Protecting and Safeguarding your Camera and Gear

Created by Anominal on Sept. 14, 2013, 9:36 p.m.
  • So let's talk about protecting gear. I did pick up UV filters and Lens Hoods for my lenses. I just don't want to risk scratching the lenses, and there seems to be enough of a debate about how much a clear UV filter will affect your images and plenty of other people are doing the same.

    But I want to talk more about defending against theft, robbery, and loss.

    I have to admit, that part of the reason I haven't gone out too much with the camera is that I feel a bit self-conscious. Should I be any more worried carrying my camera out in the open than other people are with bringing laptops and iPads? Or should I actually feel safer because people are more familiar with the costs of laptops and iPads compared to cameras?

    Of course I should never leave it unattended, but if somehow it does get lost, I remember there used to be a company that sold registration barcode stickers to stick on your phone, with a phone number to call in case someone finds it and wants to do the conscientious thing try to return it. Is that company still around? And does anyone remember what they were called?

    Something like this GearTag on Kickstarter also seems promising. (Yes, another Kickstarter project. Besides Amazon, it feels like I get most of my stuff from here now. 47 projects backed so far.) You pair the tag with your phone and choose a paging mode to manually activate an alarm, or more importantly in the case of trying to prevent theft, you can pair it so that if the tag leaves a certain proximity it will set off the alarm.

    What methods do you guys use to protect your gear? I can't imagine how awful it would feel to lose it all.

    [Edit: Oh, and I just picked up a Flashlight/StunGun combo to add to my pack. Practical in multiple ways. That's how I like my gear.]

  • I am always pretty aware of people around me when I am taking pictures. More so when I am solo, Since there is a big Meth problem right now where I live. Also being that I commonly frequent bars or establishments that can be of a much rougher nature than most people prefer. So I am pretty skilled at knowing what to look for and avoiding problems before they happen.

    If I am shooting somewhere thats more public than I am not super comfortable with not being able to watch my back the entire time (night shooting is the big thing that comes to mine, I usually bring a friend or two with, partly to pass the time if I am doing long exposures. The rest of the time I keep my back tethered to me, Since it has front and chest straps. I also like to stealth My camera equipment a bit. I cover up logos' and brand names. So people can't quickly look at what I have and realize its of higher value. Matte surface cloth tape like a lot of gaffers tapes work well for this. Same goes for my gear bags, I don't like them having anything that really points out that they are special. Biggest thing in general is I never set stuff down. So there isn't the likely hood that i might misplace something or that someone can distract me and swipe it.

    Since I frequent shooting at a few places in General I also have made it a habit of knowing the Staff at the places. Not to mention some of the more frequent everyday visitors like myself. Though being that I look like someone that might belong on a motorcycle works as discouragement for people not to screw with me.

    Btw Tripods and monopod make great self defense tools should you need one. That tip was actually passed onto me by a professional photographer friend.

  • The gear tags sound nice but if you're like me, i rarely hear my phone go off in my pocket (unless i'm wearing headphones). Juan advice is sound, covering up logos, using casual bags with inserts helps remove attention. Other simple things like always keep it in sight, leave identifiable trinkets on the bah (little keychain toys or a brightly coloured bandana), Black light pens, leashes and tethers.

    A tip i learned about tech when you first get it is to write down all your serial numbers and ID codes, this can help the Police alot should something get stolen.

    One thing to keep in mind is how much is your equipment worth, consider the value or replacing it then consider whether it's worth insuring your equipment.

    Lastly, one thing that can deter thieves is having a unimposing camera, even cheaper DSLR like the T#i/Rebel range look more expensive than something like the Sony NEX, RX1, RX100, Olympus EP5, Panasonic GX1 and other mirrorless cameras, making them less of a target.

  • Great tips all around.

    @TsunamiJuan I suppose bringing a friend is probably one of the safest deterrents. (But what if we both have gear? Will we be twice the target? =P) And great tip with the monopod/tripod. That seems like a great excuse to bring the StealthyPro monopod extension if that kickstarter manages to succeed. Been a while, but I did practice martial arts way back when, with some training with a short stick.

    @Sonowake the GearTag has it's own vibration and alarm, and doesn't (or also?) set off the phone. I imagine it being useful if you're in a public place and a thief scoops up your pack/camera, then the tag itself will sound off, drawing attention to him.

    But as for you other advice, serial numbers will be written down. I also found this article that suggests several websites to register your gear. The article also suggests having visible and non-visible deterrents and tracking/registration methods on it.

    And yeah, a mirrorless camera may also be in my future at some point, with going incognito as a really good reason.

    I've really been having so much fun so far that I began checking out craigslist to see what kinds of local jobs people hire out for. I saw one person who wanted pics of them and their dog... and an emergency last minute, day of, wedding photographer. I took neither because I know I couldn't do justice to either job, but once I get a bit better, I wouldn't mind if this hobby could pay for itself.

  • @Anominal: I haven't found myself in a situation yet where someone has decided to screw with me when I have a friend with me. Generally though when I get a friend to come along they aren't there to shoot pictures. Mostly to shoot the shit While doing it or cause it is a situation that you really need to be watching your back. I've been keeping a dive knife on me lately as well when I do solo stuff which is most of my shooting. I also have a concealed carry permit, Though most of the time I don't carry outside of first time meetings with new clients at their site. Few sketchy Situations convinced me it was a good thing to have, a little firepower is good at opening an exit when needed. (to many sketchy front's for shit here)

    I guess the big thing to remember is Gear can be replaced, Lifes can't.

  • People seem to always get worried about this sort of thing. If it's an issue for you just get the gear insured.

    If you're not going to go out and use your equipment then why bother buying it in the first place.

    For the most part it's not an issue nowadays with the rise of the "entry level" prosumer grade cameras and most people not knowing the difference between a $400 entry level DSLR compared to a $7000 pro body.


  • @stenchlord I wouldn't say it's just about getting insurance and being done with it. TsunamiJuan and Sonowake have given some excellent tips that can be used on top of that. (But insurance is also an option too. I just need to figure out how to shop for insurance.)

    In fact, I was thinking instead of just covering up the logos with black tape like I'm trying to hide something, I wonder if covering up the logos with videogame stickers would make them even cheaper. Imagine putting Capcom over the Canon name and a sticker of Megaman's face over "EOS 70D." I gotta think that has a different effect than just black tape. (I don't know if I'm going to go that route, but it's something to think about.)