I think we all have this problem: there is no such thing as the perfect bag. Unless, of course, you design it yourself. After receiving a lot of positive feedback (and desire) from people who’ve seen it, I’ve also decided it will be made in a limited run. In collaboration with bespoke UK bag maker Frankie Falcon, I’m pleased to offer my first hardware collaboration: The MT x FF Ultimate Photographers’ Daybag. Orders for the first (and limited) batch will run until 31 October 2016. Final orders will ship 1st week December 2016.
The order book is now closed. I will likely be offering a new (smaller) version by popular demand in early 2017. Thank you for your support!
Click on after the jump to order and for the rest of the details…
I’ve always wanted an urban shoulder bag that I can work out of: i.e. get stuff in and out, change lenses, sling out of the way. It had to be a shoulder bag because it’s fastest to open up to change lenses, and easy to put down when you have the chance. It’s also lower profile and stealthier than a backpack, without issues of access or strange configurations. It had to be able to store a decent amount of gear if required, be soft enough to form itself to your body for comfort, but rigid enough to stop things banging together. Plus ideally collapse down for situations when you have to stuff it in your suitcase – budget carriers, for instance. I’ve tried just about everything made in this category by all of the major brands and then some – but they all were either too padded, to small internally, or too rigid and not easy to work out of. It should have a minimal amount of exposed metal hardware to avoid scratches (no zips for this reason), and a sleek exterior with as few straps as possible to avoid catching on things.
This bag is a result of a) buying far too many in the past that haven’t served the right purpose, have been awkward to use, overpadded, unpackable in themselves, not durable, or just plain ugly. What you see is the result of both years of photography and figuring out what one really needs to hand practical walkabout situation, and what one can live without. We also went through four redesigns and prototypes in the process of arriving at this solution, and I’ve been using variants of this bag for the last six months. We’ve thrown away everything you don’t need, but left you with everything you do. As a bonus, it’s handmade in England from the same materials used on high end convertible sportscars.
Two Hasselblad H bodies, lenses attached, and a laptop? No problem. It’s how I’ve been using it for the last month in transport mode, but most of the time it’s camera in hand and 2-3 lenses + accessories easily accessible over the shoulder.
Firstly, you’ll notice there’s almost no internal padding.
The materials used are thick enough to prevent bumping and chafing, and there’s strategic thin padding on the divider and bottom, but nowhere else. When was the last time you dropped a bag, but how often have you cursed at the wasted volume? A lot of other photographers have been using non-camera bags for this reason, or unlined canvas photo bags like Domkes.
Secondly, it’s got a much greater internal volume than it appears to have.
The bag’s external dimensions are 31x24x16cm, which is small enough to count as your ‘personal item’ when you fly, but I can fit two Hasselblad H bodies, two lenses, spares, a full size iPad in the rear pocket, and a 12″ Macbook in the front laptop pocket with room to spare – or two D810s, three Zeiss Otuses and the same spares, iPad and laptop. A D810 or 5D-sized body will fit transversely – so you could put three in, with lenses attached if you were really masochistic. If you’re willing to forgo a bit of internal room, it’ll stretch to fit a 13″ Retina Macbook Pro. I’ve not been able to find another bag that can do this. I would like to claim this has something to do with advance applied physics, but it’s simply because we went strategic on the packing.
Thirdly, you’ll see there’s only one piece of velcro in the entire bag, yet there are five possible configurations.
In practice, we don’t need velcro everywhere. The internal continuous loop divider is threaded through four leather retaining straps at 1/3rd width intervals; by threading the divider through different combinations of the loop and securing it with that single piece of velcro, you can have either one big compartment, three equal ones, two equal ones or two unequal ones (L-R bias). And the divider is long enough that you’ll still have a third thin compartment between the two compartments if you choose the two-up route. I usually use it in the three compartment configuration: in the field, three lenses easily changed out, camera in hand; or two lenses, and one on the camera which sits in the middle.
