Taking photos with my DSLR camera – especially taking photos of my kids – has become one of my passions. But the problem for me and most parents is, how do you deal with carrying a big expensive camera while still dealing with kids and all of the stuff that they require? In fact, I’ve spoken with many parents who have complained of this same problem. So I’ve been searching for the perfect camera bag, and although I think ultimately the idea of a “perfect” camera bag may just be an illusion – I might have found a pretty close one – the Kata 3N1 Camera Bag.
My complete review after the jump.
At the bare minimum, my requirements for a great camera bag are it needs to hold my camera, two additional lenses, a flash and have a space for some personal items (cell phone, keys, water bottle etc.). Also, I was really looking for a bag that would work as a sling, so I wouldn’t have to constantly be taking the bag off to grab my camera to take a picture. This part is especially important for parents trying to deal with kids and a camera at the same time. The great thing about the Kata 3N1 is that it met all of those bare requirements, plus had a lot of features that, while I wasn’t specifically looking for them, have proven to come in very handy.
The Kata 3N1 holds my Canon 50D with a lens on the body, as well as a medium telephoto and 50mm lens in the bag. It also holds my external flash as well as all of the other normal stuff you’d want to carry in a camera bag (memory cards, extra batteries, remote trigger cords etc.). It also has a decently sized compartment at the top for personal items. But the best part about the bag is that it works as a sling as well as a backpack. The bag can be configured to be a right-handed or a left-handed sling, as well as a backpack for when you’re hiking or know you won’t need the camera at a moment’s notice. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s the only left-handed sling camera bag on the market.
When taking pictures with kids, this sling feature is immensely helpful. I took the bag to birthday parties, to the park and other outdoor activities; and whenever they did something cute or spontaneous that I wanted to take a picture of, I could just twist the bag around my body, pull open the top and have the camera ready in a matter of seconds. In fact getting to most of the other stuff in the bag was equally easy – but it will depend on how you set up the bag for yourself.
The other great thing about the bag that I love is that while it holds a lot of stuff, it really isn’t that big or bulky. I tested the Kata 3N1-20 which is the medium-sized bag in the line, and it seemed there was a place or a pocket for every piece of gear (memory card pocket, easy access external pouches for filters or batteries etc.). And to me at least, the look of the bag doesn’t scream “I’ve got an expensive camera over here! Check me out!” It really just looks like a small black backpack, which is important not just for modesty’s sake, but also safety (cameras in bags that don’t necessarily look like camera bags are less of a target for thieves).
Besides all of that, it’s got all of the things you’d expect in a camera bag from a company like Kata. There is a waterproof cover for the bag in case it rains, a great handle on the top of the bag and very sturdy construction. Oh, and it also has the signature Kata yellow interior lining – which might not seem like that big of a deal, but anyone who’s dug around the bottom of a black camera bag looking for a black camera accessory can understand how cool this feature is.
In fact, I tried very hard to find a problem with the bag, but ultimately I came up short. It’s not even that expensive, especially considering how expensive the camera and gear you’re putting into it likely is.
The bag won’t hold a laptop or every last item of your camera gear (like a tripod) so it might not be great for long vacations or trips. It also won’t hold a lot of the kid-stuff that parents sometimes have to lug around so it won’t work as a camera/diaper bag combo, but it has become my personal day-to-day camera bag and is my absolute recommendation for parents with a DSLR camera.