I haven't written a technical post in quite a while. This is mostly because I haven't really been on the gear hunt that much lately. One new thing that I have been using is these Petrol semi-hard cases. I have been using these for about 6 months now, and I have been pretty impressed with the quality. Lighting cases are an expensive investment, and sometimes it is hard to stomach the additional cost of purchasing a good case when you have just dropped several hundred to several thousand dollars on lights. Here I will tell you how I chose my cases and why cheaper isn't always better.
I spent a fair bit of time looking at different options, but in the end I chose some cases from Petrol Bags.
The PCAB-2R is designed for carrying audio gear on set. It is an affordable, semi-rigid roller bag with configurable padding and a tough exterior. I have been using this bag to carry a set of Nikon prime lenses that have been converted for video use, as well as a base video package. This isn't a large case, but it holds 6 lenses, a follow focus, base plate, cage, rails, a small led light, matte box, a full set of 4" ND's, a set of lav. mics, 6" monitor, and a few other little bits with ease. The pads are some of the better made that I have seen, with this much stuff in one case, that protection is important. Really, the only other option in this category would be Pelican. This case costs about half what a comparable Pelican roller would have, and it has better padding to boot. Unless you fly a lot, I would go with the Petrol.
Another thing that I really like about this case is that the interior is bright orange. This is a big deal when you are trying to find stuff at night or on a dimly lit set. I am working on a full blown post about this bag and what gear is in it. I will have more photos and words about it in a week or so.
The other bag in the picture is the PL2004 Deca. This bag comes in a few different sizes, and you will definitely want to get the large size. The photo above is from back in May, and I have crammed a bit more into the case since then. Currently, I have 2 norman 808m packs, 4 heads, 5" reflectors, speed rings, a large and a medium softbox, the power cords, sync cords, tape, super clamps, A clamps, and a few sheets of gel in there. It is pretty much a small studio in a single case. Again, the interior is bright orange, and the dividers are nice and sturdy. My case came with a free dolly rig that I would recommend getting as well, even if you have to pay for it. Repeatedly lifting 100lb+ cases gets old really quickly.
The only thing that I don't like is about this case, is that it is only about 34" long. While the specs say that it can hold 4 light stands, the shortest ones that I own are about 38". If you want to pack your stands and lights in a single case you will probably need to look elsewhere. I will am hoping to write up a little post on this bag as well, with some more detailed pictures. Call it 2 weeks out on that post.
The positive thing about these is that a quality bag can last you through several sets of lighting gear. Also, a well packed bag will pay for itself in both time and money pretty quickly. The sort of things that you put in these bags are usually quite expensive, even a broken bulb can cost you over $100. Add that to the the time and money that your production loses when you have an equipment failure, and it becomes a little easier to justify the expense
Both of these bags are sturdy enough that you can store your gear in them as well. This means that your stuff is always packed and ready to go at a moments notice. It is easy to know exactly what you have packed because everything is in a single bag, there is nothing that can be accidentally left behind.
More to come. -J.H.