To detail all the new bags
that are introduced at a single show would take up at least one issue
of Shutterbug, so what follows is a brief (believe it or not), alphabetical
review of the highlights at PMA, with a small rant by way of preface.
If you want more information on introductions not described here, check
out the web sites.
Now for the rant. Countless bags in the last few years have had the word
"digital" printed, molded, or embroidered on them. Why? It
seems counterproductive to me. If digital cameras are so popular, then
this is tantamount to writing STEAL ME on it. Also, there are some really
nice designs which could take a small SLR or rangefinder camera, but many
users of conventional cameras will be put off by having "digital"
on the bag. Perhaps one might splash "digital" all over the
packaging: but not the bag itself.
Ambico had three new lines,
mostly for digital cameras, and all in black, some with color accents.
Interestingly, Ambico carefully explained to me how they use real nylon
instead of plastic imitation nylon.
ALS/Camera Stuff are carrying on with their NASCAR theme, and now include
some driver affiliated products. However, they also had a new camera bag
line in a leatherlook material which they call Stuffskin. These were black
and well designed, not obviously camera bags. An interesting prototype
product looked like a black vinyl apron, with three pockets, designed
to go over a car seat.
Beseler has been updating all of its camera luggage, and had 15 new models.
One of the changes they have made to the Contour line is a new, softer
material which feels better and is easier on your clothing than ballistic
nylon. Out of the new styles, my favorite bag is the Citipak Monostrap.
This is made of neoprene, in lime green or black, and looks nothing like
a camera bag. The shape is not that different from a conventional backpack
but it sits, very comfortably, at an angle. Even though there is no waist
strap it doesn't swing forward when you bend over. Half of the bag
is fitted with movable dividers for camera gear, so when you swing the
bag to the front the camera gear is on the bottom: good for security,
less handy for quick accessibility.
Case Logic redesigned several of their lines this year. One of the goals
was to introduce a slimmer profile, so the bags stay closer to the body.
They have also added detailing such as protective gussets on the sides
of the top flap, which help keep dust out. Another change is stretch PVC
pockets rather than mesh pockets on some styles. A particularly interesting
design is the modular LSA Adventure Series. These are shoulder bags with
smaller bags which fit inside. A pocket on the lining is stitched in such
a way that the smaller bags, which have plastic arms, can be secured inside
the bigger bag. There are three sizes in the series.
A limited range of CCS/Heritage bags is again available in North America.
These handsome canvas and leather bags, many with Gladstone opening, are
now imported by Pro4.
Crumpler, the Australian bag makers, are now distributed by Jobo in the
US. They are well-known for their dispatch rider styles and funny names--and
for the fact that sizes are commonly expressed in beer cans. This year
their introductions rejoiced in the names of Private Diner, Hedge Driver,
Bureau, Heinous, Tube-O-Lager lens cases, Bunion Inserts, and a line of
laptop bags including McBain's Lovechild, The Wee Chappie, The Gent,
Crisp Suit, and the Old Banger.
The Bunion Insert is a very important addition to the line. It comes in
seven sizes and converts many of the Crumpler styles into camera bags.
Crumpler is also working on a new digital line which should be ready by
photokina. To quote the advice on the bottom of the press release, "If
you don't currently own a Crumpler bag go to the web site (www.crum
plerusa.com) and find out how you can get one."
Domke bags include a modular system called the Image Hunter. You can take
the Iguana or the Armadillo, and attach a Roo, a Toad, and a Giraffe.
The Iguana and Armadillo are backpacks, the Roo and the Toad are waist
packs, and the Giraffe is a chest pack. The colors used for this system
are black and lagoon. Although the names are fanciful, the system is a
serious kit with lots of excellent features.
New products from f.64 include a portable padded insert that will fit
into a briefcase or soft courier bag. They also had media storage wallets,
padded tripod cases, and the production models of the backpacks I saw
in prototype last PMA. If you need a backpack which can comfortably take
medium or large format gear, f.64 is a good place to start looking.
