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03-14-2016, 03:17 AM   #1
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Brit visiting USA - carrying gear safely in New York

HI guys,

I'm a brit visiting New York with the family for 4 nights next week. Obviously while visiting all the usual tourist spots I want to take advantage of the opportunity to shoot the city. My main concern is carrying the gear without attracting thieves or muggers, having not been there for over 10 years I have no idea how much of a risk there is and would welcome advice from our American friends in particular!

The kit I think that would prove most useful is:
K3 with 17-70mm SDM, maybe with a grip
Pentax 12-24mm
Samyang 8mm fisheye
Gorillapod (because I hear tripods are banned on top of the empire state etc)
Occasionally Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 - but only on the day we get the Staten Island ferry to shoot Statue of LIberty (will I even need to take it for that or does the ferry get close?)

I have a 77mm Limited but can't decide if it's worth taking just for the odd pic of the missus and Daughter on the street when I have 17-70.

I've started investing in the Lowepro pouch and belt system thinking that it has the benefit of providing easy access to the gear for swapping lenses etc but I'm also a little worried that it might shout 'expensive photo equipment' to every potential mugger on the street. I have the Toploader zoom 50AW which carried the K3 with standard lens and which I can use on its own with my Blackrapid sling strap. I have one small lens pouch that will carry the Samyang fisheye. If I want to carry the 12-24 I will need another lens pouch. The gorillapod could live in the wife's small rucsack.

Alternatively I could forget the pouch idea and just use an old Caselogic small camera rucsack I have. It's fairly discrete (it's a black rucsack) but of course doesn't have the easy access for a quick snap and put the camera away again of the pouch system - more a case of take off back, unzip, lay out on floor, take camera out, zip rucsack up, shoot picture and then reverse the procedure. During that time you've got a whole load of expensive camera gear laid out in a rucsack in full view too on a busy pavement...

I would welcome some advice. I thought about a sling bag or even a conventional gadget bag but again you get into whether the gear is quick and easy to access.

Views anyone?? Anyone had experience of a waist-belt pouch system? Were you happy with it? Did you feel like some SWAT team member LOL!!


03-14-2016, 03:47 AM   #2
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Of the Backpacks I use the Lowepro Flipside, which has the access to gear from the side facing your back - you can keep the waist band attached and swing it around and access the lenses etc. immediately in front of you. The smallest one would appear to suit the lenses and K3 you are planning to take. When walking through busy areas no one can access your backpack.
03-14-2016, 03:55 AM   #3
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Is would consider leaving the 70-200 at home. Not worth the weight for the number of shots you will take.

Then you are really discussing having a bag that carries only the 2 lenses that are not on your camera, which will be in up your hand.

Take a simple over the shoulder bag, anything at all that does not look like a camera bag. I use a messenger bag which can hold one camera with lens attached and a second lens comfortably. When I go I take 2 bodies , a 10-20, a 28-75 and a fisheye. That's it.
03-14-2016, 04:03 AM   #4
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You could check out the Vanguard Sedona backpacks which come in 3 sizes. They look like ordinary backpacks, but are actually a very nice photo bags. They open up on backside so noone can steal anything in crowd and are actually quite covenient. You swing it around like the Lowepro described above, and access your gear without needing to take the bag off. I have the biggest one myself and really like it. It's possible to take out the photo gear compartments and use the bag as ordinary backpack too.

03-14-2016, 05:18 AM   #5
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I second Lowell's suggestion of a messenger bag. Nothing says "tourist" in NYC quite like a camera and a backpack. I'd leave off the grip as well - you'll see hundreds of cameras in New York every day, but making your DSLR look bigger and "pro" will just draw attention.
03-14-2016, 05:47 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by jonlg Quote
Occasionally Tamron 70-200mm F2.8 - but only on the day we get the Staten Island ferry to shoot Statue of LIberty (will I even need to take it for that or does the ferry get close?)
To bring that lens only for a ride to Staten makes not much sense to me. I've never took ferry to Staten Island, but I was on Liberty Island, and yes, ferry to Staten goes close by Liberty Island, so you can get nice shoots with 70mm, imo. Also, you always can take a trip to Liberty Island as well, and mostly I used my 21mm ltd wishing can have wider lens.
Your 2 zooms, and fish eye if you want, will be more than enough for NY .
As for safety, I was walking in Manhattan, rented apartment in East Side, and felt pretty safe there day time. Times Square at night is loaded with police, and I took lots of pictures there, then at 3am we, three girlfriends, took a cab back to East Side. The only place when I needed to be in alert was Penn Station.

As for bags, you can check BH and Adorama, it's so much fun! I bought Think Tank TurnStyle 10 (medium size) sling at BH, and love it except one drawback, it does not have a pocket for water bottle. It was comfortable for me wearing it up front (like baby sling ), and it fits K5iis with two extra lenses (short ltd), or two cameras K5iis with short ltd, and Canon SL1 with pancake lens. For the city walk slings are good. Of course the best is to check slings on your own, it's like choosing eye glasses.

Keep in mind that BH does not have the whole inventory on display, you need to ask sales person to bring selected stuff from warehouse to test. So, if you are interested, search the site online, and make your selection to request for testing at the store. It does not take long for them to bring it, I've been waiting no more than 10 minutes.

Oh, and here is someone's picture taken from the ferry with 9.7mm, you can figure out how close to the statue it will be.
03-14-2016, 06:04 AM   #7
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I used a 10-17, 12-24 and 17-70 in a medium Tamrac shoulder bag for an 8-day NYC vacation. Never felt threatened though I was never alone in an alley. Forget the 70-200.

