Domke FX5B or anything better for me?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by tkbslc, Jul 30, 2015.

  1. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I'm trying to find a good quality bag that will fit my GX7 and 4-5 primes. I keep buying $15-20 bags because I was trying to be a cheapskate, but 4 $20 bags I don't love certainly hasn't saved me any money!

    I'm looking for something that will last a long time and is flexible. I like it to sit at my hip with the strap going across my chest to the opposite shoulder. I'm a big guy, so many bags seem to hit me more at the kidney when I do this. I'd also like the ability to use it as a belt pack occasionally. I prefer something that is a bit shallow rather than deeper as I hate stacking gear and it makes lens swaps less fluid to dig for them.

    So far the Domke FX5B seems like the one that is ticking the most boxes for me. Anything else I should look at? My main kit is in my signature.
  2. Rudy

    Rudy Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 24, 2013
    Oakland, CA
    It will fit, but five lenses is a lot to keep organized.
    Since they are small you could glue together lens caps to combine two lenses into one stack leaving you with three items, a camera plus lens and two stacked lens pairs.
    The FX5B is my most used bag, usually EM-5 plus 12-40 plus the 75 with space left or two bodies with lenses attached. Unfortunately the bag is a little tight for that. It fits, but because of the zipper access is not ideal.
    I don't think the bag is good as a belt pack, feels too floppy for that and you have to remove your belt to thread it through the loop.
    An awesome belt pack is the Think Tank Speed Demon. Once you get over the dork factor it is extremely convenient.
    The top opens to give full access and it keeps its shape as it has a very wide belt. Gives a great platform for lens changes.
    I would recommend the older version if you can find it used. The newer one has a narrower belt, but might be better when used as a regular bag.
    Size wise the F5XB and Speed Demon are comparable, the Speed Demon is a bit more of a cube allowing two bodies to fit side by side when turned with their bottom plates facing each other. I wish both of them were about one inch wider to better fit two bodies side by side without turning. I removed the front pocket from my Speed Demon so it won't snag when trying to walk through tight spots. It felt a bit bulky and the front pouch wasn't all that useful.
    The zipper arrangement on the F5XB is a week spot. It only opens to a slot. Having the entire top open makes getting to the gear much easier...
  3. manju69

    manju69 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 1, 2011
    Stroud, UK
    Real Name:
    I'm a fan of crumpler bags - not as nice as Domke but can be cheaper I have used the jackpack 3000 for my E-M10 with 12-40 attached plus 35-100 f2.8 zoom, plus space for 2 small primes. They are really well built and have no noisy velcro!
  4. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
    Real Name:
    Have you had a chance to look at the various samples in person? I've rarely liked one in person that I expected to.

    Really worth finding a store with good selection and trying them out. Little things make a big difference in person.

    If you can't do that, consider ordering several from Amazon and returning the ones that you don't like. A benefit of Amazon in lieu of a quality store.
  5. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Real Name:
    Rob's advice is sound. Bag preferences tend to be quite personal.

    Another one you might consider is the ONA Bowery (although it lacks the flexibility of a belt-carry option). It's similar in size to the F-5XB but I found that I prefer the zipperless design of the ONA. I personally prefer the aesthetics of the ONA, but as I said, that's a very individual choice. The Bowery is also nearly twice the price, but as you mention, you can spend the same money on a bag that really works for you, or buy a bunch of "almost right" bags.

    The other bag I use regularly (when I want to carry a slightly larger kit) is Crumpler's Five Million Dollar Home. As with the ONA, it lacks a belt option, so it might not be your bag (pun intended).
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  6. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Real Name:
    I had the Domke for a while, nice bag but lacks a bit in the organization department. MarkRyan has a video on Michromatic with everything he has in the FX5B

    I prefer things like the ThinkTank Retro 5 (what I currently have) or the Tenba DNA / Switch lines because of the pockets.

    Last edited: Oct 18, 2015
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  7. SkiHound

    SkiHound Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2012
    I agree with the comment that bags are a very individual thing. I've not used a 5XB but I sure looked at them a lot. I thought they were a little too small, and I think they'd be on the small side for 4-5 primes, though, if you have a small body and the smaller primes with lens caps glued together it might be ideal. The 5XC (not the roughwear version) is deeper, has a bottom compartment, and you can put a floor in it so you can store a couple of lenses in the bottom compartment while the area above the floor is about like the 5XB. I ended up with the F6 little bit smaller bag. It's probably a little bigger than what I need on a day to day basis but it kind of collapses on your hip when it's not full. It's light, has no padding in the ends but does come with a 4 cell lens insert. Very simple bag with few bells and whistles, so some might not like it for organization. But I like the bag. Lots of options. There's a very long thread in the accessories forum that you might find useful. But I agree, if you see them in person that'll be the best option.
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  8. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Real Name:
    The 5XB would easily hold 4-5 primes, the OP's 75 being the only one I might have a question about. Unless of course, he wants them all with lens hoods on and extended. But they would have to be stacked. GX7 + lens in one section, two lenses stacked in each of the other two sections is how I had it set up. My problem with it came with the filters, E-M10 grip, body cap lens, batteries, ........

    The 5XC might not be a bad option since it has the access to the bottom area, but I don't know. I never liked the idea of it, seems like other things could fall out to easily.
  9. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Real Name:
    If you get a 5XB, be very careful with how you orient the velcro dividers. The edges of the dividers are very sharp. I went through two 5XBs which were replaced under warranty because the sharp edges of the velcro mounts actually bored holes through the inside lining and the canvas. I eventually got it to stop when Tiffen told me to cut the corners off of the velcro tabs - problem solved.
    The remainder of my Canon 7D gear resides in a slightly larger 5XC case with bottom panel that is fraying the canvas from the inside-out.

