Wednesday, April 07, 2010

it's in the bag - Kata CC-195

Cases are one of those things that you resist buying because they don't add functionality: they cost money which you could use on other goodies. But not having a good bag can be a big mistake. A good bag protects your camera and makes it easier to schlep your stuff around. Think of it as insurance rather than an accessory.

In this series, I'm going to go through some cases I have and what I like/dislike about them.

Kata CC-195

Kata CC-195
When I ordered the Panasonic AG-HMC70U I knew it wasn't going to fit in the large camera bag I already owned so I started looking around in different stores to see what choices there were. When buying a bag for a camera this size, you quickly realize that a) it's probably going to be expensive, and b) even in Boston it's difficult to find a store with a good selection. Best Buy doesn't carry bags this size!

I also found that I had to get the camera measurements right, and do a lot of research on sites (and with tape measures in stores) to be sure the camera was going to fit.

After a bit of searching (and bag measuring!) I finally ended up with the Kata CC-195. The size of this bag was just right for the camera (not too big and not too small) and while expensive, it was no more expensive than similarly sized bags by other makers that were of a similar quality. The AG-HMC70U is about as tall and wide as will fit in this particularly model comfortably. You could get a longer camera inside, but not a taller or wider one.

Note too that though large, because of the size of the AG-HMC70U there isn't too much space left for other accessories. This is fine by me, but is something you might need to consider. And even so, it is still quite a large - and with the camera inside - heavy bag. It's not something you want to carry really long distances.

The bag is very nicely made and has thick side walls that seem to offer good protection. There's a real feeling of solidity to the bag. It comes with a length wise divider and two small cross-dividers - I only use one of the smaller ones - that fit well and make it easy to separate the camera from other stuff.

Kata bag interior,
Note the small divider between the camera and other "junk" at the end of the bag

The bag has a double zip that runs lengthwise across the top. The two zips are joined by a cord running through a small plastic handle. While it looks a little flimsy, it's proved to be very smooth and reliable. When unzipped, the top folds up like a tongue. While it's quick and easy to open and close, the problem is that the sides bend in at the top and the opening isn't nearly as wide as the interior. While it doesn't really make it harder to get the camera in or out, it does make putting things in the side section much more difficult. On the other hand, it does make the bag feel much stiffer and sturdier.

The case is so large that using it with the shoulder strap proved to be both awkward and maybe a little insecure. I was worried about dropping it or it sliding around, so I just carry it by the handle. The handle is an odd shape made of material (see picture above.) I find it acceptable for carrying, though I wish it was slightly more like a traditional handle.

Kata does make some larger bags that have a more "traditional" design like the Kata CB-400. But it's quite a bit bigger and costs over $50 more. It would probably be the ideal choice if you want to put all your gear in one bag, but since I don't always use this camera, I tend to keep all my non-camera related equipment in separate bags.

This bag is nicely made, sturdy and reasonably easy to carry. Because of the top design access is a little cramped compared to other cases. The shape makes stacking more awkward, though the inability to place things on top of the case may actually be a plus!

I have two Kata bags and would recommend them as good solid bags.

B & H Photo: Kata CC-195 $175

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