When shooting outdoors, it’s often difficult for me to view images on my camera’s LCD screen and check focus, especially when it’s bright and sunny outside. For personal work this isn’t too much of an issue (the autofocus technology on today’s cameras is very reliable) but for commercial work - although I’ll always pitch to shoot at dusk/dawn or in late afternoon light - a brief often dictates the need to shoot all day and it’s imperative an Art Director and I can see the LCD screen, even at high noon, so we can check composition and ensure critical focus.
On really sunny days, I’ll make use of a Hoodman loupe, a lightweight device which fits over my LCD screen and shields it from the sun so we can see my images. It works perfectly but I find it tricky to simultaneously hold the camera, play back the images and zoom in whilst using the loupe.
The iWorkCase is an on-location workstation specifically designed for Apple Macbooks. I believe it’s an ideal solution for outdoor photographers on commercial advertising shoots and for portrait and architectural photographers and others who have a need to shoot outside the studio and check capture on location.
I’d first seen the iWorkCase in YouTube footage posted by US photographer Joey Lawrence. It was in the background of a ‘behind the scenes’ video Joey had posted of an environmental portrait session he had with US actor Michael K Williams. After a bit of research on Google, I worked out what the product was and I sent the manufacturer an email.
iWorkCase is the brainchild of Daniel and Immanuel Maeir from Germany. The principal parts of their iWorkCase location workstation are simple. Included in the price is a waterproof and shock-resistant laptop case (which Immanuel confirmed as a Pelican 1490), a firm, pre-cut foam inlay matched to the dimensions of your Macbook (I purchased an iWorkCase 2 Retina / Special Edition for a 2013 Macbook Pro but you can buy other inlays to suit your model of laptop - also available are 15" and 17" Macbook versions), a foldable screen to shield your screen from the sun, a thick cloth that enables you to completely block out the light, a piece of plastic that lifts your computer off the foam unit to aid the circulation of air and an external coupling plate that accepts traditional screw-in or Arca-Swiss tripod attachments. There’s also an additional, optional iWorkTablet attachment (not for iPads, which I first thought, but for using a mouse or Wacom tablet) and Hyperjuice 1.5 150 or 1.5 220 batteries for working as long as possible.
(What’s not included in the iWorkCase is the means to transfer images from your camera to your laptop. After some research, I opted for a Camranger wireless transmitter device to send images wirelessly to my Macbook and a Tethertools USB cable as a backup).
What I like about the iWorkCase
I really like the ability to see and share images on a big screen immediately after I’ve shot them. I also love being able to take my laptop out in the field in a super protective, waterproof case. These advantages however are the forte of the CamRanger wireless transmitter and the case manufacturer, Pelican, rather than the iWorkCase itself.
What Daniel and Immanuel have done is build on the above and designed a really fast, simple way for a photographer or digital technician to set up a laptop for tethered shooting on location. The parts they’ve chosen are top quality materials, they’re simple and they work well - the foam inlay and accessories (purchased separately) are situated underneath the laptop and the sunshield unit and black cloth sit on top. The sunshield especially fits quickly and securely and you’re ready to start shooting in minutes. Neat touches like the feet on the case for using it without a tripod, the velcro attachment for the cloth (and the air circulator) and the air circulator itself show that they’ve thought about the product in use and it appears they’ve designed it (and updated it after feedback) for optimal use.
What I’d like to see improved
Comfort - The carrying strap provided with the iWorkCase isn’t very padded and I found it uncomfortable after a period of time. I use a spare strap from a Lowepro Toploader AW75 camera bag.
Space - I’d prefer to be able to store more items underneath the laptop (e.g. tethering cable) so all the technology I needed for on-location photography was in one place. The iWorkCase 2 workstation has pre-cut space to accommodate a few memory cards, a Hyperjuice MBP 1.5 150 or 1.5 222 battery, a CF card reader and up to three portable hard drives, depending on size (definitely not three WD ones). If I choose not to take a battery, the CamRanger does fit in, as does a tether cable, but it’s a very neat fit and I’m wary about damaging the laptop when I close the case (something the manufacturer warns against). There’s also a risk I’d run out of power plus there would be less foam and therefore less protection for my laptop. It’s not a great hardship for me to carry the additional tethering items separately
Inovativ Digicase Pro - And excellent looking product originally based around a Pelican 1510 but now uses an SKB case. Includes a full-size plate and clamps for securely attaching your laptop inside the case
Inovativ Digicase Lite - A lighter weight version of the Digicase Pro using a t-shaped plate that supports your laptop and what looks like a Pelican 1490-sized briefcase
Lighter weight options - All the options above are fairly heavy and not always appropriate for shoots far from the beaten track. If I do have a need to view images on a separate device on location and I want to travel lightweight, there’s the option to take just the black cloth from the iWorkCase plus the CamRanger and carry my laptop in my backpack. I could also share images from my camera to an Art Director’s iPad or iPhone with the CamRanger and use the cloth to shield the screen. These solutions aren’t always ideal, but they do work.