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Thread: Design help wanted: MF users

  1. #1
    FStopIan
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    Design help wanted: MF users

    Hello Everyone,

    If you don't know I develop camera bags for F-Stop Gear. We are relatively small company from the US. Our product is little different than most of the others. Basically we use a system called an ICU (Internal Camera Unit) with our adventure photography based shells.

    We currently have 4 sizes of ICU's. Small, Medium, Large and XL. They are all designed around a Pro sized DSLR. If you need a visual on what I am referring to take a peak here - www.fstopgear.com/images/pi_10/icu/

    The reason for this post is we are in the beginning stages of making ICU's for 4/3rds and MF gear.

    I am hoping that I can get some real world opinions from the users of this site as both styles of photography seam to be very popular here... and Guy has allowed me to ask you

    So if you have any input for me, it is much appreciate.

    I am looking for info on:


    - How much gear do you put in your bag? List it if you can.


    - Limitations with current methods of carrying your gear


    - Any thing you would like to see in a product like this.



    Thank you

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    For me, one of the HUGE things about a camera bag is the relationship between the carrying method and accessibility of the contents. I have always been forced to choose between these considerations and my ideal solution would be something that somehow allows me to 'have my cake and eat it'.

    Let me explain more...

    My equipment is heavy and I often carry it long distances. This means that a bag that goes over one shoulder isn't practical; a backpack that spreads the weight across both shoulders is the only option. Trouble is that a backpack style bag has to be put down and fully opened before anything can be removed from it; it also has to be fully zipped shut before it can be moved. That means that when I am in the 'keep walking a few paces and take another shot' mode, it's a real nuisance because the bag has to be closed up before it can be moved. So I get into a process where I put it down, open it up, take equipment out, decide to move, close it up, pick it up, move, put it down again, open it up, etc.. Not very quick or easy! By contrast, bags that go over one shoulder (such as my Billingham bag) can be easily picked up, moved and put down without being closed up. So I can adjust my position easily without having to constantly zip up a backpack; I can just 'grab, wander and put it down' with relative ease and speed, thus freeing me up to shoot more fluidly. BUT bags like that don't allow me to handle weight well over distances.

    SO...

    What I want more than anything is a bag that combines these virtues. It would allow the weight to be spread across both shoulders, so be suitable for walking long distances with heavy equipment BUT ALSO be capable of being moved without being closed up (and provide ready access to the contents), thus allowing rapid and easy movement when in a location.

    I have no idea how this could be possible, and I have never seen a bag that achieves this. But if it could be done, I'd pay a lot for it!

    Hope this helps,

    Ed

  3. #3
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    Quote Originally Posted by FStopIan View Post

    I am looking for info on:


    - How much gear do you put in your bag? List it if you can.
    1) Phase DF body with back and 80mm lens attached horizontally in the larger main slot
    2) 28mm Phase lens stored vertically in a lens slot
    3) 45mm Phase lens and [email protected] extension tubes sharing a vertical lens slot
    4) 75-150 Phase zoom, also still carried vertically in a lens slot
    5) 120mm Macro lens
    6) Optional, 300mm lens
    7) [email protected] extra back batteries; [email protected] extra body batteries in a smaller lens slot
    8) CF card case, cable release in a smaller lens slot
    9) Filter case, Color Checker Passport, spare lens and body cap in a smaller lens slot
    10) Bulb blower, brush and micro-fiber lens cloth in a smaller lens slot


    - Limitations with current methods of carrying your gear
    What Ed said, squared. Should bag is most convenient for close and frequent shooting, back-pack for longer treks and occasional shooting, neither is ideal for a mix.

