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12-17-2019, 09:43 PM   #46
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I don't think I really have a "worst" bag, just ones that are only useful in a very limited set of circumstances. The one I use the most (I'm a casual shooter most days) is the Lowepro Nova Sport 17L AW, which I picked up for less than $20 on sale courtesy of the forum (my comments here). Large enough to carry my KP with grip and several lenses plus a flash, with space for a small notebook, extra batteries, my reading glasses, and more.

For longer outings, I'll use either my old Kata 3n1-20 (mine has the trolley insert slot that was later changed to a laptop pouch) or just use my hiking backpack with camera wraps, lens pouches, and/or Tenba camera inserts. Accessing equipment is slower but comfort is greatly increased.

12-18-2019, 08:00 AM - 1 Like   #47
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
Domke bags are my favorite too. I own a half dozen of various models and colors.

The Domke bags aren't very snazzy. They are simple and just work.
Due to their simple design they are fast and very easy to work from.
Fair enough

Thanks barondla for the detailed comments. I'll comment on a few below. My intention is NOT to go for or against any brand, but to further the discussion and learn a few things.

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
1. Optimal padding. Most bags are over padded. Consumers tend to worry about their equipment more than use it. A Domke bag holds more equipment than similar sized bags. They are much larger inside than people expect. The F3 bag is about 12" h X 10"w X 8" d. I carry a Pentax 6X7 and 2 lenses and accessories in it.
I agree that some bags, mainly older ones, have overkill padding. I do have a Domke insert that I purchased a long while ago so I understand what you mean. The bags are not unique in this, it's been a trend in the last few years to better optimize the thickness of the padding. Think Tank/Mindshift Gear and Peak Design are particularly good at this.

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
2. Removable inserts. Bigger Domke bags have removable modular lens inserts. The standard insert has 4 compartments. There are 2 and 3 compartment inserts available to allow customization. The compartments are sealed from each other. Equipment doesn't migrate under dividers to a different part of the bag. The inserts allow rapidly reconfiguring the whole main compartment. Some people even buy extra inserts to store lenses in. As an example insert 1 could hold all FF lenses. A 2nd insert could hold all DA lenses. A 3rd insert could hold all primes while a 4th hold all zooms. 3 inserts can sit in a cabinet at home loaded with lenses. Decide what equipment will be used and place that insert in the bag.
That can be useful indeed. The closest comparison would probably be Peak Design's origami dividers which adapt to varying situations, but it's not exactly what you describe.

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
3. Insert and pocket sizes that match available equipment. Domke bags have larger openings to fit common big lenses. 77mm filter size lenses are no problem. The bags and also are tall enough to handle these bigger lenses.
That's far from unique to Domke.

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
4. Fasteners. The Domke allows 1 handed opening and closing. Speed of access!
That strongly depends on the bag. I think even with less optimized bags muscle memory lets you achieve this over time (I used to have a Timbuk2 messenger bag, it had two large buckles that I was able to open without looking even if they were a bit clumsy at times). If that kind of easy access is important for you, you'd probably like Peak Design's maglatch closure.

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
5. Large lid flaps. The flap hangs 2/3 of the way to the bottom of the bag. This protects against rain. It also means a Domke lid tends to stay closed without latching. If the top/front lid pocket is loaded with equipment, the weight also helps to keep the lid shut. I rarely latch the bag until the end of the day or while riding in a car.
Having equipment stored inside the top flap of a messenger bag is rather uncommon, probably because access can be more cumbersome if the flap is reversed. However, having a large lid which stays in place if not fastened is quite common. Reading this paragraph made me think of the Retrospective line from Think Tank, among others. You can see my review of it.

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
6. Canvas construction. Quieter (important for wildlife photography), less static electricity, and less wear to clothes via rubbing. The canvas strap also has some give, which reduces the shock of walking and makes the bag feel lighter.
Again makes me think of the Retrospective line Or maybe the Signature from Think Tank also.

I'm personally a fan of more technical fabrics, like those found on Mindshift Gear, Wandrd and Peak Design bags (among others), but that is purely a personal choice.

