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Old June 12th, 2013, 07:20 PM   #1
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Camera security in hotels

In a couple of weeks I'll be taking my Canon XH-A1 and gear to Peru in a couple of weeks. I've always traveled with smaller gear. While the A1 is no longer my main camera and is worth a lot less than it used to be worth -- that's why I'm choosing to take it -- I till don't want to lose it.

Short of carrying your camera with you at ALL times, how do you secure your camera? I'll be staying at a hotel where I've stayed many, many times before for extended periods and generally trust the front desk staff. When the maids are in the rooms, I'll be out and the camera will be with me. But I'd like to leave it secure at night.

Any idea I can think of still involves a bit of trust. I could secure a piece of luggage to a bed frame with locks and cables, but don't think that would hold off a determined thief.

I'm sure hoping some of you who have traveled with more expensive gear could give me some insight on how you secure your stuff when it's not being used.

Thanks!
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Old June 12th, 2013, 08:18 PM   #2
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Re: Camera security in hotels

When I worked for a TV Network I would leave the Network's camera at reception.
But now I own the camera, keep it with me at all times. Never leaves my side. Curtails the night life but on a trip, I'm there to work.
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Old June 12th, 2013, 09:12 PM   #3
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Re: Camera security in hotels

Thanks, Phill. This trip will be a bit of both -- both working and personal. Will only be working about 6-8 hours a day, maybe less, and my friends there already have plans for me the rest of the time! I may just have to tell that the camera stays with me.
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Old June 13th, 2013, 09:34 AM   #4
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Re: Camera security in hotels

Phil, I am envious of your coming trip to Peru a destination on my list for sure.
Last week , my camera was stolen in an hotel in Portland , Maine.
I was a frequent guest to this hotel, my level of comfort and trust was very high (still is, I am sure the staff is not guilty of thief but they were of negligence).
I was told in the morning that I would have to be move to another room which was not yet ready. Having to run to an appointment I was told to let my luggage in my room and that the staff would move it as soon as the new room would be ready.
My gears(in their specific cases and pouches) were hidden in a blank Duffel. Later that day back to the hotel, I discover that the bag has been open and 5 cases-pouches were missing.
The bags were left in the hallway before being taken to the room (negligence) and this was the opportunity for the thief.
In conclusion, I have learn from my misadventure to never left my camera and precious gear at the hotel (no matter how trustworthy they may be) and to always carry my stuff with me. I know this is often annoying , particularly when you move around a lot.
The size and portability of the camera is a major point of consideration when traveling; small and light make it easier to carry all the time.
That was my personal lesson, I wish you good luck and safe travel.
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Old June 13th, 2013, 10:04 AM   #5
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Re: Camera security in hotels

Thanks, Robert. I am really worried about that happening to me. This will new my 20th trip to Peru in the past 8 years so I am very aware of problems with theft where I'm going which, frankly, is a MUCH greater threat than here in the U.S.

I'm even thinking about taking a smaller consumer camera (Canon HF M31) along with a DSLR (Canon 60D) just to be safe and because both will fit in the in-room safe where I'll be staying most of the time. While there will be a hit on quality, there are also some pluses which might balance things out.

I'll be shooting a doc for a charity organization there and maybe doing one or two other last-minute impromptu projects TBD when I get there. I was there in October and did some work with the 60D, but found it not so easy to work with -- especially in the areas of sounds and white balance. (Here's the trailer I did last fall:
).

If you ever get a chance to go to Peru, you really need to go. It is an really amazing place unlike anywhere else I've ever been -- an incredible amount of diversity in one relatively small place.

I'll be in the rainforest region when I'm there, but the mountains are spectacular, too. I've been to Cusco and Machu Picchu twice and they are definitely must-visit places, but going deep in the Andes to remote villages is an better experience. My favorite region is still the rainforest. While I'll be in a city there most of the time -- the biggest city in the world not reachable by road -- I plan to head up or down the Amazon to visit some more remote villages.
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Old June 13th, 2013, 11:57 AM   #6
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Re: Camera security in hotels

For an opportunity like that you need to take the best gear you have. It would be a shame not to have it just because of a possible threat. I would take the best gear and the backup stuff and keep them in two different places at all times so I was not left without tools just in case. It is only cameras, they can be insured, you are shooting real people!

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Old June 13th, 2013, 01:09 PM   #7
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Re: Camera security in hotels

I agree with you, Steve, about wanting to use the best equipment, but this is also a bit of a vacation, too, and the opportunity to spend time with friends I only get to see about once a year now. (The next visit probably won't be possible until next summer.)

I go back and forth on what I want to do over and over and probably will change my mind many times in the next 10 days.

The consumer camera that I have is almost as good as the XH-A1 in low light, but since I won't be filming much (if at all) in low light situations then that may not matter. I have a BeachTek adapter that will allow me to use XLR microphones with the camera, too. It also has good manual controls for nearly every function. The small size will allow me to use a smaller, lighter tripod.

Can you tell I'm trying to convince myself to take the smaller kit? Ha ha! I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts about substituting the cameras in this situation.
Forgot to say, the finished video will be seen online with some copies maybe sent out to churches probably just as regular DVDs, so the difference also may not matter.

