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Thread: Suggestion - The Goldilocks Bag

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    Ken
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    Lightbulb Suggestion - The Goldilocks Bag

    Like Charlie Brown and the football, I decided to try again for a small bag to carry some of my camera gear when I only want a minimal kit, and a bag that does immediately identify itself as a camera bag. I mostly use Domke bags for my camera equipment, and have a variety of Tom's bags for general use. I have an insert that fits nicely into my Imago, and I can place my old E=MC2 case inside my MCB, but neither was small enough for my intended purpose. Two years ago, I tried to find a TB bag to meet this need, but gave up unsuccessfully. Having had the itch again, I headed off to the factory showroom with camera gear in tow, to see if I could find success this time.

    My initial candidates were the relatively new Side Effect, and a second attempt at the Field Journal. Both bags proved too small to properly hold an M4/3rd's camera body with lens attached, and possibly a second lens or flash. Had the Field Journal had a bit more depth (front to back), it might have been perfect with its binder removed. I like its design because it looks like a mini brief, but it was just too small, and the Cadet was just a bit too big, albeit it too needed a bit more depth.

    The Co-Pilot has the depth, but is just too big for my needs. The Packing Cube Shoulder was also too large, and none of the other cubes or pockets seemed to work as well. The small Ristretto was closer, and it had a padded compartment, but it too also needed a bit more depth to handle my gear. While I was ready to again call it a day, like Charlie Brown laying flat on his back, but I decided to try one more bag, the Small Cafe Bag.

    The SCB is notably smaller than the MCB, and is about the size of a bag that I had initially envisioned. I did bring one home to see if it could be adapted to use with some Domke wraps, or possibly an insert, but what I really want is something that Tom has not been able to address. A bag that is slightly larger than the Field Journal, but smaller than the Cadet, but that has more depth than either bag. Ideally, the bag would be lightly padded, perhaps lined with ultrasuede or a material that would accept movable padded dividers. Think equal parts Camera I-O interior, Small or Medium Cafe Bag form, or alternately Field Journal/Cadet form. Or perhaps a shorter, fatter Ristretto, called Goldilocks? I know that we all want our own personally designed TB bag, but a guy can dream, can't he?

    --Ken

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    Registered User itsablur's Avatar
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    Count me in on your vision of a "Goldilocks" camera-focused every day kind of bag! The Camera I/O looks great for lugging stuff to a studio shoot, or for real pro sized gear, but I've spent years shrinking my kit to a couple m4/3 bodies and too many lenses, and recently just bought a NEX 7 to try out the bigger sensor competition. The Camera I/O is overkill in size and not casual enough for walkabout use IMO.

    Which Ristretto size did you happen to try? All three sizes, or just the smallest one?
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    Ken
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsablur View Post
    Count me in on your vision of a "Goldilocks" camera-focused every day kind of bag! The Camera I/O looks great for lugging stuff to a studio shoot, or for real pro sized gear, but I've spent years shrinking my kit to a couple m4/3 bodies and too many lenses, and recently just bought a NEX 7 to try out the bigger sensor competition. The Camera I/O is overkill in size and not casual enough for walkabout use IMO.

    Which Ristretto size did you happen to try? All three sizes, or just the smallest one?
    I tried the smallest one. The others start to get much bigger in size. Plus, the padding in the Ristretto takes up a bit of room, so it really was not a great option. I really like the SCB's size and layout, as you can easily reach into it and pull out gear without having to look or needing a second hand (as is the case with many zippered bags). The trouble with the SCB is how to protect the gear while you are shooting. It is easy to carry wrapped gear, but protecting it while you are needing immediate access is a bit more tricky. You could keep the second lens wrapped until needed, but my concern is about the body/lens when it is unwrapped and available. I guess you let it float "naked" in the bag, if there was nothing that could damage it. Or you could leave a wrap open and hope that it provides a bit of protection. Either way, this is not an arrangement for those that like everything heavily padded, but I like to believe that you gain some protection by having such a slim profile. I can even see wearing an SCB under a jacket/shell (especially if you order the Dyneema version), as it is so slim and small.

    For comparison purposes, I like to think of my Domke F-10 as a compact bag that is ideal for an M4/3rd's kit (albeit it is a very large compact bag IMHO). But, next to a SCB, it is huge! It is more than twice as deep (front to back). I have carried the E=MC2 as my minimal kit, and it will hold a body/lens with a second lens, but it is not easily accessible like the SCB.

    Finally, two side notes, the SCB will just fit my iPad2 that has a cover and thin back shell, so it can pull double duty for me when I am not carrying my camera. And, it can easily be placed inside an Imago with a bit of room to spare if one needs to pack up stuff for airplane travel.

