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Archive 2013 · Camera case for small boat
  
 
Samuli Vahonen
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p.1 #1 · Camera case for small boat


Hi,

Next summer I'm going to photograph shores/cliffs/landscape from boat (most likely small Zodiac or similar, haven't decided yet but it has to fit in my car trunk). I'll be shooting in small lakes, forest ponds and rivers.

I need something to keep my equipment dry, and in worst case floating. Also I may do short hikes on islands, however primary focus on keeping equipment safe and dry in boat and when entering/exiting boat.

I don't need much equipment, but I need to be able to carry it so it's easily accessible and ready to shoot (no reversed hoods, no lens caps). I'm shooting always with 2 cameras; one with short/medium tele and second with normal lens/wideangle. Cameras are 5DmkII and they need to fit into bag/case with and without L-bracket (adds about 12mm to height and 20mm to width). In addition to two cameras and attached lenses, I need space for 2 extra lenses, LCDVF and few spare batteries for cameras. So worst case scenario would be something like this:
- 5DmkII with L-bracket + Zeiss 2/100 (extends from lens mount 143mm, max diameter 82mm)
- 5DmkII with L-bracket + Zeiss 1.4/35 (extends from lens mount 135mm, max diameter 86mm)
- Zeiss 1.4/50 (max diameter 75mm)
- Zeiss 2.8/21 (max diameter 95mm)
- LCDVF (approximate dimensions 70mm x 50mm x 110mm)

Most obvious solution seems to Peli/Peli Storm case (Peli is brand name for Pelican on Europe). With foam insert I think I could have working solution for my use. What I'm most worried with Peli/Peli Storm case is that if I go to so island and hike few kilometers I have to carry the bag from handle and that doesn't sound nice at all.


If people here have recommendations I'm very interested to hear about them.

Samuli



Mar 06, 2013 at 09:46 PM
Jabberwockt
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p.1 #2 · Camera case for small boat


Pelican Storm are a good option, but if you have to carry them long distance that would certainly be tiring. There's a type of bag we call a "dry bag" in the US. It is popular with kayakers. If you split your gear into a few smaller bags, they could probably fit in 2 separate dry bags. They are light, foldable, and float. Maybe that is worth looking into.


Mar 06, 2013 at 09:52 PM
Samuli Vahonen
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p.1 #3 · Camera case for small boat


Jabberwockt wrote:
Pelican Storm are a good option, but if you have to carry them long distance that would certainly be tiring. There's a type of bag we call a "dry bag" in the US. It is popular with kayakers. If you split your gear into a few smaller bags, they could probably fit in 2 separate dry bags. They are light, foldable, and float. Maybe that is worth looking into.

Jabberwockt, thanks for good idea! I know what you mean, but have no idea of how those bags are called in English (or in Finnish for that matter). I have few smaller "dry bags", but I have seen larger ones in the hiking store. In order to make them float I would need to pack some clothes in the bags to create buoyancy large enough to be able to float the weight of the gear.

Samuli



Mar 06, 2013 at 10:20 PM
lighthawk
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p.1 #4 · Camera case for small boat


Some folks are using Pelican 1510 with a pack insert, like Gura Gear. The packs are expensive, but the empty Pelican case is relatively cheap. You may be able to find another front loader system, that lays nicely in a Peli.
Another interesting idea for inserts is Kickstarter



Mar 07, 2013 at 03:43 AM
Wobble
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p.1 #5 · Camera case for small boat


Pelican 1510LFC Case has wheels,
Exterior Dimensions 22.00" x 13.81" x 9.00" (L x W x H)

Pelican Roller

Look at getting it from TrekPak with their inserts(Kickstarter)
Trekpak



Mar 07, 2013 at 06:39 AM
Hawkan
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p.1 #6 · Camera case for small boat


Samuli, I second the opinion Jabberwockt gave: Dry bags.

I use bags like these in zodiacs when I go out diving in the Baltic and bring my camera: http://www.seapro.se/en/artiklar/diving/bags-boxes-2/waterproof-bag-x-dry-12.html

The bag listed above is not the one I use but it looks very similar, with a rubber like outer coating.

