View Full Version : how to pack smart for on location work????

21-Apr-2017, 08:32

Lately, I ve been doing more on location work with 4x5. This is my workflow now
build camera& have it on tripod before actually photographing process,
have a think tank backpack, with extra lenses+film holders+light meter+digital camera+changing tent+extra film, etc

But I watched a LF video tonight, the photographer had 2 shoulder bags, one for film holders only, the other bigger shoulder bag has extra stuff in it. Feel like the advantages are
1. one bag dedicated to film holders will give you better sense on how many sheets you have & have not shot, better for organizing
2. shoulder bags are more free-standing friendly. my backpack always falls, never stands. this makes me worry about gear safety

I am very curious about your workflow and how you'd like to pack your bags to make the process easier.
Will you share your wisdom?

21-Apr-2017, 08:44
When I am working with smaller cameras (4x5 and 5x7), working with the camera on the tripod and everything else in a shoulder bag is efficient.

For 8x10 I prefer a backpack. I prefer packs that one can lay on the ground and unzip the front (instead of the top). That way everything one needs is easily accessable.

21-Apr-2017, 20:18
what shoulder bag are you guy using?

Peter Collins
21-Apr-2017, 20:29
Another user of a 'panel loading' (as opposed to top loading) backpack. Like Granite Gear, which holds my 4x5 gear. I've used both types.

Richard Wasserman
21-Apr-2017, 20:45
I shoot 4x5 and use a Domke F2 to carry 4 lenses, film holders, filters, Lee hood, and assorted bits and bobs.

Doremus Scudder
22-Apr-2017, 02:28
In the field: 4x5 field camera and 4-5 lenses plus filters in a lumbar pack with an additional shoulder strap. The pack carries with the hip belt, but can be used as a shoulder bag when the belt is unbuckled. My kit never touches the ground. I carry filmholders in a separate pouch slung over head and shoulders. Additional stuff (meter, etc.) is in pockets. In good weather I wear a short fly-fishing vest with lots of pockets. In colder weather I have a GoreTex coat with lots of pockets. Lightweight tripod is carried in one hand or strapped on the back of the pack.

In the city: I have a rolling backpack, i.e., the kind designed for carry-on luggage. I carries everything I need and sits upright on its wheels/legs when I'm photographing. On smooth surfaces, I can take it off my back, extend the handle and roll it. However, I usually carry it on my back. In my home city of Vienna, I use my bicycle to get around for the most part. The pack rides comfortably on my back and the tripod is strapped to the rear carrier rack. When in other cities, I walk or take the public transportation with the pack. No problems at all.

Usual contents of both kits: folding wooden 4x5 camera (Wista DX, etc.), 4-5 lightweight lenses from 90mm - 300mm (I like the Fujinon A series and the Ektar 203mm and WF 135mm a lot), Pentax digital spot meter, 6-8 filters in both 52mm and 67mm size, 6 filmholders, darkcloth, loupe, viewing filter, etc.



Joe O'Hara
22-Apr-2017, 07:41
I carry camera, lens shade, meter, filters, loupe, and lenses in an "f/64" backpack. For the 4x5 film holders, I use a small DSLR
bag that fastens around my waist. Seven or 8 film holders fit nicely. I like not having to run back to the
backpack to fetch a film holder once I have the camera set up.

22-Apr-2017, 10:26
Like Doremus, I'm a vest and pocket guy for the tiny things like filters, spotmeter, two or three filmholders, glasses, pencil , paper and others.
No need to dive into backs or packs, everything is nearby my hands - I only have to remember which thing is in which pocket.

On cold days I wear the vest under my jacket, so things stay warm.

I like my very small tripod folding chair which can function either as a seat or as a table.
Never use dried cow dung as a table:
Decades ago I forget to clear the dung table; after a recall some hours ago, the forgotten lens was already grabbed by a farmer/gambler/cow/marmot.

John Kasaian
24-Apr-2017, 06:59
Lately I've been getting lot of use from an Army surplus 5 gallon water can cooler---heavy insulated coyote tan canvas with a wood reinforced bottom and a HD zipper top with dust flap.
Plenty big for 4x5 and 5x7, with 8x10 I'll add another bag for carrying the film holders.
Since these don't look like camera bags I suspect that thieves won't find them as attractive.

I've also used hard sided coolers but the bears in Yosemite have learned to read "Coleman" and "Igloo."
Smart bears!

John Layton
5-May-2017, 13:18
I have several options...depending on mode(s) of travel, weather conditions, photographic desires/intentions.

