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the quest for the perfect bag
Old 04-26-2015   #1
mdg137
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the quest for the perfect bag

Like most of us, over the last 20 years, I've gone through a closet full of bags.

I've been on another search to find a high quality bag, to hold a Leica M with lens attached, 2 other lenses, and some misc.

I sat down and actually wrote out the list of aspects/features of the elusive "perfect" bag, and it was a revelation. My list:

1 very small
2 light
3 very high quality
4 body hugging, not boxy
5 good protection
6 easy access to lenses, without having to dig or shift items around
7 will hold an M body with lens mounted, plus 2 other lenses and misc.

I got about that far into the list when the mutually exclusive nature of some of the items stood out- very small doesn't hold what I need-- very high quality tends to be at least a bit heavier-- better protection and easiest access will not be as body hugging as a bag with no insert-- so, in essence, this bag cannot exist.

It may be that realism may finally dictate at least a temporary end to searching for the perfect bag!

Although, realism in this case also dictated the order of an Oberwerth Freiburg....
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Old 04-26-2015   #2
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I shouldn't have google-ed Oberwerth Freiburg.
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Old 04-26-2015   #3
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I have to be honest, the Filson Harvey Messenger may be worth a look for you. It might be a little bigger than you want but it pretty much checks all the other boxes of your requirements. My only complaint with the bag (ok I have two) is that the strap is just ever so slightly not long enough to wear comfortably across my chest (I'm also 6'3" so anyone shorter than me would have no problem). I still wear it across my chest but I wish it sat a little lower.

The other "boo-hoo" about the bag is the insert, it's removable, but the divider is in a fixed position, it's either in, or it's out. I would have liked a little more flexibility. That being said, the size of the insert is great and because it doesn't fill the width of the bag, it allows the bag to hug my body perfectly (first camera bag I've owned to have done this).

Edit: As an additional note: This bag is tough. Seriously tough. Filson's slogan of "Unfailing Goods" is no joke, I put this bag through pretty awful conditions over the last few months and it hardly looks worse for the wear (Including Snow, Heavy rain, Mud, Aggressive sand, and Some really mean bushes). It kept my equipment safe and dry through all of this.
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Old 04-26-2015   #4
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tenba dna 8...
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Old 04-26-2015   #5
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I've used the Billingham "Hadley Small" for a few years now… for the purposes you describe. Its been my favorite over the years (I've used Domke and Crumpler before).
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Old 04-26-2015   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdg137 View Post
I've been on another search to find a high quality bag, to hold a Leica M with lens attached, 2 other lenses, and some misc.
I've found the small Leica Aneas limited edition system bag meets those requirements. It has room for a M240 with a 50mm Apo-Summicron ASPH, a 90mm Apo-Summicron ASPH and a 28mm Elmarit-M ASPH, plus a spare battery. It also has a very intelligent sliding partition system that's much more pleasant than the nasty velcro-tipped partitions most other bags use. The only drawback is the sliding tab an buckle closure is more fiddly to close than I would like (but very fast to open, which is the most important).

The Wotancraft Ryker is also a good choice if you need a little bit more space, including space for a 7" tablet like an iPad Mini.
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Old 04-26-2015   #7
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The Tenba DNA 8 is a good choice ... I use one of those mostly for my Leica X but sometimes with the M-P. It's a bit tight for more than camera fitted with one lens and another lens on the side.

The Billingham L2 "Alice" is also in this class, but a little roomier and up-market on materials.

For the slightly larger kit, these are my favorites:

Artisan & Artist Oskar's One Day Bag
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...e_day_bag.html

Black Label Bag Oskar's One Day Bag Mark II
http://photovillage.com/product.php?...7&cat=0&page=1

They're both very good quality. The A&A is a bit smaller, the Black Label Bag is a little roomier and has some additional nice details. They're unobtrusive and conform to the body nicely. I've traveled mostly with the Black Label Bag and been delighted with its quality and trim size that holds a lot of gear.

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Old 04-26-2015   #8
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Finding the perfect bag is a bit like Fermat's last theorm.
Anyway, I picked up such a bag a couple of weeks ago.
When I get a chance, I will post some photos proving it is worthy of the title
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Old 04-27-2015   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by majid View Post

The Wotancraft Ryker is also a good choice if you need a little bit more space, including space for a 7" tablet like an iPad Mini.
I have 2 of the Rykers now, brown and black, and the Raven. Yep, the Ryker holds what I need, but it's a bit large to be ideal. The Raven is just slightly too small.

