You have no items in your shopping cart.
Competitor Comparision(Page Two of Two)
Unsolicited Customer Testimonials
My Opinion A critique of misc. products such as
Sekonic light meters and Calumet roll film backs.
This is a biased report written by the owner & designer of Kinesis and is not intended to slam other manufacturers. It is also is not designed as a media or attorney attention getter. Rather, it is intended to answer common questions that I get asked: "What is the difference between your system and theirs?", "Why do you feel your system is better than theirs?" or "How can I justify the cost of your system?"
For a simple introduction to the Kinesis system visit the System Introduction page. Some of the material covered below is also covered in this introduction.
Drafted in September 1999 (last revised 04 March 2000). Copyright 1999 Richard Stum / Kinesis Photo Gear.
We encourage you to link to us, but please do not copy, reproduce, distribute, or quote without written permission.
Overall concept of how an entire "brand" works together.
True modularity -- The clear advantage we have as a new company is across the board modular design from the ground up. For instance, when Lowepro introduced their new Street & Field modular system in 1997 (about a year after we introduced our modular system), this new product line do not fit on the current Trekker backpacks. Instead, the Trekkers had their own specific add-on pouches which attach on the outside of these packs, creating non-modularity within one brand (about a two years they did remedy this). They also make a great waist pack called the Sideline Shooter, but this stand-alone product also does not integrate with their S&F system. (The Sideline Shooter is similar in size to our best-selling M550 Multi-lens Pouch, which of course is an integral part of our modular system.) On the other hand, Tamrac's new M.C.S. components will fit on their system backpacks. Lightware has been making soft-side long lens cases for years, yet their recently introduced modular belt system (GripStrip), will not attach to these cases. These are just a few instances, and there are many more, which I do not have space to list.
Our belt accessory pouches will attach or piggy-back on our long lens cases and our belt attaches directly to the long lens case, instantly converting it to a pack. All components in the Kinesis system are designed to work together as a whole — each performing it's separate function when used alone or working as a true modular system when required.
Because we are a small company, we have no "suits" or stockholders to pacify. Many of our designs are based on customer feedback. Many manufacturers do not even design there own products, instead, they rely a separate committee or company to come up with innovations. The real question is: "How well does customer feedback trickle down to these committees?"
Width — When we first designed our belts, we tried various widths and finally settled on the 9cm (3.5") wide belt as a good all-around size. Wider proved to be too hot, while providing minimal additional support for the average 10 to 15 pound load. You also may note that our belts have equal width for the entire length of the belt. We have found that many people wear a belt system with the buckle worn in the back, with pouches surrounding the front side. The Lowepro S&F Deluxe Waistbelt is wider and stiffer in the center (using HDPE or plastic), which if worn with the buckle in the back, may tend to catch the wearer in the gut.
Length — Some manufactures, such as Lightware and Tamrac only have one or two sizes of belts, which is wonderful for dealer inventory, but may not provide the most comfortable fit. Our belts fit people with waists from 24 inches to 64 inches. Some manufactures start their sizes at 33 inches -- a big disadvantage for the small-waisted women shooters. The idea of the "one size fits all" is a belt which is skinnier near the front and overlaps upon itself. We simply offer five sizes for a custom fit.
Foams/Fabrics — We use a high density closed-cell for our padded belts. My candid observation, when I first saw the Tamrac belt was "cheesy." I did not cut one open and peek at the foam; it just felt flimsy compared to our standard Black Belt. The liner of our belts is made from Superknit, a material that is breathable foam-backed fabric. We also use a labor intensive method of construction which provides a smooth outer perimeter with the minimal binding tape on the edges. Lowepro and Lightware finish their belts with binding tape on the top or bottom, which, according to a few of their customers, can cause chafing.
Webbing — If you look at any quality mountaineering backpack, you will notice that they always use nylon webbing for the belt and for various straps on the body of the pack. They do not use the cheaper Polypropylene webbing (K-Mart style "book packs" that kids wear use Polypropylene). Yet Lightware and Tamrac have chosen to use this inferior material for their belts. The one advantage of Polypro is that once you get the belt adjusted it doesn't come out of adjustment (which we solved with our B501 Sliders). But with heavy loads or in all-day use, most people like to tweak (tighten or loosen) their belts. With nylon webbing, you can easily do this while wearing the belt. With Polypro, you have to remove the belt to tweak it because the webbing doesn't smoothing slide through the buckle.
The speed and security of how the pouches attach to the belt, or to each other, is critical to the whole design.
Attachment Methods — For several years we have been a TwinBuckle™ system, which attaches on the outer of edges of the pouch using a pair of metal slider buckles. Although this system has proved secure and very strong, some people (esp. those with arthitic hands) have found it difficult to use. In 2010 we began transitioning to the new and improved method called the Kinesis Modular Attachment Tab System (KMATS). More Info.
