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Author Topic: Traveling abroad with photography equipment  (Read 23364 times)

mark2olson

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2011, 11:40:00 AM »
I had a question for you guys/gals who travel abroad with your high(er)-end camera equipment.

I'm going to India with my family just for a quick visit (~2.5 weeks) later this month, and I've decided I would like to take my 5D2 along with 2-3 lenses with me (24-105 mm f/4L IS, 50 mm f/1.4, and maybe the 70-200 mm f/4L IS). Since they look arguably look like pro gear (and brand new, since I recently purchased these a couple months ago), I fear that I may have some issues with customs when I arrive there, or when I come back. What do you guys do to make sure that they don't give you any trouble and/or make you pay duties on your own personal equipment?

The other thing I need to think about before I leave is insurance.  Since I don't use my camera equipment professionally (i.e., getting paid), and only as a hobby, do you recommend any companies for this (besides State Farm)?

Thanks for your help!

I recently returned from India; I was not asked at the border in India or the US about any of my gear.  I do carry the receipts for all my equipment when I travel abroad; I have never been asked about it.

The only "issue" that I have encountered was in the international terminal in Frankfurt, one must go through security screenings to move within the terminal.  The German screeners swabbed all camera and checked for explosives.  Not really an "issue" at all; hence the quotes.

Where in India are you going?  There are some magnificent opportunities for photography there!


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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2011, 11:40:00 AM »

sanyasi

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2011, 12:48:24 PM »
I spent 3 weeks in northern India last November-December.  I traveled with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Leica M9, together with lenses, filters, and a tripod.  Never had any trouble. 

What I did notice was the security at the airports for internal and international travel.  On repeated occasions, I was asked to remove everything from my camera backpack, so be prepared for that.  It is annoying, but at the same time, as someone who is on the plane, I like that sort of thoroughness.

I was surprised that the camera was not as much a magnet for beggars as I though it would be, but keep small change with you.  I don't buy photo opportunities, but on occasion, if someone saw me snap a candid of them, they then approached asking for money.  It is easier to give it then create a scene, but be careful--once the world sees you giving money you can ended up surrounded.

As usual, use the hotel safe and common sense and you should be OK.  You might also think about adding a rider to your homeowner's policy (assuming you aren't a professional photographer).  The insurance is incredibly inexpensive.

Best regards and happy travels

Sanyasi

expatinasia

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2011, 08:04:33 PM »
What I did notice was the security at the airports for internal and international travel.  On repeated occasions, I was asked to remove everything from my camera backpack, so be prepared for that.  It is annoying, but at the same time, as someone who is on the plane, I like that sort of thoroughness.

If you are on any US carrier, even just flying Hong Kong to Singapore, you have to go through immigration, then security (x-ray check etc), then the airline has their own security at the gate, where every bag of every person is checked again manually.

That is the main reason I do not ever fly US airlines.

Good point about the hotel safe though, although should not be a problem but better safe than sorry, as it may not be stolen but housekeeping may want to pick it up and may not be so gentle putting it down!!
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Randy

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2011, 05:41:51 PM »
I'm envious of your trip to India.I travelled in India for 4 1/2 weeks this past January, shooting about 9700 images.It's the most phenomenal country on earth in my opinion. While the flora, fauna,and historic sights are fabulous, it's the Indian people I find so compelling.I had no problem transporting my gear.I use Hill & Usher for insurance, but I'm a pro so they may not have the coverage you want.I think most folks there don't know the difference between pro & consumer gear. You just have to ignore and get accustomed  to being starred at. It's not considered rude as it is in the West.I took about $300 in one dollar bills. besides the other cash I had. The small bills come in handy I also ALWAYS used the lens hood on my 24-105 IS.It's great protection for your lens as you bounce around, getting in & out of rickshaws,taxis, jumping off elephants and camels.I kept my polarizer on at all times except at night. I didn't begrudge people who wanted a money to be photographed. I looked at it as a model fee. Besides there are so many people there who are so bad off. If you have a tele convertor for your 70-200 it would be good. I took my 100-400 which came in handy at times for wildlife, birds, and isolating subjects from a boat in the Ganges at Varanasi.I'd get a power strip at the airport store in India. The outlets in hotel rooms, etc. are terrible about staying inserted, so if you have one power strip to plug in then it's easier to charge multiple items. Enjoy !!!

Randy

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2011, 09:04:43 PM »
I also can't imagine photographing in India without a flash on my 5Dmk2. While I took a Canon 430 EX as a backup I had a little Sunpak RD2000 external flash mounted on the hotshoe.it worked great. It's got a low profile and can be underexposed as much as -1 stop.Great for catchlights and opening up the face a bit.

motorhead

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2011, 10:35:13 AM »
I have never experienced any problems with getting my kit through customs. I always carry a full set of copy invoices just in case, but touch wood have not needed any of it so far.

