Photographers on assignment need sturdy, reliable, functional bags, cases, and portfoilos that not only look good, but also can stand up to the elements and offer convenient transport--and are filled with a plethora of pockets.
The newest introductions address the specific needs and wants of today's pro photographers. Manufacturers have heard their customers' requests and heeded their calls for more practical, versatile cases that offer plenty of space, lots of little extras, and the security and durability that will keep their gear safe.
Read on for the hottest backpacks, totes, and portfolios to house your precious gear.
Looking for a photo bag that can house your tripod and endure the spray from a speedboat (or, as Crumpler's press release saucily confesses, "the spray from insanely expensive bubbly")? The company's new Million Dollar Home series boasts fully padded bags in seven sizes and four colors, all designed to withstand liquid assaults. These water--resistant carrying cases feature a 1000d nylon shell and 420d ripstop nylon lining. Each one also has an external pocket with an internal mesh pocket, two internal side pockets, one mesh zip pocket under a clip and Velcro release flap, a padded and brushed nylon main compartment, and an adjustable, removable shoulder strap.
Crumpler Cushions a Fall
"I was on assignment this past May in Washington, D.C., photographing the National Law Enforcement Memorial, a week of events honoring police officers who have fallen in the line of duty. On my second morning in town, I entered the subway station and proceeded down three flights of granite stairs to the train. On my right shoulder was my Canon 20D with a 16--35mm lens, as well as my Crumpler bag full of lenses, camera bodies, and other gear. As I started down the second flight of stairs, I spotted water on the second step. Trying to avoid it, I took two steps instead of one, my left foot buckled under me, and I rolled down 11 granite steps, landing on my back. After a minute or two, I sat up and began to gather my senses. I hurt all over, but I could walk. During the fall, I had pinned my 16--35mm lens against one of the steps, snapping it in half. Still on my shoulder were my 20D body and my Crumpler bag, which had landed under my back, cushioning my fall. I bruised my right leg, my right shoulder--which had an imprint from the focusing ring on my lens mashed into it--and fractured my left ankle. Yet, when I looked in the bag, there wasn't a scratch on any of the equipment. "Thanks to Crumpler for protecting my equipment, and my back."
Still the most popular Domke bag of all time, the F--2 Original Domke Classic was born in 1976, when Jim Domke had one made for his own use, with "simple flaps, simple hardware, and no clutter." The all--natural, heavyweight canvas exterior is water--resistant, with a repellent treatment for extra protection. Because the canvas is a "breathable" fabric, the F--2 stays dry in even the most humid environments, which is especially crucial for digital equipment. The 12--compartment bag fits two cameras, 6 to 10 lenses up to 300mm, a flash unit, 10 to 20 rolls of film, and accessories.
Domke Going Strong at 20
"My Domke bag was with me for many years and remained durable and reliable the entire time—no split seams, no problems. But after 20 years of being out on shoots, it was starting to look pretty ratty. It was stained, beat up, and showing the years. Yet rather than delegate it to the back of the equipment locker, I made it my first choice for carrying my most valuable equipment. If I carried more than one bag, the best gear went into my Domke bag; the less expensive equipment went into my new bag. The Domke had gained an added feature through its wear: It had become the perfect decoy/camouflage bag. Although other bags were stolen from me, the Domke was never touched, so I could put the bag down, concentrate on shooting the event, and return to find it right where I'd left it." Don Gale
Kata has introduced several new GDC products—featuring its patented Thermo--Shield--Technology (TST)—allowing for a range of custom--made, protective carrying solutions. First, two new GDC backpacks: the R--103 and HB--207. Replacing the Rucksack (R--102), the R--103 features improved internal divisions, new mesh pockets, and can store a laptop up to 15 inches in a new compartment. The HB--207 can store up to three SLR bodies with up to eight lenses (up to 400mm, f/2.8). With Kata’s "One--Pull" zippered flap, users have access to their equipment. Despite its additional capacity, the HB--207 maintains a compact profile suited for air travel. Also new from the company are the Reporter Shoulder Bag, Waist Shoulder Bag, C--59 and H--14 cases, and the E--690 Elements case.