Hakuba had a few new media storage cases, including a line of translucent
plastic ones with rubber inserts. There are several different designs
to hold the different media--flash cards, memory sticks, whatever.
They also had a new line of Chinese-made aluminum cases, less expensive
than their top of the line Japanese-made cases. As the Hakuba representative
pointed out, because of airline security measures people are having to
check more through, and these cases are good protection. Hakuba also had
a photographer's vest: it looked like a nice design, but came only
in large (or was it extra large?).
New to the photographic trade were Leelanau. They showed a line of handsome,
American made, leather luggage, not necessarily designed for cameras but
adaptable. They also had albums, notebooks, map cases, portfolios, purses,
small envelope bags, and diaries. My favorite from their line-up was a
big leather bag with a Gladstone opening.
Lektra Designs had pouches designed for the Hasselblad back, with a special
pocket for the dark slide. It will take Hasselblad and Mamiya backs, but
it's too small for my big Linhof and Alpa backs. There has also
been a redesign of the big Outpack bag. It includes removable pockets
and a double opening so you can open it toward or away from your body.
Stretching the definition of camera carrying systems, Lektra also has
two sizes of car mounts. Rather than describe them, as they are such a
specialist application, I simply refer you to Lektra.
A tiny accessory bag called the Kaddy (by Kokuyo) is one of those "I
want one [or two...or three...]" products. It is a small
pouch which converts to a standup display of supplies. You unzip it, fold
down the flaps and it sits up. It holds up to 60 pens (six sets of SpotPens),
30 markers, scissors, brushes, etc. There is a touch fastener inner pocket
for erasers, paper clips, or whatever.
Lowepro's DryZone 200 is made from the same rubber material as RIBs
(Rubber Inflatable Boats). One of the manufacturer's tests was to
load the bag with concrete and throw it over the side. It floated, and
stayed dry inside. It looks like a conventional backpack, with an outer
shell of plastic-coated nylon which slips over the rubber bag. The zipper
seals using wet-suit technology. There is a choice of outer colors: yellow
for high visibility on the water, and black for nature photographers who
want to be more discreet. The backpack harness is adjustable so it is
comfortable for most adult heights. The bag is designed to hold a 35mm
system, a compact medium format system, a small field camera system, or
a professional video system.
Other introductions from Lowepro included a Mini Road Runner--a small,
compact rolling backpack with the wheels on one side and the harness on
the other--and a big Pro-Roller, a heavy-duty rolling case for location
photographers. In the smaller bags, they introduced a line of digital
video bags, three new lens cases, new laptop options in the Lynx series,
and digital media storage cases.
Naneu Pro showed The Four Seasons, a handsome leather-look design that
has a rain jacket concealed in a back, zippered pocket. The New Age series
consists of foam-lined pouches in four sizes. They all have an "Easy
Lock" system to fit on a belt, plus rings for a shoulder strap.
Three other series are called Travelers, Outdoor, and Cyber. All bags
have a lifetime guarantee against defects in workmanship and material.
Otter cases, the waterproof, hard-shell cases, included two new larger
sizes. Features include a compound latch, lock, shoulder strap option,
purge valve, and optional "pick and pluck" foam lining. The
other introduction is a PDA case. The special screen allows you to use
your PDA while it is sealed inside the case. The case is waterproof, airtight,
and has a lifetime guarantee.
OP/TECH had several new items. Media Mate leather pouches have loops for
batteries, pockets for media cards, and swivel clips for attachment to
bags or belt. The Media Holster is a small neoprene pouch for batteries
or media cards and fits onto a camera strap. They also had a multi-pocket
pouch for the Apple iPod. For those who want to show their colors they
had a camera strap decorated with stars and stripes.
Omega/Satter had new bags called RoadWired. There are several sizes and
they are well worth looking out for. Two unique items are their media
storage cases and lens wraps lined with Corrosion Intercept material,
a polymer which neutralizes corrosive gases and will prevent metal from
tarnishing, rusting, discoloring, and deteriorating.
