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FEATURE REVIEW – Tenba Cooper 15

For those that must take everything with them all the time...

  thumbnailimageI've been an amateur photographer for quite some time. I've been through a few different SLR and DSLR cameras, as I've been taking photos since I was about 13 or so. The biggest problem I've had – and it's been pretty much a universal problem, regardless of analog or digital platform – has been carting accessories and gear with me when I'm on a shoot or when I want to take pictures at a family outing. My go to solution for this has been a camera backpack; and its nice and all; but it has its issues. While roomy, it isn't easy to organize gear in, and stuff is always moving around, regardless of dividers or other organization elements in the bag. I've also found that there are some space issues when trying to accommodate larger lenses. I was recently approached by Tenba and asked if I wanted to review their 15" bag from their Cooper Collection – the Cooper 15.

The Cooper 15 is a rectangular shoulder bag. It can accommodate a DSLR with 3-4 lenses (up to 70-200mm 2.8), and has a rear padded sleeve will hold a 15″ laptop. The bag is designed for the photographer on the go, as it has special quiet hook and loop closures that enable bag flaps to be opened silently. When taking pictures in inclement weather, the bag also has folding rain flaps as well as a WeatherWrap rain cover that is removable and reversible. Its silver side reflects the sun and its black side absorbs light to help you remain hidden when taking, for example, discrete nature shots.

The bag has flexible, removable, padded camera and lens inserts to protect a professional level camera with two – four lenses and a flash. The camera section will hold a camera with a 70-200mm lens attached. The bag also has a rear, padded sleeve that will hold a 15″ laptop and is airport security compatible. For further airport and travel convenience, it has MOLLE-compatible side loops to attach accessory pouches as well as a rear trolley strap so that the bag can sit on your roller board luggage handle when its fully extended. The bag is also has waterproof, full-grain leather panels. The bag, overall, is rated as water resistant with its peach-wax cotton canvas exterior with 2x water-repellent PU coating.

thumbnailimage (1)Now let’s talk real world use of the bag. It may look pretty, but if it doesn’t meet the need, it’s going to get left at home…

This is a decent bag. I have found that I like it a lot; and honestly, I should. Anything that retails for $300 is something that you SHOULD like a lot, otherwise, it’s going to be a waste of money.

However, tongue in cheek aside, while this is a decent bag, I have a few minor issues with it.

  1. It’s too small
    With the ability to hold just one camera and two – four (2-4) lenses, plus a 15″ laptop and some minor gear/ accessories, the bag just isn’t big enough. I don’t have a boat load of lenses or a boat load of crap that I want to carry with me, but I would like to carry most of the relevant lenses and gear that I would need for a particular shoot – in a single bag. If you’re looking for the Cooper 15 to be THAT bag, you either really have to have all of your shots planned out (so you know just what to take) or you’re going to have to carry more than one bag.That’s not the way I do things, so I have issues here.Honestly, I’d really only want it to carry 1-2 more lenses, so we’re not too far off, but I have enough trouble with the one bag. I don’t want or need to carry more than one.
  2. It’s a single shoulder only bag
    I’ve been a mobile computing user since 1990-blah-blah-blah. I really started carrying a laptop in the standard issue leather briefcase my parents got me for college graduation back in 1991. When that proved to be a bit outmoded and outdated, I switched to the standard laptop briefcase with a shoulder strap, and did that from then until about 2010 when my back and right shoulder finally told me where to go and what to do… It wasn’t pretty.That’s why I initially switched to a backpack – I could at least double strap it while walking around, and while that doesn’t look very professional when you go on interviews or something else that requires a bit of formality, at least I can stand straight and not look like the hunchback of Notre Dame because the 20lbs bag on my shoulder threw my back out.
  3. Its ungodly expensive for an amateur photographer
    The bag retails for $299.95. You can find it on Amazon, or you can use Tenba’s direct link to purchase the bag, if you’re so inclined.There are a lot of bags out there. While this one IS great (and honestly… it is), at $300 bucks, it’s just not good enough, at least for me. The features and capabilities of the bag don’t justify the steep cost, in my opinion.

 

Conclusion

Good, but expensive, the Tenba Cooper 15 is a decent bag. If you have the funds available, this is a decent bag to pursue, provided you don’t have a lot of equipment to take with you; OR if you know the exact shots you want to take, and only take the lenses and accessories needed for those shots.

I have about six (6) or so lenses; and for family shots or the portrait-style close ups that I like to take of family and friends, I’d really rather take all of my lenses in a single bag. So, “for those that must take everything with them, all the time…” this may not be the best bag for you. However, it isn’t bad at all.

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