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Thread started 19 Nov 2005 (Saturday) 00:05
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Kata R-103 & T-212 Review

 
SYS
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Nov 19, 2005 00:05 |  #1

Surprisingly the shipment from the Midwestbags.com came sooner than expected, so here's my promised review of Kata R-103 backpack and T-212 slinger bag.

I'm not gonna go into the materials themselves since you can get a highly detailed info from their own website. Just remember that Kata is a company that specializes in body armors.

The first impression:

WOW!! Both carriers are built like body armors themselves. Having either of these things around my body makes me feel like I'm wearing a bullit-proof vest. You like Lowepro or Tamrac? While I don't own either of these brands, I've tried them at a local camera store. Built and material wise, simply no comparison, in my opinion. I've heard nothing but good things about Kata bags prior to ordering them, but these bags went beyond my anticipation. I'm 100% satisfied and happy with what I got.

The Kata R-103 Backpack Space and Organization:

In the center compartment I can easily fit either of my 24-70mm or 70-200mm lenses with the hood. The side compartments can easily fit either of these lenses, 580EX Flash, 2x Extender, another lens, and the battery recharger. The first front cover zipper opens up to quickly grab the camera with whatever the attached lens. The second front cover zipper then opens up for the whole viewing of your hardware. Inside of this second front cover has one storage room that can be divided up in two with a velcro divider for lots of additional accessories -- filters, cleaners, lens covers, batteries, and whatnot. There's another storage on this front cover for storing manuals or other documents or lens tissues and such flat items.

On the backside of the bag is the place for a laptop or something else flat. It won't fit my 17" Dell XPS, but that's probably a blessing. It looks like it's designed to fit 15" laptop or smaller. The interior color for all compartments is dark yellow that is very soothing to the eyes, comforting and stylish. This backpack also comes with a couple of small net bags and the rain protector cover that can be flipped inside out to be used as the sun and heat protector. It also comes with a detachable (and very tough) holder for either a monopod or a tripod. Because the bag is a part of the Kata's Ergonomic Photo System (EPH), it is designed to be attached to their other bags, like T-212 slinger.

The T-212 Slinger Space and Organization:

While this looks like something that won't be able to hold a lot of stuff, because of its extendable outer cover, it actually holds more than what your eyes can see. The inner space can be divided into two compartments with the zipper that runs vertically in the middle. With the zipper down, I can comfortably place my 20D with 24-70 lens in it without having to struggle to close the bag. It's not large enough to fit the same WITH the lens hood. With the zipper divider, I can comfortably fit my 24-70 lens on one side and 70-200 on the other. There's another zipper compartment where you can, along with the above equipments, place a couple of books or mauals or whatever accessories that are preferrably flat. Again, the interior is of the same yellow color that is very attractive. This bag is designed to fit your body like a glove, so climbing a tree when chased by a grizzly won't be a problem. The shoulder padding is not only thick and comfortable, but it's also very wide such that it looks like I can carry this thing all day without distressing.

Conclusion:

I'm extremely impressed by their quality and design, so I'm very happy with my decision making and my instinct to order these without ever having my eyes laid on either of them. Both bags are definite keepers. Those free gift bags (Crumpler) that Midwestbags.com sent along with the order are also very nice, albeit smaller than anticipated. I can certainly use them for holding my cell phone in one and my Canon A80 in the other. Or give to my 6 and 8 year old boys to place their gameboys in them. A perfect service, quick delivery, free shipping, nice gifts, and most important of all, perfect bags.

In fact, I'm going to order another bag from Kata: either Holster-12 or Holster-14. If anyone thinks the aforementioned slinger bag, T-212, is a tad small for your purpose, I think either of these would be your better choice.

Feel free to throw any questions at me regarding these items.



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bolantej
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Nov 19, 2005 11:28 |  #2

1) fit with a grip?
2) fit wearing the 70-200?

Q's for the T-212.




  
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SYS
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Nov 19, 2005 13:36 as a reply to  @ bolantej's post |  #3

bolantej wrote:
1) fit with a grip?
2) fit wearing the 70-200?

Q's for the T-212.

I don't have the grip for my 20D (heard so many problems with it that I refuse to get one until Canon completely fixes it), but I think it'll fit in T-212.

T-212 won't accommodate 2), so you'll be better off going with the Holster-14.

Of course no problem accommodating both 1) and 2) in the backpack, R-103.



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keenasmustard
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May 19, 2006 12:29 as a reply to  @ SYS's post |  #4

Rather than start up another thread, I thought I'd tack on the end of this one...