    It looks like Mich's layout prevents that from happening.

    I've since stopped using camera bags altogether. Opting instead for two Crumpler bags. One is a messenger style bag for day-to-day (my camera goes with me everywhere) and the other is a Crumpler "Dry Red" that looks like those old-fashioned airline mini-totes. My cameras and lenses are in neoprene jackets. When I am out photographing, the neoprene jackets act as padding inside the bags.

    Camera bags are so personal. You really need to see them (or at least have a good return policy for delivery) and touch them, and put your gear in them (at least a body or lens) and see if you like how they feel.
  10. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Thanks for the replies. Very helpful.
  11. bwidjaja

    bwidjaja Mu-43 Regular

    May 30, 2012
    Since you mentioned the option of wearing the bag as a waist pack, take a look at Think Tank Change Up. I like how it is not as deep as the speed series. The depth would be closer to the domke f5 series. Also there are a lot options for wearing it. Including as a chest pack which looks dorky but frees up both hands. Good luck on your search.
  12. proximal

    proximal Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 28, 2011
    You would have to stack your lenses 2x2 to get them to fit in the F5XB.


    The black bag has an Olympus 12-40 in it, so two of your primes should fit in that spot no problem.

    I really like this bag. I used felt to cover up most of the velcro and took the tag off the front so it likes like a regular bag.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Real Name:

    Actually the 12-40 isn't that much different than the 75. The 75 might lay horizontally where I'm not sure the 12-40 would.
  14. proximal

    proximal Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 28, 2011
    Here's what the 12-40 looks like in relation to the bag.


    That might be a bit tight if the goal is to not have to dig around in the bag for lenses.
    • Like Like x 2
  15. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I managed to get my hands on one of these FX5B in person. To my shock the sides are completely unpadded and the front and back are possibly too padded to the point of stealing space. And the dividers stick up an inch above front pocket divider and expose scratchy velcro (at least in the one I looked at.

    Size is perfect for what I want, I'm just a bit annoyed with the design choices. If I keep a lens on each side, the lens is right there under a single layer of canvas. Easily knocked by a door or leaning against a wall.
  16. BLX

    BLX Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2012
    Real Name:
    For your kit perhaps the F-5XC would be better? I have both the B and the C model. I really like both - the C is not that much larger but it can hold a lot.
    I have some homemade dividers in the lower compartment - great for lenses.

    by -Morten-, on Flickr

    by -Morten-, on Flickr
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2015
  17. SpecFoto

    SpecFoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 28, 2012
    So Cal
    Real Name:
    The Domke F-10 JD has a similar main interior compartment size to the F5XB with a fully padded interior and 2 movable dividers. But the F10 JD a better bag because of the 2 full width zipper pockets (rare for Domke). One under the lid, where you can keep extra batteries, spare lens caps, filter step up rings, cleaning supplies, etc, plus a good size front pocket. The front pocket can fit a FL600 in its case and the small std EM1 flash, plus I keep 2 sets of 3 each 46mm and 67mm ND/CPL filters and my iphone in there. There is also a full width, but 3/4 height open slot on the back side of the bag I use for maps/papers when I travel. As this is against your body you wouldn't want anything bulky or too hard in the back slot.

    In the main compartment, I keep my EM1 with 12-40 mounted in the center pouch, a 75mm f/1.8 with metal hood mounted in one of the outer pouches, and in the other outer pouch the 17mm f/1.8 and the Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 (with hood reversed) double stacked. Or sometimes either a Samyang 7.5 FE or 25 f/1.8 in lieu of the 17mm. I spent 2 months in SE Asia this year and this was my daily use bag. I even got a 2nd body EM5 MKII with vertical part of the HLD-8 grip and 17mm mounted in one of the outer pouches with the 75mm in the other, along with the EM1 and 12-40 in the center. (The 42.5mm I carried in a small belt loop bag. Nocticron... never leave home without it. ) It would have been a little bit better fit if I took the 17mm lens off the EM5 MKII, but this was used for video and was instantly available this way.

    Had this bag for almost 3 years and it has held up very well. Mine is stone grey and cost only $52.99 back then at B&H. So a little more now than the F5XB, but well worth it because of the 2 useful zippered pockets.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2015
  18. So Thankful

    So Thankful Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 9, 2015
    You may want to look at the Tenba DNA 8.
    I had a Domke FX5B and returned it for an F-6 because it did not work with the HLD-6 on my E-M5. The F-6 did not work well with a lens mounted. I just picked up a Tenba DNA 11 and I am very impressed. It works perfect for my needs and the zipper on the top flap is awesome! That is something all DNA models share.
    The FX5B has the flap over the zipper, so you have to open the flap then the zipper to get your gear. Not quick and loud with the Velcro. The new DNA models have the silent Velcro and it works great if you remember to pull down on the flap before pulling up.
    Good luck on your bag hunt.
  19. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    So I actually did pick up an FX5B. It's not enjoyable to fit my whole it in there as I had mentioned in the OP. But I love it for just taking 3 lenses and a camera out, which is perfect for light travel and photo sessions. I did have to modify it by using some extra small dividers from something else to pad the exterior side walls under the zipper. Can't believe those are unpadded!

    It actually fits a hair less than a bag I was already using for this purpose (event messenger 100) but the configuration makes lens swaps a lot less fiddly since it is wider rather than vertical.

    I'm using a Golla Logan for my whole kit outings. It's not too shabby and cost peanuts on clearance.
    • Like Like x 1