Why is it that digital cameras tend to be sold without cases? How come a £13 camera from Argos comes with a case and yet I am expected to spend £300 on a good quality digital camera and trust that it doesn't get damaged? It makes no sense.
Having purchased a Kodak DX 6490 camera I soon realised that if I wanted to use the camera to its full potential I would have to get a case for it. Hiking up mountains and cycling through woodland in a quest for the perfect shot with a caseless camera struck me as digital suicide. It was then I recalled that I had received some junk mail from Kodak which I had tucked away somewhere in the study in the misplaced belief that I would look at it if I were ever to purchase a camera. I had a vague recollection that this mail contained information about cases and camera bags...
After some fairly extensive searching the said junk mail was found, only, rather suprisingly, it turned out not to be junk. Rather, a neat offer was staring me in the face - purchase a listed camera and a Kodak dock or printer dock between certain dates and send away for a free camera bag! Magic. For once I met the criteria and so, forms duly completed I sat back and waited.
The bag duly arrived in the post, securely packaged in a cardboard box that was much larger than I had expected. Upon opening I was pleasantly suprised at what I found.
The bag itself is black and constructed of nylon covered vinyl. It's first appearance suggested a good quality, sturdy product with ample padding to protect your equipment.
The main part of the bag measures 27 cm x 17 x 14 and is accessed via a flip-top lid held down by two plastic, rucksack-style fastening clips - the sort that you open by squeezing the sides together. The clips themselves are easy to open with one hand but are firm enough that you are unlikely to open them by accident.
Inside the main section of the bag there are two mesh pockets in the lid, ideal for storing spare batteries and media cards together with other paraphanalia that you may require. There is also a padded divider - a strip of foam covered in nylon with velcro ends to fix it to the side of the bag - which is quite useful for separating things out in the bag.
An outer zippered pocket (with a flap covering the zip for added protection) completes the main section of the bag. This pocket would be more suited to holding media cards or small flat objects rather than anything with bulk.
In addition to the main bag there are two, identically sized detachable side pockets. Each measures just shy of 11cm x 13 x 4 and is attached to the side of the bag by means of two tabs of material which popper (press-stud) together to form a loop over a belt-loop-style strip of material on the main body of the case.
This is where grumble number one comes in. The two side bags are incredibly fiddly to attach and detach from the bag and don't even contemplate trying to do it when the side bags are full as it is impossible to get your fingers into the right position to fasten the poppers (and I have typically female fingers - not in the least bit fat!). As a consequence, the side pockets are only really of use fully attached to the case or totally detached. Anyone with a desire to mix and match in the field will be sorely disappointed and the cursing will be heard for miles around!
Grumble number two in relation to the side bags is the fact that they don't have handles on them. You could use the poppered loop to attach them to something although the orientation would be wrong (the loop goes virtically on the case rather than the horizontal loop that would be required to fit the case onto a belt-loop, for example).
One of the big plus points about this bag is its ease of carrying. A centrally mounted handgrip is ideally placed to allow you to carry the bag by hand in a balanced manner. Unlike some camera bags I tried (particularly Lowe) the handgrip was placed slightly off centre (in the front to back line) which seems to help stop the bag swinging.
As an alternative to the central handgrip, a detachable shoulder strap is also provided. This is fully adjustable in length and it's sturdy webbed construction is not too uncomfortable on the shoulder. There is a shoulder pad on the strap although I do not rate it particularly highly. It's there but doesn't, in my opinion, add much to the easy of carrying.
The bag, when empty, is fairly light-weight which has to be a plus.
OK. Now for the major moan.
This bag was sent directly to my by Kodak. It was a promotional offer that was dependent upon you buying certain models of camera together with a dock or printer dock. You would think, therefore, that the bag would be suitable for the camera. But no.
If I were to place the camera dock AND the camera in the bag then things might not be so bad - the camera would be reasonably protected and would not wobble about too much although I wouldn't like to put the bag through too much in this condition. However, decide that you don't really need your dock in the field and you might just get stung (dock leaves cure stinging nettle rash - oh, forget it!).
You see, without the bulk of the dock (which also requires a power source to run and so is of precious little use outside) the camera is the wrong shape for the bag. Yes it fits in but you can't secure it with the padded divider as the DX6490 is too bulky and without some kind of restraint the bag is too big. Neither will the camera fit in one of the detachable side pockets as it is too fat. Problem.
I checked the Kodak website to see whether they had sent the bag by mistake only to find that this bag is listed as an accessory for the DX6490!
[To give Kodak their due a polite letter of inquiry resulted in them sending me an alternative case free of charge and within a couple of days. I got to keep the original case.]
The bag is fairly widely available from suppliers although prices do vary. Kodak.co.uk, interestingly, do not sell direct but instead direct you to the likes of DABS, Argos and PC World. The cheapest supplier I could find at the time of writing is through Amazon at £12.78.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This is a fairly well designed, sturdy case, which apart from the niggles relating to the side pockets is ideally suited to carrying all your stuff in the field. It is well padded, constructed of strong, non-rip material and offers good water resistance.
DO NOT however purchase it if you have a DX6490 as it is simply not suitable.