A sand coloured Domke F-7 came into my life two weeks ago.
I had been looking for a big camera bag for months, as my existing bags were getting too small to cope with my working gear, with one of them also splitting some seams. So I was after a replacement with the following requirements:
- Big enough to hold all my weekend working gear in one bag
- Side pockets allowing for easy access to frequently used items like memory cards and batteries – I’ve owned a few bags in this time and none of them have pockets that are quickly and easily accessible.
- Tough – i kick, drag and generally mistreat my bags woefully. The ones made of nylon don’t last very long.
- Simple – I am easily confused by the compartment “systems” that some manufacturers have, which extend bag capacity to suit or allow you to turn it into a pantry that balances petrie dishes if desired. I wanted a bag that simply holds stuff; none of this innovative shaping and accessing of upper, lower compartments, hideaway flaps etc. The last thing I want to do when I’m working is stop and think “now how do i get to my batteries now that the bag’s wrong way up?” All too hard!
At that point I already owned a Domke F-6 for walking around with one camera body and a couple of prime lenses. I like it very much for its no nonsense configuration and the fact that it’s tough as anything, if a bit small. So I had great expectations for the F-7 when I finally bit the bullet and bought it after six months of deliberation.
Here’s a shot of everything in the bag:
Gear list in above photo:
- D7000 body
- D700 body
- 70-200 f2.8
- 24-70 f2.8
- 50 f1.4
- 35 f2
- 24 f2.8
- Spare batteries for both bodies
- Lots of AA batteries for the flash (in Nikon battery boxes)
- Memory cards in ThinkTank Pixel Pocket Rocket and spares in individual cases
- Lumiquest Softbox (square white thing in the bottom right corner)
I could fit in more if I needed to, but this is optimum for me, as I can pull stuff out and put other stuff in on the fly without having to worry about whether everything will fit.
And the first photo is what it looks like when everything is packed up.
I was assisting at a wedding today; it was the first real “user experience” test that this bag has been put through, and it passed with flying colours. The open pockets store my memory cards and batteries, these being the two things I frequently need at short notice during a shoot. One velcro-flapped side pocket holds my personal stuff – wallet, phone, keys. The other side pocket held used batteries today, only because I couldn’t think of anything else to put in it.
I like that:
- I can get to all the pockets fast without having to unhook the flap to the main compartment.
- Removable, velcro dividers for organising gear are really sticky, and stay in place
- It has a nice thick shoulder strap so nothing is cutting into my skin
- It suits me to a T, usage wise.
- Thick, tough canvas
What I wasn’t prepared for:
- The sheer weight of all that gear packed into one bag. At a guess, it’d weigh around 10 kilos, give or take a couple. This is the first time I’ve spent a whole day carrying all my usual gear around with me – previously I’d dash to the car to change the contents in the F-6. It’s super convenient though!
- How to pack it so I can fit in the 70-200 attached to a body, as it won’t fit “face down”. I ended up carrying the camera with zoom on one shoulder, and the bag on the other. Have to work on this.
I’d like to get another F-7, or maybe an F-1x. Every single piece of photography gear I own, save the tripod, should fit right into these two bags should I need to pick them up and bugger off in a hurry (say, if National Geographic comes calling).
Generally, I’m really happy with the F-7. I’ve never written gear reviews before, but I’m particularly thrilled about this bag, as I’ve never found one, whether for photography or general use, that suits my strange usage habits before – I hate the fuss factor and do-everything-for-you element that newer bags tend to have. I find them unpleasant/frustrating to use, because I have to consciously think about how I am using them particularly when I don’t want to be doing so. The F-7 though was built for me: chuck-gear-and-run. Love it.