    Maybe a back-pack with a shoulder bag that comes out of the back-pack quickly and has room for the basic camera and two additional lenses, while the rest of the gear stays with the back-pack in a more typical ICU? (Okay, if you do this you have to call it the "Jack-Pack" )


    - Any thing you would like to see in a product like this.
    White or light gray interiors! Most camera gear is black and it's a PITA to find what you're looking for in low light if the interior is black or dark gray.
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  4. #4
    tetsrfun
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    . This means that a bag that goes over one shoulder isn't practical; a backpack that spreads the weight across both shoulders is the only option.
    *********
    That has always been my problem with camera "back packs". Carrying the weight on the shoulders is very tiring and eventually painful for me. I wanted a pack that had a rigid frame and a suspension system that transferred the majority of the weight to the "pelvic girdle" and used the shoulder/chest straps for basically holding the pack in position.

    Steve

  5. #5
    Senior Member darr's Avatar
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    Quote Originally Posted by FStopIan View Post

    I am looking for info on:


    - How much gear do you put in your bag? List it if you can.


    - Limitations with current methods of carrying your gear


    - Any thing you would like to see in a product like this.



    Thank you
    Thanks Ian & Guy for asking us for input!!

    I just came back from hauling my gear across the Atlantic on three different flights each way. AND --- I wanted my gear with me on the planes. I took an Alpa Max digital system and a Nikon D700 with a 20 mm and 70-300 mm, plus a Canon G9 for snaps. Since I recently returned, I just opened up my gear closet and pulled a bag out to show you how I travel with two systems and got them safely on as carry-on. I also want to say that I have been a shooter (professional and fine art amateur), for over 30 years. I am a petite 5'3" female that turned 52 recently. I love traveling, but I am not 20 anymore! Below is what I have tweaked for the gear I currently shoot:





    A P45 back and cabling resides inside left side pocket of waist pack and stores inside the opening in the pack on left side. On the right side, my light meter and loupe are in another pocket and stored in the opening in the pack on the right. The waist pack middle pocket is left empty when storing, but becomes my big bag of necessities (tools, phone, ID papers, sun glasses, etc.) when needed.

    I walk with one pack on and a very lightweight tripod in hand. On this trip I tried the Gitzo 1541T Traveler with a RRS BH40 ball head. I was amazed at its rigidity and sturdiness. Since I am petite, I am not that strong, but I do have a lot of endurance for climate. When I travel for landscape work, I walk until I see what I want to shoot, then I setup the tripod. My next step is when I wrap the rain cover around the bottom of the pack and place it on the ground close to the tripod. My waist belt is my tool box literally. After I dress the tripod with the camera, I put on my waist belt, fill it up, and then walk away from the pack on the ground hoping to not have to go back into it until I have finished with my shoot.

    What is most important to me is:
    1. Ability to take two systems in two identical packs that are comfortable for me to wear.
    2. The packs have to be able to lay on the ground so I want the packs to come with a rain cover that has elastic to cover the bottom. (I always have a windbreaker type jacket stuffed into the waist belt center pocket or a pants pocket in case of sudden rain to cover the camera.)
    3. A simple design that lets me mold the interior to fit my needs.
    4. Be small enough to get on as carry-ons with no extra airline fees.
    5. Must fit into a Pelican carry-on box.



    I travel on airlines with one pack on my back and the other in the Pelican wheeled case.

    Do you see that beautiful red "Valet ticket?" This is really important to me since I live where no big jets fly into (on purpose). But, the drawback is, I always have to commute to Atlanta, Charlotte, or New York to catch my destination flights, so I want my camera bags with me. On this last trip, AA misplaced my clothing and camping gear and I got them back 24 hours later, but my gear was safe in my hands.

    So I am guessing you will be getting a lot of different needs here. I will be watching!

    Kind regards,
    Darr
    "Creativity takes courage." ~ Henri Matisse
    Darlene Almeda, photoscapes.com

  6. #6
    FStopIan
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    Thanks for the feed back!

    A few things in regards to your replies.

    Ed,

    It is very difficult to create a bag that compliments both the quick access side draw and being able to handle a long hike and the supplies that go with it. By the sounds of it we all know this. I agree this would be great. But the problem is when we start adding to many ways to access we compromise the bags fit, the weight and the carry.

