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Thread: Camera I/O-like insert for smaller mirrorless cameras

  1. #1
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    Camera I/O-like insert for smaller mirrorless cameras

    I spoke with Beau at TB yesterday about my latest problem. I bought a Nikon 1 V2 with 2 lenses and would love a Camera I/O-like insert for smaller cameras that fits in my Synapse 25. It doesn't seem like anything TB currently offers would fit my needs.

    Anyone have any recommendations for products (TB ideally) that I could use instead? I want good amount of protection, and a small form factor so it doesn't take up more space than needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by apbailey View Post
    I spoke with Beau at TB yesterday about my latest problem. I bought a Nikon 1 V2 with 2 lenses and would love a Camera I/O-like insert for smaller cameras that fits in my Synapse 25. It doesn't seem like anything TB currently offers would fit my needs.

    Anyone have any recommendations for products (TB ideally) that I could use instead? I want good amount of protection, and a small form factor so it doesn't take up more space than needed.
    Having just bought an Olympus OM-D E-M5 and a 3 lenses, I'm in a near-identical position as you, except my ideal insert would be the width and height of the co-pilot's main compartment, leaving just enough room for a small raincoat or sweater in a small stuff sack to one side--or worst case just sized the fill the entire Co-Pilot compartment. Or perhaps sized for the long-awaited Pilot, again with room for a layer of clothing, water bottle, sunglasses, phone, etc.

    But for now, there's nothing from TB that I can recommend, but for the synapse, there are a number of third-party options. Check out the Crumpler Haven series and also look at the Ape Case Cubeze Flexible Storage Cubes--which come in a color that's not far off from Solar. The Haven Small is a little tight for my OM-D with kit zoom and 2 lenses and a little too wide to fit comfortably in the co-pilot. The Cubeze QB33 fits better in the Co-Pilot and actually does a little bit better job holding the 2 lenses and body because it's a little longer. It doesn't, however, have all the design features of the Haven and isn't quite as robustly padded. I imagine up to the Haven Large would easily fit in the Synapse.

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    Can you give us the dimension?


    The Padded Pouches fit an exceptional amount of width if the right length and height.

  4. #4
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    After a few misses, I ended up with a Crumpler Haven and love it. The medium fits my camera body + 2 lenses with a pocket for cards. It's well padded and the form fits in virtually any bag or purse.
    ~ one of virtually everything ~ Happy victim of Tom Bihn mind control

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by autolycus View Post
    But for now, there's nothing from TB that I can recommend, but for the synapse, there are a number of third-party options. Check out the Crumpler Haven series and also look at the Ape Case Cubeze Flexible Storage Cubes--which come in a color that's not far off from Solar. The Haven Small is a little tight for my OM-D with kit zoom and 2 lenses and a little too wide to fit comfortably in the co-pilot. The Cubeze QB33 fits better in the Co-Pilot and actually does a little bit better job holding the 2 lenses and body because it's a little longer. It doesn't, however, have all the design features of the Haven and isn't quite as robustly padded. I imagine up to the Haven Large would easily fit in the Synapse.
    Perfect, thanks! I've had both the Crumpler and the Ape Case in my Amazon shopping cart for weeks now trying to figure out what would be a better fit for my E-P3/E-M5 and a couple of lenses, and what (if anything) would fit inside a Co-Pilot. With the Ape Case in the main pocket of the CP, is there any room to insert something thin, like a tall book, tablet, or even an 11" MBA-sized computer (< 1" thick)? I wouldn't normally carry both the camera insert and computer at one time, except one the plane.
    Own: Aeronaut 45 (Navy/Iberian), Aeronaut 30 (Steel/Ultraviolet), Night Flight (Coyote/Steel), Guide's Pack (Steel), Synapse 19 (Olive/Steel), Daylight (Navy), Aeronaut Packing Cube Backpack (Wasabi), Founder's Briefcase (Black), Pilot (Steel 400d/Steel), Co-Pilot (Black/Iberian), Side Effect (Black/Ultraviolet), Travel Tray (Iberian), various cubes, pouches, sacks, and straps

