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Thread: Q about Co-Pilot: Considering for SLR Camera Bag

  1. #1
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    Q about Co-Pilot: Considering for SLR Camera Bag

    Hello Tom Bihn community!

    I've recently been looking at the Co-Pilot, and I think it might make a nice small day-to-day camera bag.
    Before I decide on a purchase, I would like a bit more information.

    Here's the various gear I'm thinking of:
    Canon 7D
    Canon 85mm/1.8
    580EXII Flash
    Kindle Keyboard in Amazon lighted-case

    Questions
    (1) Would a 85mm+reversed-hood (diameter approx. 85mm) fit in the left/right front pockets?
    (2) Would a 580EXII Flash (approx. 190mm x 80mm x 55mm) fit in the left/right front pockets?
    (3) Would a lensless 7D fit in one of the back pouches in the main compartment?
    (4) Would the equipment in the preceding items fit in their respective locations at the same time?
    (5) Would it be possible to see full-body back & profile photos of a loaded Co-Pilot strapped high on a human adult male's back?

    Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to this post.

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator Badger's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum. I believe some other members here have a 7D (MisterN??); I don't, but I want to take a stab at your question.

    Unfortunately, I think you may be imagining the Co-Pilot is bigger than it actually is. This thread will show you what some people are carrying in their C-Ps, and you'll note there's not a DSLR among them, although ncb4 was planning to use it that way--maybe she will have some insight into how you might do it.

    I'm not sure a large camera would fit in the back pouch, which is conducive to holding flattish, rectangular objects like books, notebooks, and lunch containers; I believe people also use those pouches to contain organizer pouches and other relatively small/squishable things. It's important to note that the C-P isn't padded in any way, so I would personally be nervous to carry a camera without some kind of case or insert, which you could do with the 7D if you kept it in the main compartment. The Kindle would fit in the back pocket with no problem, and I'm fairly sure the lens and flash would fit in the front pockets, although once again, the lens might cause the pocket to bulge.

    To answer your last question: I doubt such a photo exists. A man wearing a C-P high on his back would look like a guy wearing a purse as a messenger bag. I don't mean this in terms of how the bag looks, but in terms of its relatively diminutive size.

    For one DSLR, one lens, one flash, and a Kindle, I would probably want the Imago with a small camera insert. You could then also fit in some other goodies like a collapsible tripod, a tablet or small laptop, an extra battery, filters, etc., if you had to. With the Q-AM strap, you could wear it messenger-style and it wouldn't look weird. Of course, many others here (MisterN, Walker, cough cough) will tell you to get the Camera Insert/Outsert and that too is worth a look when it comes out. It holds a lot more than what you've specified here, but might be useful if you expect to accumulate new kit.
    Last edited by Badger; 03-28-2012 at 06:55 AM.

  3. #3
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    I have never seen a Co-Pilot in person but i do have a 7d and I have never imagined that the C.P. would hold a full sized SLR in any combination?
    Like Badger says it is not a large bag.

  4. #4
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    I just bought a Co-Pilot to use as a camera bag, but with a micro 4/3 system. The main compartment is only 2 inches deep (it could stretch a bit), so a full-size DSLR plus accessories would not fit comfortably. It does work perfectly for my Olympus with 14-45 lens attached, plus the m/43 40-150 and 100-300 lenses in padded lens cases. I also have in that space and its two pockets a macro converter, EVF, filters, and lens cloth. The three pockets on the front have no gear in them at the moment--I'm reserving the space for personal items--but that central water bottle pocket could certainly hold a lens in a padded pouch.

    Hope that helps.

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    Thanks for the responses, folks.

    I suppose I should clarify my current situation and how I envision using the Co-Pilot.

    I am no stranger to camera bags. I have used the Thinktank Retrospective 10, Manfrotto Veloce V, and a rather poor bag by Timbuk2 whose name I can't recall. I used to be a True Believer in the Church of the Camera Bag, but no longer. I hate to say this just as Tom Bihn & Co. are launching their new camera insert, but I don't think you need that much padding.