    Also in regards to your reply, you should be spreading the weight to your hips, not your shoulders. Traditional camera bags drop the weight on your shoulders, this becomes hell on long days with a heavy load. I am sure you know what I mean. A light bag with an aluminum frame completely changes the weight distribution.... and magically cuts the weight in half.

    I strongly recommend trying a bag with a frame for yourself. Over the long haul better weight distribution effects your day and performance. The hassles of taking your bag off minimize, as fatigue becomes much less of an issue.

    All of our current packs are rear entry. It can be a personal preference but it is very easy to swing our pack around and lay it in front of you and access your camera. Also because it is rear entry you do not need to completely zip your pack up as your back keeps the bag shut. I don't suggest this as a regular habit As I would hate to see anyone leave it open to much. But it is very possible and I do it myself if I am moving around alot.

    Jack,

    All our new ICU's are Gray inside and much lighter. i am really happy with the new gear and am excited about getting it in your hands, as I think you also be very pleased.

    Steve,

    I don't want to turn this in to a buy F-stop thread but you should check out our bags. They are what you are describing.

    Darr

    Do you mean to say you travel both bags for carry-on?


    .....
    Would love to here thoughts on ICU's and MF gear. From what i am gathering our current ICU would do the trick for MF. Sadly MF is out of my price range . And I do not have a first hand perspective.

    If there are any insights on things that could make it better please let me know.

  7. #7
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    I was actually Looking at an Fstop Backpack to be my next bag, I love the idea of the back entry, with other bags you lay it on the ground and when you put it back on you're putting the dirty side back on your shirt.
    www.williamophuis.com

    Hassy H4D-40.

  8. #8
    FStopIan
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    I wish I could give you all our packs. Just re-reading Darr's needs. We have ideal bags for all of you

    1. Ability to take two systems in two identical packs that are comfortable for me to wear.

    No problem. but you only need one pack with ours, as you just need to pull the ICU out and put your second ICU in.

    2. The packs have to be able to lay on the ground so I want the packs to come with a rain cover that has elastic to cover the bottom. (I always have a windbreaker type jacket stuffed into the waist belt center pocket or a pants pocket in case of sudden rain to cover the camera.)

    We have an elastic rain cover that tucks in to the base for storage. And since it is rear access you can access your gear with rain cover on.

    3. A simple design that lets me mold the interior to fit my needs.

    ICU's are very simple like most camera bag internals. We have multiple sizes. We are also experimenting with some impact proof foams...

    4. Be small enough to get on as carry-ons with no extra airline fees.

    No problem.

    5. Must fit into a Pelican carry-on box.

    ICU's are more than perfect for this.

    Now... tell me how we can make the ICU perfect for you

  9. #9
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    I have now a lot of different bags depending on what I am going to do. I will give a few examples:

    1) When I go on location inside. I take;

    1) H-body
    2) HC100/2.2
    3) HC50-110
    4) Extension rings
    5) D700 body as backup
    5) AFS24-70

    2) When I go on location outside, I take;

    1) H-body
    2) HC100/2.2
    3) HC 50/3.5
    4) Elinchrom Ranger Quadra unit with 1 A-Head
    In another small bag
    5) D700
    6) AFS 24-70

    3) When I go low Profile & Light.

    1) D700
    2) AF24/1.4
    3) ZF50/1.4

    My main gripe with most bags is that there is too much usage of foam on the inside. I tend to stuff my bags pretty tight, not a lot of chance that pieces of equipment are damaging each other. I would prefer thinner dividers and better protection from the outside.

    I also miss the ability to easily hook-up tripods (for light or camera) on the side or bottom of bags.

    A lot of bags are missing a cm of height. The Elinchrom Quadra or many of my larger zoom lenses cannot stand upright in the bag and putting them down I waste a lot of room.

