Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Wheelie Great Case


It’s one wheelie great camera case.

Ok, so I watched too much Bugs Bunny when I was a kid.

As reported in a blog entry several months ago, I had acquired the newly released Tamrac Big Wheels Speedroller. Since that time this kit has been rolled around town and eastern Canada on assignment and I now feel comfortable reporting on its pros and cons.

As any commercial photographer knows, we are in an imaging business. Not only is this imaging restricted to our deliverables, but also how we deliver ourselves and staff to the client. This case has become an integral part of my location work not only because of its practical functionality but also because of its business-like looks.

What do I like about it?

The wheels, the wheels, the wheels. This case has oversized ball bearing wheels that allow it to be rolled along behind me as smooth, if not smoother, than any case or piece of luggage I have ever owned. It is smooth and easily navigates the many cracks and potholes along Halifax streets with ease.

The telescoping handle is rugged and dependable, and when extended provides a beautiful balance to offset the weight of the case when fully loaded with equipment. The combination of perfect handle length, and big wheels, means this case feels like mere ounces when “in tow.”

There are many other features on the exterior of the case which I find appealing: a small corporate logo that doesn’t scream “camera’s – steal me,” tough fabric and reliable zippers, and a really cool and practical tripod attachment system.

On the inside the case has ample capacity for a couple of DSLR’s, four lenses (my bigger zoom, the 100-400mm, has to lay flat and that takes up some real estate) a couple of flash guns and various other accessories including a 15-inch laptop. Basically, in a nutshell, by adjusting the foam padded adjustable dividers it is possible to carry sufficient equipment to accommodate any shoot that doesn’t require a full lighting set-up with grips.

Sweet!!! I can now haul everything along behind me with ease, including a small tripod, and still have one hand free to navigate doors and elevators. Those who have been there will know what I am referring to – few things raise my blood pressure more than trying to manoeuvre two cases and a tripod into an elevator at 9:00 o’clock in the morning. Now I just look like any other office worker and can stare at the “up” arrow with the rest of them.

Are there issues with this case that concern me? Yes.

As much as I like the wheels they are also a concern if flying to an assignment. The inscription on the product card raises the concern: “Carry-on compatible... This case complies with the carry on restrictions (22”W x 14”D x 9”H) of most current USA airlines (with laptop removed).” It should be noted that these dimensions measure the actual hard shell case and does not include the protruding wheels. In addition, it should also be noted that US carry-on sizes are slightly larger than Canadian carry-on sizes.

While I have carried this case onboard without being challenged by the luggage police, photographers should be aware that the wheels make the case larger than Canadian carry-on allowances. Because of its briefcase looks, you probably won’t be challenged, but, be prepared to check this luggage if the heavy hand of a diligent luggage cop comes down upon you.

Beyond the concerns of aircraft carry-on compatibility, the Tamrac Speedroller has become the case of choice when my work takes me to commercial assignments around town.

It really is a great case.