Photo: On the road to Pindaya.

Cameras and travel photography forum

Traveling with expensive camera

Posted by mattocmd on 22/1/2010 at 11:06

I am traveling Asia very soon with my new camera and lense (worth a little over $2,000).

I've tried getting an insurance quote to cover everything but am never able to get a dollar figure on what insurance would cost.

I've also considered a Pac safe bag to lock it up in guesthouses when I'm not there, but wondered if that would just bring too much attention.

Or I could just take my chances but I would never feel comfortable leaving it behind in the shady cheap guesthouses that I like to stay in.

What are my options? Does anyone have experience with this?

#1 mattocmd has been a member since 13/6/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 366
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Posted by Indoluso on 23/1/2010 at 01:02


I'm going to SE Asia with a good camera as well, I asked the forum about it and people told me that one should always keep it close, but that otherwise it won't be a bigger risk as being in a western capital with it. Leaving it in a cheap guesthouse isn't probably a good option. Anyway I was encouraged to take it so no major problem should happen!

#2 Indoluso has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 133

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Posted by suprememoo on 29/10/2010 at 15:17

I spent 7 months travelling around Asia (6 months in South East Asia) with a quite a lot (looking back, too much!) expensive camera equipment, including a professional camera body and several professional lenses. I also took a Macbook Pro 13" laptop.

Obviously this all weighed a ton! At least picking my pack meant that I was getting some exercise.

Before the trip, I got the most expensive bits of my camera gear insured in the UK from a company called PhotoGuard. So far my experience with them has been good, but as with all insurance, you can't really tell how good they are until you need to claim - something I've luckily not had to do. The most difficult thing about finding camera insurance for a long trip is finding a company which will let you take your gear overseas for extended periods - most insurers in the UK will only let you travel for 3 months out of the year.

Probably because I had the insurance, I was fairly lax about security with my gear - I would leave it behind, unlocked, but hidden, in guesthouses, walk at night in the streets with my camera, etc. Luckily I never had any problems.

One suggestion I would make: take along a 50mm prime lens. My main lens (a 24-70mm f2.8 ) is quite big and unfortunately draws a fair amount of attention to my camera. If I knew I was going somewhere a bit dodgy at night, I would attach the 50mm lens, which is really compact. It's amazing how much less attention your camera draws when it doesn't have a flashy lens attached to it. The other advantage of a 50mm is that they're generally really fast (f1.4 or f1.8 ) so they're perfect for taking pictures in low-light situations anyway.

If you're planning on doing any treks, I've got some more gear tips on my website:

#3 suprememoo has been a member since 25/10/2010. Location: South Africa. Posts: 2
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Posted by mattocmd on 29/10/2010 at 20:59

I've been in the area for about 6 weeks now and haven't had a problem at all.

I did buy a pacsafe bag, a really nice backpack with a portable safe inside of it for my laptop and camera.

But as far as using it in public, I've always felt safe. Just use common sense, there are bag snatchers so always keep it secure.

I emailed "All points east" a british photography company about this topic.

This was the response:

"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."

#4 mattocmd has been a member since 13/6/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 366
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Posted by Tennouji on 30/10/2010 at 08:45

Hi. I have only ever suffered a theft in Asia once and, yes, my beloved camera was stolen from my guesthouse room in Medan, Sumatra. In all honesty though, it was largely my fault. I suppose I was a bit lax because I was tired, sick and had never had anything stolen anywhere before. I was very upset, moreso because of the cheap point and shoot I had to buy and use in its place. Most insurance policies demand a police report. Mine cost a $40 bribe, but I got about 80% back.

I find that a "posher" looking camera means that other tourists get out of your way in a crowd jostling for a picture (I love this!) and that locals are more willing to let you picture them.

#5 Tennouji has been a member since 22/9/2007. Location: Japan. Posts: 136
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