Photographers like to be ready for anything, I get that, I know that, I have lived that for many years … but when packing cameras in bags that may go under a plane, including being ‘valet checked’ while boarding a Regional Jet or Turbo Prop, packing gear properly makes far more sense than packing it to be ready to shoot.
There is a constant stream of photographers who seem to have their gear damaged while being placed under aircraft and more often than not the end result after speaking with them is that their gear was not packed correctly. Given that photographers like to be ready, many pack their bags with their lenses attached to their camera bodies.
When a photographer is packing their bag for travel they need to keep in mind that An Object in Motion Will Remain In Motion Until Something Stops The Motion, a theory that Sir Isaac Newton wrote out like this:
The simplest way for photographers to conceptualize what this means for their head is that when a lens is attached to a camera, especially a heavier lens, should your bag sustain any impact the force through your camera or lens will transfer through the camera or lens any attached components, frequently damaging the weakest link.
What is the weakest link you ask? Your mount.
If your bag containing your camera is knocked around on the luggage cart, tossed by turbulence, dropped by a handler your camera and lens may be spun in two different directions. The result of a mated camera and lens going in two different directions is your mount being torqued, which can cause significant damage to your equipments.
If your camera body and lens are packed separately there is no twisting motion and the impact and energy dissipate into the padding around the equipment, thus no torque damage at the mount.
While many photographers seem to argue that if their camera is attached to their lens they can act faster to capture an unexpected moment. Well … I have news for you … if you need to place your bag down, open the bag up, remove the gear, switch it on … you have already missed the moment you wanted to capture. If you want to be ready for anything, travel with a camera, or cameras, out on your shoulders ready to shoot.
When you pack your camera gear, it needs to be packed you need to packed securely. Gear should be passed and snug so it does not bounce around, space inside a bag should be maximized to accommodate more items in a confined area. Also keep this mind, packing a camera and lens separately frees up additional space to pack more efficiently and store more items in a more organized manner inside your bag.
Next to you pack your camera bag to take to the skies, pack your gear properly and you’ll reduce your chances for damage so you can increase your time out shooting.
Below are photos of how to properly pack gear in your baggage and improperly pack your gear in your baggage.