The best thing is the bags will by default contain a lot of air (they don't collapse much when closing them), so buoyancy is pretty good from the start. For my 7D with a 17-40 or 35L attached I will need next to nothing in the bag to make it float. To make sure I sometimes just keep some wrapped tissue paper in a small plastic bag inside the dry bag.

And, if possible, please do select a color that is easy to spot in case you actually do lose it in the water. For me hideously bright yellow does the trick nicely.

I actually have dropped my bag into the water (when loading the Zodiac) once. No problem, just picked the thing up from the jetty and there wasn't a drop of water inside it, camera and lens unharmed. Make sure it floats in your bathtub before getting too confident though.

Best of luck to you!

Håkan



Mar 07, 2013 at 09:48 AM
jcolwell
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p.1 #7 · Camera case for small boat


Hi Samuli,

I do a lot of photography on and near the water, on small high-speed craft and on ships, often in bad weather. I've tried many solutions for protecting and carrying my stuff.

LowePro DryZone backpacks are excellent for transportation, but the waterproof zipper is a bit of a pain to open and close, if you're actually taking photos. Also, once a DryZone is open, everything is out there. Probably not for you. I sold mine a few months ago.

I've settled on three bags, or styles of bags, that I often use together. The first is the the Seal Line Urban Backpack. It's a simple, waterproof backpack, with very decent shoulder straps. It's actually a dry bag with integral straps. I use the small size that will take a single 1D-series body with 70-200/2.8L IS II, and a few other lenses. There is also a large size. The small size would probably fit two 5DII bodies with lenses attached. no sweat. I'd put each one in its own small dry bag or pack liner (more below). That helps protect them from each other and makes it really easy to get one in & out.

There are a lot more products like this now than a few years ago when I got the Urban Backpack. The last link, below, shows the current selection of hard and soft waterproof cases, bags, and packs at MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op), which is the Canadian equivalent of the US REI stores.

I also have a Watershed Chatooga Dry Duffel that's absolutely waterproof and has a really decent waterproof closure that's easy to open and close, once you get the hang of it.

Last, I have a couple of North Face Base Camp dufflels bags. They're very rugged and splash proof. Their zippers aren't waterproof, and so they're relatively easy to open and close. I have one X-Small bag that'll carry two pro bodies with 70-200/2.8 and 24-70/2.8 lenses attached (hoods in shooting position), and a Large one, that'll carry a ton of stuff. I often use the Large bag for checked luggage when traveling by air. I put a layer of closed cell foam on the bottom of these packs, to protect the gear when I casually drop it on the deck, which almost always happens. Sometimes, I put the X-Small bag inside the Chatooga duffel when getting on and off a boat. The X-Small bag is excellent for use when you're actually taking photos (and so are the Urban Backpack and Chatooga).

I use waterproof pack liners inside the Base Camp duffels. The pack liner is a very lightweight version of the "dry bag", that's intended for use inside of a larger pack. It's totally waterproof, but made of much thinner material than a dry bag, because it doesn't have to resist abrasion, like a dry bag does when you dump it in the bottom of a boat. I sometimes use pack liners inside waterproof bags, to separate the gear into smaller parts, so only a few things are vulnerable when the bag is open.

I use neoprene lens bags and camera 'jackets' from Op/Tech and LensCoat to cover and protect my gear when it's in just about any type of bag or pack, waterproof or not.

Sometimes I use "rain coats" to protect my gear while actually taking photos. I have two Think Tank Hydrophobia raincoats; 70-200, and 300-600 v2, and one AquaTech SS-Zoom, which is great for a smaller lens, like 24-70 or 24-105. For really wet work, I have a home made dry bag with a DIY "port" in the bottom of the bag that you can secure the filter ring onto (totally waterproof), and an Ewa-Marine pro-DSLR case, that's also totally waterproof (designed for diving).

Here's links to the gear that I mentioned above.

