John Stanford, the creator of the Vested Interest Photo Vest (and former owner of that company), is indeed an originator, producing the Molar Bag (available at our office) and a new product that I'm very happy to report that I had a hand in designing - what I call the Ultimate long lens bag, and that John markets more modestly as the Long Lens Bag.
Mary and I are on safari for several weeks each year -- sometimes spending as much as three months on safari. We've tried all sorts of lens cases and concoctions for safely carrying, and using, a long lens, but we've always been frustrated. A few years ago I suggested to John that he make a bag that would meet the needs not only of safari-goers but also photographers shooting from vehicles at home or who need to carry a long lens and camera in the field or from point A to B.
The lens case I envisioned would accommodate a telephoto lens with the lens hood extended, with a camera mounted, and with enough room to fit a tele-converter or extension tubes. Accessory pockets for items needed FOR A TELEPHOTO SHOOTER, like pockets for tele-converters and extension tubes, a flash, and a pocket for a tele-flash (better beamer/visual echoes tele-flash -which we sell from the office) were also needed. John added these pockets, and two more for storing smaller items and the nylon straps you can use for attaching the lens bag to a seat.
Left: The 500mm Long Lens bag with its contents spread out, with arrows indicating where each piece goes. The bag is tall enough to accommodate a lens with the hood attached, as well as a tele-converter or extension tubes.
On safari, we use the long lens bag (OK, call it the McDonald Safari Bag) by standing it upright and then attaching it to the back of the vehicle seat via the nylon straps that encircle the seat back and snapping into the quick lock snaps. John has included several extra straps and lock-snaps for further securing the lens - I often use one or more of these to encircle the lens bag tightly when I'm transporting the bag so that a porter doesn't tip the bag over and perhaps have an accident with the lens falling out! John has added a 2" velcro-edged lid to the bag amd a sturdy quick-release snap-lock for the lid, further securing the bag and making it fairly weather-proof for the type of use we normally put the bag through. He also added very heavy-duty shoulder straps for wearing the bag, and a large, heavy duty snap-lock and strap for carrying the bag or moving it.
John has also added a plastic back stiffener so that the lens stands upright when empty, and doesn't slouch down when a lens is slid in or out. But unlike other long lens bags, this bag collapses to a near flat position, so that it can be packed in a suitcase empty, if desired, or filled with clothes or, as we often do, our headless tripods that we pack into our checked baggage when flying.
The McDonald Long Lens Safari bag acts like a lens holster for us, where we can unzip one, two, or all four zippers open enough so that the lens easily slips into our out of the bag. John placed four zippers in the bag, allowing it to unfurl sort of like a peeled banana, so that the lens can be removed when its lying flat as well, as you very well may carry it when you're shooting from a vehicle. We envisioned a bag that would work upright - pulled straight up, or would work when lying down, as would be the case here in the states if we were shooting from a car or pickup and we had the lens lying beside us on the seat.
John custom makes each bag, and he can probably accommodate any request that you might dream up -- although after three years or so of field testing and continual refinements from me, Mary, and a few others who had to get the prototype -- they wanted that bag! - I can't imagine you'll have much reason to add anything to it. The bag is available in several sizes, and the 500mm bag sells for $250, and the 600mm for $265. They can be ordered directly from John at (972) 395-3458, or email@example.com or Vertex Photographic, 1610 Brighton Drive, Carrollton, TX, 75007, or www.vertexphoto.com
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