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Author Topic: Do you travel with photo gear?  (Read 1901 times)
Ellis Vener
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« on: April 19, 2014, 12:13:39 PM »
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Are you one of those photographers who travel a lot? Then you might be interested in the following video from #DeltaAirlines

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocbxS5aWUSo

Here's a couple of other tips:

Never gate check bags that have fragile electronics (cameras, computers) or lenses in them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgDizh4DMno

If you do have to check luggage with cameras, lens, computers or other  fragile electronics use hard shell cases with four wheels: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-hobica/why-you-should-buy-a-four_b_1115011.html
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Ellis Vener
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Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
NancyP
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2014, 08:42:01 PM »
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I have heard of people using FedEx to get their gear to the job site city, on the theory that there is less likelihood of theft. I figure that gate checked bags should contain underwear, socks, nightshirts, boring and/or cheap clothes, and other non-breakable stuff no self-respecting burglar/handler would touch - and my checked bag is usually the homeliest bag on the carousel - unlocked, of course, so they can view the used knickers inside and move on to someone else's fancier bag.
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andaremos
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2014, 01:29:18 AM »
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The only valuable items that I send in a checked bag are my tripod and the ball head. I have no room in my Lowepro Mini Trekker for the tripod head after packing lenses and a laptop.
I was forced to check my camera backpack with all the gear once by an airline that is no longer in business. This was shortly after 9-11 and they were not allowing any carry-ons of any kind. They promised to be careful and carry it in a tray. I was surprised to find my backpack loose in the conveyor belt and not in a tray when I arrived.
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StoneNYC
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2014, 08:22:25 PM »
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That video didn't show how the TSA people steal your gear... Not a very helpful video Wink

I've known quote a few photographers who's gear has been stolen. We are talking whole camera systems, whole cases gone missing, and the airlines offering no compensation.

I would like to know if anyone knows about GPS tracking devices for this kind of thing, anyone?
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ripgriffith
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2014, 01:08:31 AM »
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I've known quote a few photographers who's gear has been stolen. We are talking whole camera systems, whole cases gone missing, and the airlines offering no compensation.
From Conde Nast Traveler magazine:  "If an airline loses or damages your bag and you file a claim in the United States, the Department of Transportation requires that the airline compensate you for the value of the bag and its contents, up to a maximum of $3,300. If you file a claim overseas, the Montreal Convention regulations apply; these stipulate that airlines provide up to $1,750 in compensation, depending on the exchange rate."
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SethDAugust
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« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2014, 07:04:19 AM »
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I am a photog who travels a bit every year. 85% of my gear always rides with me. The few items I must check are usually light stands and other supplies but I make sure they're packed well and cushioned. I don't trust anyone with my gear.

The Canon and Hasselblad always ride under my seat.
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fotagf8
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2014, 09:35:15 AM »
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Some suggestions based on personal experience.

Measure your carry on bag to make sure it fits under the seat.  You can't count on overhead space unless you fly business class or upgrade.

Pack tripod in suitcase, but detach ball head and put in camera bag.  You can always buy a cheap tripod on location, assuming it isn't too remote.

Wear a jacket with lots of pockets.

Buy equipment insurance.



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Lightsmith
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« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2014, 03:04:00 PM »
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I would never take the self servicing advice of the airlines and the never gate check advice is wrong in many respects.

I never check in anything that I am going to need at my final destination. It is too easily stolen along the way now that luggage cannot be locked. And don't comment on the TSA locks as I have had all mine snipped off by TSA employees who did not want to bother with a key.

When I get to my final leg and have to take a small plane where luggage cannot go onboard with me then I check it at the gate. It is visible by me until it is put into the cargo hold and it is the first baggage to come off the plane when we land. It does not go through the ticket agent of the baggage handlers in the cargo area when this is done.

Even with a DSLR underwater housing and UW strobes and brackets and arms and my cameras and lenses I have managed to carry onto the plane all my gear. The only item I ever put in checked luggage are a monopod or tripod legs (sans ball head).

If space is at a super premium, which is rare, or there is the airline with the 15 lb. carry-on limit I can still get all my gear on board the plane with me though it takes a little creativity. I will have two smaller bags instead of one large one. I will distribute the weight between myself and my travel companion. I will have a briefcase with the laptop as it is not counted and a shopping bag that can hold a lens or two as this also is not counted as "carry on" luggage.

