Find the Right Protective Gear for Your Camera Equipment

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Camera gear protectors accomplish several goals. If you should accidentally drop or otherwise bump your camera or lens against a hard surface, depending on the particulars—including the degree and point of impact—camera protectors can minimize, if not prevent, serious damage or dents to your gear, and possibly spare you the time and expense of repairs. Depending on the product, many gear protective products offer varying degrees of added weather- and moisture proofing, which is important if you have a proclivity to photograph in inclement weather or damp, humid climates. In the case of smaller accessories, such as batteries, memory cards, and filters, protective wallets (hard and soft), protective pouches serve not only to protect these items, but they also serve as organizers.

Camera Protectors

There are a number of options for protecting cameras. This list includes full fitted cases, half cases, silicone skins, dedicated camera pouches, and wraps.

Fitted Cases

Traditional full-fitted cases, a.k.a. ever-ready cases, offer wraparound protection for your camera and lens. Available in a number of colors and styles, fitted cases are available from OEM and third-party providers and typically are manufactured from leather, leatherette, or neoprene foam.

The Floral version of USA GEAR’s DSLR Neoprene Camera Case (left) and MegaGear’s Ever Ready Light Brown Leather Light Brown Camera Case for FUJIFILM X-E3 with 23mm or 18-55mm Lens (right). Full fitted cases, which are also known as ever-ready cases, offer maximum protection for your camera without having to resort to a camera bag.

Though full fitted cases offer high levels of protection, to use the camera, you must first remove or otherwise shift the top portion out of the way, which some users find to be a nuisance, or in the case of capturing fleeting moments in time, a possible hindrance.

Half-Cases

Half-cases are a compromise of sorts in terms of global camera protection, compared to full fitted cases, but they do away with the hassle of having to remove the top half of your camera case every time you want to use your camera. All you have to do is lift the camera to your eye and take your picture.

Half-cases protect the sides, bottom, and portions of the front and back of your camera while offering quicker response times than full fitted cases. Half-cases are available in colors and, depending on the model, offer easy access to battery and memory card slots.

What half-cases do protect are the sides, bottom, and, with the exception of cutouts for camera controls, and in the case of digital cameras—LCD screens, the front and back of the camera. The top portion of the camera is totally exposed, but with the exception of a camera that drops head-first, the top of the camera is least vulnerable to damage due to impact. Half-cases are typically made of leather or leatherette and, depending on the manufacturer, are available in colors.

Silicone Skins

Another option for protecting your camera are silicone camera skins, which fit snugly around your camera much like a wetsuit on a scuba diver or surfer.

They might look cartoon-like, but silicone skins do offer a great deal of ding protection for your gear. And nobody will ever say you have dull taste in camera accessories.

Available in a variety of colors, silicone skins offer wraparound protection for your camera, minus the bulkiness of full-fitted camera cases. Silicone skins also add additional measures of moisture and weatherproofing to your camera when shooting in damp environments.

Dedicated and Generic Camera Pouches

For compact and point-and-shoot cameras, B&H carries a wide range of dedicated pouches from OEM and third-party manufacturers, which are available in an equally wide range of colors and styles. Pouches are perfect if you want something you can zip your camera into and safely toss into your bag or backpack with other items without risk of damage.

Camera pouches are available for specific cameras or generically, based on size, form factor, and style.

Depending on the make and model, some pouches use zippers to enclose your camera while others use snaps, clasps, hook-and-loop closures, or drawstrings. Similarly, many camera pouches feature straps for shouldering your camera (or O or D rings that make it possible to add a strap), and a hook or clip for hanging the pouch from your belt. Many pouches often include secondary pockets for storing batteries and memory cards.

Many of these pouches can also be used to house Speedlites, light meters, and similarly sized photographic accessories.

Camera Holsters

Camera holsters are a subcategory of camera pouches, but a bit more specific. Holsters are designed to carry one camera and one lens and, depending on the make and model, a side pocket for stowing a spare battery and memory cards.

The Think Tank Photo Digital Holster 150, in Black for DSLRs and lenses up to 600mm, is a honker, while the Ricoh GC-9 Soft Case is specific in purpose. The MindShift Gear Outbound Camera Holster 20 in Carbon Gray, for shorter focal-length lenses, can be adapted for a wide range of compact cameras.

