How to carry a 4x5 monorail, acvtually backpac it around : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I know there have been a few questions in the carry equipment side of things but they havn't really answered my question.

I hopefully will be going to NZ and have a 4x5 monorail camera I want to take with me with all the usual gizmo's that go with it. What size backpac would you choose and why do you choose that brand over all others. I have looked at a Pro Trecker bag, thinking i may be able to stick my 35mm gear in it as well, then i have heard some say just buy a backpac and change the inside while others have suggested bags that arfe $400US, what made you choose the bag you have and what do you like/dislike about it.

I will be taking the standards off the camera and the rail can even go outside the bag if need be.

Thanks all

-- Keith Anderson (, January 05, 2002


Coincidentally, this just came up in another thread. I have a Cambo/Calumet 45NX. This may or may not work with your camera. Here was my contribution on this subject:

For what it is worth, here is what I do. I have a Kelty Redwing 2900 internal frame backpack. I purchased a large piece of fairly heavy duty foam and a thin piece of foam from a local store that sells nothing but foam, and cut it to fit inside the backpack. Then I placed the camera on the foam and traced its shape, with the 12" rail, fully compressed, with the back rotated to the vertical position and my 210mm Caltar II-E mounted on the camera. The groundglass (Boss) is protected with a Calumet groundglass protector. Next I placed my wide angle lenses (90mm & 75mm f/4.5 Grandagon-N) and accessories (mounting block, bag bellows, loupe) on the foam and traced them). I used an electric carving knife to cut the foam.

The thin piece of foam goes in first, followed by the big piece with the cutouts for the equipment. Incidentally, I think this arrangement protects the lenses very well (thankfully given the recent threads on lens protection). The pack has two side pockets with places to hold cross country skis. I put one leg of my tripod through one of the ski holders so now I don't have to hold that thing all of the time. The other side pocket holds a polaroid 545 (very tight) or filters. Alternatively, the 21" monorail goes in the ski holder, which makes it impossible to carry the polaroid holder in that pocket. The pockets on the flap hold pens, notes, small maglight, cleaning cloth, lens brush, blower, lens caps, a Lee filter holder, cable release, etc. The tough part of this arrangement is the film holders. I clip a small pack full of traditional 2 side holders to the outside of the pack for quick access. Pentax Spotmeter V goes in a small case attached to the bag's belt. I guess I am quite a sight when fully loaded, but I have been able to make some pretty good hikes with this set up.

I was worried about damaging the camera and lenses by wrapping them and dumping them in the bag. This solution takes up a lot of space by filling it with foam, but it does protect my investment in equipment. It is also heavy, but the alternative is a field camera for landscape and hiking, and that is not in the cards for me. One drawback is that the pack does not zip all the way down to the base as do photo backpacks. This means that there is some unused space down at the base of the pack. I have toyed with having a shoemaker cut it open and put in a zipper, but have not done so yet. That would let me cut out some foam and store some of the accessories down there.

The backpack is comfortable, the suspension/strap system is excellent. To give you an idea of the weight, it is about the same as carrying my 11 month old son in an REI kid carrier.

I hope this helps.

-- Dave Karp (, January 05, 2002.

Keith, I've recently bought the Lowepro Super Trekker, despite warnings that it is on the heavy side. However, the harness system is excellent, compared to most other camera packs, and even when loaded with gear it is not too heavy and the harness makes it very comfortable to carry. It swallows a whole load of gear but also allows a bit of space as a "workstation", somewhere to lay out lenses,etc. It is well padded and comes with 2 full size accessory pouches(although I don't use them as there is plenty of room inside!) as standard and a stowaway dust/rain cover. Highly recommended! Paul

-- paul owen (, January 05, 2002.

Keith, I managed to pack my Cambo SC monorail (short rail) into a Lowepro Trim Trekker backpack. The rail was detached but the 2 stds and bellows could be left in place. The camera slides into the top of the pack with the section open inside allowing full depth. The darkcloth provides packing for all the bits and the rail slides down one of the sides. The large front pocket held the holders or Quickload & film. It wouldnt work if you have a bag full of lenses but 2 small lenses on panels, readyload/quickload, light meter, dark cloth and some paraphenalia squeezes in. Its much smaller than the pro trekkers and surprisingly capacious. Good harness system.


-- David Tolcher (, January 06, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