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Bags for Leica and Other Daily Items (Domke 802, 803)


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Andrew Viny , Jan 05, 2009; 08:10 p.m.

Vic you seem to have gotten straight to my concerns. I would intend to put the camera in one of the front pockets and think i could do it as my lens is a collapsable.
I currently tote around a 20 year old tamrac. It is very small. I put the Leica in on its side so the lens faces the side of the bag and on the other side of the divider I can fit four film cans (in the plastic containers) these pretty much cover the remaining bottom surface. On top of them goes 2 cloths and a gossen digisix. The strap from the Leica is folded onto this side of the divider and the bag is full. I could use this in situations where I don't need all the space of the 802. Basically I'll be off to college soon and I want a bag that I can use to carry everything I need for the day and my camera in a convenient way.
As far as budget goes... I couldn't spend much more than what it would cost to get an 803 and if I could, I'd prefer to spend less but if the right bag is $115 i'll spend it.
I have seen people used orange inserts from nua or someone in the 802 and I might look into that.


Vic . , Jan 05, 2009; 09:03 p.m.

Andrew, If you're off to college, you need something more substantial than the Domke F-802. The F-802 is made of thick canvas, but one or two terms in school will wear holes in the bag. Also, it isn't sufficiently large to tote around the heavy college textbooks they require you to carry all day.

You might consider a ballistic nylon messenger bag or briefcase style (you can get great deals on no-brand Made in Korea or China bags in the discount markets, buy two or three for $15-20 each and use them till they wear out), or even backpacks; there's nothing nerdy or uncool about them today, and there are some stylish ones available (stay away from the JanSport or LL Bean variety, they're too thin for cameras).

Best of luck with college!

Peter N , Jan 05, 2009; 09:06 p.m.

I recommend you look at the Domke knock-offs that are sold on eBay under the brand name Safrotto. I have 2 Domke bags and 2 Safrotto bags and IMHO the Safrotto bags are higher quality with much better inserts. One of the Safrottos is an F-802 and it is excellent.

David Carson , Jan 05, 2009; 09:15 p.m.

While I don't think an 802 will wear out anytime soon (I'd say 5 years, if you really beat it up everyday), I do think putting your Leica in the front pocket might not be a good idea. I'm not into padding, but if you have heavy books in the bag and you swing it into a door accidentally...expensive ouch. A 15 inch macbook pro fits into an 802 without much room to spare.

I use mine every day, and it's ten years old. It's a bit ratty, and the black does wear to a whitish color, but I like ratty and love canvas. The sand Domkes wear better, looks-wise.

If you are only putting in one or two classes worth of books at a time, the 802 might work. One mod I made is to cut off the stock strap and replaced it with an Op-Tech S.O.S. strap (large size). Much, much better on your shoulder.

Inserts can be found here .

Stuart Richardson , Jan 06, 2009; 04:36 a.m.

Andrew the canvas 803 that I have now looks like this, after being used for about 3 years. Part of that time was a japanese summer, so really hot and humid, probably leading to more wear than normal. That said, it looks like this:

In contrast, I have been using the J-803 for about 3 or 4 years, and it still looks great despite the fact that I have used it so much that the rubber is falling out of the strap and the metal strap clips are worn and the strap is nearly as grey as the one in the picture above. If you want a canvas bag that does not wear or fade, get a billingham. Whatever dyes they use are waterproof and they are far better made -- my larger bag is a billingham and it looks the same it did the day I bought it.

Stuart Richardson , Jan 06, 2009; 04:39 a.m.

Although, there is something nice and wabi-sabi about the 803, just be sure that you understand that and don't expect it to stay looking pristine!

Bob Todrick , Jan 06, 2009; 11:27 a.m.

I'd recommend the Billingham. They're pricey, no doubt about it, but well worth it, in my opinion.
I purchased my Hadley in '95. It has seen nearly daily use and has aged extremely well. It has sat out in a driving rainstorm, and spent a month in desert sands...neither the rain nor sand penetrated the material (which I think is 7 layers).
I've just upgraded to the larger Pro Hadley (switching from M to Digilux 3 plus a few larger zooms). The original Hadley has been relagated to it's original purpose...carrying ammo and shooting accessories (Billingham started out aimed at the fishing/hunting market).
I expect it to last another 10 years at least in this role.

Paul Taylor , Jan 06, 2009; 10:00 p.m.

I've had the 803 bag for approximately fifteen years and have been very happy with it. Sand in color, the only notable wear is the small strap piece at the bottom, which holds the round metal closure. Easily replaced if, and when, it breaks. It has no corner wear, tears or other wardrobe malfunctions. Somehow, I've kept the canvas reasonably clean. I have other bags, but still use this most often; it holds as much as I want to stuff into it, and does not scream "camera" like the Billingham and Fogg, or even some of the lesser brands.
Still using Nikon F bodies and the older, heavier AI and NAI metal lenses, any larger bag would be heavy after my 15-18 hour days while on tour. I recently purchased a 500CM, 50 and 150 lenses and extra back. It will handle this MF kit including extra padding in the bottom. When open and lying on a flat surface, the inside of the lid makes a good pad for changing lenses or film, in case what I am holding is fumbled. I'm thinking of trying some lens wraps/squares, as an alternative to the inserts.
Last trip overseas, I hand carried a much larger bag which was packed to the gills, leaving the empty Domke in with my checked suitcase. When touring, I carried the smaller bag with what I wanted to use for the day. Worked out quite well.
I've heard that the newer bags are not as well made, and it seems that some knockoffs are appearing from Hong Kong. I'd buy used to get the original bag, if I had to do over again. Highly recommended.

Bob S , Jan 06, 2009; 10:25 p.m.

I'd go with Stuart and Vic on this one. I had my Domke canvas experience with a sand color original for my dslr kit. Nice bag...flexible and roomy, but soaks in moisture and humidity. I treated the outside a few times to get it to repel water better, but it just ended up staining my clothes.
I went with the J803 for my M kit. 2 M6TTLS, 25, 35, 75, SF20, filter wallet and misc. Nice bag that wears well. Love everything about it other than the damn flap clip that I can't get the hang of one-handing. There's got to be a better way.

harry zet , Jan 07, 2009; 02:28 a.m.

check www.taschenfreak.de for pictures of photobags in use

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