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Tenba 638-251 Messenger Removable Photo Insert (Gray)
Price:$25.61+Free shipping with Amazon Prime

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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Like most of the reviewers here, I bought the Tenba insert to convert a messenger bag for photo use. And, indeed, it does exactly what it is designed to do, quickly transforming my messengers into photo bags.

MESSENGERS IT FIT
Basically it fits any messenger bag with an interior 9 inches tall and 13 inches wide or larger. For the best fit, I recommend a bag with an extra inch or more of height beyond the insert so the bag flap may close without being overly tight. It fit okay in my old Banana Republic canvas messenger, Timbuk2 classic messenger (small & medium), Crumpler Barney and Domke J-803. It fits the Domke J-803 so perfectly snug you'd think it was designed for that bag. Although it fit the Timbuk2 classic small bag, I found the insert a little too bulky and tall. It's loose as a goose in the medium Timbuk2, leaving plenty of room for a windbreaker, water, monopod, etc. Although the Crumpler Barney is about the same side as the Timbuk2 classic small, it's taller so the insert lays nicely inside, allowing the top flap to fold naturally.

FITTING IN GEAR
First, this is not a product for gear hounds. It holds just enough for a light packing shooter: gripless DSLR, couple medium lenses and flash. So my 7D and 17-55 2.8 IS USM fit nicely in the center with lens pointing down, 70-200 4L IS USM on one side and Speedlite 430EX on the other side. The 7D will fit with 70-200 mounted but it sticks up a little beyond the edge of the insert. Not a problem if your bag extends beyond the insert an extra inch or so.

SIZE & CONSTRUCTION
The Amazon description is spare and omits most details including dimensions. I measured the interior of the insert and it is about 13W X 9H X 4.25D inches and a featherlight 0.4 lb. The insert is flexible and can adjust to slightly smaller or larger bags and still fit reasonably well. I checked Tenba's website and, strangely enough, it claims the insert interior is 13"W x 8"H x 5 to 8"D. Obviously the height and depth are wrong unless they recently redesigned the insert. Without stretching or flexing, it measures about 4.5 inches in depth at dead center. It will easily flex outwards a couple inches in the center, making room for any DSLR save for pro models (e.g., EOS 1D series) or models with accessory battery grips. The padding is less than 1/4 inch thick but is dense closed cell foam, so it affords good protection from light knocks. It's on the stiff side and doesn't mold to body shape as easily as I'd like.

The fabric is gray lightweight nylon with thick velcro patches sewn along the walls to attach dividers. The fit and finish are very good, with no crooked seams, loose threads or exposed innards.

NITPICKS
Oddly the product title lists it as black but mine is gray just like the product image. The top 2.75 inches of the interior lack velcro, so you can't lock down tall divider flaps. The nylon is tough and easy to clean but I prefer soft brushed fabrics. Not only is soft material more gear friendly, but positioning of dividers is more flexible since velcro can stick anywhere. Also, this insert is not a good choice for a tote bag or backpack since it lacks a top cover. The Timbuk2, Crumpler and Billingham inserts all have a lid and the soft-brushed-velcro-can-stick-anywhere fabric. Of course those inserts cost 2 to 3 times more, so for $20 I shouldn't whine too much. The bottom line is the Tenba design works well in most messengers, is very well made and is an amazing value for only $20.

ABOUT THE AMAZON PRICE
As of April 2013, the full list price of this item on the Tenba Website is $21.95. I bought mine at B&H for well under $20 last year so you might want to shop around if the Amazon price drifts too far above $20 (I observed it ranging from $20 to $30).
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2011
I bought this so I wouldn't have to lug around a camera bag. I use this mostly in a messenger bags and despite the "messenger bag" explicitly in the title of the product, I have used it in a couple of back packs as well. With the adjustable dividers, it can fit your gear as it changes.

I bought this for a Canon 5D II, and a couple of lenses originally. But as my lens collection grew, including a 70-200mm zoom this bag was adjusted and fit them all and the camera (attached to the 70-200)*.

The only minor issue is that when I bought a grip for the 5D, I could no longer fit it efficiently in the bag. I either had to detach any attached lens, or detach the grip. You can still get it to fit without doing those two things, but then the insert starts bulging out and subsequently so does the whatever bag you have it in.

Padding is good. Not super thick, but it's on the bottom too and I haven't had issue with gear damage.

*the footnote here is that when I attached the 70-200 to the camera, I'd insert it lens down, and in doing so, the camera would be a bit proud of the top of the bag. Fine for my purposes, but if you're looking for more solid protection, this may not be your best option. I mean, there is enough room to but the lens and camera in sideways, but then you're really limiting what else you can put in the bag.

OK I've rambled on enough. Hope you find this useful.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
NOTE- The Insert is actually gray, not black as listed in the product description.

I purchased this insert from another supplier when Amazon was out of stock (these inserts can be in short supply at times). It was purchased specifically for my Domke 701-82S F-802 Reporter's Satchel -Sand, which does not come with any insert, but is the best bag for my day to day needs of carrying work items (file folders, magazine, glasses, keys, phone, pad, pens, etc) as well as a small kit of photo gear (Nikon D300s-no grip, Nikon 85mm f/1.8, Nikon 50mm f/1.4, Tokina 12-24 f/2.8, and a Nikon SB-900 or SB-700). This insert is a perfect fit and solution. Having been a big fan of Tenba quality and design, I was very familiar with their inserts. I sold off my Tenba (and Lowepro) gear a while ago as I went more retro and simplistic with Domke gear, which I find fits my changing needs better. However, Domke does not necessarily have the best insert solutions for my needs (I use a Ciesta Flexible Camera Insert Partition for DSLR SLR Lens (Brown / Medium) (large version though) with my Domke F-2).