The limitations of camera holsters are their strong points—by narrowing things down to a single lens, you free yourself up for concentrating on taking better pictures. Camera holsters are available for compact cameras and lenses, as well as larger DSLRs with 600mm lenses.

Wraps

The beauty of wraps is that they are free-form. Unlike dedicated and fitted cases and pouches, wraps can be used interchangeably between cameras, lenses, and other photo accessories. Wraps are also perfect for photographers who prefer range-free camera bags, as opposed to bags with individual dividers. And by color-coding your wraps—red for cameras, blue for wide-angle lenses, green for telephotos, yellow for Speedlites, purple for meters, etc., you can pick out specific pieces of gear quickly and easily.

What’s nice about wraps is that they offer quick setup and breakdown times for cameras, lenses, and accessories in a choice of categorizing-friendly colors.

Available in sizes ranging from 8 x 8" to 27 x 27" and in a choice of 15 colors, wraps can be secured around your cameras, lenses, and other valuables by hook-and-loop closures or elastic bands.

Lens Protectors

You have several good options for keeping your lenses safe and secure. Back in the day, many lenses came in hard, cylinder-like leather cases, and depending on how large the lens was, a leather strap for slinging it over your shoulder, should the need arise. Today we have more options, including lighter-weight hard cases—cylindrical and otherwise—trunk cases for larger, heftier lenses, softer neoprene cases, lens pouches, and wraps. And yes, B&H still sells lots of the traditional hard leather cases.

Hard Lens Cases

Hard lens cases are available with interior heights ranging from 2" to 14" long and interior widths ranging from 2" to 8" wide. As for colors, you have a choice of black, gray, and blue. Hard cases are typically used for storing and transporting larger or heavier lenses, which require better interior and exterior support. Depending on the model, many padded cases feature exterior handles or carrying straps.

Hard lens cases are available for protecting all formats and focal lengths of lenses.
 

Padded Lens Cases

Padded lens cases are comparable to their hard-case counterparts in terms of strength, protection, and depending on the case and the circumstances in which it is used – durability. They’re also lighter than their harder counterparts without having to compromise the protective qualities of the case. Most soft, padded cases are made of thick, reinforced high-density foam with synthetic ballistic material outer shells.

If you prefer soft-sided lens cases over the harder versions, your choices are equally broad.

Padded lens cases are available in a choice of seven colors, with interior heights ranging from 2" to 28" tall and interior widths ranging from 2" to 9". Depending on the model, many padded cases feature exterior handles, carrying straps, clips for attaching the case to your belt, backpack, or shoulder bag, or shoulder straps.

Soft Neoprene Lens Pouches

Soft neoprene lens pouches are as light as it gets. The thinner, bare-bones lens cases slip on and off quickly and easily and they take up the least amount of real estate in your camera bag. They’re also quite inexpensive. Depending on the make and model, some neoprene lens pouches have wrap-over enclosures, while others have drawstrings. Some of the larger versions also feature pockets for storing memory cards and keys.

Spider Camera Holster SpiderPro Medium Lens Pouch, Nikon CL-1015 Soft Lens Case, Dot Line Deluxe Lens Pouch Medium (Black)

Lens Wraps

Lens wraps and the camera wraps mentioned above are one and the same. They are free-form and, unlike dedicated and fitted lens cases and pouches, wraps can be used interchangeably between your various lenses, and other photo accessories. Wraps are also perfect for photographers who for whatever reasons prefer range-free camera bags, as opposed to bags with individual dividers.

Available in a choice of 15 colors and sizes, many photographers who routinely use wraps dedicate specific lenses to specific colors, which makes it easy to identify what’s what when shooting under pressure.

Lens Skins

There are two brands of products in this category: Lens Coats and LensSkins. Lens Coats are made of waterproof neoprene, while LensSkins are made of a layer of 1mm Platinum-grade 3M vinyl. Both products act as an extra layer of skin that protects your lens from scuffs, dents and, in the case of camouflage skins, make your lens blend easier into the environment. Both brands also claim their products add an additional layer of water and weatherproofing protection.

