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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 1999-12-23

Bag Man
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

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Ho, Ho, Ho ... Sports Shooter has some nice, new toys for all of you photographers who want to give Santa a hand ... and treat yourself to something special for the Holidays!

My office closet is jammed with various bags, cases and backpacks. Over the years, I've been accused of being a walking billboard for Domke and Lightware, but actually it's a philosophy I have: a bag for every assignment and an assignment for every bag!

There are a several notable camera bags and cases I've run across the past couple of months, each with a unique function both they all have one thing in common: making our load a little bit more tolerable.

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-Long Lenses on the Go.
The first is the Kinesis PC Long Lens Case. This line of cases is designed to lug around that long glass we all depend on to shoot sports. Domke and Lightware have had their own versions of this case out for years, but Richard Stum at Kinesis has refined the concept into something that is both versatile and practical.

You'll notice right off the bat the Kinesis Long Lens Case is larger than its Domke and Lightware counterparts. This because it's made of 1/4 inch crosslined closed cell foam which gives the case better stability and stiffness and offers much better protection for your $9k 600mm.

The second thing you'll notice is the backpack harness. At first I thought this was a superfluous accessory, but it is far from that. The backpack harness makes the Kinesis Long Lens Case easy to transport in the airport to the stadium and along the sidelines.

A recent one-day trip from LA to Oakland for the Raiders-Buccaneers game is a good example of how useful this bag is. Rather than check a case with a 400mm 2.8 and other small items, I was able to pack it in the Kinesis Case along with 1.4 and 2x extenders, rains pants and jacket. A DCS520 digital body fit easily in the removable exterior pouch that is included. (In my second carry-on I had my laptop, a second DCS520 and short glass.)

No worrying about whether my gear made it on the plane and Oakland. I was able to go straight to the gate rather than stand in line to check bags and then upon arrival I headed right out of the terminal to my ride rather than wait around the baggage claim area.

The Kinesis Long Lens Bag is well made (the exterior material is Cordura nylon with a waterproof coating), has very robust zippers, double stitching, thick belts and harness and a very secure snap system to attach exterior accessories (the Kinesis "Twin Buckle System" which is my only complaint...my fat, klutzy fingers found it difficult to hook and unhook them...but this is relatively minor).

The Kinesis Long Lens Bags is a definite must-have for those who use a 300 2.8, 400, 500 or 600 a lot.

Myung Chun of the Los Angeles Times recently tried out the Kenisis Long Lens bag and had this to say: "The Kinesis (Long Lens) bag is a versatile bag to use and a very comfortable bag to carry. There's the traditonal hand strap and shoulder strap and -- Great Balls of Fire ! -- BACKPACK STRAPS. At a recent sporting event I carried a Nikkor 400/2.8, a teleconverter, a Nikon F-5 body, monopod, portable camping stool, a bag of film and other miscellaneous items with ease, comfort and no shoulder pains. The stiff siding offers plenty of protection and, although it's probably not recommended, I found I could sit on the case (with the lens removed of course). Plus, the bag has additional pockets, rings, clips and straps for carrying cell phones, pepper spray etc."

Kinesis has been around for about 4 years and is based near Denver, Colorado. Photographer Richard Stum started it after colleagues found his homemade backpacks and bags. "My hobby is sewing," Richard told Sports Shooter, "So the bags came out of that and my love for mountaineering and skiing."

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Richard is very accessible and is open to customer comments and suggestions. The long lens bags were developed because of suggestions from fellow photographers and customers though he says "our belt bags are our bread and butter because there are more people out there who use them."

Well, Santa Bert says the belt system looks pretty neat (like Batman's "utility belt" from the old ABC series from the '60s) but the Kinesis Long Lens Bags are the real deal. Check out the entire Kinesis line at: www.kinesisgear.com. You can also order by calling Kinesis at: 303-425-1314; fax: 303-425-3530.

- It's Two, Two Bags in One!
We are always trying to avoid the dreaded excess baggage charge that the major airlines are now enforcing with renewed vigor. A multi-day trip often finds me hauling a large Lightware Travel Kit Case (packed with long glass or lighting equipment), a bag for my clothes and a cart to hauling all of this through the airport and while on assignment.

