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Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

“Our autobiography is written in our contact sheets,  and our opinion of the world in our selects”  

"Never ever confuse sharp with good, or you will end up shaving with an ice cream cone and licking a razor blade."  

 

Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 

 

Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."

 

I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!

 


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Old 03-19-2011   #41
retnull
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stupid leica View Post
I've been using the same Crumpler 5 mil (first-gen) for about 4-5 years now. Been all over with me. Works great for DSLR + 3 lenses, or film SLR + 4(small) lenses. Carries an entire RF kit lol.
Often if i go on a weekend trip, i'll toss the Canon P, 35/50/100 kit, along with an FE2 and 50mm inside. It'll hold all that and a good bit of film.
Yes me too -- the Crumpler "4 million dollar home" has worked great for 4 or 5 years. It's inconspicuous, but safely holds one body with 2 or 3 lenses, OR a TLR. Thumbs up.
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Old 03-19-2011   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
Anyone know anything about these? I'm fighting the urge to hit the 'Add to Cart' button!

http://www.wotancraft.com/products/b...plorer/007.htm
Now that is really a nice bag. A bit heavy for my taste, but really nice for a city jungle. I guess it would be a great match for a Rolleiflex, Bessa 667 or a compact 35 mm RF setup. I will keep it on my 'bag list' should I ever get one of the cameras mentioned.

But fortunately I do not need another camera or bag
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Old 03-19-2011   #43
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I'm looking at a 5 million dollar home for my OM-2 an extra lens and a few rolls of film, i need to go find one and stuff all my gear inside to see how it fits.
Most of the time i just use my Camelbak Blowfish and of course i have 2lts of fluid for those hot days far away from safe drinking water. I would seriously consider another type of Camelbak as hydration is important as is sunscreen and a hat.
yeah it's still summer here in far off NZ
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Old 03-19-2011   #44
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I use mainly a small sized backpack by Kipling (with the green monkey). It is small, so it has only two compartments. I can load it with the Summilux on bottom in a lens case, with the M6+Summicron on top, plus the CV 25mm in a lens case on bottom,with the Hexar RF+19mm on top. There are two external pockets for at least ten rolls of film. An alternative "load" is the 2.8D Rolleiflex in one compartment.and the M6 + 2 lenses in the other. It is too small to look like a camera backpack. People may think that I carry stuff for my daughters in it.

It is like this one:

http://cgi.ebay.com/KIPLING-Dark-Blu...item2561166e59
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Old 03-19-2011   #45
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The perfect bag is no bag.

I use rangefinders. That means I am willing to forego whatever DSLR's bring to the table for the convenience of rangefinders. Increasingly, though, I am willing to sacrifice whatever rangefinders brings to the table for the convenience of a camera that you can actually stick in a jacket pocket. (I sunno about you, but Leicas and Bessas don't fit in any jacket I where.)

I've got a little Sigma and a little Ricoh. I'm intrigued by the GRX. Increasingly, I use thos two little cameras, not my Leica or my Bessa or my OM-2N. Are the photos as good? Probably not, in a technical sense. But, I don't care. I'm not printing, and lugging around a bag detracts from the pleasure of taking pictures.
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Old 03-19-2011   #46
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The "perfect" bag is only perfect for a particular occasion. Generally, I like the smallest bag possible to carry everything I want.

I'm up to three now. I had two sizes in Tamrac Express bags, but now I got a Tenba messenger bag to carry cameras and diapers

I don't like backpacks because it just makes the job of pickpockets easy.
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Old 03-19-2011   #47
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I just throw stuff in a common daypack with some padded wraps and t-shirts and neoprene cases for lenses and such. But the idea is to have your camera out.... in the city it is usually worn sling style so I am more aware of it.

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Old 03-19-2011   #48
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I hardly use a camera bag (I don't travel much) so I can not contribute to this topic. However, the other day I had a good laugh at this video:

David Alan Harvey, Bag World:
http://www.picturestoryblog.com/2010...ive-a-way.html
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Old 03-19-2011   #49
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I like this one too, but my wife thinks it's ugly. Ah well - so I have no taste!

And at least the price is a bit more palatable than the other one....
http://www.wotancraft.com/products/b...plorer/006.htm
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Old 03-19-2011   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
I like this one too, but my wife thinks it's ugly. Ah well - so I have no taste!

And at least the price is a bit more palatable than the other one....
http://www.wotancraft.com/products/b...plorer/006.htm
i think your wife might be right...
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Old 03-19-2011   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post
I'm still waiting for Domke to come out with a "stretch" version of the F5-XB. It would be longer than the standard bag by one additional compartment. It would have three dividers, instead of two, to create four compartments. The belt loop would be replaced with a rear pocket, like on the F-803 and the F-6, etc.

