Photo: On the road to Pindaya.

Cameras and travel photography forum

Paranoid about bringing my camera

Posted by mattocmd on 5/9/2010 at 09:39

I just wanted to get some opinions.

So I am going to take my camera/'s worth around $2500. I ordered this pacsafe daysafe 200 bag:

I am concerned if that's enough protection. Would that be fine in my room (or draw attention)?

Also, if I go out during the in the woods and rural areas, am I safe having this camera with me?

I'll be in Cambodia for about a month or Battambang, Siem Reap, etc...

I wasn't going to bring my camera, but I thought it would be a shame to miss out on taking photos in such beautiful areas.
(I'm sorry, I know the pacsafe issue has been discussed before but I wanted new/more recent opinions on that matter)


#1 mattocmd has been a member since 13/6/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 365

Posted by exacto on 5/9/2010 at 10:15

hey matt,

off topic here, but i wanted to thank you for your tips on my stopover in seoul earlier this year. turns out i had a wonderful time, including great flights on Korean Air, and didn't even freeze my butt off thanks to your reminder about the cold weather. that thread was here if you wanted to read it:

anyway, on the camera thing, i'd be paranoid too. my comfort limit for taking something expensive to southeast Asia tops out at about a $300 netbook computer.

i imagine that photos are pretty important to you, and i don't know if you'll be doing any professional photography work or something else that would require you to take such an expensive camera, but i just wouldn't be comfortable doing it. i'm afraid worrying about the camera would take too much fun out of the just being there for me, pacsafe or no.

the value of the camera you mentioned is more that what the average working person in cambodia could hope to make in several years. that would unfortunately be very tempting to a whole range of folks in cambodia i fear.

anyway, like i said above, its a personal choice, but unless i needed high-end photos for some specific reason, i'd probably just take a less expensive camera and just have to be satisfied with that. best wishes.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,659
 Where has exacto been? 

Posted by eastwest on 5/9/2010 at 10:46

I think it should be safe. Just be sensible about what you do with it off course.

There are plenty of tourists (especially around Angkor) with very expensive cameras. Also plenty of professional photographers. Best to check into a decent hotel though. Most backpacker guesthouses have faulty doors and lack proper security and most midrange places are much better.

And my guess is that most local thieves don't have sufficient knowledge to know the difference between a $800 camera or a $2500 camera (so you're unlikely to be a bigger target). Western tourists on the other hand.....

I would only be careful in Phnom Penh and especially at night. Keep the camera in the room at night. Bagsnatchings are common and even if they don't know what you have inside they might try.
Other areas in Cambodia should not be any problem. At least not more than anywhere else on the planet.

There are a few photographic tours available. Perhaps you could contact them for either a tour or useful tips.

-Nathan Horton (I believe based in Phnom Penh)
-Peace of Angkor

#3 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778

Posted by mattocmd on 5/9/2010 at 11:26

Exacto - glad to hear you had a good time.

AHHH you both made good points! So I don't know what to do!

It wouldn't be any professional work...just a hobby so I can see your point exacto. I think I definately can't stay in the really cheap guesthouses if I bring it..

I have two weeks to decide...tough decision!

#4 mattocmd has been a member since 13/6/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 365

Posted by exacto on 5/9/2010 at 13:05

eastwest made a good point with the bagsnatching comment. i had that happen to me once in vientiane. they couldn't have known what was in the bag, but they tried anyway. luckily, they didn't get the bag, but i did get dragged behind a scooter for a few uncomfortable seconds.

if you decide to take the camera (or even if you don't), be sure not to place your day pack in the basket of a bicycle or scooter or even just casually over your shoulder. thieves can drive by and snatch with amazing agility. wear the bag over both shoulders for safety. others may have other tips too. good luck!

#5 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,659
 Where has exacto been? 

Posted by mattocmd on 5/9/2010 at 13:19 topic again but what did you end up doing in Korea? Have any good food?

#6 mattocmd has been a member since 13/6/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 365

Posted by Deadpoets on 5/9/2010 at 13:33

Hey Matt,

Last year, I brought my camera along with many accessories as well. Altogether, it's over $2000.00 and I'm not even counting my ultra-portable laptop (not a netbook). Honesty, I felt comfortable carrying it around with me most of the time. Just have to take caution and have a nice backpack for carrying it. Cambodia is a beautiful country and it'll be a shame too missed on the opportunities to photo it. Otherwise, see you there in October.

By the way, know of a good way to ship packages to Cambodia without going bankrupt? I've fundraised a lot of materials for the orphanage and I need to ship it before I leave.


#7 Deadpoets has been a member since 31/8/2009. Posts: 14

Posted by mattocmd on 5/9/2010 at 14:02


I will look into that for you. How many packages are you shipping and where are you shipping them from?

