EDIT: Ok, so pictures follow after this review.
So I just got my camera (a couple of months ago now, mind you) and obviously, a camera bag is a good idea. Now, I can't stand those damn shoulder bags. They're clunky and look like a bloody lunchbox. And I didn't really want a backpack, as I'm not a fan of those either. What's a boy to do?
He picks up a Kata 3N1-10 (or 20, or 30 depending on how much stuff he has) if he knows what's good for him.
This is a fairly new product, so for anyone who hasn't heard of it yet, it's a slingpack, much like the Lowepro Slingshot, but with a few extra perks, the main of which being you can swing it over your left shoulder, or your right shoulder, or you can pull out a second strap (which is conveniently tucked away while not in use) and wear it on both shoulders if you need a bit of extra support. In 'sling mode', you just swing that sucker over to your front, unbuckle, zip and out comes your camera. This comes in handy if you want your camera readily available but don't like having it out around your neck constantly.
Oh, and if you want even more support than the traditional backpack mode offers, you can cross the straps over into an X, and simply release one of the buckles to swing it right over as well.
The bag comes in 3 versions, a 10, 20 and a 30 (S/M/L)
The 10 is said to hold your SLR w/ mid-range zoom, 1-2 extra lenses, flash+accessories/personal gear.
The 20 holds your SLR w/ battery grip and mid-range zoom, 3-4 lenses, flash and again, your accessories/personal gear.
And lastly the 30 holds your SLR w/ battery grip and telephoto zoom, 5-6 lenses, flash and accessories/personal gear.
The bag basically has five compartments. The top for your personal stuff (mp3 player, camera manual etc...), two small side pockets (top, one on each side), which will fit things like your card reader, extra firewire cables, mem cards (there's actually small sub-pockets for these attached with velcro) and little crap like that. Then there are two side pockets on the bottom. These are where you camera goes, depending on which side you want it on. The compartments are basically attached with velcro, so all you really have to do is re-arrange the interior of the bag to suit your needs. One side for your camera+flash or whatever, and the other side can be stuffed with spare lenses.
One thing I really like about this bag is its weather resistance. I've worn it out in substantial drizzle/snow and some pretty decent rain and the inside of the bag was bone dry. And, if you happen to get caught in a downpour, there's also a rain coat that comes with the bag for extra weatherproofing. Just pop it over and you're good to go.
You won't have to worry about missing too many shots with this bag, either. I haven't used a Lowepro slingshot to compare, of course, but I can get my camera out of this guy in less than 5 seconds. The buckle isn't SUPER easy to unsnap, but then again, I don't think I'd want it to be anyway.
This is definitely a purchase I'm more than satisfied with. However, like all things, it's not all good.
I could have used a bit more real-estate to work with. Now, I don't mean I wish it could hold more stuff, but I mean I wish there was a little more room for the stuff that's already in there. At times it's like it's a little cramped. Here's what I have in there.
-Canon 40D w/ 24-105 attached
-Card reader w/ USB cable
-CG-580 Battery charger
-Lens pouch for 24-105
Not a lot of stuff really, and from reading what Kata said I could fit in there, it should be more than enough room.
Well, yes and no. Like I said, the stuff is a little cramped. Yeah, I could fit an extra lens (I had a 50mm 1.4 I rented for a week), but I had to be a little more creative than I would have liked to find room for it. Now, yes, there is that spare compartment on the other side of the bag, but with the way the interior is set up, the velcro gets stuck to the side of the flap, and you have to give it a good yank to get it open. And on top of that, due to the size of the camera and lens I already had in there, there was minimal room in that compartment anyway. I ended up squeezing in the 50 in the same compartment as the camera since it was easier to open up that side, but really, anything bigger than a 50mm would not have fit in this bag no matter how creative you got.
That said, what happens when I buy another lens? Or extra batteries and mem cards? Sadly, I think I'll have to upgrade to the 20 (or just go for the 30 and save myself another headache down the line).
Conclusion: The Kata 3N1 series looks like a great line of packs for those who prefer to have their cameras tucked away while not in use, but want to get them out quickly when needed. They're solidly built, and seem rugged and tear proof. From the looks of it, you won't have to worry about wear and tear for a really long time, depending on how much abuse you put it through. I haven't done any rigorous testing, but I'm confidently guessing that it can take a hell of a lot.
However, as said, space is an issue, and I'm thinking that the 3N1-10 is probably better suited to those with entry-level or mid-range SLRs who only have that and maybe an extra lens to kick around with minimal accessories. If you have anything more than that, you're better off looking at a 20/30.
And now for the pics.
Here's what we look like from the front.
Here's the spare compartment. You can see a bit of the raincoat in the pouch tucked away to the left, and there's room for an extra lens, albeit a small one.
Memory card pouch.
Here's where you can stick your camera with a mid-range zoom attached. You can also squeeze another lens in here as well if you wanted to (another small one of course), but that crams it right up against your camera.
On of the top compartments. I have my card reader, USB cable and microfiber cloth. The one on the other side holds my battery charger.
Top compartment. Here I'll keep my lens pouch, lens pen, manual and other little things. Memory cards, pens, etc... If you needed to you could keep an MP3 player or something here.
Rear view, the sling mode, with the second strap tucked away.
And lastly, here's another rear view, with the second strap out.