Kinesis — Long Lens Case Info Page
The Kinesis L-Series cases are for super telephoto DSLR lenses 300/2.8 and larger. We offer the largest variety of long lens cases of any manufacturer. These cases fit lenses such as 200/2, 200-400/4, 300/2.8, 500/4 & 600/4 with a body attached. For cases without a body attached, see our E-Series pouches.
Long Lens Nomenclature (L311, L522 etc.)
L = Long lens case or a case for a long lens with a body attached, as opposed to E-series pouches which are for smaller lenses w/o a body attached.
The second character (3, 5 or 6, e.g. L522) represent the relative height of the case. The 3 is for 300s, the 5 for 500s and the 6 for 600mm lenses.
The third character represents the diameter of the case. L311 or L511 cases are our smaller "1-series or compact" long lens cases. L321, L522, L526 or L622 are our larger or "2 series or stiffer PolyCore" long lens cases.
The last character represents the version number of that case.
We have probably the largest selection of cases for super tele lenses available anywhere. Because of this, it can be confusing to pick a case, but in the end it allows a more custom fit for your gear. Selecting the correct long lens case depends on whether or not you intend to carry the lens with a body attached or carry the body separately. All of our cases are designed to fit the lens with the hood attached (& usually reversed) with the leatherette cap and tripod foot in place. We only attempt to track the sizes of the two mainstream brands...Canon and Nikon. Sometimes specifications are posted for after-market brands, but that is only when we receive reports from customers. Manufacturers do NOT publish the specifications (lengths) for lens hoods mounted in the shooting position, so if you want that configuration, please make your own measurements and compare to the I.D. specs on our site. As a general rule, follow these guidelines:
E584 For Nikon 200-500/5.6 without a body attached
E660 For 300/2.8s without a body attached
E870 For 200/1.8s without a body attached
E976 For 500/4s, 200-400s without a body attached
L311 For 300/2.8s, 200/2s or 400/4 DOs with a body attached
L511 For 500/4s or 200-400s with a body attached
L321 For a 400/2.8 without a body attached
L522 Designed for 400/2.8s, 800/5.6s & most 600/4s with a body attached. and the hood stowed.
L611 For a 500/4 or 200-400/4 with a DSLR attached and the hood extended.
L622 For a 600/4 with the hood extended & no body attached or 500/4s with the hood extended and a body attached. Also for Sigma 800/5.6 EX or 300-800/5.6 lenses (hood reversed) with body attached. Please note that the L622 is too large as an airline carry-on bag.
To double-check your lens specs, measure from the end of the lens (with the leatherette hood over the end) to the back of the camera body. Check this against the I.D. (inside dimension) height of the case. There is about 1cm (3/8") of fudge factor in the lid of the L321, L522 or L622 cases. The I.D. diameter is the largest circular (front element) size that will comfortably fit in the case. The problem with some long lenses (esp. Nikkors) is that the tripod mounting foot projects out further than the front element. Viewing the lens directly from above or using a flexible (seamstress style) measuring tape may help provide an estimate on the overall diameter.
Lenses not listed (like Sigma, Pentax or brands): We primarily track the sizes for the two mainstream manufacturers — Canon and Nikon. To determine the size for other brands, use the height measurement methods above.
Two Fabrication Designs
“PolyCoreTM” Long Lens Cases
- For 400/2.8 & 600/4s (but will also holder smaller lenses) which includes the L321, L522 and L622.
- Semi-rigid PolyCore™ side walls and rigid 19mm PolyCore base. PolyCore™ lens cases are heavier than our LightWeight or Compact versions, but they offer protection unmatched by any other long lens shoulder bag.
- The lid opens to the back or front and is removable & interchangeable.
“Compact” Long Lens Cases
- Lightweight and more compact than other Kinesis long lens cases. The three models are the L311, L511 and L611.
Designed for 200/1.8, 300/2.8, 200-400/4 & 500/4 lenses with or w/o body attached.
