What bag to get for a 4x5 system (Sinar F2)?
Initially, I had my eyes set on the Lowepro Photo Trekker AW II, in part because it's recommended all over the place (including here).
But I went by a store that carries it yesterday, and that thing is huge! At this moment, since I'm just getting started in LF (and photography in general), I don't have a lot of stuff, just the basics: Sinar F2 4x5, one lens, six holders, loupe, light meter, dark cloth, changing bag. I don't expect to get too much more. Perhaps a few more holders, a couple of more lenses and that's it. That's all I can think about. Anyway, I saw two other bags at the store that are not that big but could be used to carry my stuff. They were the Tamrac Expedition 6x and the M-Rock Zion.
Tamrac Expedition 6x
I know I have to leave some extra room to carry other stuff (pen, note pad, lunch, etc), but it still seems to me that the Lowepro is way too big! Does anyone know if the alternatives I've offered would be able to carry all my equipment? Or I would be open to hear any other suggestions you may have. I know that the best way to know for sure would be to bring my equipment to the store, but, well, I don't have a way to bring it there, you know? (It's all stored in that big case and I don't have a car.) Thanks.
It depends on how you plan to carry it and where you're planning to go.
One thing to keep in mind is that the rail clamp can function as a quick release, so leave the rail clamp on the tripod for faster setup and less bulk in the case.
With a Sinar F/1/2 there are a few ways to transport the camera. Set up on the rail and ready to shoot is probably what you have now, with the camera hanging in a bulky monorail case. Another method is to unclip the bellows from one standard, turn both standards 90 degrees so that they're parallel with the rail, and this way you can fit the camera in a flat case like a briefcase. For hiking with a backpack, you can compress both standards together on a short 6-inch rail or with the rail removed entirely, which is the most secure and compact way of carrying the camera.
If you like to work out of a shoulder bag, you can fold a Sinar a bit like a flatbed camera. This is the one people usually don't think of. Unclip the bellows and tilt the front standard all the way back, so it's flat against the rail with the lens pointing up, raise the rear standard, and fold it down over the front standard. I don't have an F anymore, so I'm not sure if I've got that right off the top of my head, or if it's the other way around (rear standard down first and then the front standard), but I think that's right.
I dismantle the F2: I removed a small screw (the one that stops the shift from going too far) on each carrier frames so I can remove the frames (shift the frames out).
I pack the two standards in a small soft fabric coolbox (to carry lunch, sandwish). The frames and the back with gg are wrapped in the dark cloth.
It reduce volume significantly and I feel it is better protected than leaving it half mounted in the bag.
I use a standard front load hiking backpack bought (redwing something bought us$80 at REI). The lenses, spot meter, extra bellows, compendium, loupe, filters, gaffer tape, leatherman, stopwatch, gps all in small fabric coolbox bought again at REI. intermediate bellow holder, sinar tilt head and rail fit on their own without any wrapping.
I use a stop watch now. Before I used my cell phone to time the shots, but the phone fell out of my pocket into the sea when I was in Illulisat (in Greenland). Better to break a cheap stop watch than phone when traveling in remote places.
For the sinar p, I also de-couple the frame from the holder (the back one). For the front frame, I need a screw driver which is not convenient in the field (I just leave it as is wrapped in the cloth), so I am thinking of using two back standards. The 8x10 back goes in a large fabric coolbox along with the holders. The holders are placed in a rigid and light plastic satchel.
I found the trick of folding the frames onto the rail makes the camera too bulky and does not fit easily in the bag with all the rest of the equipment. I have to take the camera apart every time. I usually walk around, found a spot, settle and gently (with love and care) mount the camera. It goes fast when used to it. It's all about the process, right?
Lightware 1420, with or without backpack package. Works well.
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