Hi tech gear likes low tech cotton canvas
In the beginning, I had been using canvas fishing bags and army surplus bags for years, so it didn’t take a lot of research to decide on what to use for the Domke Bag, it had to be # 8 Duck.
The Domke bag is for working photographers, so when the Philadelphia Inquirer said they would buy 20 bags in 1976, I went to work turning my fishing bag into the perfect shooters bag.
The first thing was durability. The bag had to be more rugged and hold up to covering daily newspaper assignments.
Second, photographers need to get to their equipment fast and they don’t want their bag to slow them down. Nobody wants to miss getting that front page photo, because they were fighting their camera bag to change lenses, get the flash or find a filter.
Unlike leather, canvas is lighter, requires low maintenance and is less expensive.
Nylon was new in the Seventies and it was thinner, didn’t have the body of cotton duck. Nylon felt like sandpaper and needed to be waterproofed. But like the cotton tents, canvas naturally absorbs the water, swells and keeps everything dry inside.
You don’t see the little drop of rain or drop of sweat on the camera, this drop can short out the camera and the canvas sucks it off the camera. When it is dry the canvas “breathes,” and avoid any condensation forming on the electronic camera.
A working camera bag it is constantly rubbing against your body and canvas is less abrasive than nylon so it won’t harm your clothing.
And, be careful not to carry your bag too low, carry it next to your waist not your hip or thigh. It might make sense to have it at arm length, so you don’t have to bend your arms and you can carry a camera on the same shoulder above the bag. But your legs are constantly rubbing against it.
Rubbing is rubbing, and rubbing against metal rivets on jeans will wear out the bag faster than if it was higher up nearer your waist. With digital cameras and the zoom lens, there’s no longer a need to carry 5 camera bodies, so keep the camera on the other shoulder.
#8 canvas duck is best for camera bags, it’s the perfect thickness to hold its shape yet flexible to hug the hip, and give a little so you can even get that souvenir you just bought into the bag.
Photojournalist Jean-Pierre Laffont liked his Domke Bag because he could fold it and pack it inside a suitcase. He often travels to third world countries and worries about leaving valuables in his hotel room. Not wanting to carry a heavy camera bag around everywhere with him, his carry-on luggage is a custom-made metal case.
It was strong enough for him to stand on, when he needs to take pictures over the heads of a crowded event, or to sit on while waiting for his luggage at the airport. Once settled into the hotel, he works out of his canvas Domke Bag and/or a photo vest, and all the extra lenses, passport, traveler’s checks stay safely chained to the bed.
Cotton canvas isn’t old fashion. It’s environmentally friendly and not a petroleum product, so save the planet and carry a canvas Domke Bag. :D
Last edited by Jim Domke; 08-14-2008 at 12:35 PM..