Urban Backpack http://cascadedesigns.com/sealline/urban/urban-backpack/product
Watershed Chatooga Dry Duffel http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Packs/WaterproofPacks/PRD~5010-533/watershed-chatooga-dry-duffel.jsp
North Face Base Camp duffle http://www.thenorthface.com/catalog/ca_ecom/en/sc-gear/equipment-luggage_duffels/base-camp-duffel-large.html
MEC pack liners http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Packs/WaterproofPacks/PRD~5016-043/mec-pack-liner.jsp
MEC waterproof packs http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Packs/WaterproofPacks.jsp
EwaMarine http://www.ewa-marine.com/index.php?id=93

Cheers, Jim






















Mar 07, 2013 at 03:45 PM
Samuli Vahonen
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p.1 #8 · Camera case for small boat


Wow, lots more answers than I hoped for - thanks for everyone. Hard case and various kinds of dry backs.


Håkan, thanks for link just ordered 3 of those yellow bags and stuff to protect phone, wallet and GPS from the Seapro webstore. I can carry the 3 drybags in any largish backbag or in my Kajka 85 which I use for longer hikes. I'll try first 3x dry bag solution (1 camera each and 3rd for extra lenses and other stuff), and if too cumbersome while in the boat then consider other options.


lighthawk & Wobble, TrekPak looks pretty damn good. Also their prices are really cheap - after paying freight, customs and VAT it looks like it would be still >100EUR cheaper to order from them than buying Peli/Peli Storm case with foam insert from Finland (e.g. 1510 is ~320EUR without shipping cost). Liked the way how TrekPak can be customized - if I'll ever go to hard case route definitely will get the TrekPak version.




Jim, thanks for detailed response and sharing your experience about the topic.

LowePro DryZone - you are right, not for me, looking for solution when shooting from the boat. Just transportation would be really easy - buy really big dry bag and put photo backbag into it

From the days I worked in USA I really miss REI stores, can easily spend half Saturday looking stuff without even buying anything Have to check next time when I have business in USA. I tried to find similar stuff locally here, but not much luck (or didn't check correct webshops). REI/MEC has many duffel backs and backbags which are like dry bags - will get one of these next time visiting one of our USA offices.

I'm also using various neoprene pouches and camera jackets - still haven't found good solution for protecting camera with installed lens (have 4 or 5 different neoprene solutions for this but more or less all of them suck way or another).

I'm also using rainsleeves/raincoats when shooting in rain or in conditions where one may expect big splash of water/mud/etc. - in past I used Kata E-702 but lately preferred simple no-brand clear rainsleeves (have one of them in each of my camerabags). Kata E-702 is good, but takes quite a lot of space when not used and is made from so thick plastic that using camera requires always to put hands inside the rain coat. I plan not to shoot when it's raining or water splashing - most locations won't allow to use of motor, thou I plan to buy electronic motor, so if boat is moving then I'm rowing and that won't move the boat very fast...



Mar 07, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Samuli Vahonen
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p.1 #9 · Camera case for small boat


Hi,

Now after using dry bags I'll share my experience:
Didn't work for me. Too much work to all the time open and close the bag. The yellow bags from Seapro are good if one has small camera - too small for Canon 5DmkII and most of the Carl Zeiss ZE lenses (they of course fit but the bag is too narrow for constant usage). I found better ones from Biltema, they are shorter, but wider diameter, price was about the same and quality is about same level. Good thing is that now I have enough small/medium size dry bags for rest of my life


So after all I ended up to hard case. I chose Peli Storm iM2450 with foam insert. Based on experience with foam, I'll maybe check TrekPak later - time will tell. Cameras can be stored shooting ready (=lens hoods attached and without lens caps). In addition to shooting from boat this will definitely be useful for "car based landscape shooting", very fast and convenient to grab a camera and go take the photo.

Took me by surprise that making the holes to foam took many hours with all the planning and careful execution. It was hard to find suitable glue, or at least under 1 liter package of it so I ended up using high quality two sided tape to hold the layers of foam together. Don't try to use normal contact glue with foam...