I bought the T-212 a few months ago and have been absolutely DELIGHTED with it. Here's some photos:

IMAGE: http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5992/898/1600/IMG_0937.jpg
IMAGE: http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5992/898/1600/IMG_0943.jpg
The pic above left shows the T-212 containing my 350D with attached kit lens (still working on a better one lol) and the Tokina 12-24. My other bits and pieces that you will see in the pic below fit kind of at the bottom of the bag. This view, by the way, is looking "top down"- ie if I was wearing the bag, I'd be looking down into it. This is with the safety clip undone- you can see the female part at the bottom of the shot. BTW the funny grey and blue things over my lenses are drink holders to act as protection. ("Stubby/echo holders" for Aussies; "coozies" for North Americans... sorry don't know what they're called elsewhere.) I can't claim this idea... I think someone clever on this forum posted it! It's not a bad idea to implement with the T-212, as things aren't nicely segmented (except for the zip which I'll show further down) and cushioned as they are in regular camera bags.

The pic above right shows a side view, with the safety clip done up. This feature is really cool and I rarely undo it. It means that you can unzip the bag while wearing it, but the clip prevents the bag from flying open, causing everything to fall out. I'm still reasonably careful opening it up, but I haven't had anything fall out yet (touch wood!). I bought my T-212 from Midwest Bags and got the Crumpler John Thursday 50 free. I find it quite handy to store my cable release. It makes it so accessable when I'm shooting and keeps it separate from everything else in the bag. I find it also makes me remember to put it away at the end of each shoot, because the little red bag is right there in my face as a reminder. I've just clipped it over the safety clip of the T-212 with its double velcro attachment.
IMAGE: http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5992/898/1600/IMG_0938.jpg
OK, pic above shows the contents of the T-212 that was all hidden away in the top left shot (with the exception of the 70-200IS). I have my 350D with kit lens, Tokina 12-24, right angle finder, 1.4X extender, caps for my kit lens and my rocket blower in the main compartment. The thing I love about the T-212 is I can have the safety clip done up, and even use the bag as a cradle for lenses as I take them on or off. It sort of acts as a second pair of hands. Everything kind of sits in there like in a kangaroo's pouch or Santa's bag. Not ideal for wear and tear, as nothing is segmented and protected like it would be in a regular camera bag, but that's why I have as much as possible stored in their bags or some sort of protective covering. In the middle of a shoot though, when I'm changing stuff quickly, I might put it back in the compartment without going to the trouble to put it away properly. I'm sure I'm going to get some scratches etc from doing this, but it's all secure and better than putting something down on the ground or on a car bonnet etc and then forgetting it. I'm able to do lens and accessory changes very quickly. Once the "need for speed" has passed, I put the bits and pieces back in their covers, so they don't bang together when I move on to the next location.

The stuff circled in red is my spare battery, filter case (want to get something more compact), lens cloth and tissue, tissues for me and a travel sized pack of cue tips for cleaning my viewfinder. What's missing from the pic is my Formula MC lens cleaning fluid- oops. All of that gear and sometimes other small items goes in the side zip pocket.
IMAGE: http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5992/898/1600/IMG_0939.0.jpg
IMAGE: http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5992/898/1600/IMG_0940.jpg
Above left shows the empty side zip pocket just mentioned, where I store my small accessories. When I'm wearing the T-212, the zip is on my left side. A cool thing I picked up on a recent snow shoot was the chamois (pictured), which is attached to a lanyard which has a small clip on the end. It is absolutely fantastic for when you get snow or rain on your camera and outside of your lens and need to soak it up quickly. I attach this to the side pocket zipper and thread the lanyard through the keyring of my CF card pouch. The whole lot then goes in the side pouch just before I zip it up. This way, the two items are always on hand and I know EXACTLY where my CF cards are for a quick change. I had the tragedy of losing a 500MB card (full of shots- the biggest tragedy) on a recent trip, because I was too haphazard about my storage of cards, and I think it fell out of my original camera bag. I won't make that mistake again.

