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Tenba DNA 8 review
Old 03-06-2017   #1
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Tenba DNA 8 review

I bought my Tenba DNA 8 in November 2014.

It immediately appealed to me on the basis of its size and weight, although a few details were less desirable. The shoulder strap was too short and too thin ... no problem, I swapped it with a Domke F5XB strap. The velcro closure on the front flap was aggressively strong, noisy, and annoying ... I removed it. At that point, and after a week's use when the bag softened just the right amount, it became one of my favorite bags.

Being one of my favorite bags means it gets put to use on a daily or at least very regular basis for all kinds of gear. Most of what the DNA 8 has been tasked to carry has been several variations on a two-lens Leica M and iPad mini or Pro 9x7 kit. It has done this very competently ... there's actually room without over-stuffing it for two Ms, each with a modest sized lens, or one M with up to three lenses, a modicum of accessories, and so forth.

However, as I've said, a 'favorite bag' gets a lot of use. I noticed a few weeks ago that some of the stitching in the weather gusseting was coming undone and the corners of the bag were starting to look a little tatty. When I took out the camera compartment section (something I often do when I switch to the Polaroid SX-70 cameras because of their long, flat shape), I began to concerned that the bottom padding of the bag seemed thinner and harder than what I remembered from when it was new.

Yesterday, I was downtown at the movie festival with the DNA 8 carrying my M-D and iPad. The padded camera compartment was in it.. As I set it down—not roughly, mind you—on a wooden bench, I heard a distinct 'clunk'. "Hmm, what's up with that?"

I took the bag apart for examination when I arrived home. The bottom padding outside of the camera compartment has now become thin and completely unresiliant. More alarmingly, the bottom padding of the camera compartment section has also thinned to almost non-existent and non-protective.

Compared to my three years older (bought in 2011) Black Label Bag Oskar's One Day Bag mark II, 13 year old Billingham L2 (bought in 2004) or 25 year old Domke F5XB bags (bought about 1991-1992), this is significant and extreme deterioration in too short a time. I've used those other two bags significantly more than the DNA 8 and with significantly heavier equipment loads; none of them shows such substantial wear of the bottom padding, the BLB bag shows almost no wear anywhere, same for the Billingham, and the ancient Domke only shows a bit of distress to the strap hangers and some corner wear.

I don't know whether I can purchase a new camera insert for the Tenba, but the fact that the exterior bottom padding is also completely worn out means that replacing the insert can only fix a part of the problem.

So ... Although I like the design and size of the Tenba DNA 8, I can't really recommend it as a daily use bag on the basis of poor durability. I guess this is where the more expensive bags show their mettle over the less expensive ones. I've swapped my gear over into another bag now (a new A&R RRN-01C purchased last year that's only seen light use thus far). It holds about the same amount of stuff, although it's a bit tight for the iPad Pro 9x7, and is similarly comfortable to wear and easy to get equipment in and out of.

Let's see how long that one stands up to daily use.

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Old 03-07-2017   #2
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I'm sorry to read that you had an issue with your Tenba bag. The padding should not have compressed in this period of time. If you get a chance, please copy and paste your comments above into an email to [email protected] and they will make arrangements with you for replacement.

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Old 03-07-2017   #3
back alley
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Originally Posted by Peter_Tenba View Post
now that is customer service!!
heart soul & a camera

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Old 03-15-2017   #4
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Thank you, Peter. Will do.

(Sorry to be so slow in responding. I was away from my computer most of the past week and some...)

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Old 03-15-2017   #5
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what joe said!

fwiw, nearly 10 years ago I bought two tenba telephoto lens bags which were used several hundred times to ferry my canon "big whites" when I was sports-shooting. still have them (though the lenses were sold), they always served well, and look surprisingly good today.
--Mike (confirmed midget imagist on stilts)

The photographer chances upon a scene that fascinates him. He longs to be a part of it ... recording the scene and including within it his vicarious representative, the participating observer. --- Geoff Dyer

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Old 03-15-2017   #6
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Just got the DNA 8 myself today. Not even had chance load it up. Hope to try it out tomorrow. Bought it for an upcoming trip to Canada. Want to use it as my day bag. My Billingham Hadley will be my carry on bag.

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