By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Once an exclusive gathering for the photo specialty market, the annual Photo Marketing Association (PMA) show early next month will feature a number of bags and case manufacturers that are branching out from their consumer electronics roots, as well as photo specialty suppliers who are increasingly pitching their wares to CE specialists to display next to their digital camera displays.
A look at some of the samples that will be on display at the Las Vegas Convention Center from March 8-11 reveals what is a clear trend: high-technology photo bags as ultra-protective wombs for expensive photo gear.
An example is the Protexx brand line of digital camera and media card cases from Congers, N.Y.-based Go Photo. Protexx bags are engineered to protect cameras and memory cards from corrosion and electrostatic degradation caused by moisture and humidity. According to the company, "Corrosion is a silent killer attacking metal surfaces and circuitry, causing premature failure. Protexx technology can extend the useful life of the electronic devices it holds."
The bags are manufactured with a copper-derived material developed by Lucent Technologies that absorbs moisture. The material also shields cameras from shock sparks caused by static electricity and neutralizes the effect of corrosive gases, according to the company.
The bags' exteriors are made of DuPont Cordura luggage-grade nylon for maximum durability. Each bag has a minimum of five compartments to hold extra batteries, memory cards and other accessories. All bags are water resistant and feature an adjustable detachable shoulder strap.
The line includes small media wallets compatible with all types of memory cards, slim camera cases for point-and-shoot models, and larger bags for digital SLRs and associated gear. Prices will be available at the show.
A line of Kata-brand bags from Bogen Imaging, Ramsey N.J., also feature advanced protective technology. Three new additions to Kata's Global Digital collection are geared toward protecting d-SLRs, lenses and accessories using Kata's proprietary Thermo-Shield technology (TST). The outer shell of the TST bags are heat formed in a protective "rib shape" construction, and made from a double-cord "super nylon" to protect gear from water, dust and a host of other potentially damaging elements. Beneath that is a cross-linked, closed-cell polyethylene and EVA shield that shelters equipment from shock and impact, while also insulating it from extreme temperatures and moisture.
The small, lightweight cases, the PB-44, PB-46 and PB-48, are capable of holding a d-SLR in top grip position and comes with padded internal and external pockets to accommodate additional equipment, such as media cards, cables, batteries, etc. Additionally, the PB-48, the largest of the three new cases, is also able to store lenses, flashes or other accessories on each side of the camera.
The PB series features a rigid padded-grip handle, ergonomic shoulder strap and back loops for a waist belt. Each PB case comes with Kata's waterproof elements cover and scratch and static-resistant "yelloop" internal fabric.
Pricing and availability will be announced at the show at Bogen's booth, G231.
Bogen will also be showing its lineup of National Geographic brand camera bags. Five new additions to the Earth Explorer collection will be introduced at PMA, including a small backpack, mini shoulder bag, small waist pack and a small and mini camera pouch.
The small backpack is lightweight (3.9 pounds) and features a fully adjustable, ergonomic harness system. The internal compartment can be configured into two sections — one with customizable dividers for camera gear and the other for accessories — or a single large section. It also includes a padded section for a sub-notebook computer. The midi shoulder bag features a removable protective compartment and pockets to hold media accessories, MP3 players, cellphones and documents. The small waist pack can accommodate a small camcorder and point-and shoot-camera and features various pouches and pockets for additional accessories and personal gear. The two camera pouches are geared toward point-and-shoot models and feature front pockets for small media accessories. Both pouches can be worn on a belt, with a Velcro fastener, or over the shoulder with the included cotton strap.
In recognition of National Geographic's commitment to conservation, each bag in the Earth Explorer collection is manufactured from environmentally friendly, natural sourced material, including fibers such as hemp and cotton, and all-metal antique brass buckles that remove the need for plastic fasteners. A part of the proceeds from sales is donated back to the National Geographic Society to support its global research, education and conservation efforts, according to the company.
Aventura, Fla.-based M-Rock is introducing at PMA its Extreme line of camera bags. The line includes 22 models ranging from mini point-and-shoot digital camera bags, medium digital camera and digital camcorder bags, lens bags, V-shaped top load holster bags, square gadget SLR bags, backpacks and sling bags, as well as accessories items such as a modular belt, camera strap, memory-card wallet and a padded U-shaped lens cradle.
The Extreme line features M-Rock's unique modular system that allows users to build a carrying and protection system. By utilizing hook-and-loop fasteners, the medium sized camera and lens bags attach securely to the left and right side of the SLR bags, allowing the carrying system to grow with a user's professional needs.
