Domke Camera Bag

Multipurpose photographer's pack

Domke’s F-2 Original is a bit expensive, but the bag has a number of advantages making it practical and totally versatile. The canvas construction makes it both lightweight and far more comfortable to shoulder than bulkier camera bags. I’ve owned Tamrac bags and find them too cumbersome and specialized. Crumplers are too stylish and attention-getting. My Domke offers the perfect blend of utility and dull looks: a major plus when you’re carting around several thousand dollars worth of gear. I’ve had it for at least ten years and find it has barely worn.

The bag’s central compartment is 12 x 6.5 x 9.0″. Using a four-compartment padded insert that comes with the bag, I can easily carry four lenses (up to 8″ tall) and a camera body with a lens attached. I’ve had other camera bags that ended up at the bottom of my closet when I abandoned my SLRs for more compact digital cameras. I’ve been able to repurpose the Domke as an office, travel and knock-around bag, but the ease of throwing in the four-compartment insert means that when I want that classic camera bag function back, it’s there. The included “bottom stiffener” also gives you even more flexibility in controlling the bag’s structure. While I’ve never subjected my Domke to a downpour, its lightweight water-repellent canvas has protected my valuables plenty of times in light rain.

Running back and forth between work, I usually stuff it with a giant lunch box and several days worth of newspapers. While the main compartment is nice, my favorite features are the five easy-access pockets around the sides of the bag. I stuff two fat pockets on either end of the bag with AC cords, USB drives, keys and anything else I don’t feel like pocketing myself. Two sleek pockets on the bag’s front handily house notebooks, batteries, pens, etc. Finally, an open envelope-style pocket on the bag’s back offers a handy place for boarding passes, maps and magazines. Slightly more hidden is a zipper pocket under the main flap. It’s a less accessible part of the bag, perfect for passports and other small items you want to keep close. The bags simple Velcro and clip closures have proven to me that sometimes simplicity really is best.

Should I ever lose this bag, I’ll have just two wishes: I hope it’ll be near empty (doubtful) and that I won’t need to go long before buying a new one.

-- Michael 04/10/07

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