Camera Bags for Barcelona

Maczero

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My wife and I are going on a short holiday to Barcelona, which doesn't have a good name for pickpockets etc. Have you any advice on camera bags that are secure but not too bulky for an EP-1 with a kit zoom and 9-18 and a GF1 with kit zoom, 20 and 45-200?

Andrew
 

everythingsablur

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Really, any bag will do so long as you are smart and careful about things. I had a full DSLR and three lenses (70-300, 17-40 L, and a kit zoom for no apparent reason in retrospect) with me when I was in Barcelona for a week, as well as cruise with stops in Florence/Rome/Naples/Malta/Cannes last year, and I carried them in a Kata 3N1-20 backpack. It's not a very subtle bag, though you can't really easily tell how to open it if you aren't familiar with it either. I never had a problem with pickpockets, but I always stayed aware of my surroundings and acted accordingly.
  • When in crowded places (like Las Ramblas or the boqueria at lunch), wear the bag in front of you.
  • Keep everything zipped closed when moving about.
  • Wear your bag cross body, not over your shoulder.
  • When at restaurants, always secure your bag to a chair that is not in an aisle and is always in sight and arm's reach (or secure it to your body under the table)
  • Always be aware of people walking very close to you, and especially of people in front of you walking slowly or abruptly stopping.
  • If someone stops abruptly in front of you, immediately clutch your bag, and turn behind you.
  • On the subway, keep bags in front of you, and either always try to be the first or the last one to board a subway car
If you really want to be discreet, lots of bags don't look like camera bags, but thieves are really after anything they can get their hands on easily. If you make it even a mild challenge, most pickpockets will look elsewhere for an easier mark (and there are plenty).

Domke bags are nice but a little expensive. I also think the Crumpler Million Dollar Home series is very nice, just looks like a messenger bag in the larger sizes, and that super strong velcro is tough to open and noisy (use the buckles for added security). I just got a LowePro Passport Sling which I also find to be a very discreet looking bag for a small kit (m43 body and 2-3 lenses), though not incredibly secure with just a big zipper.
 

dixeyk

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My wife and I are going on a short holiday to Barcelona, which doesn't have a good name for pickpockets etc. Have you any advice on camera bags that are secure but not too bulky for an EP-1 with a kit zoom and 9-18 and a GF1 with kit zoom, 20 and 45-200?

Andrew
I carried my E520, 15-54, 40-150, mini tripod and an Olympus Trip 35 in a Domke F6. I kept my wallet in my front pocket and the Domke slung over my shoulder so my elbow rested on it.

I also tried to avoid looking like an American tourist (no white athletic shoes, no shorts and no Hawaiian shirts) being bi-lingual helped. I was still pegged as a tourist but usually they guessed I was Italian.
 

Ray Sachs

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We were in Barcelona last month and I found the pickpocket paranoia that I'd read about a bit overdone. I'm sure there are pickpockets and if you're really not smart about stuff you could get ripped off, but we didn't encounter any conditions that I'd even consider favorable to a pick pocket, let along have anything happen. First, don't look any more like a tourist than you absolutely have to but, given that you will to some degree, don't look like a RICH tourist. We just wore tee shirts and shorts and sandals and nobody hassled us. There were enough tourists walking around in fancy travel clothes with tons of jewelry and fancy watches and extremely clean sneakers and such that just stick out so obviously. And buy local baseball caps when you get to town, rub 'em in the mud for a couple of minutes, and you won't get a second look. And there are shoppers running around loaded down with big name brand shopping bags. Just don't be one of those and you won't be the easy target.

In terms of camera bags, use one that doesn't scream "EXPENSIVE CAMERA GEAR" and I strongly recommend wearing it in a sling fashion, with the strap over your head and resting on the opposite shoulder from the side the bag hangs on. This way it will be very difficult for a thief to just grab it and run unless they actually want to bother with cutting the strap to take it. If its just over your right shoulder and hanging on your right side, its pretty easy to make off with - they'd rather not have to try to get it over your head. There's a lot of low-hanging fruit walking around - don't be the lowest hanging fruit.

And plain looking bags help. I had a Domke F6 that I carried all over Europe with an Ep2, and EPL1, a lens on each, two additional lenses, and the usual accessories (batteries, memory cards, filters, etc). I had the ruggedwear version which just looks like a fairly dumpy brown bag after a little use. Never had a bit of a problem, even in places like Florence and Rome which seemed MUCH more pickpocket likely than Barcelona ever did, just based on the overwhelming throngs of tourists in those cities. Barcelona was a piece of cake in comparison.

-Ray
 

Maczero

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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
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Sadly my wife has been in Barcelona with some girl friends and even taking care (the paranoia was well-advanced) they still had stuff stolen (a chap on a moped, I think).

Thanks for your advice though.

Andrew
 

silverbullet

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Twent five years ago my father in law visited the states. At JFK airport he had to go to the Men's toilets and sat down, putting his small camera case with a cheap M42 cam and two lenses beside his feet on the ground.

One minute later and comfortably sitting, a hand came beneed the separation wall made of wood and grasped the case.....

My father in law wasn't so quick to put everything at the right place..... in Minnesota he bought therefore a cheap Instamatic......:rolleyes:
 

everythingsablur

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Sadly my wife has been in Barcelona with some girl friends and even taking care (the paranoia was well-advanced) they still had stuff stolen (a chap on a moped, I think).
I have friends who have had similar pickpocketing experiences in Barcelona. One spotted the pickpocketing as it was happening and the perp ran off with nothing, but they did have her wallet half out of the bag (thankfully her husband had been to Barcelona before and knew their game; he turned around quickly when a random woman stopped abruptly getting onto a subway car), but a couple others have not been so lucky.

Truth be told, it's not isolated to Barcelona. Any dense city with a high tourist population is rife with pickpockets, some more aggressive than others. I remember my first visit to Hong Kong in the early 90s being warned about bag slashers. Just goes to show that if a thief wants something badly enough, they will find a way to get it. That being said, as Ray mentioned, just don't be the easiest target/lowest hanging fruit, and they will prey on someone else.
 

Briar

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Hi Andrew

I've been to a lot of places that have a high pickpocket/theft risk and not had any problems where other tourists have not been so lucky. I think, a lot of the time, it is down to luck ... just being at the wrong place at the wrong time. You know already not to make yourself an easy victim. All the advice given already is good advice and should always be followed, even at home where you think you are safer, but really, opportunistic thiefs are in every town or city. No bag, however, is ever going to fully protect you (no matter what its disguised as) they will either steal it regardless of what they think might be in it, or will have been watching you take your camera in and out as you travel along the sights of Barcelona. Your best defence really is good travel insurance (making sure your camera kit is fully covered for all eventualities). If someone does try to steal your bag, let them. I've seen enough people in A&E who have tried to fight back and, believe me, it's not worth it over a camera or a wallet. Follow the advice already given in this thread and just enjoy your holiday. Barcelona is a lovely city.
 
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