How do you bring a 4x5 around? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

A question to those who travel around with a field camera - how do you do it?

1. What backpack/bag do you use? I am thinking of the Lowepro Omnipro Trekker which is rectangular that I may put into the Extreme case or depending how much, in a Thermodyne slim-line case ( The other option would be an F64 backpack that may or not fit in these hard cases. Any opinions/advice on this?

2. I intend to check-in the camera bag loaded in the hard case at airports. I'm not so sure either how insurance works on expensive baggage because I've never travelled and checked-in expensive baggage.

3. Sometimes I will be forced to leave the bag containing my camera in my car's trunk or hotel room. I recall seeing somewhere a portable motion sensor with alarm that one can latch onto bags, etc. Does anyone know where I can get one of these?

-- Carlos Co (, January 31, 1999


1.) I use use everything from a generic large "daypack" to a huge Lightware BP1420 backpack to a Domke J1 or J2 shoulder bag. For airline travel I prefer to use the Lightware cases. In my Domke shoulder bag, which I can carry on board I carry a Canham DLC, 65, 90, 150, 210 & 300mm lenses (mounted on Linhof Technikardan style boards, each lens in a Zing bag, each lens with its own cable release,) Toyo 3.3x & Scneider 4x loupes, a Polaroid 405 back, a Horseman 6x9cm back, a couple of levels. A Minolta Spot F meter, lens tissue, & two metal lens shades, and an extra cable release and about ten rolls of film, and a Darkroom Innovations darkhood. I like to carry that aboard and check the BP 1420 loaded with the 4x5 backs (a Polaroid 545i and a Fuji QuickLoad holder), the day pack and clothes filters, etc. The BP1420 is too big to carryon.

2.) Check with your insurance. If you are not a pro you are probably covered. If you are a professional you'll need professional insurance through ASMP or another such organization. Also doesn't American Express offer some kind of insurance if you buy a ticket with their card? Another alternative is to ship your gear or film via Fed Ex to your destination.

3.) Try Sharper Image or Radio Shack. A bicycle cable lock is not a bad idea either. Anything to slow the S.O.B.s down.

-- Ellis (, January 31, 1999.

For the lock/alarm thing, you can get them at computer stores for putting on laptops. I have one, but I've never actually bothered using it.

Also, check out this useful Aussie gizmo:

You can get them at REI in the US.

I'm thinking of getting one for my upcomoming trip to Honduras. Won't stop a determined thief, but might prevent it disappearing when you look the other way somewhere?

Tim A

-- Tim Atherton (, February 01, 1999.

I would feel better when they make an electrified version of this pack protector. There exists a steering wheel lock for cars that has a

motion detector that activates an alarm and then electrifies the device so the thief can't touch it. I'm pretty sure a combined security device like this will be very effective and probably sell quite well.

-- Carlos Co (, February 02, 1999.

Carrying a 4x5

I use an Outpack (domke)backpack for my system. It holds the folded field camera, two lenses, ten film holders, several filters, a light meter, polaroid back and film, dark cloth, and several other odds and ends. The harness zips into a protective cover. The pack is a bit short for me, but I'm taller than average. The f64 is a nice product, but also more expensive and larger than the outpack-- I'm not sure it will qualify as carry-on luggage, for example.

Most airlines will lilmit their liability for lost or damaged luggage, regardless of its value or contents. I carry the pack as carry-on luggage; the Outpack is (slightly) smaller than the mandated size limits for US airlines. It is also worth your while to make sure your equipment is insured, especially if you check the equipment. Check with the insurance company to make sure your policy covers loss away from your home or business. Taking the camera as carry-on luggage is not as convenient, but I can keep control of it and its handling during my trip. The Outpack has a detachable handle to allow it to be carried like a suitcase.

The places listed in the other messages are good sources for a motion sensor; you might also try a store that carries a good variety of luggage and travel accessories.

-- John Morris (, February 03, 1999.

I always prefer "hard shell" camera cases but I always pack the one that I am carrying in a very shoddy looking canvas bag that I bought at a thrift store for $1.25. This bag is so butt-ugly a dog wouldn't even take a second look at it. I usually pack a small blanket around my hard cases, so the outer bag looks like it full of clothes. I have carried my cameras around like this for ten years and never had a problem losing any one of them. I even got mugged once and the theives didn't even take a second look at the bag. I did lose my coat and my watch and my empty wallet, but they didn't even think to look at my bag. Since then I have been in the habit of "seriously dressing down" when I am going into an unfamillar place, and this seems to work well. As far as leaving my cameras anywhere (trunk, hotel, trailer park, dive bar, Carnigie Hall etc.) "I don't." I've seen too many of my friends lose their gear. Insurance helps and I reccommend it, but it sure won't cover the head-ache caused by losing the equipment.

