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Do any of you have good schemes for storing photo equipment at home?

I'd like to have one canonical place for everything to live, ideally in some kind of squarish container that fit on a shelf or in a closet, perhaps with several sizes of drawers. Big things like tripods could live independently nearby and wouldn't need to go inside. Can one purchase something like this?

Right now, it's all just in one or two boxes or drawers, which I don't like because the small stuff gets lost among the bigger stuff and it's hard to quickly find what I want.

FWIW, I currently have 7 or 8 lenses, two bodies, three small camera bags (body + 1 lens), several bag straps, some filters, memory cards, and a variety of other small accessories (and maybe other stuff I've forgotten).

I think what I'm looking for is some kind of contraption with small drawers for small things and big drawers for bigger things. The stuff wouldn't need padding or anything like that - this is for static, non-transportable storage.


As my photographic equipment is getting bigger (new lenses, new addons, new bodies) I think I need a better storing solution. Currently I just keep all my stuff in a desk drawer.

How do you store your cameras and lenses? Just to clarify, I don't mean storing it for a long time, I mean when you just stop using the camera for the day (or week).

Bags? Boxes? Bigger desk drawers?

(asked by Andres)

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Does haphazard count as a scheme? :) –  John Cavan Oct 4 '10 at 2:28
2  
@John, it does, and so far I'm quite good at it. However, I'm not sure it meets the "good" criterion. :) –  Reid Oct 4 '10 at 3:14

11 Answers 11

up vote 3 down vote accepted

For a less haphazard answer... ;)

If you have access to an Ikea, you may want to look there for some workplace cabinets as there seems to be a few options that line up. I have the "Alex" unit, primarily for print storage, because it's narrow and very spacious for holding them flat. One of the "Micke" units may cover your need.

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the Micke is a winner. For reference, it has two large drawers and two small drawers. The interior of the drawers is 9 1/4" wide x 14 1/8" deep x 7 1/2" (large) or 4" (small) high. –  Reid Nov 4 '10 at 1:33
    
@Reid, cool. Ikea is handy for this sort of thing, I've discovered. :) –  John Cavan Nov 4 '10 at 3:02

Personally I have two bags that I keep all of my gear in(sans tripods/lighting). One large lowepro backpack and the lowepro passport sling. I have my sling bag ready to go with a body and 2-3 lenses with batteries, cards, and a flash. This is my versatile kit that I can grab and be covered for any fun family outing, or non paid gig quickly and not worry about what I do or don't have. If it is a bigger assignment or location shoot I'll grab my bigger backpack filled with the rest of my lenses, flash accessories, and other odds and ends. It also stores my on location laptop for transferring photos and checking image focus on site.

My gear either has to fit in my two backpacks, into the category of tripods or light stands, or I don't need it. I try to keep my extra camera gear that isn't needed at a shoot to a minimum. I have one small box that I keep old bodies in for sentimental value, but other then that, the rest of it gets sold before it is ready to be retired to a shelf or box beyond my 2 main gear bags.

You might be saying, yea but I have a ton of stuff and two bags isn't going to do it with my ever expanding collection. Take a look at this two video set of what professional wedding photographer Henry Chen takes on a 3 week trip to China. He goes into in depth detail about every piece of equipment, and you can see how he can fit it all into two bags and literally have everything you would need.

Henry Chen - What's In My Bag 1 & 2

If you are serious about equipment protection, since that was one of the tags you used in the question, I would recommend checking out Pellican cases. You can run them over with Humvee's or throw them in a river and not have any problems.

Your question seems to allude to the fact that you are looking for a piece of furniture or a fixture in your house to store your gear in. For me at least, I do very little photography at my house, so I want my gear in bags ready to go as soon as I see an opportunity. It is for that reason that I try to limit the amount of gear I own to what can fit into two portable bags. It keeps me in the field and not at home trying to organize and store it all.

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1  
Seems that an always-ready backpack is the main solution to this. –  Andres May 31 '11 at 0:29
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@Andres - Unless you just do in house still life or portrait work, or you live at your studio then absolutely! –  dpollitt May 31 '11 at 0:41

I put my gear that I always use into my Kata 3n1. Stuff that I do not use that often is stored in drawers. The drawers have boxes and compartments so my lenses, filters and so on do not roll around and get messed up while opening and closing the drawer. That way my bag is always ready and not overpacked, in the case I need something specific, I just take it from the drawer and put it the bag. I find it more convenient to store my gear in drawers or shelves than have multiple bags, since I can use my bag more versatile. But I am a hobbyist, so this may not be a proper advice in any case.

