and gear without any struggle and left me not worried about dropping anything into the water.

ari 2

One last little thing I wanted to toss in here about its physical features was the fact that there are a couple of straps on the bottom of the bag for a tripod or jacket should you need them. Also, as you will see in the photo below, there is a subtle grey scale screen printed on the back side of the bag, most likely a random idea from the photographer that ended up in the design. I am thankful they decided to simply leave it hidden on the back side of the bag.

There is a nice zippered space inside the bag behind the main camera compartment where you can store a notebook/papers and has a dedicated sleeve designed specifically for an iPad but any small tablet or device similar in size would fit in there just fine. I was actually surprised at how much I could comfortably fit in this section of the bad but if I stuff it too full it does eat into the space within the bag overall.

Of course, a perfect bag does not exist and there are a couple of things that I didn’t really care for personally. On the front of the bag there is a small flap held down with a magnet and behind the flap is a small zipped access point to the inside of the bag where they made space for a small point and shoot. While this is a handy feature that I have used a couple of times I feel the zipper opening there under the flap is not quite long enough and I have to put more effort into digging my little XA2 out than I would like. I do sometimes miss having a place to put a water bottle but I have gotten used to this and on occasion I will shove one in the bag above the cameras, not ideal, but it works. There is also a rain fly that is stuffed into a hidden bottom pocket which is great and all but the fly has a weird face printed on it that they added supposedly as a design feature from the photographer they collaborated with on the bag but to me its just a bit to ugly for its own good and clashes horribly with the otherwise wonderfully minimal appearance. This can be remedied by flipping the fly inside out but this does leave the stitching exposed.

My solution for this was to simply head to a local camping store and buy a bottle of Tectron water repellent. The bag is a heavy canvas material which appears to be as close to 18 percent grey as they could manage to make it, another clever design detail, but this does leave it fairly open to attract dirt and stains so I felt better after adding a couple of coats of the repellent which left water rolling right off it’s surface and has over the last couple of months kept it cleaner than I feel it would have been otherwise.

ari 3

Overall I feel it was well worth the money spent and I can see getting a lot of use out of this great bag assuming it stands the test of time and heavy use which is always the deciding factor of any bags true vitality. I have no reason to believe I wont get a few good years out of it. I have already grown to miss it when I don’t have it around and it has proven to be a fantastic companion to my every day and allowed me to keep shooting along side my often hectic life. I can easily recommend anyone looking for a new camera bag to give this a go. You can find more information on the bag on its dedicated page on the Incase website here.

If you have any questions more specific about the bag I can do my best to answer them so feel free to leave any in the comments below. Also, after a couple of requests, I added the top image in the review as a desktop for anyone interested.


  1. revanxp - November 21, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    The first picture is beautiful. You should make one of your wallpapers out of it

  2. Hayes Potter - November 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    I totally want the first picture as a wallpaper, pweaaaseee John.

  3. Jorge Quinteros - November 22, 2011 at 3:05 am

    Like most photographer, I too have a slight obsession with camera bags. Despite not necessarily needing one at the moment, I’m always on the lookout for a new bag that will offer the best combination of style, comfort and enough storage capacity. I’ve been eying this particular bag for quite some time and I happen to know that Justin Blanton owns it but I’ve yet to come across a thorough review of one other than owners simply stating how much they love it.

    Camera bags that don’t necessarily look like such are amongst the most popular on my book. I’ve yet to see anyone here in New York walk around with this bag and there’s only so much you can take from it by meticulously inspecting every photograph you see of it. It certainly does look sleek and beautiful. I would just love to see it in person before dishing out $200. Other than that, great buy all around.

  4. Luke - November 22, 2011 at 11:03 am

    hmm really really nice bag. but one question: does a 15″ macbookpro fit in it?

  5. kurt - November 22, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    bro, i love your work. i love that you let people use your images as their desktop backgrounds. anyways, keep it up. too much cool photos can’t decide which ones to use. haha

  6. john - November 22, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Luke, it is not big enough for a computer that size. It was designed to fit an iPad but I believe a 13″ air would be the biggest computer you would want to comfortably fit inside.

  7. Britzy - November 22, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Great man, you make a wonderful job


  8. Brandon - November 24, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Hey John-
    I just got this bag about a week ago and love it as well, although I don’t seem to get as much gear in mine. Any chance you could post a shot of the inside, I’d love to see how you have it organized.

