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Thread started 19 Feb 2008 (Tuesday) 03:08
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The Hoff's DOMKE J3 Review (with amazing photos)

 
TheHoff
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Feb 19, 2008 03:08 |  #1

OK amazing may be exaggerating a bit.

I've always been a Domke fan. The bags are lightweight, moldable, configurable, easy to pack, and seem to be designed for quick access to gear that is ready to shoot. My first stab at a new walkaround bag is the Domke J3. The J3 is from the "journalist" line -- done in the black ballistic nylon and with their own style of inserts. I wanted the ballistic to avoid the dust of the traditional canvas and also the J line has 'subdued' logos and patches (The logo on my J3 is olive on black; hardly noticeable)

The J3 is comparable to the popular F4-AF bag designed for a digital camera with grip. The difference is that the J3 isn't as tall but is has similar width and length. To me, the height is a wasted dimension as I don't carry any long zooms in my walkaround kit. So for my lenses and gear, the J3 seemed like it would be a good fit. Here is the gear list for this configuration though by no means is the bag stuffed. I occasionally carry a big Mir 28mm lens and if I don't have the body/lens combo in ready to shoot mode I could easily get another full size lens in with the following...

Canon 5D w/ BG-E4 grip
16-35 II
24-105
200/2.8

IMAGE: http://i31.tinypic.com/2howjn8.jpg

Any of the above can be mounted on the camera and ready to shoot with the other two lenses in the dividers. With a 70-200, I'm not sure if you could have it mounted on the camera and pointing down the way I carry the bag. I prefer the 200/2.8 for stealthiness and size compared to the big white zooms. My two main requirements for a small walking bag are that it be plain-looking and not obviously a camera bag at first glance and that it offer easy access to the camera, ready-to-use. The J3 has room to spare for the big 5D with grip; with these photos I even left the Kirk L-bracket on and it never feels overpacked.

Also in...

SMC Tak 55/2
Canon 1.4x
530EX + cord
+ lots of batteries, cleaning kit, lens hoods, cables, tripod wrenches, etc

IMAGE: http://i25.tinypic.com/9sxhlz.jpg

The bag has special side pockets -- rather large and with a very handy removable padding system. You can pre-load the padded pockets for different configurations or simply remove one if not needed. In this configuration, I've removed the padding that holds the cleaning supplies and batteries to give it more room but I left the padding in the pocket that holds the strobe, 55mm, and 1.4x.

IMAGE: http://i29.tinypic.com/5d12te.jpg

IMAGE: http://i30.tinypic.com/2d97ax5.jpg

And here it is, packed up and compared to a 4-cup Bodum for scale (hey, it was handy).

IMAGE: http://i28.tinypic.com/a9wcic.jpg

The bag gets a big thumbs up. The ballistic bags will probably last longer than I will; though this one is showing a bit of wear now from dragging it through the woods and the city (which is good!) so it doesn't look quite so stiff and new. I liked it so much that I have a J1 on the way to use for a home storage and larger traveling bag.

••Vancouver Wedding Photographer  (external link)••| [gear list] | Latest blog: 5 steps to stopping image loss (external link)

  
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efroten
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Feb 19, 2008 22:37 |  #2

Thanks for the review w/photos. I'm looking for a bag similar to this and its nice to see a review with some decent photos of what fits inside. I'm currently using a Lowepro toploader 75AW and love it. But I want something that can carry a bit more without having to add lens pouches on the sides. I'll probably want to carry my 5Dw/grip, 24mm 1.4L, 17-40L and 70-200 2.8 L. From the dimensions I saw I think it will fit the 70-200 just fine, just not mounted.


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TheHoff
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Feb 19, 2008 22:49 |  #3

efroten wrote in post #4954178 (external link)
Thanks for the review w/photos. I'm looking for a bag similar to this and its nice to see a review with some decent photos of what fits inside. I'm currently using a Lowepro toploader 75AW and love it. But I want something that can carry a bit more without having to add lens pouches on the sides. I'll probably want to carry my 5Dw/grip, 24mm 1.4L, 17-40L and 70-200 2.8 L. From the dimensions I saw I think it will fit the 70-200 just fine.

It will fit the large zoom without a problem, but I don't think it will fit with it ready to shoot. I could be wrong but it just fits with the body, grip, 200/2.8 and hood on, face down as in the pics. The F4-AF might be better for you as it is a bit taller but otherwise similar.


••Vancouver Wedding Photographer  (external link)••| [gear list] | Latest blog: 5 steps to stopping image loss (external link)

  
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efroten
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Feb 20, 2008 21:01 |  #4

Well, the J-3 is on its way, I'll find out soon. Its not really a problem if the 70-200 doesnt fit in the bag mounted on the camera. I can live with that.