    These examples are all 'working' bags, not so much as bags I take while travelling. These I take in the car, to my location and work from out of them.

  10. #10
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    So if I had a pack similar to but say shorter and wider than the Tilopa:

    1) that had a removable shoulder bag ICU that could be configured to hold my Phase body with back and 75-150 zoom, and then have room for the the 28 or 120 and 45 or 80, and

    2) a half-size ICU that remained with the main pack that could be configured for 9 lens slots in say a 3x3 arrangement, which would also allow for up to three longer, horizontal slots, and

    3) had a laptop slot like the Tilopa/Satori,

    I would be very happy

    4) Finally, I agree that thinner dividers with regular to slightly thicker outer padding (like the ThinkTank ultralight versions have) is preferable to the thicker, heavier dividers we typically see now.
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  11. #11
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    Yes, definitely agree on the thinner dividers. I mostly want the dividers to prevent the different pieces from touching each other, not to guard from impacts. I am not throwing the bag on the ground or rolling it around like a bowling ball. Obviously it needs to have enough padding to put it down on the ground without needing to be extremely delicate, but I would much prefer a thinner gauge, less squishy divider. The ones used in billingham bags and in domke are quite nice. If I am going to be checking a camera bag/case, it is going to be something like a tenba air case or a pelican case, rather than a backpack. Since I am going to be the only one handling it, it need not have extremely thick padding.

    Other things that are important for me are that the straps do not get in the way of the access to the bag. I have a crumpler Whickey and Cox (wickey and cox?) that I have had for years. I really like this bag, but it is a rear entry bag that makes it kind of difficult to access some of the equipment at the very bottom of the bag. You have to kind of pry it open to get to the stuff back there. In contrast, I have a LowePro Nature Trekker II for large format -- it carries extremely well, but it weighs a ton and has a few annoyances -- the zippers are very difficult to open and close. They may be waterproof, but they are also access proof! The waist support straps that are so nice in use stick directly out like Dumbo's ears when not in use, and they are so thick in padding that you cannot lay the bag down flat unless they are out like that -- it means its practical footprint is much larger than it could be. And overall the padding is just a complete overkill, super thick and it really can't carry as much as it looks since there is so much padding, and so many superfluous clips, straps, and bits and bobs hanging off of it. The waist support straps in particular make it difficult to fit into an overhead luggage compartment, when the bag dimensions itself should make this possible.
    My photos are here: http://www.stuartrichardson.com and more recent work here: http://stuartrichardson.tumblr.com/ Please have a look at my book!
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  12. #12
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    Quote Originally Posted by FStopIan View Post
    Hello Everyone,

    If you don't know I develop camera bags for F-Stop Gear. We are relatively small company from the US. Our product is little different than most of the others. Basically we use a system called an ICU (Internal Camera Unit) with our adventure photography based shells.

    We currently have 4 sizes of ICU's. Small, Medium, Large and XL. They are all designed around a Pro sized DSLR. If you need a visual on what I am referring to take a peak here - www.fstopgear.com/images/pi_10/icu/

    The reason for this post is we are in the beginning stages of making ICU's for 4/3rds and MF gear.

    I am hoping that I can get some real world opinions from the users of this site as both styles of photography seam to be very popular here... and Guy has allowed me to ask you

    So if you have any input for me, it is much appreciate.

    I am looking for info on:


    - How much gear do you put in your bag? List it if you can.


    - Limitations with current methods of carrying your gear


    - Any thing you would like to see in a product like this.