    --Ken

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    Ken
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    A quick update. I picked up a Domke FA-220 insert that fits snuggly in the SCB. While it does add a bit of structure to the SCB, it seems to provide a nice padded and accessible place to put an M4/3rd's camera body with viewfinder attached with some room to spare. Domke also makes a slightly smaller FA-226 that looks like it might also fit in the SCB, but I was not able to see one in person. I am hoping to try out this arrangement around the house to see how well it works before making a final decison ont he SCB. If it seems to function well, I will take it out for a trial run and report back.

    --Ken

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    The Medium Padded Pouch holds two small cameras, one the shape of a small extended lens.

    The setup fits in the SCB but there is not much more room to spare, but it is an ideal minimalist photo arrangement.

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    Registered User itsablur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    A quick update. I picked up a Domke FA-220 insert that fits snuggly in the SCB. While it does add a bit of structure to the SCB, it seems to provide a nice padded and accessible place to put an M4/3rd's camera body with viewfinder attached with some room to spare. Domke also makes a slightly smaller FA-226 that looks like it might also fit in the SCB, but I was not able to see one in person. I am hoping to try out this arrangement around the house to see how well it works before making a final decison ont he SCB. If it seems to function well, I will take it out for a trial run and report back.

    --Ken
    Got any pictures of this setup? Does the insert take up the whole width/depth of the bag?

    Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 4
    Own: Aeronaut 45 (Navy/Iberian), Co-Pilot (Black/Iberian), Aeronaut Packing Cube Backpack (Wasabi), Travel Tray (Iberian), organizer wallet (Wasabi), passport pouch (Iberian), various cubes, pouches, sacks, and straps
    Ordered: Aeronaut 30 (Steel/Ultraviolet), Side Effect (Black/Ultraviolet)
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    Ken
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsablur View Post
    Got any pictures of this setup? Does the insert take up the whole width/depth of the bag?

    Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 4
    I'll try to post some photos tonight or tomorrow as my schedule permits.

    --Ken

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    Ken
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    Quote Originally Posted by backpack View Post
    The Medium Padded Pouch holds two small cameras, one the shape of a small extended lens.

    The setup fits in the SCB but there is not much more room to spare, but it is an ideal minimalist photo arrangement.
    Somehow my mind is not picturing how you are fitting a camera w/lens in this TB pouch. Can you elaborate, or am I picturing the wrong pouch?

    --Ken

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    Medium measures: 10.3" x 7" (260 x 180 mm). It is roughly the size of the SCB so if your gear fits in the SBC, it will fit in the Medium Padded Pouch.

    What camera and lens(e) do you have?

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    Ken
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    Quote Originally Posted by backpack View Post
    Medium measures: 10.3" x 7" (260 x 180 mm). It is roughly the size of the SCB so if your gear fits in the SBC, it will fit in the Medium Padded Pouch.

    What camera and lens(e) do you have?
    Thank you for the reply. I have three M4/3rd's bodies (and an external EVF) at present - an E-PL2, an E-PL5 and a G3. My lenses vary in physical size from the tiny 14mm pancake to the larger 40-150. I could possibly see squeezing a body or body with 15mm lens cap or 14mm pancake in one of the pouches, but they seem to have almost no depth. And, while the pouch may provide protection during travel, I prefer inserts that let me quickly take or place gear back in the bag without much effort (like Domke). If I just wanted to protect gear while in route, I would probably choose to use Domke wraps, as they are soft and flexible.

    --Ken

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    Ken
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsablur View Post
    Got any pictures of this setup? Does the insert take up the whole width/depth of the bag?

    Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk 4
    Here are a couple of quick, low resolution shots that show the insert next to the bag, inside the bag, and with a camera with lens facing down in the insert. Note that the insert has a removable (velcro) divider that I took out, and that there is still a bit or room in the bag with my E-PL5 and 40-150 lens attached. You could easily place a wrapped lens underneath the camera and would have easy access if you had the camera out of the bag. Yes, the SCB is at its maximum depth from front to back with the insert, but note that the insert is soft enough to give, so the bag is not too boxy.

    --Ken

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    Registered User itsablur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    Here are a couple of quick, low resolution shots that show the insert next to the bag, inside the bag, and with a camera with lens facing down in the insert. Note that the insert has a removable (velcro) divider that I took out, and that there is still a bit or room in the bag with my E-PL5 and 40-150 lens attached. You could easily place a wrapped lens underneath the camera and would have easy access if you had the camera out of the bag. Yes, the SCB is at its maximum depth from front to back with the insert, but note that the insert is soft enough to give, so the bag is not too boxy.
    Very interesting combination! It's a pretty perfect fit, aside from filling the SCB to max depth.

    In your last photo, do you have a lens underneath the E-PL5 (assuming there is a lens attached at least)? All told, you figure this is a one body 2-3 lens insert (depending on lenses and how you store them)? i've got plenty of variously sized velcro camera inserts from umpteen other camera bags, I'm sure I could frankenbag a combination together that would fit a decent 3-prime kit, or prime-prime-zoom.

