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Domke F5XB - but more everyday-friendly
Old 01-27-2017   #1
stillshunter
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Domke F5XB - but more everyday-friendly

.....and so the grael quest for the ideal bag continues. Presently after something that can comfortable fit the M6+35-cron with back-up GR and my daily essentials.

What I've found comes the closest presently is the Domke F5XB. Really appreciate that I can even squeeze the IIIf in there too if need be. The F5XB's size (esp. width and depth) and form factor is just perfect BUT what I really want is the F5XB guts - but with just a little more to carry everyday 'essentials' such as keys, wallet, phone, glasses.

On paper the likes of the Artisan+Artist ACAM-1100 (a.k.a. Evans Walker) seems to come close. Am I on the right track? Otherwise what else should I be thinking about?
...I need to work off spec and opinion as I have no local store that stock or can order these in for hands-on comparison - so I will need to mail-order online.

FYI: mistakes I have made so far...
- ThinkTank Retrospective 5. Bigger, heavier with remarkably little usable space.
- ONA Bowery. Much prefer the F5XB for materials and practicality
- Domke J803
- just not right. Too tall, too deep, too unstable.
- Timbuk2 XS
- can't warm to the stuck-to-your-back style
- Crumpler 5MDH
- great for dSLR, just not right for rangefinders.
NB: the last three are currently being sold!

...oh and - Billingham L2 Alice - have one as my next size up bag. Love it, but it's not this daily bag that I seek.

Hope you can help....as the mistakes cost!
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Old 01-27-2017   #2
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I have had the Domke F5XB, the canvas one, for 2 years and 3 months.
Perfect little bag for 2 M bodies, or M plus a couple of lenses and a few other odds and ends.
Unfortunately mine is now pretty much dead, the straps are about to fall off, there is a massive rip through the flap that closes it and four holes in the bottom corners.
Good bag and not super expensive but a 27 month life expectancy, I was all set for a 'lifetime'.
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Old 01-27-2017   #3
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look at the tenba cooper line and the dna line by (can't remember atm)...
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Old 01-27-2017   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
look at the tenba cooper line and the dna line by (can't remember atm)...
Words from the Bag Man

Great to hear from you Joe. Mate while I head off and do my research - including where to source this Tenba model in Australia - do I surmise that you'd not recommend the A+A ACAM 1100? If so, can I ask where it falls short mate.
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Old 01-27-2017   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coogee View Post
I have had the Domke F5XB, the canvas one, for 2 years and 3 months.
Perfect little bag for 2 M bodies, or M plus a couple of lenses and a few other odds and ends.
Unfortunately mine is now pretty much dead, the straps are about to fall off, there is a massive rip through the flap that closes it and four holes in the bottom corners.
Good bag and not super expensive but a 27 month life expectancy, I was all set for a 'lifetime'.
Wow mate, really sorry to hear this!
My black canvas F5XB has been going strong for about 8 years and I received it used from a member here who'd used it for about as long as me. Maybe they made Domke tougher in the 90's?
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Old 01-27-2017   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
look at the tenba cooper line and the dna line by (can't remember atm)...
For prosperity, those looking at the "DNA line" @back alley mentioned, these too are made by Tenba
DNA
COOPER
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Old 01-27-2017   #7
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My Domke F5XB I purchased new in 1990, so it's twenty-six, coming up on twenty-seven years old now. I've replaced the strap three times and it's a little tatty here and there, but still quite serviceable. I've traveled all over the world with it, carrying a half dozen or more different camera kits. It's just not quite tall enough for my iPad Pro 9.7", which I carry a good bit of the time nowadays.

Some other bags in a similar size range:
  • The Tenba DNA 8 is a good substitute with just a little more space.
  • The Black Label Bag "Evans Walker Mark II" is another similarly sized bag with a bit more space but no overflap ... some miss it, some don't.
  • The Billingham L2 "Alice" is another bag in the same size class ... a little deeper with a huge utility pocket on the front. Better made than the others, mine is about 11 years old now and still looks fairly new.

