In your bag No: 1018 – Dennis Santella


by Bellamy /

4 min read

In your bag 1018, Dennis Santella
Wow, this is a very cool one. Dennis has a beast of a camera in his bag. Check it out.

Hello my name is Dennis Santella

I am photographer and photography professor living in Brooklyn.
I found your site through my friend and colleague Kai McBride (Featured bag #759).

I’d like to share a hip-bag/belt I developed to remove the load from my shoulders.This became more of a pain after having a child and tramping child, stroller, and diaper bag up and down subway stairs. I used a Petrol Deca Mini Dr. Bag (a gift from my wife) for a few years and loved it. But the confusion of bags and a project I started to work on which involved a lot of crawling through WWI trenches, pushed me to to try some kind of hip bag.


I looked a the Portabrace, Tamrac, Kata, and other waist bags, but everything is designed for dSLRs or compact digital cameras, and nothing seemed the right size for my oddly square camera. So, I found a MOLLE system tactical belt and a few different pouches to fill my needs.

This current version uses a Blackhawk tactical belt (great quality), Condor gadget pouch and EMT pouch, and a Fox Tactical butt pack with a custom insert for the camera.

I molded a perfect custom insert by making a little cardboard box to fit in the bag, filling it with spray foam, and dropping my camera (wrapped in several layers of plastic) into the foam. Once the foam hardened, I pulled out the camera, trimmed away some of the excess and had a slot that fits the camera like a glove.


Here’s the contents:

Butt pack: Siciliano Camera Works Pannaroma 1×3, Metz Flash.

Gadget pouch: JCH 35mm film case loaded with Ilford HP-5, Kodak rangefinder, chain monopod (Same key ring, machined aluminum pattern as in Kai’s bag, but with clock chain which kinks less)

EMT Pouch: Gossen Luna Pro light meter, permanent marker, Zeiss monocular, alcohol wipes, first aid kit, flashlight, other odds and ends.

It’s been great so far. I love being able to rotate the whole belt around to put the camera in front or slightly to the side when I’m shooting and further to the back when I’m on the go or need to crouch or lie down. Nice also to never tangle my bag and backpack straps. After shooting with it for three weeks in Italy and Austria, I want to add a water bottle pouch and replace/reinforce the straps on the main pouch with speedclips; The buttons keep popping open, although thanks to the MOLLE webbing it’s nearly impossible for the pouch to detach. Only downside is that it’s a bit tricky to take off.

I’ve been using the Pannaroma as my primary eye for the last six years and have been really wrapped up in the possibilities of the panoramic format. I keep thinking I should go back to the challenge of a more traditional aspect ratio, but keep finding new things I want to do with the panorama.

I haven’t updated my website much since graduate school, but some projects, including one shot with this camera, can be seen at

And of course, I love the 35mm JCH film cases. I appreciate the ten roll capacity, as this camera only gets eighteen shots per roll and I keep one slot in the case empty so I’m not juggling cassettes while changing film.

Thanks for you work!

Thanks for sharing your bag with us Dennis. Not often we hear of how people can to have they bag that they do. And that camera is fascinating.
Check out the links and make sure you come and comment.

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, 720px across is optimal) 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. Please understand that there is a long wait now as there is a backlog of submissions. Not all make the cut, so make sure yours is funny/interesting/quirky. And please make sure the shot is of good quality, as the ones that are not do not go up.

3 comments on “In your bag No: 1018 – Dennis Santella”

    Robert Karlsson October 13, 2014 at 9:46 pm / Reply

    Really interesting setup you have there. I really enjoyed your work, especially the series called Electric Dreams, keep up the great work.

    Jeremy K October 20, 2014 at 2:08 am / Reply

    First, excellent bag! Very good description of the items and why you use them.

    Secondly, thank you! I’ve never seen Siciliano Camera Works and am now fascinated. Those motor drive ones are incredible. How did you happen to get one? Your Pannaroma is probably one of the, if not the, most rare cameras on this blog. How many did they make?

    I also am Brooklyn based (Williamsburg). Sometimes I meet up with the gang from It really is a good group of very smart fellows who adore fine cameras (sure sure many Leica shooters but they love everything). If you’re interested, I’d love to see the Pannaroma. October meetup thread here:

    As a complete aside, fantastic woodworking as well. A tip of the hat to polymathy.

    Dennis Santella October 21, 2014 at 4:29 am / Reply

    As far as I know, there are 31 Pannaroma cameras out in the world. The first one was made for Lee Friedlander. I was aware of the camera from studying with Thomas Roma at Columbia. Buying the camera, I just got lucky and found mine down at K+M Camera in NYC.

    FYI, there has been a great group show of photographs made with this camera that has traveled to a few places:, last stop was the Mercer County Community College art gallery, but it just came down a few weeks ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.