HPRC High Performance Resin Cases Make an Impact with Some of the Most Innovative Photography and Video Gear Hard Cases Seen So Far

I have a particular interest in finding optimal solutions for storing, carrying and holding my photography and video production gear, so it is rewarding to come across new and unfamiliar product ranges, with the latest being the HPRC brand, the initials standing for High Performance Resin Cases. 

HPRC is a brand of Plaber Srl, an Italian manufacturer based in Bassano del Grappa, a city and commune in Vicenza province in the northern Italian region of Veneto, and the company’s products are distributed in many parts of the world. 

The HPRC6200 small tripod case High Performance Resin Cases aka HPRC looks like a great transportation solution for small photography and video tripods and other support devices.
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The first time I saw and handled an HPRC hard case was when Fujifilm Australia kindly sent over an X-E3 review loaner and I was immediately impressed by the design and manufacturing quality of the case and its removable internal zip-up soft bag.

Until recently I had not come across HPRC cases, hardly surprising given we no longer have an annual photography trade show in Sydney nor well-stocked photography and video superstores the like of which exist in other world class cities.

Instead my introduction to HPRC came via a Fujifilm X-E3 review loaner camera and Fujinon XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR and 35mm f2.0 R WR “Fujicron” lenses kindly sent over by Fujifilm Australia, all contained in a beautiful little HPRC hard case with internal zippered soft case, illustrated at right.

The padded soft case could be used as a camera case in its right, but in combination with the external hard case is a potent solution for protecting and transporting equipment like the camera and lenses.

It is a much better alternative to the customary way in which review loaners are sent via couriers, inside boxes inside taped-up corrugated cardboard boxes.

I am familiar with several brands of hard cases, most notably the Pelican brand due to relying on several of its memory card cases for some years as well as some mid-sized Pelican cases for storing items of non-photographic equipment.

I also have a wheeled hard flight case of unknown brand that contains my Rotolight Neo 3 Light Kit.

I am in the midst of researching more up-to-date, portable and versatile tripod and support solutions for documentary video and photography production, kicked-off by reading about the Sachtler flowtech 75 video tripod, and it seemed like a good idea to look for better carrying options than the usual soft cases provided with tripods, monopods and gimbals.

My history with hard and soft cases of all types and brands for carrying photography and video production equipment of all sorts, sizes and weights is a long and not always a happy one.

Looking back on the myriad of custom-made and off-the-shelf bags, backpacks and cases I have used over the years, most especially during the analog years when I was working in corporate and magazine photography with a sideline in cinematography, I wonder how my equipment managed to get by without too much major damage.

Much of my travel for work involved small hire cars, small airplanes and understaffed regional airports where I often watched luggage handlers hurl my precious gear on and off trailers and carousels with no thought for safety, their own or that of my precious camera gear.

None of those bags and cases could be described as optimal in their design and manufacturing, often failing miserably at keeping the dust, fluids and salt out of the equipment contained within.

Mind you, I did subject them to some harsh conditions in deserts, at the edge of oceans, down mines and in massive open-cuts as well as traipsing up and down stairs and in and out of elevators, not to forget hauling them in and out of taxi cabs’ back seats and boots in the inner city and suburbs near and far.

Nowadays I tend to travel alone and with the more minimalist kits that the digital age permits, but my own safety and that of my equipment remains paramount and the soft shoulder bags and backpacks that I have used so far have acquitted themselves better than any I had in my analog days.

One big difference between then and now though is in the realm of tripods.

Carbon fibre is a relatively recent innovation and currently I have two carbon fibre-legged tripods for location work, one for video and the other for stills.

There is no way I would undertake extensive travel with either in the soft bags that came them, so my chance discovery of the HPRC brand took on a serious note given I am now looking at upgrading both tripods with more recently-made carbon fibre tripods for environmental portraiture and documentary moviemaking.

My current candidates are Sachtler’s flowtech 75 legs with FSB 4 fluid head for the latter and either 3 Legged Thing’s Albert or Winston for portrait photography, depending on conclusions to be reached if I am able to actually see and try both before I buy.