-- Jon Steven Adams (, February 04, 1999.

I have owned two Lowe Pro backpacks for my Bronica and thought I would want another Lowe Pro for my Calumet 4X5, until I read this website. I looked at another Lowe Pro, the Domke Outpack, the F64 pack, Tamrac and the Tenba PBL 253. I went to a number of different camera stores before I found a Tenba PBL 253 that was recommended on this website. The Lowe Pro Photo Trekker was smaller and cost more than the Tenba. The F64, Tamrac and the Domke seemed flimsy and not made that rugged. The Tenba was made well, had LOTS of room, felt comfortable and cost less than the other packs. I bought the optional side pokets to put water bottles and extra clothing in. I have enough room for my 4X5 camera, Nikkor 90mm and 210mm lenses (enough room for another two lenses), a spot meter, eight holders, a polaroid back, a 6X7 roll film back, a loupe, a small bottle of dust off and a dark cloth. I bought mine from Adorama in NY. I always thought I would only buy Lowe Pro packs, because of my past experience with them, until I saw the Tenba packs. Now I would look at a Tenba pack first. Tenba makes a larger pack called a PBA that is made to meet airline carry on luggage size restrictions. The pack can fit under an airline seat or in the overhead compartment. The PBA is HUGE. I always carry on all of my camera equipment on the airplane with me. The Lowe Pro packs and the Tenba pack that I own all fit in the overhead compartments. I would NEVER check MY camera equipment in at any airlines. Who knows what will happen to it once it leaves your sight? I have never had any problem with leaving my camera equipment in a car or a hotel room. Just don't leave it out where someone you don't want to see it, can see to it. I always leave the camera in the trunk of my rental car, not inside the car. Having your camera in a backpack makes people think that all you have in the backpack is camping equipment. This is why I prefer to keep may camera in a backpack rather than a camera bag. The portable motion sensor does not seem like such a bad idea, if you can find it. I have a floater on my home insurance to cover my camera equipment. When I rented an apartment, I also had a floater on my equipment.

-- Louis (, February 06, 1999.

Everyone has their own personal preferences for travelling with camera, lenses and accessories. Here is my "system" for what it's worth. Maybe you will find some of my methods useful. I live in Europe and travel extensively by plane. I pack my folding 4x5 field camera, four lenses, two spot meters and miscellaneous breakable accessories in a common canvas duck carry-on bag. Not only does it not look like a camera bag (thus discouraging theives) but I can usually fit a shaving kit etc. in as well. I then check a medium-sized rolling hard-shell suitcase that I have lined with high-density foam rubber with all of the less fragile equipment. I usually carry 30 to 50 film holders, filters, Readyload holder, lens shades etc., etc. in this bag. Again, it looks like a normal suitcase and doesn't advertise that there is photographic equipment inside. I have never had any damage despite the airline baggage handling gorillas. I also pack a few boxes of film in the checked bag as well (it usually only gets X-rayed once per trip, regardless of conections and layovers, and a carry-on gets zapped every time you go through airport security). Any developed negatives go with me in my carry-on. Undeveloped, exposed negs go into an empty film box and into my jacket pocket. I can usually carry them through the metal detector without having to send them through the X-ray machine (after thoroughly emtying my pockets of metal objects so I won't be patted down after setting of the detector!) I've been doing this for 10 years and have never had a streaked neg. On the road in the car I keep camera, holders, film, etc. in a big white Igloo cooler that I have modified a bit so that I can padlock it shut and chain it into the vehicle (I have an SUV w/o trunk). The reason for this setup is twofold: 1. It keeps the camera and film cool in hot weather. 2. It looks like somebody's picnic at first glance and not like its full of expensive gear and it's chained in and locked just in case there are any hungry robbers out there. The cooler has wheels and a handle and comes with me into hotel rooms where I then chain and lock it to something secure or too conspicuous to drag around attached to a big white cooler with a chain. So far, I haven't lost anything Hope this helps relieve the "travel with large format" headache a bit. All the best. ;^D>

-- Doremus Scudder (, March 05, 1999.

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