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The perfect camera bag

until the next one

in Photography , Wednesday, April 07, 2010

How many articles, blog posts, reviews start off with something like “the search for the perfect camera bag is a never-ending quest” and conclude with something like “the perfect camera bag doesn’t exist”, using this assertion somewhere along the line to justify the confession that the author has an innumerate number of said items ?

Quite a lot. And I’ve read most of them. And I’ve got a lot of camera bags. My favourite so far is the only one I didn’t pay for, an unexpected free gift from Olympus. It’s great for general use and doesn’t get in the way. And I’ve got some heavy duty LowePro stuff for the more epic outings.

But what I didn’t have is a satisfactory combo camera / daypack, and I really, really wanted one for a forthcoming trip to Costa Rica.

I actually hate camera backpacks. They’re a necessary evil, but really, ... instant dork. They always seem so huge, so clumsy, so inflexible.

I spent endless hours looking at catalogs, websites, reviews, etc - because in this neck of the woods, actually getting to see anything other than really basic stuff in the flesh is impossible. I nearly went for a LowePro sling bag. Then a Kata 3 in 1 sling. Then I even considered Domke. And I had a good look at esoteric stuff like Think Tank. But finally I went back for a closer look at a bag I’d dismissed at first: the Kata 467i. And I ordered one. 

And it’s great. A really nice bag which swallows an impressive amount of gear, is comfortable, has plenty of “daypack” space, and can even take a laptop (which I would never use, but the compartment is great for maps and stuff). And it looks really small.

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Here, the lower section of the bag holds the following:

- Olympus E-3 and 12-60 lens
- Olympus 50-200 lens, with tripod collar
- Olympus 50mm lens
- Olympus FL36 flash
- Olympus 1.4 teleconverter
- memory card holder

That’s a lot of gear.

The laptop section has swallowed a filter pouch. The rest is empty, apart from the Kata rain cover in one of the front pockets. Oh, and my Gitzo Traveller tripod is attached to the foldaway tripod holder.

You can close it all up faster than than you can say “cabin baggage - no problem sir”.

Frankly, my LowePro Rover AW, which follows a similar concept, but is much heavier and larger but has much less room, and is much clumsier to use, should be embarrassed. Ok, so it has a more robust harness, but even so… the Kata is hardly uncomfortable.

So, there we have it: at least within it’s particular niche, the perfect camera bag… maybe. Time will tell!