View Full Version : Am I nuts?

25-May-2007, 07:20
In a few weeks I am going to Brisbane, Australia- from Athens, Georgia. It will be by far the farthest away from home I've ever been, and I would really like to take my camera. The problem is this, I am a one camera and ones lens type of guy, and the camera is 8x10.. I just bought a new 8x10, the 8.6lb wehman, would I be crazy to try and take it on my trip with me? I'm 24 and in school, I have no type of insurance for my gear or anything like that... I'm rambling, but I've been reading all these travel threads and it seems like everyone is traveling with 4x5 outfits, which seems much less complicated in terms of weight.. Any suggestions besides "Buy a 4x5 camera" ?..

My head is spinning...

25-May-2007, 07:28
First, assuming that you rent your home, your renters insurance might cover the camera. If you don't have renters insurance, look into it.

Second, I don't think you're crazy. Just buy the film in Australia and then ship it home.

Third, have fun.

25-May-2007, 07:36
What's so crazy about that? An 8x10 is hardly any more of a hassle than a 4x5. I bet only a small percentage of people nowdays even bother with insurance. Just don't put the camera is checked-in luggage and everything should be fine - even in Australia.

25-May-2007, 07:38
You would regret NOT taking it...you only live once. Go for it. I wouldn't worry about the Wehman on travel as they are build like tanks. But don't check it or the lens..

Colin Graham
25-May-2007, 07:40
Yeah. I went to Spain several years ago and only took medium format gear, something I still deeply regret.

eric black
25-May-2007, 07:41
One camera and one lens- that travelling very light for me- even with a 8x10. Get crafty and figure out how to get everything into a reasonable carry-on and research shipping or purchasing film to/at your locations. And as mentioned above have fun!

Walter Calahan
25-May-2007, 07:46
We're all nuts.

Take the 8x10 on your trip. Arrange for buying & processing film in Australia, so you don't have to deal with the airport security nuts. Then FedEx it back.

And have fun, even if you don't make a single image.

Anyway, my 4x5 Arca-Swiss camera is probably heavier than my Canham 8x10.

25-May-2007, 07:53
wow, those were quick responses! Thanks for putting me at ease, as far as tripods go- I was thinking of getting a feisol ct-3371 expressly for this trip, as my current aluminum bogen weighs 18 lbs. Also, I have been thinking of the modified kelty from photobackpacker.com. Does anyone have any experience traveling with either of these items?

Ron Marshall
25-May-2007, 08:10
Definately take it; with only one lens and a couple of filmholders you are in the weight range of most 4x5 outfits. If it becomes a burden you can put it in storage.

Don't forget a good changing tent.

Get a floater on your home or apartment insurance so that you are covered anywhere in the world.

Louie Powell
25-May-2007, 08:16
By all means - go for it!

Categorize your problems, and attack them logically:

1. Transporting the camera and lens, meter, etc - definitely NOT as checked baggage. A back-pack is probably the most logical solution, but make sure that its large enough to also serve as a shooting bag when you get to your destination. Goes into the overhead bin - which are much larger on trans-Pacific flights than they are on domestic flights.

2. Transporting the film - you can buy it in Australia, but from other postings I would be concerned about how widely available it is. Keep in mind that 8x10 is really a specialty item. Schleping it with you is a possibility - check with the airlines to make sure you will be allowed "one carry on bag and one personal item", and if so, look for a shoulder bag that will hold a few boxes of film and a changing bag. Don't worry about x-rays - you probably won't have to go through security more than twice - and maybe only once. Put this under the seat in front of you on the plane.

3. Transporting the tripod - checked luggage. If you have a suitcase, it might be possible to put your tripod into it diagonally, wrapped in underwear. Alternatively, a tripod bag is smaller/lighter than a bag of golf clubs (and you will see people checking those).

4. Transporting film holders - try to have one or two in the backpack along with the camera/lens. You may be able to have a couple in the shoulder bag with the film. Alternatively, they can be wrapped in underwear and go in your checked suitcase.

5. Getting the film home - FedEx is commonly recommended, but make sure that you get assurances that it won't be x-rayed. Alternatively, put it back in the shoulder bag and schlep it. You may also be able to find a darkroom in Australia and process it there. Chemicals should be available - don't try to take those with you.

6. Changing holders along the way - a changing bag works but you have to swear a lot and they can accumulate dust. Or you can go into an inside room (a bathroom), shove a couple of towels under the door, and turn the lights out. And if you can find darkrooms along the way, you have it made.

George Stewart
25-May-2007, 09:14
Last year I took my 8x10 out to the American SW and made 200 images in temperatures as high as 117 F (Death Valley). This summer I will also visit the American SW again, and have pondered the the 8x10/4x5 question. Since I won't be backpacking or going on very long hikes, I'll be taking the 8x10 again.

