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Say hello to the Hellolulu Poplar, a pretty stealthy camera bag

From a distance, the Hellolulu Poplar looks like a lifestyle or a cyclist's backpack, thanks to its use of the trendy roll-top design.
From a distance, the Hellolulu Poplar looks like a lifestyle or a cyclist's backpack, thanks to its use of the trendy roll-top design.PHOTO: HELLOLULU
From a distance, the Hellolulu Poplar looks like a lifestyle or a cyclist's backpack, thanks to its use of the trendy roll-top design.
From a distance, the Hellolulu Poplar looks like a lifestyle or a cyclist's backpack, thanks to its use of the trendy roll-top design. PHOTO: HELLOLULU

Carrying a real camera bag, such as Domke F2 or Billingham Hadley Pro, might attract undue attention and potential theft. The Hellolulu Poplar camera bag might be a better idea.

From far, the Hellolulu Poplar looks like a lifestyle or a cyclist's backpack. This is due to its use of the trendy roll-top design - a wide opening at the top that comes with a quick-release buckle for easy opening. It also allows expanded capacity for the main compartment at the top.

Hidden in the lower half of the backpack is a zippered compartment with a removable padded camera case.

The camera case has two adjustable dividers, so you can segment the case accordingly to put your DSLR camera body and lens.

I put a Nikon D5 DSLR camera with a Nikon 24-85mm lens into this case, and they fitted in perfectly. If you are using a mirrorless camera or smaller DSLR camera, there should be space for an extra lens and flash.

The best thing about Poplar is that no one will ever suspect that you are actually carrying an expensive DSLR in this bag, as it looks totally like a stylish day backpack. Great when you are travelling.

  • TECH SPECS


    PRICE: $189


    BUILD: Polyester body with water-repellent coating


    WEIGHT: 700g

    RATING


    DESIGN: 4/5


    PERFORMANCE: 4/5


    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5


    OVERALL: 4/5

The only problem is the lack of quick access when you need to pull out the camera for that decisive moment.

There is a zippered divider inside the backpack that lets you access the camera case from the top without unzipping the lower camera compartment.

I think it is also safer this way. Items from the camera case have a higher chance of spilling out if you unzip the camera compartment with the backpack slung to one side.

If you want more storage space, you can unzip the divider and take out the camera case.

On its top, front and bottom, there are pockets for you to put small items such as a smartphone, a battery pack and notebooks.

A padded pocket at the bag's back fits 13-inch laptops like my 13-inch Apple MacBook Air.

However, there is no separate pocket for a tablet. Hellolulu could have included one in the top main compartment.

The Poplar comes with an adjustable padded shoulder strap with a chest buckle, and a grab handle at the top.

At only 700g, the bag feels light and comfortable even after I carry it for hours on my photo walks in searing heat.

Made of polyester with water-repellant coating, the bag is quite water-resistant.

When I spilled a drink on the bag while having lunch, all I needed to do was shake the bag to get rid of the water.

The biggest downer is the lack of side pockets, which you might need for your umbrella and water bottle.


  • Verdict: The Hellolulu Poplar is a good-looking camera backpack that lets you carry your camera stealthily.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2016, with the headline 'Say hello to the Hellolulu Poplar, a pretty stealthy camera bag'. Print Edition | Subscribe