An enquiry to HPRC received the feedback that the best hard case for the Sachtler tripod kit will be the HPRC 6400W case, and my choice of hard case for a small stills tripod depends on which of the two 3 Legged Thing tripods I choose.

I like the look of the HPRC 6200 hard case for small tripods and other HPRC items look appealing for other reasons.

I have been needing a smaller, safer memory card carrying solution for some time, and the HPRC1100 looks like it could fill the bill.

The HPRC 5400W would have been perfect when I was carrying light stands and lighting and microphone booms all over the planet and I like that it can take two internal soft bags inside to keep items separate.

The HPRC 2550W2017 is worth serious consideration as wheeled carry-on cabin luggage should interstate and foreign travel plans come to fruition.

For more local travel the HPRC GH52460-01 customized case looks great should I choose to upgrade to a Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 or GH5S for video, though Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K aka P4K looks very attractive right now given its ability to shoot high-quality raw or ProRes video while being portable enough for handholding with the right stabilized lenses or gimbal stabilizer.

Given it will not be released until laster in the year questions remain about the BMPCC 4K but one thing is known for sure right now, that its dimensions are very different to those of any other cinema cameras or camcorders and so we may need to rethink how we are going to transport and store it and its lenses and accessories.

HPRC’s customized hard case for the GH5 and GH5S is also available in a version for Sony’s A7, A7R, A7S, A7II, A7III, A7RII, A7SII and a6300 mirrorless hybrid cameras, the HPRC ALP2460-01 for Sony Alpha 7.

I wonder if the HPRC folks are working on a custom case solution for the BMPCC 4K or the coming DJI Ronin-S?

A pre-production Ronin-S was being shown off with the BMPCC 4K and non-stabilized Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens attached at the recent NAB 2018 trade show in Los Angeles and it looked like a perfect fit.

All these decisions as to camera, tripods, stabilizers and cases depend on being able to actually see and try these items in order to make well-informed decisions though and that remains the biggest obstacle of all right now.

Lest I forget, another HPRC custom case that has a great deal of appeal is the HPRC MAC4800W-01 for carrying and storing my production iMac 27-incher while away on my travels and needing to store all our non-travelling possessions in lockup while away.

Keeping expensive gear in cardboard boxes or other low-end storage products is not recommended when relying on removalists or storage services especially now that radical climate change has brought the threat of mould and insect infestations to the fore here like never before.

A selection of cases for photography and video production equipment by HPRC | High Performance Resin Cases

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Image Credits

Quick and dirty header image concept and hack by Carmel. D. Morris.

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Think Tank Photo Releases SKB Series Hard Cases with Think Tank Photo Soft Interiors for Photographers and Videographers

At long last, a company has recognized an issue that has increasingly been coming to the fore for travelling photographers and cinematographers, and has come up with a thoughtful, well-designed and well-made solution to it. Or rather, two companies in close collaboration, Think Tank Photo and SKB, and that issue is the increasing demand by airlines that we agree to stashing our precious, costly gear in the cargo hold instead of carrying it on as cabin luggage.

Think Tank Photo, a company whose soft camera bags and accessories I have used for some years, has collaborated with a maker of hard cases, SKB, a company new to me until now. Think Tank lists the products of this collaboration on its website under the SKB Hard Cases moniker and SBK has them on its website as the SKB Flyer Series.

There are similarities and differences between the two companies’ listings of the products of their collaboration, with SKB adding some video-oriented Flyer cases and a very useful long logistics hard case for carrying lighting and other production gear while Think Tank Photo appears to be  concentrating more on the stills side of things.

Think Tank Photo was a pioneer in supporting hybrid stills/video photographers/cinematographers with its brilliant but discontinued Wired Up Multimedia soft case range that I use to this very day. Think Tank Photo seems to have passed the hybrid thing by now, focussing on pure cinematography with a fourteen soft case-strong collection of video transport cases illustrated carrying RED, Canon Cinema EOS and DJI drone cameras.

A subset of Think Tank Photo SKB Hard Case photographs

Think Tank Photo has recently begun illustrating its products with Fujifilm X-Series mirrorless cameras in a hat-tip to the ever-growing popularity of APS-C and, one assumes, Micro Four Thirds hybrid stills/video cameras for professional photography and moviemaking, especially in the self-funded independent documentary and feature sector, a refreshing relief from their former concentration on 35mm format DSLRs from Canon and Nikon.