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    Quote Originally Posted by itsablur View Post
    Perfect, thanks! I've had both the Crumpler and the Ape Case in my Amazon shopping cart for weeks now trying to figure out what would be a better fit for my E-P3/E-M5 and a couple of lenses, and what (if anything) would fit inside a Co-Pilot. With the Ape Case in the main pocket of the CP, is there any room to insert something thin, like a tall book, tablet, or even an 11" MBA-sized computer (< 1" thick)? I wouldn't normally carry both the camera insert and computer at one time, except one the plane.
    Hmm... It might work in a pinch, but barely. If you have a pair of side effects, put them long-side to long-side so it's double thick. That's pretty close to the size of the Ape Case. But because we all like pictures for reference, I shot a few quick ones of the Ape Case loaded with my E-M5 with 12-50 kit lens and the mini flash in the middle section, a 9-18mm in one side and a 40-150 in the other so you have an idea of how it holds the camera. The last one is of my co-pilot (200d dyneema, not the newer heavier stuff) with a sunglass case in the center front, the loaded ape case and an iPad2 in the main section--iPad against front panel rather than the back. As you can see, it's bulging quite a bit. There is, however, a section about 3"x3" to one side of the Ape Case that could hold the sunglass case instead. I just wanted to show roughly what a water bottle would do.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by autolycus View Post
    Hmm... It might work in a pinch, but barely. If you have a pair of side effects, put them long-side to long-side so it's double thick. That's pretty close to the size of the Ape Case. But because we all like pictures for reference, I shot a few quick ones of the Ape Case loaded with my E-M5 with 12-50 kit lens and the mini flash in the middle section, a 9-18mm in one side and a 40-150 in the other so you have an idea of how it holds the camera. The last one is of my co-pilot (200d dyneema, not the newer heavier stuff) with a sunglass case in the center front, the loaded ape case and an iPad2 in the main section--iPad against front panel rather than the back. As you can see, it's bulging quite a bit. There is, however, a section about 3"x3" to one side of the Ape Case that could hold the sunglass case instead. I just wanted to show roughly what a water bottle would do.
    Thanks for the pictures! Really does help visualize things a bit better. So, if you didn't have the sunglass case in the water bottle pocket, is it less deformed on the back? That doesn't look comfortable bumping up against one's body.
    Own: Aeronaut 45 (Navy/Iberian), Aeronaut 30 (Steel/Ultraviolet), Night Flight (Coyote/Steel), Guide's Pack (Steel), Synapse 19 (Olive/Steel), Daylight (Navy), Aeronaut Packing Cube Backpack (Wasabi), Founder's Briefcase (Black), Pilot (Steel 400d/Steel), Co-Pilot (Black/Iberian), Side Effect (Black/Ultraviolet), Travel Tray (Iberian), various cubes, pouches, sacks, and straps

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    I think it would have been ok without anything bulky in the front pockets. A cell phone, pens, small notepad stuff would likely be fine. Lens filter, spare battery, etc. would work perfectly, I think. There would still be a little bulging at the back, but that's also a bit of a thing with the dyneema co-pilot anyway. It's very conforming to whatever is in it and to whatever it's up against. As long as the Ape Case is against your body and not stuffed to the point of being completely rigid, it shouldn't be too bad to carry because of the padding. It's not perfect, but it was the skinniest padded insert I could find on B&H, Adorama, and Amazon. If the long-hoped-for Pilot has a main compartment that's 1 1/2 - 2" deeper, the Ape Case and Crumpler Haven would work almost perfectly, even with an iPad or ultrabook. But I'm hoping TB designs his own version to go in that bag!

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    Check ONA bags.

    One of their bags can be used as either an insert, or as a (stunning) camera bag.

    Heck, all their bags are stunning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nawksi View Post
    Check ONA bags.

    One of their bags can be used as either an insert, or as a (stunning) camera bag.

    Heck, all their bags are stunning.
    Looking at the dimensions, their Roma insert/bag--which does look very nice--would have some advantages over the Ape Case QB33 but one huge disadvantage: It's longer, which is good, a little taller, which is fine, BUT... it's 1/2" deeper (4" vs. 3.5"). That will simply exaggerate the issue that I'm having with the Ape Case. My measurement of the co-pilot is that it's right at 3" seam to seam for the back compartment. That means 3.5" will mostly work because I'm not trying to fill the entire volume of the pocket with the insert, but it's pushing it. 4" I believe is the same depth as the Small Haven, which definitely doesn't work as well as the Ape Case QB33.

  11. #11
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    Found another insert that is only 3" wide. Reviews well among Micro 4/3s on B&H.

    Domke FA-226 2-Compartment Short Insert 720-226 B&H Photo Video

    Granted, it is smaller in all dimensions - not just width, and only a 2-section insert. That would be a pretty minimal kit; body + 3 smaller primes (12mm, 20mm, and 45mm), maybe the collapsible kit zoom or a Panny power zoom if you're lucky. This might fit inside a Ristretto though... Interesting...
    Own: Aeronaut 45 (Navy/Iberian), Aeronaut 30 (Steel/Ultraviolet), Night Flight (Coyote/Steel), Guide's Pack (Steel), Synapse 19 (Olive/Steel), Daylight (Navy), Aeronaut Packing Cube Backpack (Wasabi), Founder's Briefcase (Black), Pilot (Steel 400d/Steel), Co-Pilot (Black/Iberian), Side Effect (Black/Ultraviolet), Travel Tray (Iberian), various cubes, pouches, sacks, and straps

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsablur View Post
    Found another insert that is only 3" wide. Reviews well among Micro 4/3s on B&H.

