Storing and transporting LF lenses : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Up to now I've used leather or cloth drawstring bags for storing and carrying my LF lenses. But recently I've just aquired 2 more lenses, making 5 in all, and apart from not being able to find any suitable bags, the whole entourage of lenses and slides etc is becoming unworkable. My first thought was a custom made wooden box for the lenses, but I don't fancy the weight, or the work involved. Next idea was a plastic tool box with foam inserts for the lenses, lightweight but maybe a bit bulky.

Any better ideas? What's your "bag" as far as carrying LF lenses is concerned? My camera is an MPP 5x4 technical, with no room for any of the lenses when folded.

-- Pete Andrews (, May 03, 2000


My "bag" is just that, a bag; a LowePro Commercial to be exact. I'm able to store a Wista metal field camera, 5 lenses and accessories with (a little) room to spare. When I get to a location I either work out of the bag or transfer what I need to a LowePro Pro Trekker backpack.

-- Mark Windom (, May 03, 2000.

I use Neoprene bags, the ones made by "ZING". I like having the slight bit of resiliant protection the 1/4" thick Neoprene offers. My lenses are mounted on Linhof technika boards.

-- Ellis Vener (, May 03, 2000.

I use a couple of 'tupperware'-like containers for my lenses. I was able to find some which just fit my lensboards. The lens doesn't contact anything. they are clear so I can tell which lens is which, they are obstensibly waterproof, so I don't panic if it rains. They are light, but will withstand some abuse. And they are cheap.


-- Topher (, May 03, 2000.

Try boxes made for fishing they may be big enough - though if you can track down one of the original leather cases for the MPP - the slightly larger one which has space for the Micromatic flash - then that is a better bet, also it is worth considering the wee lens pouches from KJP to put the lenses in as a matter of course. However, the DIY job doesnt sound too bad it just needs some careful design - I have considered this option too, but am not sure of the materials or the easiest layout - I do have an idea but the design only works for my current equipment - MPP technical camera, 89mm Wray, 203mm Kodak (in crappy shutter)and the bog standard 105mm Xenar, 4 darkslides polaroid back and rollfilm holder. Only problem, at the current design I've neglected to include space for useful accessories, such as spare film. If you want I can e-mail you a prototype sketch (i.e. not to scale).

-- David Kirk (, May 03, 2000.

I use bubble wrap inside Ziploc bags. Classy, eh? They're lightweight, waterproof and inexpensively replaceable, not to mention that they absorb a fair amount of shock.

-- Chad Jarvis (, May 03, 2000.

Pete-I also use bubblewrap much for the same reason as Chad has given.I first put my lenses(on Linhof boards) in micro stuff sacks which I get from camping shops(Field and Trek) these protect them from dust and moisture.I have an old Tamrac back pack(I don't know if its stil available)which has two large removable side pockets in which I stack two lenses in each pocket the bubblewrap and a stip of foam padding in between them prevents any abrasion.The down side to this is it reduces the amount of film I can carry. Regards,Trevor.

-- Trevor Crone (, May 03, 2000.

Hi Pete,

After trying to carry everything in one huge pack, to the great discomfort of my back, I decided that a backpack *and* hand-carried bag were necessary for me. I have a Lowepro Mini Trekker that holds 8 LF lenses on Wisner boards (with release cable attached to each lens), Fuji QL holder & box of film, loupe, misc accessories, plus darkcloth in the outer pouch. In a hand-carried shoulder bag is a Wisner 4x5 PE, spotmeter, filters, notebook & pen. I also usually squeeze in a small Contax G2 rangefinder with a few lenses for quick reference shots for later use. After a lot of trial & error, this has proved the best solution for me.

-- Danny Burk (, May 03, 2000.

My bag is a Domke Double AF or my Domke "larger bag". For the lens I opted for the lens wrap which is a sqaure of padded cloth and velcro on the corners to just fold it up all snug around the lens and board. You can get them a Calumet and usually a fully stocked camera store. Cheers, Scott

-- Scott Walton (, May 03, 2000.

Thanks very much everyone. I wasn't expecting so many replies so quickly. I hope you'll forgive me for not thanking you all individually by e-mail.

