Quest for the perfect camera bag

A good camera bag is essential to photography enthusiasts.

I used to carry my camera in a Lowepro bag in an adidas messenger bag. When I bought the Nikon 18-200 mm VR lens, it became the lens that I used most often. While the Nikon 18-55 mm II kit lens is a good basic camera, it made no sense to me to bring it with me anymore since it covers the same focal length and lacks VR.

In hindsight, I should have considered the fact that I would upgrade my lens sometime down the road when I bought my Lowepro bag. It fits my Nikon D40 with the kit lens. Anything bigger and I would be unable to close the cover, which was what happened when I switched to the 18-200 mm.

The Hunt

That sparked the hunt for the perfect bag, only for it to end in disappointment. I came to realise that there is no such thing as a perfect bag. There is, however, the bag that suits your needs and camera (of course!) perfectly. I knew from the get-go that I wanted a backpack. I spend several hours commuting to and fro from work. I wanted something comfortable to carry for long hours. My messenger bag gave me a few scares when, on several occasions, someone shoves past me and nudged the bag off my shoulder. Quick reflexes avoided the heartache of dropping my bag (and my precious camera!) but it still left my heart in my throat!

I do agree that carrying a backpack in office wear makes one look dorky. I can live with that.

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p class=”text”>After poring through reviews about various bags, I concluded that the Kata DR series suited my needs. My criteria were:

  • Backpack
  • A compartment for camera gear that is separate from other compartments.
  • A laptop compartment that I can use to carry books and magazines.
  • Must not be too big to make me look even shorter.
  • Tripod holder

I tried out the bags at my favourite camera shop and bought the Kata DR-466i.

I shall not do a review of the bag since there are a few good ones on both the DR-466 and DR-467. The bags are the similar in all aspects except for the dimensions.

Never heard of the brand? Neither did I. I read up about Kata and was surprised to find that the founders of the company used to produce protective gear for military use. This alone speaks volumes of the quality that you can expect from their products.

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p class=”text”>Kata -DR-466i

My thoughts

It has been more than a month since I bought the Kata DR-466i. I am very pleased to be the proud owner of this bag. The size of the bag means that it sits snugly on my back. During my trip to KL, I brought only this bag, stuffed to the brim with clothes and essentials that I needed to bring along. The bag was able to take the abuse I threw at it. It did get back at me by digging into my back but that is expected when you load a bag the way I did.

The fine-toothed zips are very well made and are still in perfect condition despite rough handling from me. They slide open and close smoothly, something I have never experienced in my other bags.

I read in a review that the bag’s water resistance is compromised due to the hole at the top of the bag that is meant for you to put the headphones through. That made me hesitant about the bag’s ability to protect my precious camera gear from rain. In the past weeks, I have had to run from sudden downpours. In my experiences, the interior of the bag remained dry. Of course, it was only a maximum of five minutes in the moderate rain. The flap below the hole was sufficient to prevent water from flowing in. However, I’m sure water would have overcome the simple barrier should the bag be left in the rain for a longer duration or if it was raining heavily. In those situations, the rain cover for the bag should be put to use.

Kata DR-466i

The camera compartment is well-padded and is divided into compartments by velcro dividers. There is more than enough space for my camera gear. I am able to put my D40 with 18-200 mm VR lens, a 50 mm f/1.8D lens, SB-600 speedlight, charger, USB cable, spare memory cards and batteries, lenspen and the rain cover. All that and I still have space for Scarves’s cosy hideout!

Although I failed to find the perfect bag, I’m glad to have found my perfect bag. Now I just need to find the perfect tripod to go with the bag.

Credit: Images taken from Kata Bags.