Review: CineBags Underwater Dome Port Pouches and Tool Bags
As underwater image makers we spend large sums of money on some of the most technically advanced photo and video equipment available, put it in very expensive cases and take it underwater. We rely on these cases and their associated parts to keep the equipment functional.
This is further compounded by our willingness to travel far and wide (and spend further ridiculous amounts of money!) in order to photograph and film. This travel is in itself hard on our gear and can result in housings and parts being damaged.
Cinebags has been providing protection for filmmaker’s equipment since 2002. They provide a wide range of bags, pouches and backpacks that are specifically designed to protect cinematographer’s gear. The range includes travel oriented gear, like the CB27 Lens Smuggler bag which we will be reviewing shortly.
In 2016, the company launched a new range specifically designed for underwater image makers. Cinebags Underwater is a range of targeted travel and field oriented gear that answers many of the logistical challenges that present themselves when we travel and use our equipment.
Among these products are a range of pouches for ports. These are available in several sizes and configurations to hold 10”, 8”, 6” domes and a further model for macro ports.
They are all constructed of heavy-duty waterproof tarpaulin fabric, in a useful 18% (ish) grey color. The sides, top and bottom are all heavily padded and the closures are fastened with oversized zippers with zip puller tags. Internally, there is a velcro closed pouch for spare O rings, port caps or grease. A mesh pouch on the lid is useful for stowing the port cover while the port is in use.
Returning to the exterior, there is a neoprene grab/carry handle and area for the owner to add their name label the port, along with the CineBags logo on the lid.
Wetpixel has been using some of these products during a few recent trips and are pleased to present some thoughts on them from the field.
CB71 Jumbo Dome Pouch
This was used for transporting a Seacam Superdome, although it will also fit the Zen 230mm dome and other large domes. We did not try it with a 10” dome, so would suggest taking the port with you to your local CineBags retailer to try it out.
Large dome ports are a pain to travel with. There are large, heavy objects that are valuable and yet fragile. My previous solution was to wrap them up in a wetsuit within a dry bag, but confess to always being worried about the dome’s survival.
The CineBags Jumbo Pouch has thus far provided excellent protection to the port. It fits snugly and the padding softly wraps around and encases it. I travel with a soft sided roller bag (Stahlsack) which typically contains my diving gear, a few clothes and my large dome.
There are some horror stories of the way baggage is handled by the airlines, and the CineBags pouch definitely gives me additional peace of mind that my dome (at least) will make it to its destination unscathed.
The Jumbo Port Pouch weighs only 420g. Airlines are implementing increasingly draconian weight restrictions, but the protection afforded to an expensive and potentially delicate piece of equipment seems like a reasonable trade-off.
When packing the port, it makes sense to orient it with the dome facing upwards. I would suggest being wary of then placing anything in the mesh “port cover” pocket as this could be pushed into the top of the dome and potentially damage it. I tend to leave the port cover in place while traveling.
An added bonus that I had not anticipated was that storing the dome in the pouch helps ensure that it remains clean and relatively dust free between trips too.
Theses are not a “new product” in the sense that people have been making do with various pouches and solutions in order to carry ports for a long time. However, they are a bespoke solution that is in every way superior to every alternative that I have seen thus far. If you own a dome or macro port, I think you should consider purchasing one of these pouches for it. The protection afforded to your investment by doing so makes buying and using one a “no-brainer!” Highly recommended.
The CineBags Port Pouches are available now from CineBags or from your local specialist retailer and the Jumbo version retails for around $75. If you have the opportunity, it is worth taking your port(s) with you to try the pouches for size.
CB76 Tool Pouch
When leading trips or on assignment, it is crucial that equipment is kept operational. In both cases, this means carrying spare parts and the tools necessary to fix things in the field. Traditionally, underwater image makers have used all manner of containers to store spares and tools, from “biscuit boxes” to plastic tool chests.
CineBags Underwater has designed a tool pouch based on the design of their port pouches. Built of the same fabric and featuring the zip closure, it has two internal flat pockets and two bellows pockets. These are fasten securely with oversized zips and the pockets are made of a translucent ripstop material that allows the pocket contents to be viewed, making it easy to find elusive spares or tools. The pouch has a neoprene handle for ease of carrying.
As I mentioned above, I tend to carry a fairly comprehensive tool kit, including a shifting spanner, small water pump pliers, allen key set, dental pick, Sea&Sea O ring tools, Leatherman tool, electrical tape and a small LED flashlight.
Spares include a full O ring kit, spare S6 bulkhead, Tribolube lubricant, various electrical spares, housings blanks, spare 1” ball heads, velcro and conventional cable ties, hot shoe parts, strobe parts and O rings, vacuum system parts, and untile recently, spare batteries for leaks detectors/vacuums. (The latter are now carried in cabin baggage as they are lithium based.)
I also carry my vacuum pump inside the pouch.
All of this fits easily into the CineBags Tool Pouch, which is sized at 9.5” x 7” x 2.5” and weighs 424g empty. As is the case with their port pouches, the small additional weight is a worthwhile compromise.
In use so far, the pouch has stood up to use and being loaded with sharp metal tools. It provides a convenient, efficient and simple solution to carrying spare parts and tools.
The CB76 Tool Pouch is available now from CineBags or from your local specialist retailer and retails for around $49.
CB75 Neoprene Work Mat
CineBags also supplied a CB75 Neoprene Work Mat for review. This closed cell (and hence non-absorbent) creates “your own clean work space to service your housing while on location.” It is a non slip surface that helps prevent housings and equipment for shifting around, particularly on swaying boats. It also can be used to pad and protect gear during transit.
Its black color makes it easy to work from, particularly with small metallic parts. So far, the work mat has not shown any signs of wear!
The CB75 Neoprene Work Mat is available now from CineBags or from your local specialist retailer and retails for around $20.
CineBags has identified a definite need that exists for traveling underwater image makers and have successfully created useful products to address this need. Travel is hard on gear, and these products help ensure that the equipment we rely upon will arrive intact and functional.
Wetpixel has also been testing the CineBags CB27 Lens Smuggler too and this will be the subject of another review shortly.
The CineBags products review above were supplied free of charge to the reviewer by CineBags for review purposes. Thanks to Markus Davids for his assistance with this.