equipment reviews

yellow moon ym-902

During my trip to Cuba in May 2009, I had to walk for many hours a day and to climb the hills of Cuchillas de Toa in east of the country. I recognized that my biggest problem in the field was carrying a camera with a large supertelephoto lens (often with a TC) mounted and ready for use — not because it was heavy, or bulky but because I still had no convenient carrying system for it. I was walking for up to 7 hours a day in tropical mountain forests with my camera ready for a shot all the time but...

I were able to take even a larger lens in the field if I would have solved this issue. I had preferred to carry the gear either on my back — but completely assembled and instantly accessible — or on my chest — but not hanging on my neck and not with the lens hanging down. If it should be a bag, I was looking for a bag that had the following qualities:

I asked people at photography forums for ideas and looked at what the manufacturers of photo bags were offering. In 2009, I could find the following choices:

Manufacturer Model Weight, kg Length, cm Comment
Andy Rouse Viper 3.06 75.5 good volume-weight ratio but too big and overall too heavy
Lowepro Lens Trekker AW 600 II 2.8 61 about 70% heavier than YM-902, can't stay opened while being carried
Kinesis Long Lens Case 600 (L611, L622) 2.1 67 were my favourite, but no dealer in Europe
Yellow Moon YM-902 1.8 62 - 65 the lightest among long lens bags available in Europe, most inexpensive of all 4 candidates

Andy Rouse's Viper could accommodate almost all my photo equipment. It is well-designed but huge and too heavy for use as field backpack. For my purposes its usefulness was quite limited but it was quite pricy. The Lowepro Lens Trekker was a high-quality bag, very comfortable to carry and very-well manufactured. However, it had two disadvantages. First, with 2.8 kg, it was quite heavy. Second, to pull out the equipment one needed to open a zip lock, i.e. it wasn't possible to do it quickly. The L521 (Long Lens Case) from Kinesis was my favourite. It was almost perfectly meeting my requirements. Unfortunately that bag wasn't available for purchase in Europe and it was too expensive to order it in USA — because of high shipment cost and customs duty. Finally, I decided to go for Yellow Moon YM-902.

My Yellow Moon YM-902. (Click to enlarge.)

I searched the Internet for information about this bag and other Yellow Moon products but didn't find any. Also the company itself was unknown. In Germany, the YM-902 was available only from the shop Isarfoto, so everything I new about this bag was the data published on Isarfoto website — size, weight, a photo, and of course, price which didn't look high in comparison with other such bags. I ordered the bag there.

After I received my YM-902, my first impressions were quite mixed. Certainly, it had many positive features:

The YM-902 bag with the cap removed. A camera with a super telephoto lens and a teleconverter attached is inside it, but very much space is still remaining free around the lens and above the camera.

Unfortunately, I saw that YM-902 had quite obvious deficits, too:

Overall, compared to Lowepro or Kata products, this bag looks like a cheap, old-fashioned backpack, i.e. it is not so stylish and colourful. I didn't view this as a disadvantage however because I was hoping that it wouldn't attract thieves as likely as typical photo bags.

Having used Yellow Moon YM-902 now for a year, I can only confirm the deficits of this bag that undermine its advantages. Although it is lightweight, it proved to be very uncomfortable for carrying: When it is empty it feels very nice on your back and particularly on shoulders — with its soft padded straps. But when you have put heavy gear into it, the bottom of the bag starts hurting your back. It is impossible to carry this bag for a long period of time because of that.

There are other big problems caused by the construction of YM-902. Its walls have two layers. Actually it consists of two tubes put one into another. The inner tube is the padding of this bag that can be taken out. What then remains it is a simple nylon shell. I don't see what the designers of such construction were planning it for. Did they think that someone would want to reduce the weight even more? The padding is quite thin, and taking it out wouldn't help much because the bag is already very lightweight. It serves as carcass that supports the shape of the bag. Without padding, YM-902 becomes very soft and can't even stand upright. When the padding is inside, there is no way to fixate it, i.e. it is simple put into the shell. Therefore the padding stays in place only when the outer pockets are empty. If something heavy is in the pockets, the shell is pulled down, and the padding protrudes above it. It may make sense that the padding can be taken out (for instance, if one would need to wash the shell), but why there is nothing it can be attached with when it is inside? A zip lock or a velcro band around the edge of the bag would be enough, but the designers didn't think about it. Due to this problem, the YM-902 bag can be carried open only when there is nothing heavy inside the pockets. However, the pockets are big, and when they are loaded even with small items, they become heavy. Hence you can use this bag open in the field is when you leave the pockets empty.

Unlike in the bags of Lowepro and Kinesis, the pockets in YM-902 can't be removed. This bag has 4 very large pockets. Two are smaller but still big enough to take at least a professional camera body. The larger pockets are so big that you can easily put two lenses or two camera bodies into each of them. When the pockets are empty, they remain on the bag a make it bigger.

The YM-902 is quite wide — anyway much wider even than the hood of my EF300mm f/2.8L IS USM, and when this big lens is inside, much empty space is remaining around it. There are 4 velcro stripes along the inner side of the padding. They should be used for attachment of two dividers — two plates of foam. One divider consists of two halves that should be put around the lens. This should fixate the gear inside the bag and prevent it from swinging or falling to a side every time when the bag is tilted a little. This may work for long transportation, but is very unpractical if the camera has to be frequently used. Taking out the camera becomes very cumbersome because of that. Even for transportation at long distances, this kind of fixation doesn't work well even with my — not very big — lens.


The Yellow Moon YM-902 long lens bag has too many deficits. The only one advantage of it that comes to my mind is its size. It should be large enough even for the largest lenses — like Canon 1200mm F5.6 IS L USM or Sigma 200-500mm F2,8 EX DG. Unless you have such a lens, I think, you will hate this bag. Don't buy it!

August, 2010