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back alley's In The Bag Joe's quest for the ultimate Camera Bag! So many bags .. so little time ...

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Think Tank Retro 5
Old 01-14-2017   #1
marcr1230
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Think Tank Retro 5

First new bag in a number of years

I wanted something to carry around my M43 kit

here's my take after a couple of days.

1. love the cloth and the build - very good workmanship
2. too many useless small pockets inside and out
3. not sure about the wisdom of the inner pocket with a zipper - I try to keep misc metal (I think it's metal) away from the inside of a bag cause I don't want to risk scratching the gear - this looks ok where it is, but I would prefer not having it, and the pocket it closes is good for a passport or thin notebook but not much else
4. padding and separators - just fine, you can make 2-3 inner compartments easily, it comes with 3 compartments configured (2 separators) and includes 3 smaller separators for additional redecoration

5. size - smaller that I thought it would be from the web site pictures

6. usable space - right now I took out one separator and made 2 compartments (1/3 and 2/3 of the space - I put the camera w lens on its side in the larger, and the second lens vertically in the smaller compartment. I'd like to fit more in the, there is unused depth space but hard to stack things unless you get a padded lens bag and put it under the camera somehow. you could also try 3 compartments of equal size and put the camera nose down, but the it becomes a little harder to pull out the camera

7. front outside pocket - stores a waterproof cover for the back - you can expand it and put more small things or perhaps a lens or 2, but it would make for a very wide/stuffed bag.

8. rear zippered slim pocket - nice but again what will put in there, maybe an iPad mini? but then the bag might not be as comfortable.

9. carry handle - nice touch

10. carry strap - nicely padded and adjustable - can carry cross-wise or on the shoulder.

11. outside side pockets - pretty small, I could throw in batteries, SD cards, lens wipes etc, but hard to dig into them and retrieve stuff.

All told, I like it, there's never a perfect bag, I was kind of thinking I could fit a 35mm rangefinder in as well as the M43 + extra lens, but it appears too tight.

the beauty of small bags though is that they force you to make decisions and limit equipment - which some people like me need.

I will update after a trip next weekend.

here's the kit ( EM1.2 w 50/1.1 and then 12-40/2.8 standing) :

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Old 01-14-2017   #2
Larry Cloetta
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I like mine. They wear very well. But, as you said, there is no universally perfect bags. Only bags which are perfect for very specific needs.
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Old 01-14-2017   #3
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I like mine as well -- had it for 5+ years, it's scuffed and worn but has served me well. I really like the design, it's a non-descript bag that's extremely functional. I've used mine so much that I had to get the velcro replaced by a tailor! Well worth the small cost, though. Should get another 5-10 years out of the bag!
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Old 01-14-2017   #4
back alley
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the retro line have all really good bags...my only concern is as what is stated above...too many small pockets.
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Old 01-14-2017   #5
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The only issue I have with the TT retro line is that the bags are heavier that they should be for their size.
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Old 01-15-2017   #6
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Bought the Retro 5 at a photo show. Liked the feel of the material and I didn't care for the tiny pocket. Agree too that it was heavy for a small bag. Kept it a couple of months and then sold it.
I also find the Ona Bowery a little like this too, small pockets and too heavy. That's gonna be my next sale.

Paul
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Old 01-15-2017   #7
marcr1230
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What small bag do you use ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kuvvy View Post
Bought the Retro 5 at a photo show. Liked the feel of the material and I didn't care for the tiny pocket. Agree too that it was heavy for a small bag. Kept it a couple of months and then sold it.
I also find the Ona Bowery a little like this too, small pockets and too heavy. That's gonna be my next sale.

Paul
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Old 01-15-2017   #8
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I sold mine after trying to work w it for a month. Did not like the loud velcro that if i did not use the bag would not be secure. did not like the fact that there were two big openings on each end when carried that would let in dust/ debris etc if carried on a windy day.
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Old 01-15-2017   #9
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And what did you replace it with ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
I sold mine after trying to work w it for a month. Did not like the loud velcro that if i did not use the bag would not be secure. did not like the fact that there were two big openings on each end when carried that would let in dust/ debris etc if carried on a windy day.
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Old 01-15-2017   #10
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What's the interior depth? I'm looking for a bag to carry my RF645 kit but it's size makes that a hard task.
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Old 01-16-2017   #11
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From the web site, internal dimensions

9.5" W x 7.8" H x 4.5" D (24 x 19.5 x 11.5 cm)

It seems that you can eith do what I did - Camera + medium size mounted lens
+ one medium sized lens or you can try stacking 2 or 3 smaller lenses
In the same pocket and use the other for the body+lens

Like I said before, you can divide it into 3 compartments and have 2 lenses ( nose down) in the outer compartments and the the body and lens nose does in the middle - it's just a little tight I think and you have to take care to protect everything


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What's the interior depth? I'm looking for a bag to carry my RF645 kit but it's size makes that a hard task.
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Old 01-16-2017   #12
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Had it, sold it. Too heavy, too stiff.