I have and use all three of these too, and other bags from A&A and Domke that are a bit smaller and a bit larger. The Tenba DNA 8 fits M-D with 75mm on it and M4-2 with 35 Summilux on it, or vice versa. The other two hold more stuff.

The Tenba Cooper line is also beautiful—I have one of the 13DSLR models of that bag for the Leica SL. It's much bigger than the F5XB, can hold the SL with its native 24-90 zoom, Super-Elmar-R 15mm f/3.5, and Elmar-R 180mm f/4 easily. Too big for Ms normally. Perhaps the Cooper 8 is more in line.

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Old 01-27-2017   #8
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Mark,

I chose the F6 for my 1-2 camera plus daily stuff (water, snack, keys, phone, film, etc) for when I go out and about with the family. It's a bit bigger than the FX5B (see this old thread), and for just one camera you could get the 2 compartment insert. In the 4 compartment I can fit two M's with 35/21+VF attached (diagonal to each other with the lenses in if that makes sense) plus a light meter in the 3rd spot and a 5 roll JCH film case in the 4th.

Previously I've had a small crumpler camera bag but it was too stiff and boxy - I wouldn't get another. I actually used to take my original crumpler courier bag from back when they make really high quality bags, the camera went in one of the inside front pockets, put they're big, heavy, and annoying to get in and out of.

Good luck, the bag is the hardest choice!
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Old 01-27-2017   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
My Domke F5XB I purchased new in 1990, so it's twenty-six, coming up on twenty-seven years old now. I've replaced the strap three times and it's a little tatty here and there, but still quite serviceable. I've traveled all over the world with it, carrying a half dozen or more different camera kits. It's just not quite tall enough for my iPad Pro 9.7", which I carry a good bit of the time nowadays.

Some other bags in a similar size range:
  • The Tenba DNA 8 is a good substitute with just a little more space.
  • The Black Label Bag "Evans Walker Mark II" is another similarly sized bag with a bit more space but no overflap ... some miss it, some don't.
  • The Billingham L2 "Alice" is another bag in the same size class ... a little deeper with a huge utility pocket on the front. Better made than the others, mine is about 11 years old now and still looks fairly new.
I have and use all three of these too, and other bags from A&A and Domke that are a bit smaller and a bit larger. The Tenba DNA 8 fits M-D with 75mm on it and M4-2 with 35 Summilux on it, or vice versa. The other two hold more stuff.

The Tenba Cooper line is also beautiful—I have one of the 13DSLR models of that bag for the Leica SL. It's much bigger than the F5XB, can hold the SL with its native 24-90 zoom, Super-Elmar-R 15mm f/3.5, and Elmar-R 180mm f/4 easily. Too big for Ms normally. Perhaps the Cooper 8 is more in line.

G
Mate how would you directly compare the Domke F5XB and the A+A ACAM 1100 (Walker Evans)?

Agree with you 100% about the Alice L2. Won't part with mine, but still looking for something more F5XB-like for tougher daily excursions.
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Old 01-27-2017   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelwj View Post
Mark,

I chose the F6 for my 1-2 camera plus daily stuff (water, snack, keys, phone, film, etc) for when I go out and about with the family. It's a bit bigger than the FX5B (see this old thread), and for just one camera you could get the 2 compartment insert. In the 4 compartment I can fit two M's with 35/21+VF attached (diagonal to each other with the lenses in if that makes sense) plus a light meter in the 3rd spot and a 5 roll JCH film case in the 4th.

Previously I've had a small crumpler camera bag but it was too stiff and boxy - I wouldn't get another. I actually used to take my original crumpler courier bag from back when they make really high quality bags, the camera went in one of the inside front pockets, put they're big, heavy, and annoying to get in and out of.

Good luck, the bag is the hardest choice!
Not only are they the hardest choice, they're darn hard to sell on. Have five bags listed around Australia and not a single bite.

I read that "A little larger than the F5XB" thread. It handily discounted the F5XC for me. It also had me wondering about the F8 - which I almost bought. Just think it won't offer me much more than the F5XB. The F6 looks a better proposition that the J or F-803 that I have. However, I've had the F3X and they seem to offer a similar footprint. The F5XB is almost perfect, if only it had a little more storage aside from the guts. That's why I'm very curious about the A+A ACAM 1100 (Walker Evans) as it looks almost identical to the F5XB minus the flap (missed for its weather-proofing) and with the addition of the zippered front pocket and stud fastened back pocket.