Where Pouches Attach — The smaller Lowepro S&F pouches attach using Velcro, yet the larger cases (i.e. Top-load Zoom cases) use a traditional method where the case have to be sleeved over the belt, necessitating the removal of all the pouches on one side of the belt. These larger cases sleeve over the belt and are held in place by an additional Velcro patch found only on the center of the belt. You can attach their zoom cases off-center, but this necessitates a cumbersome strap attachment to hold it place. With the Kinesis TwinBuckle or KMATS method, you can attach any pouch anywhere, without removing other pouches, even while wearing the belt. Another problem with some modular belt systems is the ability to hold all the pouches in same place, even when the belt is removed from the body (photo). The Tamrac M.C.S. belt has a series of vertical webbing pieces that are poorly spaced, thus not preventing this.
The variety of pouches available for a system
determines the versatility of a given brand.
Kinesis makes pouches for BOTH 35mm and medium/large format. Tamrac & Lowepro's belt system is primarily for 35mm. Lightware's GripStrip is primarily for the medium/large format user. Lindcraft primarily makes them for small tools used by the motion picture industry. Since we are a small company, we can offer unusual pouches or products that cover all formats or media.
Following is a list of the approx. quantity of products available in the following brands that offer a wearble belt, zoom case or long lens system. Many of these brands are non-modular in their approach. (This list does not include traditional shoulder bags, system backpacks or vests because we do not specialize in these products.) --
KATA Versatile Vest / Modular Pouch System: 29+
Lightware GripStrip: 37
Lowepro Street & Field: 34
SunDog: 5? (no web site)
Tamrac M.C.S.: 10 (but these ten itergrate with many other products in their brand)
Think Tank: 20+
*We have 70 product item numbers; 48 if you exclude accessory straps.
Protection and quick accessibility are two opposing elements
to consider when designing a carrying system.
Having carefully analyzed various shoulder bags, backpacks and military ammo pouches, we finally concluded that a combination of zippers and Velcro offer the best protection, while allowing quick access. Our QuickClose™ Velcro and buckle system is unmatched by others bag makers. Most lens pouches are simple zipper openings (only some share the overlapping weatherproof feature) but none have a zipper, plus the super-convenient secondary Velcro closure. Some, such as Lightware have a quick-release buckle, but this commonly requires two hands to secure. Many of the Lightware pouches also have a built-in rain fly, which for 99% of the time (most photographers don't shoot in the rain), this feature is a pain as it can interfere or snag your lens as it is removed or inserted.
We have no stockholders or "guys in suits" to appease,
so we can take a no-compromise approach to
premium fabrication and materials.
Because most of our pouches are designed to fit on a belt and not used as a "sit on the ground" bag, we design our belt pouches with a moderate amount of padding. Our long lens cases, on the other hand, share a much more rugged approach. We use materials commonly used in making backpacks, except we sew a layer of foam in between nearly every product we make. The foam helps hold the pouches open for one-handed operation, yet the pouches are soft enough that they "give" a little when pressed against. This approach is used by most of the belt and case makers, except with Lightware GripStrip. They use a very stiff single-layer material (single layer = moneysaving) that is lightly padded, but does not have much give. When I first examined this product it felt as if I was wearing a belt with small black and red cardboard boxes attached. When working in a crowded situation (i.e. wedding, media press coverage or a gala) I am not sure how comfortable that might be.
Many of our products (C-series, M550, M330 & A200) feature Velcro compatible lining for attachment of foam-padded dividers. I have had several customers complement us on the choice of material -- it is nonabrasive, unlike those offered by Lowepro and Tamrac -- yet the Velcro® hook on our padded dividers still sticks to it.
In the business world this can make or break you.
Frankly, our customer service is really, really good, OR really, really bad. As a small company, we don't always have someone to answer the phone. Maybe that is why we have chosen to use the Internet as a primary selling tool. It doesn't require a 9 to 5 "clueless customer service rep" standing by. Instead, we use e-mail a lot and I personally review every e-mail and try to answer e-mail questions within an hour or two (at least the same day).
In the unlikely chance you have a warranty problem we are VERY fast at repairing or replacing your product. Since we make all our products here in the states we can quickly service your request. We also do custom modifications too.
Quality vs. Quantity
Generally, our products are on the upper end of the price scale. But then our products are designed for the advanced consumer or professional, NOT the Wal-Mart point and shoot crowd. We make our products to last a lifetime and charge accordingly. Because we make unusual sizes, you will find great fitting products...but that also means we have to make them in small quantities. We also use US labor which contributes to an overall higher cost on some products.
Kinesis C-Series Cases, which stands for "C"amera and lens case.
Otherwise known as zoom or "top load zoom" cases.
Larger — These cases are designed for the larger, bigger lenses and matching hoods of today's modern SLRs. We make the ONLY zoom case large enough for a SLR with a 80-200/2.8 (or 70-200) with the lens hood in the shooting position. Our zoom cases have numerous D-rings for attaching to our chest harness or to your backpack if required.
Design —Problably the most unusual feature is the QuickClose™ buckle, which allows you to access the contents and quickly close the lid without using the zipper every time.
Another feature found only found in Kinesis holster cases is the movable CameraCushion. For more details on theses features visit this page.
When spending upwards of $15,000 for a lens
and an SLR, why fudge on a cheap case?