- These are a soft-side case with protection equal to other shoulder bags on the market (1/2" / 12mm) high-density foam side walls and 13mm PolyCore base.
- All models include a Y515 shoulder strap for carrying across the chest on one shoulder.
- Exterior pocket choices…
- Standard with Body Pouch, A257 pouch. Large enough for a pro-sized SLR with a neck strap attached. Detachable.
- No Pouch. No A257 pouch. Deduct $43 from the standard price.
- M330 instead of the A257. The M330 Small Multi-Pouch is more versatile and is slightly larger than A257. Add $26 to the standard price.
Four Carry Methods & Backpack Conversion
1. Carry at your side with sewn-in hand-grab strap.
2. Wear over a shoulder and across the chest with the provided Y515 Padded Shoulder Strap.
3. Any L-series case can be converted to a backpack by attaching an optional Backpack Harness (H255 harness, supplemented with the freebie H130 compression strap) directly to the case. The E976 lens pouch can also be upgraded in a similar fashion.
Although a padded waist belt is not required, it is recommended for more stability. Some customers have complained that the bottom edge of the case digs into their back when a belt is not used, so we typically recommend one when a harness is attached. As a rule, the standard-weight Kinesis Black Belt (B108, B109 etc.) is adequate when attached to long lens case. The heavy-duty belts (B307, B308 etc.) are primarily designed for use with the Heavy-duty Pack Frames or when carrying a heavy "waist belt only" load around your waist.
Visit this link for additional information on how to attach a harness and waist belt to a long lens case.
If you want to carry a big tripod (especially with a Wimberly attached), consider using the P019 Heavy-duty Pack Frame instead. This allows you to attach a tripod next to the long lens case, instead of on the rear of the case (which tends to pull away from you as the weight gets too far “out there,”) providing a more stable load. The P019 suspension is more adjustable and comfortable than attaching a harness directly to the long lens case...but beware this is large frame and may be unwieldy for shorter-than-average shooters.
Directions on how to attach a harness or belt to a long lens case or backpack are linked to our “How To” page.
4. Attach to a Kinesis internal frame pack frame. For short hikes and smaller tripods carry method #3 is perfect. For longer all-day excursions and/or when you wish to carry a heavy tripod then the Kinesis pack frame is preferable. The long lens case can be carried on the left two thirds of the pack frame and the tripod on the right third providing a "near even" weight distribution and balance.
Adding Tripods & Accessories
We don’t keep track of specs on all tripod models and sizes, but following guidelines for carrying a tripod or monopod apply to any Kinesis long lens case. See photos below.
- A very small tripod or monopod can be attached to the side of a long lens case with the sewn-in side strap and side pocket.
- Larger tripods can be attached down the middle of the case. Remove the center-mounted A257 Body Pouch (if you had one). Add on a T164 Tripod Feet Pouch for mounting your tripod right-side-up (see #2 on this page on how to attach a T164 to a case). Or for tripods with heavier ballheads, it is more stable to mount the tripod up-side-down using the T317 Large Ballhead to Pack Pouch. Add a Y204 or Y205 strap to the top of the case to hold the feet and you’re good to go.
If you wish to mount a smaller tripod to the side of the long lens case (allowing the A257 body pouch to stay centered), then slide the bottom left Uniloop as shown on the photos below over toward the mesh pocket and attach either the T164 or T317 over the mesh pocket. The upper arrows indicate where a Y204 or Y205 strap can attach, when a tripod is mounted on the side of the case.
- For super-large tripods, mounting the tripod down the middle (rear) of the case is awkward. We recommend the optional (and rather tall & bulky) P019 Heavy-duty Pack Frame.
Piggy-back Modularity — A Kinesis Standard
On the sides of each case is a pair of nylon-corded pockets. It is large enough for a 1-liter water bottle or a 70-200 lens (careful, it is not padded) or for one or two feet of a small tripod. Included with each case is a removable, padded pouch (A257) suitable for a DSLR body or a Wimberly Side-kick. When traveling by air, this pocket may be removed for easier overhead luggage storage. Additional Kinesis pouches (E165, E280, M330, A126 are good choices) can be attached to the exterior of the cases. The webbing on the outside of these cases also serves as an attachment point for most Lowepro Street & Field pouches. Now you can mix and match!
