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Featured Review Think Tank Signature 10 shoulder bag review

Discussion in 'Reviews, Tests, & Shootouts' started by barry13, Nov 21, 2018.

  1. barry13

    barry13 Mu-43.com Editor Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Review: Think Tank Signature 10 shoulder bag

    Introduction & External Design
    I've been using Think Tank's Mirrorless Mover 10 bag for my Olympus E-M1 mkI for three or four years now, and have been very happy with the product quality and design. Although it's quite compact, there are enough pockets to hold two extra batteries, the 9mm BCL, memory cards, filters, business cards, and the included rain cover.

    When I found out that Think Tank has some new medium-sized shoulder bags, I was immediately interested as I've been looking for a smaller alternative to the messenger bag I frequently use when I need to carry the 40-150Pro or multiple lenses.

    Signature-10-Olive-Slate-Family-Gear-web.jpg
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    (Photo courtesy of Think Tank)

    The Think Tank Signature Series includes the Signature 10 and 13. Both bags are very similar in design, and the model numbers signify what size tablet or laptop will fit inside, in inches. These are genuine camera bags on the inside, but look more like a classic shoulder or messenger bag on the outside; i.e. instead of ballistic or Cordura nylon, they're made of a "modern wool-like" material (actually a nylon/polyester blend), with real leather trim. The external materials are treated with a water-repellent coating, and a full rain cover is included as well. The detachable shoulder strap is padded leather, with seat-belt type ends for adjustability.

    Both the Signature 10 and 13 are available in two colors: Slate Gray or Dusty Olive (dark gray or medium gray-tan). Either way, the trim is the same -- medium-brown leather (and a black top-carry handle). The swivels, buckles, and other hardware are all metal with an antique finish (slightly brassy). All materials are described as 'clothing safe', i.e. they won't snag or make marks on your clothes.

    details.png
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    (Photos courtesy of Think Tank)

    I really like the design and materials; I wouldn't take a typical camera bag to the day job, but I often do take a larger messenger bag and the Signature bags would fit in just as well. And to me, these bags don't say 'steal me' like a typical camera bag full of gear might do. The materials are reasonably lightweight; the Signature 10 weighs 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg), and the 13 is 3.1 lbs (1.4 kg), including all the dividers and bottom padding which are all easily removable. The bag is well-padded, but does not feel bulky to me... the same can be said for the Mirrorless Mover line. (I also own a LowePro bag of similar size and it feels grossly over-padded to me.) The strap is extremely well-padded but not too thick; I don't recall ever meeting a more comfortable strap on any size bag.

    A useful feature is the inclusion of a luggage passthrough so one can put the bag over the handle of a rolling suitcase, and the included rain cover provides protection against heavy downpours.

    travel.png
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    (Photos courtesy of Think Tank)

    Internal Design & Features
    Think Tank says the 10 fits "a complete Mirrorless camera system with 3-4 lenses and accessories" plus a 10" tablet. Ample dividers are included, and they can be arranged in almost any way you desire via the Velcro-type hooks which can hook to anywhere on the sides of the bag or other dividers. There are two main dividers with foldable tops and three shorter dividers which "can be made into shelves to stack shorter lenses". Furthermore, the bag I received included an additional tall divider without the foldable end (not pictured here; see my other pics further below). The dividers are suitably rigid, and are covered in a soft fabric rather than the more common smooth nylon.

    Signature-10-Slate-Gray_0004_Signature-10-Slate-Gray-open-481-Edit.jpg
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    (Photo courtesy of Think Tank)

    The top of the main compartment has a zippered cover to keep things from falling out if the bag were turned over, and to help keep the elements out. Innovatively, the cover can be unzipped and clipped to the main cover, so that it is not in the way when you want fast access to your camera or lenses. This is achieved by hooking the leather loop over the button on the top flap, pictured here:

    Signature-10-Slate-Gray_0001_Signature-10-Slate-Gray-securityclosed-524-Edit.jpg
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    (Photo courtesy of Think Tank)

    Organization & Usability
    I immediately decided to attempt to fit my entire Mu-43 kit (except the second charger and the FL-600R) into the Signature 10, along with a 9.7" Ipad (4th-gen Retina) with Speck cover. Everything fit!
    Here it is, in the Dusty Olive color bag:

