Which bag?

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I've prowled through the archives and most of the discussions concerning carrying LF centre around backpacks. I'm sorted in this department but recently have started "travelling" light - field camera and 2 lenses, meter and half a dozen DDs. Problem is I need something suitable to carry the darn things in! Any suggestions of a "satchel -type" bag - something along the lines of the Lowepro Stealth Reporter. All advice greatly appreciated (as always). Regards Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), March 16, 2002


I use my 20 year old DOMKE F-2, with 4 compartment insert. It carries a 4x5 Technika, casket set of lenses (105-220mm) and filters, Pentax digital spot meter, 3 Grafmatics, BTZS focusing cloth, loupe, lens cleaning stuff, cell phone, notebook, and a small Leica or Pentax for backup. That still leaves the 4 outside pockets for airline tickets, books, maps, 2 extra 25 sheet boxes of film, and a cheese sandwich. The TILTALL tripod travels in its own case as checked baggage. PS: what's a "DD"?

-- Wilhelmn (wmitch3400@hotmail.com), March 16, 2002.

Paul, As someone who is also learning to lighten his backpack I can suggest a couple of things. First, in my previous investigations into dedicated camera packs, I've been mostly disappointed. Whoever designs them seems to be focussed on the interior. As a result, they tend to neglect the most important part of the pack: the harness system. Often, these are no better than those one might find on some cheap childrens backpack. My system is this: I store my camera, lenses (like you, only 2 or 3) meter, and film holders in those inexpensive collapsible coolers (I have a couple of Arctic Zone's). They are padded and so provide good protection from knocking about. The lenses are also wrapped in those Domke lens covers (the funky fabric squares with the velcro). If I'm going backpacking, I haul out the big gun pack with the super sweet harness (a Dana Design Astralplane that I picked up as a factory overstock). If it's just a day hike, I pull out my much smaller North Face technical climbing pack that I picked up at their factory outlet in Berkeley. It's rugged, is a front loader and not a top loader, has numerous interior spaces to hide things and has a very nice built on corde system that I can attach my tripod to. My main point here is that I got a much better pack and harness system than I could have picked up looking for a dedicated camera pack (and for less money). Also, if I'm climbing and not taking pictures, I can use it as a technical climbing pack as well! And, I didn't pay for all those annoying padded dividers, most of which you'll probably not use anyway. So, consider a non-photo backpack. Hope this helps.

-- Matthew Cordery (cordery@sonic.net), March 16, 2002.

In the May/June issue of View Camera, George DeWolfe describes his outfit for travelling light.

He uses a Domke camera satchel, and keeps the camera fastened to the tripod and carries it over his shoulder.

If I'm going to be hiking somewhere, I use a Jansport 40 liter backpack with a decent hip belt. At home, the camera and assorted items sits in a Tamrac daypack. Everything fits nicely in the Tamrac, but it's not comfortable to carry very far.

If you're interested in the article and don't have access to a copy, drop me an email and I'll send you a copy.


-- Dave Willis (willisd@medicine.wustl.edu), March 16, 2002.

Thanks for the offer Dave, but I've seen the article and don't fancy carrying my camera/tripod over my shoulder. I thought a satchel-type bag would be an idea, or the Lowepro Omni Trekker - anyone used one?

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), March 16, 2002.


I have minimal experience in carrying LF gear, so take this with a grain of film.

I've been very impressed with Lowepro "satchel-style" bags. The bags seem to be carefully designed by people who know what photographers need. The flaps feel almost as though they have detents to keep them open, and the zippers are heavy-duty and stay where I put them.

I currently carry a Nikon N90s (F90x), 80-200mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens, 28mm lens, filters and filter holder, batteries, lens shade for the big lens, gray card, and 10 rolls of film (in their canisters) - all in a Lowepro Nova 2 bag. It's a bit tight, and I could probably use one or two extra centimeters, but the bag is a joy to carry because it's so compact and light. The shoulder strap is curved and padded, and the bag itself hugs my hip.

Depending on what kind of photo equipment you have, you may be able to fit it into one of the smaller Nova-series bags.

Good luck.

-- Matthew Runde (actorm@hotmail.com), March 16, 2002.

I use the Orion AW. While not a satchel, it will fit your folding field camera and 2 mounted lenses, spot meter, 2 DD's, long loupe, cable release, spare AA's, and appx. (4) 77mm filters all into the convienent, padded "fanny pack".

Additional DD's, dark cloth, changing tent, and film boxes can go into the removeable top portion (back pack porrtion).