Or as a last resort I will wear my gear onto the plane by wearing a Domke photographer's jacket. I have put a DSLR camera, a 70-200mm, 24-70mm, 14-24mm lenses, and an SB800 into the jacket pockets and worn it onto the aircraft. Once on the plane I can easily stuff it with the gear into a space in the overhead bin in places where rectangular case would not. When I get to my destination I can move the gear from the jacket into the camera bag that I have put in my checked luggage stuffed with clothes.

There are decided advantages to having bags and backpacks that do not exceed the 9" dimension needed to fit into small overhead bins or under most seats. The Gura Gear and Think Tank bags, cases, and backpacks excel in this regard.

Another strategy is to have travel kits with fewer lenses or smaller or lighter lenses. My bare bones kit for a full size DSLR consists of a 28-300mm and 18-35mm telephoto lenses, a flash and a camera body. But my Bataflae 32L with a 500mm f4, 80-400mm, 14-24mm, 24-70mm, flash, 2 teleconverters, and a ball head inside fit even into the 8" high bin opening on a Bombardier Q400 on a recent flight into Bozeman for a winter trip to Yellowstone.

Different airlines have different aircraft with different size overhead bins and different restrictions for carry on items. I select my airline in part based on what I can take on board. The foreign carriers are usually the most restrictive so I will fly out of the USA on American Airlines instead of EVA or Air France for instance. United Airlines is the worst for domestic travel but a little better for international travel though overall my last choice for air travel anywhere. The mistake is to book based on price or flight times and then learn later that you are going to have a problem with carry on items or with the cost for what is considered an overweight bag (which varies by airline) or for a checked luggage.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2014, 05:27:25 PM »
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Some suggestions based on personal experience.

Measure your carry on bag to make sure it fits under the seat.  You can't count on overhead space unless you fly business class or upgrade.

Another possibility is to fly eco but have early access to the cabin thanks to a silver/gold mileage card.

This is a strong incentive to fly as much as possible with the same airliner.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Chris_Brown
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« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2014, 06:16:08 PM »
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I've been flying all over the USA with gear since 1986 and have never lost a single bag. From the mid-80s to mid-90s we'd fly with 10–15 Anvil cases of gear. Sinar 8x10 +lenses, film holders, Polaroid processor, full Hassy case with 3 bodies and every lens from 50mm–500mm, Nikons with fish-eye through 300mm, meter case, and cases of Norman flash gear. We'd do curbside check-in, tip the sky hop $50–$100, and ask him to make sure every case got on the plane. In most cases, they'd follow the gear onto the tarmac.

Four flights to Hong Kong in '86–'89 and never a lost or damaged bag.

Post 9/11 and rental became the SOP, but we still travel with our own camera gear, tripods & computers, renting only lighting & grip. Nothing ever stolen or lost. Ever. I've seen my gear on the tarmac during a full downpour and I've seen it drop from the conveyor (at full height) as it got lodged in the baggage compartment doorway, and the Pelican cases did what they were supposed: no damage to anything.

I've seen all my TSA locks get hacked until I began using the cabled models. Apparently TSA staffers know how to open & close those.

The worst I've seen my gear was when I flew out of Colorado Springs. They couldn't get one of my Pelican cases closed so they wrapped it in steel strapping.

Is everything insured? Of course. Including loss of income and cost of production due to stolen gear.

The one time we lost everything was at the St. Louis Arch monument. We parked in plain sight of God & everyone on Sullivan Blvd., yet the thieves smashed & grabbed everything is broad daylight. A few months later, St. Louis police called to say they retrieved some of our gear (they didn't, it was different bodies/lenses) and I asked why we were robbed in broad daylight. The cop said crime was the worst he'd seen it in the 15 years on the force, all due to the Nat. Monument not allowing firearms on the property (Missouri is a concealed carry state) and the thieves were going after guns & ammo. Armed robbery had escalated all over the downtown area to the point where the police force was required to wear body armor during all shifts.

So, I no longer stow gear near the Gateway Arch Monument.
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Chris Kern
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« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2014, 07:28:08 PM »
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I never check in anything that I am going to need at my final destination. It is too easily stolen along the way now that luggage cannot be locked. And don't comment on the TSA locks as I have had all mine snipped off by TSA employees who did not want to bother with a key.

