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|| News Item: Posted 2003-02-01

Office in a Bag: The Lightware Laptop Digital Messenger
By Trent Nelson, Salt Lake Tribune

Photo by Trent Nelson/Salt Lake Tribune

Photo by Trent Nelson/Salt Lake Tribune

Interior of the Lightware Laptop Digital Messenger Bag with cover flaps folded over and out of sight. Powerbook compartment at bottom, lenses at top (from left: 180/2.8, 14/2.8, and 300/2.8).
My darkroom is the place camera bags go to die.

There are at least ten camera bags down there gathering dust. It's the result of a decade-long attempt to find the perfect setup to carry my equipment. There are backpacks- useful when traveling or covering something like a ski race. There are laptop bags made of wetsuit material or plastered with White House Press Corps patches (personally I'd rather have the words "POSER" painted on my bag, since I don't work in D.C.).

There are at least a half dozen fanny packs. There's an assortment of Olympic freebie bags that didn't quite cut it. If I had any sense, I'd log onto eBay and start auctioning it all off.

Over the last couple of years, I've noticed that we're working in a completely different way than in the past. And more and more, we're covering jobs that require us to shoot and transmit on location so we're lugging around a laptop bag as well as a camera bag. You know the jobs: basketball games, city council meetings, rock concerts. Typically they're events where you walk into a venue, shoot from an assigned area, and then transmit your images. For me, winter tends to be full of these jobs.

Photo by Trent Nelson/Salt Lake Tribune

Photo by Trent Nelson/Salt Lake Tribune

Lightware Laptop Digital Messenger Bag.
I tried every bag I had for these assignments. Nothing worked. The backpack held everything but lacked the quick accessibility of a shoulder bag. The fanny pack required me to carry a laptop bag for the computer stuff. And those carry-everything shoulder bags scared my back- when loaded they are just too heavy.

Then an ad caught my eye in Photo District News. Lightware had announced a couple of new bags. The one that caught my eye looked like it might be exactly what I was looking for- a bag that would carry some lenses, a flash, and a laptop without being too big. I ordered Lightware's Digital Laptop Messenger Bag for $219, sight unseen.

It's a shoulder bag with two padded, removable compartments. One compartment holds your laptop (up to a 15-inch PowerBook). The other compartment is set up for photo equipment with customizable Velcro section dividers.

On the back of the bag is a nice slot for magazines, papers, etc. On the front are two large pockets that you could fit a lenses camera body into (they're also perfect for power cords, phone, iPod, memory card wallets, card readers, etc.) On the ends of the bag are netted pockets, big enough to fit a couple of camera batteries or a Digital Camera Battery pack. Up on top is a nice, strong handle as well as a shoulder strap.

Photo by Trent Nelson/Salt Lake Tribune

Photo by Trent Nelson/Salt Lake Tribune

Outside the Lightware Laptop Digital Messenger Bag shows the front pockets, cell phone for size and a Nikon D1H body in right pocket.
The first day I got the bag I covered a college basketball game. The perfect trial. I threw in my computer gear, photo gear, batteries, etc. There was still a lot of room. I put the bag over my shoulder, then my two cameras, and it felt great. Having my cameras (with lenses) outside on either shoulder seemed to lighten the load of the bag by a large margin and helped spread the load.

During the game I was able to work out of one bag- shooting, editing, and transmitting from my position on the court. On a whim, I attempted to fit a 300/2.8 (sans hood) into the bag. It went right in. Beautiful.

There is no perfect bag for every assignment. The Lightware Digital Laptop Messenger Bag is a nice mid-sized hybrid bag, and for the way we work these days it is perfect.

(Trent Nelson is the Salt Lake Tribune's chief photographer. He is a frequent contributor to the Sports Shooter Newsletter and updates his Member Gallery almost on a daily basis. You can check out his work at: His personal web site is at:

Related Links:
Trent Nelson's member page
Trent Nelson's website

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