The bag was designed to be flexible and easily reconfigurable to adapt to multiple systems. You could stuff it full of Hasselblad, or just use part of it for a couple of Leicas or mirrorless cameras and the rest for your lunch and a sweater. Cameras slide in and out easily, and lens changes are a breeze. In addition to the main compartment, there’s a laptop slot at the front of the bag, under the main flap (which will fit up to a 13″ Macbook Pro Retina), two small internal pockets for accessories, and a rear slip pocket that will fit up to a 12″ iPad or Macbook. I put the main laptop pocket at the front of the bag so the rest of it can still bend comfortably to your body.
Fourthly, It’s lightweight, self-forming, fully collapsible, and water resistant.
The bag is mostly double-layer canvas, of the same treated sort that’s used in convertible roofs – as you can see, it’s hydrophobic and water beads and runs off. If you remove the divider and fold up the bottom padding, you can squash it completely flat – making it easy to pack into your check in luggage. The bag weighs about 1kg empty.
Finally, I think it looks pretty good 🙂
I wanted something with the style of a Billingham but more stealth, and the utility of a Domke but with a bit more structure: this is it. More important than that, however, is that it’s comfortable in use: there’s a top handle for quick pickups, the front tab closures are at a slight angle to pull the lid shut when using the handle. The shoulder strap is a continuous loop whose doubled adjustable portion goes over your shoulder for additional padding, and the strap itself is thick, wide, soft and flexible. The rear of the bag contains an extra layer of canvas (three total) for the right amount of rigidity, but sufficient give to shape to your body. Lastly, there’s both leather piping and a thick leather pad on the bottom (plus internal padding) to cushion your gear from the ground. It’s built to last from quality materials, which the manufacturer is standing behind with their usual 25-year warranty*.
The bag will be made by hand in very limited production, with the order books open from now until 31 October 2016,
with shipping in the second half of November with orders filled continuously in small batches – the first orders should be delivered ~early Nov, and the last by 2nd week December due to strong demand. The price of the bag is US$250, payable by Paypal at the links below (credit cards work too). $15 Regular shipping takes 5-10 day via air mail (not trackable), $25 express shipping is trackable and should be 3-5 days. Bags will be sent directly from the Frankie Falcon workshop in the UK, and we will email you the tracking number once your bag ships. Each bag is handmade, so please allow time for us to clear the queue! Volume pricing is available if you are a dealer and would like to stock the bags (please send me an email to enquire further).
Please include your phone number in the comment box – this is required for the courier. If the box does not appear for you (PP has been having some issues of late) – I will have to trouble you to email it to me…thanks!
Click here to order the MT x FF Daybag with Express shipping
Click here to order the MT x FF Daybag with Regular shipping
Orders for this batch have now closed. I will likely be offering a new, smaller design in early 2017. Thanks for your support!
- Internal dimensions: 14x22x30cm (main compartment), 9.2L (comparison: Billingham Hadley Pro 12x28x35cm, 6L)
- External dimensions: 16x24x31cm; total continuous strap length 1.5m measured from the top of the bag to the opposite side of the top of the bag
- Empty weight: ~1kg
- Materials: Double layer water-repellant canvas, Italian calf leather, black/black with grey stitching. Handle in leather, cotton webbing adjustable shoulder strap. Leather ball-and-tab front closure with two positions.
- Construction: Handmade in England by Frankie Falcon
Terms and conditions
- Orders will close at midnight on 1 November 2016
- Production has begun and we will continue to shipping continuously – we we expect first bags to be delivered by the end of October (depending on customs, of course), and last orders by
end of November/mid December due to demand.
- In the event that we are unable to fulfil your order, a full refund will be given.
- If you decide to cancel your order within a week of placing it, a 50% refund will be given. Cancellations after this date are not eligible for refunds.
- All sales are final upon shipping.
- *Frankie Falcon’s 25 year standard warranty applies, details of which can be found here
- Delivery may take longer than the stated duration; events are outside our control once the bag leaves the factory.
- The bags will be made and shipped directly from Frankie Falcon in the UK; the factory will send an email with the tracking number upon shipping.
- Buyers are responsible for any customs duties and taxes that might be levied upon import into your country.
Thank you for your support! MT x FF
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