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Domke bags are about work flow. They are also similar to Pentax cameras. Their main strengths can't be learned from a spec sheet or review. They have to be used. Try one a few months and see if they work for you.
I never tried one for a long period, but I did test somewhat comparable bags (like an older Pentax bag which looks quite a bit like Domke from the outside).

My main gripe when handling one is about thickness. I much prefer a longer and thinner messenger bag instead of a shorter and thicker one. Also, I usually dig a more modern look (while I really respect the Retrospective line, these bags are not my favourite for everyday use).

The modular inserts are probably the most unique feature you listed. I can see that being invaluable if someone has very distinct kits for distinct applications. That's not my case (I'll have a few carry-everywhere lenses, plus a few outliers depending on the day) but I'm only one guy.

Thanks for the input! I like these kinds of discussions.
12-18-2019, 08:42 AM   #48
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I forgot to mention that while my hiking days are pretty much over I use my Tamrac Expedition 5 and Lowepro Mini Trekker backpacks quite a bit. I keep my "extra" lenses, extension tubes, teleconverters etc in them while on road trips. Laid flat on the back seat of my pickup everything I need is available when the bags are open. Closed I stand them up and use the seat belts to secure them in place while driving. Not their intended use, but still pretty handy.


I also use and my old carry on luggage bag as a home for my D FA 150-450, Sigma 300mm f2.8 and Tamron 70-200 f2.8 lenses. I have padded parts of the bag by cutting up an anti fatigue foam standing pad I got from Harbor Freight. Then I add a few old towels in to keep everything secure. Sort of a stealth roll about camera bag of no interest to most prying eyes. It too lies flat on the back seat for easy access when needed and is stood up and secured in place by a seat belt while on the road.


What I am pondering right now is some sort of secured water/dust proof box mounted in the bed of my pickup to hold my tripods. I have a roll up tonneau cover over my pickup truck bed and while it is pretty dry, it gets awful dusty in there while driving out west.
12-18-2019, 10:37 AM - 1 Like   #49
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
Fair enough

Thanks barondla for the detailed comments. I'll comment on a few below. My intention is NOT to go for or against any brand, but to further the discussion and learn a few things.



I agree that some bags, mainly older ones, have overkill padding. I do have a Domke insert that I purchased a long while ago so I understand what you mean. The bags are not unique in this, it's been a trend in the last few years to better optimize the thickness of the padding. Think Tank/Mindshift Gear and Peak Design are particularly good at this.



That can be useful indeed. The closest comparison would probably be Peak Design's origami dividers which adapt to varying situations, but it's not exactly what you describe.



That's far from unique to Domke.



That strongly depends on the bag. I think even with less optimized bags muscle memory lets you achieve this over time (I used to have a Timbuk2 messenger bag, it had two large buckles that I was able to open without looking even if they were a bit clumsy at times). If that kind of easy access is important for you, you'd probably like Peak Design's maglatch closure.



Having equipment stored inside the top flap of a messenger bag is rather uncommon, probably because access can be more cumbersome if the flap is reversed. However, having a large lid which stays in place if not fastened is quite common. Reading this paragraph made me think of the Retrospective line from Think Tank, among others. You can see my review of it.



Again makes me think of the Retrospective line Or maybe the Signature from Think Tank also.

I'm personally a fan of more technical fabrics, like those found on Mindshift Gear, Wandrd and Peak Design bags (among others), but that is purely a personal choice.



I never tried one for a long period, but I did test somewhat comparable bags (like an older Pentax bag which looks quite a bit like Domke from the outside).

My main gripe when handling one is about thickness. I much prefer a longer and thinner messenger bag instead of a shorter and thicker one. Also, I usually dig a more modern look (while I really respect the Retrospective line, these bags are not my favourite for everyday use).

The modular inserts are probably the most unique feature you listed. I can see that being invaluable if someone has very distinct kits for distinct applications. That's not my case (I'll have a few carry-everywhere lenses, plus a few outliers depending on the day) but I'm only one guy.

Thanks for the input! I like these kinds of discussions.
Unfortunately there is only 1 camera store with in 2.5 hours of my location. This makes it difficult to shop for new bags. I've never seen a Think Tank or Peak Design. Might like one, who knows. But if I need another bag, it would probably be a Domke. I know exactly what I get when buying one - I've used the brand since the beginning. So all my main bags work the same way.

