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| p.1 #1 · F-Stop Shibata Bag Review |
I picked up a Shibata messenger bag from F-Stop's Millar series last week. I wanted to compare it to my Retrospective 5 for use as my primary bag for carrying my Fujifilm X gear. Long story short, I sold the Think Tank and kept the Shibata. Note, there was nothing wrong with the Retro 5. In fact, I'm a big fan of TT bags and their customer service is better than any other bag company IMO. However, in this case the Shibata better suited my needs. One of the main deciding factors is that I'm a minimalist, so I have little need for extra pockets and compartments. Furthermore, the Retro felt a little cramped do to the rigid material and all of the internal compartments. In comparison, the Shibata material is much more pliable and the interior is more open, making it easier to access your gear on the go. However, if you tend to roll heavy (rocket blower, lens pen, filters, 8 batteries, etc), then you may prefer the extra storage space in the Retro 5 (or the Retro 7 if you carry an iPad).
According to F-Stop's website (LINK), the bag specifications are:
Volume: 8.7 L
Dimensions (in): Height: 9.1 x Width: 12.4 x Depth: 4.7
Dimensions (cm): Height: 23 x Width: 31.5 x Depth: 12
Weight: 0.53 kg (1.15 lb)
I opted for the blue bag, but it also comes in grey/tan or light green. Bag construction is quality and exterior poly fabric is soft and pliable, but seems like it will be rugged and durable (time will tell). The exterior is not waterproof, nor does it have a rain cover. These would have been nice, but it's not a deal breaker for me. The interior is a nylon material. At first I was not a fan of the F-Stop patch on the main flap and was planning to remove it. However, it's been growing on me so I'm probably going to keep it for now.
The zippers have nice leather details which I think adds to the overall aesthetics of the bag. In addition, they make opening the compartments much easier on the go.
The shoulder strap is 2 in. wide and is fully adjustable. The shoulder pad is quite comfortable, but it doesn't have any grip on the underside, so it tends to slide around a little bit.
There are small pockets on both sides of the exterior, below where the shoulder strap attaches. They aren't that big, but will fit keys, accessories, or maybe a small flash.
The main flap attaches to the body of the bag via a side-release YKK buckle. It also has a magnet on either side to hold the flap in place. I know people fear magnets and memory cards, but the magnets are not that strong so I don't think it's a concern.
The main flap also has a large zipper compartment in the flap itself for storage.
Underneath the main flap, there is another zipper compartment on the front side of the bag. Inside are two small slots for storage. According to F-Stop, this compartment is large enough to carry an iPad although I did not confirm this.
The foam insert is about 1/2" thick, and is a good median between rigidity and flex. As a result, the bag doesn't feel as boxy as other bags and is comfortable up against the body. It also allows the bag to conform a little better to the body, compared to other rigid foam shoulder bags I have tried. The bag only comes with 2 tall dividers, however a short divider would have been nice so that you could stack shorter lenses on top of one another. You can still stack gear, but I would suggest using lens pad/case or borrow a divider from another bag.
One nice feature is that the foam insert is completely removable, allowing you to use this as a normal messenger bag if you so choose.
The insert attaches to the bag via a velcro strip that wraps around the circumference of the interior.
The overall size is perfect for my everyday bag, carrying an X body with 3 lenses (one mounted). I will say that this bag will hold much more (see Blazer's thread), but I prefer to travel light and avoid crowding my gear. This is a picture of the interior with a 60mm macro on the left (hood forward), and X-T1 with 18-55mm attached in the middle (lens facing out, hood reversed), and a 55-200mm on the right (hood reversed). I typically put the camera in with the lens facing the side instead of facing out, but the 55-200 takes up a bit more room than my 35mm which normally rides in that slot.
Overall, I really enjoy this bag and look forward to using it for years to come. I also highly recommend F-Stop as a brand. I have no relationship with them, but my Guru backpack has held up very well and their customer service has always been very helpful.
Let me know if you have any questions, and comments are welcomed.