Domke F-8 Camera Bag Review

Dec 16, 2014 | Review | 1 comment

I’m a big fan of Domke camera bags. They have been around forever. You might say that they are the classic, quintessential camera bags. I own the Domke F-2 bag, which holds a ton of gear and has been around the world with me several times. I’ve also owned the smaller Domke F-3x bag, which was a fine bag but I ended up selling it because it didn’t fit my specific needs. No matter how many other bag manufacturers I try, I generally end up coming back to Domke as my go-to brand.

I’m always trying to get my travel photography kit down to the minimum amount of equipment as possible without sacrificing quality. As my kit gets smaller, I find myself looking to reduce the size of my camera bag…but not at the expense of quality or features. To that end I decided to purchase the Domke F-8 Small Shoulder Bag to see how it would perform as a compact camera bag.

Features

Domke is known for their no-frills bags that have just the right amount of features. The outside of the Domke F-8 is made of abrasion-resistant heavy duty canvas that breaks in over time, just like a comfortable pair of jeans.

Domke claims that the F-8 contains 8 compartments and pockets, although this figure is subject to interpretation. The large, padded main compartment has two removable velcro dividers that can be reconfigured to create 3 sections. Even with the dividers, I still consider the main compartment to be a single unit, not 3 separate “compartments.” Additionally the F-8 has a narrow front pocket that spans the width of the bag, two side pockets with velcro-adhered flaps, a very tight rear pocket, and a rounded pocket in the lid for small items.

Domke F-8 compartments and pockets

The top lid of the bag is wide enough to cover any internal equipment and protect your gear from the elements. The lid is secured tightly via a metal clasp – a recognizable Domke feature. A swatch of velcro helps keep the lid in place, even when the metal clasp is not attached. The inside of the lid is lined with ballistic nylon, which provides additional water resistance for the top of the bag.

The Domke F-8 comes with a single, thick canvas strap that can be adjusted for length. When fully extended, the length of the strap works fine when worn over the shoulder but seems a bit short when worn across the body. The width of the strap makes it comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The underside of the strap features a non-slip gripper material to help keep the strap securely in place on your shoulder. Each end of the strap has convenient metal clips which connect to metal loops on the bag body.

Domke F-8 strap

The Domke F-8 comes in 4 colors: black, olive, sand, and RuggedWear (brown).

Construction and Durability

The Domke F-8 is made from heavy duty canvas that resists abrasions and tears. For a canvas bag, I’m always amazed at how durable Domke bags are. I know photographers who have owned Domke bags for decades and they are still holding up. I’ve owned my Domke F-2 for 6 years and it practically looks like the day I bought it.

One of the attractions of the canvas construction is the “moldability” of the material. Domke bags tend to conform themselves to a variety of shapes, so whether they are hugging your body for a lower profile fit or squeezing into tight storage compartments, they adapt to their environment. Unlike other more rigid, boxy camera bags, Domke bags can be compacted when empty to save space.

Domke F-8 and Sony A7r

Aside from the standard canvas options, Domke offers a RuggedWear finish that is designed to be more weather resistant. RuggedWear canvas is treated with a non-solvent, environmentally friendly wax that provides a tough, more waterproof coating. Each Domke RuggedWear bag comes a can of refinishing wax that can be used to maintain the weather resistant quality of the bag over time. The bag does not ship with a rain cover.

Sizing

The Domke F-8 is small…tiny even! I had expected it to be petite, but when I pulled it out of the box I was amazed at how diminutive it is. Essentially it looks like someone took the Domke F-3x and shrunk it in a clothes dryer. I immediately began wondering if I could even fit my minimal camera kit in the bag. As it turns out, I couldn’t.

Sony A7r in a Domke F-8
Sony A7r in a Domke F-8

The official dimensions of the Domke F-8 according to the Domke website are as follows:

External (W x D x H)Internal (W x D x H)Weight
9" x 5.25" x 7"6.5" x 3.5" x 6.5"1.7 lbs

What the Domke website doesn’t specify – and I spent an impossible amount of time trying to find this information online – is the sizes of all the external and internal pockets. So for those of you who are as curious as I was, here are the pocket dimensions for the Domke F-8:

Pocket LocationDimension (W x D x H)
Side (x2)4" x 2" x 4.75"
Front6.6" x 1.75" x 5.25"
Rear6.5" x .25" x 4.25"
Flap7.35" x 1" x 3.5" (rounded)

Ideal Usage

The Domke F-8 is ideal for carrying a small, mirrorless camera (Sony a6000, Fujifilm X-T1), an extra lens, a small flash, and variety of small accessories. The F-8 is even capable of carrying a single compact DSLR (Nikon D40, D60, or a Canon Digital Rebel) with a few accessories. Along with the DSLR, you may even be able to squeeze in second lens, depending on its size.

I anticipated that the Domke F-8 would be able to hold my Sony A7r camera, two medium-sized lenses (with lens hoods), filters, batteries and charger, SD cards, a table top tripod, and a few other small accessories. I was wrong. The main compartment was too tight to hold the Sony A7r body with an attached 24-70mm lens and an additional 16-35mm lens. The side pockets were small to the point where they could hold a couple extra batteries but not the battery charger. Inevitably, the bag just was a bit too small for my travel kit.

Sony A7r in a Domke F-8

Price

Domke bags are a bit on the pricey side. Many of the reviews online extoll the quality of the bags while simultaneously bashing the price. The standard canvas versions of the F-8 cost $79.99 on Amazon, while the RuggedWear version costs $84.99. Compared to the the Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 20 camera bag – an high quality bag of similar size and features which costs around $54.00 on Amazon – one would not be remiss in questioning whether the higher costs was worth it. It all depends on what you are looking for in a camera bag.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a quality camera bag from a trusted manufacturer for your compact camera kit, the Domke F-8 is an excellent choice. The bag is durable and has just the right amount of pockets and features. The F-8 has classic, rugged looks that doesn’t scream “camera bag!” The price is a little high; essentially it’s on average with many other quality bags by other manufacturers, but there are some high quality bags that can be found at more affordable prices. Just be sure your camera gear will fit in this small “everyday” bag before you plunk down your hard-earned cash.

  • Features
  • Construction/Durability
  • Size
  • Price
4.3

Summary

Great construction and just the right amount of features. Classic, rugged looks. Designed to fit a small camera kit (mirrorless or compact DSLR plus an additional small lens). A bit on the pricey side, but on par with other quality camera bags.

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