What would you do if your camera gear got broken on the way to a shoot?
Nightmare. Imagine you’re driving to an important shoot, a wedding or something equally unmissable. You have to brake suddenly – a sheep steps out onto the road. You stop, avoiding Shaun.
A few milliseconds pass.
That unmistakable sound. Your gear has moved about in the boot.
That sounds expensive.
You keep driving to the shoot thinking, “I hope it’s not my 70-200, I really need that for those portraits… or worse, what if my new camera has…”
Total nightmare right? Maybe it’s all insured – If you’re a professional, it’s going to be. But you would still have a whole heap of stress.
Maybe you’d have to do the shoot at a disadvantage, with camera gear you wouldn’t normally use, or worst case – you’d have to tell the client you couldn’t shoot today.
(If it’s a wedding, the bride will love that.)
Honestly the thought of that keeps me awake and keeps me on edge everytime I’m heading to a wedding. I do around 25 weddings a year, and nearly always have to travel long distances by car to get to them.
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My suggestions for the best Peli Cases for Professional Photographers are:
My suggestions for the best Peli Cases Alternatives are:
Protecting your camera gear is easy with a Peli Case
Making sure you secure your gear properly is important, but you know what has reduced my stress a hundred fold?
A Peli case.
(A Pelican Case for the long form lovers out there)
Peli Cases are the unbreakable, watertight, dustproof, chemical resistant and corrosion proof cases favoured by so many professional photographers, videographers and filmmakers.
They boast total protection for your equipment and after having mine for close to a decade, I can wholeheartedly agree and recommend them.
I absolutely love my Pelicases – so much so I have a couple of them now, so I thought I’d be the ideal person to give my thoughts on which ones are good, what camera gear you can get in the various sizes and how I use them whether I’m travelling by car, by air, by train or by foot.
Beyond the risk of it getting damaged, how much have you spent on your camera equipment? A fortune I imagine – I know I have. But it’s worth more to you than the money cost, I’m sure. The work you can do with your camera gear is many times what it’s all worth.
How much do you spend each year to insure your camera equipment?
If you’re anything like me It’s going to be high three figures. Maybe more. Thinking about it I’ve been paying the cost of three decent Peli Cases to my insurance company every year, and have done for over a decade. I wish I’d read this article early in my career!
You see, a little investment in the right protective boxes for it will not only protect your gear and give you a whole heap less stress – but it will probably even save you money on your insurance in the long term – as you won’t be having to put accidental claims in, which would probably increase your premium.
Personally, the reduced stress is worth the cost of admission.
I purchased my first Pelicase about 7-8 years ago. I researched and agonised over the purchase. I finally decided to go for the 1510 and to this day I haven’t regretted dropping big money on it. At the time I wasn’t making a lot from photography and it was a huge investment. But, a decade on and I can say It’s by far the greatest investment I’ve ever made in photography gear – and probably one of the cheapest actually.
It’s picked up some scuffs, some scrapes – but the gear inside is so incredibly well protected and so well organised I have zero regrets in taking that plunge back in 2012.
Keeping your Camera Gear Organised with Pelican Cases.
I love that I can have all my gear organised and ready – I don’t need to spend the night before a wedding taking everything out and repacking it making sure everything is where it should be.
I can pop the catches on my Peli cases – lay them out on a table and quickly see that everything is in its right place.I can see if anything is missing.
This is ultra handy when you’re standing at the boot of your car, packing your gear away before leaving a wedding in the evening – you see an empty slot in your Peli case where a lens usually lives? Where could it be? Maybe you left it on the bed when you were taking photos of the shoes earlier? You’d know before you’ve left the wedding and could go retrieve it.
It also means when I run back to my car to grab a specific lens ready for portraits, or some lights for the evening – I know where it is, it’s easily accessible with just two clicks and a flip of the lid.
Grab, Go, Get back to shooting.
Honestly, It sounds cliche, but the act of owning a Peli Case has saved me so much time and so much stress at every single wedding I’ve photographed.
Travelling with a Peli Case
Honestly, travelling with my Peli cases has been a revelation – from knowing the gear is safe in the boot of the car, absorbing bumps and knocks as I drive about. Knowing the gear is secure on trains or (if it has to go there) in the cargo hold of a plane.