The pic above right shows the extra pocket, which is secured with velcro. When wearing the bag, the pocket is on my right side. This pocket is quite small and in fact, I found it by accident- it's easy to miss it. It's only just wide enough to get your hand into, but works well for holding your wallet, keys etc. It's also got some elastic pen holders (which consequently, I keep forgetting are there!)
IMAGE: http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5992/898/1600/IMG_0941.jpg
IMAGE: http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5992/898/1600/IMG_0942.jpg
The pic above left shows that the 70-200IS with tripod mount attached and lens hood reversed can fit in the T-212. In fact, this shot shows it accompanied by my 350D and Tokina 12-24. At a pinch, I've also fit my kit lens in there. I don't do it often or for long though, because it is tight- I'm usually wearing the camera with a lens fitted anyway. On occasion, I have also fit the 350D with the 70-200IS attached. Again, a bit tight, but doable. As mentioned by others, the front part of the T-212 expands to allow for whatever is in it (within reason) and then contracts back to its original shape when it's empty. It's a fantastic design.

The other thing you can see in this pic is the zip which you can do up to segment the bag. I don't tend to use it, because it is quite fiddly to do up and I can't fit every combination of my gear in the bag if it's done up. It's a good feature though if you aren't trying to stuff as much in there as I am.

Above right shows the T-212 closed and side on with the same contents. It's pretty loaded up, but by no means stretching seams or anything. It takes a bit of trial and error to know which way to fit the jigsaw puzzle of stuff into a triangular-shaped bag, but once you get the hang of it, it works well.

All in all, this is one of the best purchases I made and is worth every cent. I highly recommend this bag to anyone who is looking for the same versatility and convenience that I was.

Here's a useful link to another review on the T-212 which shows some photos of what it's like to wear:
http://www.shuttertalk​.com …les/katat212w92​/index.php (external link)

If you've got any questions or want any additional photos, let me know or PM me. Not many camera stores stock this bag and so it's darn hard to find to try on. I'd be happy to help anyone out.

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May 24, 2006 06:39 |  #5

Great info - many thanks. Can yiou only wear the bag on your front or can it swivel round?


Al
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keenasmustard
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May 25, 2006 08:26 |  #6

Sorry about the delay- I had to test out your question and figure out the best way to explain the answer! The first thing you have to understand, is if you're wearing the pack as designed (on your front), then the padded strap sits over your left shoulder. You then have two clips that fasten- one at each hip.

You can swivel it around onto your back by undoing a clip at the hip (I found the left hip worked easiest for me.) and sliding the pack section back and up under your right arm, then refastening the clip at the left hip again. In doing it this way though, you end up with the non-padded section of the bag's straps sitting on your left shoulder. Wearing it like this is doable- but not particularly comfortable for long durations. I do actually make half of this maneuver if I'm trying to do something that requires me to stand close to something and I don't want the pack in the way out in front of my body. I undo the clip at the left hip and then swing the pack around to my side. The padded strap is still over my shoulder at this point in the "swivel" and is quite comfortable still in this position.

If you actually wanted to carry the pack on your back and have the padded strap in the right place, the only way to do it is to take it off completely and put it back on (on your back of course) with the padded strap over your right shoulder. Personally, I find that the position I have all of the straps adjusted to for front-wear mean that they're all in the wrong spot now for total comfort, but I guess it's not too difficult to adjust them again.

I hope that answers your question. I can take some pics of this process if you like.


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May 25, 2006 14:39 |  #7

That's great. I guess what I am after is more like a lowepro slingshot. SOmething I can chuck a body and couple of lenses in and have them handy up front when changing lenses....

Your info helps, thanks for being a guniea pig ;)


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keenasmustard
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May 25, 2006 21:22 |  #8

Here's a couple of other thoughts for you:
Another thing I liked about any of the sling design bags is the ability to have things not only handy up front like you mentioned... but also safely away from sneaky thieves. When I looked at Lowepro and Tamrac's sling style bags, I liked the fact that things were nicely padded and separated inside, but I preferred the way that the Kata moulds to however much stuff is in it. It didn't feel as bulky on as the Lowepro and Tamrac models did and I had more options with how I could fit my gear inside. I find the T-212 does exactly what you describe, but you might prefer the padding in the other models. Like everything- you sacrifice one feature for another. BTW, there's a new model out that has improved on the T-212, called the T-214. Worth checking out also. Here's a link:
http://www.cambags.com …/264/sort/2/cat​/38/page/1 (external link)

No worries about being a guinea pig, lol. Good luck with your choice.


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MickeyCT
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Sep 17, 2006 17:09 |  #9

keenasmustard - your reviews have been very helpful. I just placed my order for the R103 and now I'm thinking about the T212 or T214 to use for short hikes and walks etc while on vacation rather than carrying everything I own in the backpack. Actually I don't even own all that much right now but I'm buying for the future.

I have a 20D with kit 18-55 lens plus a new EF-S10-22, 28-135 IS and 100 f2.8 macro. Hopefully in the next year I will also get one of the 70-200 zooms.

