5.18.2012

Who cares about camera bags? Well....I do.

This is an old, Domke Little Bit Bigger camera bag.

I see a lot of super crappy camera bags out and about.  What the heck are you people thinking?  Seeing a huge, ballistic nylon, super-size-me bag that looks like a black shipping box rigidly swinging from a strap that has a death grip on your shoulder tells me that you didn't think that bag purchase through all the way. I know, I know, you're an engineer and you read the tests and selected a bag for maximum gear safety.  Your brand X behemoth bag can protect the contents at drops that accelerate to 20 g's.  It's bullet proof and has dedicated compartments for everything from your micro-fiber cleaning cloth to your 18-500mm zoom and your GPS something or other, and your flashlight and your cellphone(s),  and your MP3 player and a few books on lighting and a couple of sandwiches and a six pack of lite beer.   Swinging the "big bags" through an unsuspecting crowd won't win you many friends.    In term of coolness the giant, semi-rigid, b-nylon bags are the comb-overs of camera bags.  Better to just carry everything in a paper bag from the grocery store.


 You want something better out of life than to own the U-Haul of camera bags. I've looked at almost every bag on the market over the last thirty years and I've bought dozens of them.  Maybe more.  I had a brief romance with a minimalist Leica canvas camera bag but it just wasn't the right size.  I still have three of them hanging on a door in the studio, in various sizes.  Tamracs are the Pontiac Firebirds of camera bags.  Too bulky and inefficient.  The interior size is minute on most of them compared to the exterior dimensions.  Ditto the Lowes and the Katas.  In fact, all of the bags that are constructed of dense, rigid foam, covered with ballistic nylon are heavy on "protection" (as if it mattered) and light on comfort and usability.  And as stylish as a leisure suit.


You want a bag with give.  You want a bag that ages gracefully.  You want a bag that's underwhelming and personable.  And, most importantly, you want a back that wraps itself around you like an affectionate lover.

In the end, if you are a professional photographer who carries his own cameras onto commercial locations, or in the service of art, or you just want to look like one, you can't really carry anything but a Domke cotton canvas bag.  The size is really up to you but good taste dictates that you select one that's just big enough for whatever you have planned, photographically, for the day.

If you are shooting with micro four thirds cameras and lenses you certainly don't need anything bigger than the original, F2 bag.  If you shoot with APS or full frame cameras you don't need anything more ample than the Little Bit Bigger Bag in the photo above.  If you get one of the Little Bit Bigger Bags and you come back whining that you've run out of space you are wrong.  You just tried to put too much worthless stuff in the bag.

Let's get straight about one thing: A camera bag is not a "storage solution" and a photo shoot is not an automatic opportunity to bring every last piece of photo-crap along when you leave the house. Tobacco colored filters? Really?  If you've done your due diligence and practiced your craft over and over again you should know which two zoom lenses you really need to shoot with or, alternatively, which three primes you need to pack for the day.  If you're shooting unhurried and close to home do you really need a back up camera?  I didn't think so. An extra battery or two? Sure.  Wanna pack even lighter? Leave the cellphone at home and concentrate on shooting.

But back to my point.  The small Domke bag (the f2) and the Little Bit Bigger Bag are both made out of cotton canvas.  Over time (if you use it) it gets softer and softer. Comfortable to the touch.  The bag is made to smush when there's not a lot in it.  It kind of wraps around your hip instead of gouging rigidly into it.  The smaller bag should always be bought in the dark brown color.  It's stealthy and visually appealing in its simplicity and grace.  In the large bag your really only have the choice between a very, very light tan and a deep black.  I have them both.  Just get the black.  Over time it will fade like the corners of an enameled Leica M3, showing the equivalent of camera brassing that says, "My camera bag earned this soft, weathered finish from time in the field."

My Bigger Bag is perfect for what I do.  I can comfortably fit in two big camera bodies and four lenses, plus a flash.  The front pockets are reserved for camera batteries and memory cards.  The end pockets for flash batteries and off camera flash cables.  The back pocket?  You get to use it any way you want.  It will accept my 13 inch laptop but it's stupid to carry a laptop around if you're going out to shoot.  If your camera bag feels heavy it's either not well made or you put too much stuff inside.  See above.

