Review: The Think Tank Lily Deanne Mezzo Shoulder Bag

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It’s finally happening; camera bag manufacturers are making bags for women that attempt to be fashionable. There have been lame versions in the past that included ill-fitted straps, unfashionable fabrics, and impractical designs. But how about a new bag from Think Tank?

I have zero to no fashion sense, and even less when it comes to women’s accessories. The good news is I have friends who actually care about good looking bags and one in particular, Genevieve Hathaway, agreed to take a look at the Think Tank Lily Deanne Mezzo Shoulder Bag for me.

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I recently had the opportunity to put the new Think Tank Lily Deanne Mezzo shoulder bag through its paces on a few different kinds of photo shoots – from photographing a full day conference to a portrait shoots, to a day on the move chasing an athlete up and down the stairways in Seattle. The Lily Deanne Mezzo not only kept up with me, but it made my shoots even easier because of how well it performed.

The Think Tank Lily Deanne women’s shoulder bag line is designed by two of the photography industry’s most respected members, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice and Lily Fisher, Think Tank’s senior camera bag designer. They designed the Lily Deanne series to be the ideal camera shoulder bag for women photographers, and that’s exactly how I would describe this bag.

Design

My first reaction to this bag was how it looked. It looks professional, classy, and functional, yet is understated. When I’m on assignment carrying a lot of gear, whether on a shoot in Seattle or in Egypt, I want to look professional but not have a bag that screams, “look at me, I’m a photographer.” Deanne’s background as a photojournalist shines through in this bag’s design, both in its discretion, but also in its functionality.

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Using the Lily Deanne Mezzo bag, I immediately felt that this was a bag designed by a working photographer. From the wide zipper opening, to the flap which can be thrown over the top and latched with magnetic fasteners, to all the pockets and organizational units, to the slit in the back which lets you slide it over the bars of a roller bag – this bag met all my functional needs without any unnecessary bells and whistles. The level of attention to small details, and high quality craftsmanship makes this a beautiful bag to look at. The bag is a mix of strong nylon and supple full-grain Dakota leather flaps, pockets, and accents. The interior of the bag and exterior accents are a beautiful Robin’s egg blue, making this a stylish bag.

The Lily Deanne shoulder bag comes in two colors, Chestnut Brown and Black Licorice, and three sizes, Lucido (small-size), Mezzo (medium-size) and Tutto (largest-size). This bag was designed with plenty of room for pro-size lenses, no matter whether you shoot Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sony, Olympus or any other line of camera.

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The large zipper opening allows for quick and easy access of your gear. The top flap folds back completely to give full access to the interior of the bag. Or, it can be flipped forward to cover the main opening, it attaches to the front with rare earth magnets. The shoulder strap is well padded, with non-slip gripping. The success of any great shoulder bag hinges on the shoulder strap. Carrying a lot of gear around all day, I need a shoulder strap that is strong, does not slip, and is well padded. The Lily Deanne bags deliver with one of the most comfortable shoulder straps I’ve used. The bag has a lot of pockets (some zippered, some covered by magnet flaps), which really helps keep your accessories organized. The sides of the bag have expandable pouches to hold odds and ends, water bottles, or sunglasses.

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Sizes and Specs

Lucido (small): Holds one standard DSLR with one to three lenses, or a complete mirrorless camera system (and three to four lenses). There is also room for an 8-inch tablet.

Mezzo (medium): Holds one standard DSLR with a mid-range zoom attached and two to three additional lenses, or a complete Mirrorless camera system (and three to four lenses). There is room for a 10 inch tablet or 11 inch laptop.

Tutto (large): Holds one standard DSLR and additional grip with a mid-range zoom lens attached, and two to five additional lenses, as well as 2 flashes, or one standard DSLR with a 70-200mm f/2.8 and two to five lenses in its main compartment and two flashes. It can fit a complete mirrorless camera system and 4 to 5 lenses. It also holds a 15-inch laptop.

In the Field

The Lily Deanne Mezzo is a great bag for lady photographers no matter what kind of job you’re on – event, editorial, commercial, photojournalist, wedding, or portrait shoot. Short of needing a backpack camera bag to carry a lot of gear over a long distance; this shoulder bag will handle pretty much any other type of scenario.

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I shoot with the Fuji professional line and was able to easily fit in the bag: the Fujifilm XT-1, 18-55mm lens, 23mm f/1.4 lens, 10-22mm f/4 lens, and 50-140mm f/2.8 lens, along with a flash, and all my accessories. I still had room to fit an additional small prime lens.

Using this bag, it was very easy to access all my gear. I loved all the organizational pockets, which eliminated the need to hunt around for batteries, lens clothes, my phone, business cards and extra memory. The top flap is a great feature which allows you to keep the large zipper open, but cover your gear with the flap. The magnets keep the flap secure, while also allowing for very quick access to gear in time sensitive situations.

The shoulder strap is incredibly well designed, well-padded, and doesn’t slip around. While testing this bag on a 10 hour photoshoot of a conference, carrying all my lenses (which includes one mid-range zoom) and a flash setup, the bag did start to make my shoulder and neck sore toward the end of the shoot. But any shoulder bag, full of heavy camera gear, would have given the same result.

Conclusion

The Think Tank Lily Deanne shoulder bags are one of the best women’s bags I’ve used, arguably the best shoulder bag I’ve found. It balances understated elegance with functionality and comfort. I highly recommend this bag for women photographers looking for a great shoulder bag.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Lily Deanne Mezzo Shoulder Bag
Author Rating
4.5

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Peter West Carey

leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle and Los Angeles. He is also the creator of 31 Days to Better Photography & 31 Days of Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

  • Mtpalms

    I like the look and design of this bag! However, I am unsure what makes this a ‘woman’s’ bag? My biggest gripe with shoulder bags is that they are not designed to fit women’s physical make up: wider hips and narrower shoulders. They bump against the former and are usually too wide at the apex and/ too narrow where they attach to the bag for the latter. A picture of the bag on a person (preferrably realistic, not a skinny professsional model) would have been helpful, to illustrate the writer’s evaluation of fit and comfort. Isn’t the blue interior’s purpose more to make it a lot easier to find gear, which both of which are usually black, more than a ‘stylish’ fashion statement? Why not both?

  • Christine

    It’s a nice looking camera bag, but it doesn’t look like it’s especially for women. It looks like it would be very stylish for anyone. My one beef is that it’s black – I’m so tired of seeing so many black camera bags this year. What about some colour?

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