In another thread, I promised that I would take photos of my new camera bag setup: and my schedule, and the weather, finally cooperated so I could do that. About three weeks ago, I decided to see if my Cardinal Co-Pilot would function as a day bag to carry some of my camera gear—when I didn’t need to lug everything around in my Indigo Synapse, that is. Why was I shocked that I was able to get almost everything into my Co-Pilot? After all, this is a Tom Bihn bag, and all of them are like Hermione’s purse (or a TARDIS bag, for you Dr. Who fans). This set-up works so well that naturally I had to get another Co-Pilot (my newfound treasure, the Indigo) to use for my mobile office.
This is an ad hoc solution, nowhere near as elegant as the brand new Insert/Outsert. But if you have a smaller DSLR, or any of the smaller mirrorless micro-4/3 or other ILCs (interchangeable lens cameras), and/or you don’t carry as much gear around with you, and/or you’re just taking your camera and a spare lens out with you for a photo excursion, I think the Co-Pilot is an excellent choice.
Because there isn’t any padding on the bottom of the Co-Pilot, I added a piece of one-inch thick foam to the bottom for extra cushioning. Also, the Billingham insert I bought was designed to be used in a different bag, so it has no padding in the bottom either. I’ve added a separate one-inch piece of foam in the bottom of it as well (it is lightly padded around the sides).
•Olympus e620 DSLR with 25mm pancake lens attached
•Billingham single insert with camera inside
•Olympus 40-150mm Zuiko lens (the older, faster, and larger version), in soft pouch
•Olympus 35mm macro lens (Zuiko), in soft pouch
•Olympus 14-42mm Zuiko lens, in soft pouch
• Two filters in hard cases inside repurposed neoprene floppy disk case (in slip pocket)
•Two filters in hard cases, loose (in slip pocket)
•Cardinal Ballistic mini OP (empty at the moment)
Note: I can fit the camera in the insert inside the CP when it has the larger 40-150mm lens attached as well. Remember, the camera is sitting on top of two additional inches of foam: the one-inch layer I laid on the bottom of the main compartment, and a second layer at the bottom of the insert. Even then it will fit, so if you have a larger camera and a longer lens, you might still be able to carry it—with or without additional padding. I have some padded neoprene wraps that I use sometimes when I don’t want to use the insert.
Front center compartment:
•Olympus 200mm OM lens with 2x OM teleconverter and adapter attached, in soft pouch
[Note: for you camera geeks out there, the big 200mm/2x teleconverter combo are two vintage Olympus lenses originally made for their OM film cameras. With an inexpensive adapter, I’m able to use it (as well as some other vintage lenses I’ve been able to buy) on my DSLR.]
Front right compartment (the one with pen slots):
•Nikon lens cleaning pen
•Giotto rocket cleaner (small)
•Two Moleskine Cahier notebooks
Front left compartment (the one with the Ultrasuede sleeve):
•Crimson Key Strap for keys (not pictured)
•Spare memory cards in thin aluminum case
•Spare batteries (2), wireless remote, and quick-release head for my tripod in orange neoprene case (Timbuk2: sorry!)
•Photojojo card readers for my iPad: one for SD cards, one for CF cards, both in soft pouch
It would be a tight fit, but I could get my iPad in the open rear sleeve—especially after I find or sew a slimmer wallet for my filters. Carrying them around in their hard cases takes up a surprising amount of room.
I am using an older Optech-version of the Absolute Strap when I carry this much; it magically makes the weight ride so much more lightly on my shoulder.
Hope this helps others to see how many choices Tom Bihn offers in terms of carrying your cameras. I have successfully carried my DSLR in my Imago, my Synapse, an MCB, and now in the Co-Pilot!
1. Photo of everything outside Hermione's camera bag.
2. Main compartment
3. Left phone pocket (sorry for the vertigo-inducing angle)
4. Right pen pocket
5. The 200mm lens combination peeking out of the center pocket.
There is apparently a limit to how many photos you can attach to one post, so I'll create a Part II to show you how the Co-Pilot looks from the outside when it's fully loaded.