In keeping with the designation of "stretch" Boeing airliners, this would be the Domke F5-XB-500 model.
Hehe. I feel exactly the same way. I even left a message on the Domke forum at tiffen.com suggesting a F-5XB "little bit bigger".

But I've solved my "perfect bag" problem. The perfect bag is really five bags, for different combos of gear, all Domke. Now that I think of it, I must be insane.

Last edited by mathomas : 03-19-2011 at 21:50.
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Old 03-19-2011   #52
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i think your wife might be right...
I agree, but it would not be bad if they ditched those Y-shaped straps on the side. Those ruin a good design, IMHO.
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Old 03-20-2011   #53
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i think your wife might be right...
I know -- I should always listen to her. Guess I'll just stick with my F-803, which BTW she likes.
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Old 03-20-2011   #54
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I also have an "S-06" bag from Shinzaburo - Hanpu Kaban in Kyoto as follows:

http://www.ichizawashinzaburohanpu.c...em.html?n=s-06

Wonderful bag, excellent quality and takes an insert of about 12x30

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Old 03-22-2011   #55
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For years I got along fine with a surplus gas mask bag which carried an M2 with 19. 35, 50. 90 lenses (each wrapped up in a high grade protective cotton sock), plus about a dozen battered tins of hand-rolled Tri-X. Bought around 1970, wore out in 2005. Since then various Nova squareish bags for one mini-cam each, a Domke F5 (I think, tag is long gone) which now carries two M9s and 2-4 lenses and/or flash gear, chargers etc. And buying a P45+ MFDB brought along a huge Pelikan plastic wheeled case for two Hassies and three lenses plus backs. I almost never use the Pelikan, and in fact always prefer to just hand carry one camera and at most one extra lens that I think I might need.

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Old 03-22-2011   #56
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I'm using the Tenba Mixx (small). It currently holds a Nikon D700 w/ 85mm 1.8 (hood attached), a second lens, Nikon SB-30 flash, voice recorder, 5 rolls of film, two reporters notebooks, and several pens and flash drives. The small external pockets and one of the two lens partitions on the inside remain unused. A lot of space for such a small bag. My only complaint is that it doesn't stay close enough to my hip, and slips off of my slanted shoulders constantly (can't help my genetics).
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Old 03-24-2011   #57
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I'm sure there is a thesis this for someone :-) .

My latest bag is a Domke f802 clone and its working out just great containing my M6, 50mm and 35mm lenses, lens cloths, rolls of film, notebook, holga and lots of room for more, without it looking like a camera bag.

Of course, I have many other bags, one of which is a Lowepro Nature AW II and weighs almost as much as the gear I put into it. You can imagine how much use that gets :-)
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Old 03-24-2011   #58
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I tried a lot of different bags but actually I guess I just found the perfect one :
It's a messenger bag made for (my) life by Chrome, San Francisco, USA.

With its comfortable strap, that messenger bag previously designed to be used on a bike fits perfectly to my body when I move, but with the quick release, I can take my camera instantly.
The two passed years it was with me in all my photo trips, and never betrayed me.

In my bag there's : a notebook, a pen, my phone, a pen lens cleaner, a cable release, my camera with 3 or 4 lenses, a flash unit, batteries for my camera and the flash unit, memory cards, and a mini tripod.
There's still little pockets for money, ID card, tickets…

(The partition is an addition; if I take it out I have my original bag back.
I can also get as many lens pouches as I want if I move the pads.)
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Old 03-24-2011   #59
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With rangefinders, usually two bags. The carry bag is an A&A - I don't remember which one - that holds two Ms, one with a 28 mounted and the other with a CV 21. A 50 Summilux pre-asph and a 90 Summicron, also pre-asph, are mounted back to back in the center compartment. An A&A film gizmo - holds four rolls - on one end, and two Vivitar 2800s in the outside pockets. Everything's available and nothing falls out. The in-the-car bag - a little bit smaller Domke - holds an M8, a Viso III, a 200, and a 135 2.8, extra film, batteries, etc. This can do everything I need to do, film or digital, except sports. For that, a Canon DSLR in a Domke F2. Too much? Sure. But I do shoot for work and don't always know what I'll need until I get there. For walking around, an M with a 50, a small 35 and a Tele-Elmarit back to back and a couple rolls of film.
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Old 03-24-2011   #60
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I just pulled the trigger on the perfect bag -- a Thinktank Retrospective 20. Yes, I know it is too big for a daily use bag with RF gear, but I already have a UD 30 for that. It is for my other uses where the Retro 20 is perfect: 1) with with my D700 and 2 zooms up to a 70-200mm OR 2) for travel with an RF body and 2-3 lenses, a NEX5 + kit lens, film, accessories and non-photo gear such as a rain jacket, Moleskine notebook, paperback to read, netbook, etc... Any other RFF'ers with the Retrospective 20?