Big, dumb bags are insidious.  They aren't really scalable because they are more rigid than the unstructured canvas bags. Human nature (which you can't resist even though you say you can) impels you to fill every pocket; every nook and cranny.  And the fat bag throws off your normally graceful gait. The more you carry the harder it is to be creative.  It's a known law of the photographic universe.


I started out with a Domke F2 (original) bag in brown.  I still have it after nearly 20 years.  A short time later I got the bigger bag because I was doing a lot of airline travel and the bag, with my two shooting cameras and four lenses, and necessary junk would all fit under the seat in front of me.  It still will, even with all the TSA'ing and downsizing.

The black, bigger bag has been with me through a blizzard in St. Petersburg, a junket to Monte Carlo, a torrential downpour in Seattle and just about everywhere else.  It won't protect gear from rank stupidity and will  punish you until you learn to be vigilant in caring for your gear.  But it will make you a better photographer because it will carry your stuff gracefully and call less attention to you than more unyielding baggage.  In a way, all baggage is part of a balancing act.  Too much means you're not selective enough.  Being prepared is one thing, carrying your whole inventory on your shoulder is just crazy.

These are just suggestions.  If you're as headstrong as I am you'll go out and buy whatever the hell you think is right.  But I'm here to tell you that when I've met the best and the brightest, the superstars, the Rollingstones and Beatles of photography, every damn one of them is hauling their carefully selected camera gear around with them in a Domke canvas bag.  Not some high tech monstrosity of a bag. And certainly nothing in bright colors or attached to a cutesy name.  You've been informed.  No one can force you to have good taste.  But if you are in the market for a great camera bag I suggest you try one of the Domkes.

full disclosure. I own too many Domke bags but, it can't bear to let any of them go.  I don't own Tiffen or Domke stock and no one gives them to me for free.  The article is not meant to be mean or serious.  If it comes off that way I either wrote it wrong or you read it wrong.  And, true fact, Duane Michals actually did carry his cameras to several photo shoots in New York City in a Shopping bag from a department store.  Really.



Love the bag? Buy the book.

Kirk's Amazon Author's Page






82 comments:

Dave Jenkins said...

C'mon, Kirk. Let it out. Tell us how you really feel.

I'm partial to the Domke F8 small bag in black, myself. It holds a 5D body plus the three basic zooms and a flash, with room for batteries, CF cards, etc.

Bill Bresler said...

I've got 15 years on my latest F2. Thinking about downsizing to an F3x or even an F8. At this point I'm wearing a pair of dslrs, one with a 17-35 zoom and the other with a 70-200. All I really need to carry in the bag is a couple of shoe mount flashes, extra batteries, a charger and a notebook.

dd-b said...

Here I was thinking my current bag (fairly new, and quite unsatisfactory to me) was the kind of oversized bag you were objecting to -- and then you said what you could put in your Domke Little Bit Bigger bag. My oversize thingy can barely handle *one* Nikon D700 body with battery grip, 24-70/2.8 and 70-200/2.8 and Sigma 120-400/cheap lenses plus flash plus necessaries (batteries, lens cleaning gear, flash). (That particular loadout is for roller derby, I really do need something longer than 200.)

And I admit to having an immediate spastic reaction against your suggestion that the *style* of the bag matters. I figure if the other photographers are busy laughing at my bag, they're not getting the shots.

I rarely to never completely pre-plan a shoot -- I'm not doing studio or even models in the field, I'm shooting music jam sessions and bar gigs and roller derby bouts (as a semi-pro, I guess). Sure, I know what lenses I'll use for the basic shots; but if I stop there, I'll miss the chances to do anything wild with targets of opportunity (the ultra-wide or the circular fisheye, mostly). And I like the few keepers from the relatively few shots with the exotic lenses quite a lot.

atmtx said...