Chewy734

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2011, 11:23:00 AM »
Thanks for your comments guys.

I'll just be traveling with my family to various parts of UP.  Not really a tourist trip, rather visiting family for ~2 short weeks.  But, I'm sure there will be some photo opportunities in-between. That being said, do you recommend just taking the 24-105mm f/4L IS and the 50mm f/1.4?  I'm not sure how useful the 70-200mm f/4L IS will be, and despite how light of a telephoto it is, it still takes up space and is another thing I have to lug around.  I also have the 17-40mm f/4L and the 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lenses (neither of which I was planning to take).

I just called my renter's insurance company, and they told me that my camera gear is covered under my policy. But, the suggested I add a rider which details the equipment being covered, for ~$1 per $100 of coverage.  The main advantage is that I won't have to pay the deductible ($250) on my renter's policy, incase something happens.  What do you guys think?

Thanks!

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2011, 11:23:00 AM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2011, 01:16:17 PM »
That being said, do you recommend just taking the 24-105mm f/4L IS and the 50mm f/1.4?  I'm not sure how useful the 70-200mm f/4L IS will be, and despite how light of a telephoto it is, it still takes up space and is another thing I have to lug around.  I also have the 17-40mm f/4L and the 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lenses (neither of which I was planning to take).

I find the 70-200mm range to be great for street candids.  Here are a few examples from a trip to China:


EOS 5D Mark II, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ 70mm, 1/400 s, f/2.8, ISO 100


EOS 5D Mark II, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ 200mm, 1/160 s, f/4, ISO 125


EOS 5D Mark II, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ 200mm, 1/200 s, f/5.6, ISO 100

I just called my renter's insurance company, and they told me that my camera gear is covered under my policy. But, the suggested I add a rider which details the equipment being covered, for ~$1 per $100 of coverage.  The main advantage is that I won't have to pay the deductible ($250) on my renter's policy, incase something happens.  What do you guys think?

Do you have that from them in writing?  My homeowners policy covers cameras, too...but when you read the policy, you see coverage is only up to $1000.  If you have comfirmation in writing that all your gear is covered to the full (ideally, replacement) value by your renters policy, and that the coverage applies in India, I'd say supplemental/rider coverage is not necessary if the only reason is to avoid the deductible in the unlikely event of a loss.  But, be sure it's really covered by your renters policy.
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phacopsrana

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2011, 01:17:40 PM »
My first post here, but since I travel a lot internationally and domestically, I thought I'd reply.

I have never had problems with my camera gear going through customs, and this includes going through countries where custom officials have been known to ask for "chocolates" to process your form. I currently use a 5D body and carry the 16-35 II, 50 1.4, and the 100-400, along with a carbon Gitzo traveller and RRS-25 head. All this fits in a Lowe backpack.

When asking what to bring, ask yourself what type of photographer you are. Why do I bring the cheapo 50 1.4 everywhere? Because it looks cheap. It can make the 5D series look fairly inconspicuous, and the whole thing can be discreetly tucked away under a loose shirt or jacket. This is important for street photography. People notice they're being photographed with zooms, especially when using The Big White Lenses.

Of the 3 lenses I lug around, if I had to leave one behind, the very easy choice would be the 100-400. It is big, heavy, obvious, and I 'see' better wide than compressed and magnified. Again, that's a personal choice based on what type of stuff I photograph. I use no flash, but since I do a lot of landscapes, filters are a definite must have.

One more thing that is to me essential--the RRS L plate. And not just for the obvious reasons. It serves as a camera protector, another surface to grip, and it even serves as a steady base when tripods are not allowed. I've had very acceptable results 'handholding' the 5D for 3 seconds. I'm not truly handholding it, but I rest it on a stable, flat surface, engage M/UP, hold it firmly and steadily, and fire.

Enjoy the trip. Know thy shooting style and pack according to that.

sushyam

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2011, 11:32:55 PM »
Chewy you must remember that you will be visiting India during the festival season. Airport security will be tighter, queues longer and slow moving. UP should be looking good after the monsoons!

smithjames

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #25 on: April 10, 2013, 05:10:42 PM »
I had a question for you guys/gals who travel abroad with your high(er)-end camera equipment.

I'm going to India with my family just for a quick visit (~2.5 weeks) later this month, and I've decided I would like to take my 5D2 along with 2-3 lenses with me (24-105 mm f/4L IS, 50 mm f/1.4, and maybe the 70-200 mm f/4L IS). Since they look arguably look like pro gear (and brand new, since I recently purchased these a couple months ago), I fear that I may have some issues with customs when I arrive there, or when I come back. What do you guys do to make sure that they don't give you any trouble and/or make you pay duties on your own personal equipment?

