2 thoughts on “Tenba 638-231 Photo/Laptop Bag (Black)

  1. Phillip Marsh
    53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    good size for camera with 3 lenses, September 19, 2010
    Phillip Marsh (Texas) –

    The small is actually only 1.5″ less is width and 1″ less in height and the same 6.5″ depth as the “large” version. I opted for the small as it was less conspicuous by a hair and this was why I was buying a messenger style bag in the first place. It looks like a briefcase or satchel and not at all like a camera bag – helpful when dealing with potential thieves and airline gate people.

    The 6.5″ depth is not a true measurement as there are two internal padded sections to provide for a laptop and this reduces the interior depth for a camera to 5.5″ at best. Not a problem with a small DSLR like a Canon 50D or a Nikon D90 but very tight for a full size pro DSLR (which needs a full 6.5 inches).

    The small holds a full size DSLR with a medium lens attached (135mm or less) and there is room for one full size lens like a 24-120 or 24-70 lens and one side section that will hold a standard flash or a small lens (50mm prime for example). The interior is well padded and comes in two different colors, a dark gray and a very light gray. The lighter inside makes it a lot easier to find camera items which tend to be black. The large bag is 1″ taller and so will do a better job with a 70-200mm lens but on the whole it will not hold much more than the “small” one as it is only 1.5″ wider and the same depth.

    The bag has a large flap with a lot of Velcro to secure it along with the two buckles. There is a top zipper so you can access the inside of the bag without unbuckling it but it is not going to work with a full size DSLR. The strap is well made and has an offset section that is well padded and “grippy” so it will not slip of the shoulder. As you cannot put more than about 9 lbs. of gear inside for a total weight of 12 lbs. in total these shoulder is quite adequate.

    There are several aspects of the bags design that are less than optimum. First is the lack of any exterior pockets large enough for a flash or similarly sized piece of gear. When I want to add a flash to a shot I don’t want to have to unfasten the two buckles and open up the bag to get to the inside each time to retrieve it and again to put it back for the moment. It is a waste of time and it provides more opportunities for dust and dirt to get into the bag and into the camera and lenses.

    Another drawback is the lack of any provision for a waist or security strap. A waist strap can help shoulder the load, keeps the bag close to your body which helps in both outdoor and urban settings, and a waist or security strap makes it very hard for a thief to grab the bag off your shoulder and run off with it. This is a common oversight and even LowePro will provide waist straps for its junior bags for small cameras but leave them off its Stealth Reporter bags intended for use by pros carrying 15 lbs. or more of very expensive gear.

    The satchel has a small amount of material that can be folded in before securing the flap to help keep out dust and dirt and windblown water but it is not going to be all that effective. This is a good city bag but not a bag to protect your camera gear in hostile conditions. Too bad because adding a side section to the cover flap would make a big difference but this is a detail that Tenba overlooked. If you intend to go ahead and get this bag and use it in possibly dusty or dirty conditions it would be worth the expense and effort to have someone sew on the side flaps to the bag using a little coated nylon fabric.

    Recommend adding a small flat see-through pouch for all the small items you may want to get to quickly (like a cable shutter release or lens cleaning supplies, filters, etc.) as this bag has none and the exterior pockets are not even big enough for most cell phones.

    I looked at a dozen different camera satchel bags by Promaster, LowePro, Tenba, and others and the Tenba was the best, not great but a lot better than the others. I have 4 LowePro bags and the Tenba is as well made as any of them and more reasonably priced.

    Be wary of the colors as they are lot brighter than appear in the pictures, especially the “olive” green which is more of a metallic green, and the orange which is also a metallic orange.

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  2. Rowed2damascus
    51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Great Camera Bag, Questionable Laptop Bag, June 4, 2008
    Rowed2damascus (Bristol, CT, USA) –

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Tenba Messenger (Camera)
    So, what does it fit? Well here is what I have in mine currently:

    Camera Portion (this padded portion is removable):
    Nikon 80-200mm zoom lens
    Tokina 12-24mm in Tamrac holster pouch
    2x Wireless Flash Triggers
    2x Wireless Flash Receivers
    Wireless Camera Remote
    SB-600 Flash
    Foldable Flash Softbox
    Nikon D70s w/ 24-75mm lens attached (the camera rests ontop of the Tamrac holster and padding which holds the wireless flash units)

    Outside the Removable Camera Portion (but in the same bag compartment):
    Lithium Battery Charger
    Three Memory Cards
    1x Lens Filter
    Extra Lens Cap

    With all of this, the bag is bulky. In fact, so much so that it bulges and I have yet to carry my MacBook in the Laptop Portion fearing that the bulging would damage the screen. The Laptop portion is well padded with about an inch of combined padding between the laptop and the camera gear. However, the padding is not rigid, so it succumbs to bulging. I’m planning on buying a Tom Bihn Brain Cell for the laptop. It is made with extremely rigid padding. I would then perform surgery on the bag, taking out the padding in the laptop portion as the Brain Cell would provide all the protection I would need and removing the extra padding would reduce weight and bulging. I’ll edit this post when I go through with the transformation.

    Great things about the bag:
    1. Quick access zipper! No need to unbuckle the flap to get to the gear.
    2. Extremely strong velcro on the flap.
    3. Long buckle leashes allows me to sandwich a monopod in the flap (with a carabiner holding the monopod in place)
    4. Anti-theft internal flap. Inside the bag, there is a flap (probably made for semi-rain protection) that you can wrap over the top of your camera gear and tuck in on the sides. Thus, if someone were to secretly unzip the Quick access zipper in an airport, and you had the flap tucked, they would just see a whole lot of nylon rip-stop material. It would be very difficult for them to get past that without you noticing.
    5. Amazing shoulder strap with great grip. I have walked for two hours with this thing fully loaded, and while it caused some back pain, I felt no need to switch shoulders. Other bags I have used ended up digging into my shoulder. Not so with this well padded strap. Also the strap utilizes metal connecting parts, not plastic. So big plus.
    6. Comfortable handle.
    7. Lots of pockets and zippered portions. Many of them are very deep which could be a plus or a minus.

    Not so great things:
    1. Not enough space for safely carrying camera gear and laptop.
    2. Camera Portion is not as customizable as I would have loved. But enough, that I like it.

    Bottom Line:
    While extremely useful and comfortable, this bag is not meant for a lot of gear or a long haul. Quick access, comfort, and modular design are big pluses. The excessive bulging negating the use of camera gear and laptop is a big minus. But, that may be fixed by adding a Tom Bihn Brain Cell.

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