Now using primarily a couple different versions of the Bare Bones Bags, and a Courier Ware messenger-type bag when I need more capacity. Also picked up a used Filson backpack off evil bay made for photographers, now discontinued I think, for the few times when I do need a backpack.
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Old 01-16-2017   #13
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I didn't like mine at first, for some of the reasons stated, e.g. end pockets too small. In fact, I took it back, but then went back and re-purchased it. I've used it a great deal once I decided to keep it. I especially like the lengthwise divider that gives me two compartments for stashing filters, batteries, memory cards. I can carry a film Leica, a small digital like an X100 or X20, extra lens or two for the Leica. The back pocket is good for extra filters. I don't put much in the inside rear pocket, just the extra dividers. Front pocket is good for a rocket blower, cloth, and film.

I had been wishing for a "stretch model" of the Retro 5, to give me an extra compartment. When I discovered the Retro 6, I bought it. That is the stretch model! I can carry an M7, M9, and several lenses, plus all the other stuff mentioned. The Retro 6 now often goes instead of the Domke F6. (But I'm not giving up the F6.)

They need to either make the outside end compartments a little bigger, or else eliminate them. They are silly, as is. One larger end compartment, or a mesh pocket with elastic closure, would be better than two useless ones. The little inside ones are handy for memory cards or batteries.
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Old 01-16-2017   #14
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They are very nicely made bags. I had several of the Retro series. They are heavy for their size though and I always thought they were too thick/deep. For awhile I actually used one of the Retro series Lens Changer 3 bags as a camera bag as I much preferred how much thinner that was. They are a little too tall though for a simpler kit.

I ended up with a Domke F-803 in ruggedwear.

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Old 01-17-2017   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcr1230 View Post
What small bag do you use ?
Bought the Ona Bowery which is well made and the feel of the material is good. Never got much use though as again the outer pockets are small, for me at least. Also find the brass clips on the strap a bit overkill for such a small bag. While impressed by the quality and it a smart bag for those occasions when looks count I'm gonna be selling it soon.
Currently keep going back to Bare Bones Bag and occasionally Domke 5xb.
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Old 01-20-2017   #16
Al Patterson
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I'm thinking of the Retro Leather 5 or 7...
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Old 01-20-2017   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcr1230 View Post
And what did you replace it with ?
I have a whole bunch of bags from Timbuk2(which I really like) to much more expensive ones..
I really like the Timbuk2 bags and now have three of them. One for my Leica M5 setup, one for my Nikon F6/D750 get up, and a small one for my CLEs.
I've bought them from Adorama and wait for their yearly holiday sales. Then they always seem to have some at 50% off..

Two bags I currently have which I am not fond of are a Domke one in that rugged wear waxed cotton finish. I'm not sure of the name but I had to toss the inner 'padding' as it was so pathetic and replaced it with an aftermarket liner. Also it is only held closed by two metal hook/clasps, no zipper, nothing else. I actually had a lens roll out of the 'closed' bag when the bag got tilted. Luckily it was only a $20 Rokkor lens.
I got the Domke used for super cheap (now I can see why!) as I needed it for storage.
My other bag I do not like is the Ona Bowery in canvas. Another small but unusually heavy bag that has such a wonderful design (!) that it will soak up any wet surface you may put it down on. My biggest peeve with it is the single brass buckle that holds it closed. It is designed so it thwacks your camera if you try to remove your camera with one hand. Nice to have a bag that dings your gear when you take it out!
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Old 01-20-2017   #18
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I bought a used retrospective 5 shortly after it came out from someone who didn't like it. I ended up with most of the OP's same complaints. I spent $100 though and figured I didn't want to fiddle around going through any more bags so I've always made it work. These days, I typically have children in tow so a bag that forces me to limit how much I carry is advantageous. I either carry my P67 with a single lens plus film and lightmeter, or a 35mm system with 1-2 lenses plus film and lightmeter. Somehow I still manage to get good results even with the limits it imposes, and besides, who wants to carry 2x P67 lenses in a shoulder bag for a few hours?

The Retro 6 does look pretty nice though.
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