How to pack your Camera and Lenses for shipping
How to safely ship your Camera and Lenses
We have well over 1000 packages shipped in and out of the shop every year. Many customers are hesitant or scared to ship their photography gear out of fear it will get damaged. Not one single camera or lens we have shipped has ever arrived damaged.
Want to know why? Want to know how to safely pack and ship your gear so it arrives undamaged? Then keep on reading. We have all the top tips and tricks for safely packing and shipping your cameras and lenses to survive the trip here and back.
You only need 3 things:
- A box roughly twice the size of your camera and/or lens
- Some Large Bubble Wrap
- Shipping tape or scotch tape
- You basically want to surround the gear in 2 to 3" of bubble wrap, all the way around. So set your camera or lens in the wrap and start rolling it up. Usually 3 to 5 wraps is good.
- Tape the roll to keep it from unraveling
- Then fold over and tape both ends. If you don't, the gear can end up sliding out the end of the roll.
- Now line the box with another layer or two of bubble wrap, depending how much space you have to take up.
- Place your gear into the center of the box
- Pack around the gear and on top with folded pieces of bubble wrap until the top is flush and snug when the lid closes.
That's it. You're done.
The main things to remember are:
- You want the gear in the center of the box. Imagine something sharp or hard hitting the side of the box. You want it to dent the box and push in on the bubble wrap, not on your camera's LCD screen.
- If you are sending multiple cameras or lenses, always wrap them separately and place them together in the center of the box.
- Don't use too big of a box. You want room for a few good wraps around the gear and some padding around the edges. But there's no need to use a box 4 times the size of what you're shipping.
- Don't over pack the box too tight so it's bulging. You want your gear snug inside so it can't move. But you do not want to have to force the lid closed. Basically just snug enough that you can't feel or hear anything sliding around if you shake the box.
There are a number of packing materials not appropriate for shipping cameras and lenses. Here are a few.
Packing Peanuts - as great as these can be for some packing situations, they are horrible for shipping a single heavy item in the center of a box. What usually happens is the camera or lens in the center of the box basically wiggles it's way to the bottom or side, where it can now be exposed to direct impacts to the outside of the box. Avoid using them for anything other than filling small voids in corners.
Air Pocket packets - Increasingly popular, they work great for taking up extra space in a box. Until they pop or leak their air. Then what was once a large soft pillow is now a flat piece of plastic and a large void. Your camera will end up bouncing around inside the box.
Thin Bubble & Foam Wrap - Again it has it's place in shipping. Packing your camera or lens is not the place. Thin bubble wrap is great when combined with large bubble wrap or wrapped multiple times. But one or two wraps of it provides very little protection for your lens and camera.
Newspaper or Packing Paper - Crumpled or not, it provides little to no protection, can be unreliable at holding gear in place and easily crumples allowing your gear to slide and bang around. Some of the very thick paper works good for filling voids when crumpled tight.
Hopefully this will help people shipping photography gear in the future to make sure your items arrive safe and sound.
Other shipping tips:
- Also add "Signature Required" to any parcel you ship with cameras or lenses. Without this, the mail carrier is free to leave it on your step or on your porch. If you're at work when it arrives it could sit in the rain or snow, or worse get stolen. The extra $1.50 is worth it.
- Add insurance. Express and Expedited shipping includes $100 for free.
- If you have the factory padded case for a camera lens or the factory box for your lens or camera, ship it in this. You may still need bubble wrap or place it into a larger box with bubble wrap.