Easiest/lightest "out the door" LF kit consists of a Gowland 4x5 Pocket View w/135 Sironar-N mounted...mounted on a Feisol CF/Photo-clam bullhead - this goes over the shoulder, along with a small Tenba sling bag with eight holders, Pentax spot meter, lightweight dark cloth, and two or three filters. I can add to this another small sling...holding two additional lenses (90 grandagon and 210 Sironar-N). With this outfit nothing ever has to touch the ground.

Introducing more complexity and weight usually means a full backpack...and for this I'll go with either a Photobackpacker P-3, or an LL Bean. "Guides Frame" with accessory shelf, with Pelican case/tripod held on with three bungie-cords.

The thing about both the Pelican case and the P-3 is that each of these works best when laid flat on the ground. Good for access, and no worries about a pack falling over. Wet/dirty ground is no problem with the Pelican, but when using the P-3 I always carry a small waterproof sheet to throw on the ground prior to placing the pack over this. So far this has worked fine. For the heavier cameras (Layton L-45 or L-57) I'll usually pack a Gitzo CF - strapped to the Guides Frame above the Pelican, or if going with the P-3 (more often than not lately) I'll hand carry the tripod...which works great as I can stop at an interesting location and set this up, using my head as a "camera" to get everything positioned before my pack comes off.

The Pelican case is sectioned to hold stuff. I long ago dispensed with the pick-away foam, as it took up too much space, provided no flexibility, and absorbed dirt and moisture. For the P-3 I utilize several of the Photo Backpacker accessory cases (Two cascade film cases, three lens cases, and one camera case) which affix conveniently inside the backpack by way of Velcro strips. I think the Photobackpacker system is (was) brilliant, with balance and load dynamics quite possibly extending my useful life as a backpacking photographer. Sad to see this company cease doing business...but I understand completely that folks need to move on.

With all of the above, I'll usually pack something like a tall kitchen garbage bag - which can be used to quickly encapsulate equipment in the advent of a quick cloudburst. Going further with this...I can typically cobble this bag into a camera rain jacket if I want to continue shooting while the rain falls. Also...some paper towels and/or a "pack towel" to dry stuff off quickly. And if I can think of it, a small squeeze-bulb to help de-fog lens/filter surfaces prior to focussing/shooting. Other accessories typically include a small flashlight, first aid kit, and if out for longer than a couple of hours - I'll add a water bottle, lunch, some foul weather gear, and some lightweight Teva sandals for fording and/or setting up to photograph in brooks and streams...to keep my Limmer boots dry!

My fantasy outfit would be a frame pack...where the frame doubles as a tripod, and the camera is mounted to this, ready to go, just behind my head...so that when I see in interesting composition, I just release two rearward-facing frame/tripod legs and lock them up when they contact the ground, climb out of my shoulder-straps, spin around and grab the third leg (which had been folded inwards for travel), set this - and now everything is set up with the pack now very conveniently mounted to this, providing both extra stability and good access to gear, which is held high high and dry. I've actually begun to experiment a bit with this, using my Gitzo CF, and will make sure to give updates if and when I achieve some success!

Kirk Gittings
5-May-2017, 13:24
My fantasy outfit would be a frame pack...where the frame doubles as a tripod, and the camera is mounted to this, ready to go, just behind my head...so that when I see in interesting composition,

Haha! Yes. I have been thinking about this for years. I even did a little work on a prototype with the "third leg" as a detachable walking stick, but didn't have the time to follow through and gave up.

14-May-2017, 11:48
Subject has come up a few times on this board in the past. In the field as an old guy am way more hard core than others haha.


Somewhat dated gear image from 2006 because since 2014 most of my work is now fully digital, focus stacked multi column row stitch blended.


But still take the view camera and above linked equipment out on day hiking work that can only be captured with a single exposure, For instance seascapes and other subjects where elements are in considerable motion. Have never thought dedicated "photo" backpacks would ever have a place in my world. Way too heavy with excessive amounts of unnecessary padding. Like I never plan to toss my gear off cliffs but am otherwise not particularly gentle. When lugging gear uphill and or over difficult areas off trails, one is always keen to customize exactly what is carried to the nature of the target subject. That is not a large format view camera strategy but rather universal for those who lug any camera systems out to such destinations.

And yeah as a peon now retired from career hi tech work, I still backpack into disgustingly difficult places but now with the digital system.


David Lobato
14-May-2017, 16:59
I was out this morning with my 4x5. Planned to be less than half mile from my vehicle with what was needed. A few years ago I found a LowePro camera backpack on craigslist. It was intended for smaller format cameras, but turns out my 4x5 kit fits perfectly. A fabric grocery bag carries several film holders and a few other small items. The small camera backpack carries the 4x5 kit weight surprisingly well.