[ Black Label Bags ]
Distilling the padded world of
camera bags one step further
is the “Kando” from Black Label.
It is the easiest way to get from
origin to destination without any
When I travel the goal is to take as little as possible and make it last for the entire trip. Any product that lightens my luggage is welcome aboard. Flying with only carry ons makes travel infinitely easier. The anxiety of arriving in Cairo while your bags are on their way to Johannesburg is something best avoided. The only way I would ever check my camera equipment would be locked inside a foam padded hard case. Since I have never found “The Perfect” camera bag, my current solution is a hybrid of padded inserts (from an Artisan & Artist bag) and a shoulder bag (from Filson) designed for carrying hunting supplies.
On this last trip to Italy I had a chance to leave the padded inserts at home and try a Kando Camera Case from Black Label. This scallop shaped case is large enough to hold a camera body with a lens, an extra battery and a few SD cards. For the first time, my 50mm travelled in the leather case Leica provides. Everything fit neatly inside of the Filson Field Bag allowing room for two books, a passport, charger + wires, and 13″ MacBook (for updates on the road).
- Outside. The exterior is made of Italian leather, very similar to the leather from Luigi Crescenzi at Leica Time. Those of you who love Luigi’s half cases and straps will instantly recognize the quality of the Kando. At first the leather is firm, but within a weeks the case was beginning to remember the shape of the camera.
- Inside. The suede interior is an elegant alternative to nylon lined bags, which feel cheap in comparison.
- Zipper. Opening and closing the bag is a Riri zipper of mysterious Swiss origins. I am not a zipper expert and can’t speak to great experience with Swiss zippers. YKK is the company I trust on all hiking/climbing gear but would seem out of place on a fine piece of leather. This zipper has coated metal teeth and a large circular pull for easy opening and closing. Like any quality product it gets better with use.
- Protection. The case has a small amount of padding on the bottom to protect the camera when you set it down.
- Straps. There are two small loops for attaching a strap, but nothing is included. The case functions best as something to protect the camera inside of a larger bag. It could also work well for people who throw their camera in their cars and want to protect it from unneeded scratches to the viewfinder or screen.
- Extras. Inside there is a small slot for (1) SD card. I considered this the emergency card slot. I carry a small zipper pouch with (2) SD cards, an extra battery, and small micro fiber in my pocket, but its nice to know there is an extra card in the Kando as a back up.
- Fold Away. The empty bag folds flat and will fit into most winter jacket pockets.
The Japanese word Kando loosely translates:
“The excitement a consumer feels
when they discover a product of
perfect balance, form, and function.”
The Kando Camera Case matches the philosophy of Leica. Its small, light weight, and doesn’t look like a piece of professional gear. The leather will age over time, picking up the scuffs from every trip you take. Years of reaching for the bag will match the brassing on the body of a Leica. They will age side by side as the Kando and an M share similar sensibilities. The Kando Case will attract similar criticism as the Leica M’s, but this could be considered a sign of a success.
There are bags with more features, lower prices, and similar performance. It is true. But in exchange for the bells and whistles of other bags the Kando offers a highly specialized solution to getting your camera from point A to point B. For those who enjoy Luigi’s straps the Kando is a natural extension of that design philosophy.
Style is a part of Leica’s history. George Rodger, co-founder of Magnum Photo, once made an ascot from the parachute silk he wore while jumping on paratrooper raids with the Royal Air Force. When he first met Robert Capa after the invasion of Salerno Italy, Capa was so taken by Rodger’s style he fashioned his own cravat to match. Its the little details that make a difference.