#1 only black was available in store, would have preferred orange or yellow - For operating in boat Peli Storm locks are much better than the ones in Peli cases (they need much more force)


#2 & #3 I was able to make room for both 5DmkII bodies and Sony A850. The 5DmkII on left had to be turned 90 degrees to fit all into the case. On picture the 5DmkII on right has 21mm, but almost all Carl Zeiss ZE lenses fit well. On bottom right corner is LCDVF. On cameras I use Optech strap system, so I need only one neck strap (which I rarely never use).




#4 & #5 Hoya filters cases are exact size of pick and plug foam cells and they strengthen the two top layers of pick and plug foam together nicely. I have non-Hoya filters inside those Hoya cases, their cases were just correct size Below the cameras I made holes to 3rd (lowest) layer of pick and plug foam, where I keep extra batteries for all cameras and GPS devices. Also some small stuff like microfiber cloth etc. fits there. LCDVF can also fit under the leftmost camera if the bottom right corner position is needed for extra lens etc.




If you have any questions feel free to ask on forum or via PM.




Other thing I learned during this spring - boat is not static, it rotates and moves all the time - even when there is no wind. In my photographic style I quite often use shallow DOF, and when printing big / displaying on 60+ inch televisions it's very clear if I I have missed the focus (or I'm in angle towards the target). I have used only Carl Zeiss ZE/ZF-lenses since 2008, and they are all manual focus. Typically there are never issues with manual focus on my normal work, but I'm just too slow to shoot from boat. In addition to focusing issues I found out that zoom would make positioning of boat much less critical. I tried Canon's new 24-70mkII but didn't like the rendering at all, so Canon was out of the question (I more or less have owned, shoot and sold all Canon EF L primes over the time, never liked their rendering style). Got Sony A850+Sony/Zeiss 24-70 and it seems OK for my use - sure f/2.8 is quite slow as almost all my other lenses are 1.4 or 2.0, but it gets quite usable at f/4, sometimes even f/2.8 is ok.



When driving in this kind of shallow waves with rubber boat water tends to splash into the boat (and better not go there if waves are bigger...at least with electric engine there is no point doing it). Camera should to be somewhere else than boat's floor - due to dry bags being so slow to operate I ended up having the camera on the boat's floor all the time.


Example of what I shoot - nothing as fast moving as in Jim's photos


Samuli



May 28, 2013 at 11:37 PM
 

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jimmy462
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p.1 #10 · Camera case for small boat


Hi Jim,

Thanks you so much for sharing your experiences with all of that gear...you certainly broadened my considerations on how to outfit for my kayaking expeditions! Thank you, sir!




May 29, 2013 at 02:55 AM
jcolwell
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p.1 #11 · Camera case for small boat


Hi Jimmy,

You're welcome.

Hi Samuli,

Nice setup! You're right, of course, there's a big difference between protecting gear around the water, and actively shooting from a protective case or bag. I generally use the dry bags for getting gear to and from a site. On site, I generally take the gear out once (usually two camera+lens sets), and put them away when the shooting's done, or if we're doing a move that might be messy.

On dry land, I recently switched from using a "real" day backpack for events and travel, to a Think Tank Airport Commuter, because it's so difficult to "operate from" a toploading backpack. The TT is great. I mention this here, because I plan to take the TT to Labrador later this year, and there will be a lot of transportation in small boats, but not much shooting from small boats. With this in mind, I recently (yesterday) bought a MEC Slogg Deluxe 70 Dry Pack to hold the TT Airport Commuter. It's a combination of a large and very rugged dry bag with a high-quality backpack harness & strap system. There's even room for extra stuff!

MEC Slogg 70 http://www.mec.ca/product/5030-380/mec-slogg-deluxe-70-dry-pack/?f=10&q=slogg

Earlier, I briefly mentioned my "home made dry bag with a DIY "port" in the bottom". I didn't say much more, because there was enough going on, but I thought I'd say a bit more now, since the thread is back on its feet.

