Large Format 8x10 Backpacking & Gear Reveal

May 31, 2015  •  5 Comments

I have a lot of people ask me about my 8x10 large format gear that I use and so I thought I would publish a new article and show everyone the equipment that I use and also cover some backpacking equipment too.  I have a slideshow below of some photos of the gear and below I will describe each piece of equipment.  

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Camera Equipment

I have more than one 8x10 large format camera, but I use my Chamonix view camera for my hiking because it strikes the perfect balance for me.  It is light weight for an 8x10 view camera, it sets up fast and very easy, and offers every movement and adjustment that I need in my work.  I have 5x7 and 4x10 reducing backs for this camera that I like to use for specific scenes/subjects from time to time.  

I use the following lenses most often:

  • 150mm Nikkor SW F5.6-F64 Copal 1 filter 95mm, 112mm center filter, (IC 400)
  • 300mm Schneider APO F5.6-F64 Symmar MC 65 Copal 3 filter 105mm (425 IC)
  • 450mm Fujinon-C F12.5-F128 Copal 1 - filter 52mm (IC 486)
  • 600mm Fujinon-C F11.5-F64 Copal 3 filter 67mm (IC 600)

IC stands for image circle.  You want your lens for an 8x10 view camera to have at least 325 because you won't get any vignetting.  The more image circle coverage you have, the more movements you can do.  

You may be interested in my large format quick reference cards.  

I also collect and use a variety of 19th century brass and soft focuses lenses for special occasions.  

For metering I typically a Sekonic 758-DR spot meter.  I have been using this meter since 2010 and really rely on it with a high degree of accuracy.  I also have a Pentax digital spot meter that I use for black and white zone system work. 

For a loupe, I use a Wista 5x (the black one) the most.  The grey one, is one that I have had for years and it is a 3X loupe that I basically keep as a backup.  The round loupe is an Ebony loupe that I use for basic composition work or I use the +3 reading glasses that are shown in the photos.  

For miscellaneous items as shown in the photo, I use a manual stop watch for exposures, a lens brush and micro fiber clothes, an extra battery for my Sekonic 758 meter, extra rubber bands (needed many times in the field), a spanner wrench in case I need to work on lenses in the field, a flexible measuring tape to calculate bellows factor for exposure comp in case I do any closeup work in the field, and a couple cable releases, with one serving as a backup.  I use a darkcloth that has an elastic band around the front side and velcro along the seam.  It also stays in my case to help protect the ground glass too.  I also have an old black sweatshirt with a white t-shirt inside it that I use for a darkcloth too.  

For film holders, I store them in black neoprene cases that are intended to be used with tablets or thin laptop computers.  I typically only take 2 holders (4 exposures with me for a hike).  If it is for multiple days, I may take 3.  

I use LowePro 140 and 170 DSLR cases to store my lenses and misc. items in to complete my setup.

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I have been using the F64 XL backpack (grey pack in photos) since 2010 for my 8x10 gear.  I just updated my backpack to the Denali Pro. There are a number of reasons for the upgrade, but I will start with the F64 pack first.  The F64 pack has served me very well over the last five years.  However, I am doing longer hikes and so I needed a new pack that was designed for this scenario, plus had room for all the other items needed (food, water, camping, etc).  I still plan to use the F64 pack as a storage case for one of my 8x10 cameras or when I am doing roadside or very short hikes because of the convenience factor.  The camera and gear is instantly accessible and ready to go in minutes.  But, it is not designed for any type of real hiking and has no extra storage as well.  I was literally getting severe backaches from using this pack beyond its intended means.  

The new Gregory Denali Pro (no longer manufactured) is the highest rated backpack for long distance hiking for a reason.  This pack is an engineering marvel and is built for long and difficult multi-day hikes.  It isn't a camera backpack, so that presented some new challenges to make sure all the gear was safe in the mountaineering style pack.  The biggest challenge was finding a case for the 8x10 view camera.  After several suggestions from friends and hours of research, I stumbled upon a case manufacturer website where I found a 15x15 padded gator case.  This case was intended to be used for portable electronic equipment storage, so I knew it was well padded. After measuring the camera and the Denali backpack interior dimensions, I ordered a couple of these cases.  The case worked perfectly and had a couple extra inches where I store a few things in it.  It fits perfectly inside the Denali Pro pack.

When you look at the photos, notice the picture where I have all the cases sitting side by side.  This is my entire 8x10 kit fully packed and ready to load into the Denali Pro pack.  After loading the camera first, I then load the two smaller cases on top holding my lenses and all the misc. items detailed above.  There is still room above this if I needed it!  I load my film holders towards the back of the pack because there is a zippered opening to easily remove them in the field.  As you can see from the photos, I still have the entire bottom compartment empty and both side pouches as well.  I plan to use this area for food, camping items, etc.  My tripod goes on the right side of the pack and my camelback hangs on the back of the pack.  I am sure I will make adjustments to everything after I get some hikes under my belt this summer in the Rocky Mountains, Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier.  

If you have any questions, send me an email or post a comment below for others to see too.  

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Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi Jeff, thanks for the note. I am happy my info helped you out a little bit. Stay in touch. Tim
Jeffery Salter(non-registered)
Thanks for this blog. I woke up this morning thinking about switching from my 8x10 Canham metal field camera (which has rear swings and tilts) to wooden field camera. This post answers that question about which camera. As well as addresses the tripod head.

Mathieu Bauwens(non-registered)
Thanks for the info, Tim.
Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi Mathieu, I use a Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head and a Gitzo Carbon Fiber Tripod. Both rated to handle more than my 11x14 view camera.
Mathieu Bauwens(non-registered)
Hello Tim,

Not a word about your tripod and head ?!
No comments posted.

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