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Thread: Cardinal Co-Pilot as camera bag for DSLR kit (Part I)

  1. #1
    Registered User ncb4's Avatar
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    Cardinal Co-Pilot as camera bag for DSLR kit (Part I)

    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).

    Main compartment:

    •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):
    •Pen
    •Nikon lens cleaning pen
    •Giotto rocket cleaner (small)
    •Rhodia notebook
    •Two Moleskine Cahier notebooks

    Front left compartment (the one with the Ultrasuede sleeve):
    •iPhone 4S
    •Crimson Key Strap for keys (not pictured)
    •Spare memory cards in thin aluminum case
    •Cleaning cloth
    •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.

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    2. Main compartment

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    3. Left phone pocket (sorry for the vertigo-inducing angle)

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    4. Right pen pocket

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    5. The 200mm lens combination peeking out of the center pocket.

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    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.
    Last edited by ncb4; 04-01-2012 at 10:58 AM.

  2. #2
    Registered User ncb4's Avatar
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    Cardinal CP as DSLR camera bag, (Part II)

    Continuing the first part of this thread, I just wanted to add three photos to show that although it is full, the Co-Pilot still holds its shape pretty well even with all my camera gear inside (a camera and four lenses!) I could even cram more in the CP if I had to.

    6. From the front: the much-loved TB logo!

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    7. From the side: not too fat.

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    8. From the top

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  3. #3
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    Interesting how much goes in there!

    I have never really been able to understand how big the CoPilot is but I also own some vintage OLY Glass and the main feature of them that strikes me is how tiny they are for any given focal length. In fact as I remember that was one of the selling points vs all of the other sized slr gear.

    That said,I wonder if full sized DSLR will also fit at all in a Co Pilot?

    That is all that has kept me from getting one so far?

    Thanks
    Ed

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the great post. I've just set my new Co-Pilot up with my micro 4/3 kit and it works perfectly--with room for personal gear and a water bottle in the front pockets. I think I'm really going to like using this.
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  5. #5
    Registered User ncb4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AVService View Post
    Interesting how much goes in there!

    I have never really been able to understand how big the CoPilot is but I also own some vintage OLY Glass and the main feature of them that strikes me is how tiny they are for any given focal length. In fact as I remember that was one of the selling points vs all of the other sized slr gear.

    That said,I wonder if full sized DSLR will also fit at all in a Co Pilot?

    That is all that has kept me from getting one so far?

    Thanks
    Ed
    Yes, that is one of the reasons I was drawn to Olympus DSLRs: due to the 2x focal multiplier, the lenses are smaller. [And even the kit lenses are good quality.] The e620 is a smaller camera as DSLRs go: but there is also a lot more room in the main compartment of the CP than its measured dimensions might lead you to think. Although you might not be able to carry as many lenses as I am, I think it should be possible to fit a larger DSLR in there as well. Maybe not pro size, but I'd imagine many of the entry-level Nikons and Canons would fit with kit lenses attached.

    I found this chart on the DCRP camera review site:

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    Olympus E-620 Review | Digital Camera Resource Page

    What kind of camera do you have?

    ~Nancy

  6. #6
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    Nancy
    Thanks for the chart and reply.
    I shoot with either a Gripped 7D or 40D which are about the same size.

    I could lose the grip most of the time for a bag like this as when I need the grips I am always using a bigger shooters bag anyway.

    Darcy has a 7D too I think?
    Any thoughts on whether it will fit in a Co-Pilot?

    Ed

  7. #7
    Registered User ncb4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plume View Post
    Thanks for the great post. I've just set my new Co-Pilot up with my micro 4/3 kit and it works perfectly--with room for personal gear and a water bottle in the front pockets. I think I'm really going to like using this.
    I'm so glad you like your new CP as a camera bag, too. What color did you get: CP, that is, not camera. I don't usually carry the big telephoto lens around with me, so I like to put a water bottle in the center pocket as well.

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    Hi. I got the Forest/Steel (but would have been even happier had it come in Forest/UV). In part, that was because I envision using it as a field bag off in remote locations, and the Cardinal (which would have been my first choice), just didn't seem right for that use. Maybe it's because I wore an orange shirt in the forests of Ecuador one day and was constantly buzzed by hummingbirds.
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  9. #9
    Registered User ncb4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plume View Post
    Hi. I got the Forest/Steel (but would have been even happier had it come in Forest/UV). In part, that was because I envision using it as a field bag off in remote locations, and the Cardinal (which would have been my first choice), just didn't seem right for that use. Maybe it's because I wore an orange shirt in the forests of Ecuador one day and was constantly buzzed by hummingbirds.
    I know; I love UV Dyneema, too. But I guess the Forest is a perfect choice for you: the hummingbirds can't find you if wear a green shirt to match your Co-Pilot, and you simply disappear into the Ecuadorian forest!