I will go and have another look at the F6 though as I have an uncanny knack of being a step or two behind you with my gear historically mate
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Old 01-27-2017   #11
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Have a look at Courierware. They'll make you pretty much whatever you want, as long as it doesn't look fancy! Good quality, but not cheap.
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Old 01-28-2017   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stillshunter View Post
Wow mate, really sorry to hear this!
My black canvas F5XB has been going strong for about 8 years and I received it used from a member here who'd used it for about as long as me. Maybe they made Domke tougher in the 90's?
I've used it as an everyday bag and it's been round the world twice in that time, so I've got good use out of it.
The canvas just wore away on the base and around where the strap fabric connects. Then a big rip just yesterday, which is what prompted me to reply.
I think maybe the canvas isn't as strong as the normal range?

It's a perfect sized little bag. I put inserts from other bags in to give it a little more padding, which is maybe it's weakest area.

I'll buy another and try for 26+ years this time
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Old 01-28-2017   #13
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Have a look at Courierware. They'll make you pretty much whatever you want, as long as it doesn't look fancy! Good quality, but not cheap.
Yeah mate I have one of the original BBB. A great bag. But, yes, even pricier for us foreigners - esp. those of us with weak dollars and a long, long shipping route
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Old 01-28-2017   #14
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Hmmmm...just stumbled upon the thinkTANK Urban Approach 5. Seems to be a little more open in structure and lighter than their Retrospectives.
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Old 01-28-2017   #15
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+1 for Tenba bags. Their designs just work.

My R3A goes in a Mini Messenger, first version. I easily fit the R3A, 35 2.5, 50 2, 5+ rolls of film, filters and hoods, lens cloth, F31fd compact, tablet, diary, pens, and daily essentials. When I need it I can move it around to fit the R3A kit + 5Dmkii / 40 2.8.

Also own the large version for full dslr kit and I've had that for about 2 years now with no problems. Obviously designed by working photographers, for working photographers.

As said, their designs just work. My go to brand for bags. You might find a first version Mini on reduction still, even if the newer ones are more stylish, I got mine for £39 instead of £80 from Camera World, London. I think they still have the offer running but probably a bit too far to ship for you!

Good luck with the search, I was in a similar boat until I found Tenba.
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Old 01-28-2017   #16
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I have the F5XB, the domke 803, and the ThinkTank Retro 5, 6, and 7. I used the F5XB a great deal for years; but I seldom use it anymore since I got the Retrospective 5. I switched because the latter has enough storage space for extra film, batteries and blower brush. When the Retro 6 came out, I bought it as a slightly larger version of the 5--kind of a "stretch" model of the 5. I can carry one additional body with lens attached, or two additional lenses. I like the divider that runs the full width alongside the main compartment. It keeps small items like filters and batteries separated.

My only criticism is the outside end compartments are too small, almost useless. They should either replace them with larger pockets--maybe mesh pockets with elastic closures, or else use the same material as the present ones, but large enough to get into more easily. I could even go with a single larger pocket on one end and nothing on the other end.

I don't use the Retro 7 for Leicas. It's too big. But it is a good walkaround Hasselblad bag! One body with a lens, and two extra lenses! The compendium shade even fits in the front pocket and there is room for film. See Mike Thomas's review of it on YouTube.
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Old 01-28-2017   #17
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What's stopping you from the f5xc?
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Old 01-28-2017   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stillshunter View Post
Mate how would you directly compare the Domke F5XB and the A+A ACAM 1100 (Walker Evans)?

Agree with you 100% about the Alice L2. Won't part with mine, but still looking for something more F5XB-like for tougher daily excursions.
The ACAM (GCAM for the fancy leather finish) is a hair shorter than the Domke F5XB and a hair longer. Not much different in carrying capacity, although the front pocket will hold a bit more. The Black Label Bag which was designed based on it, the "Walker Evans Mark II", is a little larger, has a slightly bigger front pocket, and an accessory pocket on the side for cards and batteries.

