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-   -   My "review" of the Portabrace DV3 case. (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/panasonic-dvx-dvc-assistant/12721-my-review-portabrace-dv3-case.html)

Matt Gettemeier August 1st, 2003 08:15 AM

My "review" of the Portabrace DV3 case.
I just wanted to post this because I was torn on what case to get for the dvx100... If you shelled the bucks out for this cam then you should get a "shell for your bucks". Personally I think it would be crazy to keep one of these in a cheap, unprotective case.

Panny's case is over a hundred bucks but the price varies by where you go. The Panny hard case is over $300 and perhaps it's worth it, but I never cared much for hard cases... if one day "the worst case scenario" comes to play I'm sure I'll be converted to a hard case owner, but for now I'll take my chances because there are "soft cases" available that offer tremendous protection.

Portabrace makes a DV4 case and a DV3 case for this camera. The DV4 can be configured to take a matte box or not and it's still listed specifically for the dvx100.

The DV3 case is designed for a lot of cams of about this size. You just specify which camera you'll be using it for and choose the appropriate "cradle". In this case the cradle is the CR4, so your model number is DV3/CR4.

I almost went with the DV4 case instead of the DV3 for the extra space and storage. I'm glad I didn't. The DV3 case has enough extra room for two wireless sets, a shotgun with Softie, and several xlr cables... not to mention all the other stuff you normally would have such as spare batteries, charger, manual, tapes, etc.

The case is designed with a super thick padding all around and it unzips through the center, alla clam-shell, so it's very easy to put the cam in and take it out... fast. There are several internal pockets as well as a padded removeable pouch which is perfect for your wireless sets or anything else that you want to have an extra level of protection but don't want touching your camera. The cradle velcros down inside the case so that it has padding as well as an airspace surrounding it, basically from any side, but the bottom. The bottom of the case is both padded and reinforced with a hard-board that's encased within the padding. From any angle (except the bottom) you could hit this case with a bat and the blow would be absorbed before it made it to the cam. The design of the cradle and "floor" allow the cam to be placed anywhere inside the bottom of the case... if you want more space at one end of the cam for other items, you just velcro the cradle more to one end... if you want the MAXIMUM protection for your camera, velcro the cradle in the center of the case and you'll have 5" of airspace at both ends of the camera... which is overkill for an already very protective case. The long sides of the camera are protected by thick padding on top of big pockets.

The other point of note is that a couple of the biggest pockets have this clever system by which the pocket can be devided into smaller pockets or left as one big pocket... there's an ingenious system of velcro flaps that either lay flat inside or can be folded to create the seperate pockets. Very cool.

All Portabrace cases come with a luxurious tan suede carry strap that makes you want to keep the camera with you at all times. I say "luxurious" because I can't think of good way to say "strappily sexual"... Portabrace's carry straps are worth buying all by themselves just to use with other case brands.

All the hardware on the case is pure overkill and made for professional use. Everything about the case oozes quality. And I hate to throw this in, but facts are facts and this is still a cool point: Every news crew or high-end videographer you SEE uses Portabrace gear. Even my friends who don't know anything about video have noticed, "That's the same kind of bag those news guys had...".

Ok, I'm rambling... If you didn't want to read this whole post at least you can breeze through this summary. Here's my rapid-fire list of reasons in favor of this case:

1) The distinguished look and quality of the Portabrace DV3 is WELL worth the $179.95 price.

2) The functionality and luxury of this case will never leave you wishing you'd chosen another brand.

3) With the fit and comfort of the carry strap it feels like you're carrying an EMPTY bag!

4) The connection points of that luxurious strap make the case hang perfectly on your body. (Related to point 3)

5) If you add the cost of the carry strap ALONE to another brand that's like a $40 option. Therefore I believe this case should be compared to cases around $139.95 because the strap is SO worth it, and that logic makes it an even better value.

6) Everywhere you go a Portabrace bag gets noticed and everybody who's EVER seen a news crew thinks "this is a professional".

7) AMERICAN MADE in Vermont! If you don't think that ALONE is worth something you're nuts... Most other cases are made in another country, often China.

8) Clever design "extras" which will pleasantly surprise you as you use the bag more and more.

9) Very tough and durable.

10) Super friendly people offering good service and striving to create a superior product. (See 7)

Feel free to rearrange the above points according to what YOU think is most important. Obviously I personally don't care what case you get, I just wanted to offer some ideas on a nice case from an American company that I've bought from in the past and I'm very happy with.

Matt G.

Ernest Scott August 1st, 2003 08:26 AM

agree and...
I have to say that i agree 100% with Matt's comments. I have the case Matt describes and also bought the HikerPro camera case

If someone desires a "hard" case, the HikerPro is a great alternative. It is built around a reinforced plastic frame and the camera, senn 66, filters, batteries, charger and headphones sit wonderfully protected inside. Outside has more room including a laptop sleeve if you need it. Plus the shoulder straps and rings to secure a Sachtler.

PortaBrace....thumbs up.

