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The Kata Grip 18DL is a holster bag in which your camera sits ready for action, rather like a gun in those old western movies. The idea is to keep both the camera and accessories easily accessible so you never miss a shot, a great idea but with this bag being aimed at a DSLR with a weighty 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached, does it actually work?
The Kata Grip 18 DL: Features
The bag is really well padded and lightweight so it’s not going to add much weight to your usual kit and it certainly feels as though it offers good protection to the lens and body.
|The Kata Grip 18 DL with waterproof hood in its pouch.|
On the outside of the bag we find a comfortable carrying handle on top, a couple of zip pockets, one on either side, for holding spare batteries and memory cards. To give an idea of the size, they could hold Cokin P sized filters too if you wanted but are not big enough for 150mm Lee/Z-Pro ND grads.
|The side pockets have a bright yellow lining so you’ll always know when they are open!|
Also, you get a carrying strap that clips on or off the bag as and when you need it. This is padded and goes over your shoulder – it’s long enough to go over your head so that the strap crosses your chest – this seemed to hold the bag quite securely.
Finally there are a couple of vinyl loops on through which you can attach the bag to another carrying system, or loop your belt through if you like.
|Loops through which to put your belt.|
The inside of the bag is bright yellow and is mainly a soft padded area for protection, but there is a little memory card holder which is attached to a choice of positions in the bag with Velcro.
|View inside the bag, bright yellow padding protects your lens.|
The final feature is a little yellow pouch, which opens up to create a waterproof cover for the bag. This expands and goes over the top of the bag with relative ease.
|Top view of the case when the waterproof hood is on.|
There are a couple of little holes left in the cover for the carrying strap to pass through – these can be a bit of a fiddle to find if you’ve got cold fingers.
|The carrying strap can easily connect to the bag even when the hood is on.|
Kata Grip 18 DL: Handling
The bag defines simplicity – you just open the top zip, drop your camera in lens first, and then zip the top up. That’s all there is to it really, but what is it like to actually carry?
|The camera with 70-200mm f/2.8 slots into bag perfectly.|
First off I tried attaching the bag to my belt by just looping the belt through the eye holes at the rear of the bag, and re-fastening it. The bag sits comfortably enough on your side, though it is pretty big. When you put the 70-200mm f/2.8 and body in it, you see the biggest problem – your trousers nearly get pulled down with the weight. This does not happen with lighter kit, even a 70-200mm f/4 would be fine I expect, but with a few kilos of f/2.8 glass and magnesium alloy, it puts a lot of strain on your belt.
|Here we see the strain put on the belt by the weight of the lens and bag.|
On the plus side, the bag stays where it is, it does not move around when you bend over to take a low shot or flap around when you’re climbing over a style.
Next I attached the shoulder strap to the bag. This was definitely more comfortable than having your belt tugged at. If you extend the strap so it’s long enough to go over your head and sit on the opposite shoulder to where the bag sits, you get a comfortable sense of balance from it all.
|Bag slung over 1 shoulder works ok, feels like it could slip off though.||For more stability, it’s best to have the strap across your chest.|
If you are tall, you may like the strap to be a few inches longer, I found the bag sat just a little higher than optimum and I caught my arm on it quite a few times when getting into shooting position. Also, when I bent down to look through a low tripod, I found that the bag tended to move forward like a pendulum – it’s definitely not as stable as when it was attached to your belt. Both of these are minor niggles though – a camera dangling around your neck is far more likely to get in the way when on the move!
A solution worth trying is to loop your belt through the eye holes AND use the shoulder strap. You get the stability from the belt and the shoulder takes the weight. Trying this myself, the strap is a little too short, it felt like I was wearing braces, but for shorter users (I’m 6’2”), this is the perfect solution.
Actually using the bag as a holster is good fun, it does feel a bit like the wild west when you grab it and quickly shoot! Removing the camera is very fast if you leave the top unzipped. However, the bag lid seems to fall into a closed position as soon as you remove the camera, so when you try to re-holster the camera, you have to use one hand to open the lid, and another to drop the camera in. Again, not a big issue really, but it just takes the edge off the fun.
If you like to use your 70-200mm with the hood on, you’ll find that the camera body sticks out of the top of the bag because of the extra length. This isn’t a huge issue if you’re regularly using the camera, but if you wanted to zip the bag closed for a while, you’d have to take the hood off, then when you get it out, put the hood back on.
|With the lens hood on, the camera body sticks out of the top of the bag.||The bag will not zip closed with the hood on.|
Kata Grip 18 DL: Performance
Once you’ve got used to the bag I found it sits pretty comfortably and in most circumstances it works a treat. At a wedding it would be a godsend, rather than having 2 camera bodies banging together around your neck, you could have the 70-200mm f/2.8 safely by your side ready to go.
When you’re using the camera for an extended period, the empty bag can get in the way a bit – with it being light it moves more freely and that free movement often clashes with your elbow. It’s a soft bag so this doesn’t hurt at all though, it's just a nuisance now and then.
Kata Grip 18 DL: Verdict
The Kata Grip 18DL is a well built, light weight bag which really does give easy access to one of the most popular lenses on the market. However, the weight of that lens produces potentially embarrassing issues when attached to your belt. This can be remedied by using the comfortable shoulder strap supplied, though that too can have stability issues when doing more active pursuits as the bag can swing a round a little.
But all in all, despite a few small issues, the bag does provide a safe and comfortable solution for keeping your 70-200mm f/2.8 close to hand and dry.
Kata Grip 18 DL: Pros
Lightweight bag when empty.
Waterproof hood supplied.
Kata Grip 18 DL: Cons
Weight of camera, lens and bag on belt is uncomfortable.
Shoulder strap a little short for the taller user.
Bag lid will not stay in open position for really fast return of camera to holster.
If you have your lens hood on, the camera sticks out of the top of the bag.
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Kata Grip 18 DL: Specification
|Max. bag weight||470g|
|Material||The D-Light Grip-18 DL features TST RIB structural protection, light and durable RipStop fabrics, Aeriform foams and Spider Webbing straps.|
|Min. bag weight||350g|
|External max. size (lxwxh)||19.5 x 20 x 30cm|
|Internal main compartment||17.5 x 17.5 x 28cm|
|Unique features||Rain cover