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Thread: Help with backpack/case/bag for 4x5 field kit

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Help with backpack/case/bag for 4x5 field kit


    I just got myself a Wista 45SP kit that I will be using maninly for nature, art photography (not real hiking, more urban parks, or travelling by plane and car to where I can take pictures within a 1/2 hour walking radius or so. Previously I have done this with a huge tripod and a huge Sinar P2 kit in a case, both on a folding cart. So, Im not that spoiled on compactness, weight and fast operation....;-)

    Well....what do you recommend for me? Backpack, pelican case??

    What size?

    I guess my kit could be:

    Wista 45SP
    Angulon 90/6.8 (folds into camera)
    Sironar-N 135/5.6 (folds into camera)
    Fujinon A 240/9
    Wista compendium hood

    Kodak quickload holder
    20-40 sheets quickload film
    and/or 5-15 standard film holders
    (sometiems a Polaroid 545 holder and 20 sheets of film, but very rarely)

    Wista loupe
    Seikonic L-508 light meter, with spare battery
    Cable release, Compass, pen, notebook.

    (Sometimes an A4 plastic pocket with scetches/contact sheets etc from previous visits to the same location.)

    Ricoh GX100 digital camera with Viewfinder, and no extras (used for "scetching" and to "double" all LF exposures for easy reference at home and on location)

    Velbon Sherpa Pro CF 631L carbon fiber tripod with Manfrotto 410precission head. (havent really tried this combination for the Wista much yet, hope it will be enough. The 410 head is fantastic and the tripod must be the lightest in this size!)

    (Sometimes, I could want to carry my Canon 5D with a 28-70/2.8and no extras, but I do have a small bag only for this.)

    (Sometimes, but very rarely, I could want to carry a modern, large 90mm/5.6 lens with no shutter.)

    Water bottle/thermos, Chocklate, Bananas...;-)
    Sometimes super compact rain clothes and plastic bag for protecting the camera in snow/rain conditions.
    (This could go in a separate bag perhaps)

    .....hmmm... did I forget anything....? Looks like I still need my cart.....;-)

    Anyway.... all comments and suggestions are welcome, what bag/bags, how to split the packing, how to set up the interiors of the bag/case etc etc!


  2. #2
    Louie Powell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Saratoga Springs, NY

    Re: Help with backpack/case/bag for 4x5 field kit

    I use a LowePro Nature Trekker. Holds my Zone VI LW, two lenses, meter, 6-7 film holders, a CD case that serves as a filter wallet, Cokin filter holder, loupe, and small stuff. I use the external tripod attachments to hold my Tiltall. Weighs in at about 30 pounds - OK for urban strolls where there is somewhere to stop for lunch, but probably too small for serious hiking.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Germany, Aalen

    Re: Help with backpack/case/bag for 4x5 field kit

    Hi PM,

    well - I am basically in a very similar situation. I wanted/want to get a backpack that would allow front access for day hiking. My current opinion is following.

    There are two cases I can imagine:

    If you want to do one day hiking/trekking with LF gear (I know - you want something else, but keep reading) than the speed of accessing the gear is usually not the upmost requirement. Important is that the backpack has good harness and fits you well. I just returned from german Alps and realized that having my LF gear (Tachihara, fujinon 125/5.6, Geronar 210, Osaka 400/8 tele, 6 film holders, loupe, + small things) in two camera cases from Photobackpacker and a Minolta DSLR- all carried in a dedicated trekking top loading backpack (= weight close to to my back - tripod on one side - bottle of water on the other side and cloth+food in the bottom compartement) from Milet worked GREAT ! The whole load was about 12 - 15 kg - no problem - no pain in back.

    Your case - carrying basically the same, but more in urban areas - I would go for a frontloading backpack that allows me to acces the gear faster and thief safer - not having several cases plus backpack messing around.
    In this case you may go with dedicated photo backpack from Lowepro, Tamron or so - or - have a look on fronloaders like Kelty from Photobackpacker or P450 Journeyman from Kinesis. Both have very interesting design and accesories.
    Unfortunately non of these two backpacks have two separate compartements that would allow to devide the contetn to photo and non-photo stuff, although Kinesis offers a separate daypack.
    Interesting option is the backer board (Bruce will cut also custom sizes) from Photobackpacker to which all their cases can attach via velcro. I am considering this. The cases are really nice and light.

