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Thread started 28 Jan 2009 (Wednesday) 05:41
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Kata 3n1 review PLUS comparison with Slingshot 300 with pics

 
riyazi
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Jan 28, 2009 05:41 |  #1

Recently acquired a Kata 3n1 30 bag (from a fellow POTNer) so just wanted to share my thoughts on it as well as do a comparison with the Lowepro Slingshot 300AW, with the hope that it helps someone out there. Sorry if this is a bit long - jump to the end of the post for my summary

Introduction
I have gone through several bags in the last couple of years as my gear increased. Even though I loved my crumplers, I required a quick access bag so settled on a Lowepro SS 200AW which became a 300AW when I got a bigger lens. Even though I was happy with the 300AW, I felt the strain on one shoulder a bit too much when using it for some time. So when I heard of the KATA 3n1 which allows a slingshot as well as a backpack mode, I thought I will try it.

The bag
Overall, the quality of the bag is excellent. I would say it has the best of a crumpler (quality, good dividers, rigid support, etc) and a slingshot (functionality, easy access). The material, zippers and plastic snap-on locks are all of good quality and not the cheap variety you get in lesser brand bags. It is very similar in size to the SS 300 - the only difference being that the SS is slightly shorter but wider whereas the Kata is slightly taller but narrower. Space is almost the same I would say but because of the availability of side pockets and the way the Kata space is structured I am able to put more stuff in the Kata (comfortably) than the SS - but this might be particular to my gear and way I store/access stuff. By space/volume both bags are very similar.

click on images for bigger size

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Functionality
The key selling point of the Kata is the ability to use it as a slingshot or as a backpack. This is a great function because if the strain is too much on the 1 shoulder, changing it to backmode mode eases the load and makes it easier for long hikes/walks. The Kata actually gives 3 modes - slingshot mode with 1 strap either right to left or left to right (great news for the south paws ?); Backpack mode with 2 straps used in the conventional way; Backpack mode with 2 straps used in a cross shape which would give further comfort/support. There is also a waist support strap which would help ease the strain on the shoulders. The best part is the way the straps can be easily slid under the contoured back support so that they are out of the way - no hanging bits or waist strap banging in to your spine as it does with the SS.

Crossed backpack style with waist strap tucked in
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Crossed backpack style with waist strap out
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The good
In addition to the sling/backpack modes advantage, the Kata is able to store a lot of equipment without much strain to the back. This is due to the rigid support that the bag has. Meaning that even when the bag is empty, it can be stood on the ground without it flopping which is not so easy with the SS. The contoured back support is more stronger in the Kata than the SS - and this gives the feeling that you are not carrying much weight. However, I have not put the Kata through a hike/long walk so this opinion might change.
The Kata has a strong handle at the top which makes it easier to handle the bag when not on the shoulders. The SS has a handle as well but it is flimsy and it gives the feeling that it might break whereas the Kata is easier and safer to handle. The Kata is customisable so that you can change the dividers and straps to either swing the bag from the right or the left sides. The fact that it has openings on both sides means that you have quick access to 2 sections of the bag. The normal section where the camera will be taken out from and an opening at the bottom where you can take out another lens for quick changes. I have stored my Sigma 105mm Macro there and can pull it out quite easily but this can be tricky as this pocket is facing down there is a good chance you will drop the lens !!! But with a bit of practice it can be done (should have got some better pics to illustrate this point).

Quick access compartment where the camera goes
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Macro lens stored on the other / opposite side - this is the bottom when the bag is slung to the front
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In my bag, in the main compartment I store a 40D + Sigma 18-200mm OS; Canon 17-85mm; Sigma 150-500mm OS; Canon 50mm f/1.8; Extention tubes; a few closeup filters; Sigma 105mm f2/8 Maco. There is still a bit more space to make use of and with a bit of configuring I can put in a 430EX. The 2 small side pockets have 2 cactus receivers and 1 transmitter on one side and remote shutter trigger plus receiver plus a optical trigger on the other side. The top compartment is quite roomy and I am able to put in quite a bit of stuff in it - a Sigma 500 DG Super flash, 430EX, 86mm CP, Batteries; lens pen; small torch; blower; charger; etc. The CF cards go in to a small detachable pouch which is attached to the quick access compartment

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The separation between the main compartment and top compartment is customisable as well, as there is a removable divider between them. By taking this out, I presume you can create more space and customisation possibilities because the full length of the bag can be used but I have not tried to do this.

