In 2013 they introduced their innovative line of Luminosity Split Packs specifically designed for trekking or long hikes.
The Luminosity DSB-103 Large DSLR Split Pack, although at first glance seems like a common Back Pack it is divided in two quite large separate compartments, placed one on top of the other. The lower compartment equipped with appropriately padded dividers is meant to accommodate photographic gear while the top one is meant to house many extras needed for long hikes but not only.
The DSB-103 is the largest of the two Split Pack models available, large enough to accept 70-200mm or similarly sized zoom lenses in the camera compartment.
Camera bags and cases are never enough, as each situation calls for a different type of carrying method according to the gear one needs to bring together for the task. I already have small and large shoulder bags, a sling backpack and other modified cases, however they are more appropriate for urban use or when a car trunk is close by.
I opted for the large Luminosity DSB-103 Split Pack, attracted by the innovative design, its ability to hold photographic gear separated from other items or else gear in two compartments and its capacity to house telephoto lenses like the Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS USM and/ or the similarly sized EF 100-400 L IS USM. Being lightweight and relatively compact, it was promising for a comfortable carry for long hikes.
The DSB-103 Split-Pack
In the product page, at the Case Logic website, the description starts with the definition of Luminosity as the measurement of brightness.
Although relevant to photography, one might think that brightness has nothing to do with a black colored Back Pack unless... it refers to the brightness of the designer.
Awkwardly enough, whoever from the Case Logic team was inspired with the "Luminosity" name was proven correct, since the smaller sibling of the DSB-103, the Luminosity DSB-102 medium DSLR Split Pack was awarded with the 2014 iF Product Design Award last February.
|Size ( L x W x H ):||13.4 x 11.8 x 18.5 " / 34 x 30 x 47 cm|
|Fits Devices ( L x W x H ):||10.2 x 8.3 x 7.9 " / 26 x 21 x 20 cm|
|Volume:||656.64 cu" / 10.76 lt|
|Weight:||4.77 lb / 2.16 Kgr|
- Split-pack opening provides easy access to camera and configures into a great work-out of station.
- Customizeable storage for DSLR camera, up to 4 lenses, including a 70-200 mm lens, or flash and accessories with adjustable foam walls and short snake divider.
- Secure storage pockets for SD cards and filters and stash pocket for cleaning cloth or other slim accessories
- Zippered lid compartment stores personal items such as a jacket or snacks and additional zippered pocket for small valuables.
- Spacious front organizer stores wallet, phone and all non-camera related items
- Guaranteed quick access to camera thanks to the unique, patent-pending tripod attachment that makes it possible to open split pack without removing tripod.
- Thickly padded, air mesh shoulder pads and back panel ensure a breathable, comfortable carry
- Snug-fit, padded waist belt and adjustable sternum strap distribute weight of heavy loads for maximum comfort.
- Sturdy top and bottom grab handles for easy lifting and loading
- Modern, functional design and durable rip-stop nylon create a quality, ergonomic camera bag.
- Removable weather cover protects case from the elements – Stored in dedicated compartment, attached by adhesive straps, or removed completely to dry or clean.
Packaging & Contents
|The Luminosity DSB-103 Split Pack arrived right at my door via courier in a big generic carton box with no signs of the contents. Despite the volume its weight was rather insignificant.|
|The box is quite larger than the Split Pack which was further...|
|enclosed in a nylon bag for protection against dust and humidity.|
|Tied on one of the top-lid zipper-pulls exists a Tag-like 8 page leaflet which highlights with illustrations and short descriptions in three languages (English-French-Spanish) the Split-Pack features and usage.|
|Besides the Tag-like Manual a lint free Lens Cleaning Cloth and a Rain Cover come hidden in different zippered pockets as we shall see later on.|
|The DSB-103 front is dominated by a large zippered flap which contains the organizer compartment, featuring the Case Logic logo. On top of that is the zippered lid of the large top compartment.|
|On the left side exist two large Hypalon (synthetic rubber) adjustable straps and one smaller fixed strap below, all intended for monopod or tripod attachment.|
|The right side lacks any mesh pocket usually found on other Case Logic Back-pack designs but has a vertical zippered pocket with its opening towards the rear, the use of which we shall discuss later on.|
Straps and Zippers in Detail
|Another Case Logic originality is found on the Shoulder pad adjustable straps. The shoulder pad straps come rolled and secured (top left photo) since the end of the strap is equipped with a stitched piece of Velcro (bottom photo) so after the user unrolls and adjusts the strap to the desired length, can then roll-back the remaining strap and stick it near the adjustment buckle (top right photo) avoiding annoying loose ends hanging around.|
Something else that shows attention to detail is that the strap adjustment buckles lie upon the end of the shoulder strap, (top left photo) thus avoiding to bruise the ribs after long hours of carry.