    I can get my 5d with 50 1.2 attached, a 24-105, flash, M50s, iPad, notebook, and a couple of pens…and that fills it to the brim.

    Brilliant job on the site redesign btw, a great improvement on an already good looking design.

  9. John - November 27, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Brandon, it’s true, it doesn’t take much to stuff this modest sized bag, its more a game of minimal shooting but what you have doesn’t sound like that much to me. Even with the zoom lens. I think the slightly bigger headphones may be what would be the biggest factor, I’m curious if without those inside if the camera fits ok in the middle with the flash and lens on the outside two spots. Just takes a little experimenting I think. If I have time I will try to get a couple of photos of the inside when its packed though!

  10. Andrew Davidson - November 28, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    What is the interesting leather wrist strap that is attached to the 35mm? I would love to get my hands on something like that.

  11. John - November 28, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Andrew, ah yes I love that little strap and was planning on doing a write up on it next week!

  12. Val - November 30, 2011 at 12:00 am

    bag geek! :) i love it

  13. Brian - December 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Hi John I love this wallpaper, but the iPhone link does not work. Wondering if you could fix :)

  14. john - December 1, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Brian, sorry about that, should be all fixed up now.

  15. Chris - December 5, 2011 at 3:54 am

    The greyscale design on the back is meant for setting your white balance in the field. To me it’s a pretty clever idea. One shot of the back of your gear bag can calibrate your camera for an entire shoot.

    If you pull the dividers out you can fit a 15″ Macbook Pro into it. Not the best fit, but it works in a pinch. However, the weight of the computer is the biggest problem. At some point if you add too much weight to a sling bag it causes a lot of shoulder pain (for me at least).

    I switched from a Retrospective 5 to the Ari Marcopolous bag to hold my 4/3rds gear. It’s a bit big for that purpose, but I really like it. Plenty of room for everything I need, and the strap system is really comfortable and convenient.

  16. john - December 5, 2011 at 4:24 am

    Chris, Thanks for the note on the larger macbook fitting! Im sure that would be a tight fit! And yeah, that is a fault with single strap bags, they do wear down your back muscles in weird ways if your wearing them for an extended period with a lot of weight inside.

    I think that a bag this size would be great for a smaller camera rig like that, good choice!

    Ah, and I left out the fact that you could use it as a color calibration/grey card in a pinch to simplify things in the review. This and because it seemed like a gimmick tossed in to add a bullet point on the feature list ;) but maybe it does come in handy to some owners.

    Then again, I don’t mess too much with grey cards and the like while out shooting so my opinion is a bit slanted… though I do remember thinking a calibration tool like this would be handy at times:

  17. Ari Marcopoulos/Shootsac - und einer für Euch! | BlogTimes - Fotografieblog - December 5, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    […] hat ebenfalls vor kurzem über die Tasche berichtet. […]

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  19. Mark - January 3, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    What a wonderful review, you had me sold when I read it awhile ago.

    InCase had a 40% off coupon floating around the internets yesterday and I ended up picking up myself a bag.

  20. Sven - May 1, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Thanks for the great review. This might well be my “carry all day bag”.

    I’m wondering if a telephoto zoom like a 80-200 f2.8 will fit in there (standing up?).

    Also what’s the quality of the inner lining like? It looks a bit thin and weak on the incase website. I might be mistaking though.

  21. Andy - May 9, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Hi there, great review of the bag. I have owned it as well for over a year now. My question to you is, how do you wash it/keep it clean on the outside and inside? I’m trying to figure out how to keep it from getting too dirty. Thanks!

  22. John - May 13, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Andy, It is prone to getting dirty isn’t it? Because it is simply canvas im sure it would be ok with a light soap and water or just water with a scrubby brush. Once its clean and dry I would suggest coating it with 3M fabric Protectant or better yet, there is a spray that I used that is made for camping/outdoor clothing that seals the fabric from water and dirt much more effectively, REI sells a handful of products like this: or this

    Inside never gets so dirty, but I do take out the dividers and everything and dust it out sometimes.

  23. David - May 25, 2012 at 12:17 am

    I’ve only had mine for a few weeks [and loving it] but I’ve been thinking about dirt too. Thanks for the tip on REI, John; I’ll give that a shot!

  24. Scott Youmans - September 19, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    I read that the dedicated space for the iPad isn’t large enough for an iPad with a case. Ironically I have an incase case for my iPad and would like be able use the dedicated pocket. Any thoughts?

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