PS - if you go to the blog below and link on the SPECIAL OFFER link to the TT website, you get a free accessory (small bag, strap, etc...) with your bag order. I'm not affiliated with the blog or its owner -- just wanted to pass along the deal.

http://www.ronmartblog.com/2010/01/r...-disguise.html
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Old 03-24-2011   #61
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i just bought a domke 5xc, it can hold all my gear when i prefer to take it all with me rather than decide.
i have used the domke 5xb for years (off & on) for a smaller kit and i'm about to buy (again) a domke 5xa for when i want just a very few things to carry...
so clearly for me, the domke 5x series is perfection!
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Old 03-26-2011   #62
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Hmm, looks like I have the worst bag here.

Those Domke bags looks really nice







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Old 03-26-2011   #63
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The perfect bag, for me, would be the bag you can get order-made, or nearly order made. And then will last forever.

I am still to confirm that, but Fogg bag may very well be the ticket with that matter.
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Old 03-28-2011   #64
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You need a bag for your age. In 1969 I was balanced: the right shoulder bore a Canon FL body in a holster case with 85-300mm fitted. The left shoulder bore the weight of a plastic bag stuffed with Canon and Leica rangefinders. Today, at 71, I rely on a Hadley with M2 35, M3 50 plus a 28 coupled to a 90 by a ring. Plus a Sekonic incident and plenty of film. The olive green Hadley is so trashed that nobody will ever feel tempted to snatch it, butv it will outlive me...
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Old 03-28-2011   #65
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I have two Billinghams. One Hadley and one Alice. One Lowepro Slingshot 100 and LowePro Pro Runner 350 AW chinese lookalike.
Now I just carry my M2 w 35mm around my shoulder with film in my pocket. What a relief.
My other bags will go except for the big backpack.

I have however just ordered the ThinkTank Retrospective 10 for my Pentax 67 w/ two lenses. The magic of medium format is a heavy burden indeed...
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Old 03-29-2011   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vince Lupo View Post
I like this one too, but my wife thinks it's ugly. Ah well - so I have no taste!

And at least the price is a bit more palatable than the other one....
http://www.wotancraft.com/products/b...plorer/006.htm
Domke now has those waxed fabric bags; I think they call them "ruggedwear." I don't have any of them -- yet.
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Old 03-29-2011   #67
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Cant help myself, do you use colour or BW film in your D700?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaredangle View Post
I'm using the Tenba Mixx (small). It currently holds a Nikon D700 w/ 85mm 1.8 (hood attached), a second lens, Nikon SB-30 flash, voice recorder, 5 rolls of film, two reporters notebooks, and several pens and flash drives. The small external pockets and one of the two lens partitions on the inside remain unused. A lot of space for such a small bag. My only complaint is that it doesn't stay close enough to my hip, and slips off of my slanted shoulders constantly (can't help my genetics).
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Old 03-29-2011   #68
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i've got three that i cycle through right now. the general design idea is small+light, top open with zipper (no velcro, no clips, no flaps).

1. for a lot of stuff - diaperdude



2. for most days - eastpak madison (likely discontinued)



3. for light days - pacsafe fannypack. yes it looks douchey, but i have come to the conclusion that there is no elegant way to carry a camera. this one would be very awesome if it clipped on and off more easily.



oh, there's a 4. artist and artisan bag with inserts, which i take when i really take a lot of gear. i had bought it with the intention of it being my #1 bag, and it's great, but just very big.
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Old 03-29-2011   #69
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Good choice!

Chrome Mini-Metros have been my main camera bags for over 6 years. I have 1 left-shouldered & 1 right-shouldered & alternate between the 2 so I don't end up as a hunchback.

For inserts, I use Billinghams & Tenbas w/different configurations. They also fit in briefcases & other bags that I use for work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gekopaca View Post
I tried a lot of different bags but actually I guess I just found the perfect one :
It's a messenger bag made for (my) life by Chrome, San Francisco, USA.

With its comfortable strap, that messenger bag previously designed to be used on a bike fits perfectly to my body when I move, but with the quick release, I can take my camera instantly.
The two passed years it was with me in all my photo trips, and never betrayed me.

