When you consider protecting or transporting your gear you have plenty of manufacturers ready to offer products that will suit your needs. Here's an A to Z roundup of who's in the frame and what they have to offer.
Words by Peter Bargh ePHOTOzine
Aluminium Case Co
As the name suggests, this is a supplier of Aluminium cases with a huge range of bespoke products for camera kits of all shapes and sizes. The cases are ideal for anyone working in the creative industry and each can be custom designed using your logo or signature for unique personalisation. The London based company use a combination of high quality materials and traditional metalwork techniques, and manufactures to individual order. Delivery time is around a month and ranges include the Digital Case that's designed to carry all your digital gear - including camera, lenses, accessories and laptop computers.
British manufacturer, Billingham, has traditional values and produces stylish, but highly practical holdalls to suit the needs of demanding pros. The cases are classic in every sense, with familiar beige canvas trimmed with brass and leather furnishings. The large 550 holds a Metz hammerhead flash upright and will suit the busy press or wedding photographer. There's plenty of room for a medium-format outfit and extra pockets can be attached on the outside for spare backs, filter kits and such like. 35mm photographers with smaller kits will find the Hadley range ideal and there's even an L2 compact bag made especially for Leica rangefinder owners.
CCS started out making pouch cases that attached to a special waist belt for mountaineers and travel photographers who didn't want cumbersome holdalls. This system is still popular and has been developed into the Classic Series which embraces all the old originals, such as the Elephants Trunk and Warthog, and adds a collection of digital pouches and Gladstone holdalls with a Gladstone stay-open system that has a hinged closure for easy access and storage of your equipment. The cases are all made from extremely tough, water and abrasion resistant, Camcord outer material and have an impact-resisting & non-water-absorbing padding.
The 498 Photojournalist holdall will house a Metz hammerhead flash and is designed to carry a laptop & comprehensive photographic outfit. The Wessex is new range of the bags in black or green and some have brass and leather fixings. Then there's the Heritage range which is a serious challenger to Billingham with products manufactured from waterproof triple-layered vulcanised canvas with equestrian bridle-quality waxed leather straps and binding and solid cast brass fixings that will never rust. And the latest addition to the CCS catalogue is a range of hard-wearing, weatherproof pouches, holdalls and rucksacks that come under the Freestyle umbrella. These cases feature a Dri-Flex System, designed to minimise water penetration through the zips or seams, making them ideal for outdoor photographers working in harsh weather conditions.
A design and manufacturing company producing a wide variety of soft or hard cases that are available in standard sizes or made-to-measure with custom extras to match corporate colours, or include a company logo or brand name. Products include AluCurve and AluWeld aluminium cases; Hardigg, PeliCase and PolyCase plastics and composite models; and ProCase and Transit2 which are heavy weight laminated plywood flight cases. These are more suitable for the studio and large format photographer or those requiring good case for protecting gear in transit.
Press photographers reading this or those who travel to location by bike will appreciate the need for a compact bag that holds a lot. This domain was held by Domke for years, but now Australian manufacturer, Crumpler, have challenged the space with a range of bags that bring fashion into the field. They're bright, the logos are trendy and the designs fit in with the latest fashions. If you want to stand out a Crumpler will help and they are strong - made from Dupont Cordura with unbreakable zips. The shoulder strap hugs and the internal padding is very protective. As well as camera bags there are ones for computers and general sling overs. The camera bags are designed for smaller outfits and will suit the 35mm or rangefinder photographer with odd names such as Oh Lord, Glamour Photo Case, Harry Palmer Device and Home Stayer.
Domke started out life with cases designed for photo journalists. Models such as the Original F-2 and the compact F-5 were ideal because of their lack of bulk, minimal internal padding and body hugging designs, allowing loads of gear to be crammed into a smaller space and carried in crowded areas. These cases are made from bulletproof vest material and are light, but hard wearing.
The company has recently transformed into a more rounded bag manufacturer for professionals of all kinds. The new products include a range of bags called Quest that are more suited to travel and outdoor photographers with backpack and waist harness options and around 24 models to choose from. There's also the digital collection for the new breed of electronic journalists who carry laptops and digital SLRs and even an Urban collection for industrial and commercial photographers. Domke clearly have the professional in mind!
Ewa-marine make a range of housings for underwater photography. The housings are made from tough double-laminated PVC sheet with welded seams and a lens port made from flat optical glass. Each one is sealed using an anodised aluminium clamping rail, secured by hand wheel nuts. Two ranges of housing are made - one for normal compacts and one for digital compacts with a larger window at the rear to allow the LCD screen to be viewed clearly. They also make cases for SLRs with enough depth for a hot-shoe mounted flash to be attached.
A range imported by The Flash Centre that offers the protection of a hard case in the guise of a lighter bag. Multi Format Cases are designed to carry and protect valuable gear such as cameras, lenses, power packs and flash heads. There are six models from the 37x28x22cm MF912 to the 79x45x30.5cm MF1629. Each has a 25mm thick layer of Duralight shock resistance material that's a perfect protector for equipment that will be transported in the airline's baggage hold. These bags are ideal for medium and large format users as well as being ideal as great studio lighting transporters.
A specially designed pocket accepts the Multi Z Pocket, a mini briefcase with a removable mesh film bag that can be removed when passing through airport x-ray security counters.
