Tenba Cooper 15 Camera Bag

While Tenba was kind enough to send me their Cooper 15 for review, it’s probably not the sort of camera bag you’d take with you on your next hiking trip. That’s not to say you couldn’t, or shouldn’t, but it’s a bit upscale for going far off the beaten path. Of course, I have to shoot the odd wedding and portrait session here and there to help pay for those trips where it’s just me, a big lens, and some wild animals. And that’s where the Cooper 15 fits in nicely.

Last month, I was flown to New York to shoot a wedding. I had been using the Cooper 15 for a few months by then, but this would be a great test, as the big questions would get answered: Would it fit my whole wedding kit? Would it be comfy enough to carry for long periods? Would it protect my gear? And finally, is it discrete enough to go unnoticed as a camera bag, yet stylish enough to get a few compliments anyway?

Cooper 15 from Tenba
Cooper 15 from Tenba

First, the gear. As I learned from a trip to Colorado, the Cooper will hold more big glass than I want to carry. I packed a Canon 6D, 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8, and the 16-35 f4 lenses for that trip. No speedlites, and no spares of any sort, as it was a short trip, and I was only shooting one day, so there was room to spare. That stuff is heavy, no matter what. I’d say that the strap can take the weight, but the pad, while thick, could provide a bit more cushion. It does have some rubbery dots to keep it from slipping off your shoulder though. The wedding was going to be shot with all primes, but after a talk with the bride and groom about the venue and weather, I settled on a 24-105 f/4, and 16-35 f/4, for which my shoulders thanked me. At least until I threw in a pair of 600EX-RT Speedlites, and and all the odds and ends that go along on a wedding shoot. Needless to say, the Cooper 15 will carry more than you would want to, plus a 15 inch laptop, and a beverage in the outside pocket.

“Long periods” leaves a lot open to interpretation, but for a portrait session, I had no issues. With a few lenses and a spare speedlite stashed in the Cooper 15, I could carry it for an hour or more with no hesitation.

Cooper 15 from Tenba
The Cooper 15 is deep – there are speedlites, batteries, chargers, and more under the bodies and lenses


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As far as protection, the movable dividers let me pack my gear so it was snug, but with no fear of my glass getting banged up. On one of our flights, I tried to stash it under the seat in front of me, and the flight attendant just grabbed it, and tossed it into an overhead before I could say a word. So it’s clear that it doesn’t look like a camera bag to someone who is trained to throw your luggage around. That was not the first time it saw some rough handling, nor was it the last, but every last bit made it home safe. Thanks to some rain, it also sat on wet grass for about an hour, and the leather bottom made sure things stayed dry inside.

Speaking of rain, the Cooper 15 comes with their WeatherWrap rain cover that is black on one side (stealthy!), but silver if you turn it inside out – which is handy if you have to leave it in a car, or in the sun. Not that I would turn my back on my bag, or leave it unattended, but it’s a nice feature. And as someone who hates hook and loop fasteners, I found Tenba’s quiet version to be almost magic. Pull the flap down first, then out, and it’s not quite silent, but won’t get you dirty looks in a church. Or skip the flap, and go right through the zipper in the top of the bag, which is what I am used to from my other Tenba bag. That helps keep a little dust and mist at bay, when shooting outdoors.

Tenba hasn’t forgotten that your bag needs to carry more than just cameras. There are also some pockets in the front for things like your phone, iPod, snacks, etc. A zipper on the flap also reveals a long pocket for more necessities, and you can even take out the insert, and use it for things other than photo gear. And yes, you will get compliments. Or, your camera bag will. The subtle black leather accents against the soft, yet durable (and water-resistant) gray cotton canvas/polyester exterior certainly gives it a classy touch.

Complaints? None. Unless I can pare my system down a bit, the weight will always be a concern, and I can’t blame the bag for that. But as far as staying organized, protecting my gear, and looking good, the Cooper 15 really shines. I’ve shared the full specs below, and you can find it and the rest of their great gear on the Tenba website.

– Brian

Cooper 15 specs:

Weight – 3.6 lbs(1.6 kg)
Exterior Dimensions – 16W X 11.5H X 8D in. (41 X 29 X 20 cm)
Interior Dimensions – 15W X 11H X 6.5D in. (38 X 28 X 17 cm)
Laptop Compartment – 15W X 10.5H X 1D in. (38W X 27H X 3D cm)


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