I've done Billingham, but they also don't quite hit that "perfect" zone.
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Old 04-27-2015   #10
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Over the years i have used all manner of bags.
I owned original Benser bags with inserts,
A Nikon-F bag that had a plate with bayonet mounts built in.
I tried all the makes..
Now I cart my equipment in a simple, inexpensive backpack.
I can add needed groceries, if there is need.
I once shot photos with a Magnum photographer who also "quests" bags.
That occasion, his NIKON came out of a worn backpack!
Security and safety, use non-nondescript.
Padding is extra scarves, pair of socks.
I use very bright colored bags.
The one before in luminous pink.
My photo buddies hate them.
It works for me!
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Old 04-27-2015   #11
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Domke F803. A bit smaller than the Filson Harvey Messenger, not so high class as the Oberwerth Freiburg. You definitely need the full size insert (which you have to buy separately).
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Old 04-27-2015   #12
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Agree with what Abram mentioned above. My latest bag is the Harvey - Magnum - Filson.
I don't use their insert and currently use Domke's. I've gone through numerous bag (after my 12 years with a Domke F6) and finding myself needing something that's bigger. I ended up with FHM and happy with it.
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Old 04-27-2015   #13
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The Billingham "Combination Bag for M System" which is part 14854 or 14855 (colors) is really hard to beat. Designed for a body with lens and two extra lenses, it is a near perfect fit for most of us. The kicker for me was the better flap design (compared to similar Hadley, etc.) whereby you pull down on the leather fobs to latch. Under the flap is a good-sized zipperable (critical IMHO) pocket for keys, phone, etc. My desert island bag!
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Old 04-27-2015   #14
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I'd go for the Billingham Hadley Pro. It's main advantage over other smaller Billingham bags: it has a sturdy carrying handle.
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Old 04-27-2015   #15
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OP perfectly described my domke f5xc. Fits an M with lens, 2 lenses, room for more. Im actually carrying a second body with no lens attached. Still room for a moleskine with pen and some other articles.
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Old 04-27-2015   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcb4718 View Post
Domke F803. A bit smaller than the Filson Harvey Messenger, not so high class as the Oberwerth Freiburg. You definitely need the full size insert (which you have to buy separately).
+1 for this suggestion. Works great for my M6 and miscellania, roughly the same size/weight as what you describe.

It works. Time-tested.
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Old 04-27-2015   #17
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500 euros for the Oberwerth Freiburg?!! Are you kidding me??!

I know Leica is a luxury brand now, but...come on. Get real.
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Old 04-27-2015   #18
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the most attractive feature of the dna bags is the magnet clasps...so very easy to use, especially with one hand.
i admit though, i find myself going back to the domke bags again...thet were the first 'real' camera bags that i used.
the 803 is a great mid-sized bag and i just ordered a 5xb!
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Old 04-27-2015   #19
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Body hugging, good protection and easy access are 3 properties that do not combine easily. Bags that hug your hip will be soft messenger bags that will 'collapse' when not full and not make access to your gear easy, not they will protect too well. But may be lightweight.

If you want good protection (=paddaing of some sort) and easy access (=bag that hold its shape even empty), then such a bag will not hug your body and will probably weight more.

Just a thought.
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Old 04-27-2015   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matus View Post
Body hugging, good protection and easy access are 3 properties that do not combine easily. Bags that hug your hip will be soft messenger bags that will 'collapse' when not full and not make access to your gear easy, not they will protect too well. But may be lightweight.

If you want good protection (=paddaing of some sort) and easy access (=bag that hold its shape even empty), then such a bag will not hug your body and will probably weight more.

Just a thought.
My point exactly in the original post. I think we often have mutually exclusive ideals for a bag, and hence are constantly searching for something that cannot exist.
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Old 04-27-2015   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdg137 View Post
My point exactly in the original post. I think we often have mutually exclusive ideals for a bag, and hence are constantly searching for something that cannot exist.
There's a balance between conforming to your shape while holding their own shape, and between too much and too little padding. And between being too big and too small. The four bags I mentioned balance these things well. I have and use all four of them for different gear, at different times. They all are quite comfortable to wear once broken in.

As is the Domke F803 and F5XB. As is the Tenba Messenger Mini, which is surprising as it is a much larger bag with a lot more padding and structure.

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Old 04-27-2015   #22
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...and some bags need to be used for awhile before they begin to 'hug' the body.
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Old 04-27-2015   #23
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Like most of us, over the last 20 years, I've gone through a closet full of bags.

I've been on another search to find a high quality bag, to hold a Leica M with lens attached, 2 other lenses, and some misc.

I sat down and actually wrote out the list of aspects/features of the elusive "perfect" bag, and it was a revelation. My list:

1 very small
2 light
3 very high quality
4 body hugging, not boxy
5 good protection
6 easy access to lenses, without having to dig or shift items around
7 will hold an M body with lens mounted, plus 2 other lenses and misc.

I got about that far into the list when the mutually exclusive nature of some of the items stood out- very small doesn't hold what I need-- very high quality tends to be at least a bit heavier-- better protection and easiest access will not be as body hugging as a bag with no insert-- so, in essence, this bag cannot exist.