The flat part rests comfortably against your side or mounts as a backpack. The curved or flexed "D" part of the case provides rigidity unlike a flat substrate (i.e. like the curve of Hoover dam).
The bottom of the L321, L522 & L622 cases have a thick 13mm layer of rigid PolyCore™ base, supplemented by an extra layer of 6mm foam (providing a total of 19mm [3/4"] of padding). These L321, L522 and L622 cases also have a 13mm PolyCore on the sides providing a semi-rigid container. The L311 & L511 cases have a 13mm Polycore base and 12mm closed cell foam foam for the sidewalls (this is similar to other brands of long lens cases). This foam is more flexible than the PolyCore found on the L321, L522 & L622.
Weatherproof Lid Design
PolyCore and LightWeight models have lids which attach with Velcro® and three quick-release buckles and can be opened in the regular or reverse mode. Generous lid overlapping for maximum weather protection. The Compact models have a overlapping lid design.
The underside of the lid has a zippered compartment. Because the PolyCore case lids are completely removable they are often used on Africa safaris with the lid removed and strapped behind the seat of the Range Rover. The camera and body are then ready to grab for fast breaking shots, yet still protected from the bumpy ride.
Don't take the Kitchen Sink!
Please note that our long lens cases are not a substitute for your Trekker or other large carry the “kitchen sink” system backpack (i.e. 1 long lens, 2 DSLR bodies, 5 smaller lenses, 2 teleconverters etc.). Our long lens cases will hold one long lens plus two to three smaller lenses. Our cases are a more streamlined approach for those looking to carry minimal gear while actively shooting. Because the weight of a “complete system backpack” is such a burden to carry, they are often only used as storage containers.
Product update: We are transitioning from a solid nylon fabric pocket (as shown in most product photos) to a mesh pocket as shown above. As of late 2009, nearly all long lens cases feature this newer pocket.
300mm, 500mm, or 200-400mm Lens Case FAQ
Q: Which case is best for my 300/2.8 or 400/4 DO lens?
A: If you plan to carry the lens without a body, then the E660 is our first recommendation. If you want to carry the lens with a body attached, then we recommend the L311. The E976 will house a 300/2.8 or 400/4 with a small body attached. See the note at the bottom of the E976 page.
Q: Which case is best for my 200-400/4 or 500/4 lens?
A: If you plan to carry the lens without a body, then the E976 is our first recommendation. 200-400s and 500s will also fit in the slightly larger (diameter) L311 case.
If you want to carry the lens with a body attached and the hood reversed (stowed), then we recommend the L511. If you want to carry a 300/2.8, 500/4 or 200-400/4 with a body attached and the hood in the shooting position, then consider the L611.
Q: Why don't you recommend the L321 or L522 PolyCore cases for 300s or 500s?
A: The diameter of these cases is much larger than necessary to house a 300/2.8 or 500/4 lens. Including the lid (which protrudes out beyond the main case body), the 2-series cases are 40mm (1.5") larger in diameter than the L311/L511 cases.
The L321 was originally designed to house a 300/2.8 with a body attached or a 400/2.8 without a body. The L522 was designed to hold a 400/2.8 with a body attached and most 600/4s with a body.
Q: When would you recommend the L321, L522 or L622 cases for a 300mm, 200-400 or 500mm lens?
A: We recommend one of these cases when you want bomber protection for your lens, but are not worried about the extra bulk or weight of a PolyCore case. The L311 or L511 cases offer protection similar to other long lens cases like Tenba, Lowepro, Lightware etc. which typically have 12mm (1/2") closed cell foam wrapped with a nylon covering. Our PolyCore cases (L321, L522 or L622), on the other hand, offer more protection than the softer L311 or L511 “Compact Long Lens cases. The bottom edge (where the sidewall meets the bottom of the case), near the front element,, has overlapping rigid protection. The L311/L511 have a possible weakness of (or as in the outdoor industry when referring to sleeping bags) a “cold spot” along the bottom perimeter of the case.
