Lugging a Monorail

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by David Hall, Jan 23, 2003.

  1. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    I am using an Arca Swiss F Compact, the one with the folding rail. 4x5. And I can't seem to figure out a great effective, efficient way to pack it so that it's quickly available for use. it is quite compact in the bag when I slide the rail out of the standards, but it is a time consuming hassle to slide the rail back in every time I shoot. With the rail folded it is pretty compact but very tall, so it doesn't really fit in any bag I have. When I put it in a backpack there is always a rail end sticking out somewhere.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks!

    dgh
     
  2. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  3. paul owen

    paul owen Member

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    In Dykingas book (LF Nature Photography, I think) he shows how he packs his AS monorail into a Lowepro Super Trekker and he packs his lenses in Gnass lens cases. I think that despite being expensive, the Super Trekker is probably the way to go as far as backpacking major LF kit, unless you fancy padding and sectioning a bespoke climbing/backpacking rucsac. The Super Trekker appears heavy when empty but the carrying system is probably the best in photo backpack and once loaded and on your back it does feel lighter than you imagine!! BTW, the Gnass cases are really well made and are available from Justin Gnass via his web site, www.gnassgear.com
     
  4. G O'Connor

    G O'Connor Member

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    Why not just get a Field camera? Thats what they're ment for, backpacking and travel.
     
  5. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Good question. I actually am lucky enough to have both an Ebony and the Arca. I noticed recently that even though I got the Ebony for just this reason, I always gravitate toward the Arca Swiss. Maybe I am more familiar with it, maybe it's because the movements are more extensive, I don't know. I realized that virtually all of my best 4x5 images, the ones where the camera was really second nature and at its best as a tool, are from the monorail.

    So I thought I would think more seriously about how top pack it more efficiently, and maybe even sell the field camera once I figure it out.

    dgh
     
  6. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    IIRC Dykinga often goes out with a 50lb+ pack on when he is working. And he travels pretty light considering. He doesn't have a tent, just a bivy bag and some some powerbars. Pretty hardcore.
     
  7. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I ran into this problem last Fall when I decided to try taking my old Toyo View out into the field. I didn't want to be limited to working out of my trunk or disassembling and reassembling everything for every shot or busting my *ss trying to wrestle the camera, tripod, etc. more than a few yards.

    My solution was to design a small wooden frame with wheels that can be clamped between two legs of my tripod, effectively turning it into a hand truck. The camera can either be left in place on top of the pod or bungeed onto the frame which lowers the center of gravity and makes it an even lighter pull. Either way the camera doesn't need to be disassembled at all.

    I designed it as I was building it and the miracle (aside from managing to avoid sawing off or drilling holes through any essential parts of my anatomy), is that in the first few field tests it has been a joy to use, allowing me to trek far beyond the boundries of the parking lot with little hassle.

    Obviously, this wouldn't serve for long distance backpacking photo treks but it bounces right along over rough ground and deafall and lets you get as far away from the road as your incentive and energy allow.

    -Neal
     
  8. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Neal, can you upload a pic of your setup? This sounds like a good idea for my 12x20. So far I am following Weston's idea....if it is 100 feet away from the car it is not photogenic anymore!
     
  9. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Yeah, Neal,

    I would love to see a picture of that too. What a great idea! And just to be clear, I don't have backpacking in mind. But I want to be able to venture SOME distance from the car.

    dgh
     
  10. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I'll take a few shots of it on the end of my next roll and post them soon. You'll have to change the design to fit your own tripod but that should be a simple adaptation.

    -Neal
     
  11. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    David,
    I was never able to find a perfect case for my monorail camera, a 5x7 Sinar P2. For casual transport, you might want to consider a "wide mouth" duffel bag from LL Bean, available in several sizes. I use one to because it is high (deep) enough to leave the camera fully assembled - attached to the 12" rail. It also has room for my 3 lenses, filters, meter, etc. I carry a separate Zone VI film holder bag. I've carried this on the shoulder strap for up to 2 miles from the car, though my wife carried my film holders in this instance.

    N.B. If your wife carries your film holders for 2 miles to the most scenic waterfall in all of Michagan, you had better at least pretend to take a picture, or there will be repercussions! [​IMG]

    Take care,
    Tom
     
  12. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Never even considered using the wife. Hmmm...