You listed a lot of bags that have Domke like features. Unfortunately that is the problem, a lot of different bags. Only the Domke has all those features in one bag. Domke is like a symphony orchestra, all the parts are balanced. Most bags are designed to sell something - lots of marketing. Here today, gone tomorrow.

All my Domke bags are full. Someday I'll order another. Geez.

Matetials, Domke used to offer their bags in nylon also. No idea if they still do. I need to look at their site and see what they've been up to. Never used a messenger bag. Always had too much equipment to carry. Domke has one, no idea if it is useful.What someone needs to do is invent a backpack that isn't awful to work from.

Thanks,
barondla

---------- Post added 12-18-19 at 11:56 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by gaweidert Quote


What I am pondering right now is some sort of secured water/dust proof box mounted in the bed of my pickup to hold my tripods. I have a roll up tonneau cover over my pickup truck bed and while it is pretty dry, it gets awful dusty in there while driving out west.
My friend buys 4" or 6" pvc pipe, cuts it to the desired length, and glues and end cap to the back. Another end cap is the lid for the front. Tripod is totally protected. He usually has 2 or more of these tubes glued side by side. That way they don't roll around.

Thanks,
barondla

12-18-2019, 11:25 AM   #50
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
You listed a lot of bags that have Domke like features. Unfortunately that is the problem, a lot of different bags. Only the Domke has all those features in one bag.
Sorry if I gave that impression. While none of the bags I've listed are identical to Domke (that would make little sense) many have most of the features you list.

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Never used a messenger bag.
It's like a Domke bag, I'd say, except thinner and longer (or not).

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
What someone needs to do is invent a backpack that isn't awful to work from.
I might give a few pointers if you tell me what you'd wish a backpack did. Quick access, comfortable support for heavy weight, large volume, ability to carry non-photo gear, place for a bottle of hydration pouch, tripod attachment system, something else?
12-18-2019, 06:27 PM   #51
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
Sorry if I gave that impression. While none of the bags I've listed are identical to Domke (that would make little sense) many have most of the features you list.



It's like a Domke bag, I'd say, except thinner and longer (or not).



I might give a few pointers if you tell me what you'd wish a backpack did. Quick access, comfortable support for heavy weight, large volume, ability to carry non-photo gear, place for a bottle of hydration pouch, tripod attachment system, something else?
From what I've seen hiking is a no win situation. Either pick a backpack that is great for transporting equipment and awful to work out of, or pick a bag that is uncomfortable to carry long distances, but more convenient while photographing. Ideally I'd want a backpack that could be flipped on its side and used as a standard camera bag. A transformer! Not easy to design.

Studied your Think Tank and Peak Design messenger bag reviews linked above. They are good reviews that illustrate the designs well. The Think Tank wouldn't suit me at all. Way to consumerish. The Peak Design was interesting and I could live with it, but might not enjoy it much. The Peak Design looks as wide as normal bags in one of your photos.

Interesting discussion,
Thanks,
barondla
12-19-2019, 03:32 AM   #52
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For ages I am looking for a bag that could have a mixed usage. maybe 3/4 for general purpose and 1/4 for photography (1 body 6 lenses or another way) but both being isolated from each other in the case I carry food and water for instance.
I ve never found it

