What Do Real Estate Photographers Use For Bags/Cases?

March 11th, 2015

Pelican1510Jarrett asks:

I’m in the process of gearing up for full-time PFRE, and was wondering what other real estate photographers  use in terms of bags and cases. Just ordered a Pelican rolling case to house two camera bodies, four Yongnuo flashes and controller, along with a few lenses and other accessories.

Sounds like you are on the right track. I would say the Pelican 1510 is very popular with real estate photographers because it has rollers, is a hard case and it fits in overhead compartments in airplanes if you ever need to travel. Scott Hargis recommends this case in his book Lighting Interiors along with the close second is the Pelican 1560 which is slightly bigger.

Some RE photographers additionally use a small over the shoulder bag like a shootsac which I talked about on the blog back in January.

Anyone else have advice for Jarrett?

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31 Responses to “What Do Real Estate Photographers Use For Bags/Cases?”

  • I use the Pelican 1510 as well as the Think Tank Airport backpack. I actually prefer the backpack over the pelican for real estate.

  • My two main camera bags, a 20 year old Domke and a 30 year old Best Products camera bags finally said the had enough last year. I was in Costco and saw some under seat bags for airplanes with wheels and handle for $30. I bought two, one for cameras and lenses and one for the flashes and accessories. I find it so much easier rolling them around than carrying them.

  • I got the Pelican Case 1510 first for all the reasons mentioned. I then got the 1610 because I wanted to carry more. Did you know that when you put more stuff in a bag, it gets heavier? Rolling them around isn’t so bad, but lifting them into and out of the truck can be a bit much. I decided to take only what I needed and I’m back to using the 1510 almost all the time.

  • All good choices. Pelicans have been around for awhile and have proven themselves reliable and can take a lot of punishment. Rollers are a great asset, especially when you fill the case with all your toys.

    One thing I would recommend though is to plan for what you will need in the interior space. Take your gear and lay it out within the dimensions of the case your are looking for and see if everything will fit (with enough padding, etc.). Think about everything you will need for the days coverage, batteries, extra strobes, etc. to include. Some have planned with the lenses off their bodies, but I do not recommend that because of the sensor dust that gets into your system every time you change the lenses. So I have bodies with lenses always attached. You might consider getting a couple of cases and have one with all of your backup equipment there.

    The other thing is to be low key on the look. Nothing says “Steal me, I am worth thousands” like a case with Camera written all over it.

  • Pelican cases for my lighting kits + my new favorite for cameras/lenses etc: Manfrotto Roller Bag 70. Key Points for me: Internal hard shell, does not look like a camera bag, light interior, iPad slot, Laptop slot, nice dividers, lots of useful refinements. Not cheap but very worth the price.

  • +1 for the 1510. It’s great and relatively inexpensive compared to similar “Photography suitcases.”

    Anyone have any suggestions on mounting a tripod to the 1510? I’ve seen a few tricks online but nothing that seemed all that great. Mostly looking to mount /unmount the tripod quickly and to be able to remove the mounts when needed for flying. Thought about drilling but I strap the case to my motorcycle sometimes so water could be an issue.

  • I found the Pelican 1510 too heavy for a non-extreme job like ours. It´s very hard and almost indestructible, but i finished tired of carrying all that weight for nothing. Now i have a Tamrac Ultra Pro 13, it´s bigger, lighter, tough enough and cheaper.

  • How timely. I was in the camera store yesterday looking at Pelican cases. Currently use a Domke for camera, lens, 2 flashes, and accessories, and a second ‘tripod’ case for light stands, and umbrellas with extra speedlights hanging in their case off the carrying strap. I like the arrangement as can slip each over a shoulder and the weight balances each other, then handcarry a tripod as I greet people at the door. Also have a backpack, Lowepro Sport, but it is 50/50 camera and daypack for recreational outings. The tripod case absolutely needs to be replaced – seams ripping and strap unstitched and tied to loop. Love the Domke but really getting bloated as progressed from crop to FF, and lens with 77mm filter size doesn’t help. Biggest concern about the Pelican is probably coupled with my OCD…precisely cut the slots for neat appearance…then new bodies/lens don’t fit the old slots and having to stuff back in some of the foam. Likewise with the incidentals. The other option in the back of my head is downsize my equipment – Sell the Nikon and go Sony mirrorless – not for weight savings as similar lens weigh about the same but are far less bulky.

