Bags And Cases

Bags and Cases

If I were to mention every pouch and bag for digital cameras, I could fill the next three issues of Shutterbug, and I must admit that after a while they all blend together. Only a few stand out in my mind, and they tend to be the really well made leather pouches or bags.

One of the most outstanding was World Richman Hi Pro bags. They had 15 new designs. I think that I rather confounded them when I showed them how perfectly my Voigtländer T fit in one of their new digital bags, and how the "media" storage pockets worked perfectly for the Voigtländer finders. My parting comment was, "Please don't forget the traditional photographer."

Others showing high quality leather included Cullman (from R.T.S. in the US), Vantage Sales, Vanguard, Hama and Samsonite (both from Dot Line). But leather pouches and bags weren't the only things new at photokina 2002.

OP/TECH USA increased the depth of their neoprene pouches to accommodate new digital camera designs. They also added new, bigger Hood Hats: there are now six sizes, so you should be able to find a neoprene Hood Hat to fit almost any lens. Domke had new accessories and some redesigns. One of the most impressive was a contoured shoulder strap. There are no external seams to catch on your clothing and there is a non-slip fabric with vinyl dots. The straps are adjustable over a wide range of lengths. Lowepro had very little new since PMA. They were still making a big splash with their DryZone waterproof backpack.

An interesting crossover product which you will see mentioned in Roger Hicks' coverage is the tripod/backpack from CCS (distributed by Pro4). The backpack harness is a separate unit, which allows the tripod to be secured between the camera bag and the back harness. When you get to your destination you lengthen one tripod leg and then another. You can then walk out of the backpack harness, install the third leg and you have a workstation. The backpack is off the ground, a front flap comes down to form a desk, and if you want, there is a camouflage tent which can cover the whole thing. This one has to be seen to be believed. For further information contact Pro4 or CCS.

Billingham (distributed by R.T.S.) were there with their usual line-up of leather and canvas bags; but they also had a new material which looks very handsome, and given their knowledge of fabrics, will serve very well. They had a new vest of the same fabric, with a redesign that has increased ventilation as compared with the earlier version. Kaiser had several interesting bags including a round one.

Lamborghini bags were the big news from Vantage Sales and they are very handsome. There are five styles in the range and they will be adding more. I couldn't help thinking, though, if you could afford a Lamborghini you would probably have a handmade, custom-designed camera bag, not one bought off the shelf.

An innovation from Vantage Sales was a retractable shoulder strap which locks at any length, to allow the perfect adjustment for every user. Unless their patents are as secure as the lock on the strap, I wouldn't be surprised to see this sweep across the bag manufacturers.

Crumpler had three new lines of camera bags, the Company Embarrassment, the Next Venue, and the Tall-E. One of the best features of the three lines is that they all hold more than you would think by looking at them. Company Embarrassment is designed to hold two bodies and six lenses, Next Venue holds two bodies and four lenses, and Tall-E will accommodate two long lenses and two bodies. As well as the new lines there were also new colors and fabrics. Crumpler bags are distributed by Jobo.

RoadWired (distributed by Omega/Satter) had the Pod. This is a small, cubical bag with 20 pockets. The Pod comes in four colors and has belt loops and a shoulder strap. RoadWired has also developed extremely comfortable handles for their bigger bags. The handles are made of a 1" fiber glass rod covered with surgical foam. Even cleverer are the lens and camera wraps which are lined with Intercept, a material which prevents corrosion.

 

Novoflex (distributed by HP Marketing) had stretchy, highly protective, non-abrasive wraps in three sizes. They feel like neoprene on the outside, but the inside is almost like fleece. Tamrac had two new backpacks, the Pro Sling Pack (a bigger version) and the new Photo/Digital Computer Backpack. The revised 5000 series all have slide-out compartments on the front for film, batteries, or media cards. They also had a new Digital Double Decker. The removable bottom compartment is for cables and accessories. These new products will not be available in the US until March 2003. For complete descriptions contact Tamrac at www.tamrac.com.

M-Rock, who specialize in modular bags made for the active photographer, added three new bags to their Multi line. They also had a neat little backpack. The camera gear is carried in the bottom, and the top is a daypack. A zip which goes 3/4 of the way around allows the daypack to be folded down into a workbench. Complete details are available on the web.

Delsey is an established name in luggage, but they are now making a range of camera bags. The fabrics have sort of a glow, and there is some unusual detailing, including new zip tape, and zip away handles. They were at photokina looking for American distribution, and I expect they will get it soon. Delsey also has their own airline that flies from Brussels to New York, Boston, and L.A. Their web site is www.delsey.com.

Jeep is a new range of canvas bags with Teflon coating designed in Italy. There are four colors named for the four elements: earth (beige), sea (blue), wind (gray), and fire (fire). They were looking for American distribution as well.

California Sunbounce had their "G-Stop" gravity fighter bags, made in a silver fabric. This means that instead of overheating as a black bag can, the bag reflects the sun and stays cooler. They also have truly impressive roller tripod bags. If you have to carry big tripods check them out on their web site. California Sunbounce is another of those companies that sell directly to the customer without a distributor in the middle.
The weirdest bag (or carrying system) was a little leather holster that would just hold my mobile phone and my APS camera. These were made of a high quality leather, and came in a number of colors. They are made by one of the many OEM manufacturers--Kakuyo Asia Company Limited--but the quality, along with the novelty, made it worth mentioning here.

Pro Bags & Cases
Finally, as an antidote to all the digital pouches, I went over into the professional halls where they have seriously big bags. The first thing which caught my eye was not a camera case, but a carrying system, called Clax, made up of collapsible plastic crates and a folding plastic trolley. The whole thing folds up neatly into quite a small package. It would be an excellent system to have in a small studio. This is distributed in the US by a company which rejoices in the name of Faultles + Starch in Kansas City.

Audiopack in The Netherlands makes huge transport cases and flightcases. Worth a look if you have to fly a lot of gear. SKB, which is an American company, is well-known for audio cases. They were showing a new "rack" series. These are cases of several sizes, which slot together and give you a maximum of storage in a minimum of space. A case from Hand (an Italian manufacturer) has both a rolling accessory kit and a leg assembly kit. Fit both kits on the case and you have a rolling workstation. The Italian web site is www.gtline.com, but you might prefer the English distributor at www.gtline.co.uk.

All in all there was an excellent selection of new bags. For more complete information on any manufacturer's offerings, check out their web sites.

Manufacturers/Distributors

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