03-14-2016, 06:08 AM   #8

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I'd be aware exactly the same as you would be walking around London taking photos. I think NY is actually safer for that kind of thing. Just use your head, no "undue" concern is warranted.

03-14-2016, 06:12 AM   #9

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I think you have two different questions here. One is about gear and the other is about safety.

As to the gear question I wouldn't even think of taking the 70-200. On the flip side the 77 would be in the bag but you do have that focal length covered with the zoom.

I have tried to shoot in urban areas with the exact same lens (the Tamron) and truth be told it was miserable carrying that thing around and then I still didn't wind up with very many opportunities to use it and not very many keepers from a subject matter standpoint.

Keep in mind though I have never been to NYC but in general a really long lens like that in that kind of environment won't be the best choice. Of course naturally there will be exceptions to the rule.

As for the safety aspect of it I have no advice especially since I have never been to NYC but if it's like anywhere else you have places that you can go whenever you want and you have other places that you might want to not walk around at 2am. Maybe someone from NYC will show up and offer advice.

Ideally if you can talk a NY based forum member into going out with you for a day or evening or whatever that would also help a lot.
03-14-2016, 07:13 AM   #10
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Safety - going with family probably means you won't be exploring some obscure, dark alleys anyway. Tourist sites = perfectly fine and safe, no worse than London, perhaps better, strictly not a problem. Just try not to ostentatiously display your kit.
Lenses - I definitely would not take the 70-200 and just take the minimum. I know I did everyting in NYC with the 12-24 and 18-135. No need for anyting else. Don't forget, travelling around in NYC is quite tiresome. Bring too much gear and you risk regretting it. Of course, that's just my experience.
03-14-2016, 07:20 AM   #11
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I believe in being compact and simple when possible. Two lenses with a third on camera is a great idea. My favorite bag is my Domke F-10. To give you an idea of what it will hold, it currently has a Pentax K-3 with a DA 18-135 and three DA Limiteds 15, 35 macro, 70. Plus there is a generous zippered pocket and a couple of smaller ones. I took this kit with me to Britain two years ago and it worked very well in London etc. Of the lenses you have, I like the 12-24, the 17-70 and the 77 limited. I also say leave the 70-200 at home, just too big and limited usefulness. What would you use in London? I think I would find myself using the 12-24 and the 77 most of the time. Of course, if it was me, I would take my 18-135 and probably a 50 1.4 for night shots (might not be able to leave the 15 at is very small). As far a tripod goes, I have used a Leitz mini pod with large ball head for near 40 years. You can press it against a wall or rest it on your chest and take 1 sec hand-held exposures. Set it on a wall, bench, rock and you can do selfies.

Of course, I have also gone on vacations with nothing but my 4 year old Canon S-100...Great camera and you can buy them cheap these days. Sometimes having lots of camera gear can get in the way of enjoying the new place.
03-14-2016, 08:51 AM   #12
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I remember reading that street crime statistics showed a large drop in those kinds of crimes in NYC since they peaked in the 1970s or '80s. Just don't walk through South Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant, or less traveled parts of Central Park after dark.
03-14-2016, 09:10 AM   #13
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I was born & raised near NYC; lived on Manhattan during graduate school and had all my original Pentax equipment stolen from the apartment. I think a shoulder bag is safer than a backpack because it's easier to keep the strap around you when you're sitting on a bus, or subway, or in a restaurant. Put the strap diagonally across (if the bag is on your left hip, strap over your head on right shoulder). Keep it that way when your sitting, just swing the bag onto your lap, or lower the strap off your shoulder so it's around your waist. Grab-and-go theft isn't as common in NYC as in other cities so long as you don't wander into dangerous areas, but those are well off the usual tourist sites. I understand that the Spanish Steps in Rome are a current danger spot (we were warned by a tour guide when released for your-own-time).
03-14-2016, 09:50 AM   #14
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I stayed in Manhattan with a friend from college during two summers in 1974-75 and walked everywhere. Apart from a few strange, brief chat-ups around the old Times Square near 42nd Street (no inferences drawn, please), I felt safe just employing the simple strategy of walking briskly and looking like I knew where I was going. Curtis Sliwa of the Guardian Angels (if you remember any NYC news from the Bernie Goetz era) in more recent times has commented that New York is "like Disneyland" now compared to those days. So a good bag and gear choice is probably all you need to be concerned with. Check out adventure photographer Andy Mann's own demo video for his Signature Descent sling bag at the regular Mountainsmith website. This model is capacious, rugged and structured, yet still almost shockingly lightweight. It is cleanly stylish and free of typical 'giveaways' that it is, or can be, a camera conveyance. The short video really says it all about how slick this model is functionally while on the move. There is room for a couple of drawstring nylon sacks loaded with your miscellaneous stuff inside, too. Have fun!
03-14-2016, 12:21 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by micromacro Quote
Oh, and here is someone's picture taken from the ferry with 9.7mm, you can figure out how close to the statue it will be.

Just to note, that 9.7mm is on a Canon PowerShot Pro1 with a 2/3 sensor, so the 9.7mm is roughly 36-38mm at full frame equivalent. The 17-70 @ 70 (or 105 equiv) would put you roughly 3x closer than the image linked (which is this one). Only you can determine if that is close enough, but I suspect the ferry is approaching Liberty in the image.

Last edited by yucatanPentax; 03-14-2016 at 12:45 PM.

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