    I finally switched to a 3-way bag by YOSHIDA & CO. that I had originally bought for short business trips. I load this bag with any combination of 3-4 lenses, 2 flash heads, light stands and modifiers, and various other tools and goodies. I sometimes even strap my tripod across the top. Oh, I almost forgot... I use a Freudian Slip from Tom Bihn in the main compartment to keep small things organized.

    This has become too much. Most of the time I strap my camera across my body and rarely switch from my go-to lens. Even if I limit my gear to one lens switch (mostly the 85mm mentioned before) and one flash head, the bag itself weighs a whopping 1.5kg. That means I'm pretty much over 3kg with my minimum accessories.

    I'm looking for a minimalist bag. I also have an Original Ristretto for MBA11 (which is awesome) which I can fit the 85mm and a flash into, but it's vertical orientation means it hangs a little low on my back.

    I saw this post where someone fit a Nikon D3100 into a Co-Pilot, so I thought that maybe it would be the perfect answer. Everyone is stressing how small the bag is, and honestly it looks like a different size in almost every photo I've seen.

    Anyway, that is where I'm coming from. Can anyone help me with perspective photos?

  6. #6
    Registered User ncb4's Avatar
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    The estimable badger is right: I am currently using my Co-Pilot as a camera bag, having just transferred my gear into it last week. If you can bear with me for 48 hours, I'll post some photos for you. (I'm juggling two work deadlines in the next two days, or I'd do it now.) I don't know the size of your camera and lenses, but let me at least list for you what I have in my bag.

    In the largest zippered compartment, I've got my Olympus e620 DSLR in a single-sized Billingham padded insert. Currently a 25mm pancake lens is attached, but I could still fit the camera in the bag if I had the larger 14-42mm or even the 40-150mm kit lenses attached. I've laid a piece of foam on the bottom of this compartment as well, just to add a bit more padding for when I set the bag down on its bottom. The 620 is considered a full-size DSLR, but since it's in the 4/3 Format (NOT micro 4/3rds), it's one of the smaller DSLRs out there. Which is one of the reasons I bought it. The 620 body is 5.1 x 2.4 x 3.7 inches; larger when the slender pancake lens attached. Plus I've got it in a padded organizer, which adds bulk. And yet it fits in the large rear compartment of the Co-Pilot: there is some give in the bag which its stated dimensions might not lead you to believe.

    I've also got three other lenses in pouches in this compartment: the 14-42mm, 40-150mm, and 35mm macro lens. In the two slip pockets in the back of this compartment, I have four filters: two in individual cases, and two more in a repurposed neoprene floppy disk case.

    I've got nothing in the outside slip pocket in the rear of the case, though you could easily carry your Kindle there. I might want to carry my iPad, and I could probably squeeze it in there, but that might be a bit much.

    In the center front pocket, right now I've got my Panasonic Lumix LX5, in a Small Padded Organizer Bag. But I could put a 16 ounce water bottle in there on a hot day; or my 200mm Olympus OM lens, with 2x teleconverter attached. That's a very long lens when it's all assembled, but it fits perfectly in this center pocket. Its dimensions are approximately 67mm diameter (2.6 inches) by 177mm (7 inches) long with the teleconverter attached.

    In the right front pocket, the one with the pen slots, I've got a couple of Moleskine Cahier notebooks, a pen, a pen-like lens cleaner, a small Giotto rocket blower, lens cloth, Joby Gorillapod, and another repurposed neoprene case that carries spare lens caps.

    In the left front pocket, the one with the Ultrasuede pocket, I don't have much. I can put my keys, iPhone, sunglasses, and Clear Organizer Wallet when I head out, so I don't have to carry a purse as well. I've also got a little neoprene pouch that carries two spare batteries for my camera, my wireless remote, and a slim metal card case for spare memory cards.

    I'm delighted with the way everything fits, and I think the Co-Pilot is the perfect "Goldilocks" bag—not too large, not too small—for a day trip with my camera.

    Note that I've also used my Synapse and my Imago as camera bags: they're both wonderful for that purpose as well. It may be that if your camera and lenses are larger than mine, you'd do well with the Synapse—which you could also carry high on your pack. It's an amazing bag that swallows a lot, but retains a streamlined, compact shape on the outside. I can fit even more camera gear into the Synapse than I can the Co-Pilot.

    I hope this helps. And as soon as I can, I'll take those photos and post them here.

