Domke F1X "Little Bit Bigger" Camera Bag

Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 4 out of 5
Yeah, but: Watch your back.

The Long Version: I've already reviewed the Domke F6, which I really like, so I'll assume that people reading this one will already know that Domke bags are very well-built out of heavy canvas with no padding, except for the bottom of the bag, and use a movable lightly-padded insert to hold lenses.

Domke's canvas bags come in four different colours, and since I already have the 'Sand' colour, this time I went with the 'Olive'. Judging by the photos I've seen online, this colour is one that many people can't photograph accurately. I'm generally pretty good at getting colour right, but every monitor looks a little different, so keep in mind that this bag is more green than brown. You can use the the photo above as a colour and grey reference, and the calibration targets also give a handy sense of scale. This is a big bag.

There's a lot said about camera bags that don't look like camera bags, and usually it's not true. A boxy bag carried by a guy doesn't not look like a camera bag just because it's brown instead of black. But the Domke F1X is so far outside the norm that maybe it really can pass for something else: even a photographer that I was out shooting with had assumed I was carrying a pseudo- or surplus-military duffle bag that just happened to have camera gear in it. If I hadn't been stuffing the 35-100 'mackerel' lens into it he might never have figured it out.

Deep breath: 600-page textbook, Stylus 770SW, Olympus E-510, Panasonic FZ18, Oly 11-22mm, 1.4 teleconverter, E-300 with 35mm macro attached, FL-36 and FL-50 flashes, E-3, 50/f2 macro, 7-14mm f/4, 14-54, 14-42, 50-200mm and Sigma 150/2.8 Macro, with their tripod mounts detached, 35-100 f/2, tripod mount and hood attached, ezybalance (folded), small 'pod' beanbag, manfrotto tabletop tripod with extension, two Gepe cardsafes, and a novel. That's more than the average Olympus garage sale - it's almost my entire collection. I shot these photos with my E-1 with the 14-45, a lens that I've never actually used before.

The lens compartment has been filled. Clockwise from top left, the Olympus 14-54 is on top of the 14-42, the 1.4TC is under the 50-200, the Sigma 150 is standing alone and face-up, and the 50/f2 macro is on top of the 7-14. Quite frankly, this is a bit of a stretch, as the individual pockets aren't really large enough for the hoods on the 50-200 or 150 macro. That's why the 150 is reversed. There's also a 'wide-angle' insert available that has an asymmetrical pocket arrangement, and I plan on adding it to my collection eventually.

Now the rest of the bag is filled. The 35-100 is the big lens on the right, with its hood and foot still attached. On the left the E-3 and 11-22 are sitting on top of the FL-50. It's a pretty full bag - but wait, there's more!

It's hard to tell, but the E-510 body is in the right-front pocket, and the pod, tripod, and FL-36 are in the other one. The left side pocket already has the 770SW in it, and the FZ18 is about to join it, even with its hood attached. The E-300 and 35 Macro fits in the right side pocket. The card holders fit in two of the three mesh pockets in the lid, and the other odds and ends fit in the third. The Lightroom textbook and novel fit in the zippered pocket along the back.

And this is what a fully-stuffed 32-pound camera bag looks like. I'd be an idiot to actually try to work out of it, but the way it's arranged actually does make it possible. No important lens is buried unless an alternative is on top, there's a camera with a lens attached ready to shoot. The back pocket holds enough books to get through a week in an airport, or an executive portrait session, and I'm still not using the larger zippered pocket that takes up the entire underside of the lid. This bag can transport enough gear for an unsupported week-long shoot, or for a couple of photographers to be based out of when they cover an event, and can be carried by one person. Carried short distances, at least, and preferably by an assistant.

For what it's worth, here's the Domke F6 stuffed to its gills, with the remaining contents of the F1X left over. It's a great little bag, and a joy to work from, but the 35-100 is bigger than the bag, and it can't carry both the 7-14 and Sigma 150 Macro without choking. Since those are my three favourite lenses, that's a bit of a limitation. When I don't want to carry the heavies, the F6 is still the bag I choose. The Olympus E-3, 11-22, 50/2, and 1.4TC is a light and flexible combination: if I didn't like the 35-100 so much, I'd save myself a whack of money.

I didn't actually buy the Domke 'Kong' (my nickname for it, but its too obvious to be original) so that I can carry my entire inventory. All I really want is the ability to carry my E-3, 7-14, 35-100 f/2, and 150/2.8 Macro all at once, along with my sunglasses, wallet, iPod, gloves, hat, and any of the other non-photographic stuff that I like to carry when I'm also going to take photos. I'm tired of having bags that are just a little bit smaller than what I want to bring with me, so I went to the opposite extreme. There's no longer a need to leave anything home, so the F1X suits me very nicely. My only actual complaint is that the bag moves and conforms to its contents so well that once a lens has been taken out, it can be very hard to fit it back in. Sometimes I'll have to take the bag off and set it down to be able to re-pack the 35-100, which I don't need to do with my Crumpler 6M$H. But considering that the softness is what I love about the Domkes, and what I dislike about the Crumpler, it's not that big a trade-off.

Naturally, there are other bags that I could have bought, but I chose a Domke because of my experience with the F6, and the F1X because it's just so absurdly big and it has the four-point carrying handle. This might just be the last camera bag I buy.


  1. Hey Matthew

    Thanks for the review I had the F-2 Original for years, bought it new at Henry's in I think 85 used it until around 99 and I would still be using it but we seem to have lost it when moving.

    Great bag in fact I am going to get another for a street bag when carrying my E3 12-60 a flash and possibly 50-200, they are very comfortable and last forever.

    Cheers, Vic.

  2. Thanks! This is what i was looking for! NanuePro...too small for all my gear, but this looks insane good! And i got 3 camera bodies, and a whole lot of lenses, so i hope it's worth it. (And ive looked to the LowePro Commercial AW, but LowePro is too much ''A Name'', it's still very sturdy, but I have heard many possitives about the Domke.


  3. I cover trade shows with lots of people bumping into me.

    I wanted a bag that would fit not only my still photography camera (Nikon D90) and lenses but camcorder as well.

    I am now deciding between the Domke F2 or the F-1X

    The F-1X sort of seems like it will be way too large a bag to
    comfortably carry through trade show crowds. Would love to
    get an opinion from someone with that bag (perhaps the author)
    as to what he thinks.


  4. The F1x is absolutely too big to use in a crowd. Imagine having to walk the floor of a trade show with your shoulders squared and your elbows sticking out - it's a big bag. The F2 would be my choice if I needed that much room, but I'd also be tempted by some of the more streamlined 'satchel' Domkes as well.


Thewsreviews only permits comments from its associate authors. If that's you, awesome and thanks. If not, you can find the main email address on this page, or talk to us on Twitter.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

contact me...

You can click here for Matthew's e-mail address.