What a beautifully worn bag. Looks like you keep your bags longer than you do cameras or camera manufactures ;-)

Juznobsrvr said...

My Domke acts as a pillow when I need to. It'll be still around (somewhere) when I kick the bucket and stack the spoon. Long live F2.

D said...

Well, I'd consider one if they didn't cost ¥ 21,000 ($265 bucks) at Amazon Japan. Have seen and lusted for them, but much preferred to purchase various above mentioned bullet-proof black and stiff 10 pound beasts which I soon stopped carrying. I now cheat by being cheap and buy LL Bean canvas shoulder bags and am careful with my equipment, even wrapping it when needed. Works for my Oly m43 stuff very well and can, with care, be used for my Nikon dSLR. Geez, when I used film, the bags I used were much cheaper and lighter than some of the absurd shoulder and back boxes we have now and I never had a problem. Never gave them tremendous amount of thought, but back then I didn't have so much junk---err vital equipment---to lug around.

Of course if I had to fly often, or were a professional, I might shell out for a Domke. Or, if I get back to the States and see one at a good price, I might not be able to resist. And yea, it has to be somewhat fashionable.

Patrick Dodds said...

Uh oh. I've been holding out on buying a Domke for a while now, but maybe not for much longer. One of the worst photographic purchases I've made, and it is part of a long list, is the expensive, monster (but surprisingly small inside) Kata bag I have. The zips are poorly placed and hard to operate, the outside pockets are designed to open and spill your stuff out at every opportunity, and it's generally ugly. It came with tons of add-on straps, clasps and nets, none of which I am ever going to use unless I go trekking in Peru (something that isn't happening any time soon, unfortunately). Now, when I look at it, I can't work out why I ever bought it.

C. Kurt Holter said...

I have Domke bags dating from the late 1970's. When they get ratty to the point where I have to have iron-on patches covering the hole, I usually get a new one and use the older ones for walk-around bags when I'm vacationing or shooting personal stuff. My oldest bag is on it's fourth strap. My current working bag is the big ballistic nylon "J" series model, but only because it's deep enough to hold a 70-200/f2.8 zoom. Old Domke bags are good for beach trips, because the foam, four section inserts will hold four tallboy cans of beer.

Anders said...

I got the Domke F-6 (Little Bit Smaller Bag) and even if the price was a little high (here in Denmark) it is a great little bag which is usually big enough for my needs.

Even fits a thin rain jacket and a small bottle of water if I only bring a small camera.

latent_image said...

I'd use Domke bags if it weren't for the blankety-blank snaps and the huge flappy "lids". Too slow, too fiddly. (I also despise velcro, which means most current bags are out for me, too. It's hard to be discrete when you're ripping velcro.) Camera bags have gotten much worse over the years--as you say, too rigid and not enough interior space--so I continue to use older bags from the late eighties and early nineties. These tend to have simple flat lids that are easily tucked between bag and ones side. And the closures--once you've unzipped the lid--are those plastic things that release with a quick squeeze. All my working bags are faded and beat to hell.

Govis said...

Meh. Domkes have such little padding that you have to be really careful about how you put the bag down. Worst dividers ever. Unless you really don't have much stuff, those shoulder bags get painful after a while as well.

kirk tuck said...

Padding is evil.

tomt said...

Easily your funnest (sic) entry in weeks. This coming from one of the goofy nerds you lambast.

theaterculture said...

Hey now - don't lump all ballistic nylon in with the Kata-Tamrac-LowePro brigade! The object I use every day that I've had the longest is a Timbuk2 messenger (14 years and counting) that I got with my first ever laptop; it's been a briefcase, a camera bag, a diaper bag, held many a picnic meal, and was once used by a roommate to carry a ferret on a bus trip from the Port Authority terminal in New York to Orlando, and is still going strong.

Not that I don't love the old-world charm of canvas, but heck even Filson are now using b-nylon in a lot of their bags...

Alan Fairley said...

Domkes rock (I've used them for 25 years or so), but I don't like the Velcro and snap hook closure system. I also preferred the older bags that were even less padded than the current crop.

bobfoto said...

