f-stop Shinn - The ideal camera bag for wildlife photographers?

After my old photo backpack gradually disintegrated, last autumn I bought a backpack from the f-stop. In this article I answer the question why I chose the f-stop Shinn and whether it is suitable for wildlife photography.

In general, the 80l large camera bag is large enough for practically all the equipment a wildlife photographer could need. However the bag is quite heavy and expensive. You’ll read in my summary whether the bag is worth is weight and money…

The f-stop formula

F-stop produces photo backpacks in a wide range of sizes. From the small photo bag for a Point + Shoot camera to the 80l Shinn for large cameras like a RED or Arri.

But all f-stop backpacks have one thing in common: the f-stop formula. Each of the backpacks is built according to the same system. The basic component is a normal backpack. It can be opened either from the top or from the back panel with a zipper.

What actually makes the backpack a photo backpack is the ICU, Internal Camera Unit. The ICU is a box made of sturdy fabric that houses the camera and the additional lenses. In conventional photo backpacks, this box is already integrated into the backpack. With the f-stop backpacks, however, the box can be removed and replaced. This has the great advantage that you can also use this backpack as an everyday backpack.

The modularity also makes it possible to buy ICUs of different sizes for the backpack. This is ideal for travelling or expeditions. If you need more space for other equipment, you can simply use a smaller ICU. I have already converted the ICU so that I stowed my clothes in the upper half and used the lower half for my camera.

In theory, you lose a bit of storage space by having a separate ICU, but in practice it hardly matters. In any case, there is no lack of space in the Shinn...

The backpack

With a volume of 80l, the f-stop Shinn is the largest backpack of the f-stop brand. Compared to the 10l smaller Shuka, it is a little longer and above all a little deeper. This creates enough space for large film cameras.

Although I (unfortunately) don't own a RED or ARRI film camera, I decided on the Shinn after careful consideration. The main reason was the additional protection for the camera and the space for other accessories. With my old backpack, a Tamrac Anvill 27, the space was very limited and even the 500 mounted on the camera had only just enough room. With two or three additional lenses, the backpack was already at its limit.

Der f-stop Shinn mit geöffnetem Rückenpanel.

Size

In terms of size, the Shinn is probably unbeaten. With the Cine Master ICU, my 500mm on the camera fits in easily. On both sides of the camera there is plenty of room for either 6-8 lenses or 1 camera + about 4-5 lenses. Behind the camera I have additional space for a filter set, for example. The filters are particularly well protected and are not exposed to any forces, as could be the case, on the side walls of smaller backpacks. Thanks to the abundant partitions in various shapes and sizes that are included, you can also divide the ICU exactly according to your wishes.

Das innere des f-stop Shinn mit geöffnetem Rückenpanel. Aufteilung der ICU für Tierfotografen.

Telezoom

Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6

Square filters

Nisi V6 + Haida ND Filter

24mm

Sigma 24mm f/1.4

Secondary camera

Nikon Z6 and 24-70mm f/ 4 S

Zoom

Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S

50mm

Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S

Macro lens

Sigma 105mm f/2.8

Binoculars

Kowa BD II 10x32

Main camera

Nikon D850 + MB-D18 on a 500mm f/4 FL ED

Das innere des f-stop Shinn mit geöffnetem Rückenpanel. Aufteilung der ICU für Tierfotografen.

What's in my bag:

Main camera

Nikon D850 + MB-D18

Secondary camera

Nikon Z6 and 24-70mm f/ 4 S

Prime telelens

Nikon 500mm f/ 4 FL ED

Telezoom

Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6

Macro lens

Sigma 105mm f/ 2.8

Wide-angle

Sigma 24mm f/ 1.4

Wide-angle-zoom

Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S

Standard-Prime

Nikon Z 50mm f/ 1.8 S

Binoculars

Kowa BD II 10x32

Filter Set

Nisi V6 Filterhalter + Haida Filter

Features

With the Cine Master ICU, the backpack is actually already filled. But thanks to further pockets on the outside, a lot more can be transported with the backpack. These include a pocket above the ICU, on the back of the backpack and a pocket on each side. A laptop sleeve is also included between the backpack and the ICU. A laptop together with a graphics tablet fit into sleeve without any problem. Depending on how packed the backpack is, however, it can be a little difficult to stow the laptop.

Der f-stop Shinn an der oberen Klappe geöffnet.

The inside of the backpack can be opened from the top as well as from the back panel. This has the advantage that the backpack can be placed on the ground without getting your back dirty.

There are three small zipped pockets on the inside of the back panel, in which you can store other accessories such as memory cards or various tools. The pockets on the back panel is the only thing that was a bit better on my old backpack. These pockets were made of transparent plastic, which made organisation much easier. With the Shinn, however, the pockets are made of fabric and are also a little harder to open. Thus so far, these pockets are always empty in my backpack.

Die Innenseite des Rückenpanels.

Thanks to the additional outer pockets, you can also pack a lot of accessories, food and clothing.

Die verschiedenen Taschen am f-stop Shinn.
Das obere Fach des f-stop Shinn.

Upper pocket

The pocket above the ICU offers space for various accessories. A net can be used to separate smaller items from the large storage space. I always put my chargers, batteries, memory cards and other electronics in this compartment. In addition, I usually carry sunglasses, a pocket knife, a first aid kit and a few energy bars as food reserve.