  10. #10
    Registered User ncb4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AVService View Post
    Nancy
    Thanks for the chart and reply.
    I shoot with either a Gripped 7D or 40D which are about the same size.

    I could lose the grip most of the time for a bag like this as when I need the grips I am always using a bigger shooters bag anyway.

    Darcy has a 7D too I think?
    Any thoughts on whether it will fit in a Co-Pilot?

    Ed
    Ed, I hope Darcy will see this and post a reply for you. All I could find were the dimensions of both your camerasóbut this is without either grip or lens attached.

    Canon 7D: 5.8 x 4.4 x 2.9, 74 cubic inches
    Canon 40D: 5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9, 69.4 cubic inches

    I just measured my Oly e620 with the 25mm lens attached: 5.1 x 3.7 x 3.75. With the 14-42 mm lens attached, that final measurement grows {like Pinocchio's nose} to nearly 6 inches: and it still fits in the bag with about an inch of clearance between the lens cap and the zipper. (This is with the additional one-inch layer of foam on the bottom, too.) So depending on the size of the lens you had attached, if you removed the grip, I think you might be able to get one of your Canons in the Co-Pilot. But it would be great if Darcy could test that for you.

    ~Nancy

  11. #11
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Yes, the 7D will definitely fit in the Co-Pilot. In the main compartment of the Co-Pilot, I can fit: 7D body (without battery grip) w/28-70mm, 3D Clear Cube full of accessories, and in the front pockets a 50mm 1.4, 10-22mm, and a battery charger.
    Last edited by Darcy; 04-02-2012 at 07:55 PM.
    Current Carry: Founder's Briefcase (every day carry), Small Cafe Bag (every day carry), Shop Bags (groceries, extra random stuff), Aeronaut 45 (travel), Synapse 19 (day hikes), Smart Alec (longer day hikes), Skookum Dog Road Duffel (Medium) (travel), Clear Organizer Wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, Organizer Cubes

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    Thanks a million for posting these pictures, nbc4! This gives a much clearer picture of how big the Co-Pilot is.

    Darcy! I wish you and your insight had stopped by my question thread, too! Can you shed a little light on the size of the front-side pockets, as well? It seems like they would fit a lens or a flash head, but can you confirm?
    ncb4 likes this.

  13. #13
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    I just edited my last post because I see now it's maybe a little misleading. The camera body w/lens and a 3D Clear Cube fills the main compartment of the Co-Pilot, while the other two lenses (or a flash head) and battery charger will fit in the front pockets.

    I'll take a look at your question thread!

    P.S. Great photos ncb4 -- thanks.
    Last edited by Darcy; 04-02-2012 at 08:06 PM.
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    Current Carry: Founder's Briefcase (every day carry), Small Cafe Bag (every day carry), Shop Bags (groceries, extra random stuff), Aeronaut 45 (travel), Synapse 19 (day hikes), Smart Alec (longer day hikes), Skookum Dog Road Duffel (Medium) (travel), Clear Organizer Wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, Organizer Cubes

  14. #14
    Registered User marbenais's Avatar
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    I don't have anything helpful to add, but those are great pictures!
    ncb4 likes this.
    I have : many pouches & wallets & 3D Cubes & CQPCs & Stuff Sacks & Shop Bags, plum & black Side Effects, steel/ultraviolet Citizen Canine, black FJN, plum/wasabi SCB, Cork Little Swift, black/steel Co-Pilot, old plum/olive LCB, plum/black (C) Swift, old plum/olive (C) Imago, old plum/wasabi Ruck's Sac, steel WF/TS PCB, plum/solar & black/ultraviolet (C) & steel/ultraviolet (D) Synapses, black/iberian Smart Alec, steel Brain Bag.

  15. #15
    Registered User ncb4's Avatar
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    Thank you, everyone, for your kind words: and you're most certainly welcome, Darcy. The photos and packing lists (and videos) that other forum members have posted have been an enormous benefit to me when I've been deciding, "Which bag?" Plus they're just plain fun to look at and read! So it is my pleasure to return the favor. I'm excited about the Co-Pilot as a camera bag, as you can probably tell. It never ceases to amaze me how versatile all TB bags are. I've used the Co-Pilot as a laptop bag/portable office (Macbook Air 11), iPad & gear bag, day trip bag, and now a camera bag. I know that dorayme and others have used it as knitting kit as well. I love it so much that I had to get two!


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