You’re investing hundreds, if not thousands of dollars into your new gear. Cameras, lenses – you may have bought the warranty, but how will you protect your equipment while bringing it on shoots & traveling? With so many different bags and cases to choose from, it may be hard to determine the pros and cons of each. I will tell you exactly why you should get a camera hard case in this article.
Best Camera Hard Cases (Ranked)
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Why You Should Get a Camera Hard Case
Hard cases provide protection from the elements that soft cases and bags can’t. Hard cases come with various things to consider – foam padding or padded dividers, locks for security, transportation options (carrying handle, wheels), durability, and size. Here are some tips on what to look for when buying a camera hard case.
What to Look For When Buying a Camera Hard Case
When looking for a camera hard case, you want to make sure it has space for everything you need to protect. For example, do you need a hard case for your camera body only, or do you need one that will accommodate multiple lenses? Other things to consider are whether or not the case is weather resistant and how much weight it can support. Beyond that, here are some additional elements to look for when considering a camera hard case for filmmaking.
Durability of a Case
When considering the durability of a case, think about the conditions in which you’ll commonly expose your gear. If you are traveling a lot, you’ll prioritize a high-impact rating. Water and dust resistance could be vital if you’re out in the elements or on set.
Foam Dividers or Padded Dividers
Foam dividers or padded dividers? Foam dividers provide the most protection as foam; you can cut the foam blocks into custom sizes for the specific gear in your case. However, you’ll need to order a new foam block and recut your interior foam from scratch to move your equipment around. Padded dividers are much more versatile, allowing you to reconfigure your setup quickly and on the fly.
Getting The Right Size
Size matters! Camera hard case costs rise fast when sizing up, but you must ensure your gear will fit with padding in the case. Measuring your equipment and planning how your gear will fit in your hard case can save you hundreds in the long run. Instead of purchasing dozens of separate hard cases, you may be able to consolidate your gear into one larger case. Have a plan! When in doubt, size up.
Camera Hard Case Reviews
Now that you have an idea as to what to look for, let’s jump into my personal reviews of a few camera hard cases. We’ll start with my top recommendation.
1) Pelican Air 1535 Case: (My Top Recommendation)
Pelican is the industry standard go-to for hard cases. For an excellent reason, too – Pelican cases have been thoroughly tested with rugged drop & submerged tests. Pelican has been in the industry for over 40 years, bringing their expertise together with creatives to develop an even better product – the Pelican Air case. At 40% lighter than other polymer cases, Pelican Air cases allow creatives to move their gear safely with competitive protective quality to their original cases.
- You can customize your Pelican Air with Pick N’ Pluck™ foam or padded dividers. Cases come in various colors, including orange, yellow, black, and silver.
- With rolling wheels and press and pull latches; it’s travel and carry-on friendly.
- Pelican’s lifetime guarantee.
- The wheels are fixed, not allowing for rotation.
- The top handle doesn’t feel as secure as the side handle.
2) Nanuk 955 Hard Wheeled Case
With 25.6 x 20 x 11.8″ exterior dimensions, the Nanuk 955 Hard Wheeled Case is perfect for a one-person videographer. With all the space, especially with the lid organizer version, you can store multiple cameras, lenses, audio gear, and bonus gear. With a quick release button, the handle can be adjusted to two heights, allowing you to utilize the two rollerblade-style polyurethane wheels or carry the top or side handle.
- Customizable. Comes in 4 varieties, including a divider set, divider set with lid organizer, with foam or without foam.
- IP67 rated, dust resistant, and waterproof.
- Comes in various colors, including black, orange, and yellow.
- For repairs, you must send your case to Canada. It could end up being expensive & time-consuming.
3) Vanguard Supreme 40F
A relative unknown in the space, Vanguard Supreme 40F allows you to protect your gear at a fraction of the cost of other brands. With impressive features, including being crushproof up to 265 pounds of exterior weight, waterproof up to 16.5 feet, dustproof, and airtight, the Supreme 40F can withstand extreme temperatures from -40° to 203° F.
- Very affordable for the budget-minded consumer
- Great for smaller camera rigs
- Comes with customizable hexagon-shaped die-cut foam, but can purchase divider inserts for an additional price
- Not ideal for DSLR cameras or large lenses
- No wheels for travel
4) Jason Cases Hard Travel Case for ARRI AMIRA Kit (Red Overlay)
I would be remiss not to mention the versatility and wonderfulness of Jason Cases Hard Travel Cases. Jason Cases use Pelican cases, have laser-cut high-grade foam, and are fantastic for travel with wheels and a pull-out handle. They’ve saved me so much time and anxiety from measuring and planning my cases just right. Jason Cases have various options, including custom cases for specific lenses, monitors, and cameras, including Canon, Blackmagic, Sony, ARRI and RED.
- High-grade laser cut and labeled foam spaces for your gear. You don’t have to spend time measuring and cutting foam!
- The interiors come in various colors, including red, blue, and black.
- They are Pelican cases.
- More expensive than a typical Pelican case.
- With the precut foam spaces, you may not be able to fit extra gear like additional batteries or cables.
FAQs About Camera Hard Cases
Here are some common questions answered about camera hard cases for filmmakers.
Can you protect your gear without a case?
Of course. But with several hundred or thousand dollar investments, a camera hard case should be a part of the gear upgrade. A camera hard case, in particular, keeps dust and the elements from shortening the life of your gear.
Why are Pelican cases so popular?
Since Pelican cases are airtight, dustproof, water resistant, and crushproof, they aren’t just used to transport camera gear, but also essential equipment for the military, EMS, and NASA.
What’s the best way to cut foam to fit my gear?
When dealing with foam dividers, you have one chance to get your gear stored right. Before modifying the foam interior of your hard case, I’ve found placing the equipment in the way you plan to keep it in your case and tracing its outline with a permanent silver marker works best.
How to Organize Foam Hard Cases
Here’s a great video on how to organize and pack your camera hard case by Kraig Pruett. Check it out!
With so many things to consider, ensuring you get the best case to store your gear can be daunting. My advice is to pick your priorities. For me, durability and dependability are the most important things to consider when choosing a camera hard case. Whether traveling across the country to being packed quickly on an indie film set, the Pelican Air 1535 case has been my go-to since 2020. Whether you prefer Pelican, Nanuk, or Vanguard, make the additional investment to protect your gear with a camera hard case.
Ashleigh Coffelt is a Filipina writer, director, and cinematographer. Passionate about collaboration and education, you can find her woodburning, creating art and playing emo music with her best friend. Ashleigh loves working with people to create beautiful things and is constantly striving to learn more so she can share her knowledge with the world.