Published on November 12th, 2014 | by Greg0
Tiffen Domke Viewfinder Camera Bags Protect Your Gear
We can’t all be explorers for National Geographic Magazine, traveling the world and photographing exotic locations. But that doesn’t mean that even the most mild-mannered, cruise ship lover cannot enjoy or appreciate durable, safari-ready gear. Even if your idea of a good time is less rainforest and more Rainforest Cafe, there are plenty of threats out there to your valuable camera and accessories, from everyday bumps and knocks to inclement weather.
After all, whether your lenses cost $1000 or $10000, your pictures are probably priceless and your time is always valuable. Tiffen’s Domke Viewfinder line of camera bags are lightweight and stylish, made from rugged Cordura fabric in a black and stone combination that looks like it would fit in well in the Outback but doesn’t scream “obviously expensive camera gear”. Field-tested by pros, the line includes two siblings, a smaller bag called the Director and a larger one called the Image Maker. We’ve been testing both out, largely in urban environments, but with some rain and plenty of travel to put them through their paces. The dimensions on the individual product pages appeared incorrect at press time, but the difference is simple: the former has dimensions of 14″ x 4.5 x 9.5″ versus 15.75″ x 7″ x 10″.
The bags are fairly similar, with some nice details like antique steel hardware and red pops of color, side rain hoods, and a ‘quiet system’ which silences the velcro for use in situations where noise would be a problem (weddings and other special events especially). We’ve seen Tiffen gear in the past, from their Steadicam line to their nifty smartphone teleprompter, and their camera bags continue the trend of quality- a two-year warranty and solid YKK zippers back up the patent pending insert systems for configuring and protecting what’s inside. We appreciated the array of pockets on both bags- smaller ones for your phone, cleaning supplies and memory cards, and larger ones for battery packs and chargers. Padding, as well, was similar across the pair and every side, top and bottom, are well-insulated against shocks and bumps and the bottom well-protected against dirty floors and a bit of water. A note on the metal clasps- they’re nice-looking, but may cause you to fumble if you’re used to the standard plastic clips.
Let’s look at each in turn, starting with the more compact Director, a bag built for those who want to carry a single DSLR body along with a pair of small lenses or a larger ultra-zoom, and with space for a tablet (up to 11″ x 8″). With a single divider and cargo front pockets, you’ll need to be a bit more careful about deciding what to carry and where to put it, but for the average prosumer with a Nikon, Canon, Sony, or other DSLR or even mirrorless camera, the Director offers the ideal amount of carrying capacity without overloading your shoulders. Speaking of which, we’ve seen better and more comfortable straps, but these are fine. And our favorite part was the suede-wrapped grab handle, which was quite handy and sadly missing from the bigger brother. At $240 or so, it’s a great bag at a great price, in stores and online now.
If you need a bit more space, Tiffen still has you covered. Their top-of-the-line Image Maker bag is meant for the photographer who needs to carry plenty of gear and demands the very best. With an extra divider and larger dimensions, you can fit two camera bodies along with several lenses or a flash, plus your accessories and a tablet too. The front pockets are zippered for security, with an extra little pouch for incidentals. You do lose a bit of convenience, but get more room for all of your goodies. Available now for around $290, the Domke Viewfinder Image Maker is definitely an investment piece of gear meant to last a very long time.