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I've always thought if there was some way to incorporate my cart into one of my checked pieces. There are of course roller cases and one case maker who has designed a lightweight cart into a case, but none of these seemed to completely fit the bill for me.

Until I recently saw Versa-Flex's travel cover that has a large pocket sewn into it to hold a Ruxxx folding cart (LCC1724Rx). Now a sports shooter can pack a VersaFlex 1724 case with his long glass and other accessories and put the whole thing into this neat, well made slip cover that will also hold a cart. Now two pieces of checked bags turns magically into one!

It's such a simple solution to and age-old problem, it's a wonder someone hadn't thought of it years ago.

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The VersaFlex Travel Covers are made out of Cordura and also give cases added padding and protection during transport.

VersaFlex's Larry Nolan told Sports Shooter that his work with NFL Films was the genesis of his company and that he started his line of bags and cases with the cinema market in mind. But he quickly "went into the still (photography) market because I had to eat!"

Sports shooters have seen the company's MU1724 cases around stadiums and arenas for years (it carries two long lenses with an optional cradle that provides probably the ultimate protection for shipping and checking).

Larry has recently added a larger case to the VersaFlex line, the MU1732 which I think might compete well with Lightware's Travel Kit Case.

VersaFlex has been around since 1991 and their cases are of the softsided variety. The outside fabric is "superior wear and puncture resistant" 1000 Denier Cordura Nylon and all cases utilize a steel reinforced, corrugated polypropylene shell and are sewn with "automotive upholstery grade stitching."

Based in Cleveland, Larry sells his products directly through his website, (http://versa-flex.com/) or by calling 216-631-0666 fax: 631-1005 and they make everything to order. He is very open to customer suggestions and offers custom cases for those who need something special. Repairs are done quickly Richard says, "We try to turn around repairs in a day."

Like Keinesis, VersaFlex also has a beltbag system and also make a nice rain cover for cameras and lenses, protective wraps and a well-designed tripod/lightstand bag. While most prefer "photographer's basic black" VersaFlex offers a variety of colors which might make picking your cases out of that sea of bags tumbling out of the luggage carousel easier.

Larry also dropped us a note recently to let us know he "is manufacturing NEW foam lens inserts for the NEW Canon 400 & 600 lenses and also rain covers for those lenses. Versa-Flex will be the ONLY place where you can buy them. These are custom made and have better protective features."

 
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- Lightware to the Rescue.
Paul Peregrine checks in with a couple of new items at Lightware, the venerable case and bag maker from Denver.

The first is the Lightware MultiMates, which upgrades their MF2012, MF1420 and MF1623 cases to rolling cases.

The unique design straps onto the bottom of the Lightware (or any comparable case) and has a wheel assembly on one end and a pullout handle on the other. So if you already have one of Lightware's great MultiFormat Cases (I have two) you don't have to run out and buy a roller case.

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Paul says "I have used the prototype with brutality and haven't been able to make it fail. I have also tried putting it on one of the earliest cases we made back in "84 and it fits like it should."

"The 2012 "carry on" worked just fine going through the DIA template with the wheels up, and it fit just great in the overhead of the 757 off to NYC," he added.

The MultiMate also features "user replaceable wheels and handle if it should go south during the monsoons."

Paul also told Sports Shooter, "(I) can't say it will fit everything but it's a good start. They all come with a retro fit kit and instruction sheet for those not mechanically inclined. It's a simple to do, but ya gotta have instructions."

The second new product from Lightware is the GripIt Pack which is designed as an "on the go" shooters bag or backpack. Made out of Lightware's famous "Ballistic Nylon" the back panel is made out of a breathable mesh material so it's more comfortable to wear in warmer locales.

As with all Lightware bags, the GripIt Pack also features several exterior pockets and rings so you can attach pouches and other accessories as needed. While not designed specifically with the digital shooter in mind, I can see using this bag to carry cameras and short lenses (it also comes with a protective divider kit) in conjunction with a small
over-the-shoulder laptop bag.

Lightware has their website up and running at: http://www.lightwareinc.com/. It has the full line of Lightware products and even offers a page where you can buy factory seconds at a lower price. These products have minor flaws, but are just as good as their counterparts found in retail stores.


Related Links:
www.kinesisgear.com
versa-flex.com
www.lightwareinc.com

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