    There are indeed other options - I just mentioned the ones I find interesting.

    Well - good luck.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    La Luz, Albuquerque NM

    Re: Help with backpack/case/bag for 4x5 field kit

    You might look into the Osprey Sojourner, especially if you are going to work in urban environments as well as parks, etc.

    I bought one because it loads from the "back" (entire panel zips down) and not the top, contains a telescoping handle such as found on carry-ons, has rugged wheels, and best of all, has a very comfortable backpack harness which stows flat behind a panel.

    On trails, out comes the harness. Up on the back. Wheels are not in the way.

    Through airports, out comes the telescoping handle and it rolls. Ditto sidewalks, elevators, etc. Can be carried on; stows under the seat.

    Roomy enough to hold my Wisner 4x5, several lenses, film holders, etc., etc. I outfitted mine with containers from to prevent stuff from shifting around and to increase protection of gear.

    I got mine at REI, but other outfitters stock this item. You can get more info from the Osprey web site. Note that in the Osprey line there is a larger unit than the Sojourner, but it can't be carried on airplanes.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Re: Help with backpack/case/bag for 4x5 field kit

    I got myself a Lowepro Comutrekker Plus AW and that fits nicely (in the main compartment) my Wista 45 Sp, 10 film holders, 2 extra lenses (small), light meter, rollfilm back, polaroid back, compendium, and with space for more stuff too in the flat compartments (like polaroids, cloth, digicam etc, etc). Good price and size. Computer pocket not needed, but no problem either, dont seem to add much extra weight. /PM

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    nuevo mexico

    Re: Help with backpack/case/bag for 4x5 field kit

    I got all of my stuff into a Lowepro Mini Trekker AW II.

    Camera, two lenses, loupe, light meter go in the main compartment along with a few film holders. Then in the outer pocket I put the Fuji QL and 20 sheets that are held in a "receipt folder" I bought at the office store.

    The tripod straps to the outside of the pack.

  7. #7

    Re: Help with backpack/case/bag for 4x5 field kit

    I am also using a Lowepro CompuTrekker Plus AW, though I usually only carry two lenses, one in the camera. I do carry many holders: Fuji Quickload, Kodak Readyload, Polaroid 550, Polaroid 405, and Linhof Super Rollex (56x72). Even with all that, I still have room for a Nikon F4S and one or two 35mm lenses, if I need them.

    One modification I did was to put a large patch of industrial velcro down the centre of the bag. I got a wide enough piece that it fits between the standard two strips Lowepro placed in the bag. That way I was able to re-arrange the dividers so everything is better situated.

    My film usually goes into the back computer slot, since I mostly have Quickload or Readyload film. I also carry some 120 roll film, though that can fit up front. Then there is filters, light meter, and various hoods and step-up rings for the lenses.

    This set-up has worked nicely to get my gear to a location. I have also used it in an urban environment. I think for back woods wilderness treks, I would probably place the Lowepro bag into a larger frame pack, then fill the rest of the area with any clothes, food, or water I might need.


    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    New Jersey

    Re: Help with backpack/case/bag for 4x5 field kit

    Another vote for the photobackpacker system. I just used mine for 2 weeks in Europe, carrying a very similar setup to the original poster. Two pb cases (the three lens case handled my 80/150/210 set, and would fit the three lenses mentioned in the first post, plus one case for my Canham, and the backer board. I went from a dedicated photo backpack (Tenba LF) to the pb system, since the Kelty Redwing 2650 plus cases was both lighter, and more importantly, fit me a lot better. It also meets the airline carryon dimensions. Since everything I carried (except the tripod, which went pn the side) fit into the main compartment, the large back pocket was free for non-photo stuff (food & waterproof jacket when I went hiking) and water went in the other side pocket. I guess because of my "contrarian" personality I tried to come up with better alternatives on my own, but in the end conceded that the photobackpacker system simply worked better than any combination I could come up with on my own. (There are "better" backpacks than the Redwing, I really like the Osprey line, but the same curved backpanel which makes them fit incredibly well works against packing photo gear, and the zippers don't go all the way down, making them harder to use for this purpose.)

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