Reviews |Tenba DNA 16 DSLR Backpack

Tenba DNA 16 DSLR Backpack Review

Tenba DNA 16 DSLR Backpack review
Review

Price when reviewed

£199

$229.95
Check current price

Our Verdict

Tenba really knows how to make dedicated camera backpacks, with the company’s DNA range being the perfect fit for the city dweller. The Tenba DNA 16 DSLR style is stylish, functional, and far removed from traditional camera backpacks.

The main camera storage area features an innovative tilt design, ideal for accessing your kit while the bag is perched on a window ledge or wall. Inside there’s space enough for a DSLR or mirrorless with an additional lens and flash.

The upper roll top section features plenty of room for kit or personal belongings and is secured with an innovative magnetic catch that works without fault.

On the back is the laptop slot that offers room for a 16-inch MacBook, although the fit is snug. Despite the Air Flow back design that offers comfort there isn’t much structure so, it’s worth ensuring your laptop is in its protective case.

Comfort-wise it’s best to travel relatively light, the shoulder straps are wide and padded, but the back while padded doesn’t offer a rigid structure and the chest and waist straps are only there for occasional use.

The Tenba DNA 16 DSLR backpack is very well designed and an ideal solution for the urban photographer.

For

  • Great looks
  • Protective materials
  • Room for a laptop

Against

  • Expensive
  • Not a huge amount of shoulder strap padding

What is the Tenba DNA 16 DSLR Backpack?

The TENBA DNA 16 DSLR backpack is part of the popular DNA range, with the DNA messenger having been a firm favourite of the collection for many years. The entire range has been updated, and the DNA 16 DSLR backpack is newly designed for the collection.

The DNA 16 DSLR Backpack has been designed for the urban photographer who wants a dedicated camera bag that will also fulfil the demands of city life as well as your photographic needs.

The external look is stylish, with the blue/black materials blending with the roll-top to match the distinctive style of today’s popular backpacks. In looks, it couldn’t be further away from the traditional black backpack that we have all come to know.

Tenba DNA 16 DSLR Backpack review

Inside, the compartments are well balanced, with the main flip-out section allowing room for a light urban camera kit consisting of a lens, two additional lenses or accessories.

Under the roll top, there’s a large cavity for a jacket, food or a book or two, and of course, it is designed for city life so there’s a 16-inch laptop slot in the back – tablets also accepted.

Unlike field day backpacks, the shoulder, waist, chest and back padding is less and there’s little structural support in the back. However, TENBA has heavily invested in the quality of all materials from the heavyweight ultra tough water resistant outer to the well padded structure of the main camera section.

Specification

  • Weight: 1.36kg
  • Outside Dimensions (cm): 28W x 51H x 20D cm
  • Inside Dimensions (cm): 25W x 23H x 13D cm
  • Laptop Compartment Dimensions (cm): 25W x 37H x 3D cm
  • Capacity: Mirrorless or DSLR camera with 4-6 lenses (up to attached 70-200mm 2.8)

Build and Handling

Tenba is known for its quality camera bags, and the DNA collection has an existing well trusted reputation. The Tenba DNA 16 DSLR backpack lives up to the collection’s quality in style and materials.

Checking over the exterior and the DNA 16 DSLR backpack is a great looking bag; the two-tone blue/black works, and the types of materials that have been used look great.

The black material also has a hidden trick, turn on the flash of your camera and take a picture, and you’ll see it illuminate. Ultimately if you’re using this pack at night then those black sections incorporate highly reflective material that will make you stand out, which is a great safety feature.

Tenba DNA 16 DSLR Backpack review

This feature is all part of the city/urban vibe that this bag gives off, and the design, style and features are all tuned to urban life.

While the bag has been designed for the city, it doesn’t mean that it’s any less tough than its rural cousins. Instead, the blue material is weatherproof, the camera section’s padding is robust, and the roll-top securing catch is one of the best I’ve ever seen.

This is an extremely well-thought out bag designed for the city photographer.

Take a standard street kit, camera body, 50mm, maybe a wider 24mm and filter; this packs into the base camera section, leaving plenty of space for a few extras if needed.

This base section tilts out of the front of the bag when unzipped, a design I’ve seen before and a feature that works well here. Pop the bag on a wall, ledge, or another surface where there isn’t enough room to lay the bag flat on the floor simply looks too grubby, and you can still gain easy access.