Photo Village - Black Label Bag Walker Evans Mark II

It's nicely made and roomy enough for two M bodies and three lenses.
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Old 01-28-2017   #19
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Stillshunter,

My Ruggedwear F-5XB is serving me well, and holding up well after three years.

That said, I prefer my Domke F-10 Medium Shoulder Bag Ruggedwear, which is slightly larger and easier to use with my Leicas and lenses, having a zipped front pocket and lid, and no zipper on the main compartment to scratch cameras and lenses.
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Old 01-28-2017   #20
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I learned that there's no such thing as a "one size fits all" bag. It all depends what you will carry on that particular day. One item (e.g., a flash) more or less can make a big difference. I therefore have a collection of four camera bags and use all of them (Ona Bowery in leather, Thinktank Retrospective 10, Domke, Filsen).
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Old 01-28-2017   #21
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The ACAM (GCAM for the fancy leather finish) is a hair shorter than the Domke F5XB and a hair longer.
It is shorter and longer at the same time? Quantum uncertainty?
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Old 01-28-2017   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BLKRCAT View Post
What's stopping you from the f5xc?
I tried one and returned it. The tall form factor didn't work well for me, and the pockets were useless.

G
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Old 01-28-2017   #23
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Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post
It is shorter and longer at the same time? Quantum uncertainty?
The vertical height is shorter, the horizontal length is longer. Not quantum physics, just 3D solids geometry ... ;-)

Sorry for being a bit ambiguous before.
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Old 01-28-2017   #24
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Originally Posted by giganova View Post
I learned that there's no such thing as a "one size fits all" bag. It all depends what you will carry on that particular day. ...
That's why I have so many of the darn things.

G
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Old 01-28-2017   #25
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Words from the Bag Man

Great to hear from you Joe. Mate while I head off and do my research - including where to source this Tenba model in Australia - do I surmise that you'd not recommend the A+A ACAM 1100? If so, can I ask where it falls short mate.
i've never seen one in real life, the a&a bag, that is...
the domke f8 is a strange bag size...i bought one for a single camera with lens attached and it does work but seems oddly sized/shaped...i have it here if you'd like it.
the domke f6 is a great bag...i use it as my go to bag...it holds quite a bit.
the tenba cooper is handsome, great for when you're travelling or just want to upgrade your style...i bought one and feel guilty for not using it but cannot bring myself to sell/give it away.
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Old 01-28-2017   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
i've never seen one in real life, the a&a bag, that is...
the domke f8 is a strange bag size...i bought one for a single camera with lens attached and it does work but seems oddly sized/shaped...i have it here if you'd like it.
the domke f6 is a great bag...i use it as my go to bag...it holds quite a bit.
the tenba cooper is handsome, great for when you're travelling or just want to upgrade your style...i bought one and feel guilty for not using it but cannot bring myself to sell/give it away.
Yeah, Joe, I think I've discounted the F8 as it doesn't really seem to offer much more than the F5XB. The F6 seems pretty big! @michaelwj was kind enough to send me a photo of the F6 packed with a couple of Leica, and t doesn't look much different to my F2...minus the two side pockets. I am really keen to keep the profile low - and am taking the F5XB as the benchmark. To be honest any bigger and I'd be tempted to just buy a Billingham Hadley Small.
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Old 01-28-2017   #27
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That's why I have so many of the darn things.

G
You are not alone mate. I'm currently selling 4 bags, but have another dozen or so up on the shelf.
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Old 01-28-2017   #28
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Originally Posted by Brian Atherton View Post
Stillshunter,

My Ruggedwear F-5XB is serving me well, and holding up well after three years.