Who cares about camera bags? Well....I do too...

I certainly have the evidence to prove it. I think that a camera bag is one of the most difficult pieces of photography equipment to buy.

I have an old Domke F-3X bag that I have had since the late 80s. It has been my workhorse bag for quite a while. The only other bag that even comes close is my Crumpler "Seven Million Dollar Home" (I know cutesy name) It has just about the same capacity as the Domke F-3X but with a bit more padding. All of the other bags have been relegated to the closet or occasionally pressed into service as an accessory bag for additional strobes, clamps etc.

Søren Kvistgaard said...

This makes me want to go and buy myself a new Domke, and forget why I eventually sold off the two I had. Note to self: Do not buy a satchel. No good for carrying cameras around.

Scott said...

The "Little Bit Smaller" Domke is perfect for a day out with M4/3 or (film) Leicas, although I really wish they'd switch from those nasty two-handed metal clips to some kind of one handed snap closure.
I DO put a piece of high density foam on the bottom of each compartment, so I'm not bouncing lenses directly on the concrete.
Sorry.

kirk tuck said...

I forgot to mention that Timbuk2 and Filson bags also suck.

kirk tuck said...

All you Velcro haters can just rip off the velcro. Or cover one side with gaffer's tape. The snaps are great. So much better than those plastic squeezeez.

kirk tuck said...

Screw the extra padding. Dump the Crumpler based on the name alone. "Seven Million Dollar Home" indeed.

kirk tuck said...

Those metal clips are perfect and, after three weeks of eight hour per day practice, they are easy to operate with only one hand.

theaterculture said...

Yeah, but try clandestinely keeping a ferret in canvas for 1400 Greyhound miles...

theaterculture said...

Plus Crumpler run periodic promotions in their stores where they let you exchange beer for a discount on bags. Clearly part of an evil plan to corner the market in hipster micro-brews that must be resisted at all costs. Well, except possibly the cost of being seen in public with a LowePro camera bag.

Dogman said...

Domkes are great bags for a decent price (at least in the USA). I currently own 3-4 Domkes ranging from small to medium in size. Their biggest fault is the fact that abrasion will wear a hole in them. When I did newspaper photography, almost all the photographers at the two dailies in town carried Domkes of varying sizes and after a year or so of daily carry, with the bag rubbing against their sides, a hole would start forming and stuff would start to poke out. Patches would go on and immediately begin to wear as fast or faster than the bags. Most of us just replaced the bags since they were really cheap back in the 80s. Some of us went to Lowepro nylon bags but found that abrasion works in both directions. The rough nylon on the back of the Lowepros caused excessive wear on clothing.

As much as I like the Domkes, I have to say my search for the perfect camera bag led me to Billingham bags. I needed a bag for a couple of Leicas, something small like the Domke but with some padding and a bag that didn't look so "camera baggish". The Hadley Pro model handled a couple of Leica M6s with lenses attached, a couple of other lenses and all the filters and film I would ever need. It molded to the body like the Domkes but had excellent padding internally. Bonus points were it did not look like a camera bag, it was made with waterproofing in the fabric and it did not wear through in a short time like the Domkes. After a year of regular use, it started to lose its stylish appearance and took on character. I still have that Hadley--I use for my Olympus E-Pen cameras now that the film Leicas are long gone. The downside is the initial cost of Billingham bags is high, however, the bags have a long lifespan.

cidereye said...

Domke?? How common Mr Tuck, at least use a Billingham good man. hehe :-)

My wife says I'm more of a woman than she will ever be as I have far more (camera) bags & shoes than she does. She's just jealous!

Craig Yuill said...

Kirk, while I agree with your sentiments in general, I don't entirely agree with your view on padding and weather protection. I like bags with thin padding around the outside to protect gear from knocks received. The usefulness of internal padded dividers is, perhaps, somewhat questionable. Also, in rainy environs like Washington State or British Columbia (my turf), some rain protection is desirable (if not necessary), especially if work is done during inclement weather.