    Thank you
    I have a Tilopa with the extra large ICU. It is the lightest, most functional backpack I have ever owned in terms of comfort for carrying camera equipment. However, the dividers that come with the ICU are poorly configured for storing and accessing medium format digital systems. I have a Hasselblad H1 with a Phase One P65 back, and like to carry in the pack an 80 or 100 mm lens mounted on the camera, a 35mm lens, a 50mm lens, a 210mm lens, a 300mm lens, a teleconverter and a few accessories. I cannot get my equipment to lay out well in the ICU, as you can see from the attached photo. I can jam it all in the ICU, but it is poorly laid out and there are lenses in direct contact with each other and the camera body so I have to store them in pouches. The room is there in the XL ICU, but the dividers are all wrong for this application. I am also attaching a photo of another manufacturer's bag showing the layout of a bunch of Hasselblad medium format equipment.
    Last edited by hcubell; 1st August 2010 at 13:41.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    Thanks for the reply Ian. I certainly do appreciate the problems of achieving what I am asking for. If it were easy, someone would have done it by now, right? ;-)

    Point taken about hips rather than shoulders (and actually my explanation was clumsy, but backpacks do allow the hips to come into play to some extent due to a nice, strong, padded waist strap). However, that doesn't detract from what I would like to see in a bag, which is something that allows excellent weight distribution (shoulders and hips!) whilst still being capable of being moved easily without being closed up. The option of a bag that is open and things are stopped from falling out by being against my back sounds rather precarious to say the least.

    So if there is some devillishly cunning way of meeting this specific requirement, then I would be extremely interested in buying such a bag. If not, I will probably stick with my current bags and just have to choose whether it's a 'long walk' sort of a day or a 'shoot flexibly (but with less equipment)' sort of a day...

    Thanks for consulting us!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Ed Hurst's Avatar
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    P.S. Partially zipping up a bag before swinging it over the shoulder doesn't meet the need I am describing - because it's only slightly less effort than closing it right up! I envisage a bag that can be moved fully open, perhaps without even being put on the shoulder/back (so perhaps with other handles that can simply be grabbed so the bag can be picked up, moved and put down again). But it becomes a fully operational backpack as well when closed up - ready to be moved a longer distance.

    Any way of doing this?

  15. #15
    Member MarkSaperstein's Avatar
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    Quote Originally Posted by hcubell View Post
    I have a Tilopa with the extra large ICU. It is the lightest, most functional backpack I have ever owned in terms of comfort for carrying camera equipment. However, the dividers that come with the ICU are poorly configured for storing and accessing medium format digital systems. I have a Hasselblad H1 with a Phase One P65 back, and like to carry in the pack an 80 or 100 mm lens mounted on the camera, a 35mm lens, a 50mm lens, a 210mm lens, a 300mm lens, a teleconverter and a few accessories. I cannot get my equipment to lay out well in the ICU, as you can see from the attached photo. I can jam it all in the ICU, but it is poorly laid out and there are lenses in direct contact with each other and the camera body so I have to store them in pouches. The room is there in the XL ICU, but the dividers are all wrong for this application. I am also attaching a photo of another manufacturer's bag showing the layout of a bunch of Hasselblad medium format equipment.
    Like Howard, I am using the Tilopa and I love it. I have a Mamiya/Phase kit, and while the lenses are smaller than the Hasselblad H lenses, I also would like to see better dividers to accommodate medium format gear. I am wasting a lot of space with the current dividers.

    --Mark

  16. #16
    tetsrfun
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    Any thing you would like to see in a product like this.
    ********
    Better divider design...I reconfigured my XL-ICU but some of the divider surfaces that meet lack Velcro and are unstable. Also you might look at adding padding at the bottom edge of the pack that rests in the lumbo-sacral area. This is the area that ends up "seeing" the weight of heavy MF gear. A small elevated padded ridge may help with comfort and transfer weight more effectively to the pelvis and off of the shoulders.

    Steve

  17. #17
    FStopIan
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    Hi Steve, in the first post there is a link to the new dividers. www.fstopgear.com/images/pi_10/icu/ also lumbar has been addressed.


    Otherwise, thanks for all your opinions. It is much appreciated.

