By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
A number of suppliers of equipment bags and cases used the recent PMA show to introduce new lines and extensions designed specifically to transport and protect digital cameras and photo accessories.
Long-time photo bag specialist Lowepro introduced a number of new lines at the show, including two new backpack series.
The company's Fastpack line is a new series of backpacks that feature a triple-compartment design to accommodate a digital-SLR camera, extra lenses or flash units, a notebook computer and additional accessories.
A 180-degree access panel in the Fastpack makes loading and retrieving camera equipment quick and easy, while adjustable dividers enable its compartment to be customized to fit different combinations of gear, the company said. A security flap snaps closed over the camera compartment to offer an additional layer of security for photography equipment while offering fast access through the side entry compartment, even while the pack is being worn. Two of the Fastpack series' four models, Fastpack 250 and 350, provide an additional compartment with side access to a notebook computer.
The compact Fastpack 100 can carry a digital SLR with zoom lens attached, plus an extra midrange zoom lens or flash unit, MP3 player and personal gear. The Fastpack 200 supports a digital SLR with attached zoom lens, plus one or two extra lenses or flash units and personal accessories. Fastpack 250 and 350 models have been designed to accommodate a digital SLR with attached mid-range zoom lens, two to three additional lenses or flash units and accessories, and have a specially designed compartment for a 15.4-inch or 17-inch notebook computer, as well as extra space for additional memory cards, cables and accessories.
All four models in the line feature outer accessory pockets for quick access to larger items, and a harness pocket for an MP3 player or mobile phone. With the compatible pouches, "Sliplock" accessory loops add more external storage capacity and the mesh side pocket holds a water bottle, car keys or other essentials.
The Fastback series will be available this month in black, arctic blue and red. They range in price from $74.99 to $149.
Also from Lowepro are two models in the Flipside series of compact backpacks. They allow back entry through the lumbar panel for access to all areas of the main compartment as well as a measure of extra security when the backpack is worn.
The main compartment of the Flipside 200 accommodates one digital SLR with 80-200 mm f/2.8 lens attached, plus one to three additional lenses or flash units while the main compartment of the Flipside 300 accommodates one pro digital SLR with 80-200mm f/2.8 lens attached plus two to four additional lenses or flash units.
Both Flipside models feature outer storage panels to centralize accessories and personal gear for easy access and a hideaway tripod holder that carries a compact tripod or monopod. The water-resistant outer fabric protects equipment against moisture and scratches and a detachable waist belt plus an adjustable sternum strap provide a customizable fit.
The Flipside 200 carries a suggested retail of $79.99 and the Flipside 300 is $99.99. They will be available this month in black, arctic blue/black and red/black.
Also making an appearance at PMA was Avenues In Leather which brought a wide variety of SwissGear-brand cases for point-and-shoot camera models.
SwissGear's new Anthem line is a series of horizontal cases designed for ease-of-use when worn on a belt, while the Mythos line is a modern-looking case with a unique fabric construction, a proprietary combination of nylon and a custom textured material. Both of the new case lines are available in compact, small, small plus and medium plus sizes. The plus cases all include an extra pocket for batteries, media cards or other camera accessories.
The Anthem cases come in red and the Mythos cases are gray.
The company also added two new sizes, small and medium plus, to its existing line of Sherpa camera cases. Made from heavy-duty "neopro" material, the Sherpa line also includes new burgundy and blue-trimmed cases to complement the expanding marketplace of accessories and camera styles.
All lines sport the familiar red cross logo of SwissGear, made popular by Wenger's line of Swiss Army knives. Suggested retails range from $9.99 to $14.99.
Case Logic returned to PMA with several new SLR and camera/camcorder collections. A company spokesman cited photo accessories as one of the company's largest categories. He reported sales of more than 10 million camera and photo accessory cases in 2007.
New this year is Case Logic's PSL Sport line which features different weaves of extremely high-density polyester with soft interior linings, according to the company. The digital camera cases have dust- and moisture-resistant elastic closure systems, as well as integrated pockets for memory cards. The Sling (PSL56) and Backpack (PSL66) models have adjustable inner storage that can be configured to hold different sized lenses and equipment. The backpack features the company's patented SLR hammock suspension system for impact protection and easy access to equipment.
Both lines will be available in May and will come in three colors: twilight blue, eggplant purple and slate gray. Suggested retail is $79.99.
Also exhibiting at PMA was Crumpler, the Australian bag manufacturer that specializes in off-kilter names for its products.
At the top of its line is The Cork & Fork photo trolley bag. It features a "snake" adjustable wall, which the company claims is the latest concept in "camera cradling." The configurable wall can bend in between hardware and is especially good at fitting around both circular and odd shapes, a Crumpler spokeswoman said. Used in conjunction with the rigid spine walls and Velcro capping straps, all delicate equipment is stowed "snug and secure." The external shell prevents penetration from bumps and knocks and combined with the rigid internal spine walls of the structure minimizes compression of photo equipment. The removable insert doubles as a backpack and features padded shoulder straps and an adjustable waist strap. The backpack slots snuggly into the trolley for traveling. It includes a stowable rain cover, elastic cable pocket, mesh covered zippered pocket and a tripod mounting strap.
It is available in black or blue and retails for $550.
Also new from Crumpler is the The Rufous Whistler, a limited-edition version of Crumpler's most popular photo bag model, The 5 Million Dollar Home. The yellow-toned bag features an avian-themed printed lining and embroidered artwork of a bird watcher with binoculars. It boasts a water-resistant 1,000 denier nylon shell and 420 denier rip-stop nylon lining. It has an external pocket with internal mesh pocket, two hidden internal side pockets, a mesh zip pocket and Velcro release flap, a padded and brushed nylon-lined main compartment, configurable dividers, a plastic stiffening layer in base, a carry handle and an adjustable and removable shoulder strap. It retails for $90.
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