Domke Journalist Series Next Gen Camera Bag Review
If there ever was a piece of gear that I’ve experienced a Goldilocks dilemma with, it’s my camera bag. Or bags: different jobs call for different bags and configurations, so I’ve gathered a few over the years.
Recently I’ve gotten to put a classic through real world use, the Chronicle from Domke’s updated Next Generation Journalist Series. Domke is an iconic camera bag you usually see slung around the shoulders of journalists out in the field (or movies, like The Bang Bang Club).
The Chronicle is a medium sized bag that feels extremely sturdy and well built. It’s got a weather resistant finish and comes with extra wax if you need to recoat. It can easily hold a DSLR and audio recording kit, so it’s good for photojournalists and run and gun filmmakers.
I really liked the velcro on the divider system — the velcro will stick to any part of the surface so there’s a lot more configuration options and it’s easier to set up.
The bag has lots of great expandable pockets on the side and front. You can easily fit a pair of studio headphones or iPad Mini on the side. Front pouches expand to fit bulkier gear like batteries. There’s an additional padded front pouch that’s perfect for a full size iPad. There’s no dedicated laptop compartment, but you may be able to squeeze an Air into the side pouch (but you won’t get much protection for it). You can also reconfigure the dividers inside to hold a laptop, plus maybe a DSLR and some accessories, but it’d be a tight fit.
The metal buckles feel very solid and secure. You can expand the straps to clip on a tripod. There’s also top access through a zipper to the main gear. If noise is a concern for a shoot you’re on, all the velcro connectors have a silent option. Less stick but you can eliminate the ripping noise.
For all the well thought out and built features of the bag itself, everything falls apart when you get to the method of transporting your gear — the shoulder strap. Plastic buckles connect to one of the most painful shoulder straps I’ve ever experienced. There’s no padding on the strap itself, just an adjustable slip resistant area. With a fully loaded pack it really digs in.
That said, it’s at least the easiest shortcoming to fix. I’ve taken to swapping out the strap with a padded one from a LowePro bag.
Overall it’s an extremely solid bag for run and gun field work that’ll keep your gear protected and safe, though not big enough if you’re also planning on bringing gear to edit. Plan on looking for other shoulder strap solutions to carry your gear around in comfort.
The Chronicle used in this review retails for $349. The bag was provided for free for the purposes of this review.
Joey Daoud is a documentary filmmaker based in Miami. His latest project, Strike: The Greatest Bowling Story Ever Told just kicked off the Made with Kickstarter series on The New York Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @C47 and Instagram @C47Joe.