#8 mattocmd has been a member since 13/6/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 365

Posted by eastwest on 5/9/2010 at 14:43

Good comment by Deadpoets regarding photography. It's certainly worth it and you didn't by the camera to admire at home did you? Cambodia is not more dangerous than many other countries so I would do it if I were you but be careful in Phnom Penh.

I guess also body language and attitude play a part for robbers. The more nervous you look the more they might see you as a victim. Just my little theory.

Now the shipping.
I live in Cambodia and I hope you have experience in doing that. If you consider shipping expensive stuff (camera, computer and so on) I'd have to say that is a big NO,NO.
The shipping itself my be allright but customs in Cambodia will first of all take any parts they like (and blame it on the shipper). Then you'll probably have to pay a lot of money to get the remainder out (while you still don't know that things are missing).

If it's worthless (in money terms) materials you could send but also expect some difficulties with customs.

If it's for an NGO/orphanage keep in mind:
- It's best to let a Cambodian counterpart with that NGO take care of customs and don't show up yourself. Prices will suddenly go through the ceiling if you show up.
- If it's pens, balls and other items it's usually better to purchase them locally since it supports the local economy as well. But I believe you've collected them already so not much choice. You could try to sell and use the cash to purchase those simple items in Cambodia. Saves you also a lot of hassle with customs.

Let me know if you need more info
Good luck

#9 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778

Posted by ta10 on 5/9/2010 at 18:06

I know exactly what you mean. I have a compact digital camera (not too expensive at the end of the day, pretty replaceable) but I also have a Macbook and expensive DSLR camera that because of my travel itinerary will be forced to take them with me to SE Asia!

At the end of the day, like others have said, you didn't buy that expensive camera so it could sit pretty on top of your desk at home all day did you?

Take them, but don't flash it around. And make sure it is on your travel insurance. Keep the original receipts, have pictures taken of the camera to prove it exists so that way if you are unlucky enough to have it snatched off you, you might be able to claim against your insurance.

#10 ta10 has been a member since 4/9/2010. Posts: 8

Posted by ta10 on 5/9/2010 at 18:10

Oh and also..if you leave your camera in your room/hostel safe/whatever, keep the memory card in a separate place. So if someone does take it and run, you still have the photos

#11 ta10 has been a member since 4/9/2010. Posts: 8

Posted by mattocmd on 5/9/2010 at 19:10

Thanks for the advice ta10. I was going to get the worldnomads insurance, as I usually do. But it only covers $500. Does anyone know if that coverage can be increased? Or if another company offers a plan with greater coverage?

#12 mattocmd has been a member since 13/6/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 365

Posted by brr1980 on 5/9/2010 at 21:16

I just looked into this myself and found that, at least in the US, renter's or homeowners insurance is the best way to insure a camera above and beyond the $500 coverage limit in a travel insurance policy. Most renter's insurance policies cover your personal effects no matter where you are in the world. There is also photo insurance for professional photographers, but it is generally more expensive and not worth it unless you are doing photography as a business.

I am taking my DSLR to Laos despite some nervousness. I know it's fully covered, so at the very least I can take comfort in that if something happens to it. I think, like others have said, you didn't buy the camera to take pictures of your apartment. SEA is just too beautiful a locale not to bring a good camera. And I assume that you, like me, would be frustrated using a compact point and shoot when you know the kind of pictures you could be taking.

My one suggestion might be to bring a less expensive lens. Since you said you're not a professional, it might be worth considering bringing glass that's a little bit cheaper. A Canon L series lens obviously takes amazing shots, but they are noticeable and the white coloring instantly identifies it as expensive. I'm bringing two less expensive lenses on my trip -- a 50 mm/1.8 that takes amazing pictures but was only $100, and a more versatile zoom 18-135mm zoom lens. The zoom isn't the sharpest lens in the world, and it's not amazing in low light, but it's certainly better than the kit lens and good for most purposes.

Anyway good luck with your travels!

#13 brr1980 has been a member since 15/7/2010. Posts: 6

Posted by exacto on 5/9/2010 at 22:18

okay, off topic again but responding to matt's question above about my visit to Korea. on the way to Thailand i had the Korean meal on the aircraft, and it wasn't bad for airline food. on the layover in Seoul, i got a free room at the hotel owned by Korean Air right there near the airport and just sort of wandered around and enjoyed some of the local beers. then had a great bibimbap at this high-end Korean restaurant at the airport hotel.

on the way back to the states, i did a day tour through town and visited the royal palace and a few museums and that walking street in Seoul. the highlight of that tour was the Korean BBQ (bugoki?) at a restaurant down town. really great food, and since we were surrounded by only Koreans, i expect authentic as well. it was cold cold cold, particularly after two months in Thailand, but still really enjoyed the chance to wonder around and see the town. the food was, as you'd said before, really something great. the only thing i didn't get to do that i wanted was the sauna thing, but there is always next time. cheers.

