How do I get my 8X10 field camera and gear out into the field : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I acquired a Deardorff 8X10 camera, some lenses and related gear. I have made several trips out and about and worked close to my vehicle. I am having some difficulty figuring out the best way to pack the gear so I can get a mile or so away from my truck. The problem is not the weight it is the bulk. I have a 4-lens 4X5 system and have managed to get all I need into one backpack. Not so for the Deardorff. Some logistical enlightenment would be greatly appreciated.

-- Steve Barth (, February 27, 2000


What kind of terrain are you talking about? Lots of trees and bushes and undergrowth or what?

My approach has been to do something like this - case with holders, lenses, filters in left hand, camera, affixed securely to tripod with legs extended on right shoulder, right arm over tripod legs, darkcloth folded up and used as pad between shoulder and tripod head/camera. I believe Weston, Adams, and Morley Baer among others have used this approach. That might work for you with the lenses, holders, etc. in the pack on your back and the camera/tripod over which ever shoulder is comfortable.

But this is a function of where you're hiking too - the tripod could easily snag over-hanging branches, etc.

Gordon Hutchings does a variation of this with a shoulder bag, limiting himself to two lenses (one convertible) and 4 holders. You might try contacting Ron Wisner and ask him how he got his gear to the TOP of the Golden Gaste Bridge - Try Charles P. "Chuck" Farmer as well.

Another option is some manner of wheeled conveyance - a child's little red wagon, a peanut cart, a handtruck, etc. or maybe a llama

-- Sean yates (, February 27, 2000.

My answer after thinking about it a lot was the f64 BPX backpack. Not as well made as some, but totally designed with an 8 X 10 system in mind (unlike almost all others). There is a central area that accomadates the camera, room for holders and a compartment for lenses. Added benefit: take off the modular side packs and it is_regulation airline size_! I have taken my 8 X 10 to Italy, China, S Africa, etc in the last year and not had a problem. I've had one side modified so I can strap on my tripod. I'm no athlete, but I can carry the whole system this way comfortably for hours over most terrain (I'm not necessarily talking about scaling a mountainside here, but that's my limitation.) This would definitely be my choice, and happens also to be what Ron Wisner recommends. He sells them, but they are $75 cheaper from f64 themselves - I think you can find on-line. Don't listen to the people who tell you that 8 X 10 can't be portable -- it just ain't so! (And you don't have to be the Charles Atlas either).


-- Nathan Congdon (, February 27, 2000.

The Tenba PBH (H for Huge) is very convenient if you are not afraid of big loads. It has an upper compartment with removable soft case containing the camera and a few holders. There is plenty of space if you want to carry some food and water and a jacket in addition to all the photographic gear. You can have it on a Kelty Frame for long hikes, but the standard version is lighter and plenty for a few miles walks.

-- Paul Schilliger (, February 27, 2000.

Get a large frame backpack, the kind designed for serious hikers. I used to carry my 8x10 Deardorff, 2 lenses and 3 holders in such a pack--a Kelty exterior frame.

Then I developed bursitus in my left heel and a herniated muscle in my back. And so I switched to medium format.

A couple of months ago I traded my 8x10 outfit for a Canon EOS-3.

-- Peter Hughes (, February 27, 2000.

Steve, I suffer the same dilemna. If I shoot close to the vehicle, then I use a large industrial strength tote bag.. You can buy one at lands ends mail order clothing. I can hold the 8x10 and film holders, dark cloth and a lens or two in it I wear a photo vest for meters loupes, etc..... I carry the tripod with my other hand. I have not yet found a backpack for my Toyo 810MII, but if someone has a specific reccomendation, I would love to hear about it. The weight of this equip. adds up fast. When not going over tough terrain, I am considering getting a new cart on the market called a sherpa cart. It has small bike wheels, about 12" diamater so you can move over rocks easily without knocking your rig over. My back is sore enough from my 4x5 rig and accessoires, 50 lbs, on a 6 hr hike, my back is aching. Photo back packs from whatI have been told do not have anywhere near the wieghtbearing comforts as hiker backpacks! And good hiker backpacks are half the price of photo backpacks, here is the link to sherpa carts! If any one buys one let me know how it works out!

Good luck....

-- Bill Glickman (, February 27, 2000.


Last year I discovered a Kelty pack that is like a very large book-bag style backpack. It has a simple rigid back sewn inside the pack and the thing about it is that it is very wide but not that tall. My Deardorff and three or four film holders fits in the main compartment easily, and lenses etc. fit in the pockets. The pack is quite inexpensive and still made. It's called a Kelty Redwing and thanks to the fact that it was made by starving enslaved people in some foreign country (like all packs I was able to find) it is quite cheap, under 100$. The nicest thing about it is it has a humongous zipper that goes all the way around the pack so it is very easy to get at your gear and keep everything in the right place while you are doing so.

The only problem is the tripod. I use a Ries and I simply cannot carry the thing on my back. So my solution, sigh, is to make two trips. I am usually travelling off-trail and I just don't want to risk taking a fall with all my equipment on my back. Also, you don't want to arrive at your site completely winded.

Good shooting,

-- Erik Ryberg (, February 28, 2000.

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