The Guts —Many photographers have stuck to purchasing the semi-rigid shipping cases made by Lightware -- but few of these same photographers realize that the long lens cases made by this company are made of soft, flimsy foam, NOT offering the same protection as their shipping cases. We also offer a soft long lens cases, but it is provided as a lightweight alternative to our rugged PolyCore™ cases. When we introduced our long lens cases in 1996 we were the only company to offer a semi-rigid long lens shoulder bag. Since then, Domke has introduced a semi-rigid foam/HDPE case too. Their HDPE side-walls are foam-lined on only one side, whereas our PolyCore™ material has high-density foam on both sides of the HDPE layer. Our liner is also bowed like Hoover Dam, providing a more rigid support. Our HDPE also overlaps providing "no cold spot" protection (see discussion above in Zoom Cases to understand "cold spot"). Our cases are also shaped like a lens -- curved, not square like the others.
The Outside Fabrics —The Lightware long lens cases are made from a Polypro fabric (i.e. cheaper than nylon, but only 1/3 as a durable as DuPont Cordura® Nylon that we use). The early Domke long lens cases were also constructed of an inferior material -- canvas. I believe they have now converted to a more durable material -- nylon or Ballistics nylon. The Tenba and Lowepro long lens cases have always used nylon fabrics and share the lightweight features of closed-cell foam without additional HDPE on the side walls.
Modularity —When we introduced our long lens cases, we made a provision to convert them to a backpack. At the time, only the ScopePACK had a pack harness feature. The ScopePACK was originally designed for the birder who needed a pack for the lightweight spotting scope and tiny tripod. Even now, only the ScopePACK, the Kinesis long lens cases and the Lowepro Lens Trekker convert for backpack use. Because of the increased size of the new (1998) Silent Wave Nikon 600/4, the ScopePACK is no longer large enough for this lens. Because our products are made domestically, we were able to respond to this new lens and within weeks have a new product on the market for this big chunk of glass. Another problem with the ScopePACK is the outside pockets are not big enough for the ever-popular 80-200/2.8 and additional lens pouches cannot be piggy-backed to the outside.
It's hard to imagine a bean bag as an exciting product, but if you have ever spent two to three weeks in Africa ONLY shooting out of a vehicle (where you cannot use a tripod) with lenses in the 300mm to 1200mm range, then a good bean bag quickly becomes your best friend.
During the summer of 1997 two customers approached me and asked if I would come up with a better "mouse trap" for the support of long lenses. I honestly never thought of a bean bag as a viable product. They wanted something better and bigger for their Africa shoots. In collaboration with these customers and Len Rue Jr., the SafariSack™ was born. The unique design also provided elevated support by using it in the saddlebag style. The OmniPod bean bag has a threaded stud for attaching your DSLR, but may be too small for long (300-500mm) glass.
Mixing and matching belt systems: Most other brands such as Lightware Gripstrip, Lowepro Street & Field, Tamrac and Think Tank pouches will fit on a Kinesis belt with the use of our B590 Generic Pouch to Belt Adapter. All our pouches with the older TwinBuckle attachment method feature a sewn-in belt loop on the back and will fit a belt width up to 50- to 60mm (2 to 2-3/8"). Newer pouches using the KATS will fit on a regular regular pants belt or any other modular belt system with a webbing up to 40mm (1-1/2") wide. Kinesis pouches with the metal TwinBuckle attachment system will fit on the Lowepro S&F Light Belt, but not on the S&F Deluxe Waistbelt.
As a general rule, if you plan to mix and match systems, we recommend that you purchase one of our belts and one of the above mentioned B590 adapter...then add Kinesis or other types of pouches to it.
The top belt in the above photo illustrates a slight modification to our belts which provide a better fit for KATS. The bottom belt is the “old style” belt.
The drawback of the new style is that other brands of pouches (LowePro, Think Tank) will not attach to a Kinesis belt unless the B590 apater is utilized.
Attaching Kinesis holster cases to other packs: If you want to carry a holster case (Kinesis C-Series case or another brand) on the front your non-Kinesis backpack's shoulder straps, consider the Y303 adapter.
Attaching Kinesis pouches to Lowepro or other heavily-padded backpack belts: Use our Y504 Pouch to Generic Belt Adapter. This adapter will also enable you to attach most Lowepro Street & Field pouches to any heavily padded backpack waist belt. If you wish to attach Kinesis single-wide pouches to a Lowepro Trekker, then try the H150 adapter.
Lowepro Nature Trekker AW with Kinesis pouches attached. Kinesis "single-wide" pouches will attach to the center w/o the need for an adapter.
Single-wide pouches can attach to the sides with a Kinesis H150 adapter (dated photo labels them incorrectly as K150).
Also shown are stabilizing (compression) straps.
Instructions for using H150 on a Lowepro pack: Attach one side or "slider" of the Kinesis pouch to the H150, slip the H150 through the webbing slot of the Lowepro pack and then attach the other half (slider) of the Kinesis pouch to the H150.
An E280 pouch attached to the side w/ H150 adapter. The (red) jacket is held in place with a Kinesis Y204 strap.