  • I use the Thinktank Airport International. If or when it wears out I will probably go with the Pelican. My suggestion on the Pelican cases is to get the adjustable dividers and not the foam inserts. The foam inserts waste too much space.

  • I use a Think Tank Airport Bag and carry my other incidentals in a Lowe Pro back pack.

  • I find that large bags (even with wheels) are too cumbersome, and take up too much cargo/storage space, and they become heavy fast.

    Instead, I use Bulldog Range Bags that can be bought at Cabella’s or on Amazon. One for flashes & accessories, one for cameras and accessories.

  • I have used the 1510 for years as my main body/lens case. It has been fantastic. I have never had a problem with airlines either until recently. Airlines are now (or have been for a while and I just never got tagged) weighing carry-on baggage. My 1510 is near 40lbs. Way too heavy for a carry on. Nearly got thrown in an Indian prison for arguing too much with the airline about it. I lost. Keep that in mind if you travel a bunch. It may get too heavy.

  • I guess I’m not the only guy using the 1510.
    Installing the lid organizer and the padded inserts for this box made it perfect. Yes, I carry more than I need making it heavy, but the pull-up handle & roller wheels makes this a non-issue.
    Keeping the box in my automobile’s trunk during travel, I have the added “peace-of-mind” that if (and when) some clown rear-ends me, my gear will be safe. These things are built like a tank.
    My only problem has been the occasional times I have to “Photoshop” it out of an image because I forget about it during a shoot. 🙂

  • I actually use the Pelican 1564 (1560 with padded dividers) along with the Pelican case organizer for the lid. I also use the f.64 LSB Light Stand Bag for all of my light stands, reflectors and tripod. The 1564 can hold an amazing amount of equipment – 2 bodies, 4 lenses, 7 speedlights, iPad, CamRanger and more accessories and misc stuff than I can count.

  • Something to think about is the convenience vs safe/secure. I was glad that I had a good case when I was in a bad car accident. The car was crushed and my case ended up down the street with some scratches but still intact and all the gear safe. I still use that case today.

  • This is the bees knees. I’m so tired of lugging Peli cases around.

  • I use the Pelican 1510 for my camera and lenses and a Kelly Moore bag to carry the rest (flashes, gels, grip, wallet, phone, etc). When I’m shooting I use a Shootsac.

  • For fine art walking around, I use the original soft “shooters” bag by Domke.
    For my everyday Real estate work, I use a Tamrac 5591 SpeedRoller 1x Big Wheels Rolling Case $374 (got A close out for $175). its been a wonderful case and great for air travel. But, many times, I feel I should have spent the $399 for the larger one.

    Originally bought a $400 Lowe Pro Rolling case but was too large to take in and out of the car every day, so I use it for studio lighting when needed.

    All these cases are wonderful, but has to suite personal taste and have to feel comfortable working with every day.

  • Like the majority I use a Pelican 1510 which holds my Camera/Lenses/Lights etc. Fantastic cases! I use a cheap Coleman travel bag with wheels that I picked up from Walmart to transport my Lightstands and Tripod.

  • Pelican
    1520 photo case
    1520 adjustable photo dividers
    1520 photo lid organizer
    4 aluminum grommets for lid mount

  • For cam(s), SBs, lenses and the small stuff I couldn’t be more happy with my Think Tank Airport Commuter. No wheels, so I find that it packs really well compared to the wheeled bag/case that I have, incl. a 1510, which I never really started using since I don’t really need the wheels or hard shell.

    Tripod, light stands and two brollies in a Manfrotto tripod bag. Tight, but does the job.

  • In Wisconsin weather it’s just not practical to have something with wheels, so I use a large Tamrac backpack for my gear and a baseball bat bag for my tripods. I’d love a Pelican but don’t think it would be efficient for RE work.