- Getting all your gear into the car before you leave for a wedding – it’s way less hassle with a couple of Peli cases, rather than having 20 different bags – so easy to forget to pick one up!
- Designed to meet carry on specifications for planes. (see notes below!)
- Running for a train – those little wheels take the strain, you’re not rushing with 20+kg of gear on your back.
- Waiting for a taxi, or a train? You’ve got your own seat with you!
- Transporting your gear from your car into a hotel the night after a wedding – easy – you’re tired enough as it is!
The Peli 1510 is designed to fit in carry on for planes – which is great, as you don’t want to have to check your camera gear in the cargo hold if you can avoid it. But on some budget airlines they can refuse it, so sometimes I’ll have to leave my Pelicases as home and take a smaller back pack so I can be sure it will pass as as carry on luggage on a plane – but for every other type of travelling, a Peli is a life saver.
Both the 1510 and the 1500 have a pressure equalisation valve too – protecting your gear and balancing the pressure between inside and outside the case while preventing water and moisture ingress. It means you can always get your case open too – as without that you may end up with a vacuum seal on your case following a flight. I’ve never struggled to open my case – so I assume that’s doing its job nicely.
Waterproof protective Cases for photographers
If you’ve seen Bear Grylls ‘the Island’ you’ll see how much trust the crew put in peli cases – they chuck them off the boat into the sea – full of camera equipment, then use them as flotation devices, to get the contestants to shore! I’ve seen this type on behaviour on location on shoots and all across the professional photographer world – Documentary makers putting their cases through all kinds of torture – knowing their gear is safe, dry and secure. If that is a testament to the trust we as photographers put in the brand, northing is!
Roller Cases for Photographers
By far my favourite of the Pelican Case lineup.
- It’s big enough that I can fit all of my main gear in it.
- It’s sturdy (as are they all to be honest!) – The knocks it can absorb are incredible.
- It has ‘trolley’ wheels and a pull out handle, like a suitcase, so I rarely have to lift the full weight (& believe me, fully loaded these things get heavy!)
- With the optional dividers I can organise until my OCD is satisfied.
- Padlockable – In case you need to leave it out of sight. (It becomes a mobile safe!)
- Meets size requirements for most airlines carry on luggage (Although, not always!)
- Dare I say it makes a comfy seat? I’ve sat on mine for great lengths of time, waiting for taxis, trains – airport transfers. You can even sit on it as a makeshift apple box for on location portraits without wrecking your knees.
- Water proof. IP67 – Will stay watertight upto 1meter for 30 minutes. Seeing that gives me the confidence that a bit of rain isn’t going to make it through the seals into my precious equipment.
Peli 1510 Internal dimensions: (L x W x D): 514 x 289 x 192 mm
Peli 1510 External dimensions: ( L x W x D): 559 x 351 x 229 mm
What can I carry in my Peli 1510?
I tend to use my Peli 1510 as my primary camera storage for weddings and in it I’ll usually have:
- 3-4 Full Size DSLR Camera Bodies (Usually Canon 5DMk4’s)
- 8-10 Lenses ranging from 24mm F1.4L to 70-200 F2.8L IS
- 3-4 Flashes & Triggers
- Batteries, Chargers & Cables.
- Spare Memory Cards
I use a few bungee cords to strap my Light-stands to the top of the case when I’m rolling it along – makes life much easier.
I also have a few optional accessories for my PELI 1510 and I’ve detailed those below – I’d definitely recommend them as you get so much more versatility.
The base Peli 1510 comes empty and unless you really need an empty one, I wouldn’t recommend getting it without foam! Getting the one with foam is infinitely more useful.
Essentially the foam is perforated so you pull out the bits to create protective cocoons for your equipment.
If you can’t commit to a single layout, or your gear load out is regularly changing then I’d definitely recommend the flexible Velcro based divider system. It’s an expensive addon – but so useful and increases the flexibility of your Peli Case tenfold.
This thing is one of the must have upgrades for a Peli case – It’s a mesh organiser that screws to the top lid and gives you insanely quick access to all your cables, filters, batteries and bits and pieces.
