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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hands-On with the Kata Light Pic - 40 DL

Not being the girliest of girls, this photographer generally shies away from photography things that are marketed specifically toward women as often, they are just too girly for taste. But my oh my, Kata has a goodie. This black shoulder bag, previewed at PPE this year (2011) looks deceptively like a slouchy, classy hobo purse that coordinates well with a wide variety of personal styles. Behold. It is a camera bag, and a deceptively roomy one at that.

Facing reality for a moment, it is a fact of life that not every bag can be everything to every photographer. Often if there is favorite feature, there are compromises to be made elsewhere. Such is the case here. But if style is needed, the compromises are certainly workable.

The basics: The LightPic series comes in three sizes. For the purposes of hands-on reviewing, the 40-DL, or the middle size was used. Feel free to guesstimate up or down in terms of what can be carried accordingly. The LightPic 40-DL is equipped with three exterior pockets and eight interior pockets. On the outside, one pocket extends the length of the bag, with the other two being on the ends. One of the end pockets has a mesh, two-part divider. Inside, there are three pockets along each long end, with large open pocket on each end. I have found the end pockets handy for holding larger items like a flash or extra lens. These end pockets, however, are not padded so it's a good idea to use a protective pouch for any lenses carried in these.

The actual camera portion consists of a zippered insert with a two-part hinged divider. Now, this insert seems a tad small for a serious camera. Fitting a camera with a grip is impossible. However, grip removed, it fits in nicely (camera used in the image is a Pentax K-5). For my purposes I just carry the grip in one of the pockets along the interior length. And the camera will fit into the insert with a fat 17-50/2.8 lens with hood reversed (with removal of the divider). The fit is just snug enough to keep the camera from moving around. I would love to be able to keep my camera in the bag with the grip attached, however, it is just a few seconds to install, then to uninstall when packing it back away. Again, compromises.

The detailing is wonderful. The logo is small, understated and classy. An ornament bearing the trademark spiral and the letters K-A-T-A dangles form one end. The strap adjuster is an innovative silver disc that loosens and tightens with an easy turn, and also bears the trademark spiral. The interior is a bright yellow with white circles and dots, keeping the black camera accessories easily visible.

Everything that Kata makes is of outstanding quality in terms of construction and materials. There is no exception here. The exterior fabric is tightly woven and allows water to bead up (this is NOT a statement on water proofness, only of the observation that water beads up), the shoulder strap is nice and wide, distributing weight across a larger surface, with enough length to accommodate a same side or cross shoulder carry. Alternatively it can be shortened and carried higher under the arm. Like all Kata bags, it has a stiff spine incorporated along the front edge to help the bag maintain its structural integrity.

The Light Pic is a sufficiently easy carry, and well-organized enough that it could also be used to shoot out of, holding an extra lens or two for quick changes as needed. The only downfall to this scenario, is that if stealth is needed, the fabric is somewhat crinkly sounding and care would be needed to keep it silent. For additional versatility, all the camera stuff can be removed and it can be used simply as a large, well organized shoulder bag.

The Light Pic line, a brand-new release, is currently available (just in time for holiday gifting for your favorite girl-tographer). More information can be found at

All images copyright Melanie Beus
The sample used for the purposes of this review and the images was provided courtesy Kata.

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