    Domke FA-226 2-Compartment Short Insert 720-226 B&H Photo Video

    Granted, it is smaller in all dimensions - not just width, and only a 2-section insert. That would be a pretty minimal kit; body + 3 smaller primes (12mm, 20mm, and 45mm), maybe the collapsible kit zoom or a Panny power zoom if you're lucky. This might fit inside a Ristretto though... Interesting...
    Interesting. I have one of their 3-section inserts in a Mountainsmith lumbar pack and was certain it was too deep for the Co-Pilot. According to the specs on B&H, it looks like the 3-compartment is the same 3" depth, just a little taller and twice as long. The height and length (8"x11") should be fine in the co-pilot. I'll check it out tomorrow to see how it fits and report back.

    It also doesn't serve my purpose of wanting a bag-in-a-bag that I can have in a backpack for most travel and then drop in the Co-Pilot for walking about town.
    Last edited by autolycus; 07-03-2013 at 04:07 PM.

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    OK, the Domke 3-compartment insert fits ok in the main compartment of the Co-Pilot. It fills almost the whole thing but you might be able to squeeze in a tablet or ultrabook as well. The depth is better than the Ape Case. But.... I had two issues with it and will be sticking with the Ape Case insert while I keep looking for other options.

    1) The insert has no padding on the bottom, just the outer sides and the dividers. The padding is a thin foam and can actually be removed through openings in the bottom. It'd be easy enough to find a similar foam and cut it to put underneath on the bottom of the Co-Pilot. I'm not interested in dealing with that because of #2 anyway.

    2) The dividers are fixed and are full-height. This is a big problem because it means the OM-D will only fit if it's fitted with a short lens. The 12-50 was a complete no-go. The 40-150 would have been worse. I didn't try the 9-18 because even if it did fit, it would have been tight, and I don't want to be limited like that. This is a huge advantage of the Crumpler Haven and Ape Case insert. Their dividers have a flap that folds down, providing a platform for the camera body with the lens floating between the dividers.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by autolycus View Post
    OK, the Domke 3-compartment insert fits ok in the main compartment of the Co-Pilot. It fills almost the whole thing but you might be able to squeeze in a tablet or ultrabook as well. The depth is better than the Ape Case. But.... I had two issues with it and will be sticking with the Ape Case insert while I keep looking for other options.

    1) The insert has no padding on the bottom, just the outer sides and the dividers. The padding is a thin foam and can actually be removed through openings in the bottom. It'd be easy enough to find a similar foam and cut it to put underneath on the bottom of the Co-Pilot. I'm not interested in dealing with that because of #2 anyway.

    2) The dividers are fixed and are full-height. This is a big problem because it means the OM-D will only fit if it's fitted with a short lens. The 12-50 was a complete no-go. The 40-150 would have been worse. I didn't try the 9-18 because even if it did fit, it would have been tight, and I don't want to be limited like that. This is a huge advantage of the Crumpler Haven and Ape Case insert. Their dividers have a flap that folds down, providing a platform for the camera body with the lens floating between the dividers.
    Thanks for testing that out. I could probably live without the padded bottom (can pad it myself), but it's a shame about the dividers be non-removable. That makes it really inflexible given the sheer flexibility that smaller camera bodies and lenses affords you. I'm still trying to figure out what my ideal camera loadout and carrying solution is when on vacation, but something thin that could be floated between different bags would seem ideal.

    I shockingly have accumulated nine (9!) native m43 lenses and two bodies. I do not bring them all on vacation, but usually pick 4-5 depending on where we're going, what we're doing, and if I'm also bringing two bodies (one for me, one for the Mrs.) Our last vacation we just took one body and 5 lenses, though I maybe used the PL45 Macro for all of 10 shots and probably could have left it at home. Prime lenses are so tiny that I can easily stack a couple of them into one divided section. Maybe I should sell some and reduce down to the P12-35 f2.8 since it covers a good focal range at a decent aperture...
    Own: Aeronaut 45 (Navy/Iberian), Aeronaut 30 (Steel/Ultraviolet), Night Flight (Coyote/Steel), Guide's Pack (Steel), Synapse 19 (Olive/Steel), Daylight (Navy), Aeronaut Packing Cube Backpack (Wasabi), Founder's Briefcase (Black), Pilot (Steel 400d/Steel), Co-Pilot (Black/Iberian), Side Effect (Black/Ultraviolet), Travel Tray (Iberian), various cubes, pouches, sacks, and straps

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    I use a small insert designed for mirrorless cameras that I got from Amazon.com for $20. It fits perfectly in a Medium Cafe Bag, my Brain Bag, and even my Synapse 19 (although it won't fit with a Cadet in there as well).

    I also use a Side Effect extensively to hold my extra lenses when I shoot. I just wrote up a comprehensive blog post that describes the bags I use as well as how I use them. It includes a picture and some video.

    One thing I didn't mention about using a Medium Cafe Bag with the insert is that the O-ring and the straps are a lifesaver, because you can strap in an organizer pouch, take advantage of the room on top of the insert, and easily move it out of the way and let it hang loose when you want to access your gear.

    All of this works amazingly well, and it's an ongoing testament to how well designed and versatile Tom Bihn bags are. And, I really wish that Tom Bihn would make a small bag specifically for mirrorless camera owners.

    Here are some additional pictures:

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