Be especially wary at Miami International Airport (MIA).  I don't want to go into details because there is an ongoing investigation (and, no, I'm not the complainant), but they appear to have a serious problem there, perhaps involving collusion between TSA employees and baggage handlers.

In general, my impression is that it's not advisable to store valuables of any kind in checked baggage when traveling by airline in the United States, even if the bags are secured with TSA locks.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2014, 07:45:20 PM »
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I can echo Chris experience with not having any gear lost, and I've been doing it a bit longer - assistign from 1981-84 and flying with roughly the same type and amount of gear (annual report and advertising shoots).

The only time I ever had a problem with gear going missing for awhile was due to a screw up in '84 with the Canadian Mounties and my client hiring the wrong customs expediter on the Canadian end. The Mounties and the expediter tried to shake me down for a $5,000 non-refundable "bond". Both my client and I said "no" and i ended up shooting the Canadian part of the annual report with a borrow Nikon FM and  my 55mm lens that was in my suitcase, and with Tri-X  and a tripod bought in Calgary.  

It took a month for my 6 cases of gear to be returned - it had officially left the United States but never gone through customs in Canada or anywhere else for that matter, so it kept racking up frequent flier miles going between various airports in the USA, Canada, and Heathrow in London. Only when I sent my client (a now defunct airline) did someone on the client end trace it down, take responsibility, and get it back to me.

BTW: this same client had a change in intermal PR staff and the new guy refused to pay the balance on the job's invoice.

His reasoning was along the lines of "How do I know you took the photos?" No matter what the graphic designer or I said he refused to believe that indeed I was the photographer.

After a couple of days of this  I said "I have proof that I'm the photographer. I have the negatives." To which he responded "How do I know that you didn't hit our photographer over the head and take the negatives?"  

The story is longer, but by the end of the day I had my check and he was out of a job.

But I digress.
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Ellis Vener
http://www.ellisvener.com
Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
Ellis Vener
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« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2014, 07:46:58 PM »
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Be especially wary at Miami International Airport (MIA).  I don't want to go into details because there is an ongoing investigation (and, no, I'm not the complainant), but they appear to have a serious problem there, perhaps involving collusion between TSA employees and baggage handlers.

In general, my impression is that it's not advisable to store valuables of any kind in checked baggage when traveling by airline in the United States, even if the bags are secured with TSA locks.

Miami's airport has always been bad. when I was assisting, my boss got his pocket picked while he was standing in line to rent a car.
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Ellis Vener
http://www.ellisvener.com
Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
StoneNYC
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« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2014, 07:07:46 PM »
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From Conde Nast Traveler magazine:  "If an airline loses or damages your bag and you file a claim in the United States, the Department of Transportation requires that the airline compensate you for the value of the bag and its contents, up to a maximum of $3,300. If you file a claim overseas, the Montreal Convention regulations apply; these stipulate that airlines provide up to $1,750 in compensation, depending on the exchange rate."

$3,300 is not very much... That wouldn't even cover more than a camera or maybe one lens! That's awful. I'll defiantly be using carry on luggage!
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NancyP
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« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2014, 11:04:07 AM »
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I apologize for St. Louis.  Embarrassed  I have not had that problem downtown, but I make sure that everything other than maybe a jacket or gloves is stowed in the "trunk" (under hatchback modesty cover) and out of sight. Also, I was driving a rusted beater Subaru Impreza. Wink  I have recently upgraded my Landscape Photography Support Vehicle, and probably need to be even more alert. I am wondering if there will be an uptick in trail head parking lot smash and grab, currently quite rare in MO.
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Colorado David
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« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2014, 11:26:10 AM »
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There was a nature photographer who passed away several years ago who had a funny story about car security.  Forgive me that I cannot remember his name.  He was a columnist in Outdoor Photographer.  He was working on a shoot at a Southwest big landscape location along with a video crew.  Someone from the video crew offered him a package of Twinkies.  He took them and set them on the dash of his vehicle and promptly forgot about them.  They stayed there for months.  Later, somewhere in the South, someone broke into his car.  He had over $20,000 worth of equipment in the back.  They took the Twinkies.  So, he did what anyone would do; he replaced the Twinkies and called them his Southern car security.
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mouse
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« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2014, 03:32:32 PM »
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If you're travelling anywhere in "bear" country, Twinkies are the very last thing you should leave in your vehicle. Grin
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