    EB174594 full top open spotWB.jpg
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    EB174596 full top front spotWB.jpg
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    What fit inside:
    • Olympus 9mm BCL (far right. this is wedged between the extra divider I mentioned earlier and the outside edge)
    • Olympus 12-40mm Pro with hood inverted (hidden under shelves created with dividers)
    • Olympus 17mm Pro with hood inverted (hidden)
    • Olympus 17mm f1.8 with hood installed (hidden)
    • Olympus 45mm f1.8 with hood inverted (hidden)
    • Olympus 40-150mm R with hood inverted (upper right)
    • Olympus 40-150mm Pro with hood inverted (lower left)
    • Olympus MC-14 TeleConverter (in hard black case, lower right; or also fits when on the back of the 40-150 Pro lens)
    • Olympus FL-LM2 Flash (upper left, felt pouch)
    • included Think Tank raincover (center, nylon pouch)
    • Olympus E-M1 with Peak Design Clutch and Slide (not shown, see below)
    • (2) spare BLN-1 batteries (zippered pocket in front pouch)
    • Olympus charger with short cord (front pouch) (or a large cell phone would fit here)
    • quad SD card hold with cards (brown-trimmed pocket in front pouch)
    • 9.7" Ipad (4th-gen Retina) with teal Speck cover (a bit snugly)
    • filter holder with CPL (zippered pocket in front pouch)
    • flexible yellow thingy (front pouch)
    • extra lens cap (zippered pocket in front pouch)
    Plus there's still a little room for documents.

    Note my E-M1 was busy taking these pictures, but the body and PD Clutch hand strap fits well where the black raincover pouch is shown, and the PD Slide sling strap folds on top. The raincover can be unfolded a bit and easily fit on top of everything here, or it can go in the front pouch. Or it can stay home; the bag is supposedly water-resistant anyways. I'd probably leave it home except on longer trips.

    EB174600 gear top view.jpg
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    EB174614 gear front view-2.jpg
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    Note the 45/1.8 is back-to-back with the 17/1.8 using glued caps, but soda cozies or socks could have been used to separate the lenses if I didn't already have the double-cap.

    The bag did feel a bit stuffed (but not to the point of damaging anything) and was about 13 lbs (6 kg), but it is doable. The strap is very comfortable and well-padded. I personally don't like to have a lot of weight on my shoulder or back so I wouldn't normally put this much gear in my bag, unless perhaps I were going to an event where I wouldn't have to carry it the whole time. A backpack would probably be more suitable for wearing a heavy kit, to distribute the load evenly across both shoulders. Or a sensible option might be a 7 or 8 inch tablet and a couple less lenses.

    The Signature 13 bag is bigger, but you're still going to be carrying that load (even heavier with a laptop and options for more lenses) on your shoulder. However, it could also provide extra room for a light sweater or rain jacket, snacks, phone chargers, battery packs, ...

    The Olympus 300 Pro (I don't have one) would not fit vertically in the 10, but it probably would fit vertically in the Signature 13, and it should be able to fit horizontally in either bag.

    The internal pockets vary in thickness, but at most are only thick enough for some spare batteries and filter holders. This thinness helps keep the bag compact, but also means you'll need to store larger items like a mini-flash or BCL in the main compartment. Mostly, you'd be using the pockets for batteries, memory cards, a couple filters, a cleaning cloth, and perhaps some documents. It is possible to store larger items in the front pouch, even up to a standard speedlight, but I believe there would be some risk of it falling out.

    Some comments on accessibility -- most bags that don't look like camera bags give up some level of quick access to memory cards, batteries, etc. In the Signature Series bags, the logical place to store small and easily lost items (such as batteries and individual memory cards) would be the inner zippered slot inside the front pouch. To access them, one must open the top cover (2 buckles), un-snap the front pouch, and unzip the inner slot.
    A possible improvement, without adding external pockets (which would look like a typical camera bag) would be to add some small mesh or zippered pockets inside the top cover flap (the now-discontinued Olympus Messenger Bag provides a good example of such a system, and the Mirrorless Mover 10 has a small pocket inside the flap as well). Meanwhile, one option is to use a quad SD card holder as I do, and put that in the unzippered inner front corner pocket... it's large enough to not risk falling out when the bag is closed.

    Conclusion
    Think Tank Signature Series shoulder bags are attractive-looking and well-designed bags, and are a good fit for many Mu-43 kits. They seem to be very well-made and durable, with good materials and stitching. I'd recommend these bags to anyone looking for a stylish shoulder bag for their Mu-43 gear!

    I have focused on the Signature 10, but I'd be happy to answer any questions about the Signature 13 as well. (I only have a 14" laptop though.)