The insert is extremely high quality and far more padded than Domke inserts (closed cell dense foam compared to Domke open cell light foam). Of course, in contrast to Domke inserts, the better padding also adds more bulk and reduces flexibility of the insert (Domke inserts can be bent every which way and actually mold itself to a compartment for example). So, like with all photographic gear, you have a trade-off. However, in the case of the Domke F-802 (or even the F-803), there is no better solution. The insert also easily fit into my friends Timbuk2 medium sized messenger bag, with room left over (in main compartment) for other gear- it's just not a perfect fit like with the Domke F-802.

Like another reviewer noted (PK Frary)the Amazon description left a lot to be desired. Add to that, many product listings for inserts (and bags) do not provide accurate dimensions anyway, and it can become frustrating to select a solution without trying it first. I measured the interior dimensions at approximately 13W X 9H X 4.5D inches with a weight of less than 1/2 pound. The insert does provide limited flexibility and will fit slightly smaller dimensions. The build quality of the inserts is among the best I have seen. Though the insert provides some flexibility and will fit slightly smaller compartment dimensions, the insert can stand on its own even when loaded with gear. This is a nice feature if you need to remove your gear to carry other items for example.

The velcro positioning of the dividers is limited since the insert interior is nylon. Even so, I was able to fit a Nikon D300s with a Nikon 85mm mounted face down in the middle, a Nikon 50mm f/1.4, Nikon 85mm f/1.8, a Speedlight, remote release, and misc items. The camera is always in the ready position and is very quickly taken out.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2009
The insert was larger than expected. I checked the dimensions against my messenger bag so I already knew that it would fit. What I didn't know was how snug it would fit.

This insert fits perfectly with a Chrome Corsair bag.

The insert had enough room for a zoom lens, a flash, a 50mm lens in the center compartment and the camera with lens attached. Don't expect to carry everything you have with this bag. This is perfect for shooting on the go where you don't want to walk around with your camera exposed yet you want the camera in an easily accessible area.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2015
Really fantastic insert. It's a nice lighter gray so you won't easily lose your stuff but it also doesn't draw any attention with bright neon colors like other cases.

For those wondering, the measurements are 13*9*4.5-5 (Length*height*width/depth in inches), so it would definitely fit most messenger bags well. Since it is a super dense foam though, it sticks to its rectangular shape pretty solidly. The inserts are really easy to velcro where you need them to be, depending on your equipment. I was able to fit my T3i with stock lens and a hood mounted on it, another 250 lens and various extra additions in this thing.

It didn't quite fit my needs since I had a smaller bag, but this thing is really solid and definitely has the protection you need from knocks and dings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2011
The insert is much taller then I expected but it comfortably supports my T1i with a battery pack and has space for 1 extra lens AND has place for wires, chargers etc. You could easily fit 2 extra lenses along with a camera with 18-55 lens.

I have put this insert into a Timbuk2 medium bag and it fits comfortably and leaves a little space for a light jacket and a bottle of water (if you want to put a filled bottle with your camera that is your choice, the place is there).

I would buy this again or recommend it to anyone
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2009
This insert is great! I just stick it any bag and like magic i have a camera bag :) i love it! The padding is awesome and i have enough space for my camera with lens on in the middle and 2 lens one either side.
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on June 18, 2012
Just about ALL of the camera bags I've seen on the market scream "I am a camera bag with expensive equipment inside, come steal me."

This insert is perfect for turning a messenger/tote bag into a camera bag. Specifically I use this to bring a Nikon D3000 plus extra lens, a small Rocket Air blaster, Kodak Zi8 vid cam- LED light and lav mic and it stores it all.

The interior dividers have velcro and are a plenty, allowing you to configure the inside to your needs. I just wish there was a thicker padding at the bottom. Some mesh pockets on the outside for more organization options for things like spare cards and the like would also be nice.

I couple this insert with the Timbuk2 D-Lux Messenger back(2012) version to make what I call the perfect camera bag. You can read my review on that bag to find out why. Don't waste your $$ on those overpriced camera bags, get this insert instead.
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on August 4, 2014
My small photography business started to pick up steam, and I found myself acquiring more and more photography gear and hot shoe flashes :) I needed an extra camera bag to transport all of my photo gear, and the local camera store wanted about $200 for a camera bag that was large enough to transport 4 hot shoe flashes and an extra lens or two. I went home from the photography store disappointed that I didn't have enough funding for a camera bag because I had spent my funding on hot shoe flashes--sort of ironic I know :) Long story short--after mulling over my problem--I noticed that my old college messenger bag was exactly the same size as one of the camera bags that I saw at the local photography store--I decided to do a search on camera bag holders/dividers and I found this awesome bag insert. My old messenger bag is now my favorite photo bag :)
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on May 15, 2014
I looked for the perfect camera bag/purse and while there are many choices I couldn't find exactly what I wanted. I decided to buy the Tenba photo insert so that I could change out the bag easily. The insert is just the right size and allows for many different configurations. Finding the right size bag was a bit trickier than I expected but the Bagallini Kindred tote is a perfect fit and stands on it's own. I'm finally happy with my camera bag!
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