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packing and transporting my rig

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pelican 1535 trekpak system is a good idea, however it weight around 14kg, I afraid get caught at the check in gate every time lol

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I've been planning and trying all sorts of configurations to get the main components of my system (camera, housing, lenses, ports, domes and strobes) into my IATA compliant cabin back pack.  It all goes in nicely as long as the camera is in the housing.

Housing manufacturers stress that cameras should not be mounted in the housing for travel.  I'm using a GH5 in Nauticam housing with locking mounting tray. For travel I plan to disengage the dials and power switch controls so any shocks or bumps are not transmitted through the fine machined and delicate components of the housing. I cannot foresee a high risk of the luggage receiving a shock that would shatter the tripod threaded mounting plate with the camera mounted.

What are the risks of traveling with the camera in the housing? How prevalent is the disregard of this manufacturer guidance within the community?

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A tricky one.

Initially I went with the recommendation: don't travel with the camera in the housing. But as travel has become increasingly problematic with tons of gear, I now often travel with the camera in the housing, in a roller Pelican case (the 1510), in the cabin. I do though pack the housing out with bubble wrap so minimise any vibration as much as possible.

I would not do this if the housing had to be hold-loaded.

So far, so good....

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The primary risk of traveling with the camera in the housing is the stress on the camera mount. It may result in misalignment of the buttons and controls between camera and housing. I experienced this myself on an Ikelite housing in the past. Aperture and shutter speed wheels no longer engaged reliably.

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On our recent Revillagigedos trip a few weeks ago, we used a ThinkTank Logistics Manager for my wife's 5Dmk3 rig, and the largest of their carry-on models for my GH5 rig. I ended up checking the GH5 as well. The ThinkTank semi hard cases seem to work very well when checked in, and they don't attract too much attention. I have been harassed at Cabo as well as Cairo with our pelican cases. I also left a GH5 body mounted in the housing. However, there is a difference between the 5 non-stop from Seattle to Cabo and the much longer multiple flights to Cairo or someplace in Asia. My sense is that the bigger, stiffer Logistics manager would be ok, but the smaller carry-on case might be iffy. In some places like the Philippines, some of the in-country travel will have the cases in pickup beds, where they can be exposed to bursts of rain or mud being splattered by other vehicles. Or, they may be stored on the deck of inter-island hydrofoils where they will be soaked with salt water. A Pelican is obviously a lot better for that kind of thing.

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I have my EM-1 MkII inside the housing for travel in some configurations.  I use a think tank streetwalker hard drive and it fits the housing, Zen 170mm dome, 100mm dome,  flat port, 12-40, 8mm fisheye and 60mm macro with z Z-240 and the camera is in the housing - it seems pretty secure mounted on the Nauticam locking tray. 

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I tried various combinations and didn't find that separating the port from the housing worked any better. Maybe it wouldn't work as well with a larger DSLR housing. I guess that is one advantage of a m4/3 system.
 
I got the ThinkTank dividers and lid organizer, mainly because I couldn't try the Pelican Trek Pak dividers in person and was a bit sceptical that they would bend as I wanted to accommodate the housing and dome port as shown. The lid organizer is excellent, much nicer than the Pelican mesh version, and will hold a laptop or tablet:
 
43722192521_31e76ac2a2_c.jpg

Looks nice. Can it be a carry on? Would it fit a Sony A7c Nauticam with WWL-1B, CMC1 and 2 inon z330 with 2 arm floats?


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15 hours ago, imacro said:


Looks nice. Can it be a carry on? Would it fit a Sony A7c Nauticam with WWL-1B, CMC1 and 2 inon z330 with 2 arm floats?


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The answer to that question really depends on where you are flying. In the US, carry-on is a bit of free for all and if you can get on early enough and squeeze it into the locker all is good, though if you are flying a commuter jet lockers are tiny and it'll be gate checked quite likely.  In Europe the size and weight limits may be strictly enforced.

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The biggest downside to a Pelican is that the case itself is 4.5 kg.  The second downside is that it looks too big and heavy, even if it fits, so airline staff single it out. Anyway, I don’t carry this on, as fully packed it weighs just over 16 kg.  This is only for car trips for me. 