That said, I prefer my Domke F-10 Medium Shoulder Bag Ruggedwear, which is slightly larger and easier to use with my Leicas and lenses, having a zipped front pocket and lid, and no zipper on the main compartment to scratch cameras and lenses.
Mate I had the F-10 as well. Not a bad bag, but was a little put off by the shape of the bottom. I prefer packing my gear flat across the bottom and the dip at the bottom - which I assume is to aid top-loading - just made the contents sit awkward. A shame as it discounts both the F-10 and F-9 for me. But if not for my idiosyncrasies I can completely understand why you'd like it.
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Old 01-28-2017   #29
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Originally Posted by BLKRCAT View Post
What's stopping you from the f5xc?
Personally, I don't like the height. The shape is reminiscent of my J-803, which I find awkward. I can see the appeal for those who carry more bodies or 5+ lenses, but for me (and my present requirements) I'm looking to supplement the F5XB profile with some personal items storage....with a small concession made to some dimensions....but not to the extent of the F-5XC.
Caveat Emptor: IMHO!
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Old 01-28-2017   #30
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Check out Mainline Photographics for the A & A Acam 1100 insert or NY300/310 pouches. Insert into whichever bag takes your fancy.

I put the Acam 1000 insert into a Brady Trout small bag (Tom A's favourite bag). Fits beautifully with plenty of room for extras. The ACAM 1100 insert is a bit smaller and would leave extra space internally.

Cheers

J
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Old 01-28-2017   #31
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Originally Posted by Mute-on View Post
Check out Mainline Photographics for the A & A Acam 1100 insert or NY300/310 pouches. Insert into whichever bag takes your fancy.

I put the Acam 1000 insert into a Brady Trout small bag (Tom A's favourite bag). Fits beautifully with plenty of room for extras. The ACAM 1100 insert is a bit smaller and would leave extra space internally.

Cheers

J
Ha Ha Ha Mainline - my fave local store. Scott and his crew do great work. Actually my desire for the ACAM-1100 all started there, as I was looking to plussing up my order to make postage of a 39mm filter worth it....and it turned into a frenzied bag hunt.

Mate you happen to have a few photos of this Brady Trout pimped set-up? The masses here are curious.
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Old 01-28-2017   #32
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Originally Posted by coogee View Post
I have had the Domke F5XB, the canvas one, for 2 years and 3 months.
Perfect little bag for 2 M bodies, or M plus a couple of lenses and a few other odds and ends.
Unfortunately mine is now pretty much dead, the straps are about to fall off, there is a massive rip through the flap that closes it and four holes in the bottom corners.
Good bag and not super expensive but a 27 month life expectancy, I was all set for a 'lifetime'.
Funny, I get about 2 years out of them too. Same bag, at the end of 2 years the strap webbing was gone, the velcro on the flap had torn off, the stitching was falling off everywhere, and the canvas was wearing through the bottom. I like the bag but feel it should last a little longer.
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Old 01-28-2017   #33
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Funny, I get about 2 years out of them too. Same bag, at the end of 2 years the strap webbing was gone, the velcro on the flap had torn off, the stitching was falling off everywhere, and the canvas was wearing through the bottom. I like the bag but feel it should last a little longer.
WOW!
...maybe I'm babying mine?
(I'd estimate it's between 15-20 years old)
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Old 01-29-2017   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stillshunter View Post
WOW!
...maybe I'm babying mine?
(I'd estimate it's between 15-20 years old)
I suspect the older ones are more durable. By comparison I have a filson Tote (3-4 years) and a crumpler 4 million dollar home that I bought in about 2007 for my university and both of them still pretty much look like new.
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Old 01-29-2017   #35
gilpen123
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I had the F5xb for 9 years only problem now is the insert . I still have many; F5Xc which I find too big for my needs (height wise) and very loud velcro, F6, F2 which I used when I still have the DSLRs and medium format film camera, Ona Bowery, Billingham Hadley small, etc. I just bought the Black Label Evans Walker II and can't wait to see it. I'll travel to US next month with my Pen F with 25 1.8 and 45 1.8 and the GR. and hopefully the bag works for me.
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Old 01-29-2017   #36
creenus
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I bought a used Domke F3-X for about $50.00. It carries 2 bodies and three M lenses with lots of room for keys, maps, extra film, batteries, a novel, light meter, tripod head for monopod and prescription sunglasses. I can even squeeze in a sealed water bottle. I traveled throughout Europe with this bag - it was a good and sturdy companion. I wore it slung across my chest with no problems at all.

It's a bigger bag but still very manageable. You might consider one.