Folding the camera section back, you have a large slot pocket for a book, kindle, map, filter or spare cards, and battery. Then there’s the roll-top, which reveals at least the same amount of space as the camera section, if not more. It is enough to stuff in my rain jacket and a few additions.

A tripod pocket with a strap is on the side, just enough to slip in a medium-sized travel tripod. Then on the other side is an elasticated mesh pocket for a water bottle.

On the back is the side opening laptop slot large enough for a 16-inch and offering some padding to keep the thing safe.

Tenba DNA 16 DSLR Backpack review

The back padding utilises Tenba’s Air Flow system, here in one of its lighter forms but still comfortable with the bag fitted with a moderate amount of kit.

The shoulder straps are nice and wide and have ample padding for the bag’s weight; A7 III camera body 50mm f/1.2 lens, jacket and kindle.

The chest and waist straps are a nice addition, and the waist strap can be neatly tucked away when not in use. These straps are lightweight with no padding, just enough to give you that added support when needed, but not for all-day use.

Performance

The Tenba DNA 16 DSLR Backpack has plenty of space for all the kit you could need on a day out in the city. I used the backpack as my go-to non workday bag for a few weeks, and tended to pack in a Sony A7 III with either the 35mm or 50mm, a filter or two, jacket and snack in the roll top.

I found that this weight was just about right, and anything more would have tipped the scales of comfort on the shoulder straps. I also found that while it was possible to tuck the waist straps inside the base pad on the back, I couldn’t do it in a way that left the bag comfortable, so I tended to leave them dangling by the side which was no real bother.

In use, several features stood out. First, the roll-top with that new catch is excellent and easy to use, and the magnet inside the catch gives it a nice secure feel. Once released, the roll-top interior is just a large cavity, but that’s perfect for all sorts of things, including shopping when you forget to take any other bags because you’ve been too distracted packing a camera kit.

Tenba DNA 16 DSLR Backpack review

Then there are the two side pockets, both well designed and perfectly suited to hold a tripod on one side and a water bottle on the other, just as they should be.

Finally, the tilt-out camera section, I like this and the flat base of the bag. If I need to get to the interior, pop it on the sill of a shop window and in you go. It saves having to pop the bag down onto a grotty town street or find a flat surface to lay the bag down.

I also really liked the materials used for the exterior, they feel like they’re protecting your kit, and a few rain showers and puddles have no impact on the material.

In prolonged use, it does take a while to get the balance of the bag right, adjusting the shoulder straps to correctly balance the bag and get the height position right on your back. While the straps are wide and have decent padding, you still need to be careful how much you load up the bag.

I found that two camera bodies with lenses, A flash, several filters and a laptop were well beyond what was sensible to carry with the straps and additional support available. At least for a prolonged period, maybe an hour or two would be OK, but a day – too much.

Ultimately the Tenba DNA 16 DSLR Backpack lives up to the collection’s reputation of being a solid camera bag for use by urban photographers.

Final thoughts

When the Tenba DNA 16 DSLR Backpack arrived, I liked how it looked, especially the materials that gave it a high-quality feel. Loading up the bag and the roll-top section instantly impressed me, I wasn’t keen on these roll-tops at first, but over the last year, I’ve started to see the benefit and now feel slightly aggrieved when some bags don’t feature this quick access expandable feature. Here on the DNA 16, the roll-top is spot on and finished with the slide clip, which is simple perfection.

The main camera section is a little different, but the bag’s urban style works extremely well here. The ability to purch it on a window sill and extract your kit is inspired. When I’ve seen this design style before; it felt gimmicky, whereas on the Tenba DNA 16 it just works, and benefits the bag’s usability.

The two side pockets are also well balanced, as the front slot and rear laptop slot pocket all come together well.

Tenba DNA 16 DSLR Backpack review

My one issue with the bag was that while it was comfortable; I found that even adjusted, I couldn’t get that feeling of an exact fit that I often get with other bags and I think that’s down to the lack of rigid structure in the back. However, I let others have a go, and they felt that the wide shoulder straps and back padding were comfortable for them.

There’s no doubt that the Tenba DNA 16 DSLR is a great backpack and well worth a look if you’re an urban photographer. Whether it’s the perfect backpack for you will come down to the comfort front as it supplies on every other front. So pop into your local photography shop/store, pop in some kit and give it a go.

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