The bad
One major problem with the Kata - you dont have FULL EASY access to the main compartment - this is not actually a major issue but I find it quite a nuisance sometime. To explain, on the SS when the plastic locks are taken off you can open the bag fully and have access to each and every compartment - not so with the KATA. As the pic below shows, the maximum it opens is only to show half of the top section. In the pic, I have opened the bag to the full extent. This means that to access the top 2 middle compartments you need to squeeze your hand in and pull out stuff which is the nuisance part. Note that the top left compartment has the macro lens and is accessed from the other side. Since all the dividers are customisable I believe this problem can be overcome with a bit of creative thinking and also depending on the gear/access one wants. I personally would have preferred a bag which can open out fully like the SS.
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Even though the Kata has a rain cover this is provided as a separate item which needs to be carried around as opposed to the SS which has the rain cover in built and its just a matter of pulling it out of the back of the bag. The storage of the rain cover with the Kata takes more space whereas the one in the slingshot is hardly noticeable.

The criticisms answered
From what I have read, there are 2 main criticisms about the Kata that crop up
1) the zippers dont close fully which might bring in sand/dust in to the main comparment. The zippers do not meet because of the plastic locks are placed in between. But when the plastic locks are secured there hardly seems to be any opening for sand/dust to get in (except what you would find with any zip bag). So I personally dont think this is actually an issue but that may be debatable.

Pics in 2nd post.

2) Straps being not strong/wide/sturdy as the Slingshot. This is actually true - comparing the strap of the SS with the Kata, the SS is more wider and seems more stronger and sturdier. However, the claim that the Kata strap is not able to handle the load is not too true IMO. I think the back support helps to balance the weight and therefore not much weight is put on the strap unlike the SS where most of the weight is on the strap. Also, the reason that the Kata strap is leaner and thinner is because of the design and the ability to tuck them in when not used - which I think is a major advantage to gain for the disadvantage of a less sturdier strap.

The improvements
The Kata can be improved a great deal (IMO atleast) with a few small mods.
1) Straps - the straps can be considered a bit flimsy especially by those with wide shoulders. To counter this, Kata can issue attachable strap supports - something like what crumpler does with the Pretty Boy Maxi series. This is an additional support piece which is attached to the strap by way of velcro - this would make the strap more studier and wider. And when not needed take off the velcro and tuck them in to the back support - easy !

2) Quick Access - at the moment the Kata allows the quick access flap to be opened by taking off the plastic lock and pulling the flap down which you would do with your right hand after which you pull out the camera again with the right hand. I think this could be improved if the design is changed in a way that we can open the flap UPWARDS from the right to the left. This means we can take off the plastic locks and pull the flap up with the left hand while at the same time reach for the camera with the right. This I believe would make the quick access faster. Yes - very small point and maybe trivial but I think in addition to this advantage it could help with the one below

3) Access to whole of the main compartment - dont know how but I think this should be improved so that we are able to look at and organise the bag with access/full view of the main compartment. This is being sold as an advantage with the Tenba sling bags where you can open one side of the bag to show all the equipment stored. I think if the quick access is changed in the way I described above - we might be be able to this.

4) Raincover - attached to the bag please

The summary
The Kata is an excellent bag - well built, good quality, excellent features. Compared to the Slingshot, it has its advantages as well as disadvantages - the suitability depends on the user. If you want a bag which doubles as a backpack obvious choice is Kata. If you want only a slingbag, with a study strap the SS is your product. Either bag works well. Personally for me I prefer the Kata but since it is new and I have not put it through a proper workout by taking it on a hike/long walk this opinion might change. Both bags have similar capacities and are able to carry quite a load (see my gear).

I took the pics quite randomly without any thought about this review and some of the stuff I have explained might have worked better if I could have got the proper pic to illustrate it. If anyone wants any more pics, please ask and I will get them.

Hope this helps someone !

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riyazi
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Jan 28, 2009 05:42 |  #2

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logo20heli
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Jan 28, 2009 12:09 |  #3

Thanks for your very nice review. I like the comparison shots.

I have a question about the side access zippers. It almost looks from the pictures that the side access zipper(s) are the same as the zipper that opens the main compartment. Is that correct?

So to access the side compartment, you release the plastic lock shown in post #2. To access the main compartment, you keep those locks closed, but open the lower plastic locks and unzip the zipper the other way.

Does the bag stand up by itself once it is loaded with equipement?

Thanks again.




  
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riyazi
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Jan 28, 2009 13:29 |  #4

Yes to the zippers - you can use the zipper from either side to open the main compartment

Yes - with all my equipment I can leave the bag standing up. But this maybe because I have a good base in the form of my 150-500mm lens being at the bottom. But I think even if that compartment was empty it should stand


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maxx9photo
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Jan 31, 2009 22:52 |  #5

I just bought mine at my local store, I like it so far even though as the original poster said that it won't fully open the main compartment but it's no biggie for me. I still could store my 3 lenses 35 L (attached to 5D), 85 L and 135 L, 580 flash.




