Transporting Your Equipment From Here to There
by Michael Sheridan
For the traveling photographer, the bags and cases you use to
carry your equipment is almost as important as the equipment
itself. Lenses and cameras are sensitive and expensive, so
selecting the right carrying case is a necessity if you want your
precious cargo to survive the flight from New York to
When looking for a camera bag, many professional photographers seek luggage that is not only easy to carry and will protect their camera, they also want something that will accommodate their laptop computers.
"Carrying a digital camera isn't a whole lot different then carrying a conventional camera and equipment," said Brandon Kirk, market development manager for Tamrac. "The only wrinkle is that since many professionals are moving toward digital, they want to carry laptops with them." While digital cameras generally fit easily in bags designed around conventional film systems, some companies have designed cases to help the cutting-edge digital photographer with products that will service both the camera and other peripherals. Pockets once designed with film rolls in mind have been made thinner and wider to safely and comfortably support CDs and PC cards.
Still, whether a photographer captures images in 1s and 0s or on celluloid, all must contend with regulations placed upon the traveling photographer by airlines. These restrictions range from how many carry-on bags they can bring to how much the checked-in luggage weighs. Several camera bag manufacturers, such as Lightware Inc., have turned their focus on creating lighter, easier-to-carry cases. With a lighter bag, equipment is easier to lug around and less of a hassle with airlines. Some airlines have also recently changed the sizes allowed for carry-on luggage, causing several manufacturers to readjust bag sizes accordingly. Versa-Flex will be unveiling a new line of bags this fall, including a stronger, lighter, and more durable wheel-bag, according to the company's president, Larry Nolan.
Lastly, while it may make you look cool and hip to have a flashy, expensive bag, you may want to avoid one. Thieves are at the gates, literally, and a cool looking bag filled with thousands of dollars worth of film equipment is ripe for the taking. Keep it low key. Help throw off the scent of a big catch for the bag man looking to claim your property.
This smallest of the satchels produced by Domke www.domkebags.com, a Tiffen company, has gained a large following among photographers who don't want to call attention to their expensive equipment. It can hold two or three cameras, as well as one or two extra lenses and other accessories.
Hakuba's Blackrock Pro Series
www.hakubausa.com, come in two sizes (medium and small) and two colors (traditional black and desert green). Constructed of tough polycanvas and genuine leather, heavily padded and board-reinforced for maximum protection, and equipped with padded nonslip shoulder straps, the Blackrock series is designed to be rugged and functional.
A versatile way to haul your gear into the outback or just over to your airplane gate, the Lightware BackPack www.lightwareinc.com has been upgraded with more pockets to help the traveling photographer take all he needs on a shoot. It comes with a comfortable harness system, which includes a padded waistbelt, chest strap, and padded lumbar support, as well as adjustable shoulder straps. The harness system can also be hidden away by a special flap. Simply zipper it up and turn the backpack into a briefcase.
Lowepro's Stealth AW
Specifically designed for the digital photojournalist, the Stealth AW by LowePro www.lowepro.com is amazingly compact and well-organized. Small enough to fit into overhead airplane compartments, it is still roomy enough for the essentials of a news photographer's frantic schedule. It can hold a laptop as big as an Apple G3, a professional digital camera, computer accessories and extra lenses, as well as a change of clothes in the personal effects compartment and toiletries in the water-resistant pocket.
Pelican Products #1650
www.pelican.com is watertight, airtight, dustproof, and crushproof. Equipped with rubber wheels and a retractable extension handle, the extra deep case can be customized with two tiers of modular padded dividers or pick-and-pluck foam for total equipment protection. Features include multiple fold down carrying handles, an atmospheric pressure purge valve, integral wheels, and a personalized nameplate, all of which makes this a valuable case for the professional on the move.
Porter Case's Photocase
Porter Case's www.portercase.com new Porter Photocase was made with the professional photographer in mind. Designed with customizable panel dividers and convoluted foam inserts, it boasts a hard exterior consisting of space-age materials to keep your equipment safe from the elements—and aggressive baggage handlers.
Tamrac's Photo Messenger Series
The new Photo Messenger bags from Tamrac www.tamrac.com combine the body-hugging comfort of a messenger bag with a unique, patent-pending, double-entry system for instant access to photo equipment. The bags range in size from compact bags (Photo Messenger 2) that can carry a camera, three lenses, a flash, and some accessories, to the largest model (Photo Messenger 8), capable of handling two cameras, several lenses, and a laptop computer.
Tenba's P684 Pro Traveler
The 684 by Tenba www.tenba.com has the maximum dimensions that will fit under an airplane seat—eight inches high and up to 13 inches wide when the rear pocket is expanded. The rear pocket closes with buckles. To save space, there is no padded top filter pocket, but there is a standard film pocket. The main compartment features two camera caddies, two mid-dividers, two side dividers, and four tall side dividers. The bag also comes with two side pockets and a front zipper pocket.
Tutto's Litecruiser & Camcruiser
Tutto's www.tutto.com Litecruiser and Camcruiser feature sturdy frames and padding that can be rearranged or removed entirely. The Camcruiser, capable of safely holding several lenses, a camera, film, and other small accessories, opens from the side and features four wheels, making it easier to carry from one end of the airport to the other. The Litecruiser is also a four wheeler, and opens from the top, allowing easy loading and unloading of small lights and cables.