Pelican cases, distributed by BKA, had a range of neoprene accessories
including camera straps, accessory pouches, and camera pouches. They also
had shooting ponchos and two sizes of camera protector. BKA announced
that there are now seven styles of Pelican Soft Sided Bags, five of which
fit inside Pelican hard cases.
New rolling soft-side bags include the PCS 161 and the PCS 104. The PCS
161 is designed to hold a 35mm system, or a small medium format system,
plus accessories. It also fits inside the Pelican 1610 hard case. As if
this weren't enough versatility, it has a backpack harness and a
padded back support. The PCS 104 was a prototype last year. This year
they had the production model. It can be used for camera or lighting gear.
There is a large central compartment and two side compartments which fold
out. The side compartments are big enough to hold lighting stands or a
tripod, and can be opened from the top even when the bag is closed.
Phoenix had three new lines,
the Black Diamond, the Ultimate, and the Blue Dot. They also had two new
smaller bags in their Professional series and a new size tripod bag. Most
impressive was a backpack, built to accommodate a 600mm lens. It has a
plastic outer wall, closed cell foam inner wall, and removable lumbar
Prat Paris, the French company who make very handsome leather cases for
cameras as well as for presentation, had two new presentation cases. One
was patent leather, the other a textured leather with chrome fittings.
Sakar's Digital Concepts line is now made of neoprene, rather than
Tamrac's newest designs included two new Velocity messenger-style
bags; the Velocity 7 Photo Sling Pack; the Velocity 5 convertible hip
bag; a new compact backpack; a professional bag (the Pro 5) which will
take a 200mm lens plus SLR; a new lightweight addition to the Superlight
series; a new 5211 bag for a compact SLR; a redesigned 5200 series; and
lots of media storage cases. The media storage wallets have a unique,
but very simple feature. Each pocket has a little red flag. If the media
card is "unexposed" (empty), tuck the flag in. Once the media
card is "exposed" (full), pull the red flag over the pocket.
Or there's this incredible invention called 35mm film...
Tenba were celebrating their
25th anniversary this PMA. Good news for smaller photographers: they are
now making their photographer's vest in small and extra small. They
have also redesigned their little 161 Photo Vision Backpack. The hanging
compartment inside is now removable, a zipper around the front allows
access to the lower section of the pack. Compression straps take up any
slack. It even comes with a water bottle. A larger backpack (the 616 I
think) was also introduced: the design was so new that they had no printed
information. Among its features are feet which allow it to stand up; a
substantially hidden compartment on the bottom for documents; a removable
compartment for a laptop; and of course plenty of room for camera gear.
Tokina (THK) has dropped the complete United Colors of Benetton line and
come up with a line of just three backpacks, designed with input from
working photographers. The design is simple and clean. The outer shell
is firm, probably with a plastic shell; the inners are lined with closed
cell foam. The larger backpack will accommodate a 600mm lens, the next
size down, a 400mm, and the smallest, a 300mm. All three have a special
padded pocket for a laptop computer. Proposed retail prices were surprisingly
modest, ranging from $89 for the smallest to $139 for the largest.
Vanguard had several new lines including some beautiful textured real
leather bags and pouches (the Envoy line), some new slim-line bags and
leather-look bags, and new colors including four rich brown digital bags.
Perhaps most impressive was a new hard-side rolling case with chrome clad
corners and a pick-foam inner. There was also a top loading, rolling briefcase
which can be carried onto an aircraft.
Last but not least was another rolling case, this one from Vantage Sales.
It is called the Dockmate, and is two cases that clip together. The soft
case, which has the rolling frame built-in, is designed for clothes, samples,
catalogs, or bro chures. The more structured case is designed to hold
a laptop and all the cables, media storage, and accessories. A very secure
clamp on each side allows the two to be put together.