12-19-2019, 04:45 AM   #53
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
From what I've seen hiking is a no win situation. Either pick a backpack that is great for transporting equipment and awful to work out of, or pick a bag that is uncomfortable to carry long distances, but more convenient while photographing. Ideally I'd want a backpack that could be flipped on its side and used as a standard camera bag. A transformer! Not easy to design.
Take a second look. There are hiking backpacks nowadays which work well both for carrying and access. Access-wise, there are three approaches, which have replaces the old-style photo-only backpacks. They work better or worse based on the amount of equipment and shooting style:
  1. Side access backs for swinging around on one shoulder. Good for light load, often very lightweight backpacks such ad LowePro Sport 200/300 AW models. Work reasonably well when put down, depending on how wide they open - some like the Wolfskin model open all the way to the front. I used my LowePro Sport 200 size (1st Gen) for a lot of hikes with a K-5, DA18-135 and one or two additional lenses or K-1 + DFA28-105 + VL20mm + SY 12mm in the camera compartment and always found it quick & convenient. Just for more heavy loads like 4l of water + clothes + tripod, the one-sided load when swinging around was too much for my spine.
  2. Bags where a camera compartment on the hip belt can be rotated to the front, like the above mentioned Mindshift Gear Rotation packs. Well suited for more heavy load as it stays on your back and the camera compartment close to the body. My favorite solution currently when I carry enough for a day hike of 2-3 people and camera gear up to K-1, DA28-105, 200mm, TC, 14/2.8, 20/3.5, FA31, DFA100WR, batteries, 2kg tripod + head, sometimes a Sigma 2.8/70-200mm or pano equipment in the top compartment.
  3. Bags with access from carrying side ("back side" - in more than one way), such as e.g. the f-Stop gear Tilopa, Ajna ... Some (smaller ones) can be rotated around your body entirely supported by the hip belt and then accessed similar to the Mindshift Gear rotation ones, otherwise they are pt down on the ground with the carrying side facing up and opened from there, so your back doesn't get wet or dirty when you put them back on. Extremely flexible by using modular camera inserts and offerings in a large backpack size range - from small hikes to week long treks with full camping and food needs and from small 2-3 lens setups to extremely large lenses.
All three options involve various trade-offs, but there are definitely hiking backpacks that you can put down and access as easy as a regular camera bag (in options 1 & 3). Option 2 however is really optimized for access on the move without putting anything down.


QuoteOriginally posted by fsge Quote
For ages I am looking for a bag that could have a mixed usage. maybe 3/4 for general purpose and 1/4 for photography (1 body 6 lenses or another way) but both being isolated from each other in the case I carry food and water for instance.I ve never found it
All of the above provide models which do basically that. Most of them not in a 25:75 split, but a lot of them with options for a hiking-focused use. With space for camera and six lenses, unless they're all DA LTD sized, this would be an fairly large pack in 4x the space.

Last edited by JensE; 12-19-2019 at 04:53 AM. Reason: Spelling, again
12-19-2019, 05:57 AM - 1 Like   #54
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
From what I've seen hiking is a no win situation. Either pick a backpack that is great for transporting equipment and awful to work out of, or pick a bag that is uncomfortable to carry long distances, but more convenient while photographing. Ideally I'd want a backpack that could be flipped on its side and used as a standard camera bag. A transformer! Not easy to design.
JensE mentioned it, but here's the review of the Mindshift Gear Horizon with rotation180. It is, by FAR, my favourite hiking photo backpack. It's among my favourite hiking backpacks, period.

The rotation180 system really works, and really makes a difference in ease of access. The drawback is that you need to limit the amount of gear you carry, but when hiking it makes sense anyway. I've used it on countless hikes, when visiting Disney World with the family, when touring Mexico, etc. It's always served me well.

As for a transformer backpack, one where one strap can be elongated a lot could, maybe, transform in a should bag of sorts. In that case you'd prefer side access.

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Studied your Think Tank and Peak Design messenger bag reviews linked above. They are good reviews that illustrate the designs well. The Think Tank wouldn't suit me at all. Way to consumerish. The Peak Design was interesting and I could live with it, but might not enjoy it much. The Peak Design looks as wide as normal bags in one of your photos.
The Peak Design Messenger, with its maglatch system, can change its thickness according to how filled up it is. So yeah, it can become quite thick.

QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Interesting discussion,
That it certainly is!
12-19-2019, 07:45 AM   #55
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QuoteOriginally posted by y0chang Quote
That is what happened with me and a Lowepro Nova AW and a DA 15mm. it had no zipper nor velcro, only clasps. The DA 15mm slipped out when i was scrambling by a waterfall, and the DA 15mm rolled down a hill hitting a few rocks along the way. Now I always make sure that a field bag has a zipper or really strong velcro.
Ouch. My current cheapo bag will open up if the zippers are set at the top. I need to zip them all the way around so that they are not able to go left and right. I think it is due to the age of the bag and zippper.
12-19-2019, 10:49 AM   #56
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
JensE mentioned it, but here's the review of the Mindshift Gear Horizon with rotation180. It is, by FAR, my favourite hiking photo backpack. It's among my favourite hiking backpacks, period.

