Photographer Joe Ng reviews the Tenba DNA 13 Messenger Bag

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The following review was originally written by* & posted on Vancouver-based photographer Joe Ng’s website

*Links added by editor

Tenba DNA: A Messenger Camera & Daily Commute Bag

Summer has finally arrived in Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities in Canada. As you may already know, half of my assignments involve covering sports events. One of my favorite sports to shoot is cycling (and I do enjoy cycling myself!). I shoot a lot with the Gastown Racing Red team – a racing team from the Gastown Cycling club. When tagging along on their training rides, I have to ride my bike while carrying a backpack full of gear until I’m able to capture some shots with no cars in the background. More recently, I’ve been looking for an alternative to carrying a backpack since it’s too roomy for my Fujifilm gear. My eyes landed on the Tenba Messenger DNA 13 bag and Vistek, the Tenba importer in Canada, kindly sent me one to review. It arrived just in time for my cycling shooting assignments.

Tenba DNA 13 Bag

The Tenba Messenger DNA 13 bag is available in four colours and I received the Graphite version. Regardless of the colour, the design clearly stands out from other shoulder/messenger bags that you typically see around town. The bag is large enough for my normal assignments and it can hold my 13” Macbook Pro and a tablet.  The exterior has a durable water repellant coating and the bag also comes with a removable cover that’s silver on one side to reflect the heat and black on the other side for a bit more stealth and subtlety during the night time. I personally like using the silver side when I’m cycling since it does give off a reflection even in the late evening.

Although the quality of the bag is important, the most critical aspect is the practicality of it. Let’s start off with the main closure mechanism on the Tenba Messenger bag. The main closure is made of magnetic clips that allow you to easily open the bag with one hand when you slide the clip to the side but doesn’t open when you try to pull it upwards (like you would with a regular buckle).

Tenba DNA 13 Bag Buckle

On top of the bag, you will find a quick-access zipper to reach your gear so you can avoid opening the flap. Solutions like this are not new and I’ve appreciated it on other bags as well. It works very well on the Tenba Messenger DNA 13 bag.

Tenba DNA 13 Top Down View

Moving onto the main compartment, there are two removable padded camera dividers on the left and right sides. You can adjust the height freely to store one lens below and one above. In my bag, I have the 50-140mm lens fronted on my X-Pro 2 sitting in the middle and 10-24mm, 56mm, 35mm and 23mm lenses on two sides. They all fit perfectly inside the bag.

Tenba DNA 13 Interior with Lens

The main compartment has two padded sleeves that fit my MacBook Air and/or an iPad.

Tenba DNA 13 Interior with Laptop

The bag has two front pockets (one with a zipper and one without) which is another aspect that I really like. My phone fits into the zipped pocket and I place my sunglasses in the other pocket for quick access.

Tenba DNA 13 Exterior Pockets

Another pocket has a zipper and is located on the internal side of the main compartment. I carry all my personal items, wallet, ID, and my passport and plane ticket if I’m travelling. The size of that pocket is big enough for all kinds of documents.

Tenba DNA 13 Interior pockets

Two additional elastic pockets can be found on either side of the bag where I can carry a water bottle and use the second one for accessories (ex. toque, glove, power bars).

Tenba DNA 13 Side Pocket View

Now let’s talk about how this bag performs when it comes to carrying it around for the entire day. The main strap comes with a non-slip shoulder pad that molds to the shape of your shoulder, making it comfortable to carry around on your shoulder for an extended period of time.

Tenba DNA 13 Strap Detail

How much gear can I carry?  A real life example.

Here is a real life example of the how much gear and accessories I can fit inside the bag for a wedding assignment.

Tenba DNA 13 Front view with Fuji Cameras


The Tenba Messenger DNA 13 bag is an excellent bag after I used it for a couple of assignments.  The practicality of the bag is definitely one of its best characteristics. It has all the pockets that you would need and the additional dividers that it comes with are a welcomed addition, especially for carrying my small Fujifilm prime lenses. Overall, it’s comfortable to carry around because of the padded shoulder strap. There’s also enough space inside the main compartment to fit all my camera gear in, including my latest largest XF100-400mm lens.

For me, I wish it comes with the silent velcro for the flap as the Tenba Cooper bag series. It would be very helpful for wedding photographers and any other photographers who work in quiet environments for their assignments.

This isn’t just a bag that I would carry with me on my assignments, I would even take out the camera compartment and carry it on a regular day out. For me, the Tenba Messenger DNA 13 bag can be both a camera bag or a daily commute bag.

All images © Joe Ng Photography

About Joe Ng

Joe Ng headshotI think I’m one of the oddballs in professional photography. Unlike most of the working pros I’ve met, I’m among the few who came into this line of work from the corporate world. I spent 20 years holding roles in Multimedia Systems and Information Technology. During those years, photography was nothing more than a serious hobby, something that I enjoyed doing during my free time. In college, I took many photography classes while studying electronic engineering, but was never able to take off with it as a career. In the spring of 2010, I realized that I had exhausted the passion that I once had for my career in technology, so I made the jump to photography. I decided to leave the organization I worked for and pursue my dream of being a photojournalist. Since then, I’ve been working as a freelance photographer based in Vancouver, Canada, with a focus on sporting events. Some of my other assignments include corporate and theatre events, as well as weddings which I capture using a photojournalistic style.