Photographers like to talk about three things, the latest cameras, the sharpest lenses and bags. Camera bags play a huge part in a photographers life, and there is no holy grail of bags that will suit all situations. I believe however that as bag designs improve we are getting closer and closer to the ultimate camera bag. Take for instance the Kata 3N1 25 PL which I have had the pleasure of using for the past couple of weeks.
I have actually used Kata 3N1 25PL. What I mean by that is, I haven’t just placed a couple of lenses in a camera body and walked down to the local park to see how it felt. I took the Kata with me on a week long photo trip in the South West of Western Australia, shooting mainly landscapes and timelapse footage.
The “PL” stands for Pro-Light which is Kata’s professional collection of bags and there are two options to the 3N1, the 25 and 35. The 35 being bigger and possibly more suited as an all-round holy grail type bag that you can pretty much keep packed and take to any shooting scenario you need to. Yes I did label the 35PL as a possible holy grail bag. The reason I can is because I consider the 3N1 25PL to possibly the best bag I have every had my hands on to date.
[quote]Pro-Light is Kata’s multi-featured professional collection. Designed to provide the best carrying, storage and working solutions, this Lightweight Protective range of products will cater to even the smallest detail of professional photographer and videographer needs.[/quote]
When you go to buy a new camera bag you usually have to try and decide if you want a shoulder bag which has quick access or a backpack which is more comfortable. Well with the 3N1 range (and Kata do have other 3N1 models available in their D-Light range) you don’t have to choose. That means that no matter what it is you are shooting you can configure your Kata to suit the situation.
What do I mean, well the 3N1 bags allow you to have it set up as either a standard backpack, a sling (left or right), and an X-position which is pretty comfortable for those long hikes out to a location. In all of these carrying positions I’ve fond the Kata to be pretty comfortable. Obviously if your bag is full the standard backpack or X-position is more comfortable than the sling but that is to be expected.
When I first read about the options in carrying style I immediately thought that the bag couldn’t possible be comfortable in the sling position. You would have a left over strap that would sit uncomfortably between your back and bag. Kata have thought about this and have created a false back where you can store the spare strap or even pack away the belt.
The belt is another thing I would like to mention quickly. It’s a belt there isn’t too much you can talk about however this belt I find actually works to take some of the weight and distribute it on your hips. There are quite a few bags out there with belt’s but a lot of them do very little to help with weight. As I mentioned if you don’t need the belt you can pack it away in the false back so it’s out of the way.
Throw in the tripod holder which secures the tripod to the center of the bag which is much more comfortable than underneath or to one side, a laptop compartment, elements cover, trolley compatible and well the list can go on and on. Kata really have thought of everything
The overall quality of the Kata range is out of this world. Kata has roots back to the military which you can see in the quality of materials and overall design. Although the bag is light it doesn’t ever feel flimsy. Kata developed Aeriform Foam which is a perforated, laminated and reinforced foam of EVA and EPE materials that results in a superlight foam that keeps your gear protected. The 3N1 25 PL also has a Spine Guard MKII, which is a specially formed foam vertebrae Spin Guard that provides ultimate structural protection.
Configuration Options and Storage
Such a small bag can fit a lot of gear. I reminds me a lot of the Tardis. It looks small on the outside but on the inside there is plenty of room. There are two sections a large camera/gear compartment which is completely configurable and then a smaller general area for personal items or other smaller gear items. Then there are of course the zip pockets around the shell of the bag and on the inside of the general compartment.
The all important what can you fit in it:
- Canon 60D with Battery Grip. Also tested it with 7d with Battery Grip and 5dmkIII
- Tamron 70-200 f2.8 with hood reversed
- Tamron 10-24mm with hood reversed and attached to the body
- Sigma 50mm f/1.4 with hood reversed and attached to the body
- ND2-ND3 Variable ND Filter
- Cokin P filters and step rings in a Cokin wallet
- Shutter Release Remote
- Intervalometer Remote
- LumoPro LP160
- Storage Media, Spare AA’s and AAA’s batteries, lens pen, cleaning cloth and large Gittos Rocket Blower.
- Davis & Stanford Magnum XG Tripod (attached)
As you can see this little bag can hold a lot. There was still plenty of room for some more personal items and I could have moved a few items around to increase the space in the general compartment.
Time for some Photos
While I was a way I took a few snaps of the Kata 3N1 25PL with my iPhone so I could show you how I packed it and the gear I had in it most of the time.
There is no doubt that the Kata 3N1 25PL and the 35PL (it’s only a larger version) are probably one of the greatest bags I’ll get to review and use this year. Everything has been thought out and tested to provide the ultimate experience. I still can’t comprehend the versatility of this bag. Whenever I have a situation the Kata 3N1 25PL has the ability to morph into what ever type of shooting style I need to get the job done. I highly recommend this bag for someone who needs a bag that is comfortable, versatile, and most importantly can get the job done.
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