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There’s something incredibly retro-looking about the Tenba DNA 9 bag that I’m sure Gen Z will love. In the pandemic, we (Millenials) had no problem dressing and using uglier clothing. And in some ways, I think that the Tenba DNA 9 bag is the perfect complement to that style culture. I’m sure that someone gladly adorning the Champion logo on their clothing would like this bag. And, of course, those folks will love their cameras. This could be a great camera bag to hold your film cameras, for sure.
Too Long, Didn’t Read.
The Tenba DNA 9 bag is great for those of us with a small camera and lens kits. Leica M, film cameras, and APS-C digital cameras will live very well in this bag. The shoulder pad has ample comfort. Best of all, you won’t overpack the bag.
Quite honestly, nothing seems to be a massive change to the industry with the Tenba DNA 9. It’s not game-changing. And in some ways, it reminds me of a super-charged lunch box that I would’ve brought to Catholic grammar school. Maybe that’s its super-power: the fact that I’m sure no one is going to take the thing from you. It’s still got the whisper velcro system. And like the 16 Slim, it has a waterproof base.
Besides this replacing the DNA 8, there have been pretty minor improvements over its predecessor.
Pros and Cons
- Fairly small
- Fantastic shoulder padding
- It’s pretty impossible to overpack the bag and make it too heavy.
- Lets you carry just the essentials.
- Weather resistance
- It looks like a 1990’s lunchbox from the Thermos company. But Lunchables probably wouldn’t survive in here for a day.
We stuffed the Tenba DNA 9 with Leica film cameras and lenses. It’s not really meant to bring super big lenses or cameras.
Specs are taken from Tenba’s spec sheet:
- 11W x 8H x 5.5D in.
- 10.25 inches inside
- 4 inches deep
- 7.5 inches high
- It can hold a 10-inch tablet
The Tenba DNA 9 is a fairly standard messenger bag. There isn’t a whole lot to it. The biggest changes are the blue color option and the waterproof base. The front of the bag is characterized by magnetic slider straps. Slide these to undo the top flap.
Here’s a look at the shoulder pad. It’s incredibly well built and very comfortable. Plus, it’s adjustable to nearly any position you desire. I love that Tenba kept this bag very ambidextrous instead of gearing it up for one particular shoulder the way some other brands do.
At the back of the Tenba DNA 9 is a slot for a book or a tablet. I’ve put an Amazon Kindle Oasis in here along with actual paperback books.
Here’s the top of the Tenba DNA 9. It has a padded handle, so you can carry it like a briefcase. Or, in this case, like a lunch box.
The top of the Tenba DNA 9 has a zipper for quicker access. I configured my bag to put a Leica CL on one side and the Leica M6 on another side. The middle is for lenses. That’s the best way to configure it for quicker access.
Here’s what the inside of the Tenba DNA 9 looks like when you open it up. Indeed, if I wanted to access the cameras, I’d need to open the bag up. That’s not such a big deal. Most of the time, I’m going to have my Leica camera in my hand anyway.
The front of the bag has another pocket under the top flap. It’s a good spot to put your wallet, phone, passport, etc.
The Tenba DNA 9 messenger bag is small. In terms of build quality, it’s tough to find fault with the bag. It’s pretty weather-resistant and will protect your gear from the elements. Everything is built well and for practicality instead of looks. As these bags are mostly designed for city shooters, that’s just fine.
I packed this bag filled with Leica film gear, film, a book, and a few other things. Then I took a walk around Northern Queens with it. Thanks to the excellent shoulder pad, I didn’t feel like this weighed me down at all. In fact, I had no issues bringing it around with me anywhere. It also didn’t cause the dreaded sweat stain across my shirt. It overall does everything that I truly need it to, but it’s not easy on the eyes. When I look at it, I keep thinking that it’s perfect for attaching those buttons you’d put on your bags and clothing in the 90s and 00s. I’d be happy to get some Nirvana, Misfits, Thrice, NOFX, Blink 182, Stone Temple Pilots, and other buttons to slap on this bag. But I’d be afraid that it would compromise the integrity of the weather sealing. If the flap were larger, I’d probably be more inclined. But the top flap is fairly small.
For what it’s worth, we didn’t dip the Tenba DNA 9 into water. But Tenba says that the base can survive around an inch or so of water.
Ease of Use
The Tenba DNA 9 is straightforward to use. Go out there, and when you’re ready to access your gear, just undo the top zipper. You’ll get to your gear fairly easily. But when you want to do something a bit more intensive, you’ll have to do undo the front slider buckles. These are held in place magnetically. Getting to your gear is easy to do.
Because you can’t overpack this bag and the shoulder pad is so good, you’ll be comfortable with the bag all day. Stuff a book or a Kindle in the bag, and you’ll have something to do on the metro transit. This is a straightforward bag.
- Does everything you’d need†
- Success in pretty much every area of the bag.
- I can’t get over how almost adorably ugly it is.
The brand new Tenba DNA 9 bag is an awesome camera bag for the person who needs a small bag with padding. It’s the perfect bag for photographers who only need to carry minimal gear. Those folks, I often imagine being film photographers. However, it’s more than good enough for almost any small mirrorless camera system and a few accordingly small prime lenses. You can surely bring a tablet with you. But all in all, this is a bag for a photographer that doesn’t really want to end up looking at a screen all day afterward. At least that’s how I feel about it. It’s totally possible that someone may want to just edit later when they get home.
Granted, I still just can’t get over how much I’m not a fan of this bag’s looks. Looking at it is just a bit odd.
The Tenba DNA 9 receives four out of five stars. Want one? Check out the listing on Amazon for the blue or black version.
Editor’s Note: This review isn’t at all sponsored. Tenba sent us the Tenba DNA 16 Slim messenger bag for review before this was announced. Tenba has committed sponsorship dollars to the website for this year, but that content is very different and clearly labeled. Every brand that works with us knows to stay far away from our reviews and knows that we’re going to say whatever we want. I still wish Tenba made this bag in a leather and canvas version. But everything I’m saying here is 100% my personal feelings and the transparent truth. In the world of camera bag reviews, we’ve been doing this a lot longer than anyone else out there. I don’t need to declare things like this. But as the founder and Editor in Chief of this website, I instill it in the entire staff to be super transparent. We’ve said things like this after coming home from press trips and several other events.