Today, we’re taking a bit of a detour from the regularly scheduled programing to entertain some of my own personal musings. If you are a loyal PurseBlog reader, you will know that I have been contributing to our editorial with photographs for nearly one and a half decades. My passion for photography was sparked early with my first Nikon film SLR and over the years I unapologetically turned into a serious gear head (though, truthfully, the obsessing slowed significantly after our Millie was born). When my friend Peter (of Nikon Rumors fame) reached out and told me about a local Florida entrepreneur’s quest to craft understated, yet luxurious camera bags, my interest peaked. I wanted to check the camera bags out in person and share my findings with our audience. Depending on your responses to this (admittedly niche product) feature, I might turn these tech bag reviews into a more regular feature on the blog…
Meet the Vi Vante Exotic
Enter Vi Vante, the brain child of South Florida local Scott Morvay, former TV producer turned fashion photographer. Scott was kind enough to send me one of his new camera bags, along with a couple of hand-woven leather camera straps, for review.
The bag I received is the Vi Vante Exotic, a medium-sized camera bag that is best suited for small cameras, like rangefinders, compacts or point & shoots. The bag is made entirely of black cowhide leather and is covered in the brand’s signature quilting and red contrast stitching (reminiscent of quilted seats in performance cars). The bag is carried by an adjustable shoulder strap that holds a large, comfortable pad with more red-stitched quilting.
Pull back the magnetically held flap and you’ll be greeted with a subtle brand badge and a bright red interior, lined entirely in soft micro suede. Typically, I prefer camera bag flap to be held securely by strong Velcro, though this makes for a much quieter opening of the bag, particularly in places where noise is of concern.
The interior is divided by three padded dividers that can be adjusted or removed entirely, depending on your preference. Additional front pockets give room for accessories like extra batteries, SD cards, film rolls or filters. The back of the bag features a zippered pocket for your cell, passport or wallet. Last, side pockets offer extra room for a charger or small flash.
Weight & Size
The Exotic weighs in just south of 3 lbs (1.3kg), which makes for a very light and comfortable carry while you’re strolling through your favorite metropolis on the hunt for decisive moments to shoot. It measures 12″ long x 8″ tall x 6″ wide, so do not expect to haul your big dSLR rig across town with you. As I mentioned earlier, this bag is perfect for a minimalist shooter that throws in a body and two compact lenses and calls it a day.
The Exotic is available for $350 via Amazon, which makes this bag a great value for your hard earned dollars.
Aesthetically, I am not going to deny its obvious masculine appearance, which is not to say that it can’t work for women as well (particularly due to its lightweight build). I personally dig it and it’s among the more upscale camera bags I have encountered over the years (while retaining functionality). I carried my camera around it in while chasing after the kids for about a month now, and I am hard pressed to have anything negative to report about this camera bag. The leather held up my abuse without any scuffs, it carried comfortably on the shoulder or crossbody and it confidently cradled my precious glass anywhere I went.
P.S. The Strap
Standard camera straps are often made from coated canvas (sometimes leather, depending on the manufacturer), are boring and do a swell job to signal your camera brand to people passing by. I am a sucker for a good braided strap for my cameras. The problem with most is that they are simply too flimsy and don’t let you confidently sling your expensive camera around without stretching and eventually, ripping.
Not so with the Vi Vante strap. This red & black Ultime Phoenix strap has been hooked to my Leica for a good month and I don’t foresee it departing anytime soon. It’s thick, it does not stretch and the mounting rings are securely tethered to the strap, so the chance of breakage is minimal. In a pinch, I would trust this strap to tow a car across town.
Priced at $220, it’s a lot pricier than your average camera strap, but you will also enjoy a lifetime of use out of its sturdy, handwoven leather.