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Moreover a Pelicase means valuable goods. I prefer an anonymous padded travel case

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ca1b7635508ddfb166f91adf145b2007.jpg
2054649b84b48799c0f8bdc330f633f7.jpg

The Thinktank Airport International v3 fits my Sony A7C Nauticam rig with WWL-1B, CMC1, 2 Inon Z330s, 2 float arms, batteries + chargers and accessories perfectly.

I detached the flatport and left the housing lens port open with the camera inside the housing because I read somewhere it’s not good to have it close. Would I have any problem with that?


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8 hours ago, imacro said:

ca1b7635508ddfb166f91adf145b2007.jpg
2054649b84b48799c0f8bdc330f633f7.jpg

The Thinktank Airport International v3 fits my Sony A7C Nauticam rig with WWL-1B, CMC1, 2 Inon Z330s, 2 float arms, batteries + chargers and accessories perfectly.

I detached the flatport and left the housing lens port open with the camera inside the housing because I read somewhere it’s not good to have it close. Would I have any problem with that?


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That looks like a nice piece of packing. 
 

Concerns about traveling with a camera in the housing usually revolve around the effects of an impact, vibration or shock. These could potentially damage the camera housing mount or, of course, the camera itself. 

The issue of not leaving a port in place is about possibly creating a vacuum within the housing during a flight which could make it very difficult to remove the port or camera back. To avoid this you can either not have a port on the housing, or remove the housing o-ring. Either prevents a pressure effect. Avoiding an o-ring sealed housing whilst flying is what you want to avoid. 
 

i usually travel with a camera in the housing, padded with lots of bubble wrap, no port but a plastic port cover (no o-ring) and with the housing o-ring in place. 
 

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Posted (edited)

I am hoping I could air travel inside Europe later this year, but I am facing a dilemma with the limitations of carry on luggage for my combo of NA-1DX3 and WACP even if I would transport the 1DX3 inside the housing:

NA-1DX3 36(w)x23.5(h)x14.5(d) cm with handles, or, 26(w)x23.5(h)x14.5(d) cm w/o handles, weight 3.6kg
Canon 1DX3 with battery: 1.44kg
Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS USM: 0.26kg
WACP diameter 19.5 cm, length 17.5 cm, weight 3.9kg
Laptop 33x24x2cm, 1.84kg
Lightest possible bag: 2kg
Total weight: 13.04kg, total value: a bit more...

Total size, put together: 32x26x23.5cm, without handles, without any bag yet.
Or the housing and WACP separated from each other, but in the same bag: 45.5x23.5x17.5 ... 41x26x19.5cm plus bag.

The challenge is to get the gear and bag to fit within the restrictions of the likely air companies I could use for my destinations:

Air Baltic Economy:  55x40x23cm PLUS 40x30x10cm, total only 8kg (yikes), but with an additional 12€ total reaches 12kg

British Airways: 1 handbag/laptop bag 40x30x15cm max 23kg (luxury!) PLUS 1 additional cabin bag 56x45x25cm max 23kg (more luxury), but the small print says "On busy flights, you may be asked to check in your additional cabin bag, so make sure you have no valuables packed in it". Actually most of the operators have similar text.

Finnair carry on economy: 55x40x23cm  PLUS small backpack/laptop bag/handbag 40x30x15cm. Total 8kg (useless).

Iberia economy:   56x40x25cm PLUS 40x30x15cm Total 10kg   "Because of limited capacity in the aircraft cabin, exceptionally on busy flights some carry-on baggage may be removed and stored in the hold at no extra cost. If your carry-on baggage is larger than standard it will be placed in the hold and you may have to pay an additional charge."

KLM economy 55x35x25cm PLUS  40x30x15cm, total 12kg. But they warn that the bigger bag might go into the luggage hold...

Lufthansa Economy ja Premium economy  55x40x23cm   8kg. I would not risk this, because I have had previous experience of having had my carry on weighed again at the German hub airports.

Norwegian LowFare: 38x30x20 cm, max 10kg,  LowFare+   55x40x23 PLUS 38x30x20 Total 10kg,   Flex  55x40x23 PLUS 30x20x38 Total 15kg. Let's see how many routes this company operates later this year...

Vueling on board 35x20x20cm under seat in front of you. "Bookings made before 10 November: In accordance with recommendations from the authorities, we have to reduce hand luggage on the plane to a minimum so that customers and crew have as little contact with it as possible. All customers in boarding groups 2 and 3, i.e. who do not have a connecting flight or have not booked priority boarding, must check in their hand luggage at the desk, at no extra cost (max. 10 kg and 55x40x20 cm)."