It may be that realism may finally dictate at least a temporary end to searching for the perfect bag!

Although, realism in this case also dictated the order of an Oberwerth Freiburg....
And:
8. No welcro
9. Waterproof fabric
10. Absoluetly no welcro

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Old 04-27-2015   #24
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Funny to see the Filson Harvey Messenger recommended three times in this thread already, I just picked one up fairly recently. It's been fitting the bill really well for what I needed, and I'd definitely recommend it too. But I still have to agree with the OP ... there's just no perfect bag as far as I'm concerned either

The Filson conforms to my body well, carries 1-2 bodies with lenses, has a good layout in terms of pockets for what I needed, and it's weather resistant. But... the single center buckle closure isn't my favorite, the strap is slow to adjust (I prefer the quick-adjust strap on my Timbuk2), the strap pad needs a thicker cushion, and the sides could use better gussets for weather resistance. The insert is flexible enough to let the bag conform well, but I really wish it had at least a *little* more flexibility in dividers for carrying an extra lens or two.

In short, just like every other camera bag (or backpack) I've ever used it's great... it's just not perfect
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Old 04-27-2015   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
For the slightly larger kit, these are my favorites:

Artisan & Artist Oskar's One Day Bag
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...e_day_bag.html

Black Label Bag Oskar's One Day Bag Mark II
http://photovillage.com/product.php?...7&cat=0&page=1

They're both very good quality. The A&A is a bit smaller, the Black Label Bag is a little roomier and has some additional nice details. They're unobtrusive and conform to the body nicely. I've traveled mostly with the Black Label Bag and been delighted with its quality and trim size that holds a lot of gear.

G
How is the strap length on the BLB version? I was always intrigued by that bag, but in general I'm quite happy with my Filson.
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Old 04-27-2015   #26
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Have a look at the Retrospective 5 or 7 from Think Tank. No - not the lightest, but very nice material and somewhere between stiff and huggy. Very well thought out interior too. The dividers seemed to have about the ideal thickness.

Oh, and what about Wotancraft Ryker - now that bag seems to have been made for Leica M camera - both design and price match On the serious side the bag is apparently nicely soft (look at the review from Steve Huff). I have actually just ordered Wotancraft Avenger (never payed half this much for a bag) - I am impatiently awaiting the delivery in the next few days.
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Old 04-27-2015   #27
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Quote:
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How is the strap length on the BLB version? I was always intrigued by that bag, but in general I'm quite happy with my Filson.
It's long enough for me to wear cross style with some adjustability. It carries a little more than a Hadley Pro but is a bit trimmer in size, and a touch softer (better wrap to the body).

This has been my favorite bag for traveling since I stopped using DSLR cameras on a regular basis.

G
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Old 04-27-2015   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matus View Post
Have a look at the Retrospective 5 or 7 from Think Tank. No - not the lightest, but very nice material and somewhere between stiff and huggy. Very well thought out interior too. The dividers seemed to have about the ideal thickness.

Oh, and what about Wotancraft Ryker - now that bag seems to have been made for Leica M camera - both design and price match On the serious side the bag is apparently nicely soft (look at the review from Steve Huff). I have actually just ordered Wotancraft Avenger (never payed half this much for a bag) - I am impatiently awaiting the delivery in the next few days.
The Ryker is quite soft, I have both colors. I have the Avenger as well, but I use it more for carrying larger loads, and without the insert, I used it today for carrying files to court!

I am a pretty big Wotancraft fan, I also have the paratrooper, but will probably be selling that. Great bag, just not quite working for me.

I tried the Retrospective 5, wasn't happy with it.
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Old 04-27-2015   #29
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I tried Billingham - too much padding and too stiff. I've also tried a Thinktank Retrospective - heavy, overly padded, and stiff. I've tried backpacks, too. Currently I'm using a Timbuk2 messenger bag. It's ok, but nothing special. It's just not as bad as the other bags that I've carried.
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Old 04-27-2015   #30
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I'd suggest having a look at another of the Filson camera bags - the Camera Field Bag. I use mine for an MP with attached lens, 1 or two other lenses, film and often include an RX1r in the main compartment as well. It has movable dividers, an internal zippered pocket and two good size external pockets. It conforms well to body when worn messenger style but there isn't much padding in the bag except at the bottom - but that works for me. Its made from their oil waxed "tin cloth" material. The main flap is accessed via a couple of snaps on bridle leather straps.

