In my years as a photographer, I have met lots of different photographers with different camera systems and different fields of photo expertise. But there is one thing that I have never met and it is a photographer who has only ONE camera bag. when it comes to camera bags, it seems that most photographers have a constant craving for a ” better” or “bigger” bag or more often than not “just one more bag”. It does make sense in many ways. Going on a serious photo hike overseas for several weeks is quite different task than going to cover a wedding, a march for one day. There are so many variants to one what one photographer may need that it cannot be really covered with just one bag.
How much gear do you want to carry ? how much protection against shocks or weather conditions is needed ? What else outside camera gear do you need to store in your bag ?… These are just a few of the important factors when choosing a bag. Obviously, the kind of gear you have will influence the choice of the bag but equally the kind of portage you prefer or is more appropriate to the venue. Let s look in details why this DNA line by Tenba is special:
As for me, I favor small backpacks. I actually use mostly daypacks and small backpacks which I convert into photo backpacks. Until now, I only had ONE shoulder bag left, the venerable shoulder back DOMKE F2 (here). This has served me well over the years back when I was shooting film. Back in the 90’s the F2 seemed to be the favored bag from many reporters and people covering demonstrations. The fact that this bag is still produced speaks volumes about the flawless design and quality of the product.
The most obvious drawback of backpacks is allowing quick access to your gear. This has been addressed to some extent by the development of “sling backs’. I never cared for those and the concept of those bags prevents from carrying a water bottle which, for me, is an unacceptable premise when traveling and hiking. Another negative is taking out the gear (and putting it back) when in crowds of people.
Last month, I went to the Venice Carnival. I had previous experience with the carnival and knew that a backpack was not a viable option to cover the event. I was ready to dust off my Domke bag when I came across the TENBA bag line-up.
In my years as a photographer, I probably owned and used more than FIFTY camera bags but never had a Tenba before. Once I came very close to buying one but did not because while the bag was great and well priced it come only came in all-black (regardless of the use , I never buy ANY bags in all black color. I am aware this is not the case for most people. I guess I would have to explain in another article in the future) or some really crazy candy-like eye popping ultra vivid colors.
TENBA is a New-York based company and has been manufacturing photo bags for almost 40 years. The company has a good reputation for their products but there is no doubt that this new line named DNA marks a benchmark in the company product development in terms of design and quality of manufacturing.
the DNA line is comprised of four different models varying only in sizes. the models names are DNA 8, 11,13 &15. The number comes from the maximum size laptop that the bag can accommodate . The smallest one, the DNA 8, only allows for an ipad-mini or a kindle tablet.
All four models come in only one finish , a very elegant dark grey color (graphite) canvas with black accents for the straps, zipper-pulls, handle and side pockets. Every detail of the bags oozes quality and ingenious design.
One thing that is very practical is the number of pockets which are key to a good organization.
Starting from the outside, the first amazing detail is the use of magnetic fidlock clips (german design) which are more practical than ANY other bags locks out there. You will be able to operate those even with gloves or when on a bike. here is what it looks like :
The top zipper on the flap allows quick access to your gear. the inside compartment is removable for those instances when you may want to use the bag with something else than photo equipment. The strap may be the most comfortable strap I use on the shoulder bag. For those who like to carry the bag messenger style, the bag comes with a shorter trap to allow a secure fit when riding on a bike.
Here is an image from the bag top zippered flap:
The DNA models also provide excellent protection against the elements . the top flap has soft hinges on each side to prevent water from entering through the sides of the bag.The bottom of the bag features a abrasion and moisture resistant fabric that keeps the inside of your bag dry and can be easily cleaned. Included with each DNA bag is a weather resistant cover that even comes in two surfaces ( black on one side and silver on the other side when you need to enhance your visibility).
In addition to the four pockets hidden under the flap, the bag has FIVE outside pockets :
2 small ones on the flap in the front for a small phone or extra battery , keys, small change
2 side mesh pockets for water bottles and anything else.
1 back pocket for a magazine , plane tickets plus some pens and small items in the organizational pockets located inside that back pocket. Near that back packet is a trolley strap which would allow to slide the bag through the handle of your rolling suitcase at the airport for instance.
For travelers, I think the 11 and 13 models are going to be the most interesting. Weightwise , they range from 1.3 lbs (0.6 kg) for the smallest DNA 8 to 3 Lbs (1.4kg) for the cavernous DNA 15.
Once you have identified the model that works best for your needs , you cannot go wrong with this bag. The DNA collection can be purchased here (DNA8), here (DNA11), here (DNA 13) and here (DNA15).
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