Is the T212 or T214 a good idea?

Mickey


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Knightshade
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Sep 18, 2006 09:29 |  #10

t-214 is a great bag IF you don't have the battery grip. Much to my disappointment, I had to return mine because I had to kind of stretch it with my other hand to get the camera inside the bag.

I had to settle for a lowepro slingshot 200. While I've been pretty happy w/the lowepro bag, I really wish I could have found a kata bag that would have suited me better. I have the R-103 as well and I absolutely LOVE that thing. I'm never worried about any of my equipment while it's in that bag.


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Sep 19, 2006 20:32 as a reply to  @ Knightshade's post |  #11

Well, my Kata R103 arrived today. It truly is really well made but looks huge compared to what I have been using. I'm thinking about returning it. I just can't decide. Do I really need this much protection when I only travel with my equipment a couple of times a year?

I find it a little hard to get on and off, even empty except for my laptop. Maybe it's because I'm a woman of about 5'6", a little overweight and pretty curvy :lol: , not sure. It also just barely holds my laptop if I take both of the stick shaped pads out.

It will definitely hold my photo gear with some room to spare for future splurges. But my existing Domke bag will hold everything too, barely, but no laptop. Domke doesn't have much padding but it sure holds a lot. Is the extra padding just overkill if you are carrying everything?

I bought the bag because my husband and I are going to Hawaii next month and I wanted to be sure I could carry all my gear and have it protected on the flights, etc. but now I'm wondering if this is overkill for what I have. Alternative would be to carry the Domke and a computer case on those trips (like this weekend to Houston) where I need it all.

Is the $180 better put towards another lens?

Mickey


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keenasmustard
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Feb 10, 2007 00:42 |  #12

I just revisited this post, because my Mum is thinking of buying a sling bag and I pointed her to this thread to check out the Kata bag. For some reason my pics weren't working, but hopefully I've sorted them out now. Please let me know if you guys can't see them your end.

Anyway, I thought I'd add that I have looked at the T-214 in a store and it is an amazing improvement on the T-212. Access to your camera is much smoother and easier, thanks to the improved zipper opening. It also has extra pockets and the harness has had some improvements. That's all off the top of my head (I looked at it a while back), but my point to anyone out there deciding between the two- go for the T-214. It's a bit more expensive, but worth it for the improvements Kata has made.

I still LOVE my T-212, even almost a year on from my earlier review. I personally find it difficult to pay the full amount, plus more to upgrade to the T-214, as it seems an awful shame to let my old bag just sit there and collect dust. So, some wisdom from this is, if you can't afford the extra dough for the T-214, or have an offer of a cheap 212, then the 212 is still a great bag!


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SYS
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Feb 11, 2007 20:50 |  #13

keenasmustard wrote in post #2684075 (external link)
I just revisited this post, because my Mum is thinking of buying a sling bag and I pointed her to this thread to check out the Kata bag. For some reason my pics weren't working, but hopefully I've sorted them out now. Please let me know if you guys can't see them your end.

Anyway, I thought I'd add that I have looked at the T-214 in a store and it is an amazing improvement on the T-212. Access to your camera is much smoother and easier, thanks to the improved zipper opening. It also has extra pockets and the harness has had some improvements. That's all off the top of my head (I looked at it a while back), but my point to anyone out there deciding between the two- go for the T-214. It's a bit more expensive, but worth it for the improvements Kata has made.

I still LOVE my T-212, even almost a year on from my earlier review. I personally find it difficult to pay the full amount, plus more to upgrade to the T-214, as it seems an awful shame to let my old bag just sit there and collect dust. So, some wisdom from this is, if you can't afford the extra dough for the T-214, or have an offer of a cheap 212, then the 212 is still a great bag!

Well, this is very timely! I was thinking lately of upgrading to T-214, and I think I will.... :D



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keenasmustard
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Feb 19, 2007 16:28 |  #14

Glad I helped someone... Hey can someone help me out here? Every time I log on, it appears that my images (earlier in the thread) aren't showing up. I'm just seeing the little "x" boxes. I don't know if it's a problem my end or not.


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SYS
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Feb 19, 2007 17:24 |  #15

keenasmustard wrote in post #2737209 (external link)
Glad I helped someone... Hey can someone help me out here? Every time I log on, it appears that my images (earlier in the thread) aren't showing up. I'm just seeing the little "x" boxes. I don't know if it's a problem my end or not.

https://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.php?t=269622

See if this solves the problem...



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Kata R-103 & T-212 Review
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