I took a look at Manfrotto’s new camera bags at NAB 2014. The lines are definitely pro caliber with a lot of solid features that pro users will appreciate. Upon closer inspection though, it’s clear that the designs aren’t actually new but take a page from a previous pro-bag designer within the Vitec Group brand that serves as an umbrella for Manfrotto and other camera equipment brands.
First up is a series of backpacks (shown above). The Kata brand has been killed off and Manfrotto has introduced a new line of bags for the pro DSLR user by leaning heavily on the Kata design and experience. In fact, the Manfrotto Pro-V 610 PL is a straight up rebrand of the Kata bag bearing the same model number.
The same is true for the Pro-V 410 PL and the smaller Kata 3N1-35 PL backpack. While this rebadge isn’t necessarily a bad thing, these bags have been around for a couple of years or so already – just under the more niche Kata brand name.
Each of the bags include a gear cloth that you can spread on the ground and use of gear setup without having to worry about getting your camera, lenses and other gear dirty.
The Manfrotto Pro-V 610 PL can handle a DSLR with up to a 500mm lens attached, along with 6-8 additional lenses and various accessories in the side zippered pouches.
The zippered pouches feature that same slick Kata touch with easy access from the inside compartment or from an external zippered pouch.
The bag can also hold up to a 17″ laptop in a side pouch that is between the main camera compartment and the back of the bag.
The tripod carrier zips off the front of the bag and folds up neatly when not in use.
The Manfrotto Roller Bag 70 is one bag that is currently available and not a Kata rebadge. It’s a very slick roller bag with plenty of storage for small accessories and up to a 17″ laptop.
The Roller Bag 70 has two straps inside the bag that allow you to leave the lid up without it flopping down and smacking the ground when you open it, which is important because that is where the laptop compartment is at.
Along with the laptop compartment and accessory pouches, there is also a tablet compartment lower down on the lid.
There is room for 2 DSLRs, 8 lenses, 2 speedlights and plenty other small accessories inside the Pro Roller 70.
The front of the bag also features a pair of locking straps that allow you to safely shut and move the bag a short distance without the need to fully pack and zip the bag.
Manfrotto also has a new line of lighting roller bags designed to hold a serious light kit, including stands. These bags also come from Kata’s lighting bag line.
For example, the Manfrotto PL-LW-99 is the same as the Kata KT PL-LW-99 bag that is still available. The smaller bags follow the same trend.
So while this may spell the end for the Kata brand, it’s nice to see the solid Kata bags live on in what’s hopefully a more prominent line with the mainstream Manfrotto brand. The pricing of the Manfrotto bags seems to be consistent with what we’ve seen from their Kata counterparts, so these definitely remain a professional market product. I don’t have a precise availability date on the new Manfrotto bags, but you can probably expect to see them later this spring or early summer.