Chris Hurd August 1st, 2003 09:04 AM

Hi Matt,

This is a very nicely written review... I'd like to put it on our website, would you have any photos of the case that could go with your article? Thanks in advance,

Mike Morrell August 1st, 2003 09:52 AM

Other case Alternatives
For those considering a watertight hard case, I'd recommend the Pelican Cases. Since I have two DVX100s, I chose the model 1600 with the foam that I can put both into at once. You simply pluck pre-cut pieces of the foam out to custom fit your equipment. It took me about 30 minutes to create a custom fit bag for the two cams. I use another semi-hard case for accessories, although I could pluck out some more foam for a few accessories. Im planning on purchasing more Pelican Cases for photography equipment. I can easily stack my hard and semi-hard cases on top of one another and cart them all at once with a fold up wheeled cart that I have. This cart, which the name and model escapes me at the moment, is a god send for me. If folds down to about 16x6x12 and has 4 wheels so that you can pull it without having to lift. It resembles a heavy-duty version of the airline carts that flight attendants use, but it has the extra set of wheels for balancing and easier pulling. If anyone is interested, post and Ill put up another post later with the model number.

Shawn Mielke August 2nd, 2003 06:21 PM

Yes, Mike, do post model # for the folding cart. Sounds handy. Thanks!

Stas Tagios August 4th, 2003 11:52 PM

I completely agree with Matt's excellent and comprehensive review of the CS-DV3/CR4; it's a fantastic, durable bag, and is serving my DVX-100 well. And as Matt observes, the Portabrace strap cannot be beat.

My one caveat to those considering it, however, is that you may find the bag slightly small if you have a lot of DVX accessories.

The bag was just right when I initially bought the camera, but now that my kit has expanded to encompass a Sennheiser ME-66, four camera batteries, a Sennheiser ENG100 wireless kit, three filters, and a hoodman for the LCD, the bag has gotten quite cramped, especially when I also stuff five to ten MQ tapes in it.

I bought the case from Portabrace back in Oct. 2002, when they'd just designed the CR-4 cradle for the DVX, and before they'd started making the CS-DV4 bag to accomodate the DVX with more accessories (like a mike and mattebox). I'm now considering getting the DV4, which is slightly wider and longer than the DV3, a few much-needed extra inches of space.

So anyone considering the DV3, may want to opt instead for the DV4, which'll give you and your camera a little more breathing room and space to expand your kit. Plus the DV4 is only a few inches longer than the DV-3, so it maintains a fairly low-profile and would still fit easily in airline overhead bins.

Marcia Janine Galles August 5th, 2003 12:07 PM

For what it's worth, I bought the larger DV4 even though I don't have a matte box at this time. I plan to in the future, but can't see how I'm going to fit it in. My case is bulging w/o it. Basically my DV4 is full because I have my ME66 (shock) mounted in the case so I can just lift it out an go. Where the matte box would hang over, I have my headphones tucked away, and wedged in with what little room is left on one side, I have my Lightwave EQME66 windscreen standing vertical, with my Petrol LCD cover tucked in over the top of it. The bag closes w/o crunching anything, but there sure isn't room for more. If I eventually do get a matte box, well, I suspect l'll be hauling another bag (no doubt a small backpack) to carry what won't fit at that point. I should also add that I liked this bag so much that I got their tripod bag which holds both my tripod and monopod beautifully. There's a little extra space in length... hey, maybe that's where I'll tuck that extra stuff down the line. :-)

PortaBrace definitely makes quality products. I checked out several other manufacturers (including Kata and Petrol) before deciding, and am very glad I went with PortaBrace instead.

Stas Tagios August 5th, 2003 04:25 PM


Just wondering what shockmount you're using for the ME66, and how you like it. I'm in the market for a shockmount for my ME66 to use with the DVX-100. Thanks for any info!


Marcia Janine Galles August 5th, 2003 05:24 PM

I'm using a Senn. shock mount ($39.95) that I got through B&H. Unlike the cheaper one I'd found around Beyer(something?) which I've heard complaints about, it doesn't creep out of place (at least it hasn't so far) but it's one of those rubberband types, which means I find it ridiculous that I paid even that much for it. Still, it's sufficient for what I'm doing at the moment. Doesn't tighten down as much as I'd like though. Twists off center too easily and I'm hesitant to crank it down firmer when it's only plastic. For the doc I'm gearing up for I'm going to go boom mounted, and am looking at the Lightwave boom swivel carriage which works for a boom pole or mic stand. It lists for $165, but I'm sure it's around somewhere cheaper. Am waiting to hear back from Zotz as a matter of fact. Bottom line, can't say I'm wild about the mount I have, but it depends on what you'll be using it for. I shoot tripod or monopod exclusively. Doubt it'd be very reliable for true run and gun. Seems like it'd bounce around on those dumb little rubberbands.

Sorry I can't be more help...

Mike Morrell August 18th, 2003 07:53 AM

Sorry for the delayed post, but I said that I would post the cart that I liked. Its a Tri-Kart 800 from Remin.

See link below from Adorama. I'm sure that you can get from your favorite retailer.


Marcia Janine Galles August 18th, 2003 09:10 AM

Wow, Mike. Thanks a million. Looks perfect. I've started working out again largely to improve my strength as I've become increasingly worried about hauling all I'm accumulating around (largely solo) over the next nine months. This cart will help a lot.

Mark Monciardini August 18th, 2003 11:02 AM

While we are on the case subject I wanted to note that Saferseas is offering a hardcase with military type latches for anyone that is interested. I've been eying it my self but thinking that a should strap might work better for me.


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