Even though this is the third, I think... :P
This is a review of the Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home. I also have reviewed the Tenba Small Messenger and the Kata 3N1-20.
This review contains the same "Introduction" and "Bags Considered" sections as in the Tenba review, but obviously the bag review itself is different.
My dilemma was somewhat three-fold. First was the gear I wanted it to store, obviously; second was size; and third was trying to see what other stuff I could carry along.
My kit: Canon XSi, 17-55, 70-200 f4 IS, 50/1.8. I also have a Manfrotto 190 tripod and 3265 ballhead; when I need to carry these, I will bring my Kata 3N1-20.
Size considerations: I had seen the Shootsac at a friend's wedding and was drawn to its sleekness. I thought I wanted something of a similar sort but wasn't willing to pay $180 for what seemed to me like two pieces of Neoprene.
Other random things to take along: at the time, I was considering just the kit -- until I realized one day that sometimes I would want to bring my camera with me to, say, class (I'm a student). This would mean that I'd need to bring papers or books along with me if I wanted just one bag to carry everything. Then I thought of flying -- if I bring my laptop and want to bring a camera, then I'd much rather have one bag to carry both (on the plane, anyhow) than to have one bag for the laptop and another for the camera. So suddenly the idea of using a Shootsac -- with its "gloved" compartments for lenses -- completely flew out the door, and my choices changed considerably.
The needs described above first centered around three bags: some Million Dollar Home, the Domke F-803, and the Tamrac Express 7. I was sure the 6MDH would fit the gear, but I didn't know how big it was. The Domke was a great bag, but it was expensive and had crap inserts. The Tamrac would have been an easy alternative to the Domke, but I thought it looked somewhat chinsy. (It's probably a good bag and really *would* have worked for all practical purposes, but that was just my reaction. Hey now; I'm a guy who wanted a Shootsac, remember? I have some standards! :P)
So I did more searching. I looked at the Domke F-5XB, but was told that was too small (would have been nice if it were a *tiny* bit bigger!), so I discarded that. I then found a user who had the same basic kit that I did -- and fit it all into a Crumpler 5 MDH. I emailed him to ask for pics of his bag loaded, and incredible, he fit it all in -- and a 430 flash to boot! That settled it, then; I would get a 5 MDH. But the question remained: what do I do to fit everything else in?
And then, mixed in with all this mess, came two other options: the Naneu Pro Lima and the Tenba Small Messenger. The Lima was the same size as the Domke and Tamrac but was made of nylon. It also fell in price between the other two, but shipping wasn't free. It looked somewhat... weird to me, but its inserts seemed to be the most functional of any I had seen. The Tenba was the only bag I considered that was capable of carrying a laptop.
And so those were the choices.
Small bag: Crumpler 5 MDH
Medium bag: Naneu Pro Lima, Domke F-803, Tamrac Express 7
"Large" bag: Tenba Small Messenger
The large bag I chose to go with was the Tenba, but I thought it would be too big for everyday carry. As a result, I decided to go with the Crumpler 5 MDH as well, but only after images from another user convinced me that my kit would fit, too.
The bag itself is tiiiiny! It's not, say, baseball-glove sized, but relatively speaking, it's a lot smaller than I had imagined. Dimensions don't really do it justice -- as I mentioned, the 6MDH seemed "normal size" to me, so I expected the 5 MDH to be smaller -- just not this small. For the dimensionally curious, however, here are two of the three critical dimensions (I figure the length of the 70-200 gives the third dimension away).
But for me, it's the perfect size. It can fit my gear but really nothing else (other than a flash). Right now, I intend to put the XSi+17-55 and 70-200 f4 IS in the bag, which is an absolutely brilliant fit -- even if it deems one of the dividers (there are two) redundant.
It is possible to turn the XSi sideways and fit a 430 flash in there as well; this is the setup of the other user I was referring to.
In addition, the 5 MDH is able to carry the 17-55 with its hood reversed or on normally. I didn't have it on at the time (I keep the 17-55's hood off when I store my kit in the Kata, so I hadn't actually put it on yet), but this shot shows that the hood does fit.
The really nice thing that I wasn't expecting is that it is able to carry the 70-200 mounted! I didn't try to see if it could take the 17-55 lying above the 70-200, but the 70-200 mounted is a snug fit along the bottom of the bag. Perfect for shooting situations when I won't need a WA but don't want to carry the camera and lens without a bag to protect them.
I don't know just how water resistant this bag will be, but I dropped a few drops of water (literally a few, now...) just to see what would happen. Most of them just beaded and rolled off:
Finally, a picture of the bag on me. I am 5'6" and pretty skinny -- I apologize for the shoddy framing (no pun intended), but the pic does get the point across, I suppose.
The bag is a bit larger than a lunchbox (wider and taller, but certainly no more deep front-to-back).
In late May 2009, I took the bag with me (as my primary carry bag) on a trip to China. I went out on three trips -- one to Huang Guo Shou Falls; once to a few places in Nanjing; and once to Nanjing's Jiu Jin Shan on a 12+ mile (15+ km) hike. I also used it during the rest of the trip on smaller jaunts, including an all-day carry in Shanghai, but these three were cases where I had the bag on me almost all the time.
The strap is relatively comfortable, but a bit more padding would be nice. As the days got long, I found myself switching shoulders almost every hour. That being said, we're talking at least six hours of consecutive carry, so I would imagine that any bag would be tiresome after this duration.
The bag is definitely inconspicuous. There were plenty of people lugging around bags saying "Canon" or "Nikon." The camera gives it away once it's out, of course, but if I'm just carrying the bag with the camera inside, it doesn't look like a camera bag at all.
The velcro is, admittedly, a bit frustrating. It's really added security -- no one can open the bag around me without my noticing it -- but at the same time, there were a few times when I was flying to/from China, taking pictures of the mountains below, when the riiiip of the velcro might have disturbed a few passengers.
Durability seems good. No tears, no scrapes, none the worse for wear, really, on this trip. Velcro noise aside, for this type of travel, I'd give the bag a solid 4 and possibly 4.5 out of 5. The only real complaints I have are:
1) The bag can't carry much else other than camera gear. No wallet, no good place to conceal a passport, no fast access to either should you find the pockets to put them in.
2) Velcro is noisy.
I was actually thrilled when I saw this bag -- either because I knew it would fit my gear perfectly, based on the accounts of another user; or because I marveled at how well everything sat. This bag will be perfect for when I want to bring either one lens or both lenses to a rather "claustrophobic" setting. Indoor sporting events might favor, say, a 70-200 f2.8, but for basic shooting needs, I think this will do pretty well. It'll certainly be an improvement over my S3 IS in low light situations, at not much added bulk. This may end up being my most-used bag.
Intended uses: indoor shooting, inconspicuous shooting, walkaround
Not-intended uses: carry-everything bag, take to class bag, air travel bag