There are always trade offs but the trade offs in this bag suit me (e.g., less padding, better conforming to body, flap closure vs. zipper) as a great walk around shooter for an M sized kit, IMHO.
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Old 04-27-2015   #31
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Quote:
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I have 2 of the Rykers now, brown and black, and the Raven. Yep, the Ryker holds what I need, but it's a bit large to be ideal. The Raven is just slightly too small.
Talks about the Goldilocks zone. There really isn't that big a difference between the Raven and the Ryker. Have you looked at the Dothebag line for Monochrom? They have a wide variety of sizes:
http://www.monochrom.com/dothebag.ht...ci=000859&cc=y
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Old 04-28-2015   #32
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I have the Billingham Hadley Digital. It's maybe too small for you but I carried both my Leica IIIf and Voigtlander bessa both with lenses, a sekonic 308s and extra film in that bag the whole time I was in Italy. It has one moveable partition and a pocket at the front.
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Old 04-28-2015   #33
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Talks about the Goldilocks zone. There really isn't that big a difference between the Raven and the Ryker. Have you looked at the Dothebag line for Monochrom? They have a wide variety of sizes:
http://www.monochrom.com/dothebag.ht...ci=000859&cc=y
It may not seem like a big difference between the two, but the Raven has room for 1 body with lens mounted, with space for 1 other lens. I tried two lenses back to back in the slot, but the Raven is too short.

The Ryker can handle the body with lens, and 3 other lenses, more if you mounted them back to back.
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Old 04-28-2015   #34
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Old 04-28-2015   #35
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So no one liked my Fermat joke.
Anyway - here is a bag which I think meets most of the OP's requirements:
It's small and light, not bulky. It is however not padded - but that could be provided with wraps.
The single leather fastener is very easy to use single handed as it's on a leather finger loop.







Waterfield Vitesse Cycling Musette:

https://www.sfbags.com/collections/s...ycling-musette
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Old 04-29-2015   #36
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So no one liked my Fermat joke.
Anyway - here is a bag which I think meets most of the OP's requirements:
It's small and light, not bulky. It is however not padded - but that could be provided with wraps.
The single leather fastener is very easy to use single handed as it's on a leather finger loop.
Interesting bag. The interior design looks like the BBB Stealth bag.
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Old 04-29-2015   #37
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I too have been interested in the Filson Harvey Messenger bag. It looks like it may be a bit too big for what the OP is looking for, but interesting. I'm curious, has anyone had any experience with the Marelli Slow Tools bag? Similar to the bag FrozenInTime chose but a bit smaller. Also much pricier. I'm facing the same concerns for the next bag, as of course, none of the ones I have quite fit the bill.
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Old 04-29-2015   #38
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Sex is the Best Answer--as Always

I've decided that the perfect bag is one carried by a beautiful assistant, preferably one that's also a sexual assistant, I mean sexual partner. Every bag has problems like the original poster said. The best bag is the one that holds everything I need and looks good and that a girlfriend will carry happily for me.

-Russell
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Old 05-04-2015   #39
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So no one liked my Fermat joke.
I was going to point out Andrew Wiles already proved it 2 decades ago (one of my classmates was at Wiles' original announcement in 1994, and another proved the modularity theorem that drew upon it), but that would be pedantic.

The search for the ultimate bag is more like the Tao. The bag that can be worn is not the ultimate bag. The brand that can be named is not the eternal brand.
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Old 06-19-2015   #40
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Originally Posted by Matus View Post
Have a look at the Retrospective 5 or 7 from Think Tank. No - not the lightest, but very nice material and somewhere between stiff and huggy. Very well thought out interior too. The dividers seemed to have about the ideal thickness.
I have both of these. At first the Retrospective 5 seemed a little too tight. It was hard to get into the small front compartments when the main compartment was filled with gear. In fact, I took it back--then changed my mind and bought it over again.

It is a little tight. The good news is I can get a lot of gear into this little bag! Recently I carried a Leica M with 40mm lens on it; an extra lens; an X100; a Digilux 6; 4 extra rolls of film; smallest rocket blower; microfiber cloth; lipstick brush; notebook; extra batteries for the digital cameras and the Leica. It has little pockets for the digital batteries. Oh, and it comes with a rain cover, and that is in there, too. So the small compartments are a little fiddly, but the good part is that if I'm willing to fiddle, I can carry a lot in a small bag.

The rain cover seems a little tricky--I think when the time comes that it starts raining, by the time I get it on, the rain will have stopped.

I bought the Retrospective 7 after watching Mike Thomas' excellent review on YouTube. Mike showed that it makes a good Hasselblad bag, and I bought it with
that in mind. I will give the 7 a field trial this summer.

Update: They came out with a Reto 6, and I bought it. It is like a "Retro 5 Stretch model." It's a bit longer than the 5, just long enough to allow one extra compartment; and comes with an additional divider to allow four compartments to the Retro 5's three. It's also deeper in the front-to-back dimension, just deep enough so I can get in two M lenses. So on a recent trip, I took an M7, M9, and 21, 28, 35, 50, and 90mm, plus film, filters, etc. and it all fit. Good bag. Good bag!
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