Tenba DNA 9 Slim Messenger at a glance:

  • £110
  • Holds a camera and 2-3 lenses
  • Space for a 10-in tablet
  • 28 x 20 x 14 cm outer dimensions
  • Available in blue or black
  • uk.tenba.com

We’ve long been fans of Tenba’s products, and particularly its stylish, functional shoulder bags. The firm has recently revamped its premium DNA range, and here we’re looking at the smallest model – the DNA 9 Slim Messenger. Measuring 28cm wide by 20cm tall, this is a fairly petite bag that’s well suited to carrying a mirrorless camera or a compact DSLR, along with a small selection of lenses.

Tenba DNA 9 Slim Messenger key features:

  • Waterproof cover: This fits snugly onto the bag, clipping securely in place over the strap. It folds away into its own pouch
  • Quick access: A zip running across the full width of the top gives access to your camera without having to undo the lid
  • Waterproof base: In principle, you can safely put the bag down in water up to about 3cm deep, thanks to its coated and seam-sealed base
  • End pockets: Stretch pockets at either end will hold sunglasses or a small water bottle
Tenba DNA 9 Slim Messenger

The DNA 9 Slim Messenger is ideal for a small APS-C or Micro Four Thirds mirrorless kit

Inside the bag you’ll find a removable padded camera holder, with two vertical dividers and two horizontal flaps. As usual these can be repositioned using velcro, giving plenty of scope for customising the space to match your kit. The slim rear inside pocket for a 10in tablet is integrated into the bag itself, so it stays in place even if you remove the camera module to use the bag for other purposes. There’s also a zipped document pocket outside on the back, and a small organiser pocket on the front for such things as batteries, memory cards and filters.

In terms of capacity, I was able to fit in a full-frame Sony Alpha 7R IV with a 24-105mm f/4 zoom attached, and a second lens alongside such as a 16-35mm f/4 wideangle or 50mm f/1.4 prime. But the bag is arguably better suited to smaller format systems, which tend to have narrower diameter lenses. With Micro Four Thirds I found it could happily accommodate my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III with 12-100mm f/4 zoom onboard, along with up to three other small zooms or primes. The tallest lens you’re likely to get in is a 70-300mm telezoom.

Tenba DNA 9 Slim Messenger

There’s a zipped document pocket on the back of the bag

Perhaps the most unusual feature of this bag is the way it opens. The top flap is held shut by two unusual magnetic ‘fidlocks’ which slide sideways to unlock. While the good news is that these are likely to stump unwelcome prying fingers, unfortunately I also find them fiddly to operate. When they’re undone, the flap is still held down by Tenba’s Whisper Hook closure, which is much quieter to open than conventional velcro. You can also get at your camera quickly through the top zipped opening.

As usual for Tenba, the quality of materials and construction is excellent. The outer fabric is water and scuff resistant, while the inside is nice and soft. Meanwhile the shoulder strap offers plenty of scope for adjustment and is fitted with a comfortable sliding pad.

Tenba DNA 9 Slim Messenger: Our Verdict

If you’d like a small shoulder bag to carry a camera and a couple of lenses, the Tenba DNA 9 Slim Messenger is among the best you’ll find.

Amateur Photographer Testbench Gold - 5 stars

Tenba’s DNA range

Also in the DNA range, the DNA 13 (£140) measures 36 x 28 x 18cm and holds a camera with 3-5 lenses and an 11in tablet.

Tenba DNA 16 Pro

Tenba’s DNA 16 Pro messenger is the largest in the range, and will hold a gripped pro DSLR

Meanwhile, the DNA 16 Slim takes a camera, 4-6 lenses and a 16in laptop for £145, with external measurements of 40 x 30 x 14cm. Last but not least, the DNA 16 Pro (above) is made 5cm deeper to accommodate a gripped DSLR, and costs £150.