Back in the 80s the most-widely-available "pro" bag in my area was the Lowepro Magnum (?). The amount of padding it had was ridiculous. I ordered a Tenba 795 bag, which I still have, and was amazed at how much smaller the bag was than the Lowepro - yet it could carry as much gear.

My main bags for the last 20 years or so are small thinly-padded Lowepros that can carry 1 SLR and 3 lenses. I need to replace my current one. I'll definitely give Domke bags a look. But who knows? The last two days have seen me carrying my DSLR in a diaper bag. Perhaps I'll check out the shopping bags at the local "dollar store". Thanks for bringing up this topic and providing us with some very thought-provoking comments.

Blake Ricks said...

+1

Rob said...

Horses for courses. I agree it's great to have a small murse when walking around the street; a generic $25 one works great, especially with m4/3. Use a beer koozie to protect lenses and you're set. But shoulder bags just plain suck for hiking. I might be schlepping two SLR bodies, wide, standard, and telephoto lenses, a tripod or monopod, flash, jacket, sunscreen, water, and other crap (I mean essential gear) miles up a trail or on a beach. A good backpack is a must, and it has to protect the gear from all kinds of jolts and hits.

Side thought: I don't really buy into the "doesn't look like a camera bag" line for going incognito, at least when you're a guy carrying anything other than a point and shoot. If you're a man carrying a camera, any bag you carry looks like a camera bag.

kirk tuck said...

The most vile (outside the promotion bags with big camera maker names on them) are the Tamrac bags. Shudder.

kirk tuck said...

At least it breathes....

kirk tuck said...

Too posh. Reject them and return to the fold.

kirk tuck said...

Billinghams. Harumph. Like buying a Hermes scarf...

kirk tuck said...

Horses for courses doesn't apply. You should only carry what you can carry comfortably for one day at a time. No more. Backpacks are a whole different animal. They are used for transport, not shooting. I owned a photo backpack once. One big mistake. They are only relevant to landscape photographers and I didn't know we had any landscape photogrpahers on this blog..... Once you let the landscape people in all discussions go sideways. Soon we'll be talking about building shooting platforms on four wheel drive vehicles. And then we'll slide downhill into discussions of making blinds for wild life photography. My whole focus on urban-tography will be compromised.

The Alchemist said...

My wife has had this bag for a long time, and really likes it. Hers is still pretty much mint condition though... I think she'll use it more now she knows what it will look like after is wears.

Carlo Santin said...

I use a diaper bag, a black one. I got it for free. I can hold a camera, 2 lenses, a flash, a bottle of water or a thermos, and a sandwich or some sort of snack. Nobody goes looking inside a diaper bag, let alone trying to steal one. I've always struggled to find a camera bag I was happy with.

theaterculture said...

Yeah, there's a Tamrac dislay at the little cellular/electronics store just down the street. According to the sign they're not bags, they're "Carrying Systems." Clearly run by engineers and people who consider Power Bars food.

Roger Alison said...

Looks like quite a good colonial copy of a Billingham.

30 year old Billinghams are just getting worn in.

;->

GWG said...

If you compare the prices of Domkes and Billinghams there isn't really much of a price difference (at least in Europe) - and while I quite like the old Domke F2 I used for a while, the Hadley Pro just feels so much better and seems so much more flexible - have you tried one, Kirk?

Bill Bresler said...

While reviewing my earlier reply I realized I suffer from selective amnesia. While suffering through 3 months of sciatic nerve issues I dropped nearly 300 bucks on a Tenba rolling bag that also converts to a backpack. It holds more than I need plus a laptop. The big problem is that, empty, it weighs nearly as much as my fully loaded Domkes. It doesn't roll very well. Run over a pebble and the bag twists away. Correct the twist and it comes back...too far. The bag starts rocking back & forth and I strain my wrist trying to stop the oscillation. Usually I lose and the bag wheels end up facing the sky. As a backpack it's just too uncomfortable, as I discovered on the hike down the trail into Canyon de Chelly. It's probably time for Ebay.

John Krumm said...

