Keep your camera gear safe during production and your travels.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve really become interested in event photography. I’ve always enjoyed taking photos, but never really thought about turning it into more than just a hobby. Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to be asked to take photos at a nonprofit fundraising event and then just a couple of months ago, a close friend of mine coaxed me into taking photos at his wedding. After those two events, I was hooked. I also found that keeping all my gear together in one consistent location was essential to being both productive and efficient in these types of jobs. That’s when I started looking for a storage solution for my production gear. Fortunately, Pelican just recently released a new Vault collection specifically for photographers. So, I thought I would give it a try.
DETAILS & FEATURES
The Vault Photographer Collection is a lightweight, affordable option for professional photographers to be able to store their gear safely. Pelican is known for providing premium, high-performance cases for all types of gear. The Vault Photography cases are not to be confused with the Vault product line that is designed for multi-purpose use such as guns or large equipment. The biggest difference in these two product lines is that the multi-purpose cases come with a series of foam inserts that can be cut and customized for any type of products. The Vault Photography line of products comes with padded dividers that are indicative of photography cases. These dividers can be configured and adjusted to fit the photographer’s needs.
There are five cases in the Vault Photography product family — V100, V200, V300, V550, and the V600. The V550 and the V600 are the two largest cases in the lineup and the focus of this particular review.
The Vault V550 and V600 Large Equipment Cases are designed for hard use, high impact, and supreme weather resistance. The Vault series of cases are structured to be the most rugged and secure cases in their class. The V550 and V600 are engineered to protect and transport high-end photography gear and accessories. They are made from a high-impact polymer to protect your equipment for road, trail, or air travel. The case is crushproof, rust-proof, and weather-resistant — but not waterproof. It features heavy-duty handles that are ergonomic. Each handle has a push-button latch that offers a secure closure with easy-open access. In order to make sure your gear is secure, Pelican also added two stainless steel lock hasps. The Vault Photography Collection is exclusively available through B&H Photo.
- Interior (L×W×H): 19.00” x 14.00” x 8.50”
- Exterior (L×W×H): 22.75” x 17.75” x 9.63”
- Weight: 10.73 lbs.
- Interior (L×W×H): 21.00” x 17.00” x 9.50”
- Exterior (L×W×H): 25.00” x 21.00” x 10.63”
- Weight: 15.27 lbs.
Not too long ago, I happened to acquire an older Pelican case from the Protector series. This case is bulky and a little hard to open (the latches get caught often) so I don’t use it very often. Because I had some previous experience with this type of case (which weighs 26 pounds – empty), I was immediately taken with how lightweight the Vault series case is. Since it’s nearly 10 pounds lighter than the Protector Series case I’ve been used to, it’s quite a difference — especially when you load it down with gear.
When I first heard about these cases, I was impressed with the fact that they came with adjustable foam inserts. Many of the Pelican cases (and Pelican-style cases) I’ve seen only come with plucked foam or foam inserts that have to be cut for preference. For photographers, this isn’t very practical because we are constantly changing our equipment. Using cut-to-fit foam inserts can work, but it would also get very expensive when you have to replace it each time you add to or subtract from your equipment case. That’s why I’m so glad that Pelican thought to add the foam inserts with hook and look connectors into this line of products. The dividers have a base layer that is essentially the bottom and sides for the case. These fold up and attach to each other so that you can then place the interior dividers. I found them to be moderately easy to manipulate. I have had much hard to use Velcro inserts, but these certainly weren’t the easiest to use either. I did find that if you fold in the hook and loop fasteners to attach to the divider, then you can slip each divider section into the proper place before attaching the fasteners to the base.
Both the V550 and V600 models of the Vault collection have four latches — two on the front and two on the sides. They open and close quite easily due to the inclusion of the ABS push-buttons on each of the latches. I was very excited to see these latches as the older Pelican case I have worked with has latches that are stiff and not very user-friendly. These latches are easy to open, but very secure when closed. The large handles make it very easy to move the case from place to place and its size and durability make it possible to use the case as a seat if the circumstance calls for it.
As far as testing goes, I can comment on its ease of use in a large event situation and how well it handles the elements. I took both the V550 and V600 on location while shooting a large scale event. This event took place outdoors in 35º temperatures. There was a light drizzle at times and it was very windy. The event took place last week in the heart of our downtown area. Therefore, the wind kicked up quite a bit of dust and debris. Before heading to the event, I packed all my gear into these two cases. I knew that there was a high likelihood that the case might get knocked around a bit (there were nearly 3,000 people in the area) so I was careful in how I packed it all away. Both my main cameras — a Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS-R — were stowed away in the V600 along with a couple of extra lenses, a flash, and some extra accessories. The V550 held onto my backup gear. I packed the two cameras into the V600 with lenses attached (70-200mm on the 5D Mark IV and a 24-70mm on the EOS-R). I found that this was the easiest, most convenient way to service this event since it was a very grab-n-go project. Plus, even though the V600 is 8.5 inches deep, the 70-200mm wouldn’t be able to stand in the case vertically.
During the event, I carried the two cameras on my body using the Money Maker Camera Strap by HoldFast Gear. The rest of my gear remained on standby in the Pelican cases. Despite the extreme weather conditions, all the gear remained safe, dry, and protected inside the Pelican V600 case. The cases also came in quite handy as a seat for resting from time-to-time. I do have to admit that I wish they had a built-in hand cart like some of the larger Pelican cases have, but aside from that, I don’t have any complaints about the Vault Photography Collection.
The V500 and V600 Vault Cases from Pelican aren’t going to be the right choice for everyone. They are incredibly durable, functional cases, but because of their size, it has a very specialized use case. It’s perfect for jobs when you need to have lots of gear with you and for those times that you need to make sure your gear is safe while shipping or traveling. I also like them for organizing gear long-term. I love the idea of storing gear in each of these amazing cases and being able to pull gear out at a moment’s notice without having to search between camera bags to find what I’m looking for. I can recommend this case for photographers as I think it’s a great option for transporting large amounts of gear in — even the delicate pieces like lenses.