Whenever we sit down to write a review of a product, be it a camera, lens or accessory, our primary goal is to give you a fair and balanced account of our experience, covering both the bad and the good. While most products are characterised by a mix of pros and cons, on the very rare occasion, we come across a product that is so wonderful that you literally have to go nitpicking for flaws.
In the case of the Think Tank Lily Deanne Lucido shoulder bag for mirrorless systems, we are dealing with a bag that I feel has come as close to perfection as any physical realisation of a product concept can get. It is the only bag I’ve ever tested that hasn’t once caused me to think, “It’s a great product but I wish it had X, Y and Z.”
So, why is the Think Tank Lily Deanne Lucido such a great bag for mirrorless users? Let’s get to the meat of this review and find out!
What is the Lily Deanne series?
The Lily Deanne series is the brainchild of two of photography’s most respected women, Lily Fisher, senior camera bag designer at Think Tank Photo, and Deanne Fitzmaurice, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer. It is the culmination not only of their personal expertise but also the suggestions and requests of many important women in the photography industry.
The bag comes in three sizes:
- The Tutto is the largest bag in the series. It fits the biggest professional DSLR bodies and lenses with their hoods and tripod mounts. It can house a 15” laptop.
- The Mezzo is the medium sized bag. It is appropriate for both mirrorless and DSLR systems and can fit an 11” Macbook Air or standard iPad.
- The Lucido is the smallest bag in the series and the model we chose to review. It is most appropriate for mirrorless systems and can house an iPad mini.
Design and Ease of Use
The positive experience with the Lily Deanne Lucido starts with the packaging. It comes inside a square box that features a picture of the two designers on the front with their creation. Perhaps it is only me, but seeing this photograph made me feel as if I had an immediate connection with Lily and Deanne.
Just as much care has been given to the interior packaging as to the exterior. Wrapped in off-white tissue paper and sealed with the silver Lily Deanne logo, it is a preview of the attention to detail you can expect from the product it enfolds.
The Lucido – which means “shiny” or “polished” in Italian – has all the elegance and refinement of a handbag while retaining the functionality of a camera bag.
Looking at it from the outside, you would never guess that its main function is to ferry around expensive camera equipment. It has just enough padding to keep its stylish shape and protect your gear but not so much that it becomes too rigid, heavy or bulky.
Since most photographers would rather go unnoticed at events, the designers opted to give the bag an understated design. While the base material of both versions is black water-repellant Polyurethane, you can select either Chestnut (brown) or Liquorice (black) for the Dakota leather accents, which include the two front flaps, front pocket, shoulder pad, hem of certain pockets, and zipper pulls.
This aesthetic choice bucks the idea that camera bags for women should be flashy, colourful and dripping in bling to be feminine.
Coming back to the two front leather flaps, I have to say that they are extremely practical. They cover the main opening and front pockets of the bag, and each comes with a pair of “rare-earth” magnets that allow you to open and close the bag silently. Both lie completely flush against the exterior, keeping the bag nice and compact. The Dakota leather that covers them is smooth and soft and hasn’t lost its lustre since I started using it even though I’ve taken the bag out in light showers.
Note that when the rain gets heavy, you can use the provided rain cover to protect it from getting excessively damp. The nice thing about the cover is that you can still access the back pocket and side pockets of the bag even with it attached.
The front pockets are an excellent addition to the bag. The first is a flat zippered pocket where I tend to keep my wallet. I love this pocket because I never carry my valuables on my person and often struggle to find a secure place to store them inside other bags that are specifically designed to carry camera gear.
The second pocket has been designed to organise accessories, with room for pens, memory cards, USBs, business cards and cleaning cloths. It too is the perfect size and well-placed.
On either side of the bag are two buttoned pockets that lie flat against the bag when closed but have the capacity to expand to the size of a small water bottle. I personally like to keep them closed and use them to house my smartphone and house keys.
Turning the bag around, you’ll discover an additional flat pocket on the back, which is ideal for storing documents, notebooks, and other flat items. Lying flush against the pocket is an additional pass-though that you can slide over the handle of your wheeled luggage as you travel through the airport. This is also where you’ll find the Lily Deanne Lucido logo printed in silver on a leather accent.
A huge advantage of this bag over others in its category is the very large opening, which facilitates the continuous insertion and removal of gear. It closes via two smooth and robust zippers.
While bright colours are all but absent from the exterior of the bag, the interior has been given a very pleasant “robin egg blue” shade, and for a very practical reason too. Since it contrasts with the dark colour of most camera gear, it is unlikely you’ll lose track of smaller accessories like lens caps inside the bag.
Without the foam dividers, of which there are seven in total, the interior consists of a large compartment with two nylon side pockets with an elastic hem, one large pocket for an iPad mini and a flat zippered pocket for valuables. No matter which combination of dividers I use, all the pockets remain secure and easy to access.
Now would probably be a good time to applaud the designers for creating a bag that accommodates all mirrorless systems so well, from the bulkier Lumix GX8 to the more diminutive Olympus Pen series. Not once have I struggled to remove or find a place for a camera body while out in the field.
This is such an important point because, when you’re out in the field, you want to think as little as possible about rotating your gear and concentrate on shooting. The more time you spend struggling to remove or insert a camera body or lens, the less time you are dedicating to your photography.
I’ve praised Think Tank straps in previous reviews, and the Lily Deanne strap is no different. Made of a lightweight seatbelt-like material, it is easy to adjust, clean and store. It comes with an extremely comfortable shoulder pad with leather accents and silicone non-slip strips across the mesh underbelly. Compared to the shoulder pads of the Think Tank Retrospective and Urban Approach, it is slightly smaller and slimmer – a good match for the female shoulder.
How much gear can I carry? A practical example
Although Think Tank Photo states that this bag is appropriate for a standard DSLR with 1-3 lenses and accessories, I feel that the Lily Deanne Lucido naturally suits mirrorless gear much better. According to the Think Tank website, you can carry around a complete mirrorless camera system with 3-4 lenses and accessories and this estimate matches my experience. If you try to pack any more than this, the bag becomes too heavy and the gear becomes difficult to access.
For the test, I decided to use our Micro Four Thirds gear since most of the lenses we own are for this system.
Internal flat pockets
Internal nylon pockets
External front pocket
External zippered pocket
External side pockets
Memory card holder
External back pocket
Gift certificate for a restaurant
As I said at the beginning, it is rare for us to come across a product that doesn’t leave anything to be desired. The Lily Deanne Lucido isn’t just any old camera bag – it is the culmination of careful research, trial and error, and extreme attention to detail carried out by two women who truly care about photography and photographers. I’ve loved using it from day one, and I can only hope that Think Tank decides to produce a similar version for men in the future.
What I like about the Think Tank Lily Deanne Lucido:
- Beautiful understated design with leather accents
- Made of easy-to-clean water-repellent black Polyurethane
- Lightweight and well-padded but keeps its elegant form
- Fits any mirrorless system (one medium-sized body and 3-4 lenses is the ideal)
- Light coloured “robin egg blue” interior makes it easy to find your gear
- Flaps close with “silent” magnets for more discretion
- Lots of practical pockets on the inside and out for accessories and valuables
- Easy-to-adjust strap and extremely comfortable shoulder pad
What I don’t like about the Think Tank Lily Deanne Lucido:
- My only wish is that they would make a men’s version of this bag!
- A little expensive but worth every penny
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