    Do you have an EVF? Does it fit oddly in the insert if attached to the E-PL5? Wondering if that would add an odd hump. I'm considering moving up to an E-M5 second hand, which should have less of an EVF hump. That or the GX7, or an outright system switch to a NEX-6/7... dilemma dilemma...
    Own: Aeronaut 45 (Navy/Iberian), Co-Pilot (Black/Iberian), Aeronaut Packing Cube Backpack (Wasabi), Travel Tray (Iberian), organizer wallet (Wasabi), passport pouch (Iberian), various cubes, pouches, sacks, and straps
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    Ken
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsablur View Post
    Very interesting combination! It's a pretty perfect fit, aside from filling the SCB to max depth.

    In your last photo, do you have a lens underneath the E-PL5 (assuming there is a lens attached at least)? All told, you figure this is a one body 2-3 lens insert (depending on lenses and how you store them)? i've got plenty of variously sized velcro camera inserts from umpteen other camera bags, I'm sure I could frankenbag a combination together that would fit a decent 3-prime kit, or prime-prime-zoom.

    Do you have an EVF? Does it fit oddly in the insert if attached to the E-PL5? Wondering if that would add an odd hump. I'm considering moving up to an E-M5 second hand, which should have less of an EVF hump. That or the GX7, or an outright system switch to a NEX-6/7... dilemma dilemma...
    In the last photo, I do not have a lens underneath the E-PL5/40-150 combo (and the 40-150 is a somewhat long and wide lens as I store it with an Oly lens shade reversed), but I did have a 60mm Oly macro lens inside a Domke wrap underneath it yesterday when I was trying out configurations, and the bag and insert are deep enough for a wrapped lens (or posssibly two small lenses) to live below the camera/lens in the position that I show in the photo. Ideally I would want a second wrap or a insert divider without velcro available to protect the bottom lens if I wanted to be able to quickly and easily remove and replace my camera without any thought. If the camera was mostly going to live outside the bag and not be "holstered" often, then a single wrap around the additional lens would be fine if you are comfortable with a minimal padding set-up.

    I do have an EVF-2 that I use with the E-PL5, and it will fit into the bag like I have shown, but it does start to push the insert and SCB into a somewhat odd shape. Nonetheless, I almost always use this body with an EVF, so I will double check in the next few days and post back (if I can get my broadband modem replaced as it "bricked" on me tonight).

    The other thing that I was playing around with was a discontinued Domke lens pouch. This takes up half the space of a SCB, and kind of provides coverage for the E-PL5 if I "holster" it lens down. This allows a second, and possibly a third lens to live along side of the lens pouch, but I do have my doubts about how well this arrangement would work in real life. I wish I had the slightly smaller FA-226 to compare with the FA-220, but at around $25-30 USD per insert, they add up quite quickly.

    Still, if you want maximum space in a single compartment inside the SCB, and do not mind that the bag will have a bit of structure, then the FA-220 seems like one of the better options (and I am guessing the FA-226 would be a close second as it is .5" shorter and .5" narrower across). It is very slightly padded, and has a soft interior, so it is very equipment friendly, and it does allow moderate access to the interior pockets in the SCB. Now, if I only had time to try it out in actual shooting outside the house!

    --Ken

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    Ken
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post

    I do have an EVF-2 that I use with the E-PL5, and it will fit into the bag like I have shown, but it does start to push the insert and SCB into a somewhat odd shape. Nonetheless, I almost always use this body with an EVF, so I will double check in the next few days and post back (if I can get my broadband modem replaced as it "bricked" on me tonight).
    I had a moment to try fitting the camera with the EVF attached into the insert in the SCB. It will fit (better with lens down than lens up), but if the bag took a hit, I would be very concerned about the EVF. It is probably fine for temporary storage when out and about, which seems workable as you would probably remove the EVF if you were not shooting, but is is pushing the limit of acceptable unless you are comfortable with minimal padding and tight fitting equipment.

    --Ken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    I had a moment to try fitting the camera with the EVF attached into the insert in the SCB. It will fit (better with lens down than lens up), but if the bag took a hit, I would be very concerned about the EVF. It is probably fine for temporary storage when out and about, which seems workable as you would probably remove the EVF if you were not shooting, but is is pushing the limit of acceptable unless you are comfortable with minimal padding and tight fitting equipment.
    Agreed. The EVF adds a fair bit of height. I think the E-M5 (or successor) might be my upgrade path, so it's lower EVF hump and sturdier build would hopefully mitigate that risk to some degree. Also interesting is the GX7 which has a very range finder-like positioning of the EVF. That would clearly eliminate the issue (though you might still need to put the camera in lens down since it could catch and swivel up when inserting).
    Ken likes this.
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