Fundamental Accessories For Every Photographer
has to carry their equipment, and a good bag makes it easier to work quickly
and efficiently, and saves your back, neck, and arms from unnecessary discomfort.
It therefore follows that although bags are sometimes seen as unexciting, they
are of fundamental importance.
When you are climbing mountains or hiking in the wilderness, you need a good
bag to carry your food and water, to say nothing of waterproofs, climbing gear,
and possibly camping equipment as well. A number of photographic bag manufacturers
started out in these realms and only later moved sideways into photographic
bags: probably the best known is Lowepro.
Using the technology developed for one application, these companies worked with
professional photographers to come up with new solutions to old problems. This
sort of crossover is still happening. For instance, Mountainsmith is 27 years
old but was showing their wares at PMA for the first time. As you would expect,
they have backpacks and waist packs with a lot of emphasis on proper support
Lowepro's Orion Trekker II
Camera Bags Plus
But the crossover doesn't end there. With the advent of digital photography,
manufacturers of photographic bags started to make bags for electronic equipment
and by the same token the manufacturers of bags for laptops, CDs, and electronic
peripherals started to move into the photographic market. Just as the manufacturers
of mountaineering gear brought their knowledge of ergonomics and weather proofing
to the photographic market, the manufacturers of electronic bags are bringing
new materials and new design ideas with them.
Because of the crossover, not every carrying case at PMA was designed solely
for cameras. Some of the most memorable were for MP3s, iPods, CD players, or
DVDs. Cases that caught my eye included some with speakers from Vantage Sales
and Sakar. The one from Vantage incorporated a new material which they said
acted as an amplifier!
Tamrac's Expedition Series
Backpack Camera Bags Plus...
To get back to actual camera bags, the competition in backpacks is tremendous.
More and more backpacks allow you to carry a laptop computer as well as your
camera gear. And as laptops have grown bigger screens but thinner overall, the
manufacturers have responded by making different shaped laptop compartments.
Harnesses are improving, getting more adjustable and more comfortable. I have
already mentioned Mountainsmith; they have different backpacks specifically
designed for men and women. Other examples were Lowepro's descriptively
named Rolling CompuTrekker Plus AW, Kata's new R-103, and Tamrac's
Expedition series. The fit of a backpack is extremely important and Tamrac has
complete instructions on how to adjust the backpack written on the tag.
Small daypack backpacks are also popular and there were plenty of new ones,
some incorporating hydration bladders (water bags, in plain English) and once
again loudspeakers--just the thing to make you popular in the wilderness.
For a classic photographer's daypack check out Lowepro's redesigned
Orion Trekker II. For daypacks with hydration bladders or speakers look at Vantage
Sales or Soundkase (Scosche). And for a no-nonsense daypack which doesn't
look like a camera bag there was Naneu Pro, which uses camouflage material;
they are planning to introduce them in floral designs as well. A great advantage
of such materials is that they don't look like camera bags, some of which
might as well have STEAL ME blazoned on them in fluorescent letters. The Naneu
Pro U-110 is a very compact little backpack, about the size of a daypack, but
with many of the features of a full-size backpack and space for a laptop, too.
Digital SLRs are making quite an impact on bag design, too. Up until photokina
2004, the emphasis was on smaller and smaller bags to accommodate digital point-and-shoot
cameras, but now with the rise of digital SLRs the manufacturers are beginning
to produce bigger bags. Almost every manufacturer had them. Tamrac had three
new Digital Zoom Packs. Lowepro's new Rezo AW series comes in five sizes.
Crumpler has a new series with seven sizes: the Million Dollar Homes. To find
the right size and specifications for your camera, log onto their website (www.crumplerusa.com).
Canadian readers may want to check out two new lines of bags which are being
distributed by Gentec: Roots and Optex. The Roots line has three sizes of very
handsome high-end leather bags for digital SLRs.
New design ideas from Case Logic were incorporated into their digital bags.
Most impressive of the new features is a suspension system which protects the
camera from knocks and bumps, and has scored extremely well in drop testing.
Also important is a waterproof material on the bottom of the bag. Omega/Satter
is distributing a new line of APE bags including three sizes designed especially
for digital SLRs.
Another new line of bags for small- to medium-size cameras comes from Werner
Hollingsworth Photoware. The designs are simple, they are all made of 1680-denier
nylon, and all come with a two-year replacement warranty.
A new line of Pelican soft-sided cases, some of which fit inside Pelican hard
cases, will be distributed by Brandess-Kalt-Aetna. These are very handsome bags
of 1680-denier nylon with leather trim. They are called the Adventure series
and come in eight sizes including two wheeled bags.