What's the best way to carry lenses in the field?

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Thanks to an unexpected infusion of cash and some trading, I now own five lenses for my view cameras instead of the previous three. What is the best way to carry these around in the field? My backpack had no problem keeping two lenses separated but now that I'm carrying an extra pair around, I am concerned about them bumping into each other and damaging something.

Right now, I simply wrap each of them in a piece of flannel cut from an old shirt and use rubber bands to keep the flannel in place. I'd like to find a better way but not one that's bulkier or expensive to implement as the extra money that was the "cause" of this problem is all gone now... :^(

Any input or advice will be greatly appreciated!

-- Jeffrey Goggin (audidudi@mindspring.com), November 06, 2000


After contemplating a similar problem I came across Domke wraps. Large slightly padded wraps with velcro closure (don't need the rubber bands)that you "wrap" around any piece of equipment. They come in a variety of sizes and colours and are reasonably priced. They prevent equipment from the day-to-day bumps and take up very little room. In a well padded case I dont need anything else !! Regards Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), November 06, 2000.

Calumet makes some nice wraps also. Pat

-- pat krentz (patwandakrentz@aol.com), November 06, 2000.

The Calumet wraps that Pat refers to look good. In their UK catalogue they list two sizes 10"x10" and 18"x18" resonably priced too. However I carry my lenses in small stuff sacs available from camping shops then I wrap them in bubble wrap bags. I stack lens in twos separated by a foam divider. So far I've had no problems.

-- Trevor Crone (tcrone@gm.dreamcast.com), November 06, 2000.

My lenses are mounted on Linhof Technika boards and I keep them in the neoprene bags made by Zing. The one exception is the 90mm f/4.5 Grandagon which is too big. That one resides in a medium lens pouch from Domke's Outpack system.

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), November 06, 2000.

I like f:64 wraps for lenses mounted on Sinar-sized boards. Well made and not too bulky.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), November 06, 2000.

Using a deep purple felt bag a fifth of Crown Royal comes in is considered chic in some circles. I guess it shows good taste. but sip the whisky after taking the pictures. At many used camera stores or swapmeets there will be cardboard boxes filled with old camera and lens cases, for funky old stuff. Leather ones can often be found. Many can be adapted as lens carriers with a little spare bubble wrap.

-- jimryder (jimryder12@aol.com), November 06, 2000.

My solution is bulky but cheap. I bought a couple of Rubbermaid plastic food containers for a few dollars each and lined them with foam rubber. The lens/lens board combo fits inside and the lid snaps on tight. They take up a bit more room in my pack, but I know the lenses are well protected.

-- Bruce Pollock (pollock@telus.net), November 06, 2000.

It really depends what size your lens panels are, as to what's suitable, so here's just a general outline of what I've found works.
For storage and general vehicle transport, I use some strong plastic boxes, just a bit deeper than the height of my lens panels. The base and lid of the boxes have stiff plastic foam an inch thick stuck to them. The foam has slots cut in it to take the top and bottom edges of the panels, and the lenses and shutters just sit in the air space between. All the lenses are fitted with front and rear caps.
I've fitted 3 'slim' lenses in one box, and 2 hour-glass wideangle lenses in another. The boxes are only about 5x7x9 inches in size.
If I ever need to backpack any of it, (perish the thought) I've got some neat little bubble-pak bags that'll take a lens each. No fancy name on them, but then again, no fancy price tag either.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), November 07, 2000.

One solution for many lenses is to obtain any one of several binocular cases from REI - an outdoor/recreational supplies store. The cases are clamshell in shape & semi-hard. found one that holds my Rodenstock wide angle perfectly. They're zippered, black in color and will certainly take the knocks. The have belt loops and even a tether if you want to hang it from your shoulder. A little pricey but they should last forever if you take care of 'em.

-- Dave Pettrow (tedeum@mindspring.com), November 07, 2000.

My solution was to use lens cases which are cube shaped with a zipper enclosure. Because they are cubed and padded, I have been able to pack lenses next to one another without fear. I never liked the wraps... just seemed flimsy to me... especially when working with larger lenses.

These cases can be bought through Alan Brubaker... www.filmholders.com (look under cordura cases). If you use 4x4 boards or smaller, the standard sizes fit. Custom sizes can be made as well.

Good Luck! Steve

-- Steve Nieslony (sejn@pacbell.net), November 07, 2000.

Protection must be provided at three levels: for lenses, 1) surface 2) impact. 3) A third level of protection must be provided additionally for some special items: Protection from twisting or bending. Surface protection may to come first to mind but you need to think beyond. Impact such as sustained when falling with the backpack or dropping the backpack or the lenses, or spilling the BPsB contents could cause severe inner damage such as lens element separation or outer damage or both. Impact protection requires adequate damping material to cushion the blows. Bubble packing plastic is the lightest and one of the most effective, also medium-high density polyester foam as used for electronics is highly effective and when in sheet form can be used for wrapping the lenses. Flexible plastics may contain plasticizers, and should not contact glass surfaces in filters or lenses. This is especially true of vinyl plastic sheeting. Unprotected glass filters such as the super-expensive Lee polarizer and enhancing filters must be protected from twisting or bending forces. This calls for a rigid plastic box with foam inserts to also provide impact and surface protection. I prefer photo-backpacks in as much they provide the cushioning and orderly placement of the equipment for fast retrieval. Photo- backpacks' designers never think that you will also have to carry other things besides photo equipment; however, you can piggyback a small backpack onto your photo pack to take care of non-photo items. A small pigybackpack with a large price tag is sold by LowePro for their photo packs. You can use many a small backpack instead at a fraction of the cost.

-- Julio Fernandez (gluemax@ora.auracom.com), November 07, 2000.

My experience tells me

I just looked at the site Steve mentioned. The pouch looks one of the bests in the current market (my only wish is if they framesheeted the pouch). Try look into Lightware pouches. I recall they make a small framesheeted square one with a beltloop. Check out the dementions for your lenses.

-- Masayoshi Hayashi (hayashi-@td5.so-net.ne.jp), November 08, 2000.

Thanks for all the input! Although not mentioned above, I think I've found a solution that will work quite well even though it's not meant for large-format use. A friend has recently started using stuff from www.kinesisgear.com to haul his Canon D30 system around and I think I can adapt their lens and accessories bags to serve my purposes. It's not cheap, unfortunately, but it does appear to be very well made and I like the idea of carrying all the cases around on a belt instead of on my shoulders, where it's not immediately accessible.

I'm hoping to borrow my friend's belt-and-harness as well as a couple of his bags sometime in the few weeks to field test it and see if I'm as happy with it in practice as I am in theory ... I will report back then with my results.

Again, thanks for all the input as it was very helpful.

-- Jeffrey Goggin (audidudi@mindspring.com), November 11, 2000.

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