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Protect your stuff (05/08/2005)
By Tom Hirsch


     
When you travel any distance, whether it's across the street or around the world, protect your camera gear. Even if it's just a compact camera (the word "just" refers to quantity, not quality), you don't want it ending up in the hands of some stranger.

Insurance for your camera stuff is a good idea, and it's relatively inexpensive, but when a thief runs off with your gear, you're still out of luck for at least that trip. Precaution is still the best insurance against theft.

When you're not actually using your camera, it's a good idea to keep it out of sight. The best way to do this is with a camera case. The less conspicuous the case, the less chance that it will appear to contain anything of value. Conversely, an expensive case draws attention to the fact that it contains an expensive camera, even if it doesn't. The case should project a low profile, regardless of the cost of its contents. When I travel with my digital camera, I usually keep it in a utility bag, not a camera case. The bag has a shoulder strap as well as a handle, and is padded so the camera will withstand the slight amount of jostling that can be expected on a trip.

I own several camera cases of various sizes so I can suit the case to the equipment I am taking on a specific journey. In fact, some of the smaller cases, along with my camera gear, fit nicely inside the largest one so I can take two or three cases and use any one of them in a given situation.

Whenever you fly, your camera gear should always fly with you as carry-on luggage. This is not only to prevent theft, but also to avoid damage from rough handling. When you're alone in the airport or on a plane, never, ever leave the camera case out of your sight. While on the plane, stow it under the seat ahead of you, not in an overhead compartment.

If you must use the restroom while in the airport, take the camera case with you. If the need arises when you're on the plane, carefully evaluate the person in the seat next to you, then decide if the camera will be safe under the seat.

When traveling by car, it's still a good idea to take your camera case with you when you leave the vehicle, but sometimes this can be inconvenient. If it is necessary to leave the camera in the car for only a few minutes, place it on the floor with something, such as a blanket or sweater, over it.

It is never a good idea to leave camera equipment in a car for extended periods of time because cars have a tendency to get too hot or too cold, depending on the location and time of year, plus the added possibility of theft. If the camera must be left in the car, the most secure location is a locked trunk. The camera case will be out of sight, and breaking into a trunk is more difficult than jimmying a car door. When your camera case is to be left in the trunk for an extended length of time, wrap it in a blanket for insulation against excessive heat or cold.

While walking, wear the camera strap around your neck with the camera in front of you, and hold onto the camera with at least one hand. If you have a camera bag, it should be cross-carried so the strap rests on your right shoulder while the bag is on your left side, or vice versa. Keep all zippered or Velcro compartments closed.

When seated at a restaurant, keep the camera on your lap, or underneath your table with your foot placed through the strap (a poem was not intended, even so I think this rhyme could serve as a reminder that might help prevent a crime).

Yes, once when I was young and foolish I had a camera stolen from me. I hope it never happens again, and I take every precaution I can to make sure that it does not. 

 

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