Kata Saves the Day
"I purchased Kata's GDC Rucksack--102 backpack several months ago. I'd never heard of Kata before. The only reason I got it was because the Tamrac model I wanted was unavailable. I was recently out on a four--wheeler with my camera and other photographic gear in the backpack. I was riding through about 2--1/2 feet of water, so I had the rain cover on to protect my gear. While trying to follow the dirt road, I ended up missing a small bridge and rolled the four--wheeler over. The four--wheeler, GDC Rucksack--102, and I all went underwater. I got to dry land and immediately opened the backpack to see if I'd lost $3,000 worth of equipment. My gear was fine! The bag kept it dry. I'm grateful to Kata for its outstanding equipment. I will recommend this product to everyone I know." Satisfied customer message on Kata website
The Hardigg--Storm iM2050 Storm Case—a compact carrying case designed to protect smaller camera equipment against water, sand, dust, and extreme temperatures—is constructed from HPX resin. Lightweight, water--resistant, and dent--resistant, according to the company, it's also guaranteed for life. Standard features include two press--and--pull latches to help prevent traditional knuckle busting; two padlockable--ready hasps for extra security in transit; a Vortex auto--pressure release valve that automatically adjusts the air pressure without letting in water; and a soft--grip handle with rigid core.
Lost Luggage's Scuba portfolio case is designed as a self--shipper to enclose any Lost Luggage portfolios. The Scuba is reinforced with a hard exterior mounted to a soft interior core and incorporates features essential for various delivery methods, including a mailing label pouch, removable shoulder strap, and water--tight locking lid. Two rubber--infused nylon covers allow for maximum protection from the elements. Customize with your company's name or logo etched onto the Scuba case.
Lost Luggage: Prada of Portfolios
"I'd been without a rep for the past year, the first time in 15 years. It was time to hit the road and go face to face with people I’d never met or hadn't seen in years. Having completely redesigned my portfolio, I needed a new presentation, too. An antiquated, worn out, generic case is not a great way to enter the world of self--representation. I love options, and options are what I found with Lost Luggage: metals, rubbers, plastics, plexi, woods, and leathers. I didn't see the size I had in my mind, so Lost Luggage custom--made it. Now my images are luxuriously wrapped in materials that show them off in a way I never dreamed. For the first time in 25 years, my presentation is seamless." Jeff Corwin
Mobile Edge's faux--croc notebook computer portfolios, which debuted on ABC--TV's Good Morning America in April, are built from a lightweight EVA material, for natural protection with a retro--style reminiscent of the classic, hard--sided cases. The portfolios are available in pink, blue, green, yellow, burgundy, and black, with a shoulder strap that converts the portfolio to a lightweight, slim--line case. Its classy Madison line of computer carrying cases (shown) is designed for women, by women, and offers stylish, functional bags in black and red leather, black microfiber, chocolate or natural suede, and black or espresso faux croc. Three exclusive pink computer totes, which benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, integrate SafetyCell computer protection, a zippered interior pocket, detachable cosmetic/accessory pouch, EZ--Access cell phone pocket, and EZ--Access ticket pocket.
Lowepro's sporty new Orion Trekker II backpack has two distinct compartments: a well--padded, removable lower camera compartment for storing an SLR with an attached lens, several additional lenses, a flash unit, compact binoculars, and accessories; and an upper compartment for housing nonphotographic gear such as a jacket, audio equipment, food, and water. Providing versatility and flexibility, the Orion Trekker II also features a built--in pocket for an MP3 player, minidisk, or CD player; a removable waist belt; SlipLock attachment tabs for additional pouches, lens cases, and other desired accessories; and a three--point shoulder harness system for greater comfort.
Lowepro DryZone Saves a Life
Scores of professional photographers have stories about how their Lowepro gear helped protect their equipment from severe damage. But few can claim that their Lowepro gear literally saved their lives. Wildlife photographer Brooke McDonald can make such a claim, thanks to her Lowepro DryZone 100 backpack. McDonald was on assignment more than 100 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia when the ice broke beneath her feet, sending her plummeting into the frigid waters. Little did she know her decision to buy the DryZone 100 the week before would be so significant . . .