  • I, too, use the 1510, but went with the padded dividers and lid organizer. Thing has been bullet proof, and I never hesitate to stand on it, and never worry about my gear when it’s in the case.
    Personally, I find it perfectly efficient for RE work.

  • I’ve been poring over hundreds of options lately as to a good case for my light stands and modifiers. Does anyone have a recommendation for a rolling case that can hold 6 – 8 stands and as many umbrellas? For under $1000? Right now I just have a long canvas duffel, but it’s heavy as hell and unwieldy to lug about on my shoulder.

  • Oh, for camera/lenses/speedlights I have the Pelican 1550 with a TrekPak dividers. If you haven’t yet purchased a case, definitely go with dividers over foam. I started with foam because it seemed like it would better protect the gear, but every time I changed, added or upgraded gear I had to destroy a little bit more of the insert.

    With the TrekPak dividers I can fit about 15% more gear in the case and it’s much more accommodating to switch up the equipment. Better than velcro dividers too in my opinion because velcro wears out but pins don’t. And best of all, it seems to protect the equipment nearly as well as the snug foam did. As long as I’m not literally throwing the case around, it should never be an issue.

  • Thanks for all the helpful advice! I received the Pelican 1510 last night … it’s a tight fit for the gear I have, but that’s another good thing about switching to the Olympus mirrorless system.

    I found this blog a few months ago and have learned a lot from you guys. Thanks again!

  • Like many/most it seems, I’ve got more than one. For travel and casual or light weight use, I’ve got a backpack style camera case. As long as I don’t flaunt it, most folks wouldn’t think twice about what may be in it.

    For most work, I use the Pelican 1510 as well. Carries what I want. Travels well. And, if I need to take it for a flight, it’ll fit overhead.

  • I’m using the Mountainsmith Parallax, holds 2 bodies, 4 lenses, flashes, laptop and straps on both sides for stands, umbrellas, and tripods.

  • I have a backpack for bodies and lenses, a small hardcase for flashes, brackets, clamps, batteries, flashlight, tools, ad nauseum. A bag for stands and umbrellas. My strobes are in TZ Cases (like a Pelican, but much less expensive). I’ve never had a fly in job where I needed to bring a full kit, just the backpack (Tamarac). The rest of the time, I’m careful with my stuff and have never had a problem. Given the cost of flying extra baggage, if I were to get a job where I needed to fly, I’d try to rent stands and strobes locally and just bring bodies, lenses and flashes.

    Given that RE photography is a local gig for nearly every one in the industry, it’s probably a good idea to stay on a budget with case options that fit the circumstances. I use my old ski bags for Autopoles and cross pieces (not part of my RE kit). They work great and were free. Lightware bags would have been…….. rather expensive to do the same job.

    One of these days I want to create a system with an integrated dolly that holds all of my standard RE gear that can be wheeled in in one trip. I have it mostly sketched out, but it won’t fit easily into my sedan. I am waiting for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to become available in the US and then it will fit. Cross justification, the next evolution in impulse buying.

  • I use a Lowepro stealth reporter d650 aw bag for most shoots. It holds my camera, 2 lenses, 4 flashes, my triggers, tablet, odds-and-ends, plus I use this StudioPRO SP60-005 All-In-One Photography Photo Studio On Location Carrying Bag Lighting Equipment for my tripod, light stands, and STU’s. My spare camera and lens, I keep in the trunk.

    Got mine off of Ebay a while back

  • I own several bags. A Pelican 1510, a X300 Lowepro Roller, a ThinkTank StreetWalker and a couple of smaller ThankTank bags. I use these for getting around. But on site, for real estate shoots, I use a Husky Tote bag that I have added protective foam bottom padding to and find it’s perfect for room to room shooting. The bag has 8 side pockets, each of which can hold a lens or a flash, while the central area holds whatever else I need. The body, accessories, etc. Now this needs to be handled with care, but the fact that I don’t have to close and open it constantly is awesome. Here’s a sample. Only $20, built to handle much heavier tools, and all at least $150 cheaper than it would be with the word “Canon” on the side! Again, don’t knock this around because the side protection is zero, but for onsite moving around, I love it! Here’s a link:

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