|Below the two adjustable straps the fixed strap is intended to engage a monopod or one of the tripod feet.|
Front Organizer Compartment
|The Top Compartment lid is also padded and opens in the same manner, via two cord zipper pulls all the way down to the sides.|
|The 15,4 x 18,0 cm ( 6 x 7" ) bonus Lens Cleaning Cloth is made of a good quality soft and lint free cloth.|
Top Compartment Usage (Case Logic suggestion)
|Case Logic's original idea is to offer a separate compartment so the user can store personal items like a rain jacket and/or snacks as well as some water or energy drink. This is an excellent idea for long hour hiking or trekking.|
|As illustrated above, the top compartment can accommodate my XL size "Jac in the Sac" an Aluminum Thermos and some fruit, leaving space for other items like gloves, a cap, sunglasses etc.|
Top Compartment Usage (Alternative suggestions)
Storing Panoramic Equipment
As an alternative, I found the Top Compartment very promising for storing hardware which I usually carry in a separate case.
|Such as a full featured Multi-Row Panorama Head comprised of a leveling base, an indexing rotator, a vertical rotator and three rails, together with an extra P&S camera, the large hoods of my lenses etc.|
|After enclosing the hardware in neoprene bags to avoid scratches, everything went in nicely, still leaving space for a rain jacket or whatever else as shown above.|
Storing more Photographic Equipment
On the other hand, if you are not out for trekking and don't need to carry jackets or supplies but need to carry more photographic equipment than what can be stored in the already spacious Main-Bottom Compartment, the top compartment can prove very handy.
|The Top Compartment is large enough to fit a well sized camera padded insert. I wish Case Logic had available an optional padded insert fitting the dimensions of the DSB-103 top compartment, like the one included with their Reflexion DSLR + iPad® Cross-body Bag, but I can't find any in their website.|
Nonetheless, having a generic padded insert available was good enough to illustrate my suggestion.
|With a little effort, the generic padded insert which I had available, fitted into the top compartment. Somehow, the exterior padding of the Split Pack makes the insert's thickly padded outer walls redundant, loosing some valuable space.|
|In any case, extra lenses, a couple of large Canon 580 EX II Speedlites and Gels...|
|...or even a large Canon EOS 7D with Grip and a medium telephoto lens may be stored for quick access from the top.|
This may prove a good solution in the occasion you want to carry a second camera body for example.
Bottom Main Compartment
|The Main bottom Compartment is spacious and deep, fully customizeable with 5 foam padded wall dividers and apart of the camera, is able to accommodate 4-5 extra lenses, flashes and/or other devices.|
Bottom Main Compartment Usage
Accommodating a Camera
Here we come to the most important stage of how to accommodate a camera in the main compartment together with large and long lenses. Smaller cameras fit easily between larger/longer lenses and above the shorter ones, for fast access, kept safe by the tall grey padded walls. Somehow, when longer lenses are stored, there is a small issue with large pro or gripped cameras but can be overcome.
Therefore, I made some examples below to show how different size camera bodies fit, taking full advantage of the Main Compartment space.
|Even a medium sized Canon EOS 550D with grip and a kit lens installed finds sufficient space to rest face down, so there is no need to speak about smaller bodies without grip or mirrorless cameras.|
|It also easy to fit a larger Canon EOS 7D with an all-around zoom installed, facing down.|
|However, a full sized Pro body or a large gripped camera like the Canon EOS 7D with lens is not easy to fit together with two large/long telephoto lenses. It is possible with one on the left of the camera but not with two.|
|In this case a small compromise has to be made regarding the quantity of long lenses or position the large body / gripped camera vertically between the lenses without a lens installed.|
Fitting the Rain Cover
|The Rain Cover has the same light blue color as the main compartment lining and fits seamlessly around the Split Pack leaving only the Back Panel open.|
Attaching a Monopod or Tripod
Although a declared tripod fan, or geek if you like, I left last the description of the Tripod attachment as it was the only part that left me with a taste of disappointment compared to the overall brilliant design and attention to detail. Maybe the attachment is adequate for small entry level or the smallest traveler tripods but I found some issues accommodating medium sized traveler tripods. So I'll elaborate a little on that below.
|Next trial was performed with the Nest NT-6294CT Carbon Fiber Traveler Tripod combined with the Sunwayfoto FB-36DDH Lightweight Ball Head (both recently reviewed). The NT-6294 is a 4 section, 180° folding back, lightweight tripod with a 29 mm top section and a 20 mm last section and somewhat large sized feet.|
As the lower fixed strap seemed to have loosened a bit it was a little easier to insert the tripod leg behind it but was still tight for this type of leg. Then, after clipping the Hypalon straps in their buckles I tried to tighten the straps around the tripod legs. And here comes the problem of them loosening almost immediately.