Since our PolyCore cases have a larger diameter, a 300/2.8, 500/4 etc. will flop around in it, unless the L026 and/or L029 is recommended. If your lens case was dropped off a porch or shoved out the back of a car (or worse yet, checked as baggage on a flight), then you would want a PolyCore case. If you were careful and no such accident was expected, then a Compact Long Lens Case would be fine. If you choose a "2-series" case, then consider adding an insert, such as the L026 and/or L029 so the lens doesn't slide around so much inside the case.
400mm or 600mm Lens Case FAQ
A: If you plan to carry the lens without a body, then the L321 is our first recommendation.
If you want to carry the lens with a body attached, then we recommend the L522.
Some newer 400s with a body may just fit inside the L321 which is 41cm (16") tall I.D. -- measure your rig from the end of the lens cap to the back of the body and compare against the inside dimensions on our site. There is about 10mm (3/8") of fudge factor with the Velcro floating lids.
Q: Which case is best for my 600/4 lens with a body attached and the hood reversed?
A: Choose the L522. Double check your own camera/body combination however, some 600s may just barely fit inside the L522 without the slightly deeper L127 lid. Measure your rig from the end of the lens cap to the back of the body. It will definitely fit if the measurement is 55cm (21-5/8") or less. The Velcro/buckles on the standard flat lid do have some give up to about a half an inch.
Q: How do I turn my long lens case into a backpack?
A: Add a H245 or the larger H250 padded harness along with a H130 strap. The whole rig can be worn without a waist belt, but we recommend one as it provides additional stability. Some customers have complained that the bottom edge of the case digs into their back when a belt is not used, so we typically recommend one when a harness is attached. As a rule, the standard-weight Kinesis Black Belt (B108, B109 etc.) is adequate when attached to long lens case. The heavy-duty belts (B307, B308 etc.) are primarily designed for use with the Heavy-duty Pack Frames or when carrying a heavy "waist belt only" load around your waist.
Q: Will 400/2.8s or 600/s lenses fit inside your 1-series cases (L311 or L511)?
A: No, the diameter of these cases are too small for the front element. One customer reported (2005) that the following combination will fit inside the L511 case: Nikon 600/4 AF-S with the larger diameter hood piece removed and with a Moose Peterson lens cap & Kirk low-profile tripod foot.
Q: What if I'm shooting with a Nikon 600mm?
A: A 2-series cases (L521, L526 or L622) will not will not hold Nikon 600/4 AF-S or AF-S II lens unless a Wimberely adapter plate is used (#AP-652 or #AP-452, $79.00) in place of the OEM "very tall mounting foot" supplied by Nikon.
Carrying Two Long Lenses
This is not for everyone, but illustrate the flexibility in the Kinesis system.
Shown is a L511 and a L521 attached to a P019. Attach to the two togther with the strap from one case inserted into the cambuckle of the other. Do this on both sides and then wrap a Y205 around both of them (or perhaps two Y205s) and secure the Y205 to the edges of the P019.
Here is a top view of the P019 with a L511 and L521 attached. Take the top two lifter straps from the P019 and clip them to the webbing loops on the long lens cases as shown. Adjust so the bottoms of the long lens cases sit flush with the bottom of the P019.
L621 long lens case (replaced by the L622) & a C850 and an E280 attached to the P019 Pack Frame (a rather specialized application — not for everyone!). This technique would allow one to carry a 600/4 lens with a body attached (or the 400/2.8 with the hood in the shooting mode with a body attached) plus another SLR body with a 70-200/2.8 or 80-400 attached with the hood in the shooting position. A monopod or tripod is attached on the side. With a ballhead it carries better inverted for better weight distribution. The ballhead is stuffed inside an E280 for protection. Although not shown, we recommend a Heavy-duty Belt with such a load.