PortaBrace Goes Posh
The PortaBrace Director's Cut Series consists of specially modified versions of PortaBrace's most popular cases. Fine details such as soft deerskin suede accents, antiqued bronze-finish hardware, micro-suede lining, suede shoulder strap with memory foam core, and rubber Slip-Not (anti-slip) bottom are some of the enhancements over the traditional blue PortaBrace line. The Director's Cut Series utilizes suede and champagne colors, offset against a contrasting black body color to distinguish them visually. This updated line of professional camera cases are featured exclusively at B&H, and as such we should take a closer look at some of the twelve models that make up the series. Before we do, an examination at one distinguishing feature is required – the leather.
Aside from the luxury aesthetic that comes from suede and deerskin elements, the functionality trumps the fashion statement. Unlike the various blends of nylon, rayon, or polyester, leather minimizes chafing. The deerskin lining found on some of these Director's Cut cases is less likely to cause abrasions or scratch off important markings silkscreened on the body of your camera. Leather has some elemental attributes like heat resistance and it is drastically less prone to accumulate a static charge that zaps your gear. Also, good supple leather will “break-in” over time and become like a second-skin - just ask any cowboy. Furthermore, the durability of leather-enhanced goods should not be overlooked; quality leather like the suede and deerskin found on the Director's Cut line are by nature, fray and puncture resistant. These properties ensure that your bag will last long after your camera has been replaced.
So without further ado, let's look at the first batch of PortaBrace bags to be upgraded. There are certainly more to come as other PortaBrace cases are sure to be refined in the same manner.
CO-ABM/DC Carry-On & CTC-3/DC Travelers Case
The CTC-3/DC Traveler Camera Case and the CO-ABM/DC Carry-On are the medium- and large-sized versions (respectively) of the PortaBrace Director's Cut cases that are designed specifically to cradle cameras with side pockets for accessories. The CTC-3/DC is perfectly sized for mid-size cameras like Canon XL-H1 or the Sony DSR-300/500 series, while large-sized video cameras like the Sony CineAlta HDCAM & Betacam lines or the Panasonic VariCam series are best contained in the larger CO-ABM/DC. These bags feature adjustable cradles to keep the camera from shifting around and provide a generous amount of room for spare batteries, tapes, microphones and a rain cover. Both have a cavity on the inside lining to accommodate large viewfinders.
These Director's Cut edition bags add deerskin suede to the outside zipper pocket, inner pocket flap and the lining of the outer pocket and the main compartment of this case. In addition, all of the hardware includes antique-finish zippers, upgraded shoulder strap rings, and all the inner nylon pockets and outer webbing are presented in a champagne color. The shoulder strap is upgraded with memory foam cushioning, a very comfortable material most familiar to those who splurge on bedding purchases. Additionally, the strap contains a handy zipper pocket and for small items like keys or cards.
The DC-3V Director's Case is the last and only briefcase/computer case you'll need for field production, with an emphasis on the word 'field.' Albeit it looks like it belongs in the boardroom of a Fortune 500 company, the DC-3V/DC is equally at home on location in a field, alley, concert hall, or anywhere else you need to review footage onsite. This case offers a unique internal visor to shade your laptop screen from sun and unanticipated field conditions. Twin compartments protect your laptop while allowing for peripheral connectivity from side to side. The Director's Cut version adds deerskin suede to the outer front pocket space and the bottom of the interior space. These additions further protect laptops, portable hard drives, cine meters or any other delicate electronics contained within. As with the rest of the DC series, the hardware uses antique-finish zippers, improved shoulder strap rings while the leather shoulder strap uses memory foam.
Unlike the aforementioned cases, the DVO-2/DC is designed to enclose a variety of video products like the Sony HVR-Z5U, Canon XH-A1, Panasonic AG-HPX170 and other similarly sized shoulder cameras within a series of customizable walled dividers. These dividers are used in a large open main compartment that can accommodate a wide range of small or large cameras, batteries, microphones, tapes, grip/gaff gear or anything else you can stuff in the 18 x 10 x 10" (45.72 x 25.4 x 25.4cm) interior space. Being squared off, the form is stackable and easier to cram into a vehicle with limited cargo space.
Shaped with a similar squared form, The PC-333 Production Case adds an extra layer of hardcore protection that makes it crush-proof. It is shaped by a full width rigid panel between layers of Cordura, while featuring a stiff, yet lightweight bonded foam and plastic lid. Interior partitions can be positioned to accommodate numerous combinations of cassettes, batteries, cables, filters, and audio tools. This model adds deerskin suede to the outer front pocket space and inside pocket flaps that is a little more forgiving than nylon in situations where you are cramming in as much gear as possible into the pockets.
Mini-DV camera owners are already familiar with the CS-DV4 case, popular with owners of cameras such as the Sony PMW-EX1, HVR-V1U, HVR-Z1U, HDR-FX1, Canon XH-A1, XH-G1 and the Panasonic HVX-200. It is a well-loved, all-conditions shoulder bag that is great for day-trips or simple shoots where you don't need to haul your entire studio on your back. A rain cover and a camera cradle further protect the sensitive camera inside. It too has not escaped the Director's Cut upgrade and now features the same enhancements common along this signature line.
Elegance, luxury, and style are synonymous with what PortaBrace desires to imbue into the Director's Cut line, but ultimately functionality, longevity, and protection are equally apt words to describe the line. The haute couture-ish aspect certainly makes owners stand out on the set - the champagne suede on noir black exterior is rather striking. What isn't hard to ignore is the added layer of protection and comfort that the liberal use of fine leather gives to you and your equipment; that alone justifies the premium over the standard series. In the grand scheme, the value of the case will surely reveal itself with the professional equipment that will be cased, carried, and cradled in it over the next several years.
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