I am considering a Tumi Gym Bag (485€) because as a nylon garment bag it looks "light", not like a camera bag and its size might be sufficient 48.4x28x24cm (external) and fairly small weight 1.9kg. I still need to haul my u/w gear to a Tumi shop to check if the gear actually fits into the bag. Plus, a gym bag does not really protect the gear.
https://tumi.com/en/alpha-bravo-mccoy-gym-bag/103289-1041.html?cgid=bags_all-bags

Or should I purchase a smaller backpack for the housing and laptop only, and carry the WACP in its original padded circular travel case, diameter 24cm and height 25cm = 25x24x24cm, i.e. it will not fit under the seat...? Plus, still the dilemma of having two(2) carry on items. But, as smaller items they might be easier to fit somewhere?

Definitely no Pelicase or anything else that already looks heavy.

Any recommendations? 

Edited by r4e

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I use a Lowepro Computertrek Plus backpack. And the 13-14 kg total weight is what you are going to get. You need to go with confidence, a smile in your lips, and very important be polite.

I also have with me an fisherman jacket with big pockets and cargo pants also with the biggest pockets possible, just in case I am asked to weight the backpack, and even after showing that it is photographic equipment the attendant does insist to check it, I move all the heavy itens into the pockets and ask the backpack to be weight again….

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27 minutes ago, pbalves said:

I use a Lowepro Computertrek Plus backpack. And the 13-14 kg total weight is what you are going to get. You need to go with confidence, a smile in your lips, and very important be polite.

I also have with me an fisherman jacket with big pockets and cargo pants also with the biggest pockets possible, just in case I am asked to weight the backpack, and even after showing that it is photographic equipment the attendant does insist to check it, I move all the heavy itens into the pockets and ask the backpack to be weight again….

Thanks for your tip, pbalves. I'll check ProTrekker BP450 model. If it stretches a bit, it might be sufficient. However the 25cm depth exceeds the allowance of half of the airlines I mentioned.

Emptying anything significant from the bag might be a bit tricky for me. Yes there is the small 28mm lense, 0.26kg. But then the next item is the 1DX3 which is like a brick in size and will certainly not fit any pockets - perhaps I'll hang it on my neck. And the WACP is the size of a football... Besides I forgot to mention that I might have to stuff some Keldans in my pockets as well. 

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Good advice from pbalves. I think attitude is as important as the airlines policy: a song in your heart, a smile on your face and a nice attitude towards the check-in staff usually works well.

I've spent years and loads of trips hauling a Pelican 1510 and a Tamrac backpack onto flights and into the cabin. Only once has a check-in agent given me a slightly hard time - but even then relented when I explained what I was carrying and pleaded with her..... (Subal with D500, strobes, ports, laptop, lenses, blah, blah)

Yeah, don't carry something that looks as though it weighs a ton. The Pelican 1510 weighs a ton for sure - even empty - but it looks neat and small. I usually get my partner to tow it along while I manfully and effortlessly (visibly at least) haul a backpack which weighs about 15kgs..... And I figure if it all goes wrong I could check the Pelican (through very gritted teeth) and it should be ok.

A Tumi bag is a very elegant solution but, mercy, they are pricey!

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Posted (edited)

Here is an in-scale  visualization of the Protrekker 450 with the NA1DXIII, WACP, 1DXIII and lense. It looks doable, if I remove one handle. For the air travel that is ok. Total weight about 14kg with laptop. Perhaps I'll take with me a plastic bag. If weight or size becomes a problem, I'll check in the empty backpack and carry my gear in a plastic bag;-) The Keldans will have to fit elsewhere, e.g. my coat pockets or carried by a friendly mule...
 

Lowepro pro trekker bp 450 aw ii.jpg

Edited by r4e

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21 hours ago, imacro said:

ca1b7635508ddfb166f91adf145b2007.jpg
2054649b84b48799c0f8bdc330f633f7.jpg

The Thinktank Airport International v3 fits my Sony A7C Nauticam rig with WWL-1B, CMC1, 2 Inon Z330s, 2 float arms, batteries + chargers and accessories perfectly.

I detached the flatport and left the housing lens port open with the camera inside the housing because I read somewhere it’s not good to have it close. Would I have any problem with that?


