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The following is a review of the Nikon Soft Case model CL-L2 that ships with the
Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G AF-S VR ED-IF Super Telephoto Zoom Lens

Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G AF-S VR ED-IF
The CL-L2 is a well made case sporting the Nikon Logo on the front flap. It is approximately
20"H x 10"W x 9"D. It feels small given the size of the gear stored inside. Indeed compared to similar bags from
Kinesis, LowePro, Tenba and ThinkTank Photo, the CL-L2 is slightly larger than the ThinkTank Photo Glass Taxi
but smaller than the Kinesis L511 (w/ body attached), the Tenba LL400 or the LowePro Lens Trekker 600.


Click on the Thumbnail above to visit the Nikon Product Page

Below are some images of the case with comments on the various features.
Click on the images for a larger version..

Nikon Soft Case CL-L2
CL-L2 200-400mm f/4 + 2DXsHere you can see the case open with the 200-400mm f/4 with D23Xs attached alongside. On the left, the lens collar wraps around the thinner rear portion of the lens body to prevent the lens from wobbling during transport without a body attached. Once you remove the inner upper shell, this collar can be used to provide some protection around the neck of the lens.   Main compartment with Collar Insert in placeMain compartment with upper shell Insert in place. Notice the excellent padding and cushion mass. The outer surface is lined with a hard plastic sheet to protect against puncture and blunt strikes
CL-L2 Lens With Body Attached and Upper Insert InstalledHere we see that with the upper insert installed, the case will not accommodate full size PRO dSLR attached to the lens. One must remove this insert to make the camera+lens combination fit inside. More on this below.   Upper Protective Insert RemovedIn this image, I have removed the upper section protective insert. This removes considerable protection and cushioning. The case outer walls are not heavily padded and have no puncture protection. You can now see a nylon strap with velcro closure in the rear of the case. This holds your lens in place during transport.
Closeup of upper section.Here is a close up look at the interior of the case with the upper protective insert removed. It now looks very spacious. At the bottom you see another padded collar into which the lens hood drops into for a snug fit. This particular collar will accept an HK-30 Hood attached to a lens such as the 300mm f/2.8G AF-S VR or a 200-400mm f/4G AF-S VR. You can also see the rear central strap to hold a lens in place.   Another view of the spacious interior (once you remove the heavily padded upper insert) Nikon did not cut corners with the design or finish and quality that went into this case. All materials are top notch and the workmanship is superb. All stitches and hardware looks very durable and up to heavy use. The padding is adequate on the outside shell of the case but Nikon more than makes up for it with thick, closed cell collars and inserts lined with a hard plastic shell to protect from blunt impact and/or puncture.
The lens plus camera combo inside the case. This time the body goes in fully. The top of the bag front flap/entry port tapers to a point in the upper central portion of the case. This makes it seem that the camera is not all the way inside. Depending on how you look at it, the front flap will close around the protruding part of the body. The lens collar strap is shown in place serving duty holding the contents steady while transporting the package.   Another angle from slightly above showing how the camera sits in the bag. Note how the zipper wraps around the top of the case.
Here we see the front flap half way up showing a snug fit for a D2Xs camera attached to a 200-400m f/4 lens.   Now the case is fully closed. Next to the case you see the upper section insert.
Right Side ViewRight Side View. One mesh pocket which can easily store lens caps and body caps, filters, lens cleaner, and even a TC in a pinch (although I wouldn't recommend it). There are also two strap anchors to attach saddle bags for lens cases or flash or accessories. You can see the rear strap and upper handle.   Front ViewFront Side View. The Front Flap zipper is sewn in a curved pattern I assume for cosmetic reasons. The bag has very pleasing lines. The Nikon Logo is embroidered on the front upper section of the flap.
Left Side ViewLeft Side View. Another mesh pocket is found on this side as well. Same as the other side. Here, the strap anchors come with one strap each to secure a tripod or a monopod in place. The bag does not provide a bottom rest to hold the vertical weight of the Tri/Monopod. This means you have to really cinch the straps on the supporting device in order to keep it in place during transport. If your tripod has large knobs on the leg sections, it will be easier to secure than a smooth carbon fiber monopod the likes of Gitzo with clean lines and nothing protruding to catch one of the straps on.   Rear ViewRear View. There is a Business Card Holder behind a clear plastic window at the bottom of the rear of the bag. All stitches on the strap and upper handle is of top quality and looks strong and durable. The Strap, while thin, is sturdy enough to carry the 200-400mm f/4G with a D2Xs attached. It has a very sticky rubbery material on the underside that will not slip at all. Actually, it is very difficult to take it on and off by simply sliding it off your shoulder. You must pick up the strap and make sure it is not touching any of your clothes or it will stick. This is a welcome feature and very useful considering the expense of the contents inside.
Upper Section Insert and Glass Filter PuchUpper section insert and Front Glass Protective filter case. As stated before, this insert is lined on the inside with supple closed cell foam wrapped in soft terry-like cloth. The outer layer is protected by a hard plastic liner and a rip-stop nylon cover. Velcro strips hold it in place inside the CL-L2. The front element case or pouch is empty as the front element comes attached to the front of the 200-400mm f/4G. It is constructed of high quality rip stop nylon and stitching is top quality. The zippers are also of top quality and will last a long time even under heavy use. However this case is likely to see little use throughout its life.   Upper Section Insert and Front Element Filter CaseAnother view of the Upper Section insert and Front Element Glass filter case.

The CL-L2 is a very well made carrying case for the 200-400mm f/4 and various other long fast lenses in the Nikon Telephoto line of lenses. The case can also be used
for any other lens of similar dimensions. Its construction is as good and in some cases better than similar products from LowePro, Kinesis, Tenba and ThinkTank Photo.

I highly recommend it if you are considering a case for your telephoto lens.

All Images © Manny Gonzalez

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