    Specifications
    Signature 10
    • Internal Dimensions: 11.8" W x 7.8" H x 5.1" D (30 x 20 x 13 cm)
    • Exterior Dimensions: 13" W x 9.1" H x 5.9" D (33 x 23 x 15 cm)
    • 10" Tablet Pocket: 11.4" W x 7.8" H x 0.8" D (29 x 20 x 2 cm)
    • Weight: 2.8 lbs. (1.3 kg)
    • Price: $249USD
    Signature 13
    • Internal Dimensions: 13.3" W x 9.1" H x 5.1" D (34 x 23 x 13 cm)
    • Exterior Dimensions: 14.6" W x 10.4" H x 6.3" D (37 x 26.5 x 16 cm)
    • Laptop/Tablet Pocket: 13" W x 9.1" H x 1.2" D (33 x 23 x 3 cm)
    • Weight: 3.1 lbs. (1.4 kg)
    • Price: $279USD
    Available Colors: Slate Gray or Dusty Olive

    Warranty: Lifetime for original owner, covering defects in material or workmanship.


    Special Offer: Think Tank is offering free shipping and a free gift on orders over $50 via this link.

    --
    Disclosures:
    a. These products were donated by Think Tank for the purpose of a review and giveaway on Mu-43.com. Think Tank has not previously vetted or otherwise influenced this review in any way. All opinions are my own.
    b. Think Tank links on this page pay commission to Barry13, as an official Editor of Mu-43.com.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018 at 11:29 PM
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  2. barry13

    barry13 Mu-43.com Editor Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Here's a cell-phone shot with the camera body added, and demonstrates the inner cover latched to the open top cover:
    Inside w EM1 body and flap up - IMG_20181121_130330.jpg
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    I detached and rolled up the PD Slide sling for neatness, but it can just be draped over everything. The PD Cuff is behind the body. The rain cover is not shown here, but can also be draped on top (along with the sling).
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
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  3. barry13

    barry13 Mu-43.com Editor Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    BTW, @saladin@saladin posted some pictures with his Panasonic kit in the Signature 10 (Slate Gray color):
    See Show your bag (with contents)!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. hias

    hias Mu-43 Regular

    43
    Dec 6, 2016
    Bavaria
    Hias
    Looks good. It has a zipper for the main compartment. Always bugs me out when camera bags don't have one. You know, safety... theft, water and dust are always issues. The only ones made out of canvas I could find some time ago were Wotancraft bags. This looks actually pretty similar to the Scout.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. DefectiveMonk

    DefectiveMonk Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    149
    Jan 19, 2018
    Columbus, Ohio, US
    Mark
    Okay. I'm not in the market for a new bag (too many already) but I will say that reading this sentence made the review totally worth it. This is a BRILLIANT idea and I'm off to find my glue now!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Excellent review of a great bag option. It looks like it has some nice depth without being too boxy.
     
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  7. barry13

    barry13 Mu-43.com Editor Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Epoxy or hot glue both work well; some other glues may melt the plastic.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 23, 2010
    When I joined two caps back to back I used double sided tape and insulating tape round the pair, also got a few spares off Ebay to use. Now I rarely go out with more than one lens not mounted on a camera.
     
  9. barry13

    barry13 Mu-43.com Editor Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    Thanks for the excellent review, Barry. This looks like a nice option and I like Think Tank's products. One quibble: Separate rain covers tend to annoy me because they're fiddly and take time to put on. Why not just make the bag waterproof? Just my two cents worth.
     
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  11. barry13

    barry13 Mu-43.com Editor Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Hi, the bag is water-resistant, but with the cover is supposed to handle heavy downpours.

    I don't know how that compares to other water-resistant camera bags, however my J Crew laptop messenger bag is waxed canvas but the zippers and exposed pockets would probably let water in in a downpour.
     
  12. Bob D

    Bob D Mu-43 Rookie

    20
    Dec 8, 2015
    Bob D'Antonio
    Nice review, like the bag. :) 
     

    Attached Files:

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  13. Mike G

    Mike G Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    332
    Aug 13, 2018
    London
    Mike Gorman
    Billingham bags don’t need rain covers!
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  14. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 23, 2010
    Billingham's are the king of camera bags, had a Hadley Pro for 6 years and still looks like new.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  15. saladin

    saladin Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 29, 2015
    jason
    its a great bag. recommended.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    Wow, Barry packs heavier than I do! Those Think Tank bags are very nice looking; I wanted to thank Think Tank for this very generous giveaway!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Veteran

    480
    Nov 14, 2012
    Nottingham
    Lovely looking bags, but they do feature too prominent a manufacturer's label on the front. That sadly puts me off - I'm brand-phobic.
     
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