In my endless search to find the perfect bag for my photography gear I stumbled on the Kata 19X series of bags (191, 193, & 195). The Kata bag was designed for smaller camcorders, but liking the overall aesthetic so much, I wanted to give it chance to be more than just a camcorder bag. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find Kata anywhere online until I realized Manfrotto had replaced it with their 19X series bags.
The back story is that like most photographers and shutterbugs, I have several bags. I have at least three different backpacks, a few different smaller shoulder bags, a medium/large shoulder bag, etc, etc and they are all good for what they were intended for, but none were great for general storage. By storage I mean that when I’m not shooting and not traveling, I need one good bag to keep the bulk of my gear for one system, in this case my DSLR system. Using a backpack for storage was always so cumbersome and as of late, none of my backpacks were big enough – same goes for all of my shoulder bags as well. I’ve searched high and low over the years and was always too cheap to pull the trigger on a bigger bag, until I came across this Manfrotto PL CC 193, previously the Kata 193.
Clearly this is not a photographer’s bag. It’s intended for videographers and only comes with two or three dividers. However, I saw the potential and knew that with all of the velcro dividers I had from my various other bags that it wouldn’t be a problem to subdivide the big compartment into smaller lens and DSLR body compartments. One important factor was the depth of the bag because I wanted the ability to stand up my 70-200mm f/2.8 – turns out everything worked out great. The new bag is 60-70% full with the following gear. DSLR w/ grip, 50mm f/1.4, 28-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8, 2x teleconverter, full size flash, Minolta light meter, microphone, batteries, charger, memory cards, camera and bag shoulder straps, and misc other bits and pieces. I also currently have two Hasselblad film backs stored in there until I find a permanent place for them. There’s plenty of “head room” to stack items on top of each other if need be.
The construction is solid and the sides are firm and rigid, not at all flimsy. The fabric will weather well and looks very sharp (although the example that I received was dirty and had been sitting on a shelf for a long time). The front pouch is deep and a bit tight and will easily swallow up small items – I’m sure I will be digging for things before too long. Again, the bag did not come with a lot of dividers, so unless you plan to use it for bigger items, expect to rob your other bag dividers to create a useable DSLR/medium format bag. The interior is soft and similar to just about every other bag on the market. The gray color was less than exciting – I had hoped to find a Kata example with the yellow interior for the high contrast characteristics, but no such luck. The red shoulder strap tabs appear to be powder coated aluminum which are a nice touch. The bottom has four rubber feet to help keep the bottom of the bag in good shape. The handles work well. Overall a great bag.