25-May-2007, 09:34
Whats wrong with being nuts?

Mike Davis
25-May-2007, 09:58
Just got my Wehman today. I would definitely find a way to take it. It only weights 2lbs more than my Shen Hoa. And not terribly more than my RB67. I could fit it and a couple of holders into the hardcase for the RB if I needed to.

Now I just need to get boards for my 14" Ektar (Ilex 5) and 240-w Germinar (copal 1) lenses.

Mike Davis

25-May-2007, 10:13
wow, those were quick responses! Thanks for putting me at ease, as far as tripods go- I was thinking of getting a feisol ct-3371 expressly for this trip, as my current aluminum bogen weighs 18 lbs. Also, I have been thinking of the modified kelty from photobackpacker.com. Does anyone have any experience traveling with either of these items?

Your not nuts or if you are then so am I. I will be taking my 8x10 to Taiwan in a week. Yes I have experience with the 8x10 system by photobackpacker, a must buy! Have a great time!
Phillip :D

Howard Berg
25-May-2007, 10:47
I had the same hesitation when first considering taking my 8x10 on air trips. There is no reason not to have that baby with you. I have dealt with a number of issues in plannning on taking my 8x10 for the three trips so far (Hawaii, China, and soon Switzerland):
1) tripod: I pack this in my suitcase, wrapped in clothes. My Benro carbon fiber is light and 24 inches long, just fitting diagonally in the suitcase. I also wrap the empty filmholders in clothing and they go in the suitcase as well.
2) film: rather than worry about finding film at my destination, I bring all that I plan to use, and bring it back undeveloped. I carry the film boxes on my carryon briefcase and let them be xrayed. I keep the exposed sheets in the same box as the unexposed, underneath the bag of unexposed film. I can only get color film in 10 sheet boxes, so I pool the 10-sheet foil pouches together in empty 50 sheet boxes, which I can find at my local photo lab.
3) camera: be sure to neveer check in this or the lens. I have a Phillips Compact II and three lens and the folks at photobackpacker tried to get these engineered into a modified Kelty--just doesn't fit so that it passes the carryon criteria. Therefore I pack the empty Kelty in my suitcase, for backpacking my camera at the destination. I just bought an Osprey Sojourn 22 inch rolling backpack at the local REI store as it fits my camera/lens and is carryon copliant. It actually fits pretty comfortably as a backpack when properly adjusted, so will help when traveling from home to destination.
4) bring a film changing tent so that you know you will have a place to load film.
5) insure your stuff--with only one lens and camera, you should be able to get a low priced rider for your gear.

Have a great time, especially knowing that when you get back home those images will take you back to your trip better than any thing else.


Brian Vuillemenot
25-May-2007, 11:02
Definately go for it! You may want to look at this article on the LF homepage:


25-May-2007, 12:01
Don't rely on anyone's assurance that a package won't be x-rayed.

There is no one sitting at Fedex or any other shipper whose job is to separate the "Do Not X-Ray" packages from the rest. Trust me. And even if there, do you really want to risk it? Even 100 8x10 negs is just the size of a small notebook - something you can easily take on the airplane with yourself.

25-May-2007, 12:25
Nuts if you do, nuts if you don't, so you might as well do.

Brian's link above is great, BTW.

If (when) I were to go back to Aussieland, it will be an intersting question for me...since it is more than likely I would have my 3 kids with me. They are ten years old now, so all I would have to do is divide a lot my gear up into carry-ons between them...hmmmm. But when reality sets in, I'd probably end up just taking my 4x5 since it would be a family adventure, and time to photograph would be very limited.

But if I was on my own, I'd just use my underwear, socks, t-shirts and an extra pair of short pants to pad the 8x10 equipment, have a baggie with my toothbrush and toothpaste in with my other photo assesories, and off I'd go!

have fun!


28-May-2007, 00:28
go for it. we are all nuts!

i would say if you pack the camera well ina hard suit case it would be fine to check. carry the lenses and film with you. a brief case will work fine. let them x ray the carry on it may just be easier that way. (they handchecked my 4x5 film the other day, but it was un opened. most of teh USA checking is done with a wipe that is analyzed by a machine so they usually do not bother opening anything) who knows what the aussies will do!

you should beable to pack the tripod. most international flights give you alot for checked bag weight. (i travel to thailand alot, i am in thailand now, and we get like 35-40KG per bag and we get two bags!)


Paul Ewins
28-May-2007, 01:53
1. Buy your film in the US. 8x10 is extremely hard to get here and you don't want to arrive and find that your favourite film is unavailable. I've just started in 8x10 and have ended up buying from Badger. 4x5 is a lot easier to get in both monochrome and colour.