In my bag there's : a notebook, a pen, my phone, a pen lens cleaner, a cable release, my camera with 3 or 4 lenses, a flash unit, batteries for my camera and the flash unit, memory cards, and a mini tripod.
There's still little pockets for money, ID card, tickets…

(The partition is an addition; if I take it out I have my original bag back.
I can also get as many lens pouches as I want if I move the pads.)
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Old 03-29-2011   #70
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Domke F2.
*the* perfect bag.

Unless when you're shooting 8x10 with a beat up Burke&James, then a sturdy fruit box is the deal
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Old 03-29-2011   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanOnRoute66 View Post
If by "worst," you mean the most-worn, I don't think so:

Note the holes in the corners of the top flap and the cheesy patch covering a very large hole in the back pocket. This is one of the original Domke bags made way back when Jim Domke started the company. The bag has the plywood bottom.
Looks beautiful to me At least have some protection left
Mine don't offer anything as a protection, it's just soft russian gasmask bag. I love the color, but I like your more!!!
Respect,
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Old 04-01-2011   #72
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domke f2 of course
walking around bag is a domke f6, with single insert 9 2 lens.
in this, a nikon s2 rangefinder with 50, 35,or 21mm lens; inthe larger dection, a pentax mx with 50mm.

option of rangefinder or slr, as arises
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Old 04-01-2011   #73
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further to bags. the brady gelderburn is a joy in and of itself
great for the market, with rubber liner intact.
but never found it useful for cameras.
then came domke, and i've never looked back
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Old 04-03-2011   #74
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I use a Filson's small field bag for my M8 and a couple of lenses. It also pockets for a phone, lens cleaners and all sorts of stuff. Its waterproof, doesn't look like a camera bag, and will last forever. It's perfect for me!
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Old 04-04-2011   #75
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Anybody tried sewing their own bag? I did some bags for my touring bike in the same styles as Carradice and Ghille Berthoud bags, and I'm starting to think about making something like the wotancraft bags, only larger (for my mamiya super 23 kit and flashes). I have googled a lot but I can't find anybody making anything inspiring. Mostly modding existing (often surplus) bags.

I'm also thinking of making a dedicated little TLR shoulder bag.
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Old 06-09-2011   #76
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I got the Domke F6. This is the first bag I buy which allows me to say that if I had to design a bag from a white sheet of paper, I would draw something similar to the F6.
It is absolutly perfect in size, shape, number of inner walls, and even material texture, not to hard neither too soft.
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Old 09-11-2011   #77
Rob-F
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Originally Posted by goodtimes View Post
I got the Domke F6. This is the first bag I buy which allows me to say that if I had to design a bag from a white sheet of paper, I would draw something similar to the F6.
It is absolutly perfect in size, shape, number of inner walls, and even material texture, not to hard neither too soft.
Yes, the F6 is a good choice--I concur! I've been using a sand colored one for the past year or so. Now, if I were to get a second one, I rather like both the olive color, and the "rugged wear" version, which is apparently treated with oil and/or wax to make it weather resistant. I wonder what some of you bag aficionados might think of that idea? Me, I rather like the looks of it. But it has been said that the oil, or wax, or whatever it is, tends to rub off on things.

Your thoughts?
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Old 09-11-2011   #78
ChrisLivsey
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But it has been said that the oil, or wax, or whatever it is, tends to rub off on things.

Your thoughts?
The wax does rub off, so a white shirt for example will be marked. The wax also, climate dependant, can make the fabric stiff. This makes the material retain quite sharp "folds" these then wear quite quickly into holes. This can be an attractive look if you seek the world travelled photojournalist style but makes the waterproofing poor. They can be re-waxed/proofed but I have not seen the factory finish restored by a home job. Again that can be an attractive look.
Personally I cherish the wear on my 20yr? old F2 but baulk at carrying it with anything like a full load these days. Indeed it could hold every bit of M and F kit I have with room to spare. In its, and my, heyday it carried the 'blad and lenses and flash.
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Old 09-12-2011   #79
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Slingshot 100 and 200 in the main.

Also Domke F6... rarely now the F2 when I want to carry more.

I too try to trim down and keep lean. More causes that trade off when you start thinking about gear and not about making a good pic with what you have.

I now try to stick to two bodies and 2-3 lenses. 4 max.

I'm off to finish a project in India soon with an Xpan (45mm) and Leica M (25/35) in a lowepro slingshot 100 and thats it. Guess I will have to make it work but I sure will enjoy being light on my feet every day for 3 weeks!
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Old 09-12-2011   #80
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I use a medium size Timbuktu messenger in grey and black wool as my daily laptop camera bag. For years I used a black three-part folding pad from a diaper bag kit as the insert, but I just go a custom made insert (for $40!) from a woman named Martilena who sells on ETSY and has her own web shop. http://martilena.com/
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