When it comes to buying a camcorder case or bag it's a matter of choice. Do you use your camcorder for work or for play? Do you often travel with your camcorder or rarely? These are some of the questions you will need to ask yourself before you purchase a camcorder case or bag.
Whether you are shooting in the high desert with 100-plus heat, or the minus degrees of the Arctic, you need to protect your camcorder. You want to choose a camcorder case or camera bag that not only fits your budget, but fits your gear, as well. If you are a professional video creator you will likely use your camcorder every day. If you also plan to carry extra media storage for those long shoots, you'll want to have gear bags that have plenty of spare room to fit your camera and more, such as tapes, DVD discs, media cards, and for those extra batteries, filters, FireWire cables, etc.
Professional camcorder bags are a must for pros on the go. The Pearstone Digital Video Camcorder Bag is a bag for you if you are in the semi-pro videographer category and are in the market for a camcorder bag that will fit professional camcorders up to 15-inches long. It is a top-loading, padded, Cordura nylon bag with a large, zippered front pouch for accessories, four flexible dividers, dual carrying straps with grip, and a removable adjustable shoulder strap for $187. The camRade CB HD Large might be another choice for you. It is a large heavy-duty camcorder bag, it fits professional camcorders 29.5-inches is padded with a 1000D Cordura exterior, reinforced plastic sides, various exterior and interior pockets, has two carry straps and a removable shoulder strap.
If you often travel by plane or on bumpy wilderness roads, you may want the extra-added protection that a hard shell case can provide. For even more protection, the Case Logic MSEC-4 Compact Camcorder Case will fit most compact camcorders. It securely fits your camera while you're on the go. It is made of a hard shell nylon material, protects against bumps and scratches, and it has a tilt-out padded camera cradle and a retractable handle system to ensure portability.
If you use your camcorder mostly on weekends or if you just want a good, solid place in which to store your camcorder when not in use, a good quality, thick-padded bag might be all you need. The Case Logic DCB-305 Camcorder Kit Bag is a polyester and nylon case designed to protect most digital camcorders. The case has a flexible interior divider that separates accessories from the camcorder and side zippered pockets that can store batteries, cables, small accessories and an internal zippered pocket that stores memory cards. A grab handle and a detachable and adjustable shoulder strap allow for easy carrying. Quality materials and logical organization ensure the camcorder fits safely inside, yet is instantly accessible. A flexible interior divider separates accessories from the camcorder.
What about the Environment?
As a professional filmmaker, you will most likely be on the go with your camera a good deal of the time. You need to consider the environment of the locations where you will be using your camcorder.
If you will be shooting outdoors, a waterproof or water-resistant camcorder case is an absolute must. The CTC-100B/SR travel camera case for a JVC GY-HM100U camcorder is a bag to consider. It has thick interior foam padding, a main compartment with cradle, a removable, padded pouch and a weather-resistant rain cover. Suede leather-covered handgrips and a removable shoulder strap have been added to ensure portability.
Soft or Hard Shell?
Because all good quality camcorder bags and cases are constructed to give your camcorder superior protection, the choice between a soft or hard case is really a matter of preference. Many video creators prefer a hard shell case to a bag. These add extra protection you don't get with a soft bag, although most good quality camcorder bags do provide optimal protection. Today's manufacturers make soft bags that provide the same if not more protection than hard cases. But if you like the look and feel of a hard camcorder case, you may want to take a look at the Magna Case SFT002 camcorder case. It has plenty of room for storage making it suitable for taking your gear on the road. The case loads from the top and the flap is easily tucked aside for convenience. It has a rigid frame, and is lightweight enough for travel as a carry-on to protect your camcorder from the rigors of baggage handlers. The Magna Case SFT002 also comes equipped with an LED carabiner and interior flashlights for low light conditions. The Magna Case TL001 dedicated brand camcorder case is specifically designed for the Canon XL2 and XL H1 cameras but can accommodate other cameras of similar sizes as well. It has plenty of room for additional accessories. These cases are made of lightweight and very durable aluminum. There is also room to store additional battery packs, Mini DV cassettes, lenses and other accessories. This case is comparable to the Canon HC-3200 Pro Systems style cases.
For that Extra Stuff
In addition to housing your camcorder, your camcorder case or bag should have some room for that "extra stuff" you'll need. Depending on the type of camera you own, you will need media storage, such as tapes, flash memory, hard drives, SD cards and discs; as well as ancillary accessories like lights, mics, and cables and you will need a place to put them inside your bag. Most camcorder cases and bags come equipped with partitions and pockets. However, some have a lot more extra pockets for your accessories and can still provide your camcorder with optimal protection.
The Kata One Man Band-77 has numerous additional pockets that let you organize and quickly access your accessories. A large top and front panel will hold your rain cover, tools and cell phone. Two side pockets will hold additional flat accessories. A see-through mesh pocket in the lid keeps your cables and other accessories organized. The main internal compartment is designed to be customized using the provided dividers and detachable pouches. It will fit your external mic, mini light and large external battery, and even up to a 17-inch laptop and small monitor. A large video tripod can be attached to the outside of the bag.
For digital video camcorders up to 16-inches, the Tamrac 979 Pro Camcorder Bag has plenty of places to store your accessories. It has a Cordura nylon shoulder strap and comes equipped with a mesh pocket for those items you need to grab at a glance, while sporting a plastic platform in the bottom for added protection.
The Portabrace CS-DV Mini DV camera cases are designed for quick access to Mini DV camcorders and accessories. The CR Universal adjustable cradle securely holds the camcorder. The cradle fastens to the bottom of the case and holds the camcorder firmly. Each case includes an HB-10 shoulder strap and a removable pouch. The pouch is placed inside the main compartment and designed to hold extra batteries and tapes.
Protection is Number One
In the end, all that matters is that your camcorder case or camera bag keeps your camcorder and other equipment safe and sound. That's the job of the camcorder case. Having many pockets and compartments for accessories is not as paramount as keeping your camcorder well protected. Some camera bag manufacturers make separate bags just for accessories. You may want to go that route but keep in mind that then you will have two bags to carry, one for your camera and the other for accessories. But then, that's often a good thing, so you can run-n-gun with just your camera and one bag when you need to, or set up a full location shoot for those other times. It's all in the bag.
Sidebar: Air Travel Restrictions
If you are planning to travel by plane very often, it is important that you purchase a camcorder case that adheres to your airline's carry-on luggage regulations. Before purchasing a camcorder case, you should check with your preferred airline regarding what their carry-on size and weight limitations are, because all airlines are different. Think twice about checking in your camcorder case or bag with the rest of your luggage. Even the best gear bag can't protect your camcorder from the tumbling and tossing that it can take in flight. Add to that the risk of your camcorder case getting lost, and you have a pretty good argument for carrying your equipment bag onboard. If you must check in your camcorder case along with the rest of your luggage, then be sure you buy the best camcorder case that will fit your budget - you should seriously consider a hard shell case. Your camcorder and your wallet will thank you for it.
Click here to download a PDF of Videomaker's Camcorder Cases and Bags Buyer's Guides
Teresa Echazabal is a freelance video editor, writer, and producer.