  
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tigerotor77w
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Feb 01, 2009 02:00 |  #6

This is a good review -- I meant to comment on it earlier but wanted to give it a chance to settle down to the bottom of the first page before bumping it. :)

I have the -20 and love it for its flexibility.


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Vascilli
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Feb 01, 2009 02:43 |  #7

The main reason the rain cover can be removed is so you can wash it.


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riyazi
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Feb 01, 2009 08:41 |  #8

tigerotor77w wrote in post #7230548 (external link)
This is a good review -- I meant to comment on it earlier but wanted to give it a chance to settle down to the bottom of the first page before bumping it. :)

Thanks ! To be frank, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of responses :) I did put some effort in to this :) Thanks for the bump as well.

Vascilli wrote in post #7230644 (external link)
The main reason the rain cover can be removed is so you can wash it.

Good point - but not sure why a rain cover which is going to get wet anyway needs to be washed ? I would rather prefer it being attached to the bag than separate


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tigerotor77w
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Feb 01, 2009 09:53 |  #9

riyazi wrote in post #7231543 (external link)
Thanks ! To be frank, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of responses :) I did put some effort in to this

I think it's really useful. When I bought my -20, I was literally going off about three reviews, so I was kind of flying blind. I haven't actually gotten the chance to review mine, but you've certainly made my job easier if I ever get around to it: I'll just take pictures with my gear inside!

Will you be putting up pics of your bag loaded up?


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dan ­ j
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Feb 01, 2009 14:57 |  #10

Good review! I also don't mind the access to the top of the lower compartment. It's partially due to the rigid padding in the 3n1 compared to the SS.

dan


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riyazi
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Feb 02, 2009 02:09 |  #11

tigerotor77w wrote in post #7231837 (external link)
I think it's really useful. When I bought my -20, I was literally going off about three reviews, so I was kind of flying blind. I haven't actually gotten the chance to review mine, but you've certainly made my job easier if I ever get around to it: I'll just take pictures with my gear inside!

Will you be putting up pics of your bag loaded up?

I didnt take any shots of the bag fully loaded but might do so today since I am snowed in :)

dan j wrote in post #7233490 (external link)
Good review! I also don't mind the access to the top of the lower compartment. It's partially due to the rigid padding in the 3n1 compared to the SS.

dan

Yep - the top cover is much more rigid than the SS - a small price to pay !


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USER876
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Feb 02, 2009 08:56 as a reply to  @ riyazi's post |  #12

do you have any pics of the kata on your back?




  
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heymeng
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Feb 05, 2009 20:45 |  #13

Thanks for the review. This helped me decide to purchase the bag. I ended up with the 30 cause im a big dude. I think the Lowepro is ugly to begin with. The Kata bag from first impression is a rather good looking bag. Also wanted to say amazon has the 20 for $80 and the 30 for $89.


other items for sale on POTN
5DMKII >> https://photography-on-the.net …/showthread.php​?t=1344210
85 1.8 >> https://photography-on-the.net …/showthread.php​?t=1342324
50 1.4 >>https://photography-on-the.net …/showthread.php​?t=1342333
B1600+Vagabond Mini >> https://photography-on-the.net …/showthread.php​?t=1343633

  
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ddjc
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Feb 06, 2009 01:45 as a reply to  @ heymeng's post |  #14

The slingshot is incredibly ugly.

That Kata wears the Nikon colors, but it's quite pleasant to my eyes.
I really don't like backpacks when carrying 1 camera with only 1 or 2 lenses.

Haha, would you like to review the comfort of it after going on a hike in the mountains?




  
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heymeng
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Feb 06, 2009 07:51 |  #15

BTW...there are $10 and $20 rebates on the 3n1's. ends Feb 28 2009.

http://www.calumetphot​o.com/pdfs/Kata-NG-Rebate02-28.pdf (external link)


other items for sale on POTN
5DMKII >> https://photography-on-the.net …/showthread.php​?t=1344210
85 1.8 >> https://photography-on-the.net …/showthread.php​?t=1342324
50 1.4 >>https://photography-on-the.net …/showthread.php​?t=1342333
B1600+Vagabond Mini >> https://photography-on-the.net …/showthread.php​?t=1343633

  
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Kata 3n1 review PLUS comparison with Slingshot 300 with pics
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