Particularly if you use a compact 4x5 field Cameras such as Toyo, Linhoff, Wista, Horseman or Canham with the less massive lenses such as the 90/8 or the 135/150/210 f5.6 lenses for 4x5 image circle, then consider it.

-- Andre Noble (andrenoble@yahoo.com), March 16, 2002.

What's a "DD"?

-- Wilheamn (wmitch3400@hotmail.com), March 16, 2002.

DD? Double Dark slide! aka 5x4 sheet film holders.

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), March 16, 2002.

I carry a horseman fa, 2 light meters (seckonic 508 and a weston master V), dark cloth, roll film and polaroid holders, several filters, cable release, focus aid, lens (only have one), extra film, lens cleaning stuff. pad and pencil, extra batteries, and a calculator. If I don't take the polaroid holder, I can fit in a bottle of red wine. I looked long and hard at "camera packs / bags". For the their price, it seemed I could buy other equipment. (Another lens; maybe used). I ended up buying a back pack at Walmart in the kids book bag dept. on sell for $14.00. It took a while to find one with the right configuration and pocket layout. lucky for me that the school book backpack market is one with MANY choices. And usually a clearance item this time of year. I cut up a closed cell foam rubber sleeping pad (from the sporting good dept), and made padding / insulation. This bag has a handle on top, is made of fairly tough material, and is my camera bag. I've hiked all day with it many times. Considering the time it takes me to set up to shoot is less than five minutes, I've found it to work well. Oh yea, I carry a bogen 3050 over my shoulder. I don't think it's the be all and end all. But it works.


-- dee seegers (deesee@pinn.net), March 16, 2002.

I forgot to mention the size of the back pack is 16" wide, 10" front to back, and 16" tall. Without polaroid back or wine, all my gear fits in a space 10" tall. This leaves room for food and or rain coat.

-- dee seegers (deesee@pinn.net), March 16, 2002.

I recently went through this same issue, having decided that photo backpacks did not meet my requirements. I live in coastal South Carolina, and I spend a lot of time on beaches and in wet environments. I wanted a bag I could access without putting it on the ground/water/sand. I also wanted a bag that would stand upright when placed on the ground and load from the top (vs. a backpack that has to be laid flat on the ground and when open is subject contamination with sand, water, etc.)

I finally selected a Crumpler bag, after having the opportunity to look at them in a side-by-side comparison with LowePro, Tenba, Domke, Lightware and others (at a large photo store in NYC). These are all great bags, but the Crumpler really met my specific needs.

Crumpler bags are messenger-type bags that can be comfortably carried over the shoulder for ready access, or over the back, similar to a backpack. Crumpler has a number of photo inserts for their various sizes of bags; the inserts are well padded with movable dividers, and a zippered closing top for dust/water protection.

The bag and photo insert I bought holds Ebony 4x5 (folding model), 4 lenses, bellows focusing hood, light meter, loupe, filters dark cloth and various other stuff(lens paper, roll film, Ebony lens shade device). I do not use sheet film, but since you're carrying just 2 lenses, I'm sure there would be room.

Crumpler has a very informative (and humorous) web site: http://www.crumplerusa.com. Good luck.

-- John HUrshman (hurshmaj@bellsouth.net), March 16, 2002.

Paul, I have found that I can fit the Ebony in either a trim trekker or an orion trekker. In the latter case the camera plus attached lens, darkcloth will fit in the rucksack part and the accessories plus spare lens, meter will fit in the part designed for a camera. This is a compact answer and my preferred choice for short day walks.

Best regards


-- David Tolcher (davidjt@btinternet.com), March 17, 2002.

Don't forget to look at Billingham as well, they have a few satchel- style models. (I use a Lowepro Mini-Trekker backpack) /Åke

-- Åke Vinberg (ake@vinberg.nu), March 18, 2002.

I use a common small backpack with a Domke insert. My Super fits nicely next to the insert with ballhead and short tripod column attached, and I can pull it out and have it setup in seconds. Everything else goes inside the insert; Meters, filters, lenses, magnifying glass, log etc. The film holders go in a waist belt pack or in the backpack. As Dee said, look for the right pocket setup. My other setup is a Lowepro Classic, but it is harder to take off and get into although more comfortable for longer hikes. I don't like anything that goes over one shoulder as it will inevitably cause a quickly fatiqued shoulder, and on some hill or rock hikes you'll be scraping it on the ground as you'll need both hands.

-- Wayne Crider (waynecrider@hotmail.com), March 18, 2002.

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