The rotation180 system really works, and really makes a difference in ease of access. The drawback is that you need to limit the amount of gear you carry, but when hiking it makes sense anyway. I've used it on countless hikes, when visiting Disney World with the family, when touring Mexico, etc. It's always served me well.

As for a transformer backpack, one where one strap can be elongated a lot could, maybe, transform in a should bag of sorts. In that case you'd prefer side access.



The Peak Design Messenger, with its maglatch system, can change its thickness according to how filled up it is. So yeah, it can become quite thick.



That it certainly is!
Nice review of the Mindshift. It is easy to see some original thinking went into the design. But...I don't know...seems to have missed the mark, for me. Reading the Mindshift site it seems the rotating camera bag part will carry a ff Nikon with 24-70 zoom. That means the K-1 would be similar. If the system only allows accessing a camera and one lens quickly...whats the point? I'd just take the camera and lens out of the backpack upon arrival, and use the neck strap.This backpack seems aimed at hikers with a little quick storage access thrown in. Does the camera storage decrease with their smaller bags?

A good start, but for my purposes far too limited to be much use.

Thanks,
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12-19-2019, 12:55 PM   #57
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
A good start, but for my purposes far too limited to be much use.
Have you even read the above? Checked the PF review? K-1 with L-bracket and strap, 28-105mm, Samyang 12mm/2.8 Fish-eye, Voigtländer 20/3.5, DFA100WR macro and DA55-300mm PLM, and few filters all fit nicely. Even a K-1 with a small prime attached, the 24-105 and the Sigma 70-200/2.8 do fit.
12-19-2019, 01:02 PM   #58
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QuoteOriginally posted by JensE Quote
Have you even read the above? Checked the PF review? K-1 with L-bracket and strap, 28-105mm, Samyang 12mm/2.8 Fish-eye, Voigtländer 20/3.5, DFA100WR macro and DA55-300mm PLM, and few filters all fit nicely. Even a K-1 with a small prime attached, the 24-105 and the Sigma 70-200/2.8 do fit.
Skimmed the review, perhaps too quickly. I got that it would be nice to have 1cm more room for the K-1and lens to fit easily. The Mindshift website lists a Nikon D8** and lens fitting in the easy access compartment. If it holds more, cool. Will check the review closer.
Thanks,
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12-19-2019, 02:35 PM - 1 Like   #59
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I find most camera backpack that hold too little camera gear to use as a primary bag and hold too little camping gear to backpack with, i find it better to just put an insert that holds an extra camera and/or lens into a backpack and have the camera on a neck or handstrap. Yes you lose access to your extra lens or body while hiking but as long as you don't pack it at the bottom of the bag, you can easily get to it at the top of the bag. Also placing the top of the bag protects the gear, it seems every outdoor bag seems to put the camera body at the bottom of the bag with a zipper, the same bottom that get dropped on rocks and is the first part that hits the mud or water. Also putting your heaviest weight as a shifting weight in the middle of the bag just leads to fatigue on any hike longer than a few miles. Finally that insert works on all size bags, you can put it in a daypack for day hikes, a backpack for backpacking, and a messenger bag for easy access in town.
12-20-2019, 05:22 AM   #60
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QuoteOriginally posted by y0chang Quote
I find most camera backpack that hold too little camera gear to use as a primary bag and hold too little camping gear to backpack with, i find it better to just put an insert that holds an extra camera and/or lens into a backpack and have the camera on a neck or handstrap. Yes you lose access to your extra lens or body while hiking but as long as you don't pack it at the bottom of the bag, you can easily get to it at the top of the bag. Also placing the top of the bag protects the gear, it seems every outdoor bag seems to put the camera body at the bottom of the bag with a zipper, the same bottom that get dropped on rocks and is the first part that hits the mud or water. Also putting your heaviest weight as a shifting weight in the middle of the bag just leads to fatigue on any hike longer than a few miles. Finally that insert works on all size bags, you can put it in a daypack for day hikes, a backpack for backpacking, and a messenger bag for easy access in town.
It seems I am not the only one not finding the appropriate back pack! It seems there is no super convenient offering at the moment...
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