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All looks, good, I do similar, be sure to use the housing port cover installed when travelling, the liners of these bags are pretty good, but everything you can do to keep lint out makes prepping the housing easier later on.

On leaving the port on, the concern is drawing a vacuum and this is why it is recommended to remove o-rings.  However for this to be a problem you would need to open your housing at altitude and re-seal (yes it has been done -there was a post on wetpixel)   However you have a vacuum valve on the housing so if you get a vacuum inside you can release it.  I would not hesitate to to travel with a port attached for your situation - though in your case it looks like it packs very neatly with the port removed - which is why I remove the port on my setup when travelling. 

Same for your strobes - I used to remove the o-rings, but nowadays I just leave them in you could only get a vacuum inside if you opened them in flight.  My Z-240 shipped from the factory with o-rings installed as I recall and was shipped from the retailer that way.

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7 hours ago, r4e said:

Here is an in-scale  visualization of the Protrekker 450 with the NA1DXIII, WACP, 1DXIII and lense. It looks doable, if I remove one handle. For the air travel that is ok. Total weight about 14kg with laptop. Perhaps I'll take with me a plastic bag. If weight or size becomes a problem, I'll check in the empty backpack and carry my gear in a plastic bag;-) The Keldans will have to fit elsewhere, e.g. my coat pockets or carried by a friendly mule...
 

Lowepro pro trekker bp 450 aw ii.jpg

A difficult situation to have to deal with.  Your other consideration is that Li-ion batteries cannot be checked so your Keldans must be carried on as must your camera batteries and laptop.  To me you are approaching the situation where you should consider checking the gear in a suitably protected case and purchasing insurance that will cover it.

There's always a danger you may be asked to check carry-on luggage and understanding the carriers policies there is important.  In air travel I have done, they often ask for volunteers first and people who have tried to carry on a big bag to avoid excess baggage cahrges will often volunteer to check it.  Also being in a higher boarding group where you board earlier will help - this can be achieved through travel class, frequent flyer status or picking the seats they will board first - often they will board the back of the plane first.  To me I'd take the BA option as the weight allowance seems most generous.

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I too leave the o-rings on the housing, ports, and strobes, but I change all these when I get to the resort/boat.  I have a plastic zip-lock bag for these marked “TRAVEL O-RINGS”.  These are all removed and grooves cleaned and then my “WORKING O-RINGS” are installed.

 

Yes, I am very anal about this, but in over 40 years I have never had a flood, yet.

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Finally I was able to take a picture from my backpack with the equipment. Much easier to explain how I pack my rig for air travel.

Mochila.png.4f0c2cf37f5299e9a82680348eeac667.png

IMG_3062.png.8c9b12cc1522f3a73cfad0d01ac9e9ea.png

Total weight is 14.6 kg without computer and 16 kg with the computer. The backpack is a Lowepro Computer Trekker II.

Besides this, I take the remaining important equipment at my wife's carry-on: 8 inch dome port, port extensions, housing handles, chargers (camera, strobe batteries, dive lamps batteries, computer), vacuum pump, focus light, 2 buoyant segment arms, Sixt buoyant collar for macro port, and 2 regulators (one and hers).

If she is not going, it goes to the checked luggage.

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I have an old airport international and a Tenba Photo/computer bag. I've pulled all the dividers out of the airport and Domke padded wrappers on everything. All components are broken down to smallest unit. I do put one body in the housing. Generally camera, lenses, computer and ipad go in the Tenba. Housing, ports, 4x Keldans go in the Airport. I also pack my reg and dive watch in this arraignment. My checked bags looks like I pulled it behind me on a gravel road but weights only 6lbs empty, I load it up with everything but a parachute to 49.5 lbs. I use a good scale. My international and Tenba  packed out weigh 50lbs! But the airport has two wheels so I can look quite nonchalant getting thru the various airport stuff. By smiling and looking effortless will do you no harm avoiding closer scrutiny. I've air traveled all over the world in all sorts of planes, the international almost universally fit in the overhead. OK not the 15 seaters or pontoon planes but the gear was never in a hold on those occasions. The only time I was ever stopped was in Sydney and I had to check the international for weight, but it was packed assuming the worst and nothing happened. I have added a super lightweight photo vest with enormous pockets that is stowed on the outside of the International in case I run into someone having a bad day and no amount of smiles might correct.

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