The ultimate in bag manufacturers and their whopping 112 page catalogue reflects this. It all started when photographer and mountaineer Greg Lowe couldn't find a suitable carrying system to protect his camera gear in extreme conditions, so he developed the first padded nylon photographic bag. It was weatherproof, shock resistant and easy to carry and he called it Lowepro.
Now, as well as All Weather bags, Lowepro have introduced the first backpack that can be submersed in water, making the DryZone 200 the ultimate bag for wet weather and water sports photographers
The Photo Trekker Backpacks are used by some of the most respected photographers around the world because of their versatility. And now the Rolling Backpacks offer an easy transportation for travel photographers with new comfort because of the harness being at the opposite end to the handle.
The new Street and Field system is a modular expandable range that can be worn around the waist, over the shoulder or on a harness, depending on your needs on the day of your shoot. There's a collection of Reporter bags, each provided with an All Weather Cover, and a removable padded insert and the Omni Pro range is ideal for the photographer who travels and needs ultimate protection while the bag is being transported. These versatile cases fit inside certain Pelican cases for added protection.
A company that make a wide range of custom flight cases that will accommodate your studio equipment and protect it while it's being transported. There is a range of light weight cases made out of Astroboard - a polypropylene sandwich construction that's about 40% lighter than plywood. Other constructions include powder coated rigidised aluminium and HPL Laminate.
When it comes to protective watertight cases for industrial use the one name that stands out is Pelican and its huge range of 17 Protector Cases takes some beating. From the 1120 with its internal dimensions of 18x12x7.5cm to the huge 1660 with an 80x58x48cm interior there's a case for every application. Each case is watertight, dustproof and crushproof. They are equipped with foam for total equipment protection and have an atmospheric pressure purge valve. Photographers can have the nameplate personalised with optional engraving. Some of the larger cases feature a fold down main handle, an extension handle or large side trunk handles to help carry the weight and some have hard rubber transport wheels for easier transportation in airports and in the studio. You may also want to stand out from the crowd and choose a colour other than black, with silver, yellow and orange as options.
A brand made by Doskocil that has an O-Ring System seal to makes the case water, moisture and dust tight. There's also a four-latch locking system and low-profile pressure release valve. Two sizes are made with the Large having internal dimensions of 45x30x18cm and the Extra Large a spacious 48x36x21cm. High density cubed foam is fitted to allow you to customise the camera compartments. A serious competitor to Pelican, providing you can cope with the limited range comprising just two sizes.
A wide range of bags, available from the company that claims to have invented the Velcro dividing interior partition system. These closed cell foam wall padded partitions provide Tenba users with maximum protection and complete versatility of the interior compartments. The waterproof exterior is Cordura or Protek, developed from bulletproof vest fibres and a polyurethane coating provides waterproofing and light, tough and an easily cleaned outer.
The Pro Traveler series have a 5cm wide shoulder strap for maximum comfort and a detachable film net pocket for fast airport access, there's also an optional backpack harness. Seven models in this series range from the P655 for SLR users to the P696 for a larger medium-format outfit. The three Metro Paks were designed for press photographers using 35mm kits and the Wedding case has wheels and an extending carry handle to make it easier to move around with your medium-format outfit. There's also a series of Pro Packs and a whole range of smaller cases for enthusiasts that may suit you if you intend travelling light.
This US manufacturer has a 72 page catalogue to illustrate its wide range of options to suit a huge variety of professional needs. The nine-strong Pro System has been joined by four new Super Pro options and every possibility is covered. The smallest 608 is fine for a couple of 35mm bodies and several lenses while the huge 625 can accommodate a large medium-format outfit with room to spare. Features such as pop off film pockets make it easier to get through customs without having to go through X-Ray machines and the ZipDrop pockets are perfect for storing filters and cable releases. The new Super Pro 619 has enough space for a digital outfit along with a laptop. Tamrac bags also have a cradle for long lenses and some have concealed slide-in pockets.
The Traveller series is ideal for smaller kit users that can be expanded using attachable accessory pouches and the 5000 series Backpacks hold a huge amount of gear for wilderness and nature photographers. Those who need maximum storage should consider the Big Wheel, Strongbox and Rolling Backpack series - theses are seriously big bags with wheels and telescopic handles for transporting large outfits safely. Tamrac also make a selection of lighting cases. Overall a very versatile company.
Produce a range of hard cases that are totally air and watertight thanks to their O-ring seals. The cases come in a range of sizes with internal measurements from 21.6x15.2x7.6cm to 68.3x45.7x21.3cm, and they withstand 900Kg stacking loads and cope with a two metre drop onto concrete.
Zero Halliburton camera cases are manufactured from aircraft grade aluminium and come equipped with heavy density layered polyurethane foam that allows you to cut it exactly to suit the equipment you choose to place within the case. The gasket closure protects your camera from dust and moisture, and a triple-digit combination lock keeps your equipment safe. Sizes go from the 100C 9x12x5cm case to the 129C with its 20x29x10cm internal dimensions. There's also the Zeroller ZR107C that includes wheels and a retractable handle system for photographers who are constantly on the move.
Here's an unusual approach to camera protection. It's a one-piece, wrap-around cover that stretches over the lens of your SLR and self-secures without buckles, snaps or zips. A removable retainer strap clips onto your camera strap and allows the cover to hang out of the way while shooting but it's soft enough to stuff into your pocket. The beauty is this case offers maximum protection for your SLR with minimal bulk. Ideal for travellers and hill climbers and there's a range of sizes to cover small older manual SLRs to bulkier AF models.