A little pro tip is to add some white electrical tape to the zippers so you can see them easily and ensure they’re closed before you set off – don’t want your batteries rattling around loose with your lenses!
Suit Case Camera Storage
My second Favourite Peli case is the Peli 1500. It’s a small suitcase styled Peli case and I use it to keep all my flashes, lighting and modifiers in it. Perfect for grabbing ahead of the first dance at a wedding – of for on location flash portraits.
- Smaller than the 1510 and without wheels… but just as rugged.
- Comfy carry handle.
- Stacks nicely with the 1510 in the boot of my car.
- I love it more as mine is Golden Yellow! One of my brand colours.
- Same unbreakable, waterproof, dustproof, chemical proof construction.
External dimensions: ( L x W x D): 470 x 357 x 176 mm
Internal dimensions: ( L x W x D): 432 x 290 x 155 mm
Peli 1505 Divider System for Peli 1500
Peli cases are only as good as the stuff you keep in them and keeping your gear organised and safe is their number one purpose. The pluck out foam Peli cases usually come with is great – I’d say it’s just as protective as this optional divider system, but the drawback is that you have to commit to your layout before you start plucking out the foam. I love these optional dividers – they’re made from high density foam and velcro – so they’re infinitely repositionable and highly protective.
If like me you can never settle on an exact layout, or need to change what you carry from shoot to shoot – these are a must-buy.
** PELI are currently updating their divider systems into a new Yellow version – so they’re currently a little hard to get a hold of, especially on Amazon. I’m going to be buying the yellow one when it’s available (& not just because I love golden yellow.) It looks like it’ll be a great upgrade and really make it easier to find things in your case. **
The Big Ones – Peli 1640 & Peli 1660
We don’t have a whole lot of use for these – they’re just too big for our requirements.
When fully loaded they will weigh so much you’ll have to have two people moving them around – for some purposes they’ll be great – I’m thinking film sets or studio shoots when you maybe don’t need to move them around, or you’ll have a team to aid in moving them.
The construction is the usual Peli Case quality – rugged, waterproof and built to last.
You can usually fit around 3 times what you can in a Peli 1510 across their split layered design, but If I had that much gear, I’d rather have three 1510s.
Amazon doesn’t tend to stock these and Wex are usually the best place to buy these.
Lifetime Guarantee for Peli Cases
Another huge selling point for me on Peli Cases, is their lifetime guarantee. A few brands I use have similar confidence in their products and it’s so reassuring to have.
Anyone that knows me, knows my love for Leatherman Multi Tools. I’ve had a few over my lifetime and when anything breaks or goes wrong with them, I grab a claim form – send it back to Leatherman and within a week or so, I’ve a fixed one or a brand new one in my hand.
It’s a fabulous thing to have and well worth paying extra for a brand that offers it.
Peli is no different, you’re paying a premium price for a premium product, but you’re getting premium service alongside it. Your Peli case breaks or has some kind of manufacturing defect? Get in touch with them, they’ll take care of you.
Alternatives to Peli Cases
Now, I understand that Peli Cases are pricey and I hope so far that I’ve shown the value in spending more for a real, genuine Peli Case to protect your gear. Personally, I’m the kind of guy and I will always pay extra for the brand as I trust it’s going to protect my gear, but if money is tight – and believe me, I understand in the early days of a professional photography career, money will be tight.
Here are a few alternatives that offer similar features to Peli Cases, without the hefty price tag.
These first couple are made by Amazon, they’ve really taken the fight to Peli Case here, producing almost direct imitations of the 1510 and the 1500. They’re not Peli Cases, but they’re pretty damn close.
They come in around half the price of Genuine Peli Cases – amazingly aggressive strategy by Amazon, but don’t be fooled by the ‘Basics’ tag they’ve given these cases, they’re really anything but – they’re hefty, they’re substantial and they’re really well made. They have the same water resistance as Peli Cases do – IP67 – and for a lot of photographers, they will more than do the job. We’ve also got a few of these and the quality is decent. But You get what you pay for & I’d always recommend going for a genuine Peli Case.
I hope this guide has been helpful to you in picking a Peli Case, We love ours and they’ve paid for themselves many times over in the past decade.