The SLR bags come with two shoulder straps with swivel snap hooks and six small, metal D-rings that work together as a harness system so the bags can be carried as a shoulder bag or quickly converted into a backpack, chest-pack, tummy bag or fanny pack using the shoulder straps to help support M-Rock's modular belt.
The bags come with ultra-soft gray lining and black dividers and scratch-free interiors. Two deep pockets and multiple sub-pockets and sleeves provide space and storage for digital accessories. The bags are water resistant and come with drawstring weather jackets for extra protection against extreme weather conditions. A soft cloth, which comes with all of the Extreme medium and large bags, can be used to clean lens glass or to cover and protect LCD screens on cameras and camcorders.
SLR cameras can be loaded into Extreme's square gadget bags two ways. When utilizing M-Rock's dividers and/or padded U-shaped lens cradle, cameras may be loaded with either the lens facing downwards or with the grip facing upwards. The line's two sling bags include all of M-Rock's features and can also be worn as backpacks and swung around to the user's front for direct access to the top and lower compartments of the bags, without removing the bag from the body.
Extreme accessories include the modular belt, a memory card pouch, a neoprene camera strap, jewelry-style felt pouches for scratch protection when carrying small digital cameras in pockets or handbags, and a padded U-shaped lens cradle.
The bags' suggested retails range from $10 up to $250.
Orlando, Fla.-based Naneu Pro is featuring two new models in their Military Ops series, the Tango and Sierra.
These two new models feature the briefcase styling, a dedicated notebook PV compartment (12.1-inch for the Sierra and 15-inch for the Tango). The main compartment features padded inserts for cameras and lenses. The inserts are also removable to use both bags as daypacks. A magnetic instant open/lock compartment allows fast access and there are eight additional pockets for accessories
The Tango is capable of holding a d-SLR with up to a 7.5-inch long lens attached, plus two additional large lenses (up to 9.5 inches long) or four small lenses and a flash, while the Sierra is capable of holding a d-SLR with up to a 6.5-inch long lens attached, plus two small lenses or one small lens and a flash.
They include a padded shoulder strap and a carrying handle, allowing the bags to be carried in three ways: by the handle, by the shoulder straps or in a messenger style. They both come in black or olive drab and will be available in navy blue in April.
The Tango measures 16 inches by 9.5 inches by 11 inches and has a suggested retail $119. The Sierra is 14 inches by 7.5 inches by 9.25 inches and has suggested retail of $89.99
Another new addition to the line, the Delta, is a handbag style case that features a padded, removable insert which holds most digital point-and-shoot cameras. The Delta comes with an adjustable padded divider within the insert as well as a quick-detachable shoulder strap, a belt loop, six pockets for extra accessories and a small compass attached.
The Delta comes in black or olive drab and will be available in navy blue in April.
It weighs 0.65 pounds and retails for $24.99.
The soft Digital D series pouches from Belgrade, Mont.-based OP/TECH USA offers protection against impact, moisture and dust for cameras with lenses measuring up to 6 inches in length. These easy-access neoprene cases fit most digital cameras. The pouches in the larger styles were designed with enough room in the lens area that a lens hood can be mounted backwards in the storage position and still fit in the pouch. Non-marring snaps close the flap cover on the base of the pouch and a unique retaining strap attaches the case around the lens or to the tripod mount so that it is out of the field of view when taking a picture The pouches are lightweight, weather resistant and the case closes around the neck strap so that the strap is still usable.
A "camera fit list" is available at www.optechusa.com to find the pouch that best fits a specific camera model.
Also on display at the show, from Edison, N.J.-based Sakar International, are some new additions to the company's Digital Concepts line of camera cases.
At the top of the line is the MG-905 Knapback, a lightweight, water-resistant bag with a padded interior, included interior dividers for customized fitting, a front accessories pocket and a double zipper/magnetic flap closure for added protection. It retails for $39.99.
Four other camera bag models and two mini camcorder models all feature water-resistance, padded interiors, accessories pockets and zipper or magnetic flap enclosures. Two of the bags feature a pull-out rain jacket function.
These products are all coming out in late spring and will be sold at photo stores and at mass-market retailers. Suggested retails range form $9.99 to $19.99. All the bags feature a lifetime warranty.
A waterproof line of sealed vinyl camera bags is being shown by One Source Network (OSN). The bags feature heat-sealed seams to ensure that the outer shell is waterproof. The bags have removable nylon inserts with closed-cell padding for interior customization and gear protection. Zippers are also waterproof and have a vinyl hood to direct water away.
At PMA the company is introducing eight models which include two backpacks, three large-size camera cases and three smaller camera pouch sizes. While the bags are waterproof, they are not able to be submerged.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.