Das hintere Fach des f-stop Shinn.

Backpocket

The pocket on the back of the backpack has enough space for a water bottle, extra clothes and some food. On the outside of this pocket is another small pocket, which is accessible via a separate zipper. This pocket has room for a wallet or similar. Personally, however, I always leave this pocket empty.

Side pockets

Other accessories can be stored in the two side pockets of the backpack. The two pockets can also be filled with a small hydration system or a small travel tripod, for example. It is a bit too small however for a normal water bottle.

Clips

If you couldn't stow everything in the backpack, you have the option of attaching more equipment to the backpack thanks to the many clips. For example, I attach my tripod to the side with two clips. If you still can't attach all your equipment, you can order separate clips that can be attached to other prefabricated points. For example, you could attach a tent.

Quality

The f-stop Shinn is made of robust material and shows practically no wear even after intensive use. The zips are robust and, thanks to a rubber coating on the outside, relatively waterproof. In general, the backpack is also quite good in terms of waterproofing. The outer pockets can get a little damp after a long time in heavy rain. But you don't have to worry about the camera and the lenses inside the ICU.

Detailaufnahme des Stoffs des Shinns.

However, if you are also carrying things in the outer pockets that should not get wet, I recommend buying the raincover as well. This should make the backpack weatherproof. Thanks to the zipper on the back panel, the camera is accessible even with the raincover on. This is not possible with my old backpack and many other photo backpacks.

Weight & comfort

Due to the large size and the great quality, the Shinn sure isn't the most lightweight backpack ion the market. The backpack alone weighs a good 2.5 kg. Including the Cine Master ICU, it weighs a good 4.5 kg. With all the equipment, my backpack weighs between 10 and 30 kg, depending on what I take with me. The height of the carrying straps cannot be adjusted on the back panel, but otherwise the straps can be adjusted very well so that the backpack fits. Thanks to the adjustable hip and chest straps, the backpack seems much lighter. Only on the bike can the straps get in the way a little. However, opening the hip belt solves this problem.

The new DuraDiamondTM variant

Just recently, f-stop came out with a new version of the f-stop Shinn. The new version is supposed to have an even more robust fabric, which is also supposed to be more weatherproof. Furthermore, some smaller things have been changed in the design. The back panel now looks a lot more useful. There are now four small pockets for memory cards and batteries, the laptop sleeve has also been moved to the back panel and there are two additional small, transparent pockets. The side pockets have also been optimized and you can now also attach water bottles to the outside like in a normal backpack. The prices of the two versions are exactly the same. Even if the old version were to get a little cheaper, I would definitely recommend the new version. Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to hold the new version in my hands or wear it on my back, but the improvements (especially the pockets) are definitely worthwhile.

The Cine Master ICU

As already mentioned, the ICU's can be bought in different sizes. The Cine Master ICU is the largest ICU from f-stop. With a length of almost 65 cm, it is not only big enough for a telephoto with a camera, but due to the height of 21 cm, most smaller lenses fit vertically in the backpack, which provides a lot of space.

The Cine Master ICU is additionally strengthened by metal rods at the corners. This offers additional protection, but also adds to the weight. The ICU weighs a whole 2.3 kg. However, considering everything that is protected by the ICU, the 2.3kg is well invested weight.

Field experience

Whether in the middle of a storm, at minus 20° C, on a sandy beach, in the mud or climbing a practically vertical mountain, the backpack has done it all so far. I have summarised some of my experiences here.

In the rain, the Raincover is recommended, even though the material of the Shinn can take a lot. The outer pockets in particular get damp or wet at some point in heavy rain. The ICU, on the other hand, has never got wet and I have spent many hours in the rain with it.

The Shinn takes cold, sand or mud with ease. If the backpack gets dirty, it can be cleaned very easily with a brush and a wet cloth. But in order for the rucksack not to be so conspicuous, I decided to always leave something dirty, especially on trips.

When hiking/climbing in steep terrain, the Shinn is of course not ideal. Since the weight is quite far from your own body's center of gravity, you have to be a bit more careful, especially when walking uphill. Climbing this mountain was not so easy with the fully packed Shinn.

At exactly the same place I had to go down again, and that on the seat of my trousers. Again, the size of the Shinn was not ideal and I had to go down sideways. But the Shinn also gave me some security, because I knew that the equipment was well protected and I could concentrate fully on the descent.

General judgement and recommendation

At just under 600 Swiss francs, the f-stop Shinn with Cine Master ICU is on the expensive side. But that is also reflected in what you ultimately get. The f-stop Shinn convinces with quality and does its job. But would I recommend an f-stop Shinn to everyone?

Probably not. Because if you don't carry around a large fixed focal length or a professional film camera, you probably won't be one hundred percent satisfied with the Shinn. Its smaller brothers, such as the Sukha or the Anja, still offer much more space for photographic equipment. These are not only cheaper, but also much lighter.

But if you have a large telephoto, lots of lenses, a film camera or intend to be outdoors for a long time, you will be very happy with the Shinn. The backpack offers more than enough space, and the expensive equipment is particularly well protected in the backpack. In addition, the backpack is also relatively comfortable, especially when you realise what you can carry all at once.

Der f-stop Shinn im Einsatz eines Tierfotografens.

Buy f-stop backpacks

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Nicolas Stettler

Weyernweg 27

2560 Nidau

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16.8.2022

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