VIDEO CAMERA 1995

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BAGS OF STYLE

 

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One hard knock could turn your bright shiny new camcorder into a worthless pile of junk. Protect your investment with a video bag, and maybe make a fashion statement at the same time...

 

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Video bags used to be simple, functional containers that kept your camcorder and accessories dry and reasonably well-protected against bumps and knocks. Nowadays they’re just as likely to be a fashion accessory as well, it’s surely only be a matter of time before the big-name designer labels muscle in on the act, some other well-known names already have!

 

This time last year we commented on the growing designer element, introduced by the likes of Hama and Vivanco, now they’re all at it. However, not everyone is jumping on the bag-wagon, traditional leather and canvas bags are as popular (and expensive) as ever, and there’s still plenty of those dull-looking black and blue nylon jobbies around.  Don’t dismiss them out of hand though, we suspect they’re less likely to be stolen by thieves who are well aware of the value of a top-name bag, and its likely contents.

 

If you’re in the market for a video bag our advice is to make sure it’s big enough, not just for the camcorder, but for all the accessories you’re going to need if you’re out and about for more than a day or so. Flexibility is important, and bags with moveable partitions are preferable to those with fixed ones, or none at all. Most of the bags we’ve looked at are strong, and reasonably well put together, though it’s still worth checking the quality of the stitching. Last and most important, comfort. Look for a wide, well-padded shoulder strap, with a non-slip surface. Try and imagine how it’s going to feel after a couple of hours fully loaded...

 

 

BANDRIDGE VA620 £25

Bandridge have several quite extensive ranges, including some natty ‘wrinkle’ finish bags, but this one is strictly orthodox. It’s made from plain black leatherette with one large, generously padded compartment, big enough for all but the most substantial machines. There’s one moveable partition and a zippered net in the top of the lid. On the front there’s a full width pouch with a small pocket on the front.  On the underside there’s a pair of tripod loops. The shoulder strap is wide and it has a sliding shoulder pad, though it only gets seven out of ten for comfort and grip.

 

Design                                     8

Manufacture and finish            9

Shoulder strap             7

Value for money             9

 

 

BILLINGHAM STOWAWAY POLA £40

Open up the central zipper and out wafts a rich aroma of leather and canvas. Pola is one of Billingham’s smallest bags, you can just about squeeze a palmcorder into the main compartment. There are two generous pockets back and front, for a spare battery and tape, with smaller zippered compartments behind the front pocket and in the lid,  even so you would still want something a little more spacious if you were going to be away from home for more than a day or two. The sides and base are moderately well cushioned. The shoulder strap is made from thick canvas/nylon webbing, and there’s a pair of belt loops at the back. Billingham bags are much prized by professionals, they’re tough, stylish and designed to last a lifetime, but that kind of quality doesn’t come cheap. If you can appreciate the timeless nature of a classic design you won’t flinch at the price.

 

Design                                     9                                 

Manufacture and finish            10

Shoulder strap             9

Value for money             8

 

 

BILLINGHAM SERIES 3 £90

Originally designed for a Leica rangefinder camera Series 3 is also just the right size for a palmcorder or small compact. It’s made from the same mixture of leather, canvas and brass as their other bags, this one has a  khaki finish. It has a zippered compartment at the back and a wide pocket at the front, the main compartment is covered by a large flap, which is kept in place by a pair of buckles. The top flap has a hidden zippered pocket, and there are various other hidey-holes between the cushioned inner liner and the outside of the bag. It comes with a set of four moveable dividers and a wide shoulder strap, though no cushioned pad. Another quality bag, probably the only one you will ever need, it should certainly outlive most of the objects  it will ever carry...

 

Design                                     9                                 

Manufacture and finish            10

Shoulder strap             8

Value for money             8

 

CAM PLUS 5356 £27

Very chic, the model we’ve looked at is made from a strong rubberised material with woven nylon/polyester sides,  so it’s strong as well! This is part of Philips’s growing video accessory range and this design, like most of their other video bags, is exclusive to them. The 5356 is a palmcorder sized bag, with a clever outward opening top flap, for easy access when it’s being carried. At first glance a small palmcorder would seem to be about all you could get inside, but the space has been put to good use, you might just squeeze in a mains charger as well. The two zippered end pockets will take a tape or battery apiece, and it comes with a Batman-style utility belt with two more zippered pouches.  The thin shoulder strap could do with some padding but it has a good non-slip layer, so it doesn’t slide off very often...

 

Design                                     9                                 

Manufacture and finish            9

Shoulder strap             7

Value for money             8

 

CENTON VIDEO HOLSTER £18

This one caught our eye because of the unusual vertical layout. It’s large enough to take a small compact machine, standing on its end. The drop down front panel is a neat touch, so you can get more easily to whatever is inside. There are three other pockets, the two on the side are large enough to hold a charger; the one at the front is just about big enough for a spare battery or tape. There’s a flexible divider in the bottom of the bag, with a cushioned pad . The bag comes with a shoulder strap, a moveable pad, and a useful waist belt. It’s made from a waterproofed polyester material, with a rather cheap-looking brown leatherette trim. A webbing carry handle is stitched to the lid. We like the design, layout and price, it’s well padded but the finish is fairly average with rather a lot of loose ends on our sample, we hope they won’t prove to be its undoing...

