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Monday, December 5, 2011

Hands on with Kata's Pro-Light ReportIT-10

There are probably dozens and dozens of shoulder-style camera bags available on the market at any give time offered by a wide variety of manufacturers. Many of them are basically the same. A rectangularish box type of thing with a strap and dividers inside for separating and protecting camera gear. So what is the difference between them? Well, primarily consruction quality, how equipment is accessed, and details.

The ReportIT series was designed for use on the go and is all about access to gear quickly and easily. For the purposes of this review, the smallest size of the series, the ReportIT 10-PL, was used. Obviously the larger sizes will be heavier and hold more equipment.

There are only five fasteners on the entire bag, streamlining ways in and out of the interior. To get into the main compartment, one can either undo the buckles and lift the lid (there is an addition velcro strip that can be used to hold the lid down for extra security, or can be silenced with a flap that covers it). Conversely, the lid can be left in place and access can be gained via a zipper in the top of the lid.

There are two front exterior pockets, both of which extend across the width of the bag and are covered with the lid is closed. The one that is closest to the main compartment is just open on top, the other has the flap that silences the velcro for the main lid. Thus when the velcro is silenced, that pocket is closed, but can be left open by tucking the silencing flap inside. The innermost pocket has dividers for organizing accessories and such. There is another large pocket across the width and almost the entire height of the main compartment on the backside of the bag with a zipper closure.

A small and interesting detail on the main compartment is a strip of stretchy fabric across each end of the main compartment that are about an inch and a half in width. These appear to protect the bag contents from the metal part of the lid zipper-pull when it is at either end, but also seem to serve the function of a little extra security for the gear sitting in the outside sections.
The shoulder strap is adjustable on both sides, with contoured pad made of Kata's Gecko foam. The pad is fitted on the strap snugly enough to not slide around up and down the length of the strap, yet can be moved if needed. And yes, it really does actually stay in place and not slide around to spots on the strap where it's ineffectual. There is also a shorter handle for hand carrying.

There are two additional straps on the outside edges for adding accessory pouches for greater carrying capacity, and a trolly sleeve/strap on the back. And of course a Kata elements cover is included as usual. Kata's patented

Aerifoam is used thoughout making this bag very light in weight (maximum weight: 2.16 lbs with all dividers) yet offers excellent protection. It is deep enough and wide enough to hold a full size body with a 70-200/2.8 attached, plus a couple more lenses and/or flash (of course dependent upon the size or lenses). Alternatively, a second camera body can fit into one of the slots where a lens might go. There is also a padded compartment for a computer/tablet. On this particular size the slot is more netbook/tablet sized.

Love love love this bag. It is so very lightweight that even fully loaded it doesn't feel like a huge burden to carry. Even the smallest size, carries a enough gear so as to not leave me feeling improperly equipped for most on-the-go shooting situations. At times I wish I could get into the outside pockets a little easier as their lack of fasteners does limit the ability to really get into them to organize and access items stored there. But the other side of that is that the lack of fasteners streamlines the bag and makes it more ideal for being able to get to things in a quick, on-the-go manner. Another plus side to that is never having to worry about accidently leaving something unfastened and allowing the contents to spill out.

 The lid of the main compartment is just of a simple, two-ply fabric construction with basic lid-type shaping but no padding and no additional pocket. This adds to the lightweight design and the ease of access through the top zipper. Without the added stiffness of padding, the unzipped sides of the lid move easily to allow the enter and exit of gear. Also, because of the lightness of the lid, when it is completely opened, it can folded and tucked into the trolly strap for keeping it out of the way (for a "shooting out of the bag type of situation), without hampering how the bag is carried.

The appearance is simple and elegant, and doesn't scream camera bag. Overall, this is just a very nice, versatile, highly efficient and functional series of bags.

All images with the "melephoto 2011" stamp are copyright the author. Other images from the Kata-bags website. The sample used for the purposes of the review was provided courtesy Kata.

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