Before the rush

Before the rush
by evan-pak

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When I want to take pictures at a rock concert/night club/crowded street my camera is at risk of being bumped, scracthed, or even knocked out of my hands by people pushing past, dancing, or just moving around impolitely.

What are the practical ways to prevent or minimise damage to the camera?

Note that I need to move around the venue/area so setting up a 'safe-zone' is not an option and I need to travel lightly as I'm arriving at the venues by motorbike.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I use a lens hood and a hand strap.

(This one:

I was hesitant before getting the hand strap that it would interfere with vertical shots, but it's not a problem at all. I just take my hand off the strap, flip the camera, and shoot away.

I've never had my camera damaged as a result of somebody bumping or running into me. The other person has walked away rubbing whatever unfortunate body part contacted my camera, though. I use the Canon 1 series, and they're built like bricks. Add a flower petal lens hood, and you really don't want to run into it.

Don't fixate on the 1 series, though. I've tripped and fallen on a 5D before (was strapped to my hand, and it broke my fall), and it suffered no ill effects. :)

Cameras are much tougher than you'd think. I wouldn't intentionally set out to determine exactly how tough.

I would not put filters on for low light scenes that include bright lights. You're more likely to run into unwanted reflections.

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I bought this one:… by Nikon and it fits my Canon 7D just fine without blocking the battery compartment. – Skaperen Dec 29 '11 at 1:49
As someone who had the interesting opportunity to determine exactly HOW tough a 7D is, let me tell you. They are damn tough! – NULLZ May 5 '13 at 23:49

First of all, make sure you put your own safety first.

The most important thing: never use a neck strap. If someone grabs your camera or you'll trip over, you'll have no leverage. Use a hand strap instead.

In the long run, some damage to equipment is to be expected. The best thing to do is to make sure there's something cheap breaking first.

  • UV or clear filter will protect the front element of the lens. Go for cheap (scratches will eventually happen) but relatively well coated ones, to minimize reflections (you'll have some anyway).
  • Use a lens hood. If there's water or some other liquids flying around, it'll help keeping the front element (or filter) dry, and it'll take the most of bumps. Cheap no-name plastic ones are better than solid and more expensive ones, simply because they'll break first.
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I use a waist-length strap (UPstrap) and I turn it around when I'm not shooting so the lens is pointing inwards around my hip, not sticking out perpendicular to me and getting into trouble. Also, the strap is long enough that I can hold the camera well above head (or drinks) level when I'm running around a venue, and still have it around my neck in the event it gets knocked out my hand.

I also use a battery grip because it cuts down on the waggly elbow stuff when I'm shooting portrait in tight spaces, but also lowers the centre of gravity so the camera hangs better when I'm carrying it. I suppose it's also a bonus that the (relatively) cheap grip is the thing that gets clobbered first if I do come into contact with something.

I always have a high quality UV filter on the front so I can wipe any nastiness off the front of the lens quickly, knowing that I can replace it easily without sending the lens away if I damage it (but these filters are pretty tough). You will get sensor reflections if you shoot straight into a light source, but you can always take it off if it becomes an issue.

And I have some paper towels in my pocket for the unpleasant moment when someone spills a bucket of lager near my kit (which has happened twice so far).

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Just wanted to say that I really like this answer too – user7226 Dec 30 '11 at 8:37

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