I'd really want to hear everyone's opinions.
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Old June 13th, 2013, 01:15 PM   #8
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Re: Camera security in hotels

Does the hotel offer a safe? Either in room or at reception.

Otherwise, a false box/container of something unappealing to stash your stuff in, which then goes into the luggage. If your pride allows, an empty box of adult diapers will hold a camera and some accessories.

We do something similar at the beach - an empty sun tan lotion bottle, cut open and cleaned, will hide your wallet pretty well.
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Old June 13th, 2013, 01:50 PM   #9
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Re: Camera security in hotels

There is an in-room safe -- not too big but enough for a small camera. Leaving things with the front desk at night if I'm gone is an option because I trust the desk folks. They have all been there for years -- it's a small, family-run hotel -- and the front door is locked and secured after hours so no one comes and goes without them knowing.

I can almost certainly leave my stuff with the charity's director or in their office, too. They have security and I absolutely trust the staff there so that is probably my best bet. Since I don't plan to stay with them, I'd be without my equipment at night, though, for personal use.

I'm not too concerned about hiding my equipment and would rather just have it secured.

I just thought of something -- when I've been there before, I've left my laptop outside of the safe without any problems. I do, however, keep it locked inside my luggage which is also attached by a cable lock to the bed frame.

Hmmmm. May not be so bad after all!
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Old June 13th, 2013, 03:05 PM   #10
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Re: Camera security in hotels

Phil, this subject is central to my thinking right now. Being a perfectionist (going for the best) or an optimalist (the best kit in relation to the final outcome and general as well as specific conditions of the project).
Few years ago I went to India for 5 months , carrying close to 200 pounds of equipment and I swear to myself NEVER again.
The quality produce by small camcorders is such that I would rather go small and try to develop a workflow accordingly.
(By the way I love your video)
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Old June 15th, 2013, 02:10 AM   #11
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Re: Camera security in hotels

Do you have insurance?
My cameras and equipment are in hotel rooms all the time. No way around it.
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Old June 16th, 2013, 08:19 AM   #12
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Re: Camera security in hotels

Sky News learned to appreciate the value of small equipment on some recent assignments where the visibility of pro level gear could have undesirable outcomes. What they discovered was an AF100 where they needed something like that (instead of ENG gear) or the Panasonic GH2 especially got them in where bigger gear wouldn't (Chinese "lockdown" of some Tibetan cities with Bhuddist protests)..

For a small lightweight camera the GH2 turned out incredible video and with a few "fast" primes could pack into a surprisingly small bag. The 14mm and 20mm "pancakes" are amazingly small and the 20mm is an f1.7 (the 14 - a 28mm equiv - is f2.5), and the diminutive Olympus 45mm (90mm equiv) is f1.8.

The GH2 is discontinued, the GH3 is larger and heavier, but the just released Panasonic G6 is the closest replacement for the GH2 and that with the 3 primes mentioned is the way I would go. In the rainforest I would be sure to have a supply of 1 quart ziplock bags (to protect the lenses) and 1 gal ziplocks for the camera.
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Old June 16th, 2013, 08:58 AM   #13
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Re: Camera security in hotels

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Pacsafe Anti-Theft Bags & Travel Security Products | products
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Old June 17th, 2013, 03:36 AM   #14
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Re: Camera security in hotels

I've spent about 100 nights/year in hotels over the past 8 years and usually only take a fraction of my gear outside the hotel when I head out for the day. My laptop, recorded media (cards and HDDs) and as many high dollar items I can fit, goes in the lock box. The rest goes inside a locked suitcase. So far I have not had anything stolen.

I would recommend you don't compromise on what gear you take for fear of theft. Take whatever steps you can to not advertise you have expensive gear in your room. If they don't know you have it, much less chance they'll rob you. I sometimes put my Pelican 1510 case inside a regular suitcase, since it tends to attract unwanted eyeballs. When room service comes up to deliver a meal, I put tripods into the closet and otherwise make sure the camera and computer gear is all out of sight.
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Old June 24th, 2013, 06:24 AM   #15
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Re: Camera security in hotels

Thanks to everyone for their comments and suggestions. I learned a lot.

I am in Lima now waiting on my flight to take me to Iquitos, Peru in a couple of hours.

I decided to take the small video camera. The biggest influence was the fact that one of the men who run the group that I'll be shooting was recently robbed by two men -- one was carrying a machete! The'd obviously been watching him and it was in an area where I'll be quite a bit.

Violent crime has been almost non-existent there, but it apparently has become more and more in recent months so I decided it would be in my best interest to carry something much less conspicuous. I think I can achieve most, if not all, of my goals with minimal equipment. This smaller camera made travel a lot easier, too, as I am able to carry it and everything but the tripod and head with me. (The tripod/head are locked away and well wrapped in my checked suitcase.)

Interestingly, the few accessories I brought are much more valuable than the camera -- a quality tripod and head, a Sennheiser wireless lav set, two other mics, etc.

Now there's no excuse -- I just have to do a good job and not blame to equipment.
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