I recently had a similar question in mind, but more concerning storage than packaging. Since this thread is about storing the equipment, if I might be so bold, I just ask it along with my answer. I currently store my gear in a mansard which is above my flat in the attic and that I use as workroom too (Computer, NAS, and so on). In summertimes temperature may climb above 30°C/86°F and stay there for multiple days (and nights). I am concerned that plastic and rubber may become brittle and break, as-well as the sensor of the camera or other (lens-/filter-)coatings my suffer. So I am wondering if these temperatures may damage my gear and which environments are best to store photo gear?

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30ºC is in the normal working temperature span for a camera, but I really don't know if that temperature sustained through days could cause damage. Maybe you should ask it in a new question. –  Andres May 31 '11 at 14:13
    
Thank you Andres, you are probably right. I am going to start a new question. –  el_migu_el May 31 '11 at 19:41

I've several bags and hard cases. 1 bag is always packed for the road, another as a ready spare (can be rapidly repacked if needed, different model with different capacity for when I've different needs).
Things I use less frequently are kept in bag #3 in a dry closet, which also contains a hard case with equipment rarely used and kept either because of potential use sometimes or because it has by now no resale value (like my old F80).

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I store my current gear (body, 4 lenses and a flash) in a KATA 3N1-33. This is my take-on bag. My older gear is stored in the even-bigger Norazza ApeCase Pro 2000.

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The most important thing in storage is moisture control. That's how fungus grows.

I grabbed some thin rechargeable Silica Gel canisters(orange/green is the non-toxic kind) that can be recharged to put in my camera bags on long trips. Usually I just leave them in my cabinets along with all the silica gels from shipping that I've acquired. I open those bags, put them in a tin can w/ holes, and recharge them along with the indicating ones.

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Excellent advice! Never thought about it! –  Andres May 31 '11 at 14:09

Note that you asked how the gear is packed not how we like it to be packed ;)

Presently each camera is in its own bag with a few lenses. My most used gear stays in my most used bag 90% of the time. That is one DSLR, 5 lenses, plus field accessories (batteries, memory, WB card, remote, etc but not chargers and cables). Each tripod is in its own tripod bag.

As others have pointed out, it is a good idea to have something ready to go. Unfortunately, that means I spend a whole lot of time shuffling depending what I predict the shoot will need. The annoying part is that I have to shuffle from one bag to another one just because I have no other safe place to leave my gear.

For the future, I've had my eye on two closed closet-units from Ikea with locking doors and I would keep my photo equipment there. I never use open shelves because of dust and kids. That way, I would choose the equipment I need and a bag where it fits and put things together as needed, thus avoiding shuffling that I find annoying.

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My camera and a few of my current favorite lenses are always in my bag, ready to go, along with spare battery, memory cards, and a few other odds and ends I may need. My other lenses, flash, props, and other accessories are kept in clear plastic storage containers. The containers keep the dust and pets away, yet I can still see what's in them when I'm searching for that specialty lens or some other occasionally-used accessory.

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I store my camera and all my lenses in by LowePro Primus AW backpack ready to go. If I get a chance to go out and shoot I don't want to waste time getting gear together so the bag is always packed, batteries charged, cards emptied and I regularly clean the gear too.

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+1, I leave my most versatile set of kit packed in a backpack. Don't know when I'll need it next! –  ChrisFletcher May 30 '11 at 20:51
    
+1, nice solution! –  Andres May 30 '11 at 20:57
    
"Grab and go": very good advice. –  Craig Walker May 31 '11 at 2:29

There is no right or wrong way. Chase Jarvis made this YouTube video about how he does it.

I use shelving from Home Depot. They have less expensive shelf units. On the shelves, I have plastic bins like this. The idea behind the bins is to organize as much as to keep dust off.

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+1 for using plastic bins, al tough I don't like the idea of leaving my equipment shelves. I have a very active dog... :F –  Andres May 30 '11 at 19:24
    
Yeah, the household pet concern got us too, but I've never had a problem. Ok, I haven't had a problem so far :) –  Steve Ross May 30 '11 at 19:27
    
So far... hahaha –  Andres May 30 '11 at 20:58

I would look into getting standard snap-lid containers, then lining them with foam and adding desiccant packets at the bottom to keep things dry, which will reduce the risk of fungus.

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Hmm, "big tubs full of stuff" is kind of what I'm trying to get away from. Foam would help but I don't think this is the answer. I edited the question to (hopefully) clarify. Thanks anyway! –  Reid Oct 4 '10 at 3:12
    
They also make thin tubs and clear drawers... –  chills42 Oct 4 '10 at 3:14
    
Is something like this more what you are looking for? staples.com/Iris-5-Drawer-Organizer/… Sort of like a tool chest for camera equipment? –  Sean Oct 4 '10 at 3:30
    
+1, @Reid, this is the solution I chose. Advantages: the containers are dust tight; you can see their contents at glance; flexible since you can arrange them in any way you want and you can use them in different size combinations. –  labnut Mar 19 '11 at 12:02

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