  18. #18
    tetsrfun
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    Quote Originally Posted by FStopIan View Post
    Hi Steve, in the first post there is a link to the new dividers. www.fstopgear.com/images/pi_10/icu/ also lumbar has been addressed.


    Otherwise, thanks for all your opinions. It is much appreciated.
    I looked at the web-site again and other than the internal color change, I can't see the other changes....of more interest to me is how was the lumbar issue addressed compared to my ~2 month old Tilopa?

    Thanks for the ongoing dialog...

    Steve

  19. #19
    FStopIan
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    I should have explained as most are not really visible to the casual eye. I have been looking at these things far too much and forget not everyone else has

    - softer dividers
    - thinner dividers
    - no hard board inside the divider
    - same external size but the divider adjustments have created more room allowing really nice and easy fits for gear.
    - every face of the divider is Velcro-able and smooth brushed poly
    - overall shape has squared off corners allow much better use of the space
    - gray interior
    - removable lid padding
    - overall the ICU sits in the bag much nicer because of the softer build
    - added metal d-ring's to allow you attach a shoulder strap
    - includes a lot of dividers for more options

    The difference are quit big relative to the past ICU's. They will not be available until early September.

    As for Tilopa and lumbar this information is not yet public.

    Regards

  20. #20
    Member Analog6's Avatar
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    Re: Design help wanted: MF users

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed HUrst View Post
    For me, one of the HUGE things about a camera bag is the relationship between the carrying method and accessibility of the contents. I have always been forced to choose between these considerations and my ideal solution would be something that somehow allows me to 'have my cake and eat it'.

    Let me explain more...

    My equipment is heavy and I often carry it long distances. This means that a bag that goes over one shoulder isn't practical; a backpack that spreads the weight across both shoulders is the only option. Trouble is that a backpack style bag has to be put down and fully opened before anything can be removed from it; it also has to be fully zipped shut before it can be moved. That means that when I am in the 'keep walking a few paces and take another shot' mode, it's a real nuisance because the bag has to be closed up before it can be moved. So I get into a process where I put it down, open it up, take equipment out, decide to move, close it up, pick it up, move, put it down again, open it up, etc.. Not very quick or easy! By contrast, bags that go over one shoulder (such as my Billingham bag) can be easily picked up, moved and put down without being closed up. So I can adjust my position easily without having to constantly zip up a backpack; I can just 'grab, wander and put it down' with relative ease and speed, thus freeing me up to shoot more fluidly. BUT bags like that don't allow me to handle weight well over distances.

    SO...

    What I want more than anything is a bag that combines these virtues. It would allow the weight to be spread across both shoulders, so be suitable for walking long distances with heavy equipment BUT ALSO be capable of being moved without being closed up (and provide ready access to the contents), thus allowing rapid and easy movement when in a location.

    I have no idea how this could be possible, and I have never seen a bag that achieves this. But if it could be done, I'd pay a lot for it!

    Hope this helps,

    Ed
    Ed

    I think the LowePro Omni Trekker fits the bill. It has a detachable backpack harness, but you can also carry it with the the shoulder strap, and it has a handle as well. An added bonus is that it fits into a Pelican 1550 hard case for aircraft, boats etc. I bought mine second hand on ebay, it was a bit hard to source but worth the hunt.

    Now somewhere I have a pic of it with my gear packed into it for the recent NZ trip - I fitted a 1DsMkII body, 24-105 and 16-35 lenses, the H2 body, P20 back, and 80mm & 150mm lenses, flash unit, plus some Lee and Cokin filters, cords, spare batteries and bibs and bobs. I carried my 2 chargers separately in my luggage (and prayed they would not go astray). Ah, found the pic.

    In the event I did not use the Pelican case, but carried ot over the shoulder. The hardest part was trying to not show how much it weighed as I took it as carry on luggage! You should have seen me trying to boost that sucker into the overhead locker.
    Odille

    H2 | P20 | HC 50-110 | HC 150 f3.2 | HC 210 f4 ~ My Website

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