The other thing I need to think about before I leave is insurance.  Since I don't use my camera equipment professionally (i.e., getting paid), and only as a hobby, do you recommend any companies for this (besides State Farm)?

Thanks for your help!


I have traveled to  England with my gear and had no trouble at all. Granted when I just had a NIKON S9100 digital camera  when i went to england. I  used currency online for transferring & converting  my money

IShootWithBullets

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #26 on: April 10, 2013, 06:12:51 PM »
Are you an Indian national carrying an Indian passport? If you are, there is a chance you will get questioned about your kit and possibly asked to pay import duties (customs will think you might sell your kit in India). This may be somewhat less now that the prices between India and the US (which is where I assume you are flying from) are close to par now - better than (say) 5-10 years ago. If you do not carry an India passport on the other hand, you should have no worries.

In any case, I will echo the advice of the rest of the group to make sure to carry the invoices with you so you have proof of purchase with you. Bonus points if you can demonstrate that the equipment is not brand new; presumably that means you are not in the buy-it-and-resell-it business :)


CanadianInvestor

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #27 on: April 10, 2013, 06:30:45 PM »
As someone who travels to India often, usually inbound from Changi, I have found it useful to have the Indian customs officer to enter into my passport details of the incoming equipment.  This is handy to avoid duty, especially if your arriving airport is not one of the four major cities, since then you are undertaking to the (novice) officer that you will export the stuff on your outbound journey. The other advantage is, if you lose your equipment and need to report the fact to local police, they have a record of your bringing in the stuff legally.  When exiting India, request the official to cancel the earlier entry.  When re-entering your home country, you should have no problems if you have receipts.  Some officers are actually quite chatty when it comes to nice photographic equipment, at least in my opinion.  I've had great exchanges with CBP officers and their like in other countries. 

You will find India fantastic for your hobby.  Street photography offers marvellous opportunities.  Most people will be oblivious to the fact that you are snapping away, unless you are in their face.  Do not take photographs of people who are in heavily tourist areas without asking permission ... snake charmers, for example. 

Look into your prevailing insurance documents, or even drop into a local photo equipment store and talk about insurance providers who are on their list. 

Good luck with your trip and enjoy, and don't hesitate to show us the results of your efforts on your return. 

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #27 on: April 10, 2013, 06:30:45 PM »

lholmes549

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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #28 on: April 10, 2013, 07:18:38 PM »
I live in Northern Ireland and while I have taken my gear to many countries, the only place I have ever had "bother" has been flying out of Belfast International here in NI.
It is ALWAYS swabbed for drugs and explosives which means I empty every last thing out of my Lowepro Flipside 300. I mean everything. Memory cards, leads, batteries, cloths, screen protectors etc. A minor inconvenience but I have never had to do this anywhere else around the world and I have been to several places in the US, Egypt, Kenya etc.
Never been asked for invoices or the likes, while carrying 7D, 24-105, 70-200 f/4, 10-20 and 50mm plus flash.
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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #29 on: April 10, 2013, 07:49:29 PM »
I travel quite a bit in any given year, mostly Africa, Arctic & Antarctica, but Europe gets a reasonable amount of entry but not yet to India, on my List.

I also travel with a large amount of gear as mostly I Photograph wildlife, so long lenses, I frequently travel with anything up to $50k in gear, I've had 3 Countries where I have had minor issues, Russia (Murmansk) on a North Pole trip, the Russians were a PIA, had to fill in a Declaration form listing all my Gear/Equipment Numbers etc, when I left Russia, also via Murmansk, no one was interested in the Form, go figure. Indonesia, I live here & Singapore so the Indonesians always ask if any of my gear is new, I always say No, they always ask why I have so much Gear, I always say "I'm Lucky", they Laugh & everyones Happy, Australia, not because of the Gear itself but because it's always Hand Carried & the "Nanny State" have their Rules, 11Kilos of Hand Carry in Business Class, no exceptions, so I take out the 1Dx, fit the 300f/2.8, put it all onto a Carry Strap around my neck, and smile, with Customs it's always important to smile.

There's good advice in this thread, Insurance, carry Receipts etc, and these are probably the Key to trouble free travel with gear, I must admit though I've never carried receipts, although I do Insure, what ever you decide to do, Happy & Safe Travels & Good luck with the Photography.
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Re: Traveling abroad with photography equipment
« Reply #29 on: April 10, 2013, 07:49:29 PM »