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FlyingPhotog
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Feb 20, 2008 21:02 |  #5

Excellent review. Thanks for taking the time to inform the masses.


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Jim ­ G
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Feb 20, 2008 21:08 |  #6

Nice review - thanks for sharing :)

I ought to get around to writing a review of my new Domke at some point in time as well... these are bloody good bags!


Gear Listhttp://www.codastudios​.com.au (external link) Reviews & Hotlinks: Domke F-3x - Pelican 1510/1514 (external link) & 1610/1614 (external link) - DIY Variable Length OC-E3 - Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Home (external link) - FA-100 (external link)

  
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TheHoff
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Feb 20, 2008 21:14 |  #7

efroten wrote in post #4960916 (external link)
Well, the J-3 is on its way, I'll find out soon. Its not really a problem if the 70-200 doesnt fit in the bag mounted on the camera. I can live with that.

You won't be disappointed. Now that I think about it, it may work mounted with the zoom with the hood reversed. I'll look at the measurements in a bit.


••Vancouver Wedding Photographer  (external link)••| [gear list] | Latest blog: 5 steps to stopping image loss (external link)

  
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Andy_Cam
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Feb 21, 2008 13:57 |  #8

Nice write up. I am also a Domke since seeing a friends F-6 last weekend.

It is the next thing on my shopping list.


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terriyaki
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Feb 21, 2008 14:43 |  #9

Interesting. I never realized until now that the J3 was in between the F-3X and the F-4AF size-wise. I thought it was the same size as the F-4AF. If I hadn't already gotten a F-3X I might have taken given the J3 a chance but I like how canvas softens up over time.


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TheHoff
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Feb 21, 2008 15:36 |  #10

Yea it is just a bit smaller than the F-4AF. The F-4AF is 1 inch more in width and I believe 2 inches more in height. I also miss the 'canvas' feeling but I fight the dust-sensor battle enough as it is without generating more work.

btw, I have my J1 now and it is, surprisingly, not that much bigger. I couldn't fit two mounted bodies in it which is what I was hoping for. 1 ready to go and 1 body on the side and 4 lenses looks do-able though.


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efroten
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Feb 25, 2008 00:15 |  #11

Got the J-3 in the mail on Friday, played around with it but have not taken it out for shooting yet. So far it seems great, I also ordered the US Postal Service shoulder pad for it, it seems nice except for the horrible rubbery stink coming from the padding.

One issue is that the dividers are too tall to put a camera body face down in the bag. It can be done, but the body sticks up pretty high over the top of the bag. My solution so far is to configure the dividers the way you did in the photos above. With this configuration I have the 70-200 2.8L and the 17-40L inside the two smaller compartments on the left side. On the right side/larger compartment I have my 85 1.8 and 24 1.4L on the bottom, with some extra Lowepro dividers between them and my 5D with mounted 50 1.4 laying face down.

In one of the outer pockets I have my 550EX flash with stofen diffuser, this pocket has the padded insert removed. The flash with the stofen mounted is a little too tall for the pocket, but it will close just barely. In the other pocket I can put my 20D w/grip.

I'll put some photos up later with more info. I'm sure I'll load the front pocket with a lens hood, CF cards etc. Overall it seems to be a great bag, can't wait to take it out soon.

On a side note, can anyone recommend a rain cover for the bag?


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Jon
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Feb 25, 2008 10:26 |  #12

I just shove a big plastic garbage bag and a dispsable plastic poncho into each of my camera bags. However, it only comes out when it's really pouring down. The canvas of my F-series bags does a very good job of protecting the contents from anything less unless you're living out in the rain, and the bag covers I've seen all get in the way of your accessing your gear. A garbage bag can just be layered over the top, or you can put the whole bag inside it and still be able to open the bag under some protection when you need to get something.


Jon
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<AkulA>
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Mar 17, 2008 15:31 |  #13

Jon wrote in post #4991063 (external link)
I just shove a big plastic garbage bag and a dispsable plastic poncho into each of my camera bags. However, it only comes out when it's really pouring down.

I do exactly the same thing! It was an interesting experience when it started to pour while we were riding horses once... I was on a really skittish horse, and the sound of the rain on the plastic bag drove him crazy! lol. I'm lucky I made it back to the states in one piece!

Nice review btw, looks like a good compact kit. Has anybody used that US Postal Service shoulder pad much? Is it a necessity for carrying a Domke with a couple bodies and a few lenses? Thanks!


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BottomBracket
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Mar 17, 2008 15:39 |  #14

Shoulder pads offer a degree of comfort when used with Domke's. I use the pads of my messenger bags (either that of Timbuk2 or Crumpler) and they fit the Domke strap quite well.


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Jon
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Mar 17, 2008 18:16 |  #15

I've got the shoulder pads on all mine down to the F-3x.


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The Hoff's DOMKE J3 Review (with amazing photos)
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