    ~Nancy
    Last edited by ncb4; 03-28-2012 at 05:32 PM.

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    Thanks for the replies everybody. I submitted a rather long response (with links and everything!) before leaving for work this morning, but it was seemingly lost in the ether.

    >>>>>EDIT: it seems my previous reply was simply held up for moderation. How embarrassing. Please excuse the overlap between this post and my preceding one.

    To Badger:
    I have quite a history with camera bags, including the Thinktank Retrospective 10, Manfrotto Veloce V backpack, and a pathetic Timbuk2 thingy. I'm pretty much done with dedicated camera bags & camera inserts. I'm currently using a 3-Way bag from YOSHIDA & Co. which is in no way padded and works great.

    The problem is my YOSHIDA bag is 1.5kg empty. That means even with only 1 lens change and 1 flash, I'm still pushing 3kg. I'm looking for a small day-to-day number.

    Padding is really overrated. The 7D and its ilk are built like tanks. I've seen one dropped on concrete from 6ft. and remain completely functional (battery door fell off though). Likewise, Canon's mid-range lenses and higher are built pretty solidly. I'm not looking to use an insert for the body, and my lenses have homemade sleeves to protect from bashing about inside a bag.

    My camera lives strapped to me when I'm out and about, and I'm mainly interested in body storage in the case of rain.

    To nbc4:

    Thanks a lot for offering pictures. I'd really love to see those. Given the ballistic Co-Pilots are out of stock, I'm in no hurry.

    I checked out the specs for the E620. It's 130mm x 94mm x 60mm versus the 7D's 148mm x 110mm x 73.5mm. Hearing you also pop your's in a padded insert has given me a lot of confidence that this might work!!

    It's funny you mention the Synapse because I actually am hoping to get both the Synapse & Co-Pilot for weekend jaunts.

    I have an Original Ristretto for MBA11 which I sometimes pop my 85mm and flash in, but it's vertical design and resulting cavernous maw make it less than ideal for the job (also, it's fun getting new bags).

    Despite Badger, AVService, and plume's comments on how small it is (thank you guys a lot for your opinions), nbc4 has given me hope. Maybe some other people will chime in as well.

    Here's hoping this message doesn't get lost in the ether as well.
    Last edited by deltagorno; 03-29-2012 at 06:47 PM.

  8. #8
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    I'll get a photo of my camera gear in the Co-Pilot for you this week, deltagorno (actually, a 20D body will have to be the stand-in for the 7D)
    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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    Thank you, Darcy! I really appreciate it!

  10. #10
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Here you go! Does this help?

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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

  11. #11
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    Huge help! Thank you so much!
    Now the only obstacle is stock...
    Maybe when the ballistic Co-Pilots come back we can see a black with a colorful interior? Ultraviolet perhaps?

  12. #12
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    You're welcome! Glad the photos helped. We're making Black/Steel, Navy/Solar, Forest/Steel, and Steel/Iberian in the Co-Pilot this time, so no Ultraviolet is planned.
    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

  13. #13
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy View Post
    You're welcome! Glad the photos helped. We're making Black/Steel, Navy/Solar, Forest/Steel, and Steel/Iberian in the Co-Pilot this time, so no Ultraviolet is planned.
    Update! We decided to add Black/Ultraviolet and Cardinal/Steel for pre-order/backorder in the Co-Pilot. This is instead of Navy/Solar, which we won't be making this time.
    Walker likes this.
    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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    Registered User Lani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy View Post
    Update! We decided to add Black/Ultraviolet and Cardinal/Steel for pre-order/backorder in the Co-Pilot. This is instead of Navy/Solar, which we won't be making this time.
    Wow. Talk about customer service!

    [Psst: There's also a discussion about Cardinal backpack strap WFs! ;-) ]
    Lani Teshima: A Dyneema diva with a closetful of Tom Bihn products!
    Publisher, The Travelite FAQ: Don't get saddled with baggage—free yourself & your mind by packing lightly!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy View Post
    Update! We decided to add Black/Ultraviolet and Cardinal/Steel for pre-order/backorder in the Co-Pilot. This is instead of Navy/Solar, which we won't be making this time.
    Does this mean my Black/UV Synapse will have company at last???

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