About ten years ago, I made a DIY "camera-clamp" dry bag using a SealLine clear dry bag, it's probably 20L capacity. I put a viewing port in the bottom of the bag, with an internal clamp gizmo that clamps onto a 77mm step ring at the front of the lens. It works well with a small body and zoom lens with a 72mm or smaller front thread, like the Tokina AT-X 24-200/3.5-5.6 and Tamron SP 28-75/2.8. I used it a couple of years ago with a 24-105L (77mm filter thread), but it needed a sequence of step down and then step up rings, to provide the 77mm step ring that gets clamped. Of course, this caused vignetting from about 30mm and wider, because the front element was too far back from the viewing port.

The clear dry bag lets you see all of the controls, and it quickly softens-up enough to use them, including even lens barrel switches (with a decent thumbnail). Push-pull and extending zoom lenses work best in this bag, as you just grab the front and pull or push to get the desired focal length. Overall, it worked very well. I can even completely submerge it, to get underwater shots in shallow water. It's not good enough for sustained immersion, but it's never had a leak in many years of kayaking, often in very wet conditions (i.e. waves). When not in use, it sits on top of my "deck bag", just forward of the cockpit, and so it gets lots of splash.

About six years ago, I moved to lenses with larger front diameters (i.e. L-zooms), and so the clamp system is too small. For the last few years, I've occasionally used an Olympus XP-1 with Oly waterproof case. It's a bombproof solution and great for skin diving, but it's really not good enough for what I want to do from my kayak. I think I'll make a larger camera-clamp dry bag this year, for an 86mm step ring. That'll fit anything with a 77mm front filter thread, and probably 82mm, as well. Too bad I sold my 28-300L to Larry, a couple of years ago.

The two photos below show the outside and inside of the kayak camera-clamp dry bag, Mk I. I'll post a DIY photo-dialogue to document construction of the Mk II that I'm planning to make.

Stay warm and keep dry, Jim












May 29, 2013 at 07:49 PM
cassady
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p.1 #12 · Camera case for small boat


I'm a fly fisherman, and do a lot of work around water. Sagebrush Dry Goods, a small, family-owned firm in Alaska makes *great* waterproof bags. I have one, and I like it so much I bought one for a friend who gave me speycasting lessons.

One note: since they're a small firm, producing handmade goods, they are not always the quickest option. But I would suggest they might well be the best. They'll also make bags to spec.

They're definitely worth checking out.

cass

Since this is my first post, I figure I should mention that I have no financial interest in the company, just a satisfied customer.



Jun 18, 2013 at 01:55 AM
rdcny
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p.1 #13 · Camera case for small boat


tag


Jan 13, 2014 at 12:04 PM
sjms
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p.1 #14 · Camera case for small boat


watershed drybags

http://drybags.com/



Jan 13, 2014 at 01:51 PM
OBXGuide
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p.1 #15 · Camera case for small boat


Here are a couple of how-to articles I wrote on how I use dry bags for kayaking with my camera gear. It might give you ideas that would be helpful if you are a do-it-yourself kind of guy. Maybe these ideas will give you some thoughts on useful ways to use dry bags if you choose to go that route.

single camera dry bag project

dual camera dry bag project

Good luck on your expedition.



Jan 14, 2014 at 05:11 PM
unclemikey
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p.1 #16 · Camera case for small boat


Wobble wrote:
Pelican 1510LFC Case has wheels,
Exterior Dimensions 22.00" x 13.81" x 9.00" (L x W x H)

Pelican Roller

Look at getting it from TrekPak with their inserts(Kickstarter)
Trekpak


Wobble, off topic, thanks for the heads up for the TrekPak site. I'm going to redesign all my Pelican cases and some others I have as well.



Jan 22, 2014 at 09:29 PM
F1rebrand
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p.1 #17 · Camera case for small boat


Just as a sidenote, for carrying some larger dry bags or pelican cases longer distances you can always use a basic pack frame. Designed to carry heavy loads, will last forever and is pretty cheap. I use one for hauling odd loads somewhat often.


Mar 04, 2014 at 04:11 AM





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