It looks like the majority vote is for some sort of padded wrapping, and I must admit that I've been using bubble-wrap as a temporary measure. Perhaps I was just being a bit snobbish in looking for a more "classy" solution. Anyway I'll consider all of your suggestions.

Thanks again.

-- Pete Andrews (, May 04, 2000.

Pete, before you decide, I'll add to one of the postings. I've used all sorts of methods of protecting lenses in the past but now rely on the "Zing" storage sacks for helical mounted lenses for my Silvestri, and wrap lenses on boards in small plastic bags (complete with silica gel packs, and then in Domke protective wraps. regards Paul

-- Paul Owen (, May 04, 2000.

Avoid buying a generic square protective wrap. I tried OP tech sqaure wrap, but it's too thin and square wraps are not fast because you have to unwrap and wrap everytime you use a lens. I'm one of people who want to be fast in LF so this type of wrap is not for me. But try to find a pouch like Zing offers. No more unwrap and wrap business. When I asked a related question like yours, people seem to like and happy with Zings. I even think if I could get away with capping and uncapping the lens business now without trashing my lenses (well, no UV filter)....

-- Masayoshi Hayashi (, May 04, 2000.

This is not meant to be a smart ass question, but what are you guys shooting that needs five to eight lenses? I cringe at the thought of carrying that much weight on a trek through the boonies. Are you doing chromes where you need the in-camera cropping? Just wondering... Doug.

-- Doug Paramore (, May 04, 2000.

Personally I wouldn't use a neoprene wrap for outdoor use in the UK. When (not if) it gets wet it will soak up all that lovely moisture and hold it in contact with your lenses. Closed cell foam is better: Field and Trek, Cotswold Camping and other outdoor stores sell it by the foot, including thin 3 mm sheet (for tent underlay) if you don't want sleeping pad thickness. North American users can get it from MEC or REI.

I like to have some sort of puncture resistance, so I tend to line a suitable thin plastic container with closed cell foam. IKEA make some nice and cheap ones here in Sweden, but pretty well any food container of the right size will do and for my barrel and MF lenses I use cut down PEC fizzy drinks bottles.

Pete: if you're anywhere near a physics or engineering dept at B'ham you might also like to look for the boxes used for storing and delivery of semiconductor wafers. *Very* nice plastic containers with secure lids and guaranteed no-outgassing. Buying them new is fearsomely expensive, but any research group using wafers will have empty ones which won't get reused.

-- Struan Gray (, May 05, 2000.

They're hard to find anymore, but I have a large MEI (Mountain Equipment Inc.) backpack that's like a canvas "box". (One big compartment, versus 3-4 small compartments like recent packs.) I purchased a 6" piece of foam that fits snugly inside, and I've cut compartments for my camera and lenses. The cover (that unzips to open the bag) has its own smaller bag attached which houses accessories like film holders, meter, filters, etc. Everything is well protected, and the pack itself (foam included) is light-weight.

-- neil poulsen (, May 05, 2000.

Ok guys, here's my usual down-and-dirty, low-tech low-budget solution. I carry 4 lenses when in the field. One folds up with the camera (my Wista will close with many smaller lenses on it). The other three go into individual "custom made" corrugated cardboard boxes. These are 5-sided (no top) and made from the finest used double-corrugated cardboard boxes and the highest quality masking tape. The lenses mounted on boards fit in snugly so there is no rattling aroung. The boxes go into my fanny pack. they are stiff enough to protect against bumps, bangs and the occasional dropped pack and quick and easy to get lenses in and out of. Who needs more? Regards, ;^D)

-- Doremus Scudder (, May 06, 2000.

Thanks again everyone. I've had a good snoop around and found some empty 5x4 Holographic-plate boxes (good tip Struan); strong and fairly water tight, kind of action-man Tupperware. They seem ideal for storage and throwing in the back of the car. Each box will hold two wide-angles or three more compact lenses together with some packing material....perfect. I'll probably get some foam wrap as well for carrying the lenses about with the camera.

Doug, I've no intention of backpacking a 5x4 outfit anywhere. (and they say us Limeys are masochistic and eccentric) ;^)


-- Pete Andrews (, May 12, 2000.

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