I have been wanting to review the ONA Union Street camera bag since I first bought it, but I have held off. I held off because there are already a million reviews of the bag out there, and they are all first impressions. Without a doubt, the first impressions of the bag are awesome. But one big question I had when I was looking at the ONA Union Street camera bag was whether or not people liked it after they had owned it for a while. It’s encouraging that people love it when they first pull it out of the bag, but how did they feel about it after using it in the field? So I have held off on this review of the ONA Union Street until now, 9 months after purchasing it.
As you can see, the Union Street is a stylish bag. It is made from waxed cotton, heavy duty leather and antique looking brass hardware. I really like the materials chosen for this bag. The waxed canvas-like material is very rugged. It does scuff and scratch, but that seems to add to the overall character of the bag. In my opinion, my bag looks as good today as the day I got it, if not better. It also gives the bag a certain level of water resistance. Toward the end of the first wedding where I carried this bag, a guest spilled a Bloody Mary on me and the bag. I was happy to see the drink beaded up nicely and most of it had just run right off. I grabbed a napkin, quickly wiped it off, and kept shooting. After the wedding, Instead of taking the time to clean the drink of my bag, I just tossed it into the office with my gear and left it there for a couple days, as seems to be custom for me after a wedding. I haven’t ever cleaned the bag, but the drink left no stains or lasting marks of any kind. I have since used the bag in the rain, the dirt, brush, everywhere. So far the bag has held up great!
The leather is well treated, well stitched, and looks great. Not only is it a nice accent on the straps, but it also makes the bottom of the bag, giving it extra durability. I really like the look of the leather and its functionality.
It is clear that ONA has paid a lot of attention to the details of the Union Street. From the antique hardware to the beautifully stitched logo piece on the inside of the flap, they are clearly trying to make the best bags on the market, and they are definitely giving other manufactures a run for their money. The stitching has held up very well, as has the canvas and the leather. I especially love the little flaplets (I don’t know what else to call them) where the main flap folds over the top of the bag. They are wisely placed to help fill in the gap that would normally be at the ends of the bag when closed. These have worked well to keep dirt and drinks out of the bag.
One big concern for me was ease of access when carrying a lot of gear. The ONA Union Street does well in this regard, considering it’s not a huge bag. It was important to me to have a bag that wasn’t so big that I would bump it into wedding guests, or knock babies over or something embarrassing like that. I already do enough embarrassing things without the help of a giant bag. This bag keeps a low profile and hugs my hip nicely, keeping it out of the way as I work, which I really like. I tend to travel light, even at weddings, so this bag holds my gear nicely. If you carry a lot of stuff, you may have trouble fitting it all into the Union Street.
On my average wedding, I carry a single camera body, two to four lenses, one or two flashes, a remote trigger, memory cards, spare battery, my phone, business cards, and other miscellaneous items. The front pocket is GREAT for those items, by the way. It has four memory cards that tightly hold CF or SD cards, 2 large pockets that are perfect for business cards, notepad, etc, and it has a few slots to hold a pen. I keep the things I need quick access to in those pockets, then the other junk like car keys, gaffers tape, etc just get thrown in around them. There are also thin external pockets on either side of the bag that are perfect for a phone or items like that.
The inside of the bag is magical. It’s so soft! Like most bags, it has the Velcro dividers that allow you to create your own organization, but it also has a large divider along the back that allows you to carry a laptop with your gear. It is JUST big enough to carry the 15″ macbook pro, although I don’t normally carry that with me on a job. I tend to use that pocket for paperwork instead. It’s perfect for hanging onto contracts, schedules, shot lists, etc.
I also really like to use the flap as a place to set my gear. When I am outside, esspecially when the ground is wet or dusty, I can lay the bag on it’s back, and lay my gear on the flap to keep it clean and dry.
Overall, I really really love this bag, but there are just a couple things I would mention. First is the strap length, and if you are looking to buy this bag, it may be fixed by now. I have heard that ONA has fixed this which shows that they listen to their customers, but I will mention it anyway since I am reviewing MY bag. The strap length could be a bit longer. I wear the bag with the strap adjusted to it’s longest length. It puts the bag at a very comfortable place by my hip. It works great for me, but I’m not a big guy. If I were any bigger, I would likely find the strap too short to wear on my shoulder and across my chest to the opposite hip (Like a seat belt chest strap).
Second, if I really stuff my bag, it’s hard to close the bag with the buckles on the front. There are multiple holes punched in those leather straps, but they seem to be more for appearance than function. If they are on anything but the last hole, the straps are too short to close the bag. If you have a lot in your bag, the straps aren’t long enough. I fixed this by punching another set of holes so I can adjust them if I need, which I often do at weddings since I generally try to carry most everything I will need.
Last is the depth. I REALLY wish it were about a half inch deeper. If I put our 15″ Macbook in the laptop pocket, it BARELY fits. There is a nice leather strap to hold it in securely, but I find it hard to get that strap to close over the top of the laptop.
Those things being said, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this bag. I really don’t believe I could find a bag that fits my needs better. I love that it doesn’t look like a normal camera bag, so if I’m out and about, I am less of a target for theft. I love how I don’t have to fidget with it when I am wearing it. I sling it over my shoulder, and go to work. But mostly I love how quickly it allows me to work. I just fold the flap over to leave it open, and it acts as a bucket that I can drop things into and pull things out of as I need them.
Since I don’t use a strap on my camera, it’s really convenient to just drop the camera in lens first. The quality of the interior means I am comfortable putting my lenses in there without lens caps, and there are enough options for organization that I can quickly grab the things I need without having to search around for them. I LOVE the materials that are used, too. They wear well, gaining character with age. Instead of looking old and worn out, it looks classic and worn in. If ever I buy another camera bag, I will surely be looking to ONA first.
Behind the scenes: Our kitties love this bag too!
Fifth and Chestnut Photo Co. is a Reno Family Photography and Reno Wedding Photography team serving Northern Nevada and Northern California (available for travel). If you’re looking for amazing Reno Family Photography or beautiful Reno Wedding Photography, please give Jentry a call at 775-335-9807 or email her today!