Most of us will have some sort of camera bag for our treasured possessions. They all vary dramatically in price and quality, but 99% of them fail to offer really tough protection against knocks and bangs.
The case we're looking at here from Cobra, goes a long way to offering this tough protection for your camera gear. There are three different sizes available, priced at 29.99, 39.99 and 49.99.
Build quality and style
Constructed almost entirely from aluminium, the cases have a very high quality feel about them. The fastners and handle also seem to be well put together.
Opening the case up, you can see the removable padding. The model shown below is the smallest and cheapest version. The next two models up both have a metal hinge to the left of the cases interior, which keeps the case door upright when opened. On the small case you have to hold it if you want it to stay open.
The padding in the lower part of the case is made up of lots and lots of cubed bits of sponge about 1cm accross. These absorb larger objects quite well and you can insert small items like batteries between the cubes to ensure they don't bounce around the case when it's closed.
Pulling the insert out I was suprised to see a carefully lined interior. The cases do have an excellent finish to them, it would have been easy for Cobra not to bother with the lining and just dump the sponge inserts straight inside.
You may have noticed the black strip around the rim of the case and on the opposite side a raised edge. This gives the appearance of waterproofing, which we found through testing isn't the case! Placed under quite a strong tap for around a minute, the case did let some water in. As that wasn't a totally fair or realistic test, we then dried the case off, put some tissue paper inside and placed it under a finer spray from a hose. After a minute of this we opened the case up and it was dry inside. Even this hose would still be more of a challenge to the case than a regular light rain fall. So for short bursts of light rain, these cases should provide adequate protection. As the seals may vary from case to case, we'd advise checking yours after you buy it if you are intending using it in any wet environments. Just remember to take your new Digital SLR out before you test!
The hinge at the bottom is a high quality unit that should stand up to some tough treatment. The four feet are not removable and are made from a tough plastic, a more rubbery material would have offered better grip.
As another stress test for this case, Pete (who weighs around 11 stone) stood on the largest case with it laid flat and also on it stood upright. Whilst it sustained a very minor indentation from the lying flat attack, the upright attack didn't affect it at all.
The different sizes
The following images show an MZ-S in the small, medium and large versions of these cases. The MZ-S with battery grip and 24-90mm lens is larger than the average SLR. If you have a collection of lenses to carry along with your SLR body you will find not even the largest case is sufficiently big.
When carrying larger items like this MZ-S, one side of the inserts can be removed from the case, which although lessens the protection of the case, does allow the equipment to fit in!
Small case (approx. 20cm w x 12cm d x 6cm h inside without padding)
Medium case (approx. 24.5cm w x 14.5cm d x 6.5cm h inside without padding)
Large case (approx. 28.5cm w x 17.5cm d x 7cm h inside without padding)
The cases all come with quite a high quality carrying strap, which can be easily clipped on or off the case. They also have locks, which are very simple and can be very easily picked, I even managed it with a pair of scissors. They might provide some protection against the less intelligent thieves though.
Although these cases are not cheap, they do offer a standard of build quality that goes a long way to justifying the price. They are capable of protecting a wide-range of equipment, not just cameras, but bear in mind our comments on waterproofing.
In summary the main positive points of the Cobra cases are:
High level of build quality
Decent strap and interior padding
Reasonable level of water-resistance
Negative points are:
Let-down slightly by pickable locks
Lack of guaranteed water-proofing