 

Design                                     8

Manufacture and finish            7

Shoulder strap             8

Value for money             9

 

 

CULLMANN VIDEOTREKKING 2 £40

Cullmann bags have always been tough and well built, but not terribly exciting. Videotrekking 2 could change all that, it’s part of a snazzy new range that shakes off the dowdy image once and for all. This particular model is just about big enough for a palmcorder, charger and a spare battery. It is made from a resilient and water-resistant woven nylon material, in two contrasting colours, with a rubberised panel stitched into the lid. Externally there are ribbed cushion panels at the back, sides and underside for added impact protection. These are in addition to thick internal padding on all four sides and the base. There’s just one pocket at the front, fastened by a strip of Velcro, and a zippered net in the lid. The shoulder strap is fixed, but it is curved with a grippy layer on the underside. It comes with a belt strap, not only does it prevent the bag swinging around, it’s a good security measure as well.

 

Design                                     9

Manufacture and finish            9

Shoulder strap             9

Value for money             8

 

HAMA SAMSONITE SKYLINE 40 £20

Recognise the name? No, not Hama, Samsonite, the luggage people. That’s right Hama are now making a wide range of very stylish bags for them, this is one of the smallest, with just enough room for a palmcorder, maybe a battery and tape as well. It’s superbly well-made, mostly from a durable woven material. It has a single pocket on the front, secured by a zip. The shoulder strap is on the narrow side but you can’t get anything heavy into the bag, so it doesn’t matter too much. Great for days out.

 

Design                                     9

Manufacture and finish            9

Shoulder strap             8

Value for money             8

 

HAMA SAMSONITE PARK LANE 300 £60

Finished in black and cognac this one looks like a piece of luggage, more of a vanity case than a video bag... The green version looks more the part if you’re concerned. Once again very well made, this time big enough to take a palmcorder or small compact, and all the necessary accessories. Inside the main compartment there’s a set of three cushioned dividers and a zippered net in the lid. Outside it has a wide pouch at the front, with plenty of room for odds and ends. The base and back are well-protected and there’s a grab handle on the top. The lid is kept shut with a pair of brass catches and it has a very distinctive shoulder strap, again with brass fittings. A tad pricey but it looks and feels as though it’s been very well made and should last the course.  

 

Design                                     8

Manufacture and finish            9

Shoulder strap             9

Value for money             8

 

JESSOP ATLANTIC £20

We thought we’d better include at least one ‘normal’ bag as well, as this is it. The Jessop Atlantic will comfortably hold most machines, up to and including the larger semi-pro models, you might even squeeze in a small full-size VHS machine. There’s a double zippered flap on the top, this opens to reveal a large single compartment with a pair of moveable dividers. There are two detachable end pockets, with wrist straps, these are big enough for a couple of tapes or batteries. On the front there’s a large detachable section, with its own zippered front pocket. The shoulder strap has a moveable rubber pad, it doesn’t grip very well and has a tendency to slip off the shoulder. There’s plenty of padding around the sides, the bottom feels a bit on the thin side, though, and there’s no protection on the top. Nevertheless, it is still good value, and it doesn’t shout, ‘look at me, I’ve got an expensive camcorder’...

 

Design                                     7

Manufacture and finish            8

Shoulder strap             7

Value for money             9

 

VANGUARD GOLF 17 £35 (GOLF 19 £45)

Vanguard have developed a knack of producing expensive-looking bags at affordable prices. Their Golf range are a case in point. They’re made from a textured woven fabric, in three contrasting colours, and finished with a plausible leatherette trim. The Golf 17 is our favourite, it’s just the right size for most compact machines and palmcorders. Internally there’s thick padding around the sides and the base, plus four moveable partitions. There’s a zippered net in the lid, which is also well padded. It has two small tape-sized side pockets, and larger pockets front and back. All of the straps are made from a canvas type webbing, the shoulder strap has a contoured non-slip pad, and there’s a grab handle on the lid. Golf 19 is a scaled-up version of the 17, with larger compartments and pockets. It’s big enough for semi pro machines, or well-equipped movie-makers with lots of accessories. Both bags are durable and well made, moreover they look trendy, and much more expensive than they actually are.  

 

Design                                     9

Manufacture and finish            9

Shoulder strap             8

Value for money             9

 

 

VIVANCO EXCLUSIVE 340 £77

A classic design, made entirely of soft, supple leather. Just the right size for a compact machine plus accessories, with a large, well-padded central compartment, fitted with three moveable partitions. It has two zippered front pockets with plenty of room for tapes and batteries. The shoulder strap and the rather small sliding pad are leather too, even the identity tag is leather. Not the most comfortable bag we’ve tested but the resilience of leather and the practical layout will never go out of fashion.

 

Design                                     9

Manufacture and finish            10

Shoulder strap             5

Value for money             7

 

 

VIVANCO HOLIDAY WORLD 300 £64

Very smart! A sturdy no-frills bag for security (and safety) conscious owners of compact machines. It’s exceptionally well-padded with a semi rigid base, and moulded feet. There’s extra padding on the back too. The top lid is held in place by a pair of buckles and a twist catch, that can be locked using the miniature padlock which comes with the bag. Vivanco also include a name tag and plastic identity card, for the owner  to note the bag’s make and model number.  Inside there are four moveable partitions and a zippered net in the top lid. Outside there’s two side good-sized pockets for tapes and batteries. It has a grab handle on the lid and a wide webbed shoulder strap with shaped shoulder pad. Also included is a waist belt, for added protection and to stop it swaying about.

 

Design                                     9

Manufacture and finish            10

Shoulder strap             9

Value for money             8

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1994 2711

 

 

 

 


 

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