2. Get a "carry on" size back pack and put your camera, lens and film in it. Everything else can go in your checked luggage.

3. Unless you are making multiple flights your film is probably going to get a fairly low dose of x-rays from the scanners. 100 speed films should be fine and 400 should be Ok if it only gets 2 or 3 doses. If you are travelling by car once you get here then the cumulative dose will be small, but if you fly interstate that will be another x-ray check each time.

4. Not sure about asking for hand inspection, but it is always worth trying provided you are polite and not in a hurry. It may be worth taking an exposed neg with you to show people so they understand what you are asking. Film will mean 35mm to most people.

5. I don't know if there are any commecrial labs in Brisbane that can handle 8x10. Google will be your friend there.

28-May-2007, 06:31
Thanks Paul, and to everyone. I feel much better about taking my camera. Even if the film gets ruined by xrays, at least I brought the camera in the fist place.. As far as I know right now, we will be taking off and landing 10-12 times total. Not sure how many different planes that will be, but it will be at least 4.. Now, if I could just find good places to shoot near brisbane ;)

Craig Griffiths
28-May-2007, 13:44
There are no commercial labs for 8x10 in Brisbane so that may be a problem, and definately bring your film with you, or send it across before you come over. 8x10 film is rarer than hens teeth in Brisbane and extremely expensive.

I would be more than happy to show you around while you are here. Lots of good places to head to for a day or two of shooting, just let me know what you like taking and I will give you a few suggestions. And if you want someone to shoot with let me know.

Craig Griffiths
28-May-2007, 13:59
While I think of it, I have half a dozen new fidelity 8x10 holders you can borrow while you are here if you like. Have checked out a couple of labs as well. Nothing here, but I overnight some of my colour films to Melbourne and Sydney for processing and have them back a day or 2 later so that may be an option for you.

As far as locations are concerned, you will be very close to the rainforest areas on the Qld and NSW borders, an hour or 2 away from some of the worlds best beaches, and some of the architecture in the city (the old stuff by our standards) is not bad. Just remember that we are in one of the worst droughts in recorded history so the country areas are a bit parched, but still worth heading to. Let me know any of the places you have heard about and are interested in and I will give you some specifics.

But definately bring the 8x10 with you. It will be well worth it.

28-May-2007, 15:06
Thanks Craig- Glad to know there is someone there shooting big negatives! I like to shoot everything really, although recently I have been more into abstracts and general naturey texture sort of things. I'd love to see some landscapes, or land formations in general. I will definitely be shooting in Brisbane, as I don't get to do to much architecture where I live. Thank you for offering the holders to, but I think I will come out ok on that front- I have ten, but I promised my girl that I wouldn't shoot ALL day! I do have another question, what restaurants do you recommend? Can be fancy (read, expensive), as we are also there for the food! Can't wait to get down there!

Doug Dolde
28-May-2007, 16:31
Ask Nick Rains where to buy/process film in Brisbane. He has a gallery in Brisbane. Lovely town I have been there half a dozen times at least. Keep in mind everything is backwards down there...sun goes across the northern sky, water goes the other way down the drain, etc. A totally different night sky also. Oh yea don't forget it's the equivalent of November down there, but at an Orlando lattitude.


28-May-2007, 16:43
I travel to Australia about once a year, I'll be going again in September. However, I only shoot 4x5 (and some 35mm). The biggest issue you will face is weight restrictions. Many people forget that the weight allowance for domestic flights is much less than international flights. Check your tripod in your checked luggage; if necessary leave as much in the way of causal clothing at home as you can. Then purchase more once you get to Brisbane.

28-May-2007, 16:44
Ask Nick Rains where to buy/process film in Brisbane. He has a gallery in Brisbane.

He pretty well shoots 6x17 - 120 film isn't that difficult to get.

Stephen Willard
29-May-2007, 20:34
If you have insurance though rental insurance or you decide to insure your camera, beware. If your camera is stolen you must show forced entry and a police report. Only then will the insurance company cover your loss.

My friend forgot to lock his car and had $20,000 in camera equipment stolen. All of it was insured, but none of it was covered because there was no sign of forced entry.

30-May-2007, 07:04
Yes, I've seen the same thing happen- only with expensive bicycle equipment. Insurance companies are mostly evil in my limited experience (I'm 24). I'm sure in ten years I'll have an even more pessimistic view.. As for signs of forced entry, I'll say this: The camera will be in a pack on my back the whole trip, so the insurance company will see my blood all over the pack if someone manages to steal it off my back... Hopefully, that will be good enough ;)

2-Jun-2007, 01:42
none of it was covered because there was no sign of forced entry.

thats what rocks are for........