Where do you store your kit when it’s not being used? If you’re like most photographers, your extra lenses will be scattered anywhere from the dining room table to the bottom of a sock drawer. Keeping all of your gear together in one, protected place makes it easy to take the whole lot on a big shoot, but also makes a permanent home for your core equipment when it’s not in use. A hard case is the ideal solution, but bespoke camera cases can easily run into hundreds of pounds. The smart solution is to customise a budget flight case with pre-cut foam to house your specific equipment. We bought ours for £35 and because it has pre-cut foam you can create a snug, secure fit so you know your lenses are safe while being stored or transported.
To get the most bang for your buck you’ll want to squeeze in as much gear as possible. This means buying a case that’s big enough for your camera bodies, lenses and accessories, and a bit of Tetris-style configuration to get it all to fit in. You can then get a really precise fit with a junior hacksaw blade and use the foam you’ve removed to line the base for extra cushioning.
Having a fixed abode for your kit means you’ll know where everything is, and even better, you’ll know it’s protected from harm.
What you need to make your own Lens Locker?
- 1x flight case with pre-cut foam
- 1x hacksaw blade
- 1x roll of sellotape
- 1x roll of duct tape
- Your foam offcuts
- The equipment you’d like to put in it!
Four simple steps to your custom case
- Buy a flight case with pre-cut foam
Go for a flight case with pre-cut foam that’s large enough to fit all your camera gear in. Pre-cut foam is easier to shape as solid foam requires hot knife which is more fiddly. Some cases also feature locks for added security. Also make sure the lid is well padded with egg-box foam padding. This will gently compress to stop any gear rattling about. We bought our 460x350x160mm case from maplin.co.uk for £34.99.
- Lay out your kit economically
It’s important to take some time positioning your gear on top of the foam liner, moving it around to get maximum amount in, but still leaving it protected. Where possible place cameras and lenses upright rather than laying down to achieve the smallest footprint. Aim to get around an inch of foam between each item and place kit at least an inch from the edge of the case too – this translated to two foam squares in our case.
- Remove the foam blocks
Square foam holes don’t give an exact fit for round lenses and the curved edges of cameras. It’s best to pull out the foam to create the cavity for your items, but leave the corners in place. You can then use a smaller hacksaw blade to carefully cut the corner foam pieces into the exact shape. This will give a snug fit, fully customised to the gear concerned.
- Pad the base with the offcuts
If the bottom of your case isn’t foam-lined, keep all the foam cuboids you removed to one side. You can use these to line the base of your gear cavities. Squeeze slightly oversized pieces into place to get a tight fit. The foam will expand a little over time which will also prevent it coming loose. Finally, vacuum all the foam to remove any loose particles.
- Add the final touches
When you’ve made your custom lens locker there are a few extra tweaks you can make to get a really refined job. To remember what kit goes in which hole, it makes sense to label your case. Cut a strip of duct tape and stick it to the foam above a cavity, then print off the name of your piece of kit and sellotape the label onto the duct tape.
It’s also a good idea to throw in a few sachets of silica gel so if any damp does get in, it’ll be absorbed by the silica gel and won’t find its way into your kit. The flight case we purchased was supplied with two sachets, but if you don’t have any, it’s standard issue in shoeboxes or can be bought for a few pounds on www.amazon.co.uk
If you’re taking the case on your travels, put your contact details on the outside or tape a business card inside, in case you misplace it.