Backpackers Tokyo

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There’s no denying that Tenba makes some of the most amazing camera bags and backpacks available today. Ever since I turned professional with my photography, I’ve lost count of the number of shoulder bags, backpacks, and roller bags I’ve bought that were made for camera gear. But what about those who enjoy using a regular bag or backpack yet want to add our cameras safely inside? Exceptional quality camera bags can be expensive. That’s where Tenba stepped in about ten years ago with the Tenba BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) range of camera insert cases. You can put your cameras inside this handy range of inserts and drop them into almost any existing bag or backpack. We received some of their DSLR Backpack and Camera insert models to test out, and we weren’t disappointed.

Too Long, Didn’t Read

Tenba’s BYOB inserts are durable, lightweight, and water-repellent. They come with sturdy dividers that are attached to the insides of the bags with velcro. Did I say lightweight earlier? Featherweight might be a more appropriate term. These inserts won’t add any noticeable weight to your backpack or bag but will provide protection and easy access. Listening to feedback from its users, Tenba has also provided a strap for the Camera Insert models (but not the DSLR ones).

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Lightweight (really, really light for bags of their size)
  • Easily removable and adjustable padded dividers
  • The dark cyan colour on those dividers (and some model exteriors) is very eye-catching
  • Water repellent
  • Removable shoulder straps (on Camera Insert models)
  • Strong, elastic side pockets for accessories or bottles
  • Cable / notepad sleeves along the back

Cons

  • A rain / dust cover could have been included

Innovations

BYOB Camera inserts: Fold back. Drop in. Voila

Tenba is well known for their camera bags, but they have also been making camera bag inserts in some form or another for about 40 years. They launched the BYOB collection ten years ago. The Camera Insert line has now been refreshed, with newer models being much lighter in weight and including shoulder straps. There’s also the addition of the side mesh pockets and zipped pockets inside. You can now also fold back the top cover and drop it into a shoulder back or messenger bag. This makes the Tenba BYOB Camera Insert virtually invisible inside these bags. The DSLR Backpack insert range has only been around for five years now. The update in this line is the creased fold halfway through the height. It allows you to open the BYOB DSLR insert halfway while it’s inside a tall backpack without contents falling out.

Gear Used

I tested out the below three Tenba BYOB models:

  • BYOB 9 Camera Insert Black
  • BYOB 10 Camera Insert Blue
  • BYOB 10 DSLR Backpack Insert Black

I used a variety of camera gear inside these inserts during the tests:

  • Nikon D810
  • Nikon Z6
  • Nikon FM2
  • Yashica Electro 35 GSN
  • Nikon 24-70mm f4 S lens
  • Nikon 50mm f1.4 Ai-S lens
  • Godox TT 350N speedlight

Tech Specs

As listed on Tenba’s website. All three come with a five-year warranty

BYOB 9 Camera BYOB 10 Camera BYOB 10 DSLR Weight 0.55lb / 0.25kg 0.8lb / 0.36kg 0.85lb / 0.39kg Outer dim. (in) 9W x 6.5H x 4D in. 10.5W x 8H x 4.5D in. 9W x 12H x 5D in. Inner dim. (in) 8.5W x 6H x 3.5D in. 10W x 7.5H x 4D in. 8.5W x 11.5H x 4.5D in. Capacity Mirrorless or compact DSLR camera with 2-3 lenses plus accessories. Mirrorless or DSLR camera with 2-4 lenses (up to attached 24-70mm 2.8) plus accessories. Mirrorless or DSLR camera with 2-4 lenses (up to attached 70-200mm 2.8) plus accessories.

Ergonomics

If I saw someone carrying one of these on the streets, I would certainly not think it held a camera inside. That works great for photographers who wish to be unobtrusive while outdoors. They almost look like insulated lunch bags with a premium feel.

Tenba BYOB 10 Camera Insert

Look at those cool blue dividers. I have never seen this colour on any bag before, and it’s probably the best colour I’ve seen on a bag lately.

The removable shoulder sling easily turns this into a shoulder bag. It’s so light that if it were empty, you’d barely notice it on your shoulders. It’s the perfect size for a mirrorless camera or a small DSLR. Wide-angle and prime lenses would easily fit in here.

The side mesh pockets can hold a water bottle or a small speedlight. It’s taut elastic so I wouldn’t try stretching it too much.

Tenba BYOB 9 Camera Insert

The BYOB 9 is smaller and can take a mirrorless camera with an attached lens (like a 24-70 f4) and an accessory on the side. Or you can separate the lens from the body and have them both side by side.

Rear pockets can be used for smartphones, notepads, cables, and other similar accessories.

Tenba BYOB 10 DSLR Backpack Insert

The largest of the 3 we reviewed is the BYOB 10 DSLR Insert. This model can take a DSLR with a 70-200 f2.8 lens attached and is meant for backpacks, suitcases, and large handbags.

It’s fairly large and takes up considerable space inside a backpack like the ThinkTank Airport Commuter

Build Quality

No complaints in this department. I simply love how lightweight these cases are. Tenba hasn’t cut corners in the quality of the materials used. The exterior herringbone polyester is water repellent. I sprayed water droplets on them and observed the insert for three minutes. At the end of this period, I was able to just shake the water off. None of the drops were absorbed by the case.

I didn’t see the YKK logo typically found on their zippers, but Tenba says these are made by them. The little tags attached to them will come in handy for those with larger fingers.

Ease of Use

The grey dividers have strong velcro ends and need a bit of pull to be removed from the insides. Consequently, they won’t move much. The thinner blue dividers are meant to be more like partitions and soft protectors if, for example, you’re stacking two lenses next to each other.

Claw handles on the shoulder straps are easily attached to the sides of the Camera Insert models.

The handles at the top of these inserts are strong but thin. I wouldn’t use these for more than lifting up the insert and placing it inside a larger bag. If you’re going to be carrying around gear in these inserts, I would recommend using the stronger shoulder straps.

The half-fold flap on the DSLR Backpack Insert series allows you to fold down the opening halfway to quickly grab your gear at the top.

Conclusions

Likes

  • Lightweight and barely noticeable if your gear isn’t heavy
  • Water repellent material is of admirable quality
  • Dividers come in two types: rigid and flexible
  • The addition of shoulder straps makes them standalone cases
  • Doesn’t look like a traditional camera bag

Dislikes

  • Could have had waterproof / dustproof cases which could cover the inserts outdoors

Tenba’s BYOB range will appeal to many casual photographers who may not always want to invest in proper camera bags. There’s a variety of flavours to choose from in the new Tenba BYOB series of inserts. If you’re an outdoorsy person who hikes a lot, you would prefer the DSLR Backpack models. Most others, especially those with bags they’re already attached to, will opt for the Camera Insert range.