Although the straps are more than adequately long to embrace the tripod the buckles remained on top of the tripod leg (as illustrated in the larger photo above) forming an angle with the rest of the strap, depriving them from locking. Since this kind of buckles rely on friction between the folded strap ends to keep the strap tight, they need to be straight with both ends in order to accomplish their task.
Further to that, the Hypalon part stays in in the air unable to perform its own task of keeping the enclosed tripod still.
|Nevertheless, I tried also to fit a slimmer tripod in my arsenal, the Triopo GT-3228X8C Carbon Fiber Traveler Tripod (reviewed in the past). The GT-3228X8C is a 4 section, 180° folding back, lightweight tripod with a 28 mm top section and a 19 mm last section and slimmer sized feet. Despite the retrofit foam grips on all legs the overall perimeter of the tripod is smaller.|
The also smaller twist leg locks made it easier to pass the leg behind the lower fixed strap, but the issue with the loosening Hypalon straps was still there.
|Once again the solution was to tighten only two of the legs with the straps.|
As I do not find fulfillment in criticizing without offering a feasible solution, I would submit for evaluation by Case Logic designers a couple of modifications on the tripod attachment, that I feel would make this Split Pack excellent in all respects.
a. The lower fixed strap, could be replaced by a strong elastic band or an elastic mesh pocket in order to facilitate insertion and removal of a tripod leg.
b. Elongate the Hypalon part of the adjustable straps by a couple of centimeters so it can bend over a larger tripod and
c. Reverse the buckles so the female part of the buckle is stitched on the Split pack side instead of on the Hypalon part while the fabric strap is stitched on the Hypalon part. In this way the fabric strap ends will always remain straight and parallel avoiding unintentional loosening, independent of the angle generated by the size of the enclosed tripod. Plus it will be easier to operate the buckles even with one hand since the female part will be more steady stitched on the pack side.
|That said, I should point out another of the design innovations of the Split Pack. The tripod attachment concept makes possible the opening of the Split Pack without having to remove the tripod.|
Case Logic's marketing department has done a very good job releasing a series of videos for most of their larger Messenger bags, Back Packs and Split Packs as the one for the Luminosity DSB-103 Large Split Pack below. The potential user can have a quick tour to the product's features and functionality, which is far better than a few pictures.
Lightweight for the size.
Innovative and award winning split-pack design with multiple configurations.
Strong stitching and zippers.
Rain cover and lens cloth included.
Very good value for money.
Exceptional 25 Year Warranty
Lack of external canteen mesh pocket.
Tripod attachment Hypalon straps fall short for medium sized and larger traveler tripods.
The DSB-103 Split Pack has been with me for quite some time now, but had very few chances for outings in order to evaluate how it feels carrying it on your back for long hours. From the little I have used it, it feels comfortable and well balanced, although I have overloaded it. In case I come across any issues from its use, I shall report back accordingly.
Now, despite my comments about the tripod attachment, I find that overall the DSB-103 is brilliantly designed with lot of innovations and great attention to detail, exploiting every little space for storage. Not only suits its original purpose, but can also be configured to serve for more than prescribed.
Built quality is exemplary, so considering the 25 year warranty and the moderate price for a pack of this size, I can only claim it as an unbeatable value for money. If it suits your storage needs and you are a fan of long hikes or trekking go for it.
This evaluation and review were run on a single product sample, based on the specifically described methods. Although the findings are good and overcame the expectations for the product, it can not be used as a rule, unless more samples of the same product are tested. Furthermore, similar comparison tests should be run with comparative capabilities products so as to reach a solid conclusion.
Note: The Luminosity DSB-103 Large DSLR Split Pack presented in this article was kindly offered by Case Logic USA, for evaluation and review.
I hope you found the review useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: © 2014 S.C.Vlachos
Price & Availability:
In the US the the DSB-103 Split Pack sells for US$ 129.99 and is available either direct from Case Logic US website or from Amazon worldwide.
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