    Seriously, how do you keep the camera from moving around in the bag? Foam?

    dgh
     
  13. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  15. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    The second parameter is that when the equipment gets to heavy for the wife you trade her in for two of half her age.
     
  16. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    I hear the maintanence on those new models will kill you though.....
     
  17. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (David Hall @ Jan 24 2003, 01:28 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> Seriously, how do you keep the camera from moving around in the bag? Foam?

    dgh </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    David,
    Actually, the P2 is large enough (not an unmixed blessing!) that it is a fairly tight fit in the bag, placed groundglass down and mounted lens pointed up. I use my darkcloth to cushion it on the botton and two lenses in hard cases on either side of the monorail. I've also seen people use a carpenter's? or plumber's? tool bag, same shape but smaller and which is constructed of canvas and leather. This might be better, since you don't need the capacity that I do and it is more ruggedly constructed than the LL Bean nylon bag.
     
  18. bmoulton

    bmoulton Member

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    I shifted from a field camera to an Arca-Swiss f Line field Camera. So I have the same issues that you now "enjoy." I found the Dykinga Lowe bag too heavy and too costly. I use an F 64 BPX bag. It swallows the Arca Swiss, and five-six lenses, meter, extra rail, film, etc. For a bit exra protection, I bought a lapttop sleeve and "customized" (AKA cannabilized) it for the camera, with lens and bellows ready to mount on the tripod block that stays on my Arca head. The pack subdivides well, and I like it because the lenses are contained in a separate compartment. Therefore, the shelf above the camera bears no significant weight. Essentially I have a large cushioned box for camera, extra bellows, rail, darkcloth, closeup glasses, etc. above which in a separate compartment ride my heavier equipment. On each side I have the ability to lash in extra compartments or lash in a tripod. And if I want I can pack my gnassgear readyloader kit there also.
    I am certain other packs will work. I tried customizing a Kelty backpack but found essentially that the cost and hassle of doing that was more than the F64 pack. And the latter, for me, is better built and more comfortable to tote.

    Bob Moulton
     
  19. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Nah,

    It's the maintenance on the new two that photography far from the car so much fun. With all of the "assistants" that Edward Weston seemed to convert, you would think that he would have found landscape to be more photogenic a helluva lot further away from the car than a hundred feet!

    dgh
     
  20. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    It amazes me that we never saw him produce a series called "cigarette butts on gravel" or "blown out tires".
     
  21. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Those are still to be printed and published. The heirs inheritance is still in place.
     
  22. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    Hmmmmm. Cigarette butts on gravel. I can do that, maybe I can make it sound artsy fartsy and highfalutin' and make some money off it. I can even write some high sounding eco-gibberish to go with it. Tell you what Robert, if I make my fortune, I will split the take with ya. [​IMG]
     
  23. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Didn't Penn do a series on ciggy butts? Now if Weston (heirs that is) produced something it would cause an international incident I'm sure. The Irving brigade would storm Carmel!
     
  24. bmoulton

    bmoulton Member

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    David,

    I settled on a F64 BPX pack. it swallows the Arca/Swiss camera, bellows, rail, darkcloth, film and lens hood in the large bottom compartment. Lenses and fiulters fit in the top compartment. Side pockets allow for extras and or for lashing a tripod to it. Minor point: the two compartment are separated by a bit of padding. So the camera bears no weight except that of the lightest objects, such as extra bellows and lens hoods.
    I have tried Kelty packs, stronboxes--fine for level surfaces!- and other combinations. The F64 works pretty well, and costs a lot less than the pack that dykinga uses.
    I don't pack 50 llbs for overnight treks. Maybe then I would opt for the Lowe. Maybe then iIwould opt for a hummer!.

    Bob
     
  25. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Bob,

    Good suggestion, thanks. Do you know if the SBW is the same, except with wheels?

    dgh
     
  26. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Bmoulton----I think the hummer should come first...with it, who needs a pack????

    Steve----another opportunity missed...check out the latest View Camera Mag...tin cans...WHOA!!!!!!!

    Hmmm...Wonder who I could upset doing a series on Budweiser cans in the dumpster at the local beer joint???