Ha, landscape photographer here with a cheesy backpack. It's a little dangerous. I'm the type who will forget to zip up and then all my gear comes tumbling out when I swing it on my back... But it lets me walk our many surrounding trails with way more stuff than I need. No need for a shooting platform since we have a Prius, but I was thinking about some kind of collapsible ladder I could strap on to my backpack, or maybe one of those remote control quadracopters. Have you tried a Quadracopter yet?

Govis said...

Preach on, satchel hating brother.

Govis said...

You should try some of the sling bags or backpacks with side access. They make access better but still carry better than shoulder bags.

Govis said...

Personally, if actively shooting with photography as my main mission, the best setup I find is small backpack or a sling with photo vest to put smallerlenses and accessories in, so you don't even need to access the backpack that much unless you're pulling out a BFG or need to get to a tripod.

Joel said...

What domke would you suggest looking in to for carrying the a77, a Sony 28-75mm 2.8 and a small prime? Looks like the ones you mentioned are still more than I need.

Ron Greer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron Greer said...

I love my Domke bags, the last time I was in Austin I used my F2 as protection from the hail. Too bad I can't say the same about my rental car.

dennismook said...

I bought my F2 from Jim Domke in the mid-70s when he first started selling them and before he was bought out. Two years ago I bought a Think Tank Airport backpack to take my gear on a two week Alaska journey. I loaded it up and tried it out locally and left it at home. I took the Domke--and it actually held more! The F2 with my Domke vest were life savers. I have the original tan with the original canvas lens dividers. When it gets too dirty, I throw it in the washing machine to get rid of dirt, lint and grime (I know that may be sinful). I don't believe I'll every give it up.

christopheru said...

I use a small MEC shoulder bag for batteries and my small camera which is slung down on my left hip while my dslr - I only ever bring one lens since if I am taking the dslr I know what I am going out to shoot and can not be bothered schlepping a tonne of gear I never use anyway - lives on an R-strap slung over my right hip. I use a big Kata bag for storing crap in at home or as a storage bag when camping etc where it lives in the trunk. That's it.

Dave Jenkins said...

The Domke F6 "Little Bit Smaller" bag.

kirk tuck said...

Love hearing people's Domke stories. Keep them coming.

ginsbu said...

I just got my first Domke bag, an F-10 for my m4/3 kit in grey from B&H at the discounted price of $53 (through June 30)! Even though it is one of the fully padded Domkes, it is much more flexible (has more give) than other similarly sized bags I looked at, while stretching to hold more. I have my eye on an F-6 for when I need to carry more, but the capacity of the F-10 has me wondering how often I'll need to.

ginsbu said...

You could get that into an F-10. Best to find an opportunity to try both and see which allows the better arrangement of your kit.

It's quite amazing what you can get into the bags if you pack them right. Dave Jenkins, above, says he gets a 5D, three zooms and a flash into an F-8!

cidereye said...

Aye, prices in rip-off Britain are very similar for say Billingham/Domke/ThinTank.

I went into my local dealer with the sole intention of buying a ThinkTank Retrospective 5 for my Leica outfit. I love ThinkTank bags and personally consider them by far the best bags for most purposes. However, in the interest of a level playing field, fairness and all that right at the last minute just before stumping up my payment I asked if I could also try a Billingham Hadley small. So glad I did, I'd never even held a Billingham before never mind tried all my kit inside it and for me it was perfect for the job and I bought it.

They would have been the same price if not for having to pay for a shoulder pad and the added bonus of the removable insert and being able to use the bag for other purposes is great. I did buy mine in black fibrenyte though, discreet and all that. ;)

Pete said...

i use one of these

http://shop.nationaltrust.org.uk/products/organiser-charcoal/1637/

holds a couple of csc's, 3-4 lenses and spare batteries

Dogman said...

