I love my 200-400 VR, its a fantastic lens in every respect as opinions everywhere will say. However, one thing that is not mentioned is the standard bag (the CL-L2) is just not designed for carrying all that weight for long periods of time. Buying another bag is one solution but as the bag is custom designed to hold the lens it seems a shame to cast it aside. That’s when a friend stepped in and suggested he could modify it for me at his work.
So lets see what has been done to improve things a little…
The main problem with the bag is its just not well thought out for something that is going to hold a big heavy lens and camera for long periods of time. For a start it only has one shoulder strap so carrying slingshot style is the only option and that becomes very uncomfortable pretty quickly. Second of all the carry handle on the top has been cleverly(!) placed at the edge so when you hold the bag up it hangs at an angle…so its going to end up whacking you in the legs every now and again. Below you’ll find side by side shots showing all the modifications to the bag. Photos of the original bags form courtesy of Brian Chang Photography as I didn’t take any before I modified mine, oops!
So with the above problems in mind the following modifications have been carried out:
- Single strap replaced with two straps to allow bag to be carried like a rucksack. This makes a huge difference to the weight distribution when carrying on long distances!
- The carry handle at the top has been moved from the back to the middle, so now when you use it the bag hangs straight and not at an awkward angle.
- A small padding area has been placed at the bottom of the bag so the hard plastic base does not rub against you when wearing the bag on your back
- The bright yellow Nikon logo has been covered over with black material so the bag doesn’t scream ‘steal me, expensive camera stuff inside’ quite so much.
The single shoulder strap has to go
The single rear strap has been removed and replaced with two contoured shoulder straps, allowing the bag to be worn as a rucksack and easily allowing the weight of the lens + camera to be distributed evenly. This has made a huge difference when being out in the field, especially if your out all day walking miles! You can also see a padded area which has been added to the bag so the hard plastic base does not bang against your lower back when worn as a rucksack. This padding slides up and down so when worn it can go a little below the bottom of the bag but when standing up, it can sit level with the bag. The shoulder straps are custom made but based on the ones from the Lowepro 600aw bag. They are stitched to the top of the bag and at the bottom they have a heavy duty nylon which is threaded through the black ‘strap loops’ that are on the side of the bag. This is nylon is then stitched to itself once looped through.