Camera equipment is sensitive and expensive, which requires protection. No matter what type of photographer you are, or which brand of camera you use, Sony, Canon, Nikon, etc. you will always need a dedicated camera bag for your camera when you aren't using it. Otherwise, you risk exposing your camera to the elements, or you may step on it by mistake.
A shoulder bag works for casual photography, such as snapping photos by your home. That's enough to protect your camera from minor bumps and impacts.
Yet, hard cases are good camera accessories that you want for more serious situations - such as wildlife photography.
With all the online options, it can be difficult to narrow things down. That's why we're here with our ultimate camera hard case buying guide. Stay tuned to learn about the most robust and versatile hard camera cases.
What is a Camera Hard Case?
You need a hard camera case whenever a camera bag, such as a shoulder bag or backpack doesn't cut it. What's that? It's a carrying case with a durable exterior built to withstand heavy impacts. At the same time, it has a delicate interior that keeps your camera gear safe and snug.
Many camera hard cases have plush interiors with lots of dividers for your gear. That way, you can store your camera and your lenses, batteries, chargers, memory cards, etc.
The idea is to have everything you possibly need for shooting in a portable case that can stand up to the elements.
While hard cases for camera and gear are durable and feature robust materials, they're still portable. With a hard camera case, you can shoot virtually anywhere globally without having to worry about your camera.
For example, if you plan on packing your camera with you on an international flight, you'll want a travel case for camera. That way, you can toss your camera gear in the overhead compartment without any worries. Should the flight get turbulent, your hard shell will stand up to any bumps or falls with ease.
Cameras are highly sensitive pieces of equipment. Even a minor impact can disrupt the intricate mechanisms inside, such as the sensor. That's a big reason why rigid cases are so popular among photographers. A busted camera is an expensive piece of gear to replace, so hard camere cases are a must for serious photography.
Not all hard cases for camera are the same, either. They come in a wide variety of sizes and have varying storage options. The materials they use also differ from case to case.
What Do You Need to Consider When Deciding on a Hard Camera Case?
It would help if you considered a few crucial factors before buying a hard camera case. Ideally, you want to wind up with a travel case that suits all your needs and makes life as a photographer easier. Here are some tips to ensure you find a case that does just that.
1. Pay Attention to the Materials
Regardless of the type of photographer you are, you'll want a durable travel case for your camera and lens. Even if you shoot in a safe studio, there's still the hazard of dropping your case on the floor or pavement. You'll want to have a hard case with rugged enough materials to absorb the blow if that occurs.
Here are some pointers regarding material choice:
- Look for outer shells that contain polypropylene blends or heavy plastics like polycarbonate
- An airtight seal rated IP 67 or above for air travel
- If you're taking the case on a plane, make sure it's crushproof
- A watertight seal
You'll want pick-and-pull padding inside as that allows you to customize the setup. That ensures you don't get stuck with dividers too small to fit your camera or other pieces of gear.
2. Your Type of Photography
Next, you should take into account your individual needs as a photographer. For example, if you photograph nature outdoors all day, durability is king for you. If you have a lot of gear to bring with you, you should look for an extra-large case. Photographing nature is easier with a protective travel case big enough to house your equipment.If you're more of a world traveler, you'll want a hard camera case that can fit in an overhead compartment. In this scenario, a case with added storage pockets is a plus. That way, even if your case is a bit smaller than you'd like, you can still store lots of gear in it.
You'll want more of a middle-of-the-road option for shooting in the studio. You'll still want a durable hard shell for your gear in case of falls, but it's less of a concern. What you'll want above all else is an interior that makes it effortless to organize your gear. That way, everything will be right where you need it when it's time to set up the next shot.
3. Your Individual Budget
Some hard cases are more expensive, but they aren't always worth it. You should budget out at least $300 for a camera hard case. If you can find something less than that, fantastic, but be wary of suspiciously inexpensive cases. That could signify that they're using poor-quality materials, which is the last thing you want. When in doubt, opt for a trusted brand such as Pelican or Eylar. Their cases are still affordable but hold up better than the other generic cases.
4. Portability Options
Will you spend most of your time lugging your case through crowded airports? If so, your shoulders will thank you for investing in a case that rolls. There are also hard backpack camera cases that you can wear.
While that comes in handy for shooting outdoors, these cases can be uncomfortable for travel. If you select a backpack-style case, try it on before you buy it to ensure it doesn't dig into your shoulders.
5. Storage Space
Last but not least, you'll want to see how much gear you can store inside the case. Beyond the cases' overall size, take a look at the interior. How many gear dividers are there? Is there enough to house all your equipment? Can you pull out and rearrange the partitions to create more space? These are all critical questions when looking for a new camera case for travel.
Also, if you carry a laptop with you for editing, some camera cases have sleeves for them built-in.
A laptop sleeve will save you from having to bring an additional bag to your photoshoot. Certain travel cases have other storage options, such as zipper pockets and bags. These are handy for holding AA batteries, memory cards, flashlights, etc.
The Best Camera Hard Cases of 2023
Now that you know how to select a camera hard case, here are some of the highest-rated options online. These cases are all from reputable brands and have near-flawless reviews. Whether you're a wildlife photographer or stick to the studio, there's a case on this list perfect for you.
