Inconspicuous bag for 4x5???

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Sportera

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Well I'm not sure Inconspicuous is the right word.

I carry my 4x5 kit in a Photo Trekkers AWII. This usually works fine when working in nature or out of a car or boat, but I would like to use my 4x5 in a urban environment. I find the backpack slow to work out of, especially when I want to get my shot fast. I don't know if anyone actually notices the large pack on my back but it sure seems that they do. It just looks out of place. I live in New Orleans, the areas I wish to photograph are considered high crime areas. I have a domke F2 but it will not hold all my gear,I can get the Tachihara 90/150/210 meter six holders but no room left for my Harrison darkcloth. Hence Ive been thinking of getting a new bag like a Domke F7

Any advice would be appreciated.
 

rbarker

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Are you sure they're looking at the backpack, and not the tripod over your shoulder? :wink:

If you're working in areas of the city that make you nervous, I'd suggest finding a (very large) friend to go with you. It's too easy for things to disappear while your head is under the dark cloth (or, for something heavy to fall on your head).
 

Graeme Hird

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One option might be to borrow a pram (well that's what it's called in the Aussie vernacular - baby stroller in the US?). Surely nobody will hit you to steal your "kid".

Gee I love Australia, where one doesn't need to worry about being bush-wacked while making a photo .... I've never felt unsafe whilst in public.

Cheers,
 

Donald Qualls

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I'm afraid that if you're shooting in a "high crime" area, a trusted (and preferably armed) bodyguard is your only real option with your current kit. Making your bag less obvious or less of a standout just means it'll be easier for someone to carry it away without anyone else in the area noticing. And as someone above noted, when you bring out the camera and set up, anything not nailed down is subject to disappearance while you're focusing and composing (assuming a more discerning thief doesn't, in fact, simply stick you up for the whole kit).

A pram (baby carriage, jogging stroller, whatever) won't really help much -- people do in fact steal children in America from time to time, and it's pretty obvious when there is or isn't a baby in the carriage in any case (plus the above issue of what happens when you have your head under the dark cloth).

My suggestion for large format for your situation? Get an old Pacemaker or Century Speed with a normal or semi-wide lens and coupled rangefinder, and put a couple Grafmatics (or even bag-mags) loaded with 320TXP or one of the various incarnations of Forte 400 in your pocket (and mix up a package of Diafine, which will give you EI 800 to 1000 with most of those films). You can carry the camera on a strap over your shoulder; folded, it's a box smaller than a lot of 35 mm bags. The Grafmatics will fit in a coat pocket with ease, and carry six films each (bag-mags carry twelve each, but they're a little bulkier and much slower in operation, plus the bag is prone to develop light leaks after 50-70 years). Add a light meter in an inside pocket and a determined, "Don't mess with me" look on your face and you're ready to stalk the low life on large format. Throw in a battered gray fedora and make the coat a trench coat, and you could pass for Weegee... :wink:
 

mark

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No matter what bag you have the tripod is a sure give away. IMO the bigger the Tripod the bigger the dollar sign the theirves see. Take a friend, and drape the darkcloth over the bag. Works for me. If you are set on a new bag I have a messenger bag that holds everything I need. I would tell you the brand but I got it at a close out and they never showed up again. Timbuk2 has some pretty stylish messenger bags and from what I have seen they would work fine if you got the large:
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rogueish

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When I was down in New Orleans last spring, I noticed quite a few looks while in the French Quater and Warehouse District. I was only using my Yashica TLR (and a beat up 35mm a couple times) and I was watched pretty closely. The Warehouse Dstrc made me very nervous on 2 occasions. No problems in the Garden district.
As mentioned above, a inconspicous bag won't help much. Theives usually see dollar value, not gear. The bigger the bag, usually translates into the bigger the $$$, no matter the currency.
Large intimitating freinds are your best bet. The cooler bags that Blaze-on linked, look good. Hmmmm.... I do need a new one for my Mamiya, and it will keep the suds, uh, I mean film, cold.
 

David A. Goldfarb

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The Crumpler Fux Deluxe has a photo insert that's big enough for 4x5" (I use it for my Tech V kit) and it looks like a messenger bag. I like to use a folding hood instead of a darkcloth in the city, so I can keep an eye out, but if I'm shooting 8x10" or larger, I use the darkcloth.
 

Mongo

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If you can solve the problems of hiding the tripod and keeping your stuff safe while you're under the dark cloth, I think the best bag for hiding equipment is a bag made for carrying baby stuff (diapers, bottles, etc.). Very few theives are interested in diapers and breast milk. But, as others have mentioned, this only gets you to the site...once you pull the equipment out all bets are off.
 

Adams

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When shooting in "heavy" areas. I carry my camera in a round plastic bucket with a metal handle on it (like bulk food comes in from a grocery store.) I have spilled paint on the outside of the bucket, it has scratches all over it, a couple of torn "product" stickers taken from another bucket. The tripod I use is an old very ugly, but functional Tiltall that collapses down small enough to be concealed underneath an overcoat, strapped over my shoulder. (This is hard to hide in Texas in the summertime.)
 

David A. Goldfarb

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Sam, here's a link to a photo of the Fux Deluxe insert on Adorama's site (though I bought mine from the Crumpler store in Soho (NYC))--

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I can fit the Tech V, about 6 lenses, filters and shades, loupe, meter, Linhof finder, and 4 Grafmatics and the usual small accessories in there and have room in the large outside pocket for things like maps, printouts of photography regulations, and such.

The insert comes out in one piece, zips closed and has its own handle, so if you wanted, you could get more than one insert and use the same bag for different setups.
 

rbarker

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I rather like Adams' idea of the overcoat, but combined with a shopping cart from the grocery store. :wink:

I still think that whatever the camera gear is carried in, it becomes obvious when set up, and that is the most likely time a mugger would attack.

A rubber human hand for your dog to carry in his mouth might do the trick, though. :wink:
 
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I like using bags made for carrying tools. They are made out of ballistic nylon, are well built, and are reasonably priced. I got mine at Duluth trading Post (they're on the web.) They tend to have a lot of pockets that you don't need, but it's not a big deal.

-Peter
www.desmidt.net
 

Curtis Nelson

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BBarlow690,

Do you actually use the bag you linked to? I looked at it and it appears to be exactly what I'm looking for, but wanted someone's opinion before buying one.

Thanks,

Curtis
 
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