In your bag 506, James Murphy
today we have a delightful setup for you, coming to you from China. But don’t let that name fool you, James is not Chinese, but a Brit abroad. And he has some lovely gear for us to see.

I’ve been meaning to do one of these for a long time, as I quite enjoy seeing what other people use on a day-to-day basis. You showed a bag a short while ago with another Zeiss Ikon (here and here), so I thought I’d throw mine in to show there are people out there enjoying these kickass cameras!

My name is James Murphy and I’m 22 years old. I currently live in Xi’an, China and I’m an EFL teacher. I’ve been here for 5 months and have at least another 7 to go. The city was pretty oppressive over the winter, bleak, grey and freezing, but now it’s warmed up to about 30°C it’s a lot more enjoyable! I shoot a lot of film and I’ve committed to black and white for a while. I bought 60 rolls of Tri-X 400 just before I left the UK and I’m still going through it. I do miss colour sometimes, but Xi’an is a very grey city…there’s a lot of bare concrete and a lot of smog, so there isn’t a lot of colour to photograph.

Before I came here, I worked at an unfulfilling retail job in a small town in England. When I found out I’d got the job here in Xi’an, I sold my bass guitar and my motorbike to get some cash. With that money, I started preparing for the move…and just happened to look on eBay for a Zeiss Ikon, without much hope of finding one in my price range. Well, I saw one going very cheaply indeed, but at the time I hadn’t yet sold my motorbike. I emailed the seller to ask him if he could wait for a month or two, after which I’ll definitely buy it. He declined (understandably). The camera didn’t sell and after the seller re-listed the camera three times (dropping the price each time), my motorbike sold and I managed to pick up this beauty at a little over 1/3rd of the retail price and it was only 7 months old at the time.

I was looking at a Leica M6 and I’ll admit I was tempted by the romanticism of owning a Leica, but when it comes down to it…the Zeiss Ikon is just the better camera for me. I also have a soft spot for Zeiss (when I was growing up, I heard about Zeiss optics a long time before I heard about Leica) and the ZI has been my dream camera for a few years. I’ll also be the first to admit I’m somewhat anti-Leica. I like supporting the underdog and I think the ZI has been massively overshadowed by Leica’s M6, M7 and MP. I’ve had the camera for almost 6 months and I honestly can’t fault it. Everything about it just works, and works very well. Some people have criticised the metering system, but it’s just a little different. Once you get used to it, it’s just as easy as any other system out there.

I picked up a Voigtlander 28mm ƒ2 Ultron. 28mm is my favourite focal length and is a great general purpose lens. I also use my iPhone 4 quite a lot to take photos as well as a Ricoh GRD IV (which I used to take this photo). The GRD is 28mm equivalent and the iPhone 4 is 30mm equivalent, so I’ve got three different choices of camera for a near 28mm equivalent focal length.

The Olympus 35-SP is the first rangefinder I ever owned. It’s a great camera with a cracking lens. I nearly sold it recently, but i decided to keep it as a backup. It’s a great camera, but I find it a little clumsy for day-to-day use. I’m also not a huge fan of the 42mm focal length – I’d like it either a little longer or a little wider. I find it to be an awkward focal length, but…it’s useful enough to stop me from selling it.

The Olympus Mju II’s are my favourite cameras ever. They’re tough, tiny, lightweight, fast, cheap, accurate and they look awesome, too. I always take one of them with me. They’re great fun to use and fit in your pocket very comfortably. I often take them into class to take photos of the kids and they’re so easy to use that sometimes the kids use them to take photos of each other, which they think is great fun and makes for some awesome pictures.

The bag is a Zkin VEO RAW that I picked up in Hong Kong in February. I nearly picked up a Billingham Hadley Pro, but decided I’d rather get a cheaper bag that’s just as well made (if not better) and holds just as much.

I’ll stop here, as I think I’ve written too much already!

My flickr account is “” which also has a link to my Facebook. You can find me on Instagram at “jurphy_“, where I post bits almost daily.

Thanks for reading!

Thanks for sharing your story and your gear with us James. It is always nice to hear how and why people got their cameras. Happy shooting.
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Keep them coming folks, we need more submissions, so get your bag on Send me a hi resolution image of the bag (please make sure it is horizontal) and its contents, with some details about yourself and what you shoot. Oh and don’t forget your contact details (twitter, flickr, tumbler et al). Send the bag shots here.