Quote:
Originally Posted by stillshunter View Post
.....and so the grael quest for the ideal bag continues. Presently after something that can comfortable fit the M6+35-cron with back-up GR and my daily essentials.

What I've found comes the closest presently is the Domke F5XB. Really appreciate that I can even squeeze the IIIf in there too if need be. The F5XB's size (esp. width and depth) and form factor is just perfect BUT what I really want is the F5XB guts - but with just a little more to carry everyday 'essentials' such as keys, wallet, phone, glasses.

On paper the likes of the Artisan+Artist ACAM-1100 (a.k.a. Evans Walker) seems to come close. Am I on the right track? Otherwise what else should I be thinking about?
...I need to work off spec and opinion as I have no local store that stock or can order these in for hands-on comparison - so I will need to mail-order online.

FYI: mistakes I have made so far...
- ThinkTank Retrospective 5. Bigger, heavier with remarkably little usable space.
- ONA Bowery. Much prefer the F5XB for materials and practicality
- Domke J803
- just not right. Too tall, too deep, too unstable.
- Timbuk2 XS
- can't warm to the stuck-to-your-back style
- Crumpler 5MDH
- great for dSLR, just not right for rangefinders.
NB: the last three are currently being sold!

...oh and - Billingham L2 Alice - have one as my next size up bag. Love it, but it's not this daily bag that I seek.

Hope you can help....as the mistakes cost!
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Old 01-29-2017   #37
Godfrey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creenus View Post
I bought a used Domke F3-X for about $50.00. It carries 2 bodies and three M lenses with lots of room for keys, maps, extra film, batteries, a novel and prescription sunglasses. I can even squeeze in a sealed water bottle. I traveled throughout Europe with this bag - it was a good and sturdy companion. I wore it slung across my chest with no problems at all.

It's a bigger bag but still very manageable. You might consider one.
I've had a Domke F3X for many years. I used to carry my Nikon F3 kit in it:
  • F3+MD4 motor
  • six to seven Nikkor lenses, 20mm to 300mm
  • FM2 spare body
  • Meter
  • 8 rolls of film
  • notebooks, pens, pads, voice recorder, spare glasses and sunglasses, hat, book, travel documents

It's a lovely bag, but I didn't list it in my summary because it is way larger than needed for a couple of Leica Ms! The Tenba Messenger Mini is in the same class.. Mine is currently filled with two Leica R bodies and seven R lenses. Same for the Domke F6 (currently filled with my portable lighting gear...), which is a bit smaller and a bit more apropos for Leica M.

G

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Old 01-29-2017   #38
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Originally Posted by gavinlg View Post
Funny, I get about 2 years out of them too. Same bag, at the end of 2 years the strap webbing was gone, the velcro on the flap had torn off, the stitching was falling off everywhere, and the canvas was wearing through the bottom. I like the bag but feel it should last a little longer.
I had a moment to grab a few phone pictures of how mine is looking (2yrs 3months.) Not amazing really. None of my other bags fell to bits like this, but then I probably don't use them as much.





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Old 01-29-2017   #39
Mute-on
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Originally Posted by stillshunter View Post
Ha Ha Ha Mainline - my fave local store. Scott and his crew do great work. Actually my desire for the ACAM-1100 all started there, as I was looking to plussing up my order to make postage of a 39mm filter worth it....and it turned into a frenzied bag hunt.

Mate you happen to have a few photos of this Brady Trout pimped set-up? The masses here are curious.


I'll try to get photos over the next few days. Bit of a crazy week ...

I also use the L2, which is a brilliant two body and lens bag to shoot from. The Brady is actually about the same capacity but with the bonus of additional depth to drop a jumper/soft jacket, etc., into. The two outside pockets are perfect for wallet/keys/phone/glasses.

Cheers

J


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Old 01-29-2017   #40
stillshunter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gilpen123 View Post
I had the F5xb for 9 years only problem now is the insert
Funny you should say this mate, as this is exactly my issue too. The insert has become so 'fluffy' that the velcro has a hard time staying in place. Outside is still quite good. Nicely worn in. Noting concerns about the durability of the more recent factory outputs, sounds as though I don't want a new one though
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