I do not use the inane and inaccurate “full frame”, “full format” and “crop sensors” terminology in reference to digital sensor sizes. Fujifilm’s GFX 50S medium format camera makes such olde worlde 35mm absolutism appear ridiculous, especially given that its body is about the same size or just a little bigger than the average DSLR but with a much larger sensor, establishing a new standard for image quality to be judged against if one is so inclined.

Although M43 cameras are not shown in the product shots, it is safe to assume that a case that can carry Fujifilm X-T2 and X-Pro2 Super 35 APS-C cameras, lenses and accessories can also hold Panasonic or Olympus Super 16 M43 cameras, lenses and accessories.

That is good news for those like me who would prefer to transport our Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5, DMC-GH4 or DMC-GX8 fully rigged and ready for fast camera case egress going straight into shooting documentary footage minus fussing about attaching microphones, recorders, monitors, cables, cages, rigging and the like.

The same assumptions should apply to transporting the GFX 50S for stills photography given its DSLR size but bigger and better sensor.

The Think Tank Photo cum SKB Flyer hard case cum soft internals series could not have come at a better time as I am currently having to radically rethink how to carry my stills and video production gear during shoots, going to and from shoots and, when this interminable subdivision process is finally completed so we can refinance our projects including Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success, travelling intercity, interstate and overseas.

I am on the verge of a major camera case cleanup, reducing my reliance on shoulder bags and even some backpacks unduly straining permanently damaged spine, shoulders, arms and back.

Another clean-up factor is leather now that Sydney’s weather veers towards sub-tropical with ever-advancing climate change and the danger of leather-loving, lens-destroying mould taking up permanent residence in most Australian homes. Add to that the cruelty and environmental impact aspects of leather production.

I want to see all camera bag and accessory makers abandon the use of leather and follow the examples of companies like Cosyspeed that use kinder, safer materials like synthetic leather as used in the automobile industry.

Meanwhile I am looking at the specifications of all ten of the SKB Hard Cases at Think Tank Photo’s website while remembering scenes I witnessed in the days when I carted aluminium hard cases and soft logistics cases around the deserts of Western Australia and the odd foray to the eastern states for corporate assignments.

Watching luggage handlers hurl bags on and off their trailers, topple them onto the ground or sling them into luggage chutes made me cringe every time. It is great if you can get away with carrying your gear into the cabin but best to be prepared for that odd stroppy ticket or gate attendant who disputes that your “airline carry-on approved size” really is the approved size or rejects it for breaching said size by a millimetre or two.

Think Tank Photo SKB iSeries 3i-2011-7BP Backpack & Rolling Case

The 3i-2011-7BP is the one hard case in the SKB Hard Cases collection that combines a removable backpack with a rolling case, for use in a way not unlike the one that Deanne Fitzmaurice demonstrates in her How to Pack Gear for a Regional Jet video.

I have been considering something similar for safely transporting a future mostly-video documentary production kit based around the GH5 and its predecessors the GH4 and GX8. I just need to determine whether the set-up illustrated above will carry everything I need for short and feature documentary projects. Time to make a list!

I will need a second camera bag for cabin-only documentary stills gear, to complement the cabin or cargo hold mostly-video case, as well as a safer way of carrying tripod, lights and lighting stands for my coming new travelling kit to be complete.

It would be terrific if a vendor turns up at the SMPTE 2017 at Darling Harbour mid-July with a massive collection of Think Tank Photo camera bags so I can work out some optimal carrying combinations.

The steady reduction of photography retailers in this part of the world and the ending of photography trade shows here makes seeing, trying and selecting the right gear even more difficult than before. Guessing which camera bags you need based on product shots with cameras, lens and accessory systems you don’t use can be a challenge!

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Image Credits:

  • Header image made from product photograph kindly supplied by Think Tank Photo and SKB Cases, processed with Macphun Luminar Neptune using a preset from the Tintype Looks collection, in remembrance of Khadija Saye,  the emerging British artist tragically killed in the Grenfell Tower disaster.