7.03.2014

Wotancraft : Etan Camera Bag Review



Wotancraft Etan
I must admit one thing before I start this post. Other than blogging, my other and perhaps only 'hobby' would be photography. In all honesty , I do not see myself as a good photographer. With no formal training , the shoot and learn philosophy dominated my learning curve.

Yet every once in a while , I would indulge my hobby with either a new lens , an upgraded camera and even a camera bag. Given that I am not one to spend freely on fancy gadgets or latest fashion trends or even wine and dine in luxurious restaurant, this little whee bit of indulgence is acceptable in my books.

Thus when the itch came to purchase another camera bag to suit my current needs, I finally bow to the temptation and purchase the Wotancraft Etan. 

Wotancraft from Tawian
Why do I need another camera bag especially since I had the very reliable Billingham Small?

For the record, since I had upgraded the camera to OMD EM1 with new lens in tow, the Billingham Small now feels really small , especially for overseas trip. With the Billingham , it is quite full once I have a camera and 2 lens in it. In addition with travel documents and passports of the family, together with the trusty iPad, the bag feels over stuff. Thus the search for a bigger bag begins.

The Wotancraft Etan
Wotancraft in Taipei
It was by chance I had came across the Etan. At that point of time I had actually been thinking a a bigger bag, but at the same time do not wish to carry one the size of a duffel bag while on the road. So as it is destined to be, I caught sight of the Wotancraft Etan at Lumen @ Marina Bay Sands while out on a photography trip to Gardens by the Bay via Bayfront MRT.

It was a good first impression. The rugged good looks clad in black leather and gray canvas was a delightful sight. As pretty as this bag looks. The high price tag and the fact that it was not fully waterproof deferred the purchase. There are other bags by Wotancraft on display, each exhibiting similar forms of ruggedness . Moreover most of them are Waterproof. However they are bulky and heavier compared to this diminutive hand made number from the Ateliers of Wotancraft.

After 7 months of deliberation and a whole lot of searching for the perfect bag, I finally decided to put the trigger. By saving a buck every other day, I managed to scrape enough for this bag.

The features

Opening
The Wotancraft Etan is a beauty at first sight. The top cover and the bottom are clad in black leather. Smokey grey canvas wraps around the body giving it a rugged and vintage look.

At first glance, this bag does not resemble your typical camera bag. In fact it would probably fit in quite nicely in a fashion parade.
Fashionably Vintage

The Bag has a dimension of 31(W) X 15(D) X 24 (H) cm . It is slighter bigger than the Billingham small at 27.9(W) X 11.8 (D) x 20.6 (H) cm. The roomy interior of 29(W) X 10(D) X 20( H) cm triumps the Billingham small at 25.4 (W) X 7(D) X 18.5 (H) . The extra room means that it will be less cramp with the same items I would bring for a trip.

However it does tip the scale slightly at 1kg compared to Billingham Small at 700g.

Front access
Access to the interior is via 2 straps with buttons . There is a stud and eye attachment at the bottom, but since the strap is sew tight to the canvas on the bottom, it serves only as a decorative purpose.
Elegant design
Speaking of which, when I first got the bag , I realized that the eye hole was not punched. The local distributor offered to take the bag back and send to Taiwan where Wotancraft is located to fix it. Within 5 days, my bag came back from the round trip with a personalize delivery from John of Drew and Barry. With that experience, comes one of the best customer service I had encountered till date. For that I would recommend a purchase from Drew and Barry with confidence. ( and no ... they did not pay me to write that)

The bag is specifically made as a range finder bag that has the capacity to fit a range finder body X1 , lenses x2 plus accessories. It can also carry a DSLR X 1, Lens X 1 Flash X 1. For a mirrorless set up, I can comfortably fit an OMD EM1 with zit zoom 12-40mm, 2 prime lens (Panasonic Lecia 25mm and Olympus 45 mm) plus an extra OMD EM5 body.

Not too shabby in terms of space for the cameras and lens.

In the Bag- OMD EM5 with Panasonic 7-14 mm , Panasonic 25mm , Olympus 45 mm

But what about addition space for accessories, iPads, travel documents and other stuff?

Upon opening the front flap, there will be 2 front pockets deep enough to carry your batteries , wallets and charger. However i do advise against putting coins in the slot as they do have a knack for sneaking out unexpectedly. There are no cover flaps preventing the contents from spilling out.
For phones and wallets
For more important documents such as travel documents and passports, it is recommend to use the compartment with YKK zipper. The slot is big enough for a mini tripod or an iPad too!
Extra compartments


In fact this is not the only place you can put your iPad. This generation 2 Etan ( as I was told) came with an inner sleeve for your iPads. In fact the back pocket allows you to put another iPad, so you could technically carry 3 iPads in one bag! Alternatively you could use it for other purposes such as paperbacks or accessories . Unfortunately it would not fit an A4 size magazine on the slot.

iPad on the inner side
One major concern would be the sand coloured herringbone tweed. It would probably get dirty over time . Save for the removable inner pad, washing the interior may require professional help.
Fits an iPad on the back
The bag comes with a handle too. This makes it looks more like a satchel bag than a messenger bag.

Handle
The buckles and buttons are of decent quality here. However I could not confirm the materials used and hopefully those would not rust over time, especially the buttons. That being said, this is not a bag to carry when there is heavy rain. It is not waterproof on the outside or the inside . If your camera gear are not water sealed, this might be a deal breaker if you are looking for a bag for daily use and protection against all kinds of weather.

Made to measure
Lastly there is an anti- slippery shoulder pad that comes as a standard with the bag. On the Billingham small, this would cost extra $70 to purchase.

Leather
The bag cost USD 299 on Wotancraft Atelier website. Local purchase ( if you can find one ) cost about Sgd 425. As these bags are handcrafted by Wotancraft, lead time from ordering to delivery might take a while.

Wotancraft Etan vs Billingham Small

However with that being said, good things comes to those who wait. This may not be the perfect bag, but it comes close in terms of looks, size and function. The main thing that it lacks would be the waterproof features.

About Wontancraft Atlier
Wotancraft
Wontancraft Atelier originates from Taiwan. The company is made up of 4 people honing their craft in Taipei. They have a shop front at Taipei. These artisans handmade all their products, thus the reason behind its rarity and limited supply. Other than vintage camera bags, they are more famously known for their leather watch straps for Panerai.

Going back home
During my last visit to Taipei, it was unfortunate that I did not have sufficient time to visit their shop. Regardless , this was also the first trip I had bought the Etan out. It had performed its task diligently during the trip, I suspect having home ground advantage may have motivate it to 'work' . Nonetheless the Etan would probably be my choice travel camera bag from henceforth.

Looking forward to more adventures with the Wotancraft Etan!

PS : All Wotancraft bags comes with a cool 'Remove before Adventure ' Red Military ordnance tag keychain





No comments:

Post a Comment