I bought into the backpack thing years ago when I thought I was gonna be the next David Muench or Art Wolfe or some such nature shooter who tramps off into the back country and returns with amazing photos of birds and animals and waterfalls. I filled it up with a couple of Canon bodies, several lenses, filters and a brick or two of film, strapped on a tripod and put the silly thing on for a short trek in a nearby state park. It was the last time I ever actually wore that thing. It saw use as a transport bag for a few years but it was really unsuited even for that purpose. Too much padding made the dimensions so large it held less gear than a smaller shoulder bag. I finally bought a Lowepro Nova that is large enough and padded enough to safely transport a good bit gear when traveling. A small and lightly packed Domke bag or the Billingham Hadley comes out when I'm finally at destination. Or I use a vest...or nothing at all. The vests may look silly to some but they work great for carrying several smaller pieces of gear around for hours. They're also more neck/back friendly. Having undergone neck surgery in the past and now being afflicted with a considerable amount of neck and low back arthritis, I find carrying a shoulder bag to be torture after a couple of hours. The vest distributes the weight across my upper body and keeps me from having to end the day with a large dose of ibuprofen.

John Flores said...

Domkes are secret handshakes for a certain type of photographer. As much as I'd like to own one, grow long sideburns, smoke Camels, and shoot film, I don't think they are well suited to motorcycle travel.

Marshall said...

Sorry for the more sidewaysness (sidewaysity?)... As an occasional landscapist who owns a photo backpack, I'll offer that the photo backpack still sucks eggs. (And I'll offer this up quietly, because it was a nice gift from my spouse; it just doesn't work very well.) Backpacks should be designed to fit people; photo backpacks are designed to fit gear.

Now if I'm doing that kind of walking, I carry a well-designed, regular small pack, with the gear protected by a couple of the Domke wraps. Plus, I can easily carry the extra munchies, layers, etc., that I need when out landscaping...

Marshall said...

Every so often, I think I'm going to be in Austin for something, and I think to myself: hey, I wonder if maybe I could offer to buy Kirk a cup of coffee, meet him in person, thank him for all the great writings, and so forth. And then I remember I couldn't carry a camera with me because I have a ballistic bag, and I don't drink coffee. Well, it was a nice thought...

[Insert smiley of choice here]

Klarno said...

I hate shoulder bags. Over anything more than very short distances on flat terrain they get very uncomfortable, whether over one shoulder (bad) or across the chest (less bad but still bad). Sure, they can carry the planet with you, but the planet is already there and it's not going anywhere...

I have a Lowepro waist bag that I use for normal situations. Holds more than I need on any particular shoot, plus a 1L nalgene bottle. When I'm wearing a backpack (that contains things other than photo gear), I have a couple unpadded lightweight Think Tank modular items that I use for everything else. Whatever camera i'm carrying with me is ready to use on a Luma LoopIt. And a tripod, if needed, is in my hand.

I've inherited a couple Domke bags, and I'm really not all that keen on the rubberized straps on them. The rubber always starts crumbling after a couple years...

Richard said...

How does your accountant feel about your views on equipment longevity?

kirk tuck said...

Store them correctly and the rubber will last a lifetime....the lifetime of rubber that is.

kirk tuck said...

I bought a sling bag. Then I found out they are only for girls....

Lachmac said...

I have been using a small CourierWare camera bag for three years and haven't even looked at my Domke satchel since.
Cheers
Lach

Lachmac said...

I've used a CourierWare satchel for the last 3 years, haven't had a second thought about my Domke since.

Dave said...

I'm going to suggest some Midol for you Kirk. Just sayin'

Wally Brooks said...

The real photography war is not Mirrorless vs Mirrors,Nikon vs Canon, 4/3 vs APS-C Vs FF, its over Bags! I have gone through 4 and ended up - for shooting- with a small flexible comfortable easy to carry nondescript messenger like bag.

Poagao said...

The only thing I can't stand about velcro is that RIIIIP noise that happens every time I need to open it, invariably in a quiet environment that gets me stared at (more than usual). I'd like to use the magnetic snaps, but I'd be worried about their effect on the memory cards and other parts of the cameras.

Don P. said...