1. Best for Traveling Photographers
If you're always on the go with your DSLR camera, this case from Nanuk is the perfect option. It's specifically designed to fit inside overhead compartments to make flights a breeze. Not only that, but it comes with a set of wheels to make navigating the airport far easier than lugging it. We recommend this camera case for traveling photographers constantly contending with busy airports.
- Padded dividers with lid organizer for plenty of storage space
- IP67 rated waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof
- Retractable pull handle with smooth-rolling wheels and quick-release button
- Power claw triple-action latches to keep your case shut no matter what
- Convenient 22 x 14 x 9" exterior size that fits perfectly in overhead compartments
- Soft-grip handle to go easy on your hands when carrying the case
- An excellent option for traveling photographers
- Lots of storage, wheels for easy transport
- Perfect for on-the-go shooting
- The plastic isn't too durable
- A tad on the pricey side
2. Best for Wildlife Photographers
Do you shoot photos in harsh conditions? If so, look into Vault by Pelican. It's one of the most durable travel cases for cameras on the market, consisting of high-impact polymer. It's also highly weather-resistant, so you won't have to worry about lots of wind or rain. While it's undoubtedly rugged, it still meets the maximum carry-on size for airplanes. So if you plan on traveling to shoot wildlife overseas, you can still use this case.
On the inside, the padded dividers feature velcro fasteners. They make sure that your gear stays in place no matter what. The interior uses high contrast colors as well to make organizing your gear easier.
- Soft-touch felt dividers with high-contrast colors for easy organization
- Rolling case with a retractable camera
- Crushproof and weather-resistant
- Protects against moisture and dust
- Push-button latches for easy access to your camera gear
- Cushioned padding on the interior to protect your gear from heavy impacts
- Stainless steel lock hasps
- An exceptionally durable case that fits on planes
- Tough enough to withstand harsh outdoor elements
- Affordable price yet high-quality materials
- It may not be big enough for some photographers
- Can be a bit heavy (11.5 pounds)
3. Best for Studio Photographers
If you have many tools of the trade you use when shooting, you'll love this hard camera case. It has an extra-large size and a completely customizable interior. It's excellent for shooting inside the studio as you'll have plenty of room for all your gear. It's also durable enough to withstand falls and protect your camera from moisture.
The inside features soft-pluck foam inserts that you can pull out with ease. That way, you can rearrange the dividers as you see fit. You can make extra room to store lights, chargers, battery packs, etc.
It's not the best for shooting on the go due to its large size and heavy carrying weight. Yet, if you're knee-deep in a complicated studio shoot, this case will keep all your ducks in a row. You'll have all your gear right where you need it, and everything will stay protected when not in use.
- IP67 waterproof and dustproof
- Pluckable foam case for a customizable interior
- Pressure equalization valve
- Rubber grip handle for comfort when transporting the case
- Extra-large size of 25" x 20" x 8"
- Tons of storage space for carrying lots of gear
- The customizable interior comes in very handy
- Affordable price
- Can be too big and bulky for some photographers
- No wheels
4. Best for Beginner Photographers
If you're new to photography, protection is a must. The last thing you want is to break your camera and have to start over from scratch. That's why we recommend this robust case from Monoprice. It's weatherproof, UV-resistant, and very durable.
Even if you submerge this case 1-meter deep into some water, no moisture will get inside. At 21.93" x 10.9" x 6.8", it's not too big and not too small. It's the perfect happy medium between larger and smaller cases. This case will have your back if you're about to embark on your first ever photo shoot.
- IP67 rating waterproof and dustproof
- Impact-resistant latches
- Pressure-release valve
- Exclusively custom foam interior
- Tough polypropylene exterior
- An excellent beginner case that has a lot of versatility
- A customizable interior
- Lacks some of the more robust features for advanced photographers
5. Best Budget Camera Case
Do you not have much to spare on a camera case but have a shoot coming up? If that's the case, you can't go wrong with this offering from Eylar. It's under $50, yet it is still premium quality and boasts five-star reviews. Eylar is a trusted and reputable brand, and they knocked it out of the park with this offering. At only 4 pounds, it's an incredibly compact and lightweight case for travel and outside shooting. Yet, there's still enough room to store our camera, some lenses, and some necessities.
- Waterproof protection
- Lockable fittings with TSA approval
- Stackable design
- Pressure equalization valve
- Extremely affordable yet high-quality
- A fantastic compact carrying case for light shooting
- Not enough space for gear beyond a camera and one lens
ConclusionBy now, you should have a camera hard case in mind that's perfect for your needs. There are thousands of hard shell cases for camera on the market, but those featured on this list have risen above the rest. Of course, different styles of photography require different kinds of cases. A photographer snapping shots of tigers needs a more robust case than someone shooting a portrait in a studio. By consulting with this guide, you're sure to find an ideal camera case that makes your life easier.
At Kate Backdrop, we're always keeping up with the latest in photography. While you're here, don't forget to check out the Best 10 Photography Props Ideas That Every Photographer Should Know.
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