For the last five years, I’ve been using a ThinkTank Photo Airport International bag for my video needs, and I love it to pieces. Sadly, as the years went by and as my kit got larger, I needed more space. I did not want to carry a second case, so I was looking for a similar roller case but with more space. After looking at a few options, I got the newly announced OR-516 from Orca for $323.00.
What can I say I love it. It has a lot of character and plenty of space and protection. For the full review hit the jump.
Orca OR-516 Size
It was love at first sight, I managed to fit, not only my kit of lenses and bodies, but also my entire audio kit, cables, monitor, and a few knickknacks. There is a full “shopping list” below if you are interested. but for now, let’s just say, it’s a lot.
Specs-wise the bag’s internal size is: 50x33x18cm, and externally it’s 55x40x25cm. (19.7x13x7″ and 21.5×15.8×10″). This is not very different from a lot of other bags, aside from the fact that the bag is as deep as the white rabbit’s hole, so you can place many items vertically to save space.
True, with this kind of bag, some space goes to padding, and there are lots of pads for you to build your dream case. (Thirteen, if you insist). In fact, I took out three pads to make room for my Sony FX3 handle. (This handle is a storage nightmare, and probably deserves a post of its own). The extra space also allowed for three thing hard cases with
- Nano claps, and mini-arms for mounting.
- My audio adapters kit: PL adapters, splitters, and short cables
- 1/4-20 accessories
Those three bags make it super easy to know where everything is on set. I don’t need to dig in too deeply or fiddle to get those small parts.
Orca OR-516 Storage and Compartments
On the outside you get:
- A padded external pocket for (up to) 17″ laptop
- 2 external pockets for a phone, passport, or other small docs.
- a top pocket with rubber slots for memory cards and a cable to extend a USB battery to the outside of the bag.
On the inside
- There is another 17″ laptop sleeve on the lid, along with two zipped pouches for small accessories, cables, or papers.
- A nice spacious yellow padded compartment with 13 divider pads.
The two zipped pouches take the entire lid which makes it extremely efficient, but a bit messy for small items. I would love for the next version to split one of those units into two smaller pouches.
Or-516 Overall presentation
The bag feels incredibly durable and well made. In fact, it is on par with my previous Airport International which is still good after five years, hundreds of shoots, and dozens of flights. According to Orca, it is weather sealed, and I intend to test this the next winter. The wheels are very smooth and the zippers are fantastic. Especially noteworthy is the extendable handle that feels extremely sturdy and that will take a beating and survive. Unlike some of my other rollers, it has zero wobble.
As I mentioned before the material of the bag feels super strong, but it does come with a price. The smooth black surface attracts marks like a magnet. It got smears even before I took it out on the field, and after being on a few productions it is no longer black, heh. It does not seem like anything functional is damaged; It’s just the looks that are a bit off. Both the Think Tank Airport International and the Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader are made from different fabrics that don’t get dirty so fast.
The back of the case has two plastic knobs that are designed to lift the case above ground level so the back is “not touching”. Still, I find myself wondering if the floor is clean before I put the bag down. I think I’ll get over this feeling soon. One thing that would have helped is adding two internal straps that keep the case’s lid from opening all the way through.
Let’s start with the fact that carrybility is not actually a word. That said, I am going to use this to describe how the bag moves around.
When the bag is totally empty, it weighs around five kilos and some change. This is a lot for an empty bag. I get it that fine padding, nice zippers, and sturdy construction all have their toll on the weight of the bag, but it is still not a light bag. Of course, no one really cares as long as you tow the bag as a trolly. Between the smooth wheels and the perfect balance, it rolls like butter.
The weight does come into play when we look at the back systems. Yes, the bag has a set of straps that you can expose and use as a backpack. But for me, with two Sony FX3 bodies, three lenses, two monitors, Seven batteries, and some other bits and peace, I get a 21 kilos bag. This is not something that I want to carry on my back. If your gear weighs less, you’ll find the back system pretty convenient.
The Or-516 has a few note-worthy features. Some are standard, and some are unique, but you should be aware of them because they will make your life easier.
- Tripod strap – as with many rolling cases. the Or-516 comes with a velcro strap for attaching a tripod on the side. This makes carrying a tripod on location super easy.
- External USB connection. The top of the bag features a USB socket. The other side of it goes inside the case and connects to a USB battery (say the huge Tether Tools ONsite power bank). Now you can charge your devices off the case without having power banks all over the place.
- Memory card storage – the small pocket keeps your memory cards accessible and ordered in a bunch of small pockets. I prefer my hard box, but if you only use a few cards, you’ll appreciate the ease of access.
What goes inside one Orca Or-516:
As promised, here is everything that packs inside the 516:
What can I say, I am a sucker for good roller photography cases. And the Orca Or-516 is one of the best I have used so far. If you need a big case that can go on a plane with plenty of space and features but don’t mind a few dust marks, for $323 this is a bag for you!