Glad I came across this blog and this post in particular. I've only gotten into photography seriously in the last couple of months, have a Canon T2i and now 4 lens after just getting my first prime lens (Canon 35mm f2) to go with 3 zooms, a Tamron 10-24mm wide angle, the 18-55 Canon kit lens and a Canon 70-300mm zoom. Plus a tripod, polarizer and a few other filters and miscellaneous stuff. I day hike, typically 5-8 miles, to photograph waterfalls, mountains, etc. in the western North Carolina area. I am one of the boneheads who has been hauling my gear in one of those padded Tamrac boxes, though in my defense it was suggested to me by a B&H salesperson and I didn't know any better. I've had a pack on my back with water, food, etc. and a tripod strapped to the side and have been carrying that Tamrac box in one hand (as it's not too stable hanging over my shoulder) and managing a 10 month old golden retriever on a retractable leash with the other. It's a wonder I haven't broken my neck or smashed my camera equipment on the trail.

Anyway, after seeing this post I looked into Domke bags and being the cheap SOB that I am, I discovered that B&H is selling the gray F-3X canvas bags (big enough to hold all my gear) for $69.99 versus about twice that in other colors. I'd guess they're discontinuing that color. It's $85 at Amazon. Thought I'd pass this information along in case anybody else is looking for an affordable, nay cheap, Domke camera bag.

arg said...

I love my Super Compact, and really love the ruggedwear oiled cotton fabric. Only its floor is padded. So small, and yes it 'wraps' just a little but feels snug and 'planted' against my hip. It easily takes my 7D, three zooms, 100mm macro, flash. No spare body. I like to leave 1 or 2 lenses in the car when I wander, just to keep the shoulder comfy.

arg said...

Just the name, Billingham, old chap!!

Brent said...

Thanks Kirk. You just cost me $180. Oh well. I hated my Lowepro monstrosity. I guess it's for the best.

David Mantripp said...

The F803 Domke is perfect for me. Except when I'm in the Arctic. Ever try whacking a polar bear over the nose with a sissy Domke ? It's the last thing you'll ever do. But a fully laden LowePro will ensure a very sorry polar bear indeed. Oh yeah, and I can attach my tripod to it. Minor point.

Joel said...

Well I ended up getting a Domke F-3X in the ruggedwear and love it. It's the perfect size for carrying around minimal gear but if needed I can still stuff it with my Sony a77 with the 28-75 attached, a 10-20mm, 75-300mm, large flash, and that doesn't include the side pockets. It's kind of crazy coming from lowepro land.
I also have a "Little Bit Bigger" bag on the way for storing pretty much everything.

Anthony De Cristofaro said...

Great column. Got my first F2 from Jack's in Muncie and second from Calumet in Chicago when I was living in the midwest. Have long since stopped buying them new or blue. Now they looked borrowed and old. First there was R-P-M (as in Rec.photo.marketplace) long before eBay. Have taken them up mountains in Montana, pyramids in Mexico and Egypt, rivers in Pecos, Texas and bike trails. Simply the best. If you shove a trash compactor bag in one compartment, then you have a weatherproof Domke, too. Worst case: for some weddings, I had to bring two donkeys (oops, Domkes) loaded up but they still could be slung on my shoulder. Thanks, Kirk.

Murray McMaster said...

Hi Kirk, thanks for the repost. I read it on my phone from work and bought the F6 little bit smaller bag when I got home a couple days later. Of course I forgot to use the link from your website so I will go back to Amazon and buy a couple of your books next month.

I got it in the Ruggedwear style as I live in the outskirts of Vancouver and need the waterproofing.

Phil Schedler said...

...and to think I gave away my weathered black F2 and a small Billingham just because my "posher" clients started giving them funny looks!! ;-)

David White said...

A camera bag can make a big difference to the care of your camera and helping to prevent the need for camera repair.

Camera and Laptop Bag

Bill Oriani said...

I've had a sand-colored little Domke bag since the early 1970's. It's carried everything from a Nikon F2 to disk golf frizbies. All the corners have worn through, it's as limp as a wet rag, but the snap still works. It's retired now.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.