LensSkins Lens Wrap for Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G (Leathered), LensSkins Lens Wrap for Canon 50mm f/1.4 (Fire), LensCoat Lens Cover for Canon 11-24mm f/4 (Forest Green Camo)

Filter and Memory Card Wallets and Cases

Memory card wallets and filter wallets for storing, protecting, and organizing your memory cards and filters is always a good idea because scratched filters and missing memory cards never work to one’s advantage.

Memory cards and batteries are items that invariably get lost in the recesses of your bag when you most need them. Memory card organizers and wallets are a good way of minding one’s smaller accessories.

LCD Protectors

LCD protectors are no-brainers. For a few dollars, you can add a huge measure of protection against scratches, chips, or worse. LCD protectors are available in a number of sizes from a zillion companies. The most manageable, and durable, LCD protectors are the ones made of thin glass with adhesives that allow you to reseat the glass if you don’t position it perfectly the first time.

LCD covers are inexpensive and protect your camera’s LCD against scuffs and scratches.

Hot-Shoe Covers

We usually don’t pay attention to the little plastic hot-shoe covers that come with our cameras until the day they go missing. Your camera will work fine without it, but if you use your hot-shoe regularly for flash, EVFs, or other electronic shoe-mounted accessories, after time, the uncovered contacts that would normally be sealed off by the plastic cover begin building up ambient particles of dust, grit, and residues that can result in faulty communication between the camera, flash, or other shoe-mounted accessories. If your camera is missing a cover, a replacement cover won’t break the bank but might save you a headache down the road.

Sooner or later you are going to lose your hot-shoe cover. Why replace it? Because it prevents tarnish and grit from interfering with communications between your camera, flash, or other shoe-mounted accessories.

Tripod and Light Stand Bags and Cases and Tripod Leg Protectors

Tripod Bags and Cases

Depending on their size and weight, tripods can be awkward to carry over longer distances. Tripod bags and cases free up your arms by allowing you to zip your tripod into a case and sling it over your shoulder, which unless you have an extra set of arms for carrying your tripod, is far more comfortable, convenient, and practical. Tripod bags also serve to protect your tripod against dings and damage due to impacts.

There are two flavors of tripod cases: hard and soft, and each is available with or without padded interiors. The soft versions are typically made of heavy-duty canvas or synthetic ballistic materials. Hard cases, which are heavier but offer better protection from the real world, are typically made of blow-molded polymer materials.

Light-stand cases are available with hard or soft sides, as well as with or without wheels.

Depending on the make and model, tripod bags range in lengths from 11" to 70" long and 3" to 18" wide. Most have shoulder or carrying straps. Other tripod bags feature handles and pockets and/or exterior or interior pouches for tools and other small items. Some of the larger models have wheels that make getting around easier.

Light Stand and Umbrella Cases

As with tripod bags and cases, light stand and umbrella cases are available with hard or soft exteriors, padded and unpadded. They range in interior widths that go from 4" to 23", and 36" to 85" in length. Depending on the model, many light-stand and umbrella bags and cases feature handles, shoulder straps, wheels, and any number of exterior and interior pockets and slots for stowing widgets, clamps, and tools.

Tripod Leg Protectors

Tripod leg protectors are available from a number of manufacturers and in a choice of colors, including camouflage. In addition to protecting the finish of your tripod against scuffs and scratches, tripod leg protectors make it more comfortable to carry and handle your tripod, especially when the ambient temperatures start going south of the freezing mark.

Tripod leg protectors prevent chips and scratches. They also make tripods more comfortable to carry and easier to handle when the temperatures drop below freezing.

Foul Weather Protection

The last category we will discuss is foul weather gear for our camera and lenses. Rain capes are relatively inexpensive, can be easily stowed away in a corner of your camera bag, and best of all, they enable you to keep shooting despite the precipitation. Rain capes are available in a choice of sizes and are available for all sizes of camera gear including telephoto lenses up to 17-plus inches long.

Even if your camera and lenses are weatherproof, it’s better to keep them dry in the first place.

How do you protect your camera gear? Share your tips in the Comments section, below.

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