#14 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,659
 Where has exacto been? 

Posted by Deadpoets on 6/9/2010 at 12:40

Thanks for the suggestions. Instead of shipping all the donations, I'm going to check it in. Even if i have to pay the extra baggage charges, it'll still be cheaper than shipping everything. Beside, other than my gears, I tend to travel light anyway. I'll just have to give the extra bags I'm carrying away to the orphanage.


#15 Deadpoets has been a member since 31/8/2009. Posts: 14

Posted by mattocmd on 6/9/2010 at 19:39

Hello everyone,

Eastwest - I emailed the agency that the photographer Nathan Horton works for. They responded and I decided to share it with everyone....

Dear Matt

Thank you for your email concerning our Images of Cambodia tour. Glad you like the photos - they were taken by either Nathan Horton or our overseas Director Mark Ord.

I have spoken to Nathan about your email (he lives in Cambodia and says that "Neither I nor anybody else on my tours has ever had a problem with cameras or camera equipment, not on the streets, not in a guest house and not out in the rural areas with the locals. Cambodia feels considerably safer than England in all respects - in saying that common sense prevails in any country you travel".

And I must say that in my travels there - sometimes alone, I would concur with that.

Hope this helps. If you have any further questions, please let me know.

With best wishes

#16 mattocmd has been a member since 13/6/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 365

Posted by eastwest on 7/9/2010 at 12:42

Great to see mattocmd. I hope this puts your mind more at ease.

For an enthusiast as you you'd probably kick yourself in the head if you arrived with a compact camrea at Angkor .
Also great advice from others and I really hope you can set it aside and truly enjoy your trip.

I'm also a (amateur) photographer and what I've done several times now at Angkor is to spent the first day sightseeing without camera. Get a feel for the places/temples and really enjoy the splendor of it (without looking through a lense) and perhaps make some mental notes of where/when I want to return. Last two days I come back with the camera.

#17 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778

Posted by 9preciousGems on 9/6/2011 at 18:07

Taking my 5d mark ii with me to Se Asia + beyond for a 12 month trip
We are going to be on a budget (no posh hotels) so am worried about leaving it in guesthouses/beach bungalows etc
I know the logical thing is to take it with you at all times but sometiems that isnt practical - perhaps when youre out partying or going to the beach alone (ie how would you be able to swim and leave youre gear on the beach unattended)

any one got anymore tips?

#18 9preciousGems has been a member since 13/1/2011. Posts: 82

Posted by busylizzy on 10/6/2011 at 08:36

If I wasn't taking my camera (and other valuables) with me, i would always leave it padlocked up in my backpack (along with the charger and other bits that might give away the fact that I had an expensive gadget). It's obviously not a fool-proof solution but over a 5-month period, I never had any problems. I didn't generally didn't stay in the cheapest of budget accommodation mind you (ie no dorms).

I did carry a Pacsafe (not the whole daypack, but just the lockable insert) for part of my trip, but found it was overkill and I only ever used it once, when staying on Koh Kradan where the thatch bungalow rooms didn't have locks. For the weight, I couldn't be bothered taking the Pacsafe again though, I don't think.

#19 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
 Where has busylizzy been? 

Posted by alloneornone on 14/7/2011 at 12:19

I've taken a DSLR on my last two trips to SE Asia and been very glad I did. In fact, my only regret on this trip to Borneo was that I didn't take my better lens with me. I strongly recommend carrying your camera bag inside a cross body bag (I use a cheap rice bag tote I bought in PP); it makes you much less of a target than those with expensive looking camera bags latched around their necks and no one would have a clue that I have a expensive camera in the tote when I'm not using it.

With the price of electronics now you won't stick out as much as you think with expensive gear, especially on the tourist trails. It now seems rarer at the bigger sites to see people with point and shoots than SLR's. Even our 19yo local guide in Siam Reap had a brand new iPhone despite coming from one of the poorest villages in the region and I spent a good part of the recent RWMF in Santubong comparing cameras with local Malaysians.

I agree with others who advise extreme caution in Phnom Penh though; whilst in tuk tuks my friends and I were swarmed several times by opportunists on scooters who thankfully zoomed away when they saw our bags were safely out of their reach. Even Princess Eugenie with her hundred thousand pound security got in trouble there, so leave just your valuables locked up safely while out at night and if anyone does try to take your bag, just let it go. Around Angkor Wat you shouldn't have any problems. Hope you get some great pics!

#20 alloneornone has been a member since 8/7/2011. Location: Earth. Posts: 5

Please login to add a reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a reply to this post. Please use the button below to log in. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.